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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter V - Silencing the Press


ONE fine summer evening, June 8th, 1826, a genteel mob composed of persons closely-connected with the ruling faction walked into the office of the Colonial Advocate at York, and, in accordance with a preconcerted plan, set about the destruction of types and press. Three pages of the paper in type on the composing-stones, with a "form " of the journals of the House, were broken up, and the face of the letter battered. Some of the type was then thrown into the bay, to which the printing-office was contiguous ; some of it was scattered on the floor of the office; more of it in the yard and in an adjacent garden. The composing-stone was thrown on the floor. A new cast-iron patent lever-press was broken. "Nothing was left standing," said an eye-witness, " not a thing." This scene took place in broad daylight, and it was said that one or two magistrates, who could not help witnessing it, never made the least attempt to put a stop to the outrage. The valiant type destroyers, who chose for the execution of their enterprise a day when Mackenzie was absent from the city, were most of them closely connected with the official party, which was then in a hopeless minority in the legislature, and had recently been exasperated by a succession of defeats.

Mr. Baby, inspector-general, was represented on the occasion by two sons, Charles and Raymond, students-at-law. Henry Sherwood, son of Mr. Justice Sherwood, who, while yet a law student, held the office of clerk of assize, gave his personal assistance. Mr. Lyons, confidential secretary of Governor Maitland, was there to perform his part. To save appearances, Sir Peregrine found it necessary to dismiss Lyons from his confidential situation ; but he soon afterwards rewarded him with the more lucrative office of registrar of the Niagara district. Samuel Peters Jarvis, son-in-law of a late chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, performed his part, and found his reward in the appointment to an Indian commissionership. Charles Richardson, a student-at-law in the office of the attorney-general, showed his zeal for the cause of his official friends, and received in requital the office of clerk of the peace for the Niagara district. James King, another clerk of assize and student-at-law in Solicitor-General Boulton's office, did not hesitate to give his active assistance. Charles Heward, son of Colonel Heward, auditor-general of land patents and clerk of the peace, and Peter Macdougall, a merchant or shopkeeper in York and an intimate friend of Inspector-General Baby, complete the list of eight against whom the evidence, afterwards taken, was sufficiently strong for conviction. The whole number of persons concerned in the destruction of the Advocate office was fifteen; and it is difficult to believe that this band of young men, subordinate officials and sons and relatives of the official party, could have planned in secret this outrage on the property of an obnoxious journalist, and executed it, without the knowledge of any of their superiors. The audacity of the rioters and the open connivance of leading officials who witnessed the scene with satisfaction, form an instructive comment on the state of society in the Family Compact of the little town of York, in the year of grace, 1826.

When it became certain that a verdict for damages would be obtained, and that a criminal prosecution might also be instituted, an offer was made through J. B. Macaulay (afterwards chief justice), solicitor for the culprits, "to pay at once the full value of the damage occasioned to the press and types, to be determined by indifferent and competent judges selected for that purpose." The letter containing this offer disavowed any desire on the part of "the gentlemen" to do an irreparable injury to the property, claimed credit for the attack having been made openly and with a full sense of its responsibility, and alleged that it was not prompted by malice, political feeling, or private animosity, but by " the personal calumnies of the later Advocates" "This advance," it was said, "was in conformity with the original intention," and from no desire to withdraw the matter from a jury, in which event it was hoped there would be no attempts to prejudice the cause, nor any complaints of a reluctance to compensate, voluntarily, a damage merely pecuniary, although provoked by repeated assaults on private character not susceptible of adequate redress.

If the party who committed the violence had, from the first, intended to pay the damage they had done in the deliberate businesslike way indicated by Mr. Macaulay, it is surprising that some of them should have absconded in order to evade the consequences of their crime; but it is possible that they feared a criminal prosecution, and left their solicitor and friend, who had himself offered more provocation to criticism than any of them, to make a bargain that would save them from the gaol. The press-destroying mob were probably surprised at the indignation their achievement excited in the public mind; and in the beginning they endeavoured to stem the torrent by issuing two placards in justification. But Mackenzie had been guilty of no aggression to turn the tide of public feeling against him, and the experiment failed. It was not till after this that the above offer was made. The first proposal not being listened to, a second was made through the same medium, which met the same fate as the first; and, indeed, if there had been no object in making an example of the perpetrators of an outrage that reflected on all concerned, the amount offered as compensation was ridiculously inadequate. But Mackenzie refused any amicable settlement with Macaulay's clients and friends ; and there was nothing left but to send the case to trial, and let a jury, upon the hearing of the evidence, award equitable, and, if they thought fit, exemplary damages.

