The Right Honorable
Sir John A. Macdonald
GCB KCMG PC QC
Sir John A. Macdonald in 1878
First Prime Minister of Canada
In Office: 17 October 1878 – 6 June 1891
Earl of Dufferin
Marquess of Lorne
Marquess of Lansdowne
Lord Stanley of Preston
In Office - 1 July 1867 – 5 November 1873
Earl of Dufferin
John Alexander Macdonald
11 January 1815
6 June 1891 (aged 76)
Liberal-Conservative (evolved into Conservative Party)
Isabella Clark (1843–1857, died)
Agnes Bernard (1867–1891, survived as widow)
John Alexander (died in infancy) and Hugh John by Isabella;
Mary by Agnes.
none (articled with a lawyer in Kingston)
Presbyterian and later Anglican
Sir John A., The Old Chieftain, Old Tomorrow
'Tis well that man to all the varying states
Of good and ill his mind accommodates. —Crabbt.
WORDS OF WISDOM AND PATRIOTISM—SIR JOHN'S SERIOUS SAYINGS.
It must not be inferred from the contents of the last two chapters that the character of Sir John on the floor of the House was always that of a buffoon. Many of his speeches were those of a serious and earnest man. The charge of buffoonery was less applicable to him than to Disraeli, against whom it was often levied; and it may fairly be said that Sir John seldom told a story, or made a droll illustration, without the serious purpose of driving home an argument, or gaining a point against his opponents, or of soothing and diverting an irritable House.
A few, and only a few, of his bits of wisdom and sentiment, culled at random from his speeches, are given in this chapter.
In the House he was very ready to give information to a candid inquirer, and to impart his personal views, where they did not give a handle to his opponents to work with. There could be nothing more instructive and entertaining, for instance, than one .of his conversational speeches on Indian affairs, of which department he was head for several years. No question would be asked but he had an answer for it and could give off-hand a history of each appointment, or a clear and instructive statement of every case of difficulty that had come up; while his knowledge of the character of the Indians was marvelous A most interesting volume could be made solely from his speeches, explanations in committee, and annual reports, on the Canadian Indian.
It is perhaps pardonable egotism to say that for administrative capacity, especially in taking savage people and educaing and training them to better ideas, no race is equal to the British. Wherever British rule has been extended over savage nations, they have been schooled into better notions of self-control and self-government, the germ of improvement no doubt being derived more from the Christian missionary than the political ruler. The Canadian policy in dealing with the Indian has, from early times, borne out the best traditions of British administration, and no head of the Indian Department has shown more tact and patience, or approached nearer to the ideal of British humanity in governing a subject race, than Sir John.
Once in a debate on the Indian, Mr. Blake jokingly suggested that when Sir John wished to vacate the office of Indian Affairs, his friend, Sir Richard Cartwright, would be glad to step into his place; to which Sir John replied: " If he knew how much worry these Indians sometimes cause me I would not congratulate him on the change." But Sir John's patience was never exhausted. '! It has been the fault of our administrations," said he one day, "that they have been overindulgent. But what can we do? We cannot as Christians, and as men with hearts in our bosoms—allow the vagabond Indian to die before us. Some of these Indians—and it is a peculiarity of their nature—will hang around the stations and will actually allow themselves to die, in the hope that just before the breath ler.ves their body they will receive some assistance from the public stores." On another occasion he said: "The whole theory of supplying the Indians is that we must prevent them from starving. In consequence of the extinction of the buffalo, and their not having yet betaken themselves to raising crops, they were suffering greatly. * * The officers exercise every discretion in giving them food to prevent them from starving, but at the same time every effort was made to save the public stores, and induce the Indians to become self-supporting.
"The general rule is that you cannot make the Indian a white man. An Indian once said to me, 'We are the wild animals; you cannot make an ox out of a deer.' You cannot make an agriculturist of the Indian. All we can hope to do is to wean them, by slow degrees, from their nomadic habits, which have almost become an instinct, and by slow degrees absorb them or settle them on the land. Meantime they must be fairly protected."
Speaking of the constantly returning dangers of Indian outbreaks—from the actual occurrence of which Canada has beer, singularly free compared with the United States—he said: "You can quite understand that if an Indian is starving and sees a white man's cattle grazing, he will not starve—he will shoot the white man's ox for food, and it was not unlikely that the white man's ox would shoot down the Indian. * * There are large herds of cattle coming into our North West Territories from the United States, with herdsmen and drivers, and we know from the history of the transactions between the white man and the Indian in the States, that the white man would be apt to shoot the Indian on sight, as he would a prairie dog. Such men are coming into our country, and the great danger is that by an act of appropriation of a white man's property the white man might be excited to protect it by taking an Indian's life, and the killing of one Indian might cause an Indian war."
The leading feature of Sir John's Indian policy was to keep the Indian alive during times of scarcity, and gradually wean him from his wild ways into habits of settled industry, though the process, he saw, required great time and infinite patience.
