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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter XV - The Trials of an Exile


WE shall now see what Mackenzie was to suffer and endure for his part in the civil war in Upper Canada. When he was indicted at Albany, in June, 1838, Attorney Badgley, by his instructions, informed the court that he would be ready for trial next day. Mackenzie kept his word, and attended before the court; but District Attorney Benton was not ready. The court required him to be present again in October. In September, Mr. Benton assured him the trial would come on. Mackenzie again attended at Albany; but the district attorney had found reasons, in a statute of Congress, for trying the case at Canandaigua, Ontario county. About a month before the June sessions of the Circuit Court, Mr. Benton informed Mackenzie that the case might come on on the very first day of the sittings. The defendant attended at Canandaigua; and, his patience being exhausted, he, on the second day after the court opened, addressed a memorial to the judges expressing a desire to be allowed to be put upon trial on the charge preferred against him ; he had never shrunk from a trial, and had no wish that it should be waived. This memorial was presented on June 19th, 1839, and the trial commenced before the United States Circuit Court on the next morning. It lasted two days. The recognizances, into which Mackenzie had entered, having expired some time before, and not having been renewed, his appearance before the court was a voluntary act. The judges were Smith Thompson, of the United States Supreme Court, and Alfred Conklin, circuit judge of the northern division of New York. The prosecution was conducted by N. S. Benton, United States district attorney. Mackenzie, as had been his custom in cases of libel, undertook his own defence. No jurors were challenged. The jury appears, however, to have been irregularly struck. The indictment, under a law of 1794, and another of 1818, never before put into execution, charged the defendant with setting on foot a military enterprise, at Buffalo, to be carried on against Upper Canada, a part of the Queen's dominions, at a time when the United States were at peace with Her Majesty; with having provided the means for the prosecution of the expedition; and with having done all this within the dominion and territory, and against the peace, of the United States.

After the evidence for the prosecution was concluded, Mr. Mackenzie addressed the jury for six hours. "His speech," says a Rochester paper, "was really a powerful effort. He enchained the audience, and at its conclusion, if a vote had 452 been taken for his conviction or liberation, he would have had a strong vote in his favour." "I think it hard," he said, "to be singled out and dragged here at this time ; but as I require an asylum in your country, I am bound, and I do sincerely wish, to pay the utmost respect to your laws. Indeed it is admiration of your free institutions which, strange as it may seem, has brought me here to-day." He pointed out the anomaly of allowing their own citizens to escape, while he and one other foreigner were pounced upon. "I have been told," he remarked to the jury, "to say pleasant things to you, to use honeyed words, and avoid any topic that might touch the national pride or wound the national vanity; but as I did not stoop to flatter power in the few on the other side of the Great Lakes, it is not likely that I shall cringe to it here, as apparently vested in the many." He told them very plainly, what had been their traditional policy in regard to Canada.

Judge Thompson, in his charge to the jury, was careful to tell American citizens exactly how far they could go without overstepping the limits of the law; they could give their sympathy a practical shape by personally carrying money and supplies to the oppressed. He added that, in the case of Canada, he had no doubt, the "oppressions detailed by the defendant really existed, or do exist, and that all the zeal he has displayed has been the zeal of a patriot." But the greater part of the judge's charge bore strongly against the defendant. He told the jury they must accept the law from him.

At two o'clock the jury retired; at half past four they sent for a copy of the statutes of Congress, and at five they came into court with a verdict of "guilty." The defendant gave eighteen reasons why the sentence to be passed upon him should be merely nominal. The court had power to imprison for three years, and levy a fine of three thousand dollars; but Judge Thompson took into consideration that this was the first trial under a law passed in 1794; that the defendant had evidently been ignorant of its provisions; that the case involved no moral turpitude; and that the defendant had acted with a zeal which actuates men who, however mistaken, think they are right. The sentence was that he should be confined in the county gaol of Monroe for eighteen months, and pay a fine of ten dollars.

For the first three months of his confinement, Mackenzie was shut up in a single room, with an iron door, which he was never once allowed to pass. Except his own family, scarcely any friend was permitted to see him; but he was kept on constant exhibition by the gaoler, crowds of strangers being allowed to feast their eyes upon a live rebel leader. Having a perhaps somewhat morbid fear that he might be poisoned if he accepted food at the hands of the gaoler, his meals were regularly brought from his own house. Twice, when he was sick, his physicians were refused admittance. Built on low marshy ground, the gaol was surrounded with stagnant water during the greater part of the year; and as Mackenzie was particularly susceptible to miasmatic influence, he suffered severely from the debilitating effects of marsh fever, and was a good deal dispirited. Medical certificates, that the close confinement had a very injurious effect on his health, having been laid before the board of supervisors, they, without having any power in the matter, suggested that he should be permitted a little more exercise within the walls of the building. "The charges upon which Mr. Mackenzie was convicted," they said, "are not looked upon by the community as very venial, nor in any way compromising his moral character, and therefore we would frown down indignantly upon any extraordinary enforcement of official authority."

On October 12th, 1839, the imprisoned fugitive had a narrow escape for his life. A little before noon, as he was standing at one of the windows looking out to see whether a friend, Mr. Kennedy, was coming, a slug shot, coming through one of the panes, whizzed past him and penetrated the plaster on the opposite side of the room. He opened the window and asked the gaoler's boy, who was outside, if he saw any one in the direction whence the shot must have come. The hoy said he had not. " Who fired the shot," said Mackenzie, in a private letter, "I shall probably never know;" but, with the expectation of longevity, which he always entertained, he added that the escape afforded "another chance for old age, with the pains and penalties attached to it." The gaoler, on inquiry, learned that a tall, stout man, with a gun in his hand and a dog by his side—having the appearance of a sportsman—had been seen beyond the mill-race, whence the shot must have come, about the time of the occurrence. A buckshot was found to have penetrated one of the adjoining windows, and several others struck the wall. In Buffalo, in 1838, he had been warned that assassins were on his track, and a young man about his size, a brother of General Scott's secretary, had been assassinated under circumstances which gave rise to the suspicion that he had been mistaken for Mackenzie.

By this time the effects of the close confinement in the room of a gaol, surrounded by miasma, had broken the luckless prisoner's health. He could not take the food which his children regularly carried to him, and medicine seemed to give no relief. His means were exhausted, and the approach of a gloomy winter inclined him to despair. He had depending on him a mother, ninety years of age, a wife in delicate health, and six helpless children. The people, however, had become greatly interested in the fate of the political prisoner, and by the middle of November, memorials for his release had been signed by between fifty and sixty thousand persons. The exertions made had procured him a larger space to walk in; medicine had, at last, produced a salutary effect, and he was better in health. He was allowed to walk in the hall into which his room opened, and to take exercise six hours in the day in the attic which extended over the entire building.

In December his mother died, and he, by being brought as a witness in a case tried in his own house by permission of the state attorney, was enabled to spend six hours with her, and to receive her last farewell, but he was not permitted to attend the funeral.

Mr. Secretary Forsyth's instructions to Marshal Garrow had not the desired effect of producing any considerable mitigation of the severity to which the prisoner had been subjected. On January 14th, 1840, Mackenzie memorialized Mr. Seward, governor of the state of New York, on the subject. But the laws of the state gave that functionary no power to act in a matter which concerned the United States alone. " Nevertheless," said Governor Seward, in his reply of the twenty-seventh of the same month, "I acknowledge most freely that your offence being of a political character, I think it is to be regarded in a very different light from crimes involving moral turpitude, and that a distinction ought to be made, as far as possible, between the treatment of persons convicted of political offences and those of the other class;" and he wrote to the sheriff of Monroe county expressing this opinion, and the desire that the prisoner's position might be made as comfortable as possible. The rigour of his punishment was now abated, and Mackenzie was allowed to take exercise as prescribed in the sheriff's orders. The prisoner's birthday was duly celebrated by a number of friends who dined with him in gaol, on March 12th.

The memorials to the President for the prisoner's release had now hundreds of thousands of signatures attached to them. Congress had also been petitioned on the subject. A friend assured him that the President had, at Saratoga, declared to different persons that he should not comply with the petitions for a pardon unless desired by the British government to release the prisoner. Did that government present such a request? Or did the petitions become too numerous for President Van Buren to resist? The latter seems to be the true explanation; for Mackenzie was afterwards informed, at Washington, that the President, adverse to a release to the last, felt himself unable to resist the demand of three hundred thousand petitioners. About April 12th, the secretary of state told a friend that Mackenzie would soon be pardoned, but that it was necessary to keep the matter secret for a few days; and, on Sunday evening May 10th, 1840, he was permitted to bid adieu to the horrors of what he called the American Bastile.

Though Mackenzie had exerted himself with all the energy his enfeebled strength would permit, and though, while imprisoned, he had continued to conduct his newspaper, and had compiled the Caroline Almanac, which contained matter enough, compressed in small type, to have made a volume of respectable dimensions—his business failed to thrive. Till the death of his mother, the family never suffered want; but after that event, the gaunt spectre sometimes threatened to enter the door. But in this respect there was still worse in store for them.

Shortly after his release from prison, Mackenzie revisited Washington and Philadelphia. At Washington, he had private interviews with a number of senators and leading men from all parts of the union. " I heard much and saw much," he wrote privately from Albany, on July 6th, on his way back, "and am sure that we of the North have nothing to hope from the party in power. Van Buren is with the South, the English importer and the capitalist, who rule this nation for their own advantage. There is much and well-founded discontent among northern members—even of those who go with the party in power—and some of them were so plain as to wish trouble on the frontier—though I place no names here—while

others hinted that the North might push matters to the length of a disunion from the slave-driving South." He still hoped for the independence of Canada, to which he was not permitted to return, and where rewards for his apprehension, schemes for his extradition, and plans to kidnap him were still kept alive. As the result of his visit to Washington he felt, "on the whole, greatly encouraged." His health was much improved, and he was delighted with a day's visit to the Catskill Mountains.

But the greater the exile's practical knowledge of the working of American institutions, the less was the admiration he felt for them. "Over three years' residence in the United States," he said in the last number of his Gazette, on December 23rd, 1840, "and a closer observation of the condition of society here, have lessened my regrets at the results of the opposition raised to England in Canada in 1837-8. I have beheld the American people give their dearest and most valued rights into the keeping of the worst enemies of free institutions; I have seen monopoly and slavery triumph at their popular elections, and have witnessed with pain 'the bitter fruits of that speculative spirit of enterprise to which,' as President Van Buren says in his late excellent message, his 'countrymen are so liable, and upon which the lessons of experience are so unavailing'; and although the leaders of parties here may not say so to their followers, yet the conviction grows daily stronger in my mind that your brethren of this union are rapidly hastening towards a state of society in which President, Senate, and House of Representatives will fulfil the duties of King, Lords, and Commons, and the power of the community pass from the democracy of numbers into the hands of an aristocracy, not of noble ancestry and ancient lineage, but of moneyed monopolists, land-jobbers, and heartless politicians."

Soon after the publication of the Gazette was closed, the press and types were sold ; and the family subsisted on the proceeds as long as they lasted. The injury inflicted on the publication by the absence of Mackenzie's personal superintendence, while in prison, was never overcome; and the paper ceased to be profitable before it ceased to exist.

The Canadian authorities resorted to every possible expedient to get Mackenzie into their power. Rewards for his apprehension were held out as a premium to kidnappers ; and his personal and political enemies clubbed their dollars into blood money to make the temptation strong enough for some man-catcher to undertake the detestable speculation. In the winter of 1838, a Canadian judge wrote to an American judge suggesting the "exchange" of Mackenzie for a number of Prescott and Windsor prisoners. The offer embraced a hundred for one; and while the men to be given up were guilty of invading Canada, Mackenzie, for whom it was proposed to exchange them, had had no connection whatever with the expeditions. Coming from an old political enemy, the offer had all the appearance of a revengeful thirst for the blood of a fallen foe.

There can be no question that the suggestion made by the judge had the authority of the colonial executive; because a similar proposition was afterwards put forth in the name of the executive council. In a report to Sir George Arthur, dated February 4th, 1839, the executive council said: " Were it positively understood that such men as Johnson, Birge, Bierce, and Mackenzie would be seized and delivered up, as having violated the refuge afforded them, there would be no objection to the release of hundreds of obscure criminals; because we might be assured that, if certain punishment awaited their leaders, notwithstanding their escape across the border [at least half of them were Americans and never lived in Canada], the whole conspiracy would fall to the ground for want of leaders." So far as it relates to Mackenzie, this is precisely the same as if Louis Napoleon were to expect England to give up French political refugees who had escaped to that country. With American citizens who had invaded Canada, in time of peace, the case was different; the duty of the federal government was not to hand over these leaders, but to enforce against them its own laws for the maintenance of neutrality. If this had been done, the prosecution of Mackenzie would have ceased to wear a partial aspect.

Sir George Arthur approved of the project for exchanging prisoners for refugees; and the authorities of the state of New York were sounded on the subject. W. H. Griffin, post-office surveyor, went upon this mission. Not finding Mr. Seward at Albany, he conversed with Mr. J. A. Spensor on the subject. Mr. Spensor told him that the principal obstacle to the proposed arrangement was the public indignation its execution would excite; and he suggested that, under the circumstances, it would be better to kidnap the refugees, adding an assurance that, if this were done, the state authorities — Mr. Seward and the rest — would not be disposed to regard the act as a breach of amity.

Why should such a hint not be improved ? Had Canada no bloodhounds ready to snatch Sir George Arthur's four thousand dollars by kidnapping Mackenzie ? It seemed not: for a private subscription of two thousand dollars more, set on foot by one of the exile's old political opponents, had to be added. And now surely here is temptation enough to turn mercenary men into kidnappers! On November 14th, 1840, Mackenzie received from several respectable citizens of Rochester warning that an attempt would be made in a day or two to seize him, drag him on board the steamer Gore, and carry him off to Canada.1 Among them was Mr. Talman, who called three times at Mackenzie's house that day without finding him. The last time he left word that Mackenzie should by no means leave his house after dark that night. But this warning was not heeded; he went to see Mr. Talman that night. The substance of the information received from various sources was the same. A guard was placed upon his house.

The matter, being brought before the attention of the authorities, was made a subject of judicial investigation before Mr. Wheeler, on November 20th, 1840. Several witnesses were examined, the principal of whom, W. A. Wells, stated the result of a conversation he had had with James Cameron, son-in-law of the late Mr. Drean of Toronto, and brother-in-law of Mayor Powell of that place, and sometime clerk in the Bank of British America at Rochester House. Cameron commenced the conversation by introducing the subject of the Canadian troubles, and asked Wells whether he had not had some difficulty with Mackenzie that had created an unfriendly feeling between them. Receiving a reply in the affirmative, Cameron, thinking he might safely trust a person who was on such terms with the object of the kidnappers' desire, then unfolded to him the scheme. Mackenzie was to be decoyed to the lower part of the city by an invitation from one whom he regarded as a friend; he was then to be seized by two powerful men, a handkerchief tied round his mouth, and dragged into a carriage, with a pistol pointed at his face under a threat that his brains would be blown out if he made a noise. In this state he was to be taken on board the steamer Gore, at Frankfort—the mouth of the Genesee River—which was to be ready with steam up. In her next trip she was to bring over another person, a Scottish military officer, who was to assist in the kidnapping, All this was to be done with the consent of the persons in charge of the steamer. Cameron mentioned that, in addition to the reward offered by the Canadian government for the apprehension of Mackenzie, he expected to get a colonial appointment. Cameron's counsel did not cross-examine the witnesses, but took a technical exception to the form of warrant. The evidence was deemed sufficient to justify the magistrate in binding Cameron over to answer the charge, but the case was quashed when it came before the grand jury.

Cameron afterwards pretended that he had hoaxed Wells in the conversation at the Rochester House ; but there is little reason to accept so shallow a pretence. According to his account he was somewhat " oblivious " of what had occurred at the interview with Wells; and men in their cups are very much in the habit of blurting out truth which at other times they would conceal. The idea of kidnapping Mackenzie was not a new one. A long train of preliminaries pointed to precisely such an enterprise as that in which Cameron told Wells he was engaged. The steamer did leave the upper wharf that night at an unusual hour, and without ringing her bell. At the mouth of the river, seven miles below the head of the Genesee navigation, where he was to have been put on board, she waited till near midnight. These are circumstances of suspicion too strong to be neutralized by the action of the grand jury in the case.

A few months after the last number of the Gazette was issued, and a memorial to the judges of the Court of Common Pleas to admit him to practise at the bar had been refused, namely, about March, 1841, the public were notified that William Lyon Mackenzie's law office was to be found in an upper room in St. Paul Street. It was a last effort of despair, and came to nothing.

The clouds of adversity gathered thick and gloomily over the exile's head. Bereft of his property by an insurrection in which he had borne a leading part, he had known what it was to commence the world anew among strangers. A long imprisonment had ruined the precarious profession of a journalist who appealed to the public sympathies only upon a single subject. He found himself without occupation, and with only very limited and uncertain means of subsistence. At this period it would frequently happen that, for twenty-four hours at a time, the family had not a morsel of food, and neither light nor fire. Yet no father could be more assiduous in his endeavours to provide for his family. After a day and night's enforced fasting, he would go shivering forth in the morning's cold, hoping to collect a small sum due to him, or, failing in that, to borrow from a friend the means to purchase bread for his famishing children. He tried another newspaper, the Volunteer, of which the first copy appeared on April 17th, 1841, and the last on May 10th, 1842. During that period only nineteen numbers were issued. They were printed when the means to print them could be obtained. This attempt to revive a general interest in the Canadian question failed, and without that interest a paper devoted to it could not live. His pecuniary circumstances experienced no improvement; and to make things worse, his house took fire in March, and a portion of his furniture was burnt. The family suffered much from sickness, the result of pinching want. And now, despairing of any measure of success in Rochester, where he had spent three and a half weary years, he fixed his hopes once more on New York. On June 10th, 1842, he left with his family for the latter city.

After his arrival at New York, the unfortunate refugee spent most of his time in collecting some of his old debts and devising ways and means to live, till an influential political friend obtained for him the situation of actuary of the New York Mechanics' Institute. He refused situations in two or three newspaper offices, because he would not occupy a subordinate position on the press ; and this disposition to be everything or nothing was no bad illustration of his character. In his new office, Professor Gale, of Columbia College, had been his predecessor. He was pleased with his occupation. "The prospect brightens," he says, "and I may enjoy a little ease, in my old days," a hope which was never realized. His emoluments were chiefly derived from fees ; and these were paid with so little punctuality or honesty that his new employment proved but a slight mitigation of his distress. At the close of the year, however, he considered himself "very comfortably settled." "I was much behind, when I got into the office," he wrote privately, December 24th, "but during the year for which I am engaged, I 468 have no doubt that I shall place myself and family once more in comfortable circumstances, the more gratifying as we have suffered much poverty and long continued privation." Such was his pride in his children, his ideas of duty, and his appreciation of the advantages of education, that he continued to keep them at good schools.