Macaulay, in the first letter in which he proposed a settlement of the matter, assumes that the outrage was caused by " the personal calumnies of the later Advocates;" and it becomes necessary to see where the aggression commenced, and what degree of provocation the independent journalist had given to the official party by whose satellites the work of destruction had been done. Nothing is plainer, on an examination of the facts, than that, until violently provoked, Mackenzie had been exceedingly sparing of personalities, and from the first he had been anxious to avoid them altogether. In one of the earliest numbers of his journal, he said: " When I am reduced to personalities, I will bring the Advocate to a close." To the personal abuse of the government papers he made no personal reply, confining himself to complaining, in the spirit of injury, of the wrong which he suffered. Of these, Carey's Observer appears to have been, up to this time, the greatest offender. Between the personal and political character of the actors with whom he had to deal, Mackenzie observed a proper distinction. Of Governor Maitland he said that "he was religious, humane, and peaceable; and if his administration had hitherto produced little good to the country, it may not be his fault, but the fault of those about him who abused his confidence." J. B. Macaulay (afterwards Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas) he described—and he did it from a sense of duty—as a gentleman evincing " so much honour, probity, just feeling, and disinterested good-will," as generated, in the publicist's mind, "a greater degree of respect and esteem for the profession in general than we had before entertained." He expressed a desire to see his friend replace Mr. Justice Boulton on the bench. Upon this latter functionary he had been, at first, playfully sarcastic, comparing him to Sir Matthew Hale, and latterly severe; but it will not be denied that the judge had fairly laid himself open to criticism. While opposing the attorney-general of the day (afterwards Chief Justice Robinson), he did ample justice to his talents and his personal character:— "Mr. Robinson has risen in my estimation, in regard to abilities, from what I have seen of him during this session; indeed, there are not a few of 118 his remarks which I have listened to with pleasure; and some of the propositions he has made in parliament, the road bill especially (with a few modifications), have my entire approbation. As a private gentleman, as a lawyer, and as a law-officer, he stands as high in the estimation of the country as any professional man in it. As a counsellor of State to the Emperor of Russia, or Napoleon Bonaparte, he might have figured to advantage; but his principles will, if not softened down, forever unfit him for a transatlantic popular assembly. He advocates, with singular force, those doctrines the repugnance to which un-colonized the thirteen United States; and every taunt which he utters against our republican neighbours tells in account against the interests of Great Britain, so far as these are united with this colony. It is evident that Mr. Robinson has not been long enough in the school of adversity to learn wisdom and discretion. He is a very young man, and I do hope and trust that, when the heat and violence of party spirit abate within him, he will yet prove a bright and lasting ornament to the land which gave him birth, and that the powers of his mind will be exerted to promote the happiness and welfare of all classes of his fellow-subjects."

Mackenzie had been severe upon Jonas Jones, but that gentleman had first set the example of using harsh terms. He had said in reply to a very able speech in the House of Assembly on the alien question, that the member (Dr. Rolph) who made it had a "vile, democratic heart, and ought to be sent out of the province." If an appeal to the Sedition Act could silence an opponent, why-take the trouble to refute his arguments ? He had, moreover, used threats of personal violence against Mackenzie, and was, of course, open to severe retaliation. In the legislative assembly he had called Mr. Hamilton, the member for Wentworth, a " fellow," when a scene followed on which it was necessary to drop the curtain to hide it from the vulgar gaze of the public. Considering these circumstances in mitigation, it must be confessed that the criticisms upon Mr. Jones scarcely exceeded the bounds of merited and justifiable severity. To Henry John Boulton, Mackenzie had declared an absence of personal dislike in criticizing his public acts. Considering Dr. Rolph too severe in his strictures on the government, he had opposed him on that account, and a personal estrangement had been the consequence.