On a motion of Mr. Macdonnell (Inverness), that the Hansard reports should be discontinued on account of the cost ($18,562), amendments were moved, one by Mr. Jones, that the reports be made verbatim.
Sir John in the course of his speech upon the subject said— "It is well known that objection was made a good many years ago by some members to the reports in the Times, and they demanded that the reports be taken 'verbatim et literatim.' The Times took them at their word, and for two or three weeks published their speeches verb, et lit. until they had to go on their knees and beg that the practice be discontinued. * It might suit some who speak with peculiar verbal accuracy, and round off their sentences, as if they had been prepared. Some have that happy faculty. I for one have it not, and I should be very sorry to have my speeches reported 'verbatim et literatim.' To do away with the reports altogether would be a retrograde step. We all know the regrets expressed by every literary man, every statesman and every historian that the speeches made by great men in the days of old were lost forever. I think it was the younger Pitt who said he would rather have a lost speech of Bolingbroke than all the lost pages of Livy. We have no speeches of Chatham, no speeches of Bolingbroke, none of the great speeches made in the Long Parliament, at the time of the fight between freedom and tyranny in the time of Charles I.
We all know how eagerly historians have looked up any little sentence, any casual note, and any remark of the leaders of public opinion from the time of Queen Elizabeth till now; * * how eagerly these scraps are scanned to find out the motives that moved the body of Parliament. * * Even in Canada how deeply interesting would be a Hansard shewing the debates in the old province of Upper Canada or Lower Canada, giving the discussions of 1791-2. If we had that, it would be the most interesting volume in the world to any Canadian. We could learn the chief subjects of interest, the style of speaking and the manner of thought, not only of the leaders, but of the great body of the representatives of the people in those early days. And we are in a great measure without a colonial history. We have no means of tracing out the very groundwork of all our legislation, the motives and impulses of those petty municipal questions which were the chief subjects of interest in those early days, and which have expanded into the large subjects that are now engaging the people of Canada.''
On Mr. John Charlton's bill lo punish adultery and seduction, Sir John said: "The evils against which the bill is directed strike at the very root of society—the conjugal relation—and if it were possible by any means to restrain this class of immorality, it would be very desirable to do so. At the same time I feel that there are vices which cannot be reached by legislation, but that can be reached by education, and especially religious education, and by the maintenance of a high standard of morality among the people."
The expression used by Sir John in his last campaign, "A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die," which has become famous, was uttered many years before, as the following passage in his speech on Mr. Blake's resolution, declaring the right of Canada to make her own commercial treaties, will show: " Disguise it as you will, this means separation and independence. The hon. gentleman is moving by slow degrees to that point. This is a commercial movement, by and by we shall have something else, until at last we take a step for political independence. I have said to the House before that a British subject I was born, and a British subject I hope to die. The best interests of Canada are all involved in the connection between the mother country and her loving and loyal colony."
In the course of a speech in the House of Assembly, in 1861, referring to the agitations then going on as to the relations of the two provinces, he said he hoped that for ages, for ever, Canada might remain united with the mother country. But we were fast ceasing to be a dependency, and were assuming the position of an ally of Great Britain. England would be the centre, surrounded and sustained by an alliance not only with Canada, but Australia and all the other possessions; and there would thus be formed an immense confederacy of free men—the greatest confederacy of civilized and intelligent men that ever had an existence on the face of the globe. We in our sphere should avoid occasions of difference. * * * Let us all set aside party feeling, and work in common on the principle of union, and not on the principle of one section striving against another section, and seeking to annihilate it.
The following points are from speeches delivered in 1861:— "A public man in this country gets plenty of abuse, and I have had more than my share of it."
''To sustain yourselves honorably you have your own stout hearts and brawny arms, and all you look for from me is good government."
"Certainly I have not fattened on the public plunder. I am sure that, when I first entered the public service, my name stood infinitely better at my bankers than it does at the present time, and my creditors feel as I feel myself, that I should have been a wealthier man, and have a much higher standing in point of credit, had I uninterruptedly pursued my profession, instead of devoting myself to the public service."
"Since I was five years old, I have been in Canada. My affections, my family are here. All my hopes and my remembrances are Canadian; and not only are my principles and prejudices Canadian, but (what as a Scotchman, I feel as much as anybody else) my interests are Canadian."
"If coalition between two parties means that for the sake of emolument or position they sacrifice principle, then coalition government ought not to receive the confidence of the people. But if it means the junction of a number of men, who, forgetting old quarrels which have been wiped out, and who instead of raking up the ashes after the fire of dissension had burned away, finally extinguished it, and refused to prolong discord—then I may say that coalition is the act of true patriots. * * I have always been a Conservative Liberal, and when I found there were many Reformers who agreed with me, I did not hesitate to enter into an alliance with them."
"Are we not all equal in this country? Have we not all the same lights? And if we get the right man in the right place, it does not matter what his race or religion may be."
