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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter IV - "The Colonial Advocate"


WHEN Mackenzie abandoned trade for politics, he was doing well, and had done well ever since he commenced business. A perseverance in the career on which he had entered four years before would have led to wealth. In the first number of the Colonial Advocate, published at Queens-ton on May 18th, 1824, he describes himself as being "as independent as editors can well be." The step which he had now taken was one of the most important in his whole career, since it involved everything that followed. Why did he take it? Fortunately the answer can be given in his own words. Writing from the United States to a friend, after the rebellion, he says:—

"When you and your father knew me first, in 1820, I was a young man connected with trade in York and Dundas. The prudent, judicious, and very profitable manner in which I conducted, alone, the partnership concerns of a large trading establishment at the head of Lake Ontario, surely afforded satisfactory evidence that I had no occasion to leave my private pursuits for the stormy sea of politics with a view to the improvement of my pecuniary prospects. When I did so, and assumed, as the westernmost journalist in the British dominions on the continent of America, the office of a public censor, I had no personal enemies, but was on friendly terms with many of the men whom, since then I have steadily opposed. I never interfered in the public concerns of the colony in the most remote degree, until the day on which I issued twelve hundred copies of a newspaper without having asked or received a single subscriber. In that number I stated my sentiments, and the objects I had in view, fully and frankly. I had long seen the country in the hands of a few shrewd, crafty, covetous men, under whose management one of the most lovely and desirable sections of America remained a comparative desert. The most obvious public improvements were stayed; dissension was created among classes; citizens were banished and imprisoned in defiance of all law; the people had been long forbidden, under severe pains and penalties, from meeting anywhere to petition for justice; large estates were wrested from their owners in utter contempt of even the forms of the courts; the Church of England, the adherents of which were few, monopolized as much of the lands of the colony as all the religious houses and dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church had had the control of in Scotland at the era of the Reformation; other sects were treated with contempt and scarcely tolerated; a sordid band of land-jobbers grasped the soil as their patrimony, and, with a few leading officials who divided the public revenue among themselves, formed 'the Family Compact,' and were the avowed enemies of common schools, of civil and religious liberty, of all legislative or other checks to their own will. Other men had opposed, and been converted, by them. At nine-and-twenty I might have united with them, but chose rather to join the oppressed, nor have I ever regretted that choice, or wavered from the object of my early pursuit. So far as I or any other professed Reformer was concerned in inviting citizens of this union to interfere in Canadian affairs, there was culpable error. So far as any of us, at any time, may have supposed that the cause of freedom would be advanced by adding the Canadas to this Confederation, we were under the merest delusion."

This picture of Upper Canada in 1820 may be highly coloured; but in the general outlines, repulsive as they are, there is too much truth. The limner lived to see a change of system in Canada; and after he had had a more than theoretical experience of democracy in the United States—having resided there for several years—he warns Canadians not to be misled by the delusion that the cause of liberty would be advanced by uniting these provinces to the American republic. When we come to see at what price he purchased the experience which entitled him to express such an opinion, the value of this admonition cannot fail to be enhanced in the estimation of all unprejudiced judges.

In some respects the condition of the province in 1820 was worse than Mackenzie described it. He dealt only with its political condition; but the absence of demand for employment made wretched those who depended solely upon their labour for subsistence. When Lord Hamilton suggested, in the House of Commons in 1820, that an emigration to the North American colonies would be the most effectual means of relieving distress at home, the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied that the emigrants who had recently gone there, "so far from finding increased means of subsistence, had experienced a want of employment fully equal to that which existed in the most distressed manufacturing districts of this country. The North American provinces of Great Britain had been so overloaded with emigrants that the government of Canada had made the strongest remonstrances to the government of this country on the subject."

The condition of things otherwise was very unsatisfactory. Protest against existing abuses seemed impossible; public meetings, the actors in which had been deputed to represent any portion of the electors, were illegal; and everything in the shape of a convention was held to be seditious. A provincial statute known as the Alien Act, passed in 1804, made it possible to arrest any person, who had not been an inhabitant of the province for six months and who had not taken the oath of allegiance, on the mere suspicion that he was "about 88 to endeavour to alienate the minds of His Majesty's subjects from his person or government, or in any wise with a seditious intent to disturb the tranquillity thereof." If such a person failed to prove his innocence, he must, on notification, quit the province within a named time, failing which he might be formally tried. On trial, if adjudged guilty, he was to be ordered to quit the province, and if he did not do so, he was deemed guilty of a felony and to suffer death as a felon without benefit of clergy.