Such is the manner in which Mackenzie had treated his political opponents during the two years he had controlled a political journal; and it may easily be conceived how slender was the pretext, on the ground of provocation, for the destruction of his printing-office. I do not say that he had never applied to his opponents language of severity, but I do say that he was not the aggressor; that under the greatest provocations he had avoided personalities; and that, at the worst, he had not proceeded to anything like the extremity to which his assailants had gone; and this not for the want of materials to work upon.

In the meanwhile, how were his political adversaries bearing themselves towards Mackenzie ? Macaulay had gone to the unwarrantable length of violating the seal of secrecy and publishing private letters addressed to him by Mackenzie, though there was not, in the conduct of the latter, the shadow of excuse for this outrage. Macaulay was now a member of the executive council, and Mackenzie, who had previously praised him, had hinted that he was not as independent as formerly; but this was in a private letter. The cause of the quarrel was utterly contemptible, and Macaulay showed to great disadvantage in it. A disagreement had taken place between the Rev. Dr. Strachan, then rector of York, and one John Fenton, who had officiated as clerk under the rector. Mackenzie, being in Niagara, learned that Mr. Radcliffe had received a letter from Mr. Fenton in which the latter stated his intention of publishing a pamphlet on the state of the congregation in York. Meanwhile Mr. Fenton was reinstated in his position. Accordingly, a paragraph was inserted in the Advocate which certainly left the impression that a fear of the threatened pamphlet had led to the reinstatement of Fenton with an increased salary. It is possible that the insinuation was not just; and yet this could not be said if there was no mistake about the alleged facts on which it was founded. It was not denied that Mr. Fenton had been reinstated, but it was alleged that his salary was increased; and Mackenzie certainly had what seemed to be good authority for stating that the publication of a pamphlet had been announced. This was the only statement in dispute, and if it was not proved, it certainly was not disproved. Mr. Radcliffe might have been asked to write a note stating that he had not received such a letter from Mr. Fenton, and that would have settled the matter. Macaulay was one of the church-wardens, and, after the lapse of three weeks, he wrote to deny the statement that a pamphlet had been threatened, and that Mr. Fenton's reinstatement carried with it any increase of salary. His letter was sent to the Advocate for publication, and after it was in type he wrote to recall it, not because the matter had assumed a new shape, but because Mr. Fenton had written a denial of that part of the paragraph which related to the pamphlet. Mackenzie, on account of the offensive attitude the writer had assumed towards him, refused to cancel the letter to which Macaulay had appended, not his own signature, but the nom de plume of "A Churchwarden," and the few lines in which Mackenzie explained his refusal to comply with the request of a person who he thought had forfeited all claim to his indulgence, contain the whole extent of the provocation he gave to Macaulay. The latter must have been in an uncontrollable rage before he brought himself to publish the private letters addressed to him by Mackenzie on the subject of the Fenton affair, and to make jeering remarks in reference to Mackenzie's mother, an aged woman of seventy-five years. But he did not stop there; he sent the manuscript, into which he had condensed his rage, to Mackenzie, with an offer to pay him for its publication in the Advocate, a paper which he declared his intention to do all in his power to crush. One of his advertisements, a little less libellous than the rest, would have been published; but, the money being demanded in advance, Macaulay refused to redeem his promise, and pretended to have a right to insist on its publication without the payment he had at first offered. He taunted Mackenzie with his poverty, and with what he called "changing his trade," and advised him to "try to deserve the charity" of the public a little better than previously, if he expected to support his mother and his family by the publication of a newspaper; as if it were asking charity to publish a public journal at the usual price, and a crime for a man to support a mother who was too aged and too helpless to support herself.1 Without even mentioning him by name, Mackenzie had described Macaulay as a man whom he had ceased to look upon as possessing manly independence; and, in return, this member of the government claimed a right to have published in the Advocate letters containing gross personal abuse of its editor and ridicule of his aged mother. To these letters he had not the manliness to append his name; if he had, he was aware that their virulence would not have prevented their publication, for in that case the writer would have placed himself, as well as his antagonist, upon trial before the public; and every one who read them, in connection with the comments they must have provoked, would have been able to judge of the spirit in which they were conceived and the justice of their contents. The right to compel the editor to publish anonymous communications, which Macaulay had claimed, was wholly without foundation; and as for courtesy to such a correspondent it was out of the question. But it is useless to reason upon the acts of a man who had permitted passion so completely to get the mastery over his judgment.

