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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter X - Sir Francis Bond Head's Arbitary Methods


ON January 14th, 1836, Sir Francis Bond Head, who had just arrived in the province as lieutenant-governor, opened the session of the Upper Canada legislature. The royal speech, in referring to the dissensions that had taken place in Lower Canada, and to the labours of the imperial commissioners, Lord Gosford, Sir Charles Grey and Sir George Gipps, appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of, assured the House that, whatever recommendations might be made as the result of this inquiry, the constitution of the provinces would be firmly maintained. As the constitution of the legislative council was one of the subjects of inquiry, this information could not be very consolatory to the Reformers.

During the session, Mackenzie carried an address to the king on the subject of the restraints imposed upon the province by the commercial legislation of the mother country. British goods could not pass through the United States, on their way to Canada, without being subjected to the American duty; and the address prayed that the sovereign would negotiate with the Washington government for the free passage of such goods. The facility of transport thus asked for was fully secured by the United States Bonding Act passed ten years after. For the purpose of upholding the monopoly of the East India Company, not an ounce of tea could be imported into Canada by way of the United States. The abolition of this monopoly was demanded. Canadian lumber and wheat were heavily taxed—twenty-five cents a bushel on the latter—on their admission into the United States; the same articles coming thence into the province were free of duty. Mackenzie / anticipated by eighteen years the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. The address prayed "that His Majesty would cause such representations to be made to the government of the United States as might have a tendency to place this interesting branch of Canadian commerce on a footing of reciprocity between the two countries." Nor did he stop here. He thought it right that this principle of reciprocity should be extended to all articles admitted by Canada free of duty from the United States.

Sir Francis Bond Head, unused to government, had been instructed by the colonial secretary in the rules of official etiquette and courtesy which he was to observe; and, in answering this address, he did not assume that objectionable tone which shortly afterwards marked his utter unfitness for the position to which he had been appointed. In regard to the removal of the Crown officers, there was a despatch marked "confidential," and which for that reason he did not produce. He had no means of explaining the continuance in office of Hagerman, further than that his reinstatement was the result of exculpatory evidence offered by that person while in England. The governor could require, and, if necessary, insist on the resignation of officials who might openly or covertly oppose the measures of his government; but he would not take a retrospective view of their conduct, or question the wisdom of what had been done by his predecessors, in this respect. He applied the same rule to appointments made to the legislative council; he could not undertake to judge of the principles that guided his predecessor. Lord Ripon, he considered, in giving his opinion of the presence of the Roman Catholic bishop and the Anglican archdeacon in the legislative council, had expressed no intention in reference to them. Sir Francis confessed, with maladroitness, to the existence of despatches which he did not feel at liberty to communicate; besides the one already mentioned, he had received another dated September 12th, 1835, and containing observations on the grievance report. He asked from the House the consideration due to a stranger to the province, unconnected with the differences of party, entrusted by his sovereign with instructions "to correct, cautiously, yet effectually, all real grievances," while maintaining the constitution inviolate.

During this session an event occurred which, though Mackenzie was not directly connected with it, had an important bearing on the general course of affairs that eventually lead to the armed insurrection in which he was a prominent actor. It is necessary to a clear comprehension of all the circumstances which produced this crisis, that the event should be briefly related.

On February 20th, 1836, Sir Francis called three new members to the executive council, John Henry Dunn, Robert Baldwin, and John Rolph. The two latter were prominent members of the Reform party, and Dunn had long held the office of receiver-general. Their appointment was hailed as the dawn of a new and better order of things, and the governor professed, with what sincerity will hereafter appear, a desire to reform all real abuses. On March 4th these gentlemen, with the other three members of the executive council,1 resigned. They complained that they had incurred the odium of being held accountable for measures which they had never advised, and for a policy to which they were strangers. That the three Tory members of the council should have joined in the resignation shows the irresistible force which the popular demand, put forward by Mackenzie and others for a responsible administration, carried with it. The current was too strong to leave a reasonable hope of their being able to make way against it. But what they shrank from undertaking, Sir Francis was to try, by the aid of more supple instruments, to accomplish. The six councillors, on tendering their resignations, insisted on the constitutional right of being consulted on the affairs of the province generally, and resorted to some elaboration of argument to prove that their claim had an immovable foundation in the provincial charter.

