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wrote: “The Tory party are doing what they can by menace, intimi. "dation and appeals to passion, to drive me to a coup d'état. “If I had dissolved parliament I might have produced a rebellion, “but most assuredly I should not have procured a change of ministry. “ The leaders of the party know that as well as I do, and were it "possible to play tricks in such grave concerns, it would have been
easy to throw them into utter confusion by merely calling upon them “to form a government.” At this trying time Mr. Brown, in the Globe and at public meetings, threw himself into the thick of the fight in defence of the Governor-General and the government, not wholly because he fully approved of the manner in which the measure was promoted, for he did not- —so important a measure, he felt, should have been mentioned in the speech from the throne, and should have been previously foreshadowed, and time given to its careful consideration before introducing it—but he thought that the constitutional course of Lord Elgin, in giving his entire support to his advisers on a subject which had already been partially dealt with by the opposite party, should be as vigorously defended as the unconstitutional course of Lord Metcalfe, in refusing to take advice from responsible ministers, was denounced. The utmost energy was shown by the Globe in calling on the people to support the Governor-General. Every number was filled with articles, letters and addresses, from all quarters, supporting Lord Elgin's action. The insane fury of the Tories against him only diverted public discussion from the merits of the bill and towards the defence of the representative of the Queen, so unjustly assailed. The general result was that addresses were sent to the Governor-General signed by nearly 150,000 people, while a petition got up by the Opposition praying for his recall was signed by about 25,000 to 30,000.
When the bill passed the House early in the session a disgraceful riot took place in Toronto, when the Tory mob expressed their opinions by attacking the private houses of Messrs. Baldwin, the Premier, Mr. Blake, Solicitor-General, Mr. Brown, Mr. Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, and others, and burning them in effigy, Happily no very serious damage was done to property, and no life was lost. An attack was threatened on the Globe office, but the chivalrous rioters were content with smashing the doors and windows of Mr. Brown's private residence on Church Street. The Montreal riots occurred sonie time afterwards on the occasions of Lord Elgin giving the royal assent to the bill, and his visit to the city to receive the address from parliament. On both occasions he was pelted with missiles of the foulest kind. This abominable conduct, as well as the burning of the parliament building, was the work of well-dressed persons, not of the lowest class of the population, as might be expected. Amongst the numerous deputations from the Province of Ontario sent to the Governor-General with
addresses, were those from Toronto, Kingston and Cobourg. The members of these deputations were entertained at Tetu's Hotel by some of the ministers on May 12th. In the course of the evening a violent mob of the opposite party surrounded the hotel, smashed all the windows of the dining-room and some of the doors, and tried to set the house on fire. At the same time a desperate attempt was made to force their way into the dining-room. At this juncture one of the ministers tired on the mob ; the shot took effect in the neck of one of the assailants, after which the attack was abandoned. An attack was also made on Mr. Lafontaine's house, which was partially destroyed by fire, when one of the assailants was killed. This violence was attempted to be excused on the ground that it was very offensive to be obliged to divert public money to reward rebels. The real reason was Lord Elgin's refusal to make himself, as his predecessor had done, the tool of the Tory party, and this bill was selected as the most profitable to raise an issue upon, as its scope could be so easily misrepresented. Mr. Brown's share in encountering the riotous obstructionists was a large and prominent one.
His chivalrous nature would at once lead him to defend the person of the Governor-General, but he felt that a far more important interest was at stake. The question whether a constitutional system of government, with ministers responsible to parliament, could exist in Canada or not, came up. “ The first really efficient and “working government that Canada had had since the Union” (to use Lord Elgin's words) was assailed by force. The most seditious language was used towards the Governor. No greater crisis could have arisen. The party who then assailed Governor and ministers with violence, who defied the solemn decision of parliament, had succeeded six years before, with a Governor-General who was a suitable instrument, in destroying parliamentary government for a time before there had been time to fairly develop its principles. Had they succeeded in securing the recall of Lord Elgin, and, as a necessary consequence, the disallowance of the Rebellion Losses Bill, another severe blow would be struck at parliamentary or responsible government. As Mr. Brown stated at the time, "all such attempts to damage the new system “must be put down with a strong hand, and free action be accorded “ to it.” The violence and insults offered to the Queen's representative were to be at once resented and deplored. But the “ark of
the constitution" had to be defended first of all, as the peace and happiness of the whole peuple depended on its preservation, especially as the defence of the one implied and necessitated the defence of the other.
The Montreal disturbances ultimately gave birth to a new organization under the name of “ The British North American League." This association was a queer mixture of Tories and Annexationists, and comprised all the disappointed items. Like King David's famous army at the Cave of Adullam, “Every one that was in distress, and “every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, "gathered themselves” to the meetings of the League. The Globe, and liberal journals generally, greeted the new political mongrel with a storm of ridicule. They were dubbed “ Children of the Sun. After one brief attempt to effect something by their meeting at Kingston, the concern collapsed from the sheer rottenness of its material. They advocated extreme Toryism, extreme disloyalty, and finally threatened to drive the French into the sea.
