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I hope the members of the convention will grant me their indulgence in the position in which I find myself. I have had but little sleep for several successive nights, and was totally unprepared for the high honour you have done me by the passing of this resolution. But I think it is due to you, and an act of justice to myself, that I should explain the reasons which induced me to decide on retiring from parliamentary life. There were many reasons which, in my opinion, made it desirable, not only on personal but on public grounds, that I should adopt this course. One of these was very strong, and was the reason on which I mainly based it. I entered parliamentary life, in 1851, strongly against my will, inasmuch as I entertained the conviction that the editorship of a leading party journal was, to some extent, incompatible with holding a leading position as a member of the legislature. And I have since learned by many years' ex: perience that the incompatibility is vastly stronger then I had conceived. So strongly have I felt this, that years ago I would have resigned my position in parliament, but that I feared that my doing so might have injured the cause of constitutional reform for which I had struggled so long. As a general rule, the sentiments of the leader of a party are only known from his public utterances on public occasions. If a wrong act is committed by an opponent, or by a friend, he may simply shrug his shoulders and say it is very bad, but no one need know liis opinion of the transaction unless it is forced on the consideration of the legislature. But this is not the case with the public journalist. If true to his country, and true to his position, he must speak out, and say wrong is wrong and right is right, no matter whether it offends friend or foe. You have often seen attacks on myself, even by some portions of the reform press, for my having acted firmly in this way. They say, “ Mr. Brown has fiercely assailed public men;" but I tell you, if the daily thoughts and the words daily uttered by other public men were written in a book, as mine have been, and circulated all over the country, there would have been a very different comparison from what now exists as between them and myself. I have been in the peculiar position of having a double duty to perform. If I had been simply the leader of a party, and had not controlled a public journal, such things would not have been left on record. I might have passed my observations in the contidence of private life, and nothing more would have been heard of them. But, as a journalist, it was necessary I should speak the truth before the people, no matter whether it helped my party or not; and this, of course, reflected on the position of the party. How often have I had several political friends candidates for the same office-all equally urgent for the support of the journal under my control and totally unwilling to believe that the candidate supported was the right man in the right place, and best entitled to the office. Frequently, when I have seen a man doing a wrong thing, I may have felt sorry for him as an individual ; I may have known the circumstances of temptation under which he was placed, and as a man have felt deeply for him. But as a journalist, I had but one duty to the public to discharge, and that was to maintain a high standard of political morality. And I do not doubt that, when the political history of this country comes to be written, and justice is done to me, as I am sure it will be, it will be seen that when I have been compelled to denounce the conduct of public men, it was because the public interests were at stakeand that the verdict of public opinion has sustained me in every case. Consequently, I have long felt very strongly that I had to choose one position or the other—that of a leader in parliamentary life, or that of a monitor in the public press.
And the latter has been my choice, being probably more in consonance with my ardent temperament, and at the same time, in my opinion, more influential ; for I am free to say that, in view of all the grand offices that are now talked of-governorships, premierships, and the like--I would rather be editor of the Globe, with the hearty confidence of the great mass of the people of Upper Canada, than have the choice of them all. No one will fancy that I claim for a moment that in my long career there have not been many mistakes. Human nature is liable to err, and I have a full share of human frailties. But of this I am quite sure, that when the twenty-five volumes of the Globe are examined to find what has been the political history of this country during the last quarter of a century-and a better record of that history does not exist than is to be found in those volumes—it will be found that fair play between man and man, justice and earnestness with regard to all public questions, and an ardent desire to serve the people of Canada, have marked that record from the begiming to the end. In this resolution which has been read to me, I find the confirmation of that which has been my stay and comfort during many years of ariluous political contest, when we were hoping almost against hope, when we hardly dared to hope that we would be able to accomplish our great ends within any reasonable period. During those contests, it was this which sustained the g:llant band of reformers who so long struggled for popular rights, that, abused as we might be, subjected to reproach and slander as we might be, we had this consolation, that we could not go anywhere among our fellow-countrymen from one end of the country to the other-in Tory constituencies as well as in reform constituencies--without the certainty of receiving from the honest, intelligent yeomanry of the country-from the true, right-hearted, right-thinking people of Upper Canada wiro came out to meet us--the hearty grasp of the hand, and the heartfelt greeting that amply repaid the labour we had expended in their behalf. That is the highest reward I have hoped for in public life, and I am sure that no man who earns that reward will ever in Upper Canada have occasion to speak of the ingratitude of the people. I have received, at the hands of the yeomen of Upper Canada, far more kindness than my services deserved, and far more than any public man could have a right to expect. But I had another urgent cause for retiring from parliamentary life. You are aware that daily journalism is no light task. A daily journalist has to consume the midnight oil, not only from year to year and from month to month, but from day to day. Seldom does he lay his head upon the pillow until the late hours of the morning ; and, with a near relative--who has for a number of years greatly lessened my labours, and taken many respousibilities off my hands-now in infirm health, it seemed to me impossible that I should think of continuing the burden of the two positions. I had looked forward to the triumph of representation by population as the day of my emancipation from parliamentary life, and now that it has come, I resolved to take advantage of it. But I am free to admit that what has now taken place--the announcement of this new coalition--this secession from our party-somewhat alters the
Where work is to be done for the reformers of Canada, and for the people of Canada, I shall not shrink from it. And I am free to state what is the course I now intend to pursue. I think it is desirable that the members of parliament, and the candidates, who are present, as well as those not here who agree generally with the resolutions we have passed, should have communication together at the earliest moment, and that we should arrange for the political campaign on which we are about to enter. And if it shall be found, in the course of this communication among ourselves, that my services for a short while in parliamentary life can be of use to the party, I shall not refuse. At the same time, I repeat that my determination is not in the slightest degree altered. There is this further difficulty that I encounter in going into parliamentary life, and if my doing so can be dispensed with, I strongly desire that it should be. It is absolutely impossible that I could in any way take upon me an official position --and this was one of the reasons which made me think it exceedingly desirable that I should retire at once--that I might not sit in parliament in the way of those who would become leaders of the party when it assamed office. I thong it it would not be just or generous to stand there as the leader of a party in opposition, taking, perhaps, some popularity away from others who might be called upon to assume the reins of office. But if there is work to be done, and a hard fight to be gone through, probably this can be arranged. We will have a communication with the representative men of the party, and whatever decision is arrived at, I am prepared to bow to their judgment. I again heartily thank the convention for the great compliment they have paid me. I value it above all the testimonials I have receivel in my public life.