"It is said that that country is the happiest which has no history. It may be exciting to read of great wars and great conquerors, but that history, so exciting to the reader, tells of misery and destruction to the country concerned. Those wars may have brought out the great talents of great minds, but they have been ruinous to thousands. And so it is with administrations. That Government which is satisfied with being useful—with doing its duty to the people who placed it in power—which, when it finds a practical evil sets itself to reduce it in a practical way, is not a Government about which you can get up much enthusiasm."
"I believe no country is worthy of liberty unless it is able to fight for it, and that not by hired hands only. * * We see what England has done with her volunteers. * * Not satisfied with her magnificently organized army and navy, the moment her position was in danger the people rushed to arms; the merchant leaving his counter, the farmer his plough, the lawyer his desk—and by the same token they say the lawyers make the best of soldiers, because they are so ready for the charge."
"I never asked the question, and never will ask, what a man's religion, race or ancestry may be; if he is a capable man, 'the right man for the right place,' that is all I inquire Into."
"It is one thing to give a man a right, it is quite another thing to deprive a man of an established one, especially if it is not proved that he has abused it."
"Preserve the union [between Upper and Lower Canada] and we become a great nation. Gone forever would be all our hopes of this becoming a great empire—gone forever the prospects; of attaining a high position in the world—gone forever all our glorious expectations if we again sank into two wretched municipalities, with different interests, different religions and opposing prejudices. * * If I had any influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: 'Whatever you do adhere to the Union—we are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.' God and nature have made the two Canadas one—let no factious men be allowed to put them asunder."
When the American Civil War broke out, Mr. Macdonald was of opinion that it would result in the formation of two nations. In a speech in 1861 he said: "He agreed with every word of regret that had been expressed at the unhappy and lamentable state of things which they now witnessed in the States, for he remembered they were of the same blood as ourselves. He still looked hopefully to the future of the United States. He believed there was a vigor, a vitality in the Anglo-Saxon character and institutions of the States that would carry them through this great convulsion, as they had carried through our mother country in days of old. He hoped that if they were to be severed in two—as severed in two he believed they would be—two great, two noble, two free nations would exist in place of one. But while thus he sympathized with them, he must say, let it be a warning to ourselves, that we do not split upon the same rock. The fatal error which they committed—and it was perhaps unavoidable from the state of the colonies at the time of the revolution—was in making each state a distinct sovereignty."
"I am satisfied that the best civilizers are missionaries."
"The Government are merely trustees for the public."
"Parliament is a grand inquest which has the right to inquire into anything and everything."
At the dinner in Halifax to the Confederation delegates, Mr. Macdonald, in the course of his speech, said:
"The question of Colonial Union is one of such magnitude that it dwarfs every other question on this portion of the continent. It absorbs every other idea as far as I am concerned. For twenty long years I have been dragging myself through the dreary waste of colonial politics. I thought there was no end—nothing worthy of ambition; but now I see something that is well worthy to be weighed against all I have suffered in the cause of my little country. There may be obstructions ; local differences may arise, disputes may occur, local jealousies may intervene, but it matters not—the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel ; we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact."
He then pointed out that though the constitution of the United States was as perfect as human wisdom could make it, yet being the work of men it had its defects, and one of these was that each state was an individual sovereignty, having its own army and navy and its own sovereign powers. We could avoid this danger by forming one strong central government, having all rights of sovereignty except those delegated to the local government.
Referring to the visit of the delegates to England on Confederation he said:—
"From the moment we presented ourselves with the credentials of the people of Canada we saw a great change. We were treated not as a mere delegation from a small dependency, but as if we were an embassy from some great nation; and we, the four ministers from a single colony, were met day by day, and for weeks and weeks, by the chief heads of the Government of England. We were told that in case it were necessary, the whole power of the mighty empire with which we weie connected would be exercised in our defence, and that by land and sea, with soldier and sailor, by salt water and by fresh, on the ocean and on the, lakes, England would, if necessary, expend the whole of her mighty resources in the defence of Canada."
"So long as the country is well governed and enjoys all the benefits it should enjoy, you can smoke your pipe in peace at home, in happy indifference as to whether Reformers or Conservatives are at the helm of state. I have always held that we should not be like the Jews, who wished to keep out the Gentiles from the inner temple. We should accept as men and brothers all those who think alike of the future of the country, and wish to act alike for the good of the country, no matter what their antecedents may have been."
"The statement often made that this is a conquered country is d propos de rien (has no meaning). Whether it was conquered or ceded, we have a constitution now, under which all British subjects are in a position of absolute equality, having equal rights of language, of religion, of property, and of person. There is no paramount race in this country; there is no conquered race in this country; we are all British subjects ; and those who are not English are none the less British subjects on that account."
"I am as strong a party man as my hon. friend (Mr. Mackenzie), and will go as far for party as he. And parties can fight and have their struggles, triumphs and defeats, so long as the country is not made the victim. But I say that that party is unworthy to retain the confidence of the people who, in their desire for victory, will forget the country."