Robert Gourlay, an educated Scotsman, son of a gentleman of considerable fortune, and who was reputed to be the best informed man in the kingdom respecting the poor of Great Britain, came to Canada in 1817, where he and his wife owned land in the county of Oxford. Having studied the existing conditions in Upper Canada, he began to discuss them by writings and speeches in a manner that had not before been heard in the province. In his voluminous writings, he was careful to confine himself to statements of fact and to avoid exaggeration. He aroused public indignation to a high degree against the ruling party. The Compact decided on his destruction, and a criminal prosecution for libel followed. He was tried at Kingston after arrest, but found not guilty. He was arrested again on a similar charge, and tried and acquitted at Brockville. The prisoner conducted his own defence. The alleged libel occurred in two paragraphs of a petition to the Prince Regent, drafted by Gourlay, and approved of, printed and published by sixteen residents of the Niagara district, six of whom were magistrates.

But matters were not to rest here. Perjured evidence was procured against him, and as members of the legislative council were permitted to set the law in motion under the Alien Act, William Dickson and William Claus, magistrates and members of the council, brought him to trial before themselves under the Act, and adjudged that he should leave the province within ten days. This order he refused to obey. "I resolved," he says, "to endure any hardship rather than to submit voluntarily." Thirteen days after, on January 4th, 1819, the same magistrates issued an order for commitment, under which he was arrested and confined in Niagara gaol until he could be tried at the next sittings of the court of general gaol delivery. Meantime, being brought before Chief Justice Powell on a writ of habeas corpus, affidavits of respectable persons were read declaring him to be a natural-born British subject, domiciled for the previous nine months at Queenston in Upper Canada, and affirming that he was respected and esteemed and that he had taken the oath of allegiance. But he was remanded to gaol to await trial.

"After two months confinement," he wrote, "in one of the cells of the gaol, my health began to suffer, and, on complaint of this, the liberty of walking through the passages and sitting at the door was granted. This liberty prevented my getting worse the four succeeding months, although I never enjoyed a day's health but l>y the power of medicine. At the end of this period, I was again locked up in the cell, cut off from all conversation with my friends but through a hole in the door, while the jailor or under-sheriff watched what was said, and for some time both my attorney and magistrates of my acquaintance were denied admission to me. The Quarter Sessions were held soon after this severe and unconstitutional treatment commenced, and on these occasions it was the custom and duty of the grand jury to perambulate the gaol, and see that all was right with the prisoners. I prepared a memorial for their consideration, but on this occasion was not visited. I complained to a magistrate through the door, who promised to mention my case to the chairman of the Sessions, but the chairman of the Sessions happened to be the brother of one of those who had signed my commitment, and the court broke up without my obtaining the smallest relief. Exasperation of mind, now joined to the heat of the weather, which was excessive, rapidly wasted my health and impaired my faculties. I felt my memory sensibly affected, and could not connect my ideas through any length of reasoning but by writing, which many days I was wholly unfitted for by the violence of continual headache." The jury was irregularly drawn from "a line of nearly twenty miles, along which it was well known that there was the greatest number of people prejudiced and influenced against me."

After more than seven months confinement, Chief Justice Powell, on August 20th, 1819, proceeded with the trial, John Beverley Robinson acting as prosecuting attorney. No attempt was made to convict Gourlay of sedition; the only charge that was pressed against him was his refusal to leave the province. His condition, when brought into court, was that of a broken-down man bereft of reason, and though he had prepared a written defence, which he had in his pocket, he could not remember what he had done with it. He had obtained the opinion of several eminent English counsel that his imprisonment was wholly unjustifiable, and Sir Arthur Peggott was convinced that he should have been discharged under the writ of habeas corpus. He was found guilty— guilty of not having left the province. On being asked if he had anything to say why the sentence of the court should not be passed on him, he burst into a "loud, strident peal of unmeaning, maniacal laughter." The sentence of the court was that he must leave the province within twenty-four hours, and he was reminded of the risk he would run in disobeying, or in returning later to Upper Canada; that is to suffer death as a felon, without benefit of clergy. That day he crossed the Niagara River—an exile. "I thanked God," he wrote several years afterwards, "as I set my first foot on the American shore, that I trod on a land of freedom." Such were the methods adopted by the ruling faction in 1819 to put down public discussion.