The clumsy ‘attempt at revolution had failed. The GovernorGeneral had proved himself a true constitutional ruler. By his moderation, firmness and prudence, he had averted serious dangers while giving full effect to the new system of government. Long before the close of the year many of his opponents showed they were ashamed of their conduct towards him ; and he ultimately left Canada one of the most popular Governors that ever held sway over it, and probably the ablest of them all.
Mr. BROWN DENOUNCES THE MINISTRY,- LETTERS TO MR. HINCKS.
Mr. Brown, in the Globe articles, also took this view of the ministerial position respecting the non-introduction of measures to settle the questions discussed at the elections in 1847, that some more time should have been allowed, but at the same time kept up the fire of agitation on these questions, which at no distant day bore fruit, in forcing legislation upon them, though at the expense of the disruption of the liberal party. The writer thinks Mr. Brown showed too much indulgence in this matter. There is no doubt but that the supineness of the liberal leaders at this time laid the foundation of the dissensions which were to rend the party asunder at no distant day. It would be too much to say that their inaction was due to treachery, but it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that their course had all the effect, on public questions to which the party were committed and on the party itself, which deliberate treachery would produce. Some of the leaders subsequently went over bodily to the conservative party, softening their action by dubbing the party they acceded to as a coalition. The smaller minds slipped backward into the Tory lines, with the words “ Baldwin Reformer” pinned on their breasts or painted on their backs. These people had none of the high character belonging to Mr. Baldwin ; they were not actuated by his unselfish spirit and devotion to the public interests generally ; but they grasped his political blunders, and considered themselves sufficiently clothed therewith. Probably they were right.
Some important sections of the party, however, notably the Examiner newspaper, refused to endorse or condone the passive attitude of ministers, and bitterly assailed them as being untrue to their promises. Mr. Brown, for a considerable time, defended ministers, no doubt believing that the delay was caused by unforeseen obstacles, and having faith in the men individually who composed the ministry. This defence, mild as it was, drew, not unreasonably, some censure on Mr. Brown from many reformers, who could not and would not excuse the apparently needless delay; and Mr. Brown never entirely regained the confidence of some of the discontents, who thought he defended the ministry too long.
Before the second session was over, it became evident that a serious break would soon take place in the reform ranks, unless the government should adopt a bold and vigorous policy-should, in a word, fulfil their promises. It became known also, that one of the difficulties lay in the determination of the leading French liberals not to assent to the secularization of the clergy reserves. This was a most unexpected obstacle, and naturally had to be seriously considered by the government and the newspapers supporting them. It has been claimed that this alone was a sufficient reason for ministerial delays. While this cannot be admitted, it must be allowed that so unexpected an embarrassment naturally would have postponed action for the first session, but only that. At the same time, it was impossible for the liberals of Canada West to consent to any compromise on this question which would admit of any church, with the national sanction, express or implied, assuming the status of an established or dominant church. The demand was imperative that all denominations of Christians must stand equal in the eye of the law. It was, however, the duty of leading men, not only in the interest of the liberal party but also in the general interests, to avoid, if possible, a split, which would have the effect of restoring the Tory party to power, and so retarding for a time the triumph of the voluntary principle, and the adoption of liberal measures generally. The reluctance of Mr. Brown to break with the government was sufficiently shown by the attacks made upon him in some liberal journals for supporting the ministry, notwithstanding their apparent infidelity to professed principles, while he was endeavouring to influence the ministers to a right course without an open rupture. The accusation was, however, enough to cause his defeat in Haldimand, where he became a candidate at a special election early in 1851. The state of feeling in the country and in the House is well given, as follows, in one of Mr. Brown's letters, published in September, 1851, and addressed to Mr. Hincks :
SIR, -At the close of the Session of 1850, there existed much dissatis. faction with the proceedings of the administration, and strong suspicions of your integrity on important questions. These feelings were entertained by your supporters in parliament as well as out of it; and a letter, signed by nearly all the Upper Canada asherents of government in the House of Assembly, was addressed to the leader, expressing the general dissatisfaction, and the inevitable consequences, unless a more progressive policy and greater deference to public sentiment were immediately exhibited. No attention whatever was paid to that letter ; and the marked contempt thereby shown towards its authors, coupled with the singular good understanding seen to exist between you and several learling conservatives, strongly confirmed the prevailing rumours that a coalition ministry, to embrace moderate reformers, moderate conservatives, and moderate French Canadians, was seriously contemplated. Many things combined to lead well-informed persons to this conclusion, and so early as the 8th October, 1850, the Globe denounced the project in the following language :
“We see constant allusions to a coming Coalition Ministry, which, in the opinion of many, the position of parties naturally points to. We sin. cerely trust that, so far as the ministerialist party are concerned, no such