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CHAPTER XXV.

MR. BROWN'S SERVICES TO LIBERALISM IN CANADA. ESTIMATE OF HIS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CHARACTER.

Mr. Brown's Canadian career extended over a period of thirty-six years. He came to the country in early manhood with little or no influence or fortune, depending entirely on his personal exertions. In one year he established his reputation as a journalist, and obtained the confidence of the leading men in the liberal ranks. All felt that in him the party had secured a potent ally, and his newspaper within a year became its recognized organ. At that time newspaper literature had not any special influence. The seat of government was in a small city, and the administration itself was not hampered or strengthened by keen criticism or warm support from the press. Political life was in a changing uncertain condition. The new constitution was yet in its infancy. The promoters of reform in former days were more concerned in the exposure of grievances than in the construction of a new political edifice broad enough to embrace all desirable reforms. Popular rights and religious equality had to a great extent been conceded, but much remained to be accomplished. A class of reformers, becoming less numerous every day, remained, who devoted themselves and their newspapers to fighting past battles, rehearsing old grievances, and denouncing the Family Compact. This class had a goodly portion of the "know-nothing" element; its members seemed to resent the coming from other lands of sterling reformers as almost an intrusion, and their advocacy of a building up, broad policy, establishing a really responsible government, was often met by carping criticism and personal attack.

Mr. Baldwin and some other leaders of the liberal party were, to say the least, timorous and undecided in their course, and the GovernorGeneral exercised an improper influence in the administration of affairs. Into such elements the new candidate for popular favour precipitated himself with all his characteristic energy, sweeping aside the cobwebs of the past, taking his stand on the unassailable ground that all classes and creeds must enjoy equality in the eye of the law, and that all the class legislation of the past must be speedily repealed. The result was that he soon obtained an influence in the country generally which was unparalleled.

Liberal statesmen felt that they had a powerful supporter in the

new journalist, but some of them also felt that a new power was put in motion which would compel them to move on or subject them to be trampled over in the inevitable onward movement. The journal commenced by the young Scotchman became immediately the recognized organ of the liberal party, and in little more than eight years after he became a resident of Canada, he was elected a member of the legislature for one of the largest counties. This success was partly owing to his great energy, partly to his power as a speaker, but mainly to the influence he wielded as editor of the Globe. The intense earnestness and vigour he displayed as a speaker at popular meetings, enhanced greatly by his fine presence, enabled him to communicate an enthusiasm to his audience which seldom failed to carry him through triumphantly.

His information on public questions of the day, and on historical facts bearing upon them, was very extensive; while his skill in debate, his rapid utterance and enthusiastic energy, often overwhelmed opponents who were themselves able men. There was no man amongst the public men of the past generation so effective as a political speaker; but the very qualities and circumstances which gave him his influence and power with the masses, and constituted him a natural leader, also conduced to raise up many bitter enemies. He was often assailed by members of his own party, some of whom objected to the rigid code of political morality as to measures which he inculcated. His path as a reform journalist was often crossed by time-servers who were willing to compromise principles, or postpone action thereon, for the sake of office. Sooner or later this class came under the lash of the Globe, and some of them never quite forgot what they conceived to be an injury. In some cases the denunciatory language was undoubtedly too severe, and possibly sufficient allowance was not made for the initial difficulties to be overcome in getting into working order the system of parliamentary or responsible government. On the other hand, no political leader ever was more disposed to welcome back members of the party who had been temporarily alienated from their friends. It became his duty, in pursuance of the policy he adopted, to condemn the course of the reform leader, Robert Baldwin. Nothing need be said here as to what was involved in that act, as their relations have been already dealt with in this volume. There was undoubtedly a considerable portion of the liberal party that more or less sympathized with the timid policy of this statesman, or rather who admired his personal character so much that they looked more lightly than they should upon his failure to carry out the pledges made or programme understood or adopted before the general elections of 1844 and 1847, but who were quite loyal to the party generally. For a time this class blamed the Globe as having been needlessly severe to an able and

upright but too dilatory public man. It is elsewhere demonstrated that there was no just ground for this opinion, and long ago all sections of the party were satisfied that the leading journal only discharged a plain duty in pointing out Mr. Baldwin's unfitness to lead in carrying out the reform policy.

There was another class which sought shelter from the consequences of treachery by hiding under Baldwin's name. This class moved to the Tory camp under the name of "Baldwin Reformers." It was insignificant in numbers and ability-too insignificant as a class to be attacked-but there were individuals in it who had some standing in the country. These men were vigorously assailed and their election opposed by Mr. Brown. In doing so he incurred some censure and subjected himself to much misrepresentation, which remained to some extent in the public mind to the last. His line at that time was, as a matter of course, strongly condemned by both these classes. He was characterized as a tyrant and dictator, just as he was in later times by men who vacillated between the two political camps, between free trade and protection, between British rule and annexation to the United States. The question naturally arises, what did he demand as the duty of public men when he first made known his discontent at the leaders' course? The reply must be, that after years of patient waiting for the fulfilment of pledges given, he refused, and properly refused, to defend further or wait longer, and denounced the conduct of Baldwin, Hincks and others as suicidal and calamitous morally and politically, besides being unfaithful to their promises, and to the anti-state church policy held as a sacred principle by the reform party. The strong ground taken by Mr. Brown led to such expressions of hostile opinion that he at one time spoke of himself, when replying to charges of personal ambition, as a governmental impossibility." There can be no doubt that he assumed a grave responsibility in adopting a course which resulted in an alienation, more or less complete, of many liberals and many liberal newspapers. It must be remembered, however, that the course of the liberal ministry of 1848 was such that it made a disruption of the party inevitable, and that long before Mr. Brown turned from them, the Toronto Examiner had vigorously denounced them, and that a party had even appeared in the liberal ranks in parliament hostile to the government. When this opposition first appeared Mr. Brown vigorously attacked it, and humorously designated Caleb Hopkins and Malcolm Cameron as "Clear Grits," this being the first time the phrase, now commonly applied to the party génerally, was used. He hoped at the time that the indications of discontent then apparent among ministerial supporters would have a salutary effect. When this appeared hopeless he at once determined to adhere to principle by proclaiming his views, let the consequences be what they might.