"We, in Canada, have got into the habit of delivering lectures and essays in parliament. Well, these essays we can all find in books, and it is merely lecture and water that we get, as a rule, in long speeches." (Sir John thought a twenty minutes' speech long enough for any practical man in parliament, but he did not limit all his own speeches to that space of time.)
"Some are apprehensive that the fact of our forming this Confederation will hasten the time when we shall be severed from the Mother Country. I have no apprehension of that kind. I believe it will have the contrary effect. I believe that as we grow stronger, as we become a people able, from ,our union, our population, and the development of our resources, to take our position among the nations of the ,world, she would be less willing to part with us than now. * * I am strongly of opinion that year by year, as we grow in population and strength, England will more see the advantage of maintaining the alliance between British North America and herself. Does anyone imagine that when our population, instead of 3,500,000, will be 7,000,000, as it will be ere many "years pass, .we would be one whit more willing than now to sever the connection with England? * * The colonies are now in a transition state. Gradually a different colonial system is being developed—and it will become year by year less a case of dependence on our part, and of overruling protection on -the part of the Mother Country, and more a case of healthy and cordial alliance. Instead of looking upon us as a merely dependent colony, England will have in us a friendly nation —a subordinate, but still a powerful people—to stand by her in North America in peace or in war."
When Lord Beaconsfield died in 1881, certain English Conservative politicians approached Sir John with a suggestion that he should come over to England and enter the field there, with a view to succeeding the great English statesman, pointing out the higher honors he would obtain, and expressing the conviction that by his natural gifts he would win the position of leader of the Conservative party and of the nation. Sir John declined, and when they asked why, he is said to have replied to this effect: "That here he was engaged in the development of a nation; there he would be struggling to hold together the fabric of an old one. Here he was building up a new empire—the forces were here forming for the life of a nation—and there was more glory in having a guiding hand in that than striving to preserve from ossification the frame-of an old nation."
From grave to gay. —Pope.
MISCELLANEOUS ANECDOTES AND REMINISCENCES.
It has been said before that Sir John usually joked with a serious purpose, unless he might be talking merely to entertain a friend in private. Some of his old colleagues used to be offended at the wanton levity he would exhibit when matters of serious moment were being discussed in Council, or in private conference. The more grave the situation appeared to them, and the more anxious their minds were, the more apt he was to break off in the midst of the discussion with some story or joke; and on these occasions—like Abram Lincoln's jokes—they were not always relevant. One of his colleagues, impatient at the ill-timed levity, would break in with, "But this is no time for joking—how are we going to get over this difficulty ?—what are we to do with So-and-so ?" " Oh, we'll fix him all right," Sir John would reply, and go on with his story or tell a new one. But what appeared ill-timed levity to some of his friends was only intended to draw off the minds of others of his colleagues from some distraction, or stop them at a moment when they were running off upon dangerous ground in the debate.
When the Hon. Wm. McDougall was insulted and driven back by the rebellious half-breeds of Red River, while the North West was taken over, the Government decided to send Joseph Howe to take his place. Mr. Howe was in ill health and they thought the journey would do him good, and at the same time overcome his prejudices against the North West, which were very strong. He got there in the fall, and going through the country by dog train, was caught in a snow storm and had a hard time of it. His mission was a failure, and his prejudices against the country only confirmed. Then Sir Adams Archibald was sent up, and while he was there an unusually early cold snap froze up Lake Winnipeg so solid that the Indians were on the point of starvation. Mr. Archibald reported the disordered state of things, and asked for aid from Ottawa. "There," said Mr. Howe, when the matter came up for decision, "what did I tell you about that place? I wouldn't give Nova Scotia for seven bleak and frozen North Wests." "Well," replied Sir John, "between you and McDougall, you've made it quite hot enough to suit us."
William Lyon Mackenzie told a friend once that some years after the Rebellion, John A. came to him and said: "Mr. Mackenzie, I understand you have a scrap book containing a great deal of valuable history. I should like to have it for use in the public records, and will give you .£1,000 for it." Mr. Mackenzie said he believed the offer was meant as a bribe, and replied in his characteristic style that all the money that could be offered him was not enough to purchase that scrap book.
A son of Mr. Ferguson, member for Leeds, had a bust of a Polynesian in his office. Having stuck a clay pipe in the Polynesian's mouth and put a battered beaver hat on its head, a farmer came in, and seeing the dusky visaged figure exclaimed, "Why, I declare, that's John A., isn't it?"
Mr. Robert Motton, the genial magistrate of Halifax, who was as fond of a good story as Sir John, once had a call from the Premier when in Halifax. Sir John noticing two or three busts*in Mr. Motton's office, asked whom they represented? Mr. Motton said one was Cato, the Roman statesman, and it reminded him of the circumstance that a man came in one day and seeing the bust, said: "Let's see—that's Mr. McCully,|isn't it? And what a fine likeness of him it is." Sir John saw something so irresistibly ludicrous in the association of Cato the censor with his old political friend McCully, that he stood for some minutes repeating the words: "Cato and McCully!" and laughing heartily between each soliloquy.
