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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter VII - Expulsions from the Asssembly


IN the last session, the attempted expulsion of Mackenzie had failed. The pretext adduced to excuse the proposal was so flimsy and untenable that a majority of the House shrank from committing themselves to it. A new crime had been invented, and a new pretext found. Before, it was a breach of privilege for distributing the journals of the House; now, it was a libel constituting a breach of privilege. The House met on November 17th, 1831, and on December 6th Mackenzie's expulsion was proposed. The proceedings were initiated by a flourish about the privileges of parliament, the intention being to justify an outrage which it was proposed to perpetrate in their name. The preliminary motion affirmed, "that the privileges of parliament were established for the support and maintenance of the independent and fearless discharge of its high functions, and that it is to the uncompromising assertion and maintenance of these privileges in the earliest periods of English history, that we are chiefly indebted for the free institutions which have been transmitted to us by our ancestors." With a view to showing the animus of the proceedings, Bidwell, seconded by Perry, moved in amendment that so much of the journals as related to the previous attempt at expulsion be read; but in a House of forty members he was beaten by a majority of ten. Bidwell returned to the charge, proposing to amend the resolution so as to give credit to "a free press, in modern and enlightened times, notwithstanding the many different attempts to destroy its liberty," a share in the preservation of the free institutions transmitted to us by our ancestors. This amendment being rejected, on a vote of twenty-four against sixteen, another amendment, embodying two extracts from articles in the Colonial Advocate, was moved. The first of these articles was a mere summary of the proceedings of the House on the subject of certain petitions praying for a redress of grievances, and the second, by far the more severe, certainly did not exceed the latitude of political criticism at that time constantly taken by the English press. It would be easy to quote from leading London journals numerous examples of greater severity of denunciation. At this distance of time we look back with amazement at the paltry passions and narrow judgment that could construe these articles into libels on the House, constituting a breach of privilege for which nothing less than ignominious expulsion of the author would be a fitting or adequate punishment.

Mackenzie promptly accepted the responsibility of the articles, both as author and publisher. The Speaker, being appealed to, decided that Mackenzie had a right to be heard in his own defence. The latter then proceeded to address the House; but before he had concluded, an adjournment took place. Next day, Bidwell moved for a committee to inquire whether any libels had been published on the House during the session. The motion was declared to be out of order. The Speaker also announced that he had given an erroneous decision, on the previous day, in giving the accused the right of self-defence. But Mackenzie was allowed to proceed. He was not the only member of the House who published a newspaper; and others had, in speaking of the proceedings of the assembly, used much harsher language than he had. But the truth was, one party was permitted any latitude of language in dealing with their opponents. This had of our legislature to a worthless executive become a by-word and a reproach throughout the colonies ? Are we not now, even during the present week, about to give to the municipal officers of the government, as a banking monopoly, a power over the people, which, added to their already overgrown influence, must render their sway nearly as arbitrary and despotic as the iron rule of the Czar of Muscovy? Last winter, the majority of our assembly, with our Speaker at their head, felt inclined to make contemptuous comparisons between the French inhabitants of a sister colony and the enlightened constituents who had returned them, the said majority. In our estimation, and judging of the tree by its fruits, the Lower Canadians are by far the most deserving population of the constitution they enjoy ; for they show themselves aware of its value. While judging the people here by the representatives they return, it might be reasonably inferred that the constituents of the McLeans, Vankoughnets, Jarvises, Robinsons, Burwells, Willsons, Boultons, MacNabs, McMartins, Erasers, Chis-holms, Crookes, Elliotts, Browns, Joneses, Masons, Samsons, and Hagermans, had immigrated from Grand Tartary, Russia, or Algiers, the week preceding the last general election ; for, although in the turgid veins of their members, there may be British blood, there certainly is not the appearance of much British feeling."

The speech of the arraigned member shows so well the unfairness of those who thus charged him, and the partiality of their methods, that the material parts of it are given :—

"The articles complained of," Mackenzie said, "contain opinions unfavourable to the political character of members who compose the majority of this House, also opinions unfavourable to those persons who compose the executive council of the colony. The former are charged with sycophancy, the latter with being as mean and mercenary as any other colonial administration. It is alleged that to propagate such opinions . is criminal and deserves punishment. Undoubtedly, if there is a rule or law, it is wrong to transgress it. But I know no law that is transgressed by propagating these opinions. Let it even be supposed, for the sake of argument, that the opinions complained of are false, though I firmly believe that they are perfectly true; if all false quotations and false opinions are improper, then all discussion, either in this House or through the press, must also be improper, for one set of opinions must be wrong. And if none but true opinions can be given or quoted by either party, then there can be no argument. The newspaper press of this colony takes different sides on political questions. Four-fifths of the twenty-five journals published in this colony are in raptures with the lieutenant-governor, the councils, and the House of Assembly; they continually laud and extol them to the skies for the wonderful benefits they are conferring, and (as they say) are about to confer upon the province. The remaining journals, comparatively few in number, but of very extensive circulation, disapprove generally of the manner in which public affairs are conducted. Shall they not possess the power to blame, if they think fit, that which the others praise ? May not they who find fault be in the right, and the others who praise in the wrong ? How are the people to know when to approve or to disapprove of the conduct of their rulers, if the freedom of expressing all opinions concerning public men be checked ? In English law, it is said that though discussion should be free it should be * decent,' and that all indecency should be punished as libellous. The law of libel leaves the terms 'indecent discussion' undefined, and in old English practice, as Bentham justly remarks, what is 'decent' and 'what the judge likes' have been pretty generally synonymous. Indecency of discussion cannot mean the delivery either of true or false opinions, because discussion implies both; there is presumed to be two parties, one who denies, and another who affirms, as with us, where twenty journals are in favour of the majority in this House and only five generally opposed to them. Would you wish all check from the press put a stop to? Assuredly there is no medium between allowing all opinions to be published, and of prohibiting all. Where would you draw the line? Those among us who may wish to conceal the abuses of our defective government will denounce the paragraphs complained of as libellous, because it is a point of great importance with them to keep the people in ignorance, that they may neither know nor think they have any just cause of complaint, but allow the few to riot undisturbed in the pleasures of misrule at their expense. They say West India negro law is admirable. The solicitor-and attorney-general have already gratuitously denounced the paragraphs before the House, as tending to bring the government into contempt and impede its operation. If the government is acting wrongly, it ought to be checked. Censure of a government causes inquiry and produces discontent among the people, and this discontent is the only means known to me of removing the defects of a vicious government and inducing the rulers to remedy abuses. Thus the press, by its power of censure, is the best safeguard of the interests of mankind; and unless the practical freedom of the press were guaranteed by the spirit and determination of the people of Upper Canada, it is doubtful to me whether this House itself, as an elective body, would be an advantage to the community. I rather think it would not. It is by no means an improbability that the electors of this House should sometimes make a bad choice. That I think they have done so now is evident from my votes upon most questions. It is by the liberty of the press, and the freedom of expressing opinions, that a remedy can be had for an unfortunate choice; the more the country knows of your acts, the more severely editors on whom it depends animadvert on your public conduct, the more will that conduct become a matter of inquiry and discussion, and the country will look into your actions and weigh your character thereby. If the people support a press and expect independent opinions from the editor, would you have that editor deceive them by praising the most .notorious selfishness and sycophancy, and dressing these vices in the garb of virtue?

"If one man in a legislative assembly saw that he might promote misrule for his own advantage, so would another ; so would they all; and thus bad government be reared and upheld. Unless there be a check by the people upon governors and legislators, founded on a knowledge of their character, governments will inevitably become vicious. If the legislature shall (as these proceedings indicate in my case) assume the power of judging censures on their own public conduct, and also assume the power to punish, they will be striking a blow at the interests of the people and the wholesome liberty of the press. Where bad judges, hypocritical governors, wicked magistrates, sycophantic representatives, can, by the doctrine of contempts, exercise at will a censorship over the press and punish the journalist who strives to promote the public interest by a fearless discharge of an unpleasant duty, misrule and injustice will be the inevitable consequence. It is our duty to watch the judges ; but were they to assume the power of punishing.editors summarily for animadversions on their conduct on the bench, how would the people know what that conduct had been, or learn, whether we did or did not do our duty in striving to secure for them a perfect judicature? There is assuredly no security for good government unless both favourable and unfavourable opinions of public men are allowed to be freely circulated. To have the greater benefit in the one case, you must submit to the lesser evil in the other. But it will perhaps be said that the language of these paragraphs is passionate, and that to censure you in passionate language is libellous. Who shall define what is, and what is not, Violent and passionate language? Is not strong and powerful emotion excited in one man's mind by expressions which in another man produce no such effect ? Will you affirm that opinions ought to be put down if conveyed in strong language, or what you may be pleased to consider strong terms? This doctrine would leave to the judges the power of interpreting the law favourably or unfavourably in all cases.

Libel might thus mean one thing in York, and another thing at Sandwich. The freedom of the press has been for many years practically recognized by all factions, sects, and parties in these colonies; and each, in its turn, has had resort to that powerful lever in attempting to direct public opinion. Opinions both favourable and unfavourable, both true and false, have been safely promulgated, and truth and error advocated by opposite sides, of which I will now refer to some examples. It cannot even be alleged by my judges, the public agents for the Gore Mercury [Messrs. Mount, Burwell, Shade, Ingersoll, and Robinson], owned by the learned member opposite [Mr. MacNab], that that newspaper has changed and become more violent than at the onset. Mr. MacNab told us, in his first number, that 'believing decency and good manners to compose some part of virtue, we shall endeavour to exclude from our columns all selections or communications having in the least a contrary tendency. All personal reflections, private scandal, and vituperative attacks upon individual character, we openly declare we wish never to have even sent to us.' And, in the very same number, he gave several delectable verses as his own definition of this 'virtue,' 'decency,' and 'good manners.' I may as well give the House a specimen from his opening number, where he speaks of the majority of the last House of Assembly:—

'Each post of profit in the House to greedy sharks assigned, And public records of the state Clandestinely purloined.

'The attorney from the Senate House Endeavoured to expel, Whose hall they made look like a room Where raving drunkards dwell.

'For months this ribald conclave Retailed their vulgar prate, And charged two dollars each per day For spouting billingsgate.

'Two years their saintships governed us With lawless, despot rule, At length the sudden change broke up The league of knave and fool.'

"After apportioning to your predecessor in that chair a due share of this4decent'poetry, the learned gentleman opposite informed the people of Went-worth that their late representatives, of whom I was one, were so many 'juggling, illiterate boobies —a tippling band—a mountebank riff-raff—a saintly clan—a saddle-bag divan—hackneyed knaves'; and that they possessed other equally pleasant and agreeable qualities, which it appears his fine sense of virtue, decency, and good manners did not allow him to forget in his future productions, which my judges, his agents [Messrs. Shade, Robinson, & Co.], have taken such unequalled pains to circulate among our worthy constituents. I declare I think it a severe punishment to be obliged to seek for specimens of 'the liberty of the press,' as practised by the majority of this House, in such a vehicle as the Mercury, but it nevertheless appears to me the best and most effectual way of exhibiting to the country the gross and shameful partiality of this proceeding. I will now call the attention of the House to Mr. MacNab's Mercury of June 9th and September 15th last. Courtiers are seldom slow in perceiving what pleases a government, and are always ready to use the means, however improper. It has been found no difficult road to the favour of His Excellency and his council to cast opprobrium on Mr. Ryerson, the Methodists, Mr. Bidwell, and others whom His Excellency had no friendship for; accordingly we find Mr. MacNab and the agents of his Mercury stating that Mr. Ryerson is ' a man of profound hypocrisy and unblushing effrontery, who sits blinking on his perch, like Satan when he perched on the tree of life in the shape of a cormorant to meditate the ruin of our first parents in the garden of Eden,' and that he is the ally of 'shameless reprobates.' My brother members go on and civilly publish in the Mercury, that my soul was going with a certain potentate of darkness to his abode ; that I, 'the rascal,' had been guilty of 'dark calumnies and falsehoods—false oaths, false acts—with many other sins of blackest hue.' I will not read the production; it is too gross; but those who wish to refer to the proofs of'good manners', afforded by those of my judges who 192 circulate the Mercury, may have the perusal of the paper itself. In the Mercury, printed on the day this session was convened, I find that Mr. MacNab and his agents circulated (through the Kingston Chronicle) an opinion that I had been 'wickedly employed in exciting' the people of Upper Canada 'to discord, dissension, and rebellion.' I presume this was published as a fair specimen of the degree of politeness due from one member to another; for the two honourable members for Wentworth used precisely similar language at the great public meeting held last summer at Hamilton. This brings me to notice the meeting of the inhabitants of York last July, and the petitions to the king and this House, of which Messrs. MacNab and Gurnett, and their agents, give an account in their journals as follows:—

'"The whole proceeding, however, is so superlatively ridiculous, and so palpably fraudulent and deceptive, that we find the utmost difficulty in taking the subject up at all as a serious matter, or in alluding to it with any other language than that of ridicule and contempt. And as these are also the feelings and the sentiments with which every man of common sense, of every sect and party in the province, looks at and laughs at those extravagant proceedings—always excepting the little knot of half a dozen disappointed and revengeful political aspirants who constitute the nucleus of the old central junto party, and of every other disaffected body which has been organized under different appellations in this country within the last seven years; always, we say, excepting this knot of worthies, and those ever-ready tools of their dishonest purposes—the illiterate and mentally enslaved adherents of Ryersonian Episcopal Methodism—with these exceptions, we repeat, every man in Upper Canada thoroughly penetrates the fraudulent proceedings by which the party in question, through the agency of their hired tool, Mr. Mackenzie, are now attempting to attain their selfish and dishonest object.

"'But the question naturally presents itself, how, in defiance of these incontrovertible facts, can so large a number of the people of the province be induced to give the sanction of their signatures to the complaints contained in Mr. Mackenzie's addresses? This is a question, however, to which every intelligent man in the country is prepared to answer: "First, through the influence, direct and insidious, which the crafty Methodist Episcopal priesthood exercise over their illiterate, but well organized and numerous, adherents; and secondly, through the fraud, falsehood, or sheer humbug which is resorted to by Mr. Mackenzie at his pretended Township Meetings."'