The object of a convention which was held at York, in 1818, was to arrange for sending commissioners to England to bring before the imperial authorities the condition of the province, with a view to its amelioration. Colonel Beardley of Hamilton, the chairman, was tried by court-martial and deprived of his commission. Among the delegates, there were many who had shown their attachment to their sovereign during the War of 1812. The lands to which they were entitled, as bounty, were withheld from them on account of their presence at that assemblage. A very difficult and irritating question also arose of the state of the naturalization laws as they affected persons of British birth who had remained in the United States till after 1783, and then came to settle in the province. Of the post-office revenue, no account was given; and, in return for high rates of postage, the service was very indifferently performed.

With what opinions did the future leader of an insurrection, which it cost many millions of dollars to quell, set out? Was he a fierce Democrat, who had resolved, with malice prepense, to do all in his power to overthrow those monarchical institutions which had suffered gross abuse at the hands of those to whom their working had been confided? No prospectus having gone forth as an avant courrier of the Colonial Advocate, the first number of the journal, which was in octavo form, was devoted chiefly to an exposition of the principles of the editor. The range of topics embraced was wide, and the tone of discussion, free from the bitterness that marked his later writing, was frank. A Calvin-ist in religion, proclaiming his belief in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and a Liberal in politics, yet was Mackenzie, at that time, no advocate of the voluntary principle. On the contrary, he lauded the British government for making a landed endowment of the Protestant clergy in the provinces, and was shocked at the report that, in 1812, voluntaryism had robbed three millions of people of all means of religious ordinances. "In no part of the constitution of the Canadas," he said, "is the wisdom of the British legislature more apparent than in its setting apart a portion of the country, while yet it remained a wilderness, for the support of religion." Mackenzie compared the setting apart of one-seventh of the public lands for religious purposes to a like dedication in the time of the Christians. But he objected that the revenues were monopolized by one Church, to which only a fraction of the population belonged. The envy of the non-recipient denominations made the favoured Church of England unpopular. Though this distribution of the revenues was manifestly in accordance 94 with the law creating the Reserves, the alteration of that law, if it should not meet the wishes of the people, had been contemplated and provided for by its framers. By this argument Mackenzie was easily brought to the conclusion "that Catholic and Protestant, Episcopalian and Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist, Quaker and Tunker, deserve to share alike in the income of these lands;" and he expressed a hope that a law would be enacted "by which the ministers of every body of professing Christians, being British subjects, shall receive equal benefits from these Clergy Reserves." But this was not to be; for agitation on the question was to be directed to the abrogation, not the equal division, of these reservations.

On this question, the conservative character of Mackenzie's opinions was found to be out of harmony with the general sentiment, as it gradually unfolded itself, and his own opinions changed. As the subject was more discussed, he saw reason to change them. On another question—that of establishing a provincial university—he contended for a principle, the adoption of which would have prevented a great deal of subsequent difficulty. Cordially seconding the proposal of Dr. Strachan to establish such an institution, he predicted that it would attract but few students and not answer the purpose for which it was required "if tied down by tests and oaths to support particular dogmas." This warning was unheeded, and, for the reasons he had given, the university had to be turned upside down a quarter of a century afterwards.

The executive government, the legislative council, the bench, the bar, the Church, all came in for a share of attention. Lieutenant-Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland, a son-in-law of the then governor-general of Canada, the fourth Duke of Richmond, was disadvantageously compared to De Witt Clinton, of the state of New York. The members of the executive, apparently for no sound reason, were described as "foreigners." The legislative council, a majority of whose members held offices under the Crown, and were even pluralists in a small way, were represented as being "always selected from the tools of servile power." The dependent position of the judges, being removable at the pleasure of the executive, was lamented. As for the Church which claimed to be the established religion of the country, its ministers were declared to be not of that class who endure persecution for conscience' sake. The bar was admitted to have four righteous members, and might, therefore, be considered to be in a hopeful condition.

In so many words, the young journalist volunteered a disclaimer, by way of anticipation, of being a Radical Reformer. He had joined no Spafield mobs. He had never benefited by the harangues of Hunt, Cobbett, or Watson. He was not even chargeable with being a follower of Gourlay, who had already rendered himself odious to the ruling faction. With none of these sins was Mackenzie chargeable. And though he was a warm Reformer, he "never wished to see British America an appendage of the American union." American liberty was good, but British liberty was better. From the Americans we might learn something of the art of agriculture; but of government nothing. Yet our own system of cross-purposes required reformation. The proposed Union Bill of 1818 had been rightly rejected, and the only desirable union was one of all the British American colonies. The law of primogeniture was condemned.

Such were the views promulgated by the young journalist at the outset of his career. Yet, moderate and even conservative as they were on many points, an organ of the official party suggested that he should be banished from the province, and the whole edition seized. We look upon them now as being, for the most part, moderate and rational. The views which he expressed in reference to a provincial university, before it had been brought into existence, afterwards came in the shape of a reform, the fruit of a long and bitter controversy. Members of the legislature no longer hold subordinate offices, much less are they pluralists. The judges hold their offices for life, and are not removable at the pleasure of the executive. The executive council can only be composed of such men as can obtain the favour of a legislative majority. The Church of England, having no exclusive privileges and making no pretensions to dominancy, no longer excites jealousy, envy, or hatred. All the provinces of British America have been united under one government. The right of primogeniture has been abolished, and intestate estates are equally distributed among the children. The mode of administering the government has been so revolutionized as to be equivalent to a complete change of system. The game of cross-purposes, of which Mackenzie complained, is no longer played between two branches of the legislature, or between the popular branch and the executive.

Something new under the sun had appeared in the newspaper world of Upper Canada. To official gazettes containing a little news, and semi-official sheets, which had the intense admiration of the ruling oligarchy, little York had previously been accustomed. To newspaper criticism, the executive had not been inured; and it was determined that the audacity of the new journal should be rebuked. In spite of all his protestations, Mackenzie was called upon to defend himself against an imputation of disloyalty; and, judging from his reply, he appears to have felt this as one of the most galling, and at the same time one of the most untrue, accusations that could have been made against him. A Mackenzie disloyal! In the annals of the whole clan no record of so unnatural a monster could be found. On June 10th, 1824, Mackenzie replied at great length. A part of this reply has already been given in the way of family history; and the more material parts of the remainder must not be omitted.

"Had Mr. Fothergill not been pleased to accuse me in plain terms of democracy, disloyalty, and foul play, I should not have devoted so much of this number to party argument. It is necessary for me, however, when my good name is so unexpectedly and rudely assailed, in the first place, to deny, in plain and positive terms, such a charge; it will then accord with my duty, as well as with my inclination, to inquire how far he or any man is entitled, from any observations of mine, to advance such statements as appear in the official papers of the 27th ult. and 3rd instant.

"I consider it the bounden duty of every man who conducts a public newspaper, to endeavour to so regulate his own conduct in private life that the observations he may publicly make on the words and actions of others, may not lose their weight and influence on being contrasted with his own behaviour, whether as the head of a family or as an individual member of society. Were I a native of the village in which I now write, or of the district in which it is situated, the whole of my past life could be fairly referred to as a refutation, or as a corroboration, of what he has urged against me; but as that is not the case, this being only the fifth year of my residence in Canada, I must refer to that residence, and to such other circumstances as I may consider best calculated to do away with the injurious impression that will be raised in the minds of those who do not know me, and who may, therefore, be unjustly biased by his erroneous statements. I will, in the first instance, refer to every page of the four numbers of the Advocate now before the public; I may ask every impartial reader, nay, I may even ask Mr. Robinson1 himself (that is, if he has any judgment in such matters), whether they do not, in every line, speak the language of a free and independent British subject? I may ask whether I have not endeavoured, by every just means, to discourage the unprofitable, unsocial system of the local governments, so detrimental to British and colonial interests, and which has been productive of so much misery to these colonies ? Whether I have not endeavoured to inculcate in all my readers that godlike maxim of the illustrious British patriot, Charles James Fox, that 4 that government alone is strong that has the hearts of the people.'? It is true, my loyalty has not descended so low as to degenerate into a base, fawning, cringing servility. I may honour my sovereign, surely, and remember the ruler of my people with the respect that is due unto his name and rank, without allowing my deportment to be equally respectful and humble to His Majesty's butcher, or his baker, his barber, or his tailor! . . .

