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mother country as a matter of interest as well as sentiment, neither the blunders of British governors or colonial ministers, nor the ridiculous assumptions of leaders of the governing class at home, that colonists were unequal to the task of working responsible government, for a moment shook his ardour for the continuance of good relations with the empire, or his faith in the possibility of the permanence of a union mutually beneficial. He felt that, with a central government possessing wider powers and more extensive application, the chances of any collision were more remote ; that the desire to interfere in strictly American business, not involving the interests of the empire, would be reduced to a minimum. As an Ontario citizen he frequently referred with great satisfaction to the freedom of action obtained by the provinces. Ontario could now, unhampered by the less progressive province, take an independent course in developing the vast resources of the country, and adjust taxation to suit its own interests. The immediate acquisition of the North-West Territories, to attain which he had done so much, he looked forward to with great pleasure, as affording a large and almost limitless field for the enterprise of Canadians to fully develop. The removal of matters relating to education from the domain of Dominion political discussion, and the limitation of the powers of local governments to maintain the systems of education as they existed at the time of the union, so far as sectarian schools were concerned, was peculiarly welcome to Mr. Brown, who had at one time incurred some odium in one quarter for the strong ground he had always taken in favour of a non-sectarian system.
This was one of the questions he was bound to deal with and settle when he formed his government in 1858. It was one of the difficult points which had to be dealt with in the confederation compact. The settlement might not be exactly all that he desired, or that his opponents on the education question demanded, but it was loyally accepted by all at the time as a fair compromise. The effects of the long and sometimes bitter controversy did not, however, at once disappear. Some disputes were afterwards brought before the Dominion parliament, and some local irritation prevailed for a time in some provinces. In Ontario the last incident in that connection occurred in a correspondence between Mr. Brown and Dr. Ryerson. The controversy respecting Lord Metcalfe's struggle for absolutism necessarily involved sharp comment from the Globe on Dr. Ryerson's course as his principal—we will not say defender, but apologist. The disputes concerning the establishment of separate schools, which continued for many years, also resulted, ultimately, in the Globe blaming Dr. Ryerson for allowing himself to be made the instrument in ministers' hands in extending and perpetuating a system which he had frequently denounced as unsound; and charging him with being substantially rewarded by the minister for yielding when principle, opinions and duty counselled him to resist. An article in the Globe of December 8th, 1858, reviewing the question and the superintendent's various opinions on it, provoked a lengthy reply from Dr. Ryerson, addressed to Mr. Brown personally. Mr. Brown, while not admitting the authorship of the article, replied in person ; both letters were published in the same number of the Globe. This reply was a severe one, but as the severity consisted chiefly in references to former expressions of opinions by Dr. Ryerson, and in references to questions of fact which had transpired in the committees of parliament, the doctor had no special ground of complaint. This was the only occasion on which Mr. Brown was personally brought into contact with Dr. Ryerson, and that was caused by the doctor addressing him in person, and introducing matter which had no connection with the subject of separate schools, such as accusing Mr. Brown with forming a political alliance with Thomas D'Arcy McGee. The chief superintendent was bold enough, while at the head of the school system, to express himself freely on political topics and even to publish electioneering pamphlets. He was a hard hitter, but preferred to give blows rather than take them; he was never known to turn the other cheek to the smiter. Nevertheless, so impatient was he of contradiction, that he was disposed to regard those who did controvert his opinions, and did so in decided and severe terms, as personal enemies. An acknowledgment of his admitted services in the cause of education, to use the language of Mr. Brown's letter, would not alone satisfy the pugnacious superintendent. An amusing proof of this disposition was shown in the terms of a letter he wrote to Mr. Brown in 1868; which, however, while showing the disposition referred to, was tempered by an offer of forgiveness. The following are copies of the letter and Mr. Brown's reply, which are published to show the views held by Mr. Brown of the Globe's battles with Dr. Ryerson :
TORONTO, March 24, 1868. To the Hon. GEORGE BROWN,
DEAR SIR,- 1 desire on this, the 65th anniversary of my birth, to assure you of my hearty forgiveness of the personal wrongs which I think you have done me in past years, and of my forgetfulness of them, so far at least as involves the least unkindness or unfriendliness of feeling.
To express free and independent opinions on the public acts of public men; to animadvert severely upon them, when considered unavoidable, is both the right and duty of the press ; nor have I ever been discourteous or felt any animosity towards those who have condemned my official acts or denounced my opinions. Had I considered that you had done nothing worse in regard to myself, I should have felt and acted differently from what I have done in regard to you—the only public man in Canada with whom I have not been on speaking and personally friendly terms. But while I wish in no way to influence your judgment or proceedings in relation to myself, I beg to say that I cherish no other than those feelings of
good will towards you with which I hope to—as I soon must-stand before the Judge of all the earth, imploring as well as granting forgiveness for all the wrong deeds done in the flesh.
Yours very sincerely,
E. RYERSON. The following reply was sent by Mr. Brown. The writer is not aware whether it was followed up by any further correspondence.