"There is language for us, Mr. Speaker, language calculated to please the heads of the government, and intended doubtless as illustrative of the benefits we of the minority might derive from the liberty of the press. Let us now examine who are the accredited partners, public supporters, or rather, as they are called, agents of the Courier—Colonel Ingersoll, M.P., Mr. Mount, M.P., Colonel Burwell, M. P., your honourable colleague, the York bank agent at Dundas, the Hon. Counsellor Crooks, at Flamborough, Mr. Jones at Prescott, Mr. Berczy at Amherstburg, and a long list of officials. Will those gentlemen named, who have places on this floor, and who are all pressing forward this prosecution, be able to persuade the country that they are not parties to one of the most partial and shameful schemes ever hatched against a fellow-mortal? Well and truly does Mr. MacNab tell his readers in one of his numbers, that 'Hatred can survive all change, all time, all circumstance, all other emotions; nay, it can survive the accomplishment of revenge, and, like the vampire, prey on its dead victim.' The majority of this House, whatever may be their practice in regard to sycophancy, profess to dread and abhor the very name of sycophants ; yet are they willing to use the freedom of the press to bestow remarkable titles on others. The Mercury and the Courier, and their agents, my brother members here present, in their account of the Hamilton meeting, jointly honour me with the appellations of a 'politico-religious juggler'—'mock patriot'—'contemptible being'-'grovelling slanderer'-'wandering impostor,' whose 'censure is praise,' and whose 'shameless falsehoods,' 'foul deeds,' 'envious malignity,' and 'impotent slanders,' point me out as 'the lowest of the vile.' All this it is expected I should quietly submit to, and so I do. Next, it appears to be expected that I should patiently endure the most insulting abuse on this floor from persons in authority under the government; and that, too, I have been found equal to. Thirdly, I must not call things by their right names in the newspaper called the Advocate; but either praise the most undeserving of public men, be silent as death, or go back to the freeholders of the country with the brand of a ' false, atrocious, and malicious libeller' on my forehead. If such shall be your measure of justice, I will not shrink from the appeal to the country. Not one word, not one syllable do I retract; I offer no apology ; for what you call libel I believe to be solemn truth, fit to be published from one end of the province to the other. I certainly should not have availed myself of my privilege, or made use of the language complained of on this floor; but since I am called to avow or disavow that language, as an independent public journalist I declare I think it mild and gentle; for, be it remembered, Mr. Speaker, I see for myself how matters are carried on here; your proceedings are not retailed out to me at second hand. When the petitions of the people, numerous beyond all precedent since the days of Chief Justice Robinson, Jonas Jones, and the alien question, were brought into this House, praying for economy and retrenchment, for the regulation of wild lands sales by law, for the abolition of Crown and Clergy Reserves, and all reservations except for education, for the means of education, for an abolition of banking monopolies, for a reduction of law fees and a simplification of law practice, for the equal distribution of intestate estates, for the establishment of the mode of trying impeachments, for assuring the control of the whole public revenue, for a revision of the corrupt jury-packing system, for the repeal of the everlasting salary bill, for disqualifying priests and bishops from holding seats in the two councils, for taking the freeholders' votes at convenient places, for allowing the people the control over their local taxes, for inquiring into the trade law of last April, for the abolition of the tea monopoly, and for an equal representation of the people in this House, how was I treated by those who press on this infamous proceeding? Contrary to all parliamentary usage, the petitions were consigned to a select committee chiefly composed of the bitter enemies of the improvements prayed for, and myself and the other members who introduced them excluded by your vote. My motions for referring these petitions to their known friends, in order that through them bills agreeable to the wishes of the country might be brought before you, were negatived at the request of a member who has openly abandoned the principles which procured him a seat on this floor and a silver cup elsewhere, and adopted a course which has elevated him to the rank of a deputy-Crown clerk, a justice of the quorum, and a favourite in the circle of officials at the west end of this city; in more vulgar language, ' he has turned his coat,' and, I might add, 'his waistcoat also.' [Cries of order.] The honourable member for Frontenac [Mr. Thomson], who has made these several somersaults for his convenience, is a public journalist, and consequently, like me, a dealer in opinions. In his Kingston Herald of October 26th last, he calls the petitions of the country, with the consideration of which this House has since entrusted him, a ' humbug,' and tells his brother member [Mr. Buell] that he ' must plead guilty, if it be " illiberal and unjust " to expose the unprincipled conduct of an individual [meaning myself] whom we [meaning himself] conceive to be an enemy to our country, and a promoter of discord and disaffection.' What a generous, just, unbiased, and impartial judge he will make in his own cause, Mr. Speaker, on the present occasion

"Again, speaking of the address to His Majesty, which has already been signed by ten thousand freeholders and inhabitants, he uses the following terms in the Herald of July last:—