The governor, on the other hand, contended that he alone was responsible, being liable to removal and impeachment for misconduct, and that he was at liberty to have recourse to their advice only when he required it; but that to consult them on all the questions that he was called upon to decide would be " utterly impossible." His political theory was very simple. "The lieutenant-governor maintains," he said, "that responsibility to the people, who are already represented in the House of Assembly, is unconstitutional; that it is the duty of the council to serve him, not them"— a doctrine that was soon to meet a practical rebuke from his official superiors in England.

The answer of His Excellency was sent to a select committee of the House, who made an elaborate report in which the governor's treatment of his council was censured in no measured terms. The increasing dissatisfaction which had been produced by the maladministration of Governors Gore, Maitland, and Colborne, was said to have become general. The new appointments to the executive council of liberal men, made by Sir Francis, were stigmatized as "a deceitful manoeuvre to gain credit with the country for liberal feelings and intentions when none existed;" and it was declared to be matter of notoriety that His Excellency had "given his confidence to, and was acting under, the influence of secret and unsworn advisers." "If," they said, "all the odium which has been poured upon the old executive council had been charged, as His Excellency proposes, upon the lieutenant-governors, their residence [in the province] would not have been very tolerable, and their authority would have become weakened or destroyed." The authority of Governor Simcoe, whose appointment followed close after the passing of the Constitutional Act of 1791, was adduced to show that "the very image and transcript" of the British constitution had been given to Canada. The governor was charged with having "assumed the government with most unhappy prejudices against the country," and with acting "with the temerity of a stranger and the assurance of an old inhabitant." Much warmth of feeling was shown 296 throughout the entire report, and the committee gave it as their opinion that the House had no alternative left "but to abandon their privileges and honour, and to betray their duties and the rights of the people, or to withhold the supplies." " All we have done," it was added, " will otherwise be deemed idle bravado, contemptible in itself, and disgraceful to the House."

The House adopted the report of the committee on a vote of thirty-two against twenty-one; and thus committed itself to the extreme measure of a refusal of the supplies. To the resolution adopting the report, a declaration was added that a responsible government was constitutionally established in the province.

In the debate on the question of adopting the report, the Tories took the ground that responsible government meant separation from England. "The moment," said Mr. McLean, "we establish the doctrine in practice, we are free from the mother country." Assuming that the imperial government would take this view of the matter, Solicitor-General Hagerman covertly threatened the majority of the House with the vengeance of "more than one hundred and fifty thousand men, loyal and true." The temper of both parties was violent, for already were generating those turbulent passions of which civil war was to be the final expression.

Sir Francis, having received an address adopted at a public meeting of the citizens of Toronto, assured the members of the deputation who presented it, that he should feel it his duty to reply with as much attention as if it had proceeded from either branch of the legislature; but that he should express himself "in plainer and more homely language." This was regarded as a slight to the inferior capacity of the "many-headed monster," and was resented with a bitterness which twenty years were too short to eradicate.

The deputation left the viceregal residence inspired by a common feeling of indignation at what they conceived to be intentional slights put upon them. It was soon resolved to repay the official insolence with a rejoinder. Dr. Rolph and Mr. O'Grady prepared the document. "We thank your Excellency," said the opening sentence, "for replying to our address, 'principally from the industrial classes of the city,' with as much attention as if it had proceeded from either branch of the legislature; and we are duly sensible, in receiving your Excellency's reply, of your great condescension in endeavouring to express yourself in plainer and more homely language, presumed by your Excellency to be thereby brought down to the lower level of our plainer and more homely understandings." They then pretended to explain the deplorable neglect of their education by the maladministration of former governments. "It is," they added, "because we have been thus maltreated, neglected, and despised in our education and interests, under the system of government that has hitherto prevailed, that we are now driven to insist upon a change that cannot be for the worse." The change they desired to bring about was " cheap, honest, and responsible government."