"It may be proper that I should for this once add a few other reasons why disloyalty can never enter my breast; even the name I bear has in all ages proved talismanic, an insurmountable barrier. There are many persons in this very colony who have known me from infancy, so that what I may say there or here can easily be proved or disproved if it should ever become of consequence enough to deserve investigation. If Mr. Fothergill can find that any one who bears the name which, from both parents, I inherit, if he can find only one Mackenzie, and they are a very extensive clan, whether a relation of mine or otherwise, whether of patrician, or (as he terms me) of plebeian birth, who has ever deserted or proved disloyal to his sovereign in the hour of danger, even I will allow that he had the shadow of a reason for his false and slanderous imputations ; but if in this research he fails, I hope, for the sake of truth and justice, for the honour of the Canadian press, for the sake of the respectability of that official journal of which he has the management, if not for mine which never wronged him, that he will instantly retract a charge, which, to say the least of it, is as foolish and groundless as the observations he has connected with it are vain and futile. Only think of the consequences which might result from owing allegiance to a foreign government; think that in a few short weeks, or it may be years, one might be called on, upon the sanctity of an oath, to wage war against all that from childhood upwards he had held most dear; to go forth in battle array against the heritage of his ancestors, his kindred, his friends, and his acquaintances ; to become instrumental in the subjugation, by fire and sword, to foreigners, of the fields, the cities, the mausoleums of his forefathers—aye, perhaps in the heat of battle, it might be his lot to plunge the deadly blade into the breast of a father, or a brother, or an only child. Surely this picture is not overcharged. In our days it stands on record as having been verified."

There is no reason, not even in the subsequent history of Mackenzie, to doubt the sincerity with which these protestations were made. Years after, in a letter to Lord Dalhousie, governor-in-chief, he went so far as to suggest the possible return to their allegiance to England of the United States, if it were once understood that the full rights of British subjects were to be conferred upon the colonies. And he constantly raised a warning voice to show the danger of a persistent refusal to give to colonists the full enjoyment of those rights. His nature had evidently to undergo a great change before he could become a leader of insurrection.

Mr. Fothergill does not appear to have shown any disposition to prolong the personal contest he had provoked; and he afterwards in the legislature became an advocate of the man he had at first made a personal antagonist. In December, 1826, we find him moving in the assembly that a small sum be paid to Mackenzie for the reports of the debates he had published. This, he said, would help to draw attention in the proper quarter to our country. It was plain that newspapers which assumed anything like independence in their principles or feelings were, in Upper Canada, totally excluded from benefiting by any advertising over which the government had control. He thought the newspapers furnished, and the bills, resolutions, etc., reported by the editor of the Advocate, were fully as useful to the country, and as deserving of payment from the funds of the people, as were the proclamations for which the Kingston Chronicle received £45 the year before from the casual revenues of the Crown.

The motion for granting Mackenzie £37 16s. was carried; but the lieutenant-governor struck the item out of the contingencies, and it was not paid. Mr. Fothergill, having had experience of newspaper publishing, was no indifferent judge of the difficulties he described. The advance postage payment by the publishers on every weekly paper, for the yearly output, must have been next to a prohibition of newspapers; and we may be sure that they were regarded with no friendly eye by the government. While postage was exacted on Canadian newspapers in advance of their transmission, United States papers were allowed to come into the province without being prepaid, an anomaly characterized by Mackenzie as a premium upon democratic principles, and a not ineffectual method of revolutionizing opinion in the Canadas.

A union of all the British American colonies had few earlier advocates than Mackenzie. In a letter to the Right Hon. George Canning, dated June 10th, 1824, he writes:—

... "A union of all the colonies, with a government suitably poised and modelled so as to have under its eye the resources of our whole territory, and having the means in its power to administer impartial justice in all its bounds, to no one part at the expense of another, would require few boons from Britain, and would advance her interests much more in a few years than the bare right of possession of a barren, uncultivated wilderness of lake and forest, with some three or four inhabitants to the square mile, can do in centuries. A colonial marine can only be created by a foreign trade aided by free and beneficial institutions; these, indeed, would create it as if by the wand of an enchanter. If that marine is not brought into being; if that trade, foreign and domestic, continues much longer shackled by supreme neglect, and by seven inferior sets of legislative bodies reigning like so many petty kings during the Saxon heptarchy, England may yet have cause to rue the day when she neglected to raise that only barrier or counterpoise to republican power which could in the end have best guarded and maintained her interests. . . .

"British members of parliament and political writers who talk of giving the colonies complete independence now, either know not that our population and resources would prove very insufficient to preserve our freedom, were it menaced, or else they desire to see the sway of England's most formidable rival extended over the whole of the vast regions of the North American continent."

Nor was this a mere casual expression of opinion, for, on December 14th, 1826, his journal continued the advocacy of this measure under the head of "A Confederation of the British North American Colonies."

Some years before, the colonial department had had this union under consideration, and, in 1822, John Beverley Robinson, at the request of the imperial authorities, gave his opinions at length on a plan of union that had been proposed.1 He thought he saw many advantages in such a union; but the imperial government appear to have entertained a fear that it would lead to the colonies combining against the mother country, a fear not entertained by Mr. Robinson. The question attracted some attention in Nova Scotia about the same time, and Thomas C. Haliburton wrote a pamphlet in which union was advocated.

In July, 1824, soon after Mackenzie had entered on the career of a journalist, a general election came on. The result, a majority opposed to the executive, there is no reason to believe was much affected by his writings, since he had issued only a few numbers of his paper. There had been a great change in the personnel of the House. Only sixteen members of the previous assembly had been reelected; there were twenty-six new members. In the new House the government was destined to be confronted by large majorities, even on their own measures, but the principle of executive responsibility was not acknowledged, and no question of ministerial resignation ever followed a defeat.

The House met on January 11th, 1825. As the session approached, Mackenzie saw reasons for removing his establishment to York, then the seat of the government for Upper Canada. A paper published at Queenston must necessarily reproduce stale accounts of the legislative proceedings. It was doubtful whether any newspaper, which had then been published in Upper Canada, had repaid the proprietor the cost of its production. Any publisher who sent a thousand sheets through the post-office must pay eight hundred dollars a year postage, quarterly in advance. Postmasters received nothing for distributing newspapers, and were accordingly careless about their delivery. Since 1821, Francis Collins had furnished the principal reports of the legislative debates; but it is in evidence that, up to 1827, the operation of publishing them had never been remunerative. The new House paid a reporter one hundred pounds for reporting during the session, the reports to be delivered to the 106 papers for publication, unless the committee on printing should exercise the arbitrary discretion of refusing to allow any particular report to be printed. While these reports were permitted to be published in the Observer, they refused to allow them to appear in the Advocate. The question came up in the House, and, although there was no decision upon it, the exclusion was not long maintained. The spite against the Advocate was carried to great lengths. During the ceremony of re-interring the remains of General Brock at Queenston Heights on September 13th, 1824, some person, in the absence of Mackenzie, put into a hole in the rock at the foundation of the monument a bottle, which he had filled with coins and newspapers, and among which was a single number of the Advocate. When the fact became known to the authorities, the foundation was ordered to be torn up and the obnoxious paper taken out, so that the ghost of the immortal warrior might not be disturbed by its presence, and the structure not be rendered insecure!

Adding a bookstore to his publishing house, Mackenzie at one time entertained the idea of relying principally on the printing of books, and the issuing of a political sheet occasionally. The Advocate had not indeed appeared with strict regularity, only twenty numbers having been published in six months. Some numbers had, after several weeks, been reprinted, and others continued to be asked for after they could be supplied. The last number of the Advocate published at Queenston, bears date November 18th, 1824; and the first number printed in York appeared on the twenty-fifth of the same month. In January, 1825, its circulation was stated at eight hundred and thirty.

The first trial of party strength, if such the election of Speaker could be considered, seemed to indicate a pretty well-balanced House, the vote being twenty-one against nineteen; but, upon other questions, the government minority shrank to much smaller dimensions. John Willson, of Wentworth, had become the successor of Speaker Sherwood. The Reformers were in ecstasies." The result of this election," said Mackenzie, "will gladden the heart, and sweeten the cup, of many a Canadian peasant in the midst of his toil." The advantage of such a victory must, however, be very small, under a condition of things which permitted the advisers of the sovereign's representative to keep their places in spite of a permanently hostile legislative majority. Not only were ministers not responsible to the House, they did not admit that they had any collective responsibility at all. The attorney-general said, in his place in the House, "he was at a loss to know what the learned member from Middlesex meant by a prime minister and a cabinet; there was no cabinet; he sat in that House to deliver his opinions on his own responsibility; he was under no out-door influence whatever."