"'We need not inform our readers that the uncalled for, and, as the Patriot justly designates it, "impertinent" address, is the production of Mr. Mackenzie of the Colonial Advocate, whose object is to excite discontent in the minds of the farmers 198 within the sphere of his influence, and at the same time to offer a deliberate insult to the legislature of which he happens to be a member.' The honourable gentleman assumes to himself the right of denouncing at will his brother representative as a traitor to his country, a promoter of rebellion, and for no other reason than that that member (myself) had originated an address to our present most excellent sovereign, King William, which ten thousand of our fellow-subjects have since sanctioned by their signatures ! He declares by his votes on this question that he, as one of the majority in this House, may brand me with every infamous epithet which ill-will may see fit to embody in a resolution, but that I, as a public journalist, must be expelled and perhaps disqualified, if I once venture to hint at the glaring political subserviency of public men. Our late colonial minister, Sir George Murray, in a speech addressed to the electors of Perthshire, is reported to have said that ' It would be well if the people would at all times bear in mind that crowds have their courtiers as well as monarchs. Wherever there is power there will be flatterers, and the people do not always sufficiently recollect that they are liable to be flattered and misled as well as princes, and by flatterers not less mean, cringing, and servile, and, above all, not less false or less selfish than the filthiest flatterer who ever frequented a palace to serve his own private ends by betraying the interests of his master.' Mr. Speaker, I never was so well convinced that crowds have their sycophants in Upper Canada as well as courts, as since I have had the honour of a seat in this assembly." . . .

The governor, whose nod would have been sufficient to quash these proceedings in a House swarming with placemen and dependents on the executive, had received, "with much pleasure," a petition from certain "gentlemen," residing in the county of Durham, in which the previous House was spoken of as "a band of factious demagogues, whose acts perceptibly tend to disorganize society, to subvert legitimate authority, and to alienate men's minds from constitutional government." And in another part of the document thus graciously received, the assembly was described as being composed of " unprincipled and designing men," deluders "under the dark mantle of specious patriotism."

So far as related to the decision of the House, it was to no purpose that Mackenzie exposed the gross partiality of these discreditable proceedings. The majority had marked their victim, and no argument that could be used would induce them to forego the sacrifice. Attorney-General Boulton, who seemed to have feared that Mackenzie would renew his defence, on the House resuming next day, moved to amend Mr. Samson's resolution by striking out the order for hearing the accused in his defence, and it was carried. On the same day, the House, acting as accuser, judge, and jury, 200 declared Mackenzie guilty of libel. The vote was precisely the same as on the two previous divisions —twenty-seven against fifteen—a fact which shows, in the strongest light, how incapable was this partisan tribunal of deciding fairly upon a question of libel. By a party vote Mackenzie's guilt had been pronounced; by a party vote he was to be expelled.

On December 12th, the House declared the defence of Mackenzie to be a gross aggravation of the charge brought against him, and that " he was guilty of a high breach of the privileges of this House." They refused to strike a committee to inquire whether any other libels upon them had been published since the commencement of the session. The majority had no idea of exercising their tyranny in an impartial manner. Their object was to sacrifice their opponents, not to deal out the same measure of punishment to their friends. Among those who would have been found guilty, if the inquiry had been pushed, were some of Mackenzie's accusers and judges. The vote for expulsion stood twenty-four against fifteen, and there were four absent members belonging to the official party, all of whom would, if present, have borne true allegiance on this occasion. Attorney-General Boulton, acting as prosecuting counsel on behalf of the majority, described the accused as a " reptile"; and Solicitor-General Hagerman varied the description to "a spaniel dog."

The imperial parliament has, times innumerable, punished individuals for libels upon either House. A libel upon an individual member has always been treated as a libel upon the whole body to which he belonged. Admitting the force of English precedent, Mackenzie, if guilty of libel upon the House, was liable to punishment. But the articles complained of as libellous, in his case, can hardly be said to have exceeded the legitimate bounds of discussion; and they were not nearly so bad as many others which the House thought it proper to overlook, and of which, indeed, some of the majority concerned in his condemnation had been guilty. It was this gross partiality, this want of even-handed justice, which rendered the proceedings against him so odious. Some of the libels which, in his defence, he showed had been levelled through the press, at particular members of the House, against other members, reflected upon a previous parliament; but, if English precedent be worth anything, no right is clearer than that of one House to punish for libels upon a previous House. If the assembly could punish for libel at all, it could punish for libels upon a previous assembly. The punishment, in Mackenzie's case, was altogether unusual. Deprivation of his seat was wholly unjustifiable.

The feeling excited in the unbiased reader's mind, as he goes over this recital, will be no safe indication of the degree of public indignation aroused by this mockery of justice. During the week of the sham trial, petitions to the lieutenant-governor were numerously signed, praying him to dismiss a House tainted with the worst vices of judicial partiality; for the result had been foreseen by the preliminary divisions. On the day of the expulsion, a deputation from the petitioners waited upon the governor's private secretary and informed him that next day, at two o'clock, a number of the petitioners would go to Government House in a body to receive His Excellency's reply. At the appointed hour, nine hundred and thirty persons proceeded to fulfil their mission. They were received in the audience chamber, and, the petition having been presented, they were dismissed with the studiously curt reply: "Gentlemen, I have received the petition of the inhabitants."