Such cases of mistaken identity will remind many readers of the remarkable likeness that existed between Sir John and the Ojibway Indian Chief, John Prince, or Ah-yan-dwa-wah (the Thunderbolt), from Manitoba, who visited Ottawa in 1889 to protest agiinst the depletion of Lake Winnipeg by American fisherman. The Indian Chief visited Toronto on his way down, and many people not personally acquainted with the Premier actually mistook him for Sir John. He was six feet high and straight as an arrow. His bushy gray hair, the strong oatline of his nose, his pursed up mouth, the lines of twinkling shrewdness about the eyeball recalled the Premier. The big chief had Sir John's way of wagging his head and had Sir John's carriage. The fact that Sir John was so commonly known as "the old chief" or "the chieftain" made the association more complete. While in Toronto, Mr. Robertson of the Telegram asked the chief what relation he was to Sir John. The chief said he supposed he was a brother. Asked if he was not likely to win the affections of Lady Macdonald, the old man replied: "No, I have too much respect for my sister-in-law."
Speaking of busts, a laughable incident occurred in the Superior Court in Montreal, last year. A prominent French Canadian lawyer, engaged in an important case, wanted his statute books urgently for reference, but could not go after them. The happy thought struck him of telephoning to his office boy. The boy was instructed as follows: "Apporte moi les deux statutes qui se trouve nt sur ma table" (bring me the two statutes which are to be found on my table). A few minutes later the court was thrown into a convulsion of laughter when a small boy appeared bearing under one arm a bronze statuette of Sir John Macdonald and under the other a companion statuette of Sir Etienne Tache.
Samuel Thompson, in his "Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer," draws this comparison between Sir John and the Hon. George Brown : Both Scotchmen; both ambitious; both resolute and persevering; both carried away by political excitement into errors which they would gladly forget; both unquestionably loyal and true to the empire. But in temper and demean nor, no two men could be more unlike. Mr. Brown was naturally austere, autocratic, domineering. Sir John was kindly, whether to friends or foes, and always ready to forget past differences. A country member who had been newly elected for a Reform constituency said to a friend of mine: "What a contrast between Brown and Macdonald! I was at the Reform Convention the other day. and there was George Brown dictating to us all, and treating rudely every man who dared to make a suggestion. Next day I was talking to some fellows in the lobby, when a stranger coming up slapped me on the shoulder and said in the heartiest way:
'How d'ye do, M ?Shake hands—glad to see you here.
—I'm John A.'"
Speaking of this characteristic of Sir John, the late J. Sheridan Hogan, who after writing on the old Colonist went into Opposition and became member for Grey, said it was impossible to help liking Sir John—he was so good-natured to men o'l both sides of the House, and never seemed to remember an injury, or resent an attack after it was past.
An anecdote of a similar kind to that by Samuel Thompson was related some years ago by a correspondent at Ottawa. When the late 1 )avid Thompson was sitting for Haldimand, in the days when the record of the riding was an unbroken series of Liberal victories, he was laid aside for nearly a whole session through illness. He got down to Parliament at last, and told the story of his reception as follows: "The first man I met on coming back was Blake. He passed me with a simple nod. The next man I met was Cartwright, and his greeting was about as cold as that of Blake. Hardly had I passed these men when I met Sir John. He didn't pass me by, but grasped me by the hand, gave me a slap on the shoulder, and said, 'Davy, old man, I'm glad to see you back. I hope you'll soon be yourself again and live many a day to vote against me—as you always have done!' Now," continued Mr. Thompson with genuine pathos, "I never gave the old man a vote in my life, but Hang me if it doesn't go against my grain to follow the men who haven't a word of kind greeting for me, and oppose a man with a heart like Sir John's."
A leading citizen of Toronto met Sir John once in King street in that city and accosted him with, "Sir John, ourfriend C here says you are the d st liar in all Canada!"
Assuming a very grave look, Sir John answered: "I dare say it's true enough." * " Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer."
Mr. Peak, an officer of one of the Canals, was appointed by the Mackenzie Government, and when Sir John came back to power again, an enemy of the officer thought he would take advantage of the opportunity to get him out. The most serious charge that could be brought against the officer was that he had bought a coffin for a poor deceased workman and paid for it with Government money. Sir John received the accusation, but, as usual, did not say what would be done- Meeting the officer some time after, Sir John alluded to the charge in no censorious way and added: "I hope you made the coffin big enough." Laughing off the rest of the charges he asked the officer after his daughter, of whose beauty he had heard. The officer was so struck with Sir John's broad-mindedness, and so pleased with the compliment to his daughter, who was his special pride, that he became a devoted political follower of the Conservative Premier.
In a more cunning way he met the intrigues of another of his own partizans, who just before an election demanded, as the price of his important services in his county, that Sir John should turn out from his position a certain postmaster —a worthy man against whom nothing of a serious nature could be brought. The intriguant coolly told Sir John he proposed to trump up charges against the postmaster, and wished it understood that when the postmaster was ejected he was to have the place. "All right," said Sir John. "When you get him out you shall have the place,—but wait till after the election." Presumptuously interpreting this as an assurance that the old postmaster would be discharged on any sort of complaint, the would-be supplanter went, to work, with a will in the election, the Conservative being returned. After the election he preferred some trumpery charge against the postmaster, which of course the Postmaster General refused to entertain. Finally he came to the Capital, and going to Sir John claimed the old postmaster's place, reminding Sir John of what he had said. "Well, did you get old out?" asked Sir John. "No," replied he. "Well," said Sir John, "as soon as you get him out, you shall have the place." "But the Postmaster General won't listen to me," he complained. "Oh! well, then I'm afraid I can't do anything. I can't interfere," explained Sir John with a delightful assumption of innocence and helplessness.
Sir John's unfortunate habit of indulging in strong drink but for which he might have lived ten or fifteen years yet in the full vigor of his intellect, and so have extended a career that would have been absolutely without a parallel in the history of the world's legislators and prime ministers— has already been alluded to. Of late years, owing to the carer solicitude and good counsel of his wife, and to other causes which will be spoken of elsewhere, he gained control of this appetite, and limited himself to a very small allowance each day. At one time, however, more especially the period between the death of his first wife and his second marriage, he frequently gave way to drink, sometimes absenting himself from work for days at a time, and paying little heed to the quality of liquor he drank, or the standing of the place at which he got it. But even at such times his mind retained its seat, and he never allowed his tongue to run loose.
Once he went to speak against a Reform candidate in a North Ontario constituency. When he mounted the platform,, after having taken too much strong drink and being shaken over a rough track on the train, he became sick and vomited on the platform while his opponent was speaking. Such a sight before a large audience disgusted even many of his friends, and the prospect for the Conservative cause that daywas not bright. The opposing candidate, whom we will call Jones, ceased speaking, and John A. rose to reply. What could he say, or how could he act to redeem himself and gain respect or attention ?" Mr. Chairman and gentlemen," he began, "I don't know how it is, but every time I hear Mr. Jones speak it turns my stomach!" The conception was so grotesque and so unexpected, that the audience went off in fits of laughter, and disgust was instantly turned into general good humor and sympathy.
At one time complaints were pretty numerous among prominent Conservative members of the drinking habits of Thomas D'Arcy McGee. A member came to John A. and said, "You must speak to him. This sort of thing is a disgrace." After putting them off for some time, John A. went to McGee and said, "Look here, McGee, this Government can't afford two drunkards, and you've got to stop."
Four or five years ago a temperance delegation came down to Ottawa from the West to urge some temperance reforms, followed the next day by a large delegation from the Licensed Victuallers' Association, who strongly presented the "liquor side" of the question. Meeting Sir John after this, Mr. S. E. Gregory, one of his old supporters from Ontario, asked him how he was going to get out of this difficulty, and yet please both sides. "We'll give them a dose of Gregory's Mixture," replied Sir John instantly, "that will bring them round all right."
Akin to this was his remark when the names of the two candidates for Hamilton, at a former election, were submitted to him. One was D. B. Chisholm, a prominent advocate of temperance, and the other was Peter Grant, the brewer. On asking the occupations of the men, Mr. Grant was given by mistake as a distiller. "Where could you get a better combination than that,'' said John A.—"good water and good whisky."
Though the fact may not be creditable to human nature, Sir John's very weakness was a secret of his popularity with a certain class of men, and he did not hesitate to take advantage of the weakness when the occasion served his purpose. Once he caused great applause in his audience when he said, "I know enough of the feeling of this meeting to know that you would rather have John A. drunk than George Brown sober."
Going home one night, while he lived at Toronto, he met Mr. L , the tea merchant, who, though one of his many personal friends, was a life-long Reformer. Sir John was a little unsteady, and wishing company home said, "L , I have known you for twenty-five years, and you've never given me a vote yet; but," he added as he took his friend's arm, "you've got to support me this time."
When Prince Arthur visited Canada, a reception was given him at the Capital, and it was arranged that the members of the Cabinet should meet privately in their Windsor uniforms, just before the reception. One of the ministers, Mr. V ,who was not himself an exemplar of temperance principles, tried on his cocked hat, and one of the company observed that it was not a fit. "No," said Sir John, looking at the subject of remark, "you look as if a cock'-tail would suit you better than a cocked hat."
When the prohibition bill was introduced four or five years ago, the Hon. C. Langelier said to Sir John, "I hope you don't intend to let that go through. It would kill us all in our province." "Yes," replied the Premier, "and it would kill_me at home too."
In the later years of his life, Sir John was sincerely •desirous of promoting the cause of temperance, as far as the sentiment of the people would support it. A preacher in one of his sermons related this :—
"A friend of mine said to him, 'Sir John, when are you going to give us prohibition?' The prompt reply was, 'Whenever you want it.' 'But we want it now,' said my friend. 'Then say so,' replied the Premier. 'But how shall we say it?' 'By sending prohibitionists to Parliament,' was the prompt and effective answer." The preacher thought the Premier's answer was the solution of a difficult problem in a nutshell. "When the churches do their duty," said he, "then the days of the legalized liquor traffic will be few indeed." The Premier's reply was a good one, and characteristic. While not a prohibitionist in principle himself, he was perfectly willing that the people should have a chance to say whether they wanted it or not. If they voted yes, he, as head of the G.vernment, was prepared to do what he could to pass the law.
One of Sir John's innate good qualities was his faithfulness to his friends that were true to him, and, though he may not have published it, he had a secret horror of the waiting-fordead-men's-shoes disposition of many office seekers. It is said that there has not been an instance where an applicant who asked for a position in the service occupied by a sick or dying man, before the incumbent's death, ever got it. He truly judged that an office seeker who acted thus was not fit for the place.
The following anecdote is not a case in point, though it comes up by way of association. Mr. G. was applicant for the position of inspector of weights and measures in an Ontario county, and suggested, as the present incumbent was willing to retire on a five years' superannuation allowance, the appointment be made at once. Sir John looked up the question, and when Mr. G. called again he was informed that such allowances could only be made in the case of civil servants connected with the penitentiary. "If I had only known of that long ago," he added, "I could have sent old Tom to the penitentiary, and then you could have followed him."
When Sir John went to Washington in connection with the treaty with the United States, the Canadian party were treated to a boat ride on the Potomac. Sir John came early and alone, and while waiting for the others to come, a lady, the wife of a senator, fell into conversation with him, when the following dialogue ensued:
"I guess you are from Canada." "Yes, ma'am." "You've got a very smart man over, there, the Honorable John A. Macdonald." "Yes, ma'am, he is." "But they say he's a regu'ar rascal." "Yes, ma'am, he is a perfect rascal." "But why do they keep such a man in power?" "Well, you see, they cannot get along without him." "But how is that? They say he's a real skalawag, and'' Just then her husband, the Senator, stepped up and said: "My dear, let me introduce the Honorable John A. Macdonald."
The lady's feelings can be imagined. But Sir John put her at her ease, saying-, "Now, don't apologize. All you've said is perfectly true, and it is well known at home."
Sir John's habit of putting off applicants for places, and of delaying decisions in doubtful or difficult cases, a habit which earned for him the oft-applied nickname of " Old To-morrow," has often been the subject of speculation by students of his character. To give the reader an account of his remarkable resources at Makeshift and Evasion would fill a volume. What is the explanation of his plan of deferring till to-morrow what many thought should be done to-day > One authority thinks it is "the result of some inexplicable calculation of policy." This is rather indefinite. With regard to questions of appointment he probably reasoned, that by delay further light would be thrown on the subject, and give the opportunity for a possibly better candidate to appear, while it would be apt to tire out any applicant of whom he wanted to be rid, and in some cases be a test of the perseverance of a candidate. Deferred favors, when they did come, would also be more valued by some aspirants. "When remonstrated with on the seeming folly of disappointing fifty persons, whose applications might easily have been forestalled, and the opposite policy of Sir Francis Hincks had been held up in contrast, he has, in vindication of his own course, pointed to the fact that the life of his administration had been •much longer than that of the gentleman named. It may be that when a large number of men, more or less influential, have asked favors from the head of the Government, they feel to a certain extent in his power, and that to do anything that might look like desertion would be a disgrace. Once in quitting office, Sir John gave mortal offence to his followers by leaving, as a prize to his successor, half a hundred offices vacant ; but on a subsequent occasion, resolving not again to subject himself to such a reproach, he ran too near the wind by making a large number of appointments when his administration was in a moribund condition, and almost virtually defunct." *
It is known to a few of Sir John's intimate friends that he was offered a peerage, but he declined that high Imperial honor, as he did not consider it in accord with the institutions of a democratic country like Canada. One day in the House he was rallied upon the rumor that he was to accept a peerage, ,and a member asked him what title he was going to take. He replied: "I will be Lord To-morrow." No one was fonder of making a joke at his own expense on this nickname than he.
* Dent's ',' Canadian Portrait Gallery."'