While in this situation, Mackenzie commenced a work entitled The Sons of the Emerald Isle, or Lives of One Thousand Remarkable Irishmen. He made application for a copyright, and entered into a written agreement with Burgess, Stringer & Co., of New York, to become the publishers. In July, 1843, he speaks of having nearly five hundred of the biographical sketches ready; but only two numbers—there were to have been eight or ten in all, averaging fifty pages each—were published. The subjects selected were Irish patriots or their descendants; and the concise sketches contain a multitude of facts and much matter of novel character. He had access to sixteen thousand old American newspapers extending over a period of forty years, from which he was enabled to study the character of the men and the measures of that time. He wrote, after the first two numbers were out, that the work would be immensely profitable; but want of means seems to have prevented his continuing it.

At the end of the year, he gave up his office in the Mechanics' Institute, retiring with a unanimous approval of his conduct. Owing to the remissness of the members in paying, it turned out a poor place ; and in January, 1844, he declares that he has had as hard times in New York as he ever had in Rochester. Having been introduced to the son of President Tyler, Mackenzie was offered an inspectorship of customs, at New York, at eleven hundred dollars a year; but when the nomination was sent to Washington, it was rejected by the secretary of the treasury because the nominee was a British outlaw and had attacked the late President. He had issued three numbers of a new paper called the New York Examiner, but he gave it up on his nomination to this office. Tyler wrote him that he might have any other office in his gift of equivalent value. When the promised situation came it was a temporary clerkship in the archives office of the New York Custom House, with a salary of only seven hundred dollars a year.

While engaged in the Custom House, it became Mackenzie's duty to read a correspondence between Jesse Hoyt and Benjamin Franklin Butler, of a very extraordinary character. Hoyt had been collector of customs at New York, and in that capacity had embezzled two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Mackenzie, thinking that, in his haste to secure the money, Hoyt had forgotten that he had left certain private letters in the public archives, induced Henry Ogden to call upon him 470 and ask him to take them away. Hoyt replied that he had already taken all he wanted. By permission of the collector, Mackenzie copied the letters; and he had official authority to do what he pleased with them. He sent copies of several of these letters to President Polk; and the result of their perusal was to prevent the appointment of Coddington to the collectorship of New York. Mackenzie then, on June 1st, resigned his office; and, in 1845, published The Lives and Opinions oj Benjamin Franklin Butler, United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jesse Hoyt, Counsellor at Law, formerly Collector of Customs for the Port of New York; a compact octavo volume of one hundred and fifty-two pages. In a very short time fifty thousand copies were sold ; whereupon an injunction was obtained from the Court of Chancery to restrain the further publication of the work. The copies went up to double the previous price. The injunction was granted at the instance of Hoyt, on a complaint that three of his letters were comprised in the publication. While the publishers made a very large profit on the book, the author, to avoid all ground for the imputation of improper motives in the publication, refused to take any remuneration for his labour, though he lived on borrowed money for several months while he was preparing the work for the press. He took out a copyright, and assigned it without consideration to the publishers. Chancellor Walworth, on appeal, dissolved the injunction granted by the vice-chancellor, after the lapse of two and a half years, deciding that the author had a right of property in the book, and that a court of equity had no power to restrain its publication. Unsuccessful attempts were made, at different times before grand juries, to indict the author for the use he made of these letters, but without avail.

In 1846, Mackenzie published The Life and Times of Martin Van Buren, a closely printed octavo volume of three hundred and eight pages. It was enriched by contributions from the bundle of letters left by Hoyt in the New York Custom House, though a large portion of the materials was drawn from other sources. Of this work he sold the copyright to William Taylor of New York for a thousand dollars. The sale of the copyright is dated November 25th, 1845, and the book was to be completed by about January 15th following. This work dealt Van Buren his political death blow. He never rose again.

In the course of this year, Mackenzie became connected with the New York Tribune, of whose editor, Horace Greeley, he continued to the day of his death to entertain the highest opinion, as did Greeley of him. On May 1st he arrived in Albany for the purpose of attending the convention to revise the state constitution. He wrote daily to the Tribune a long letter on the proceedings of the convention. Commencing in the early part of June, the convention continued its sittings till October 9th. Many suggestions made by Mackenzie were adopted and embodied in the amended constitution.

In some respects times with him had improved. He had plenty of offers of literary employment. He had found a real friend in Greeley; and he received from George Bruce, the great type founder of New York, a very tempting offer. The large printing establishment of Percy & Reid, New York, had been sold at sheriff's sale; and Bruce had become the purchaser at ten thousand dollars. He offered it to Mackenzie on a credit of ten years, with means to carry on the business. The offer was gratefully received, but was rejected, contrary to the advice of his family and friends, principally because the business would have required a partner, and he disliked partnerships. Mackenzie remained in Albany one year, in the latter part of which he performed the duties of correspondent in the legislative assembly for the Tribune.

Upon returning to New York, Mackenzie continued his connection with the Tribune till Mr. McElrath, one of the partners in the establishment, expressed some dissatisfaction with his writings, and he then left with the intention of never returning. This was early in April, 1848. He spent some time in the composition of a work on British America, which he never completed. He always continued on good terms with the editor, Horace Greeley; and in October, 1848, at Mr. Greeley's earnest request, he agreed to attend the next session of Congress as correspondent of the Tribune. But he did not leave New York till about the New Year.

By the end of the year 1843, an amnesty—not general but very comprehensive—had enabled numerous political exiles to return to Canada. But while Papineau, Rolph, Duncombe, and O'Callaghan were pardoned, Mackenzie was still proscribed. Hume wrote him on one occasion stating that the exclusion arose from the belief, entertained by the English ministry, that the origin of the rebellion was due to him. Three years after, Isaac Buchanan wrote to Sir Robert Peel and Lord Palmerston begging that they would have Mackenzie included in the amnesty.

The reply was that, before this would be done, the Canadian ministry must recommend the measure. But the latter were adverse to such a course, and to them alone his continued exclusion from Canada was owing. The remembrance of this circumstance probably intensified his opposition to the men who composed this ministry after his return to Canada. In 1848, the Canadian assembly unanimously addressed the Queen in favour of granting a general amnesty of all political offences.

A letter from Hume to Mackenzie written at this time, on the subject of the amnesty, is interesting for other reasons as well. It was dated at London, January 20th, 1848, and was sent to Mackenzie at New York where he was then living. Hume, it will be remembered, was the writer of the so-called "baneful domination" letter, which was published by Mackenzie in the Advocate many years before, and which, being charged as disloyal, was sought to be used as such against Mackenzie in every way possible. The following letter, besides being a tribute to Mackenzie himself, quotes one of several statements by Lord Sydenham in defence of the rebellion, and shows that Hume's opinions were entirely opposed to those imputed to him:—

"Although I have always deprecated and condemned the attempt at revolution, made in Canada by you and others, by which you were outlawed, and have been for these ten years in the United States, yet I cannot forget the eighteen months you spent in London, as the delegate from the House of Assembly and people in Upper Canada, to endeavour to put a stop to the misrule of the clique administration of that province, and to allay the discontent so generally existing in the province at that time.

