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TESTIMONIAL FROM POLITICAL FRIENDS. -MARRIAGE. -DEATH OF
MR. BROWN, SENIOR.
In 1858 a movement was commenced to present Mr. Brown with some kind of testimonial in token of the appreciation of the services rendered to the liberal party for many years. After the proposal had been partly acted upon in the city and in some parts of the country districts, a meeting of the promoters was held in the city of Toronto, when the following resolutions were passed :
1. That the fund collected, and the moneys which may be hereafter received for the proposed testimonial, shall be appropriated to the erection of a suitable building for a publishing office, to be presented to the Hon. George Brown as a mark of the high señíse entertained by his political friends of the long, faithful, and important services which he has rendered to the people of Canada.
2. That Messrs. William McMaster, John McMurrich, W. P. Howland, John Macdonald, Samuel Spreull, and William Henderson form a committee to select a site for the erection of such building, to make purchase thereof or procure an advantageous lease for that purpose, and carry out all necessary arrangements for the completion of the testimonial ; and the treasurer is herby empowered to pay over the moneys collected upon the order of the chairman and any two members of the committee.
In accordance with these resolutions, the subscriptions were devoted to the erection of the part of the Globe structure fronting on King Street, containing the counting rooms, offices and editorial rooms, and formally presented to Mr. Brown. This recognition of his disinterested zealous labours on behalf of popular rights was peculiarly pleasing to him, not because of the amount of money required or contributed--for he deprecated any laboured effort to bring the scheme extensively before the public_but because so many leading reformers in this way fully acknowledged their obligations as a party to his active labours, at a time when so many leading men had failed to recognize the duties and responsibility devolving upon them as public men, trusted by the people on account of their professions.
Early in July, 1862, Mr. Brown left Canada for a lengthened sojourn in Europe to recruit his strength and obtain some relaxation from the cares and anxieties of his arduous labours. While on his visit to Scotland, one of the great events of his life happened. On the 27th of November of that year he was joined in marriage to Miss Anne Nelson, daughter of the late well known publisher, Mr. Thomas Nelson, and sister of the present publishers, Thomas, William and James, and
of the late Rev. Dr. John Nelson, of Greenock. He shortly afterwards returned to Canada with greatly improved health, but rather averse to again entering parliament.
When the new parliament met in March, 1862, Mr. Brown was without a seat, having declined all the seats offered him. The CartierMacdonald government was tottering to its fall. Vigorous attacks were made by the opposition on several questions, and at last they fell on a vote respecting the militia. At the time of their defeat Mr. Foley was nominally leader of the Ontario opposition. Practically the leadership was in commission. The Governor-General did not send for Mr. Foley, but for Mr. John Sandfield Macdonald, although that gentleman had adopted views hostile to the main plank of the reform platform, representation by population, substituting therefor his plan of government by having a majority in each half of the province. Mr. Brown strongly opposed the formation of any government that did not provide for a reform of the representation. The liberal members at their caucus declined to support the government on the double majority principle, but agreed on all things else to support it. This qualified support, Mr. Brown's opposition, and Mr. Dorion's early resignation, weakened it so much that it became necessary in 1863 to make some changes, which gradually brought it into greater harmony with the party generally. When reconstructed in 1863, Mr. Brown gave the government his active support. Early in May Dr. Connor, member for South Oxford, was appointed Judge, and Mr. Brown, at the urgent solicitation of his friends, consented to re-enter parliament as member for that county. The reconstruction of the ministry by the introduction of Messrs. Holton, Mowat, Dorion, Letellier and Thibaudeau was largely the work of Mr. Brown, and as the representation question was to be an open question with the government, the double majority scheme being tacitly abandoned, he gave his influence in parliament and in the Globe strongly in its favour. Merely making the representation question an open one was not considered a sufficient advance on Mr. Sandfield Macdonald's previous policy, but it was clear to Mr. Brown that nothing could then be obtained in advance of that at this time, though various indications might be seen that concessions on the representation question might be proposed by more than one party in the House at no distant day. The Lower Canada leaders could not go further, and the Premier was believed to be ready to make propositions to other quarters unless his proposals were accepted. The weakness, however, was incurable, and the elections of 1863 added no perceptible strength to the government. The fall session of 1863 was got through with some difficulty ; but in 1864 it became clear that the government could not effectively conduct the legislation and business
of the country with only a majority of one or two, and rather than continue such a struggle, the ministry resigned on the 21st of March.