TORONTO, 24th March, 1868. SIR.-I have received your letter of this day and note its contents. I am entirely unconscious of any “personal wrong ever done you by me, and had no thought of receiving "forgiveness at your hands. What I have said or written of your public conduct or writings has been dictated solely by a sense of public duty, and has never, 1 feel confident, exceeded the bounds of legitimate criticism, in view of all attendant circumstances. What has been written of you by others in the columns of the Globe has been always restrained within the limits of fair criticism towards one holding a position of public trust.
As to your personal attacks upon myself-those who pursue the fearless course of a public journalist and politician, as I have done for a quarter of a century, cannot expect to escape abuse and misrepresentation, and assuredly your assaults on me have never affected my course towards you in the slightest degree. Your series of letters printed in the Leader newspaper some years ago were uot, I am told, conceived in a very Christian spirit. But I was ill at the time they were published, and have never read them. Your dragging my name into your controversy with the Messrs. Campbell, in a matter with which I had no concern whatever, was one of those devices unhappily too often resorted to in political squabbles to be capable of exciting more than momentary indignation.
I am, Sir,
THE REFORM CONVENTION OF 1867.-RESOLUTION OF THANKS TO
MR. BROWN.--MR. BROWN'S REPLY.
The near approach of the day on which the new system was to be put in operation necessarily caused some anxiety in Mr. Brown's mind. As leader of the liberal party, he was desirous of securing joint, harmonious action at the coming elections. As on two former occasions, he desired to accomplish this object by full consultation with the party. He accordingly issued a call for a convention of reformers, through the Reform Association Committee, on the 13th June, 1867, to meet at Toronto on the 27th June; the executive committee first communicating with and obtaining the approval of members of parliament and candidates, as well as other local associations.
The object to be attained was briefly stated: “To rejoice over the great success attending their past labours, and to adopt measures “ for securing the correction of the abuses so long deplored by the “ reform party, and for the infusion of those sound reform principles “ into the daily administration of public affairs, to secure which the “constitutional changes now achieved were so long and earnestly “ laboured for.
For consultation and friendly intercourse amongst prominent men of the party ; and to afford an opportunity “ of consolidating the party and harmonizing the views of those who were temporarily estranged by the events of late years."
The response to the proposal was cordial all over Ontario, and on the appointed day about 650 leading men from all quarters met in Toronto. In this magnificent gathering Mr. Brown took the greatest possible interest, though he made no attempt to control its proceedings. It was his desire at this time to retire from Parliament, if this could be accomplished. One gentleman, in a brief speech at the convention, expressed a fear that it was called “ to make one man the leader of the “reform party without consideration.” Mr. Brown, in presenting the report of a committee, of which he was chairman, a few minutes afterwards, alluded to that remark as follows: He said “he scorned “the imputation.
He stood here at the end of twenty-five years “service to the reform party, and he defied any man to show the first " act of selfishness of which he had ever been guilty with reference
to that party. He defied any man to show one word that had ever "crossed his lips, as the representative of the people—one motion "he ever made-one speech he ever delivered—one vote he ever “gave--which was not in harmony with the principles of the reform
party of Upper Canada. So far from there being any ground for " that imputation, one great cause of this convention being called was “that he might deliver up his trust to the members of the reform
party of Upper Canada, and that they should start with the new “ machinery in a position, in respect of unanimity and distinctiveness “of purpose, at least equal to that it occupied when he first took the
responsibility of leading the reform ranks. It was unfortunate that "there were some reformers who took up these ideas of the conserva
tive press who, when they could not attack a man because of his votes and speeches, took hold of these flimsy things, 'Oh! George “ 'Brown wants to be the dictator of his party.' And it seemed as " if some reformers, by hearing this so constantly repeated in the Tory press, really fancied there was some foundation for it. He thought if any answer were necessary to be given to all this trash, “it was to be found in the fact that he gave his vote in the executive * council that there should be a meeting of the representatives of the " people throughout the country, to take the responsibility off the “hands of individuals of declaring what were the principles and
measures on which the party should go to the country.” These remarks were received with the greatesi applause and evidences of sympathy. The silly and stale accusation implied in the speech that Mr. Brown replied to had the effect of evoking their enthusiam for and confidence in him which all popular gatherings manifested as occasions occurred.
At a subsequent stage of the proceedings this feeling was more strongly shown, when Mr. Currie moved the following resolution, with a view to induce Mr. Brown to withdraw from his declared purpose of not entering parliament again : “ That this convention cannot sepa" rate without expressing to the Hon. George Brown the gratitude of “the reform party, of which he has been so long the able leader, for “his services to the people of Canada, and also the earnest hope that “he will reconsider his intention of retiring from parliamentary life, “and accept a position in the legislature of the country.”
When the chairman put this motion to the meeting all the people sprang to their feet and gave utterance to their feelings by prolonged cheering, showing how very heartily the whole convention appreciated Mr. Brown's past labours and desired their continuance in parliament. He replied briefly, apparently being taken by surprise, and so overpowered by emotion, as to be unable for some time to control his feelings. The following extracts from his speech have some public interest, apart even from their connection with himself: