« PreviousContinue »
STATE OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS IN CANADA ON MR. BROWN'S
ARRIVAL IN 1843.
It is impossible to present any fair estimate of Mr. Brown's life and character, or to do justice to his merits as a public man, without dealing to a certain extent with the public questions in the discussion of which he was engaged for thirty-six years.
When Mr. Brown first appeared in Canada the country had not recovered from the shock and confusion caused by the ill-advised insurrectionary movements of 1837-9. These movements were brought about by a quarter of a century's misgovernment at the hands of a small but compact body of men, whose professed excessive loyalty to king and church, though marred by an abhorrence of popular rights, had generally secured to them the support of the British Government, then also controlled to a great extent by the same unjust and antiprogressive spirit.
The leaders of the popular party were almost exclusively engaged in a battle with the powers of the day on specific grievances complained of, and consequently gave comparatively little attention to the advocacy of fundamental principles of government which, left to operate freely, would have removed all grievances by due course of law. Mr. Lindsey, in his life of Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, says : "complained of the government, when they ought to have struck a blow “at the system which rendered it possible for a party who could com
mand only a small minority in the popular branch of the legislature “ to continue their grasp on the reins of power.” Wild attacks on the leaders of the Canadian oligarchy (sometimes embracing the Governor), and petitions to the Secretary of State for the colonies, on subjects which the Canadian people, left to themselves, would have immediately put right, were perhaps to be expected ; nor would it be just now to severely blame, or to blame at all, that mode of procedure ; but such a course only anticipated some temporary relief in some specific cases of injustice caused by a bad system of government, rather than looked for a radical cure.
The initiation of a system of partially responsible government with the union of the two Canadas did not rapidly tend to produce perfect contentment, for the simple reason that the name existed without the
“ The people