I have gone fully into the provocation offered by Macaulay, because it was in reply to a pamphlet in which he embodied all this venom, that Mackenzie told some stories about certain members of the Family Compact that he never would have put into print if he had not been provoked beyond endurance. If, in striking back, a few blows fell upon Macaulay's official associates who had not joined openly in the provocation, and Mackenzie exceeded the bounds of strict retaliatory justice, it must be remembered that the connection between all the sections of the Family Compact was very close, and that when the last word of defiance has been hurled at a man, he is not to be bound by a very rigid etiquette if he finds it necessary to "carry the war into Africa." But the reply, calmly viewed at this distant day, so far as it affected Macaulay, appears mild and playful beside the savagery of the unprovoked attack; I say unprovoked, because it does not exceed the bounds of fair or ordinary criticism to tell a political opponent that you have ceased to see in him a person possessed of manly independence. At the same time it must be confessed that some of Macaulay's friends came in for knocks which there is no public evidence of their having merited at Mackenzie's hands ; and it would have been better if he had confined the punishment he was well entitled to inflict to the man who alone had raised a hand to strike him down.

Macaulay's libel did not produce the effect intended. The object, it is plain enough, was to provoke Mackenzie into the use of language for which he might be prosecuted, and either banished, like Gourlay, or shut up in a prison. But Mackenzie was too wary to be caught in this clumsy trap; and his reply, instead of retorting rage for rage, was playfully sarcastic and keenly incisive. The dialogue form was adopted, the speakers being a congress of fifteen contributors to the Advocate, who purported to have assembled in the blue parlor of Mr. McDonnell of Glengarry, at York. Patrick Swift, nephew of the immortal dean, who had inherited a share of his uncle's sarcasm, was a prominent actor, and infused his playful spirit into the other contributors. Over a huge bowl of punch, toasts are drunk, tales told, songs sung, and politics discussed. "Lawyer Macaulay" was "the knight of the rueful countenance;" and it was hinted by one 126 of the wits that even he had family reasons for not scoffing at persons for "changing their trade."

Mackenzie's enemies were furious. He had stung them to the quick; but he had dealt with matters to which it would not be desirable to give additional notoriety by making them subjects of prosecution. Truth might, legally speaking, be a libel, but there are unpleasant truths, which, though it be illegal to tell, cannot well be made a ground of action. Juries might be obstinate and refuse to convict a writer, who, after unbearable provocation, had been stung into telling unpleasant facts, a little dressed up or exaggerated though they may have been to give effect to their narration. It was clear that Mackenzie could not be banished for sedition. He could not even be tried under the Sedition Act, having been some years in the province; and he had neither spoken nor published anything of a seditious nature. What then remained? The sole resource of violence; and violence was used; the office of the Advocate was destroyed by a mob consisting of persons who bore suspiciously close relations to the government.

The trial came off at York, in the then new court-house, in 1826. The defendants had elected to have a special jury. Of the twelve jurors who were to try the case, nine resided in the country, and only three in York. Chief Justice Campbell was the presiding judge; and by his side sat, as associate magistrates, the Hon. William Allan and Alexander McDonnell. Both sides were well provided with able counsel. For the plaintiff, appeared the younger Bidwell and Stewart and Small; for the defendants, Macaulay and Hagerman. It was shown that the Hon. Mr. Allan, who played the part of associate justice on the trial, had been in conversation with Colonel Heward, whose son was among the desperadoes, at a point where they must have witnessed the whole scene. Though they were both magistrates, neither of them attempted to remonstrate with the defendants, nor to induce them to desist. The defendants called no witnesses; and Hagerman, in addressing the jury on their behalf, assailed the Advocate; but he did not venture to read the objectionable matter to the jury. Without a tittle of evidence to support his assertion, and in the teeth of well-known facts, he stated that Mackenzie had left York at the time his printing materials were destroyed to evade the payment of his debts.

After a trial which lasted two days, it seemed very unlikely that the jury would agree, for they remained out for thirty-two hours. During all this time, various amounts of damages had been discussed. Sums varying from £2,000 to £150 had found favour with different jurors; but the real difficulty was with one man—a George Shaw— who tried to starve his fellow-jurors into compliance with a verdict giving £150 damages; but, finding this impracticable, he at last gave way. Mr. Rutherford, the foreman, named £625 and costs, and the amount was agreed to by all the jurors. Referring to the result of the trial, soon after, Mackenzie said: "That verdict re-established on a permanent footing the Advocate press, because it enabled me to perform my engagements without disposing of my real property; and although it has several times been my wish to retire from the active duties of the press into the quiet paths of private life, I have had a presentiment that I shall yet be able to evince my gratitude to the country which, in my utmost need, rescued me from utter ruin and destruction." The money was raised by subscription, the political friends of the press-destroyers feeling in duty bound to bear harmless the eight volunteers who had performed the rough task of attempting to silence, by an act of violence, an obnoxious newspaper.

There remained the question of a criminal prosecution. Mackenzie, being called before the grand jury, declined to make any complaint; but the matter was not allowed to rest. Francis Collins, having been proceeded against criminally by the attorney-general for four libels in April, 1828, retaliated upon the party of his accusers. On information laid by him, seven of the defendants, who had been cast in civil damages for the destruction of the Advocate office, were tried for riot. This proceeding, being of a retaliatory nature and taken against the wishes of Mackenzie, was not looked on with much favour; and though the defendants were found guilty, they were let off with nominal damages.

Though the trial of Collins was not proceeded with, the government paper announced that it had not been abandoned; and it came on at the next assizes. Nor had the end of other judicial retaliations been reached. Mackenzie was not to escape; and yet he deserved some consideration at the hands of the official party. When called as a witness in the type riot prosecution, which he had refused to originate, he said he had no desire to prosecute the rioters against whom civil damages had been obtained; and he expressed a hope that they would receive only nominal punishment. His suggestion had been acted upon. But all this did not avail at a time when Collins was proceeded against for four libels in Upper Canada, and Mr. Neilson for an equal number in Lower Canada.

Before the trials for libel could come on, an event occurred, in the removal of Judge Willis, which was not calculated to inspire the defendants with confidence in the impartial administration of justice. If the local executive suspended a judge because his interpretation of the law did not accord with their views, the power of the executive in political prosecutions could not but be regarded as a source of danger to public liberty. Mr. Willis had only received his appointment on October 11th, 1827; and, on the sixth of the following June, he 180 was suspended until the pleasure of His Majesty's imperial government should be known. On a previous occasion, far from bending to the influence of power, he had undertaken to teach the attorney-general his duty. In the Hilary term then past, Mr. Justice Willis had taken his seat on the bench beside Chief Justice Campbell and Mr. Justice Sherwood; and differences of opinion on points of great legal importance had arisen among them. Before the following Easter term, the chief justice had obtained leave of absence; and the differences of opinion between the remaining two judges, Willis and Sherwood, were carried to such a length as to excite public attention. Under these circumstances, Judge Willis directed his special attention to the constitution of the court; and he found that the statute creating this tribunal provided "that His Majesty's chief justice, together with two puisne judges, shall preside in the said court." Considering the court illegally constituted without three judges, he refused to sit with Mr. Justice Sherwood as his only colleague, when, according to his reading of the law, there ought to be another. Sometime before Trinity term, it came to the knowledge of the provincial government that Mr. Justice Willis had come to this conclusion. When the opportunity presented itself, he delivered his opinion at length on the subject. Having dealt with the question of what was required, under the provincial statute, to constitute a legal Court of King's Bench, he touched upon the cause of the legal inefficiency of that tribunal. The chief justice had obtained leave of absence; but he had obtained it from the lieutenant-governor alone, while Mr. Willis contended that the consent of the governor-in-council was necessary.

The opponents of Mr. Justice Willis accused him of showing temper in the delivery of his opinion; but the accusation, when sifted, was found to be groundless. A committee of the assembly, of which Dr. Baldwin was chairman, reported that they had "particularly inquired into this matter," and had come to the conclusion " that to the public eye and ear, the manner and language of Mr. Justice Willis, on the occasion of so expressing his opinion on the bench, relative to the defective state of the court, in no respect departed from the gravity and dignity becoming him as a judge; and peculiar malevolence alone could represent it otherwise." The evidence fully bore out this statement. "When Mr. Justice Willis delivered his opinion," Mr. Carey told the committee, "his conduct was dignified and honourable."

When Mr. Justice Willis had concluded his opinion, an unseemly spectacle took place. Mr. Justice Sherwood ordered the clerk to adjourn the court. Mr. Justice Willis replied that it was impossible to adjourn what did not exist; there was no legal court. Mr. Sherwood rejoined: "You have given your opinion: I have a right to mine, and I shall order the court to be adjourned." "He spoke," said Mr. Carey, "apparently under great irritation." Mr. Justice Willis bowed and withdrew, the clerk obeying the order of the remaining judge.

A difficulty that had occurred between Mr. Justice Willis and Attorney-General Robinson, on a previous occasion, was also made a subject of inquiry before the parliamentary committee; and Mr. Carey, in his evidence, stated that so far as manner was concerned, the only thing to complain of in the judge was his too great lenity in the presence of the treatment he received.

Dr. Baldwin, Robert Baldwin, and John Rolph, practising barristers, entered a protest against the legality of the court when it had been constituted with two judges, giving at length their reasons for agreeing with Judge Willis that, in order to a legal constitution of the court, there must be three judges. A petition, which the Duke of Wellington thought deserved no particular notice, bearing the signatures of thousands of Upper Canadians, in favour of the independence of the judiciary and sustaining the position of Judge Willis, was sent to the king and the two Houses of Parliament. The law point was finally decided by the Privy Council adversely to the views of Mr. Justice Willis, whose removal was thereupon ratified by the imperial government It was now certain that the juries who might try the libel cases would not be directed by Mr. Justice Willis, but by some one whose affinity to the prosecutors was undoubted. Soon after the commencement of the York assizes, which opened on October 12th, 1828, the libel prosecutions against Collins came on. Of the libel upon the attorney-general, he was found guilty, and sentenced by Mr. Hagerman —who had temporarily gone upon the bench, leaving the Kingston collectorship of customs to take care of itself—to be imprisoned for twelve months in the York gaol, and to pay a fine of £50. The libel consisted of imputing " native malignancy " to the attorney-general, and of stigmatizing as "an open and palpable falsehood " a statement made by that functionary in open court.

It is not necessary to raise the question whether such libels as these ought to have been met by criminal prosecutions. But, if it was the duty of the attorney-general to prosecute Collins, it was also his duty to prosecute others connected with the government press, who had used fully as great a latitude of expression. One of these writers1 had stigmatized several members of the legislative assembly as "besotted fools," actuated by no other feeling than malice, to gratify which they paid no regard to truth or decency. Addressing a single member, the same writer informed him, "There are no bounds to your malice;" and the whole House was described as an " intolerable nuisance." " The poison of your malignant disposition," also made use of, was an expression fully as offensive as "native malignancy." If it was the duty of the attorney-general to prosecute for the use of such language, he was bound to perform that duty impartially, and was not entitled, in fairness, to single out opponents for victims, while the offences of political friends were overlooked.

A public subscription was raised to pay the amount of the fine ; public meetings were held and committees formed to take the case of Collins into consideration. At a later period, the House interposed in behalf of Collins, but they failed to change the determination of the executive to keep him in close confinement for the whole of the prescribed term of his sentence. Sir John Colborne thought himself entitled to snub the House for their interference, by expressing extreme regret at the course they had taken. He forgot that the sovereign whom he represented was the fountain of mercy, and thought only of his obligation to carry a rigorous and cruel sentence into effect.

The threatened prosecution of Mackenzie for an alleged political libel had been kept suspended over his head for nearly a year. For some reason, however, the executive resolved to abandon the prosecution, and two days before the date fixed for the striking of the special jury, the attorney-general addressed a note to Mr. R. B. Sullivan, who acted for Mackenzie, stating the conclusion that had been arrived at. The alleged libel, of which the prosecution was thus abandoned, was purely political. It was neither more nor less than a recommendation to certain constituencies to change their representatives at the next ensuing general election ; and was expressed in language that must be admitted to have been very strong, but also very general, why this should be done. The report of a committee of the House, on which the paragraph was founded, contained more serious accusations than the alleged libel itself. This committee, of which Mr. Beardsley was chairman, reported, among other things, "that some of the most daring outrages against the peace of the community have passed unprosecuted, and that the persons guilty have, from their connections in high life, been promoted to the most important offices of honour, trust, and emolument, in the local government."