"Of many public men, deputed to promote the welfare of their constituents, who have come to my acquaintance during the last forty years of my public life, I have known no one who showed a greater desire to see the abuses of the government of the Canadas removed quietly and in a constitutional way than you did; and I therefore gave you every aid in my power to procure for you access to Lord Ripon and other members of the administration of the day; and I attended for hours to hear your statements of the abuses of the colonial government (and of the mode of removing them) by the colonial office supporting the measures of one-third of the popular assembly there.

"With that knowledge, and after the declaration, or rather retarded opinion, of Lord Sydenham (after he became acquainted with the proceedings in Canada), 'that he was surprised the people had borne so long the oppression of the family clique, and had not rebelled sooner,' I cannot but consider you as the victim of the misrule of that government and of the colonial office in Downing Street, that had continued their support to the family clique that was/the bane of Upper Canada, and had caused such discontent throughout the province.

"It was to be expected that you, who had been the first mayor of Toronto, and who had been the leader of the Reformers in the House of Assembly for years; and who had, before a select committee of that assembly, exposed and proved corruption and misrule to that extent that resistance to the order of the clique was the theme of the population of Upper Canada, when recourse was had to arms, would be selected as a leader, and as such you were placed as an outlaw from Canada. As a political offender you took the chance of the struggle, and you have suffered for the part you took; but, as I think, too much and too long.

"I have six times made application to the ministers of the Crown here to grant an amnesty to all the political offenders in Canada, stating that, as the discontent was caused by misrule, oppression and corruption, the whole should be buried in oblivion as speedily as possible, but without success. On the birth of the first Princess by our Queen, I applied to the ministers to grant a general amnesty and was refused. On the birth of the Prince of Wales, I repeated my application with similar want of success. When Mr. Baldwin was minister, I sent to him, and to Mr. Hincks, copies of my correspondence with the ministry for a general amnesty, and I requested them to apply to the colonial office for the same. They said the day was not come, and they never did it.

"In May, 1847, when Lord Palmerston, in interfering in the internal affairs of Portugal, made it one of the principal points in the Protocol, 'that every man of whatever rank, taken in arms in the field or otherwise, should have an amnesty granted,' I applied to have the pardon, or rather the amnesty, extended to you and two others from Canada, all that remained in exile; but my application was refused. I should have made it the subject of a specific motion in the House of Commons, if I had not been advised to allow the government to do the act themselves. They have one by one removed the outlawry until you alone remain.

"On the 15th instant I waited on Earl Grey, and solicited from him an amnesty for you, the only remnant of Canada's victims. He refused to originate any steps for your pardon, as the charges against you were serious, but said that he would receive favourably any resolution or representation from the government of Canada in your favour. I stated that there was a petition to that purport on file, but he had not seen it. I expect the result of the elections, now finished, will be to place Baldwin and his party in power, and, by the first packet, I shall write them to take measures for your immediate pardon.

"I have always considered you the victim (a very incautious one, if you please,) of a vicious system, and, having witnessed your laborious and honest endeavours, here and in Toronto, to prevent bad government and to reform the bad system by constitutional means, I shall never be deterred from the endeavour to see you in perfect freedom, and the sooner the better for all parties."

On February 3rd, 1849, Mackenzie addressed a communication to Earl Grey, at the colonial office, containing some remarkable confessions, the good faith of which is sufficiently guaranteed by numerous statements in private letters. From this communication I quote the following extracts:

"A course of careful observation, during the last eleven years, has fully satisfied me that, had the violent movements in which I and many others were engaged on both sides of the Niagara proved successful, success would have deeply injured the people of Canada, whom I, then believed I was serving at great risks ; that it would have deprived millions, perhaps, of our own countrymen in Europe, of a home upon this continent, except upon conditions which, though many hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been constrained to accept them, are of an exceedingly onerous and degrading character. I have long been sensible of the error committed during that period to which the intended amnesty applies. No punishment that power could inflict, or nature sustain, would have equalled the regrets I have felt on account of much that I did, said, wrote, and published; but the past cannot be recalled. . . . There is not a living man on this continent who more sincerely desires that British government in Canada may long continue, and give a home and a welcome to the old countrymen, than myself. Did I say so, or ask an amnesty, seven or eight years ago, till under the convictions of more recent experience? No; I studied earnestly the workings of the institutions before me, and the manners of the people, and looked at what had been done, until few men, even natives, had been better schooled. The result is—not a desire to attain power and influence here—but to help, if I can, and all I can, the country of my birth."

Pressed by Hume and others, the Canadian government, in 1849, originated a measure for a complete amnesty of all offences arising out of the events of 1837-8. Mackenzie had for some time been the last exile. It passed unanimously in both Houses; and in the name of the Queen, Lord Elgin, as governor-general, gave it the royal assent on February 1st, 1849. Immediately on receiving this intelligence, Mackenzie resolved to return to Canada permanently. But after so long an absence, he was in some doubt as to how he would be received there. In this state of uncertainty, he resolved to try the effect of a personal visit. Before coming to Toronto, the scene of his former activities, and his future home, he called at Montreal, then the seat of the Canadian government. What Sir George Arthur had, ten years before, denounced as Mackenzie's scheme of responsible government was now in full operation;1 but it was administered by persons, only one of whom, the Hon. Francis Hincks, paid the least attention to the man who had been reviled as its author so long as it was deemed odious or unpopular. This member of the government had paid him a casual visit in the Rochester prison; while others from Toronto, on whose friendship he had much greater claims, had passed on without giving any proof that they retained a consciousness of his existence. On his way westward, the returned exile was burnt in effigy at Kingston. At this time, namely, in the spring of 1849, the second LaFontaine - Baldwin administration was in office, the country was in the throes of agitation over the Rebellion Losses Bill, as it was popularly called, and the Queen's representative, having resolved to give his assent to that memorable measure, was about to furnish the strongest evidence possible of the settlement, firmly and finally, of the constitutional question.