After referring to the cases of Gourlay, Collins, Randal, Justice Willis and Captain Matthews, they proceeded: "And even your Excellency has disclosed a secret despatch to the minister in Downing Street (the very alleged tribunal of justice), containing most libellous matter against William Lyon Mackenzie, Esq., M.P.P., a gentleman known chiefly for his untiring services for his adopted and grateful country. We will not wait," they plainly told the governor, "for the immolation of any other of our public men, sacrificed to a nominal responsibility which we blush we have so long endured to the ruin of so many of His Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects." After an elaborate argument to prove the necessity of a responsible administration, the rejoinder concluded by what Mackenzie, in a manuscript note he has left, calls "the first low murmur of insurrection." "If your Excellency," the menace ran, "will not govern us upon these principles, you will exercise arbitrary sway, you will violate our charter, virtually abrogate our law, and justly forfeit our submission to your authority."

It was arranged that Lesslie and Ketchum should drive to Government House, deliver the document, and retire before there was time for any questions to be asked. They did so, simply saying they came from the deputation of citizens. Sir Francis did not even know who were the bearers of the unwelcome missile. He sent it, in a passion, to George Ridout, on the supposition that he had been concerned in the delivery. Ridout sent it back. It was in type before being despatched, and, scarcely had it reached the governor, when a printed copy of it was in the hands of every member of the House.

On March 14th, four new executive councillors were appointed, namely, Robert Baldwin Sullivan, William Allan, Augustus Baldwin, and John Elmsley. The last had resigned his seat in the executive council some years before, on the ground that he could not continue to hold it and act independently as a legislative councillor, though the principle of dependence had never before been pushed to the same extent as now. Three days after these appointments were announced, the House declared its "entire want of confidence" in the men whom Sir Francis had called to his council. The vote was thirty-two against eighteen. An address to the governor embodying this declaration of non-confidence, and expressing regret that His Excellency should have caused the previous council to tender their resignation while he declared his continued esteem for their talents and integrity, was subsequently passed on a division of thirty-two against nineteen.

The popular party had unintentionally given an incidental sanction to the assumptions of the governor, founded on the despatch of Lord Goderich on the dismissal of the Crown officers in 1833. Their removal was the result of their opposition in the legislature to the expressed wishes of the imperial government. In procuring the annulment of the bank charters, Mackenzie was not sustained by the party with whom he acted, and by whom the dismissal of the Crown officers was gratefully accepted. It was the misfortune of Sir Francis to be required to carry out the principle of complete subordination of all the officers of the local government to the Downing Street authorities, at a time when the disposition of the colonists to repudiate that system, and to insist on the responsibility of the executive council to the assembly, had become irresistible. But he showed the greatest reluctance to deviate from this course after he received a confidential despatch from Lord Glenelg, dated September 30th, 1836, laying it down as a principle that, in the British American provinces, the executive councils should be composed of individuals possessing the confidence of the people. Every Canadian who had advocated this principle had been set down by Sir Francis as a republican and a traitor, and the principle itself he had denounced as unconstitutional. Sir Francis conceived his mission to be to fight and conquer what he called the "low-bred antagonist democracy." He thought the battle was to be won by steadily opposing "the fatal policy of concession," keeping the Tories in office, and putting down the party which he indifferently designated Reformers, Radicals, and Republicans. He thought himself entitled to claim credit for having, by his reply to "the industrial classes of Toronto, "caused a scene of violence at a public meeting, at which, he relates to Lord Glenelg with much satisfaction, "Mr. Mackenzie totally failed in gaining attention," and Dr. Morrison, who was then mayor of Toronto, "was collared and severely shaken." "The whole affair," he adds, "was so completely stifled by the indignation of the people, that the meeting was dissolved without the passing of a single resolution."

The governor, who had completely thrown himself into the hands of the Family Compact, had other schemes for influencing the constituencies in favour of one party and against another; for he was not long in resolving to dissolve a House that voted only such supplies as would subserve the purposes of the majority, while it withheld others of which the want tended to embarrass the machinery of the government. This dissolution of the assembly, which took place on May 28th, 1836, was in effect a declaration of war.