Violence is a blindfolded demon, more likely to defeat its own objects than to attain them. The means taken to crush a public journal, obnoxious to the ruling faction, proved the cause of its resuscitation and firm establishment. At the very time when the press was broken and the type thrown into the bay, the last number of the Advocate had been issued. Macaulay could not have made a worse selection of the time for attempting to strike Mackenzie down. The latter seriously contemplated retiring from political discussions, and prudence might have suggested that he should be allowed to depart in peace. The publication, burthened as it was with a postal tax payable in advance, and addressing itself to a small scattered community, had never repaid the expenditure necessary to sustain it. What means its proprietor had made in trade were soon dissipated on the literary speculation. .His property, real and personal, was worth twice the amount of his debts; but he was embarrassed for ready money, threatened with capias by one creditor, and thoroughly disheartened. From these embarrassments he resolved to free himself. With the consent of Mr. Tannahill, his principal creditor, Mackenzie went to Lewiston, in order to prevent the accumulation of law costs, till his affairs could be settled. Besides, his health was broken; and he had sometime before been thrown into a fever by the vexation he had suffered. His eldest daughter had died, and another member of his family was ill. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that he should have sighed for that repose which journalism had interrupted in the first instance, and of which it still continued to prevent the return. But, while he loved repose, he had not been able to resist the excitement of the semi-public life of the journalist, who already dreamed of the overthrow of an administration and the reform of the oligarchical system then in operation. He who repiningly compared his own toils to the quiet life of the farmer, would sit up whole nights, labouring assiduously to accomplish political ends. Though he could be a child among his children, and was never so happy as when he joined in their play, he would frequently consume two consecutive nights in the patient but exhausting labour of the pen.

While living at Queenston, Mackenzie became acquainted with Robert Randal, a Virginian by birth (and a near relative of John Randolph of Roanoke), who had come to this province as a settler, and was then living at Chippewa. Randal was a politician, and it is probable that his influence on Mackenzie first led him into politics. He was a man who, with a keen eye to the future, selected land at different places where future towns were certain to spring up. He became entangled in lawsuits involving property to a very large amount; and in one way and another was cruelly victimized. His lawyers played him false; and the officers of the law conspired to defraud him. He was involved in pecuniary embarrassments, and was charged with perjury for swearing to a qualification which, based on a long list of properties the ownership of some of which litigation had rendered doubtful, was declared to be bad. Mackenzie took his part, and, when Randal died, he bequeathed a share of his property to the man who had in some sort been his protector. The connection produced its effect upon Mackenzie for life.

In the spring of 1827, Mackenzie raised the question of sending to England an agent to plead with the British government the cause of the American-born aliens in Canada. A petition, said to have been signed by fifteen thousand persons, was ready to be carried to England. A central committee, charged with the protection of the rights of the aliens, met at Mackenzie's house, and he acted as its confidential secretary. This committee offered the mission to Dr. Rolph, who declined acceptance. The question was then between Fothergill and Randal; Mackenzie, favouring the appointment of the latter, carried his point. Randal was in the position of the persons whose cause he had to plead. On behalf of the committee, the delegate's instructions were drawn up by Mackenzie ; and the committee having advanced a sum for his expenses, part of which had been raised by subscription, Randal set off for London in the month of March.

In order to smooth the way for the delegate in England, Mackenzie addressed letters to the Earl of Dalhousie, governor-in-chief, surcharged with expressions of loyalty, and recommending colonial representation in the imperial parliament. It is worthy of note that the first of these letters contains several extracts from American authorities predicting a dissolution of the federal union. After giving these extracts, the writer asks: "And is this the government, and are these the people, whose alliance and intimacy we ought to court instead of those of England? No, my lord; their constitutional theory is defective, and their practice necessarily inconsistent. Their government wants consolidation; let us take warning by their example."