The arrival of Mackenzie in Toronto was the signal for a Tory riot. On the evening of March 22nd, a mob collected in the streets, with flambeaux and effigies of Attorney-General Baldwin, Solicitor - General Blake, and Mackenzie. They marched defiantly past the police office, burnt two of the effigies opposite the residences of the Crown officers, and then proceeded up Yonge Street to the house of John Mcintosh, M.P., his brother-in-law, where Mackenzie was staying. Here, by the aid of two or three blazing tar-barrels, the mob burnt the remaining effigy and assailed the house, broke the windows, and attempted to force their way through the door. All the while, the chief of police and at least one member of the city council were quietly looking on. It is a well attested fact indicative of Mackenzie's indifference to personal danger, that, on this occasion, when some of the rioters were besieging the front doors of Mr. Mcintosh's house and endeavouring to effect an entrance, their would-be victim, accompanied by his daughter Janet, and a young political friend connected with a city newspaper, left the house by a rear door opening into the garden, and, unbarring a front gate which led to the street, walked boldly through the angry mob to the residence of a Mr. White, several blocks distant. It was this daughter (afterwards the wife of Mackenzie's biographer) who, a twelvemonth previous, waited on Lord Elgin, the governor-general, with a petition for her father's pardon, which was granted by the bill of amnesty of that year.

On the following day, the mayor caused special constables to be sworn in with a view to preventing a repetition of these outrages ; and an alderman, in his place in the council, declared that he "would not hesitate an instant" to assassinate Mackenzie, were he not restrained by fear of the law! For many nights after, the house was well guarded, and was not again attacked. The office of the Examiner, which had condemned these outrages, was also threatened with attack. A mob assembled in King Street for that purpose; but when it became known that there was a number of armed men in the building, they dispersed without attempting any violence.

The Examiner was at that time published and conducted by Francis Hincks (Sir Francis Hincks, as he became later on), whose Reminiscences are a distinct contribution to the political history of the period. The following extract from the article referred to touches points of historical and political interest, and is a fair reflection of the prevailing opinion in the province at the time. " The revolt of 1837," said the writer, "was in reality only a revolt against local misrule—not against imperial authority. Whatever may have been Mr. Mackenzie's errors as a public man, and no one is more ready to admit them than himself, his attachment to the great principles of the British constitution, no one who is at all acquainted with his history, prior to the year 1837, can with truth deny. No man in Canada, indeed, ever gave such evidence of attachment to the British Crown, or laboured more earnestly to secure the attachment of the colonists to imperial sway than did Mr. Mackenzie until 1836, at which period hope itself languished and withered and died, when the hero of the Pampas, on assuming the government of the Upper Province* in 1836, virtually declared that our constitution was only a 'mockery, a delusion and a snare.' Thousands in Canada may not be aware of the fact that, in 1832, Mr. Mackenzie, at the greatest self-sacrifice, left his business in this city, and, with the assistance of a few patriotic friends, crossed the Atlantic, went to London, and for many months laboured with great intelligence, fidelity and zeal in bringing the complaints of the Canadian people under the notice of the home government. And for what purpose did he thus labour? It was in order to avert the evils which he foresaw were generating dissatisfaction, and which were sowing broadcast the seeds of revolt throughout Canada. Who, we ask, among all the hosts of Tories in Canada, ever manifested such disinterested devotion to the interests of his country and the Crown ? We defy them to name the man. Nothing but a sincere and ardent attachment to the British constitution could have led Mr. Mackenzie, or any man, to have made such a voyage under such circumstances, and for such a purpose. Malevolence itself could hardly call in question the stern fealty of such a man to the government of his country.

"But there are bounds to loyalty and subjection. The people are not made for the government. Government is a compact between the people and their rulers for the general good, in which is involved reciprocal rights, duties and obligations. There is, therefore, treason against a people as well as treason against a government. If the laws of the political compact are violated on the one hand by rulers, we need not be surprised if they should be violated on the other by the people. And there must be a long and accumulated load of misrule and suffering before a people can be led to brave a conflict with power, and hazard the loss of property and life in defence of their rights. The revolt of 1837 was only the crisis of a disease which had been preying upon the vitals of the country from the beginning of the present century. Sir Francis Bond Head, with an effrontery which is almost unparalleled, published to the world that he encouraged the revolt in order to exhibit his prowess in its suppression! A wise ruler would have respected public opinion, and would have calmed the rising storm, but, instead of this, he laughed to scorn the constitutional claims of the people—he defied the instructions of His Majesty—he boasted that he had created a rebellion which had well-nigh lost an important colony to the empire, and he was, therefore, by imperial authority, driven from power, and crowned with imperishable disgrace and infamy. The humiliation and disgrace of this infatuated ruler by the imperial goverment, the elaborate and faithful report of Lord Durham, and the unequivocal testimony of Lord Sydenham as to the extraordinary misrule and injustice which had distinguished the reign of the Compact in Upper Canada, form together the strongest palliation for the events of 1837, just as a proof of the monster iniquities of James II led to and palliated the revolt under William III —with this remarkable difference, however, that the latter was successful while the former was not."

On May 1st, 1850, Mackenzie brought his family from New York to Toronto. So long as he remained in New York, his connection with the Tribune continued; and his regular salary gave him the means of supporting his family in comfort. To the end Horace Greeley remained his true and admiring friend. Such was Mackenzie's confidence in his own popularity, that he resolved to stand for the first constituency that might become vacant. It happened to be Haldimand; for which county he was elected in April, 1851, his principal opponent being George Brown, the proprietor and editor of the Globe newspaper. The contest was an exciting one and created widespread interest on account of the political prominence of the candidates, both of whom belonged to the Reform party, which, at that time, was composed of groups or sections not fully in accord on some of the questions of the day.

The result of this election caused a certain amount of estrangement between Brown and Mackenzie, which was never wholly removed on account of Mackenzie's independence in the assembly and otherwise. It was also one of the causes of Brown's rupture with a large section of the Reform party which had supported the second La Fontaine-Bald-win government, and which supported in turn their successors, the Hincks-Morin administration. The estrangement was, of course, purely political, for public reasons and on public grounds, and never seriously interrupted the personal relations of the two men. They agreed to differ, however widely, without carrying their differences into private life; in fact, Mackenzie, whose nature and disposition were thoroughly genial, never allowed his political differences to affect his private friendships. There was no reason, so far as he was concerned, for resentment on Brown's part in regard to the issue of the election, except that Brown may have considered Mackenzie's standing for the constituency, under the circumstances, an unfriendly act. Mackenzie did not so regard it. He claimed that he was quite within his rights in becoming a candidate, and he conceded the same right to any person who might choose to exercise it. Dr. T. T. J. Harrison, of Selkirk, an old resident of Haldimand, and one of the comparatively few who have a personal knowledge of the history of the contest, has made the following reference to it in a published interview: "I notice that, in his Life of the Hon. George Brown, Mr. Alexander Mackenzie states that Brown was the choice of the Reform convention as a candidate in that election, but that is not correct. There was no convention. There were eighteen persons, two from each municipality, chosen by Mr. Brown and a Mr. Turner, who was also an aspirant, and these eighteen fixed upon Brown as the candidate. That was one of our objections to Brown's candidature—my father and I, I need scarcely say, were Mackenzie men—and one of the principal arguments which we addressed to the people. We could always say, that the nominators really represented no persons but themselves, and that the great body of the people were not consulted; and this argument was always an effective one. Parties, in the political sense, were pretty well split up in that contest. Mr. Michael Harcourt, the father of the present minister of education,1 and who afterwards represented the county, did not support Mackenzie at that time. He was a Brown man. But Mr. Mackenzie was too much for them all."