Amongst the bills passed by the legislature were twelve money bills, which were reserved by His Excellency. The avowed object of reserving the bills was to deprive the majority of the House of what might be so distributed as to conduce to their re-election. On motion of Mr. Perry, the House had adopted the vicious principle of making the members of the legislature a committee for expending the £50,000 road money granted; and there was some point in the observation of Sir Francis that this member's name appeared too often in connection with such expenditures. But, although the reservation of these money bills did not lead to their being vetoed, the effect on the constituencies was the same. The elections were over before it was known that the royal assent had been given in opposition to the recommendation of the governor, who took care to make it understood that on this question he had the concurrence of his council.

Before the elections were announced, steps were taken, of which Sir Francis appears to have been cognizant, for procuring petitions in favour of a dissolution of the House. Perhaps they were suggested by himself or his council. Certain it is that he had timely warning of petitions in process of being signed, some time before they were presented. The Tory press divided the country into two parties, one of whom was represented to be in favour of maintaining the supremacy of the British Crown in the province, and the other as being composed of traitors and republicans. This representation was transferred from partisan newspapers to official despatches and replies to admiring addresses. Timid persons were awed into inactivity, not thinking it prudent to. appear at the polls, where their presence would have caused them to be branded as revolutionists. The Tories subscribed largely for election purposes; votes were manufactured and violence resorted to.

By such means was Sir Francis afterwards enabled to boast of the perilous success he had achieved. Having dissolved the assembly because it proved unbending, he determined that he would personally see to it that the new House was one willing to submit to his dictation. It is not often that a governor has so mixed himself up in election contests. He had in fact done everything upon his own responsibility, having never consulted the imperial government, to whose directions he professed to feel it his duty to pay implicit obedience. He had written to Lord Glenelg informing him that it was his intention to dissolve the House, and instructing him—as if he were the superior—to send him no orders on the subject. Nor was this the only occasion on which he undertook to transmit his orders to Downing Street. When, in the spring of 1836, Robert Baldwin, one of his late councillors, started for England, he described him to Lord Glenelg as an agent of the revolutionary party, and expressed a wish that he might not be received at the colonial office, adding a suggestion that, if he should make any application, he should be effectually snubbed in a letter in reply, which should be transmitted to Canada for publication. He also denounced to the colonial minister the project of surrendering to the control of the Canadian legislature the casual and territorial revenues; being desirous of keeping the executive, as far as possible, financially independent of the popular branch of the legislature. He quarrelled with the commission of inquiry, which had been sent to Canada headed by Lord Gosford, for recommending that the executive council should be made accountable to public opinion, and assured the imperial government that the project was pregnant with every species of danger. When he received a confidential despatch from Lord Glenelg, acquainting him that this course had been determined on, he became half frantic; and on the publication of a despatch from Sir Archibald Campbell, lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, directing him to increase the number of his councillors, and to select them from persons possessing the confidence of the people, he vented his disappointment by declaring that "the triumph which the loyal inhabitants of our North American colonies had gained over the demands of the Republicans was not only proved to be temporary, but was completely destroyed." He carried his indiscretion to an inconceivable extent. The province, he openly declared, was threatened with invasion from a foreign enemy; and he proceeded to throw out a defiant challenge to this imaginary foe. "In the name of every regiment of militia in Upper Canada," he said, "publicly promulgate, let them come if they dare." This piece of audacious folly made him the subject of a remarkable practical joke. A deputation, headed by Hincks, waited on him to inquire from what point the attack was expected, the inference being that they desired to know in order that they might be prepared to repel the invaders.