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It is impossible to condemn such a course, if wisely conducted. It would be rash to say that this was always the case; and, on the other hand, it would be unjust to say that Mr. Brown was not actuated by the best motives, and that success was not achieved at last for the principles he advocated mainly or very largely in consequence of his efforts at that early day. His course at that time, in vigorously opposing his own political friends when recreant to their principles, undoubtedly secured the complete triumph of those principles at a much earlier day than if he had allowed them to neglect these interests with impunity.

Every one will remember that he afterwards acted heartily with many public men of his own party whom he at one time opposed because they supported a policy of delay, thereby showing a proper but generous spirit, and a right appreciation of the necessities of political life. In no one thing did he sacrifice so much of his personal feeling as when he consented to serve in the same administration with Mr. John A. Macdonald: that gentleman had done him a grievous injury in making the charges he did concerning Mr. Brown's conduct while serving on the Kingston Penitentiary commission, which was never atoned for. Nothing could be more unpalatable than to have such a colleague, but Mr. Brown, at the request of his party, joined Sir E. Taché's government to carry out the confederation scheme. When he left the coalition government he resumed his former relations of nonintercourse with Mr. John A. Macdonald, though doubtless prepared at any time to accept in its right spirit any expression of regret for so unjustifiable an accusation as had been made. That expression never was uttered. It is known that Mr. Macdonald promised, when the coalition government was formed, to make a public retractation of the false charges he had brought against Mr. Brown in this matter. This promise he failed to fulfil, thereby lowering his own position, and justifying Mr. Brown in refusing any social recognition of him. Mr. Macdonald might possibly have pleaded, as many of his supporters did, that he had reason to believe the charges true when he made them; but when, with a committee of his own choosing, he failed utterly in establishing a single charge, he should at once have risen to the dignity of the occasion, and admitted he had been deceived, and apologized for the attack.

Hot words and bitter expressions are often doubtless exchanged in political warfare by most leaders, and Mr. Brown was no exception to the rule, but he never transgressed by making a purely personal attack, and many with whom he had fierce struggles in the arena of politics became afterwards his warmest friends. A man of strong feeling and warm enthusiastic disposition, he conveyed sometimes to those who met him occasionally the idea that he was intolerant of other

people's opinions, and resolved to have his own way. Those who thought so did not know him. He was often blamed by his close allies in the liberal ranks for too readily admitting into political confidence men who had shown something very like a wilful abandonment of party and principle. In council he was always disposed to listen to others' arguments, and defer much to the opinions of those in whom he had confidence. As a political leader he was always considerate to his supporters, but he would not lead on any doubtful policy, and when once a policy was adopted by his party, none was so resolute in carrying it towards a conclusion. A notable instance occurred in 1860, when he moved certain resolutions in the House of Assembly, in pursuance of the conclusions at which the Reform Convention of September, 1859, had arrived. Several powerful members, including the late J. S. Macdonald, H. M. Foley, and Dr. Connor, objected to his proceeding with the resolutions, but he resolutely adhered to the policy adopted, and the recusants were obliged to submit.

It must be admitted that many of the objections to his thorough system in political life between 1850 and 1865 were based on the belief that it would keep the liberal party out of power. He cared chiefly for a straight advocacy of essential principles, with the belief that every struggle brought them nearer his reach. He saw no special benefit in having a government called by the name of reform, composed of men who called themselves reformers, if they were either unable or unwilling to give effect to reform measures and principles. His principal opponent in the reform ranks, on the other hand, did not hesitate to say openly in parliament that he was prepared to join any combination of parties which would prevent any disturbance of the then existing union, even so far as to grant representation by population. This policy doubtless kept Mr. Hincks in power for some years, and so far kept in the background reforms which were inevitable, and which an honest perseverance in pursuing a liberal policy on his part might have anticipated by some years. The one gravitated naturally to the Tory camp on the (political) broad road, and after many years he became a minister again after the reforms had been accomplished which he had determinately resolved to prevent by "any combina"tions." The other had the proud satisfaction of knowing that to his efforts mainly was his party and his province indebted for the final triumph of the principles he had so long contended for. Long before he passed away there was no vestige of state-churchism in the land; all churches stood equal in the eye of the law. A just system of parliamentary representation had taken the place of one partial and unjust; and in addition to this, his long cherished hope of living to see a powerful British nationality in America was realized in connection with the reforms he had advocated. The "some joint authority"

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