MR. BROWN CONTESTS SOUTH ONTARIO.His Bow Park FARM.
His INTEREST IN CONFEDERATION.
As the foregoing extracts show, Mr. Brown promised to reconsider his expressed intention of retiring from parliament. Several constituencies were at once offered for his acceptance, where the seat would be perfectly safe. His chivalric disposition was shown in his acceptance of an invitation to contest the riding of South Ontario. This county, for various reasons, which need not be here discussed, had politically degenerated from being a strong reform constituency to be a very doubtful one.
Mr. Brown's opponent was a strong local man, who had previously been elected on some pretensions to be more or less in sympathy with the liberals. He had now the full support of the government and the whole Tory party, as well as the local support which he would naturally command where he carried on an extensive business. The contest was a keen one on both sides, and resulted in Mr. Brown's defeat by a majority of 69.
His best friends strongly objected to his acceptance of the candidature in any weak constituency when perfectly safe ones were at his command ; but their remonstrances were overborne by his enthusiastic confidence in his ability to carry the contest to a successful issue. His exclusion from the first parliament of the Dominion was a public loss, and was deplored by not only his own political friends and followers, but by many who did not claim to be either. On the other hand, it afforded great satisfaction to the Tory leaders and the Tory press. One gentleman, aspiring to be a historian, and who occupied a seat in the House of Commons for a time as a member enjoying an official salary but having no cabinet office, had the bad taste, in his work on Confederation, to speak of Mr. Brown's defeat as “his suicide,” and also wrote that “throughout the vast province of Ontario, in which he “had been wont to be a moving power, no constituency returned him.” Mr. Gray knew-every one knew—that Mr. Brown could have made a selection from twenty constituencies had he so desired ; with his wonted bravery and patriotism he left the safe counties to be won by weaker men, and devoted himself to a brilliant attempt to win a county from the enemy. Mr. Gladstone pursued precisely the same course in accepting a nomination for Midlothian, a notoriously dangerous county for a liberal candidate ; he succeeded, Mr. Brown failed. Both leaders were bold, and both were imprudent, though Mr. Gladstone's friends took the precaution of electing him for another constituency ; Mr. Brown's friends insisted on adopting the same course, but he refused his assent. There is no doubt Mr. Brown considered his parliamentary career teminated by this defeat, and equally little doubt that he intended, out of parliament, to take that part in public life for which he was so eminently fitted, in support of the principles he had so long struggled to maintain, and of the party he had so long led. The leadership which he had resigned in 1861 had never really been committed to other hands, and when he again appeared in parliament in 1863, he was tacitly acknowledged to be leader. After the election of 1867 no one was for some years formally chosen as leader, not indeed until after the general election of 1872, when Mr. Mackenzie was chosen to fill the vacant place. Mr. Brown very properly refrained from expressing any opinion, either personally or in the press, as to the choice of his successor, his opinion being that the selection rested in the hands of members of parliament.
After the general election in 1867, Mr. Brown, with his family, paid a visit of some months duration to Europe, but made no public appearance anywhere except at a reunion of the old students of his academical time, at the High School, Edinburgh. At this meeting he met many of his old college companions from all parts of the world. Some were in prominent positions in Australia ; some were filling high offices in India; and many were amongst the prominent men of their native country. Mr. Brown afterwards often spoke with delight of this meeting, and the personal pleasure it afforded him ; also of the healthy influence of the thorough, though severe, educational system of the school in which he had been trained for the active duties of life.
After his return to Canada Mr. Brown devoted much of his time to his Bow Park farm, where he had made great improvements, and commenced the formation of the short-horn herd of cattle which in latter
years became so famous, and was deemed one of the finest in the world.
As in 1861, when defeated in Toronto, Mr. Brown had offers of several constituencies. He was not, however, desirous of remaining in parliament, and therefore resolved firmly, as he was defeated, to decline election elsewhere, at least for a time, or until circumstances should show an urgent reason or necessity for his reappearance there.
In a letter to a friend shortly after the election, he wrote as follows: “I am not a bit discouraged by the result of the elections, and “ did not feel two minutes' chagrin at my own defeat. Our friends “ behaved very generously to me.
I had at once several offers to “make way for me-even Mr. and Mr. on whom I had no “particular claim, wrote me—but I was too glad to be a free man " to think of accepting these kind offers. But if out of parliament