The fate of British dominion in America, he assured the colonial minister, depended upon his advice being taken, and his acts sustained. Several times it was necessary to curb him; and once he made an inferential, rather than a direct, tender of his resignation. He dismissed George Ridout from the offices of colonel of the militia, judge of the District Court of Niagara and justice of the peace, on the pretence that he was an active member of the Alliance Society, which had issued an address, on the subject of the resignation of the late executive council, containing words personally offensive to the governor; and when this charge was dis-306 proved to the satisfaction of Lord Glenelg, he refused to obey the order of the colonial minister to restore Ridout to office. He also refused to obey the instructions of the colonial secretary to appoint Marshall Spring Bidwell to a judgeship in the Court of Queen's Bench; and, when he had done his best to drive men into rebellion, he claimed credit for his foresight in having pointed out their traitorous intentions.

"After all," says Mr. Rattray, "the burden of reponsibility for that futile outbreak must rest upon the shoulders of the lieutenant-governor. 4 He sowed the wind by exciting the passions of the masses, and reaped the whirlwind in the petty rebellion of which he must forever stand convicted as the chief promoter. Had he taken time to acquire a just knowledge of the condition of the country—had he acted with calm and impartial wisdom, presuming that knowledge to have been acquired, Upper Canada would not haye known the stigma of even partial rebellion.' His extravagant language, his arbitrary acts, his undisguised interference with the freedom of election, his sublime self-confidence, taken together, stamp him as at once the rashest, most violent, and yet the feeblest and most incompetent representative the Crown ever had in British North America."

Mackenzie, Bidwell and Perry were among the members of the popular party who failed to secure a re-election. It was the first election at which the county of York had been divided into ridings. Mackenzie stood for the second riding, having for his opponent, Edward Thompson, a man without decision enough to make him a very decided partisan. He passed for a modified Reformer at the election, which was a great advantage to him, and acted with the Family Compact when he got into the House. As he had not energy enough to be bitter, many timid voters, alarmed by the cries of revolution raised by the governor and the Family Compact, thought that if they voted at all, it would be safest, if not best, to vote for him. He obtained four hundred and eighty-nine votes ; Mackenzie, three hundre4 and eighty-nine. Just before the election there had been a sale of lots, by the government, at the mouth of the River Credit. They were mostly divided into quarter acres, and were sold for thirty-two dollars each. Some of the patents were issued during the election, others only a few days before. But this did not turn the scale of the election; for, in the list of voters, I find only four who voted for Thompson on lots at Port Credit. About an equal number of votes, offered for Mackenzie, were turned away on what appear to be frivolous grounds. If such great pains had not been taken by Thompson's friends to prevent a scrutiny, there might, looking at the disparity in the number of votes received by the two candidates, have been some reason for concluding that Mackenzie was beaten by a majority of legal votes. Nothing but a scrutiny could have settled the point in dispute. There was said to have been a suspiciously large increase in the number of voters. The unscrupulous influence of the government in the election, attested by Lord Durham's Report, is beyond question.

It was said that Mackenzie was opposed by bank as well as government influence; and this seems not improbable, since he had procured the disallowance of two bank charter bills when he was in England. Complaints of bribery were also made ; and if they were well founded, it is reasonable to suppose that the money formed part of the official election fund subscribed in Toronto. After the desperate policy resorted to for the purpose of ejecting Mackenzie from a previous legislature, it is not to be supposed that any effort would be spared to prevent his return. There can be no doubt that the improper use of official influence was the main cause of the election resulting as it did. Sir Francis himself rode out to the polling place during the election. Mackenzie's mortification at a result which he believed to have been brought about by improper means, was extreme.

About the time of the commencement of the first legislative session, which took place on November 8th, 1836, Mackenzie was taken dangerously ill of inflammatory fever, followed by inflammation of the lungs and pleura, brought on by his taking cold. On November 23rd, he was pronounced convalescent; but his ultimate recovery was slow.