But the precautions taken betrayed the fears of the government. Government House was protected with cannon, loaded, served, and ready to be fired on the people; the regiment in garrison was supplied with a double allowance of ball cartridges, and a telegraph was placed on the vice regal residence to command the services of the soldiers if necessary. There were even then some who urged an appeal to force; and the strange supposition seems to have been entertained that the Scottish soldiers would not fire upon them. Mackenzie checked the impetuosity of the more ardent spirits who advised violent measures. He had strong confidence in the disposition of the new Reform ministry in England to do justice to the province; and he inculcated the necessity of patience.

What his enemies intended to make the day of his humiliation and ruin, proved the day of his triumph. The violence exercised towards him by the dominant faction won for him the sympathies of the people. After the return of the petitioners from the Government House, they proceeded to the residence of Mackenzie, largely reinforced. The man rejected by the assembly as a libeller was carried through the streets amidst the acclamations of the populace, who took this emphatic way of testifying their approbation of his conduct, and their determination to uphold the rights of a free press, which they felt had been outraged in his person. Among other places, the procession stopped at the Parliament House and cheered. They were cheers of triumph and defiance, telling how quickly the decision of the assembly had been reversed by that public opinion to which all elective bodies are ultimately accountable. At the office of the Guardian newspaper, then edited by the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, who had warmly espoused the cause of Mackenzie, the procession halted to give three cheers. From a window of the Sun Hotel, Mackenzie addressed the people; and cheers were given for the " Sailor King," and for Earl Grey and the Reform ministry. When Mackenzie had retired, the meeting was reorganized, and resolutions were passed sustaining the course he had taken as a 204 politician and a journalist; complaining of the reply of the governor to the petitioners as unsatisfactory and insulting; asserting the propriety of petitioning the sovereign to send to the province, in future, civil instead of military governors; and pledging the meeting, as a mark of their approbation of his conduct, to present Mackenzie with "a gold medal accompanied by an appropriate inscription and address."

At the same sitting at which the expulsion of Mackenzie had been decreed, the House had ordered the issue of a new writ for the election of a member in his place. The election was held on January 2nd. Over two thousand persons were present. There was a show of opposition made to the re-election of Mackenzie. Mr. Street was nominated. Forty sleighs had come into town in the morning to escort Mackenzie to the polling place. An hour and a half after the poll opened, Mr. Street, having received only one vote, against one hundred and nineteen cast for Mackenzie, abandoned the hopeless contest.

After the close of the poll, came the presentation of the gold medal, which was accounted " a superb piece of workmanship." On one side were the rose, the thistle and the shamrock, encircled by the words, "His Majesty King William IV, the people's friend." On the reverse was the inscription: "Presented to William L. Mackenzie, Esq., by his constituents of the county of York, U. C., as a token of their approbation of his political career. January 2, 1832." The massive cable chain, attached to the medal, contained forty links of about one inch each in length.

When Mackenzie returned to the House with the unanimous approbation of his constituents, the question of re-expulsion was immediately brought up. While he stood at the bar of the House waiting to be sworn in, the question was raised, but the majority of the House seemed disinclined to incur the odium of a second expulsion, an amendment to proceed to the order of the day being carried by a vote of twenty-four against twenty. The motion was met by hisses below the bar, which were only suppressed by a threat to clear the House of strangers. The crowd of voters, who had accompanied their re-elected representative to York, pushed their way into the House. An attempt was made to prevent their entering the lobby; but they forced through the outer door and gained an entrance.

The movers in the business had not put the case very skilfully. No new libel had been charged, and the only offence that concerned the House consisted of an attempt to justify what the majority had previously voted a libel and a breach of privilege. The question raised was rather one of disability than of any new offence. It was probably owing to the fact that the majority saw this ground to be untenable that they refused to sanction the 206 motion. The House had an undoubted right to expel any member for adequate cause; but it had no right to create a disability unknown to the law.

Hagerman felt that it was necessary, in bringing up the question of the re-expulsion, to go upon the ground of a new libel upon the House. He therefore moved, January 6th, a resolution declaring certain matter which had appeared in the Colonial Advocate of the previous day, and of which Mackenzie admitted himself to be the author, to be a false, scandalous, and malicious libel upon the House, and a high breach of its privileges, and that the author be expelled the House, and declared unworthy to hold a seat therein. Hagerman had the prudence to leave out of view the general censures on the executive council, and the demand for the dismissal of himself and Attorney-General Boulton, which were to be found in the article, part of which he brought forward as a ground for expelling the author from the House. It is not to be supposed, however, that he was insensible to these reflections; and the imperial government afterwards took the advice of Mackenzie to dismiss both these functionaries. One of the principal grounds of that dismissal was the part they took in the expulsion of a political opponent from the House, upon pretexts that were deemed to be constitutionally untenable.

Only one hour was given to Mackenzie to prepare his defence, during which the House adjourned.