All eyes were turned towards the governor; and, as there was no responsible ministry to stand between him and public censure, the authority of the Crown, which he represented, could not fail to be weakened by the criticism of executive acts. The new House was described by Mackenzie as being chiefly composed of men who appeared to act from principle, and were indefatigable in the discharge of their duties.

The Advocate, at the end of a year after its commencement, had appeared forty-three times. The subscribers, who were accounted with at the rate of fifty-two numbers for a year, were warned that they must not expect any greater regularity in future. One year's experience had taught the proprietor that "the editor in Canada who, in the state the province was then in, will attempt freely to hazard an opinion on the merits and demerits of public men, woe be to him! By the implied consent of King, Lords and Commons, he is doomed to speedy shipwreck, unless a merciful Providence should open his eyes in time, and his good genius prompt him ' to hurl press and types to the bottom of Lake Ontario.'" In any event, the experiment must have been a hazardous one in a country where the population was scattered over a very wide extent of territory, and numbered only 157,541.

The one paper circulating among this population, which yielded a certain profit, was the Upper Canada Gazette. It became necessary for Mackenzie to notice a report that he had been offered the editorship of this official paper in reversion. He showed the absurdity of the supposition that such an offer could be made to him who had opposed nearly all the measures of the government. Fothergill, the editor of the official paper, had joined the extreme Liberals on the alien question, contending that all Americans then in the country ought to have the full rights of British subjects conferred upon them by statute; and he had moved strong resolutions on the back of an inquiry into the mysteries of the post-office revenue, taking the ground that it was contrary to the Constitutional Act to withhold from the legislature an account of this revenue, or to deprive the House of the right of appropriating it. By this course, he had assisted in producing those numerous defeats which had fallen, one after another, with such irritating effect, upon the government. A man who did this could not long continue a special favourite of the government in those times; but that Mackenzie was ever thought of in connection with the editorship of the non-official part of the official Gazette, is out of the question. The ink of Fothergill's reported speech on the post-office question was scarcely dry when he was dismissed from the situation of King's Printer. He had not abused his trust by turning the paper, with the conduct of which he was charged, against the government, but he had ventured to confront a gross abuse in the assembly. That was his crime, and of that crime he paid the penalty. It was no doubt in-110 convenient to have a King's Printer who, even in his legislative capacity, opposed himself to the government; but the fault lay in the system which permitted the incumbent of such an office to hold a seat in the legislature. The union of judicial and legislative powers in the hands of one person was a still greater evil; and though it might have been productive of far worse results, it was permitted to exist long after the period now referred to.

Free speech met small encouragement at the hands of the executive. Francis Collins, who had been the official reporter of the legislature for five years, commenced, in an evil hour, the publication of a newspaper, the Canadian Freeman, and in that year, 1825, the governor cut off his remuneration. He exhausted his means in the vain effort to report the debates at his own cost, and found himself embarrassed with debt.

About six weeks before his printing office was destroyed by a mob, Mackenzie drew a contrast between the life of an editor, in those days, and that of a farmer, in which a vast balance of advantage appeared in favour of the latter. The perpetuity of task-work involved in the conduct of even a weekly paper was felt to be such a drag that he became appalled at it; and for the moment he resolved to have done with politics and political newspapers. Writing of the Advocate he said: "I will carry it on as a literary and scientific work, will enrich its pages with the discoveries of eminent men, and the improvements of distinguished artists; but from thenceforth nothing of a political or controversial character shall be allowed to appear in the Journal of Agriculture, Manufactures and Commerce."

How long this resolution was kept cannot be determined; but the next number of his journal, which took the folio shape, was chiefly filled with a long review of the politics of the Upper Province. He gave an account of the effect of his two years' journalistic campaign, claiming to have largely assisted in producing a party revolution. Men were astonished at the temerity of his plain speaking; for, since Gourlay's banishment, the prudent had learned to put a bridle on their tongues. Timid lookers-on predicted, in their astonishment and with bated breath, that the fate of Gourlay would soon fall on Mackenzie and silence his criticisms. Nearly the whole press of the country was on his back; but, in spite of the rushing torrent of abuse, he kept the even tenor of his way, avoiding personalities as much as possible.


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