Petitions against the return of any member whose seat it was intended to contest, were required to be presented within fourteen days of the commencement of the session. On December 13th—one month and five days after the session had opened—Dr. Morrison, on producing medical certificates of Mackenzie's illness, obtained an extension of the time for presenting a petition against Thompson's return. Seven days were allowed. The regulation set aside was not one of law, but was simply a rule of the House. When the allegations in the petition had become known to the House, the majority evinced extreme anxiety to avoid inquiry. Mackenzie, continuing to collect evidence and to increase his list of witnesses, refrained from completing his recognizances, as security for costs, till nearly the expiration of the time required, namely, fourteen days after the presentation of the petition. New facts continued to come in; and, before handing in his list of witnesses, he wished to make it as complete as possible. But, by an entirely new construction of the law, he was held to have exceeded the time. Dr. Rolph showed the untenableness of the position which a partisan majority was ready to assume; but without avail. The petition was introduced on December 20th. It then, as required by law, lay on the table two days before being read; which last act, it was contended, completed the series which made up the presentation. The House had always acted on this construction; and it could not have one rule for itself and another for petitioners. The petition must therefore be considered as having been presented on the twenty-second; and the fourteen days for completing the recognizances would not end till January 5th. The order had been discharged on the fourth, which was an illegal abridgment of the time. The Speaker was required, on the twenty-second, to give notice to the petitioner of the day fixed for taking the petition into consideration; but he failed to give it till the thirtieth, and for his default, the House, not the petitioner, was responsible. This argument was conclusive; but the vote to discharge the order carried.

It may seem strange that the presentation of a petition should include its reading, fixed by law at two days after its introduction ; but the House must be judged by its practice, and this was stated to have been uniformly different, on all previous occasions, from the course now taken. Jonas Jones, by whom the Act relating to contested elections was brought in, did Mackenzie full justice on this occasion. " He considered that Mr. Mackenzie had a right to count fourteen days from the time his memorial was read, and that he had neglected no requirement of the law;" and, on this ground, Jones voted against an amendment declaring that the order relating to the petition had been legally discharged, and that therefore it ought not to be restored. Ogle R. Gowan, another political opponent of the petitioner, showed that, in the previous parliament, he had been placed in precisely the same position as Mackenzie with respect to time ; and that not a single member of the House, a large majority of whom were opposed to him in politics, raised an objection. One thing is very clear, the government party was seriously anxious to avoid an inquiry. If they had nothing to fear from a scrutiny, it is difficult to conceive what motive they could have had for departing from the uniform practice in order to prevent an investigation.

Mackenzie had the authority of the senior clerk of the House for believing his was the uniform practice, and on December 22nd, the day on which it was contended the presentation of the petition was completed, MacNab obtained fourteen days for the sitting member to prepare his list of witnesses—an implied confession that the fourteen days, after which the petition would be acted upon, commenced on that day. An amendment was added to this motion giving Mackenzie the same time to prepare the list of his -witnesses, and yet the majority afterwards refused to give the time they had thus agreed upon for completing his recognizances.

There was the more reason for the inquiry, because the allegations in the petition included even the head of the government in charges of undue interference by making inflammatory replies to addresses, with a view to influencing the election by the issuing of land patents to persons known to be hostile to the petitioner, without exacting a compliance with the conditions of purchase; besides gross partiality on the part of the returning officer and bribery on the part of the sitting member. It would have been far better that these grave charges had been subjected to the test of a rigid scrutiny; because, if they were not well-founded, their refutation could most easily and most effectually have been made in this way.

The decision of the House can scarcely excite surprise; for in a case of that peculiar nature, where either side of the case could be sustained by plausible arguments, a partisan majority, so violently opposed as it was to the petitioner, was not likely to be very scrupulous in its decision. Rightly or wrongly the petitioner was firmly convinced that he had been able to obstruct me by every artifice in their power. They declare me to be their enemy, and the truth is, I really am."

But his address to the electors of Newcastle district transcends, if possible, the rest:—

"As your district," he said, "has now the important duty to perform of electing representatives for a new parliament, I think it may practically assist, if I clearly lay before you what is the conduct I intend inflexibly to pursue, in order that by the choice of your new members, you may resolve either to support me or oppose me, as you may think proper. I consider that my character and your interests are embarked in one and the same boat. If by my administration I increase your wealth, I shall claim for myself credit, which it will be totally out of your power to withhold from me; if I diminish your wealth, I feel it would be hopeless for any one to shield me from blame.