On its re-assembling, the clerk, at the request of the accused, read the whole of the article,—part of which was complained of as a libel upon the House,— extending to more than five newspaper columns. Such an article would not now arrest the attention of the House, much less cause its author to be punished for libel in any shape. Whether, technically speaking, it was libellous or not, it was far less so than many articles in other newspapers, some of them written by members of the assembly, the writers of which were neither prosecuted in the courts nor expelled from the House.

Solicitor-General Hagerman showed a disposition to carry the abuse of privilege as far as the most despotic sovereign had ever carried the abuse of prerogative. That he had no natural dislike of libels he clearly proved by the profuse use he made of them under cover of that very privilege in the name of which he asked the expulsion of a fellow-member. He described Mackenzie as "the worst of slanderers," who "would govern by means of the knife, and walk over the bleeding bodies of his victims." Of the minority of the House, he said, if they continued there, they "would continue as slanderers, or supporters of slanderers;" that "Mr. Mackenzie," when he closed his defence, had "cast a malignant and wicked glare across the House;" and that "at that moment, he left what was most virtuous within the walls, and took away what was the most vile and debased." When, in the 208 course of his defence, Mackenzie read extracts from the speeches of Sir Francis B.urdett, Earl Grey, Lord Brougham, Mr. Macaulay, and others, the solicitor-general exclaimed that they were "base and diabolical." Here were libels a hundred times worse than those against which these words were uttered. Mackenzie attempted to convince the House of its error by showing that it was setting itself in opposition to public opinion; and pointed in proof to the approbation of his constituents, as shown both by his re-election and the gold medal that had been presented to him. After two or three attempts on the part of the solicitor-general to stop the defence, on such grounds as that the reading of extracts from the English press to show the degree of liberty allowed there to criticisms upon parliament was improper, the Speaker declared Mackenzie out of order. Having appealed against the decision of the Speaker, whom the House sustained by a large majority, Mackenzie resolved to attempt no more. It was, he said, a farce and a mockery for the House to call on him to make his defence, and then prevent his proceeding. He disdained to attempt any further defence before such a tribunal. He then tied up his papers, and walked out of the House amidst loud cries of "Order" from all sides.

The question was soon settled, the. House voting the re-expulsion by nine o'clock, the second day of the discussion, on a division of twenty-seven against nineteen. The resolution, forged in the mint of the solicitor-general, went much beyond a mere expulsion. It declared the expelled member incapable of holding a seat in the House during that parliament; thus assuming that a mere resolution of the House could create a disability to which nothing short of a specific law could give legal force.1 Supposing this complaint of libel to have been well founded, the proper course would have been for the council to address the governor to order a prosecution, as was done by the House of Commons in the case of Wilkes, who was only expelled after he had absconded to France. But there was a very substantial reason for avoiding this course. No conviction could have been obtained. The appeal which Mackenzie now made to the electors of York was in his most impassioned style, and may be taken as a very fair sample of his powers of agitation.

"Canadians," he said, "you have seen a Gourlay unlawfully banished; a Thorpe persecuted and degraded; a Randal cruelly oppressed; a Matthews hunted down even to the gates of death; a Willis dragged from the bench of justice, slandered, pursued even across the Atlantic by envy and malice, and finally ruined in his fame, fortune, and domestic happiness; you have seen a thousand other less noted victims offered upon the altar of political hatred and party revenge; sacrificed for their adherence to the principles of the constitution, their love of liberty and justice, their ardent desire to promote the happiness of your domestic firesides. How many more sacrifices the shrine of unlawful power may require, none can tell. The destroyer is made bold by your timidity and the base and unprincipled triumph over your truest friends, because they believe you will show a craven spirit, and put up with every possible insult, however aggravated. The hired presses style you the tag-rag and bob-tail who assemble at town meetings, and in the legislature your most faithful members are daily insulted and abused as rebels in heart,and as the factious abettors of the libeller, the disaffected, and the disloyal. . . . Had Charles X profited by experience as did his brother Louis XVIII, the elder branch of the Bourbons had yet reigned in France. Louis was illuminated by his journey to Ghent, and stuck by the charter ever after. But it is said that*our great men put their trust and confidence in the troops at Kingston and in this garrison. Do they expect to make butchers of British soldiers, the soldiers of liberty, the friends of freedom, the conquerors of the tyrant of France, the gallant followers of the noble-hearted Colonel Douglas? Are these the men they expect to protect them should continued misrule bring upon them the indignation of an injured, outraged, and long-suffering community? Do they suppose that men of honour would violate their obligation to their country and their God, and imbrue their hands in the blood of their kind and confiding brothers, to gratify the bitter enemies of their noble king ? Surely the champions of British liberty are unfit to perform the drudgery of menial slaves I Surely the men whom our beloved sovereign has sent here to protect us from foreign aggression cannot desire to abridge our privileges! Their rights are ours—their history our history—their earliest recollections ours also. We acknowledge one common origin ; our fathers worshipped together in one temple. Does the infatuated junto, who are now acting so foolishly, expect the bravest of Scotland's sons to sabre their countrymen merely because they do not conform to the doctrines of prelacy and follow the example of Archdeacon Strachan to apostacy and worldly wealth ? Do they believe there is a soldier in Canada whose youthful heart ever bounded with joy in days of yore, on old Scotland's hills, while he sang the national air of 4 Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,' and whose manhood has been employed in repelling foreign aggression, who would disgrace his name and the regiment he belongs to by increasing the widows and orphans of Canada ? And yet, if such are not the expectations of our rulers, why do they trifle with the feelings of the people ? What would a handful of troops be to the natural aristocracy of Canada, the hardy yeo-212 manry who own the soil, even if the former were of the most ferocious class of human beings, instead of the manly and accomplished defenders of their country, covered with immortal honour and unstained laurels on many a victorious battlefield? I disdain to hold out threats, but it is time to speak with plainness. . . .