Mr. Brown, senior, died in 1863. He was a noble old man, and universally beloved wherever he was known. Dr. Burns, of Halifax, says of him : “He was a fine-looking old man as I remember “him, and wielded a trenchant, vigorous pen; his acquaintance with “ ecclesiastical and general subjects was extensive and accurate." He always took a very active part in discussions on church matters, and occasionally took part in public meetings called to discuss the affairs of King's College or the clergy reserves, in which subjects he, as an anti-state churchman, took an active interest. He took a prominent part in inducing the elder Dr. Burns to settle in Toronto in 1845. The doctor and Mr. Brown were not, however, always able to agree on church questions, or, perhaps it might with more propriety be said, they were very seldom able to agree. Both had very decided views ; neither were slow to give their views expression by voice or pen, and even on such questions the layman would not yield to the churchman. The result was that some amusing controversies took place between the two, in which the minister was not always the victor. On one occasion Mr. Brown presided over some social gathering connected with church affairs, after experiencing some trouble from his clerical friend, when he alluded to Dr. Burns' first visit to Canada as a Free Church deputy, and to a similar gathering in Dr. Burns' honour. On that occasion, said Mr. Brown, we accompanied him to “the ship, sorrowing most of all that we should see his face no more:” adding in an undertone, “we did, however, see his face again.” The doctor's quick ear heard these words, and he called out, “Ay, did
you, to your sorrow." When Mr. Brown was very ill a warm personal friend called to see him, and after a little conversation he asked the invalid if his mind was at peace with God, and what were the grounds of his hope. Mr. Brown shaded his face with his hand, and, after a short pause, repeated Cowper's beautiful lines :
“Since the dear hour which brought me to Thy foot,
And cut up all my follies by the root,
This was the only answer he made to the all-important question. What need for more ? Few men were more missed by a large circle of devoted friends, personal and political. His health had been seriously impaired by the loss of a beloved daughter, Miss Catherine Brown, who was killed a few years before in a railway accident at Syracuse, when on a journey from New York with her father. This tragic event touched father and mother very deeply, and saddened their declining years. His habitual cheerfulness, nevertheless, brightened his face and warmed his manner to the last. Mr. George Brown's chivalric devotion to his father has been already referred to; his tenderness towards him might be daily witnessed. Father and son might be seen any day going to or returning from the office to the home on Church Street, the father leaning heavily on the son's arm ; attention was often called to the care taken by the stalwart son of the aged father.
The elder Mr. Brown's general information, his genial humour, and his fund of anecdote, made his company of an evening very delightful, and of course caused him to be all the more missed in the office and the home.
CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING THE RECIPROCITY TREATY.
CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES PROPOSED.
Towards the close of Mr. Sandfield Macdonald's official life as Premier, the reciprocity treaty with the United States excited much attention, as notice had been given, or was about to be given, by the United States to terminate it as soon as its terms permitted. Mr. Macdonald asked Mr. Brown to visit Washington, and see the public men there respecting the continuance of the treaty. Mr. Sandfield Macdonald addressed the following letter to Mr. Brown:
QUEBEC, January 7th, 1864. MY DEAR BROWN,—The agitation in congress, as well as the action of some of the northern states, point unmistakably to the termination of the reciprocity treaty. You can well imagine this has not escaped the attention of the government. If we have abstained thus far from indicating by any public announcement the policy to be adopted, or from taking steps either by representing the anxiety we feel to the home government, or to the British minister at Washington, with a view to imperial action, it is because we were waiting the result of events which we could not control. The aspect in which the matter now presents itself admonishes us to prepare for the fight. We have considered that the first movement to be made is to select a competent individual who could be entrusted to deal with the subject at Washington, and who by his position could approach all parties at that capital. By the freedom of the intercourse thus afforded, it is conjectured that much of the existing prejudice against the treaty would be greatly modified.
I need scarcely tell you that one and all of my colleagues point to you as possessing all the qualitications required for that highly important mis
I am authorized to bespeak your co-operation in any way you may feel disposed to lend it towards maintaining the treaty as it is; or, if that should be impracticable, to promote the best terms that can be secured in any new arrangement that may be agreed upon as the basis of a fresh treaty. I may add that it will be a source of regret to me to learn that anything should stand in the way of your accepting this important mission, connected with which there would be an amount of responsibility which you are eminently fitted to assume, and for which the Canadian people would feel grateful in proportion to the magnitude of the task imposed on you. I shall be glad to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
Believe me, yours faithfully,
J. S. MACDONALD.
P.S.-I may mention that during an interview I had with Mr. Seward in New York, he strongly recommended this course to be taken earlynamely, having a quasi political agent to remain at Washington for some months, with whom he and Lord Lyons could confer informally from time to time on matters concerning Canada.
J. S. M