"As we have, therefore, one common object in view, the plain question for us to consider is, which of us has the greatest power to do good to Upper Canada ? Or, in other words, can you do as much good for yourselves as I can for you ? It is my opinion that you cannot! It is defrauded of his seat, and unfairly and illegally denied the liberty of proving how it had been done, and of recovering what had been unwarrantably taken from him. He had a keen sense of personal injury, and when wrong done to him was also done to the public, he was slow to forget, and not too ready to forgive.

Dr. Duncombe, a member of the Reform party in Upper Canada, who had held a seat in the legislative assembly, brought to the notice of the colonial secretary, Lord Glenelg, the complaints made against the lieutenant-governor in connection with this election, as well as against his general policy, and Sir Francis was required to put in his defence. The report, as everybody had foreseen, was in my opinion that if yon choose to dispute with me, and live on bad terms with the mother country, you will, to use a homely phrase, only 'quarrel with your own bread and butter.' If you like to try the experiment by electing members who will again stop the supplies, do so, for I can have no objection whatever; on the other hand, if you choose fearlessly to embark your interests with my character, depend upon it I will tako paternal care of them both.

"If I am allowed I will, by reason and mild conduct, begin first of all by tranquillizing the country, and as soon as that object shall be gained, I will use all my influence with His Majesty's government to make such alterations in the land-granting department as shall attract into Upper Canada the redundant wealth and population of the mother country. Men, women, and money are what you want, and if you will send to parliament members of moderate politics, who will cordially and devoid of self-interest assist me, depend upon it you will gain more than you possibly can do by hopelessly trying to insult me; for let your conduct be what it may, 1 am quite determined, so long as I may occupy the station I now do, neither to give offence, nor to take it."

Being a verdict of .acquittal, and a special verdict, it must be remarked, since it declared that the country owed the viceregal defendant a debt of gratitude for his patriotism and other inestimable qualities. But the public was not thereby convinced, and the discontents were not allayed.

A considerable portion of Dr. Duncombe's letter, containing the charge against the lieutenant-governor on which the committee had pronounced, related to the election for the second riding of York in which a committee had been illegally refused to Mackenzie. Nor was he allowed to produce before the committee, that pretended to inquire into these charges, the evidence which he was prepared to produce in support of them.

The case of Mackenzie, though perhaps not exactly like any other, cannot be regarded as having stood alone. The improper means taken by the executive to influence the elections did not affect him alone. Sir Francis openly proclaimed himself the enemy of the Reformers; and he brought all the weight of his position to bear against them as a party.

The sense of injustice engendered by these means rankled in men's minds, and tended to beget a fatal resolution to seek redress by a resort to physical force. This resolution, which did not assume a positive shape for sometime afterwards, was a capital error, and one which some were to expiate with their lives, others with sufferings and privations and contumely scarcely preferable to death.

It was not sufficient for Sir Francis and his friends to pursue with injustice one of the two parties into which the country was divided ; they were not less ready to assail them with personal calumny. The Tory press asked: "Who is William Lyon Mackenzie?" And then proceeded to give its own answer. With the Celtic blood boiling in his veins at the personal insults offered, Mackenzie replied in terms that since the election he (Meldrum) had informed him (Lount), that on one occasion he (Meldrum, accompanied Wellesley Ritchie, the government agent, from Toronto to the Upper Settlement; that Ritchie called him (Meldrum) to one side at Crew's tavern, where the stage stopped, and told him that Sir Francis had employed him (Ritchie) to give the deeds to the settlers in Simcoe, and that he (Ritchie) wanted him (Meldrum) to assist him in turning Lount out. Meldrum agreed to do his best, opened his house, and says that Wickens paid him faithfully for his liquor, etc. 'When Lount had read the above from his memorandum, I asked Meldrum if he could swear to these facts. He said he could, for they were perfectly correct. I then asked Lount, who gave me a number of important facts, why he did not contest the election, and he told me it would have been throwing £100 away, and losing time, for that no one, who knew who the members were, could for a moment expect justice from them." that cannot be characterized as either temperate or discreet.1 The fiery words which he used under the excitement can hardly be held to express more than the exasperation of the moment; and if they did not fall harmless, it was because the government of Sir Francis had inclined, the people to listen to desperate counsels.