"We come, at last, to the leading question: What is to be done? Meet together from all sections of the country, at York, on Thursday next, the nineteenth instant, in this town, on the area in front of the court-house ; let the farmer leave his husbandry, the mechanic his tools, and pour forth your gallant population animated by the pure spirit of liberty; be firm and collected—be determined—be united— never trifle with your rights; show by your conduct that you are fit for the management of your domestic affairs, ripe for freedom, the enlightened subjects of a constitutional sovereign, and not the serfs of a Muscovite, or the counterpart of a European mob! Strive to strike corruption at its roots; to encourage a system calculated to promote peace and happiness; to secure as our inheritance the tranquil advantages of civil and religious freedom, general content, and easy independence. Such a connection as this with our parent state would prove long and mutually beneficial; but, if the officials go much further, they will drive the people mad."

To a certain extent, the majority of the assembly had, by the injustice of which they had been guilty, gained their point. They had goaded their victim into the use of expressions which, in his cooler moments, he had never used. It must not be overlooked, however, that whatever there was of menace in his impassioned language, it was directed against the provincial oligarchy. A marked distinction was made between them and the " noble king," whose "soldiers of freedom" were the "champions of British liberty." If he was indiscreet, we must not forget the galling provocation to which he had been subjected in being not only expelled from the legislature for libels .that others might print with impunity, but that, with a view of preventing his re-election, the organs of the official party had represented that he was loaded with a disability unknown to the law, the creation of the arbitrary will of the assembly. We shall see, as we proceed, that some members of the Family Compact shortly afterwards threatened to throw off their allegiance upon infinitely less provocation.

The election of a member to represent the county of York, in the place of the expelled representative, commenced on January 30th, Mackenzie being proposed, for the fourth time, by Joseph Shepherd. Two other candidates, James E. Small and Simon Washburn, presented themselves. Small stated from the hustings that "he did not come before the freeholders as approving of the conduct of the assembly in their repeated expulsions of Mr. Mac-214 kenzie; he considered their proceedings, in these cases, arbitrary and unconstitutional But, as they had declared Mr. Mackenzie disqualified, he had come forward presuming that the electors would see the expediency of not electing a member who could not take his seat. He opposed Mr. Washburn, not Mr. Mackenzie, who, he was satisfied, would have a majority of votes." Washburn, on the contrary, expressed his approval of the proceedings of the assembly in the expulsion of Mackenzie, of whom he spoke in terms of harshness similar to those used by the more violent of the majority of the House. Washburn retired on the second day of polling, much disgusted at having received only twenty-three votes. Mackenzie received six hundred and twenty-eight votes, and Small ninety-six. During the parliamentary session following this re-election, Mackenzie was absent in England, and while there, as we shall see, was again expelled from the legislature. In his absence from the assembly, the Bank of Upper Canada had been authorized to increase its stock to a very large extent. The bill was, however, vetoed in England, at the instance of Mackenzie, as based on unsound principles.

Alexander Frazer, a man of coarse manners and violent language, publicly threatened to horsewhip Mackenzie from his place in the assembly during the mock trial; and it was said that, within twenty-four hours, he received from Sir John Colborne a promise of the collectorship of Brockville. The promise was faithfully fulfilled. This official approval of ruffianly conduct, which should have called down the severe censure of the House, was only of a piece with that which happened a few years before, when a number of partisans of the Compact, who wrecked the Advocate office in the proprietor's absence and under the eye of Tory justices of the peace, were rewarded with offices under the Crown. Some of these incidents in Mackenzie's life, coupled with the treatment which he constantly received from the official party, and from the despotic assemblies which decreed his expulsions from parliament, would have made many a public man an irreconcilable foe to British institutions. " Considering," said a Conservative journal, "the persecutions to which Mackenzie was subjected, in his long and brave struggle for popular rights and good government, his moderation was marvellous. What popular leader of our day, who could wield the power which he did, would endure half as much as he under conditions as galling? Not one. There is, however, a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government."


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