The restrictions of space in this volume prevent even a cursory review of Mackenzie's subsequent parliamentary career; this must be reserved for a more extended biography, should such ever be called for in connection with the political history of the last seven years in which he held a seat in the assembly. Upon re-entering parliament, he found the area of legislative action and the system of government greatly changed. The provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, which had separate legislatures at the time of his expatriation, were now united in a legislative partnership; the Family Compact, as a power in the State, was dead and buried, although the spirit of its enmities still survived;1 the new system, inaugurated by the Union Act of 1840, had had a ten years' trial with a fair measure of success; the principle of responsible government, which for a time had not been clearly understood by the representatives of the Crown, had been fully recognized by Lord Elgin, then nearing the meridian of his fame; this great constitutional remedy, for the attainment of which Mackenzie had spent the best years of his life, had brought other blessings in its train. Although a brave tribune of the people, Mackenzie had never pretended to be a politicial seer; but a seer he proved to be. Twenty years later and exactly ten years after he had passed forever from the scene, the opinions which his writings show he had expressed, and the prophecies he had uttered, during the ante-rebellion conflict, with respect to the adoption of executive responsibility, were aptly stated by the historian :—

"By the adoption of this principle," says Erskine May, "a colonial constitution has become the very image and reflection of parliamentary government in England. The governor, like the sovereign whom he represents, holds himself aloof from and superior to parties, and governs through constitutional advisers, who have acquired an ascendency in the legislature. He leaves contending parties to fight out their own battles; and, by admitting the stronger party to his counsels, brings the executive authority into harmony with popular sentiments. And as the recognition of this doctrine, in England, has practically transferred the supreme authority of the State from the Crown to parliament 490 and the people, so, in the colonies, has it wrested from the governor and from the parent state the direction of colonial affairs. And again, as the Crown has gained in ease and popularity what it has lost in power, so has the mother country, in accepting to the full the principles of local self-government, established the closest relations of amity and confidence between herself and her colonies."

It was "a far cry" from 1837, and the after years of hard adversity, to the normal political serenity and settled constitutional conditions of 1851; and, for a time, the returned exile found it difficult to realize the tremendous political transformation. But he speedily got his bearings, and ere long was in the thick of the imminent political controversies of the day—representation by population, secularization of the Clergy Reserves, which meant separation of Church and State, and which was already a subject of agitation, separate schools, etc. These, which were destined to become burning questions, and embarrassing and even destructive to succeeding governments, were at this time not seriously confronting the second LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry, which was then in office. It was not till 1852 that the population of Upper Canada fairly outnumbered that of Lower Canada. It then became evident that the prediction of Lord Durham, that failure to accept his prudent proposal of representation according to population, in the legislature of the united provinces, would be productive of future inter-provincial dissension, was about to be verified. Representation by population became the political slogan of George Brown and the powerful newspaper of which he was the founder, and, for many years, the editor, and introduced, as it could not fail to do, a cleavage, which gradually widened, between the representatives of the Reform party in the two provinces, and helped to sow the seeds of decline in its reigning administration.

The story of that particular period need not be dwelt upon here. It is not within the scope of this volume, and has been admirably told by Mr. John Lewis, in his biography of George Brown in the " Makers of Canada" series. The ultimate fate of the ministry, however, in which the leaven of disintegration was already at work, was determined by Mackenzie. He introduced, and supported in a speech of considerable argumentative force, a motion for the abolition of the Court of Chancery. The motion was lost, but the division list showed a majority of the Upper Canadian representatives in its favour, including the members of the legal profession, who usually voted with the government. Attorney-General Baldwin, the Upper Canadian leader, was greatly mortified at this evidence of apparent want of confidence on the part of representatives of his own province, and he shortly afterwards resigned from the government, very much to the regret of its supporters. In the following October, LaFontaine retired from public life altogether; and so it happened, that the member for Haldimand became the unwitting instrument in breaking up, eventually, one of the strongest and most capable administrations of the ante-federal era of government.

The political changes, which followed the retirement of the second LaFontaine-Baldwin government, transferred the French-Canadian majority, which had been the mainstay of that government, to the Conservative party in 1854, under the leadership mainly of John A. Macdonald. The alliance thus formed lasted without interruption during the remaining years of Mackenzie's parliamentary career, and in fact for many years afterwards. The Globe, inspired by George Brown, fulminated against "French-Canadian domination," and the government of Upper Canada by a Lower Canada majority. Brown's remedy was representation by population; Mackenzie's remedy was a repeal of the legislative union of the two provinces, and the establishment of a system of government on a federal basis, or, indeed, on any basis which would give Upper Canada a complete control of her own affairs. " Mackenzie's annual motion for a repeal of the union became a familiar phrase in the parliamentary reports of the Globe and other Reform papers of the time. Both remedies, which had the same object in view, were repeatedly denied by the Conservative majority, but were ultimately effectuated and embodied in the British North America Act, 1867.

Outside of parliament Mackenzie was as much sought after, on political occasions, as he had ever been in former years. There was no Reform demonstration of any pretensions to which he was not invited, and at which, when he attended, he was not a welcome and honoured guest. Writing to him from Port Rowan, in the county of Norfolk, on December 18th, 1855, Mr. S. P. Mabee, a prominent Reformer, said: "I was very sorry that you were not at our last anti-ministerial dinner, which really was a grand triumph, and I think must go far towards prostrating the present unprincipled Coalition. I travelled twenty-five miles over almost impassable roads for the purpose of seeing and hearing you and George Brown. Mr. Brown was there and gave a most excellent exposition of the Coalition. You were very much missed. When your letter of regret was read, I never heard a greater outburst of applause. I had no idea your services were so highly appreciated in this country. I verily believe you are the most popular man in Canada; honesty and virtue as a politician must have its reward either sooner or later."