In the session of 1836-7, which closed on March 4th, Sir Francis's " bread and butter " assembly was very far from realizing his election promises of reform. But it is not probable that any section of the public was disappointed, for they were not promises that any one expected to see fulfilled. The fear of a legal and inevitable dissolution, which seemed to be impending, weighed heavily upon parliament. King William IV would probably not live four years; and, on the demise of the sovereign, the assembly would legally cease to exist. Sir Francis was not likely to fare so well in a second election as he had in the first. A bill was therefore passed, which enacted that a dissolution of the House should not necessarily follow a demise of the Crown. The money bills, passed this session, showed an extraordinary degree of recklessness, on the part of the House, in incurring debt. The entire amount voted must have been about five millions of dollars, at that time a very large sum compared to the amount of revenue. The establishment of fifty-seven rectories by Sir John Colborne, before he left the government, which had given great offence to a large majority of the population, received the approval of the assembly.

The session closed in one of those hurricanes of passion which often precedes a violent revolutionary movement. The question of a union of Upper and Lower Canada had been before the House during the session, and resolutions had been passed condemning the project. At twelve o'clock on the last day of the session—the prorogation was to take place at three—the concurrence of the House was asked in an address to the Crown founded on the resolutions. Dr. Rolph moved an amendment, the object of which was to prevent a decision on the question in the absence of many members who had already gone home. Having been stopped by the Speaker he later obtained the right to enter on a wider range of discussion, and went on amid much confusion, but when he was uttering the words, "The evil of our inland situation is admitted; what is the remedy?"—the Speaker announced, "The time has arrived—half-past one—to wait on the lieutenant-governor with some joint address." And the scene was abruptly brought to a close.

Thus ended the last regular session of the Upper Canada legislature preceding the outbreak of 1837, though an extraordinary session was to intervene. Several such scenes had occurred during the first session of the "bread and butter" parliament.

In the spring of this year (1837) Mackenzie went to New York, arriving there about the end of March. At the trade sales, then going on, he purchased several thousand volumes of books, and made large additions to his printing establishment. About two years before, he had added a large bookstore to his other business, and his present purchases furnished decisive proof that, at this time, the idea of risking everything upon an armed insurrection had not entered into his calculations.

On July 4th, he published the first number of the Constitution newspaper, the last issue of which appeared on November 29th, 1837. The first and fourth pages of the number for December 6th were printed, when it was brought to a violent close by the breaking out of the insurrection. The forms of type were broken up by the Loyalist mob. When he brought the Colonial Advocate to a close, he was anxious to bid adieu to the harassing cares of Canadian journalism forever; but his political friends had, by their urgent entreaties, succeeded in inducing him to re-enter a field to which he had previously bid a final farewell. The Constitution became the organ of increasing discontent, and might easily be mistaken for the promoter of it. But, as always happens, the press reflected public opinion with more or less accuracy, and already the Liberal portion of it had begun to speak in no muffled or ambiguous accents. The country was in fact entering upon the period of revolutionary ideas, expressed in speeches and rhymes, and in newspapers and more solemn documents. Sir Francis may be said to have produced the first specimens in inflammatory replies to addresses. What nearly always happens, on such occasions, happened on this. People found themselves committed to revolutionary ideas without the least suspicion of the extent to which they had gone, much less of what was to follow. The new House met for the first time on November 8th, 1836. Dr. Duncombe's letter to Lord Glenelg, charging the head of the provincial government with crimes which deserved impeachment, was referred to a committee of the House of Assembly which sat on November 25tli. Every one knew in advance what the decision would be ; but the proceeding was in the nature of an impeachment of Sir Francis. For, if he were found guilty, what was to be done ? A colonial governor who misconducts himself can only be tried in England; and unless there was a foregone determination to exculpate him from the charges made against him, there could be no object in referring them to a committee. Dr. Rolph, assuming a serio-comic air, ridiculed the proceeding in a speech that will ever be memorable in Canadian history.


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