There were in the province a large number of persons, who, though born in British colonies, had, by the progress of events, and the effect of the laws resulting from those events, lost the legal quality and privileges of British subjects. All who were born in the old American colonies, and had continued to live there till after the peace of 1783, became, on September 3rd. of that year, by the Treaty of Independence, citizens of the United States. They therefore, by that fact, ceased to be British subjects. Both American and English law courts agreed as to the effect of the treaty upon the nationality of those who resided in the United States at the peace of 1783. The results were disastrous. Persons who had made immense sacrifices by adhering to the British standard during the Revolutionary War, lost, in some cases, large amounts of property, in consequence of their inability to inherit as British subjects.

By a British statute passed in 1790, a seven years' residence, the taking of the oath of allegiance, the observance of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the usages of the Protestant Church, and of other formalities, granted all aliens who came to the colonies the 140 rights of British subjects with certain reservations. But they could not become members of the Privy Council or of parliament;1 they were incapacitated from holding any position of trust, civil or military, in the United Kingdom or Ireland; and they could not accept any grant of land from the Crown. The provisions of this statute were hardly ever complied with by alien emigrants from the United States. Men whose industry had cleared the country of forests, who had carried civilization into the wilds of the west and assisted in repelling invasion, found themselves aliens, without any legal security for their property.

Whatever might be the effect of a narrow or rigid construction of the Alien Law upon these persons, they had not hitherto received the treatment of aliens. They had received grants of land from the Crown and devised real property; some of them had held offices of trust in the militia, and spilt their blood in defence of the country in which they were now to be denied the rights of citizens, except upon conditions which they regarded as degrading. It was not to be expected that a man who had fought beside the gallant Brock would feel complimented if asked to take the oath of allegiance. The recent decision of the Court of King's Bench, in England, in the Ludlow case, created uneasiness, alarm and indignation. After much correspondence with the lieutenant-governors on the subject, the imperial government sent instructions to Sir Peregrine Maitland to cause a bill to be introduced into the legislature by which all the rights of British subjects could be conferred upon the aliens in the province. The bill passed the legislative council, whose members owed their nomination to the Crown, in the session of 1826 ; but when it was sent down to the assembly, it met an equal amount of opposition and support on two several divisions. The House was equally divided for a whole week; and the bill, after being five times negatived by the casting vote of the Speaker, was at length irregularly passed. Though the division of numbers was so long equal, the majority of the members who spoke opposed those provisions which required all persons placed in the category of aliens by the recent judicial decision, to remedy their former neglect by complying with the prescribed formalities.

The bill passed by the legislature was of a nature which rendered necessary its reservation for the signification of the royal pleasure. To prevent the royal assent being given to it, Randal had been selected to bear the petition of some thousands of the persons whom it affected. His success was complete. Another bill, framed in conformity with the royal instructions, which Randal's exertions had „ procured, was introduced into the Upper Canada assembly by Bidwell, a prominent member 142 of the opposition, and carried. It invested with the quality of British subjects all residents of the province who had received grants of land from the Crown or held public office, as well as their children and remote descendants; all settled residents who had taken up their abode before the year 1820, their descendants to have the right to inherit in case the parents were dead; all persons resident in the province on March 1st, 1828, on taking the oath of allegiance after seven years' residence in some part of His Majesty's dominions. It was also provided that no person of the age of sixteen, on May 26th, 1826, should be debarred from inheriting property on account of its descent from an alien.

The success of Randal's mission to England had a material effect upon Mackenzie ; for, ever after, except a few years about the period of the rebellion, he believed in the specific of an appeal to the imperial government. His own subsequent visit to the colonial office, and its success, confirmed an opinion which he cherished to the day of his death.

At no time does Mackenzie appear to have been a very strong partisan. Not that his views and position were not decided. He was strongly opposed to the ruling minority; but he was very far from having unbounded confidence in the majority of the assembly. Of the leaders of the opposition, Rolph and Bidwell, he sometimes spoke in sharp terms of condemnation, showing that he was under no sort of party control or leadership. When reminded by one of his own political friends in the House that certain petitions laid before the legislature were not privileged communications, that an action for libel would lie if they contained what the law regarded as libellous matter and were reprinted in a newspaper, his reply was that he intended to publish both the petitions in question in the next number of his paper, a promise which was faithfully kept.


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