Some of these meetings, at a later date than the one above mentioned, were in the interest of the Reform Alliance, an organization designed to unite and consolidate all sections of the Reform party throughout the province. Like the Church at Corinth, the Reform party was not at that time " perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." One of the objects of the Alliance was to promote union, and the presentation of a solid front to their adversaries. Mackenzie was as usual a candid critic of the movement He thought " the voice is Jacob's voice, but the hand is the hand of Esau;" in other words, he thought he perceived George Brown's hand directing the machinery of the organization, and that it was an attempt on his part at dictation with respect to political opinion and action which Mackenzie believed should, within reasonable bounds, be perfectly free and untrammelled. He was probably none the less confirmed in this view from the fact that the Globe had been all along—in .fact almost from his entrance anew on the parliamentary stage— an undisguised censor of many of his votes in the party divisions of the assembly, and of his alleged disposition to be a " political fault finder." It was under these circumstances that Alexander Mackenzie, then a rising politician on the Reform side, writing from Sarnia, January 22nd, 1857, remonstrated with the other Mackenzie in these terms:

As a sincere friend of yours, I trust you will permit me to say a word concerning the course you have thought proper to pursue in reference to the Reform Alliance. I assure you I think your course in the last two numbers [of Mackenzie's Message'] is anything but what the party have reason to expect at your hands; opposition from Tories is natural, and the more the better for that matter, but opposition from you is a very different matter, and must result in either depriving you of all influence politically, or in killing off a laudable attempt to unite all Reformers under a close, consistent organization. Are you prepared for either of these alternatives? I cannot believe it. I regret exceedingly that you should go aside from arguing the question and attack Mr. Brown's motives, etc. Such a course is neither just nor wise. If Mr. Brown is considered by yourself and the body of Reformers unsafe and unprincipled, attack him openly by all means. If he is not so considered, ally yourselves with him. For my own part, I can say that he has entirely fulfilled all the pledges he made at the two elections here. Like yourself, he has laboured unceasingly for the good of the party and the public interests; and now it seems to me quite possible to make our principles and party the dominant power in the State, if you and other Reformers fall in heartily with us in the recent movement. If this is not done, there will be nothing left for us to do but battle against professed friend and open foe alike."

This was certainly a characteristic letter, and we may be sure that it received a characteristic reply. There is no record of what the reply was, but the Alliance having soon after died a natural death, there was probably no further room for correspondence or controversy.

In December of this year (1857) there was a dissolution of parliament, followed by a general election in January, 1858. Mackenzie, who had been returned without difficulty at the previous election, now went back to his constituents, as the event proved, for the last time. There were no party conventions in those days, and no less than six candidates entered the lists. He was reelected by one hundred and ninety majority over the next highest of the rival candidates—a result which was regarded as a great mark of confidence, and a handsome endorsation of his conduct as the representative of the constituency. The general result, however, was a sore disappointment to him. He had hoped for such a political change in the two provinces, or at least in the Upper Province, as would give the party of Reform a controlling influence in the new parliament; but this was far from being the case. There was a very substantial Conservative majority, which, in his opinion, was not likely to be weakened or diminished within the next four years, at all events. He had a strong conviction that, in such a parliament, there would not be that disposition to trust the people which he believed should prevail in their representative body. He despaired of the future, and resolved to quit the parliamentary arena; and, in the month of August, 1858, he resigned his seat in the legislature. The announcement was received with unfeigned regret by the Reform party and the Reform press in all parts of the country. The Globe, in a brief appreciative article, voiced the general sentiment by deploring "the loss to the Reform party in the House " of one whose "vote has always been on the side of good government and the people's rights." "If," it added, "we thought that the veteran Reformer was really about to retire into private life, we should have more to say about him, but we believe he can no more keep out of politics than a cat can keep out of the dairy when the window is open."

The omission of a fuller narrative, either here or in any other work dealing with the events of that time, of Mackenzie's public life and career after his return to Canada, is not for want of material to prove his industry, vigilance and fidelity as a representative of the people, his political independence, and his high ideals of honesty and uprightness in administration, and in the conduct of the public business of the country. Although he never sought a leading position in parliament, the proceedings and debates in the assembly, which, in those days, were fully reported in the newspaper press, afford ample evidence of the prominent and useful part which he took in the discussion of all questions of public moment, and in the criticism of all measures of proposed legislation. There is scarce an issue of the leading newspapers published while parliament was in session, in which he does not figure as contributing to the debates something substantially helpful and effective. Considering all he had undergone, and the many trials of temper he had had to endure in twelve years of exile, it is surprising how free his speeches were of the gall which chronic opposition engenders. He would frequently draw upon his large fund of humour, in a manner which is still pleasantly remembered by the then habitues of the House. If any reference were made to the rebellion, he would always treat the subject jocosely. " There's the attorney-general for Lower Canada," for instance, he would say; "when the British government placed an estimate on our heads, they valued mine at four thousand dollars, and his at only two thousand !"

Mackenzie's participation in parliamentary discussions, however, was more that of an impartial and independent bystander than as the representative of any political party; he in fact never allied himself closely with either of the two parties, and so left himself free to criticize the doings of both.

In his opposition to the Municipal Loan Fund Bill he stood alone, although, not long after the passage of that measure, a large majority of the people of Canada would have voted the same way. His exercise of this freedom became all the more widely known to the public for the reason that he was one of the comparatively few members of the House who was "easy to report." He was a fluent and forcible speaker, and, what is not always found in the possessor of these qualities, a good debater as well. His habits as a journalist gave him a ready command of simple and appropriate language, and it was well understood among the busy men in the gallery that their reports of his speeches required little or no correction. Being, however, a tireless student of public questions which needed study and exposition, he was, in the last years of his parliamentary life, sometimes apt to be prolix and irrelevant, especially when he came down to the House full of the subject; but, with all his idiosyncrasies in this respect, and despite the impatience at times of a not over-tolerant assembly, he never ceased to fill a unique place, and to hold his own as a popular and attractive personality in the councils of the united provinces. His motions for departmental returns, which were frequent and well directed, were of infinite assistance to the government and to members of the House generally, besides providing valuable data for future use and service. His knowledge of finance, also, and of financial and trade questions, and of the science of banking and our banking system—which was admitted by all his contemporaries- -added greatly to his usefulness as a parliamentarian. Few public men, in parliament or out of it, were better equipped for the work of his time than William Lyon Mackenzie.


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