A French Canadian Conservative member, who had been disappointed in very many requests for Government favors, wanted a legal friend of his appointed to the judgeship of his county, which had just became vacant. When another man, who had been strongly recommended to the Minister of Justice, was appointed, the disappointed member's anger broke out in a paroxysm. It was the last straw that broke the camel's back. He went to Sir John Macdonald, reminded him of the promise he had made, that the very next favor asked would be granted without question, and that on the strength of this assurance he (the member) had positively engaged to place his friend in the judgeship. He wound up by demanding that the appointment should be canceled, and when Sir John informed him that this could not be done, he told the Premier to accept his resignation on the spot. This took place on a Monday. Sir John said he was sorry, but, whatever happened, he would take it as a personal favor if the member would not hand in his resignation till Wednesday. Recounting the interview to the Minister of Justice, the latter asked, " Why did you say Wednesday?" " I don't know," replied Sir John, " except that it is not to-day!" But mark the sequel. On Wednesday the irate member came into Sir John's office in quite an altered mind, and said that, having thought the matter over, he would withdraw his resignation. Sir John knew the man he had been dealing with.
Three or four years ago Mr. F , M.P., came down to Ottawa, about three months before the usual time of the Session, his business being to obtain the promise of a bonus for a railway in his district. Sir John met him in the hall, and after greeting him asked, "Are you going to be in town long,
F ?" "Well," replied F , "I have come down to
get this railway bonus through, and I am going to wait right here till I get it." "Oh," said Sir John with a mischievous glance at his friend, "then you are going to stay till the session opens?" The county of Lanark was served in Parliament, sometime in the fifties, by an English half-pay officer named Col. Playfair, a memorial of whom is left in the little village of Playfair, Ont. Col. Playfair was a man before his time, and thirtyfive years ago he wrote a pamphlet outlining the plan of a combined water and rail route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and predicted what has since come to pass, that the teas and produce of China would be distributed over that route to America and Europe. Among other things he agitated for a colonization road from Perth northwest to Buckshot Creek, above Trout Lakes. After many disappointments he was informed that the work would be commenced, and, his heart being in the enterprise, he applied to John A. for the superintendency of the road. He was put off from time to time till at last he came to the Capital in a state of indignation, and determined to give John A. a piece of his mind. But John A., like the proverbial flea, was not to be found when he wanted to put his finger on him.
At length, he heard a council meeting was being held, and thither the colonel repaired. A man of his fine presence and military bearing was not to be put off by the man on guard at the door, and John A. was called out —and came. "God bless my soul, Col. Playfair, is that you!" exclaimed the minister, grasping him with both hands. "How are you? I'm so glad to see you. By-the-bve, colonel," he went on, after the greetings were over, "we have just been discussing in council a military matter that we cannot decide. Now you, with your great military experience and your memories of Salamanca and Talavera will be able to solve the question." The colonel drew himself up and looked grave. "The question is," said John A., "how many pounds of powder put under a bull's tail would blow his horns off?" And John A., who had been edging towards his office, disappeared through the door and could be seen no more. "And is this the result of all I have come for?" ruminated the disgusted and disheartened colonel as he drove his old mare home with the mail (for he held amongst other offices that of mail carrier from Perth to Playfair); and with muttered imprecations he sat down on arriving home to open the mail bag. The first letter he took out was an official one addressed to himself, and it contained the appointment he had despaired of. He had been the unconscious carrier of his own appointment.
With regard to his treatment of office seekers, one could never tell whether Sir John was going to grant a request or refuse it; and it has been well said by one of his admirers that he could refuse a request with more grace than most men could grant it. With a funny story or a pretty compliment, he would often send an unsuccessful applicant away with a better feeling than if the place had been given him. On the occasion of one of his political picnics in a village of Ontario, in 1878, he stayed over night at the house of D , one of the political local lights. On leaving next morning, Sir John said to his host: "Now D , when I get into power, I want you to come and see me, and if there is anything I can do for you, just let me know. Now don't yoi: be afraid to ask, and whatever can be done for you I'll do." They parted; Sir John came into power at Ottawa, and in the course of time, in the reaction brought about by the over-manufacturing in the country between 1880 and 1882, Mr. D suffered a failure in business. Losing his business and prospects he bethought him of the promise made by Sir John, and it occurred to him that his experience would qualify him to become the official assignee for his county under the new Bankruptcy Act passed by the Dominion Government.
So one fine morning D appeared at the office of Sir John in Ottawa. "Why, I know your face," began Sir John. "Stop now, don't tell me, you are D , and I stopped all night at your house in the campaign of 1878, and I told you on leaving, if ever you wanted anything, to come right to me. Take a seat. I'm glad to see you. How's your wife? Good. And what can I do for you?" Feeling at home and flattered at his reception, D opened out in a confidential drawl: "Well, yes, Sir John, that's the p'int. You see I kindo' failed in business here a month or two ago, and my friends thought as there was no Ass-sign-nee a'pinted for our county, I ought to git the place; so I tuck a notion I'd come down and see you about it." "What!" replied Sir John, jerking himself up and looking at the top of his interviewer's head, "a man with a head like yours, and with ability such as you have, to take the paltry position of assignee! Why, your talents would be simply thrown away in a place like that. No, no! You just wait a while, and we'll give you something better than that." Carried away with this high estimate of his abilities by the Premier of Canada, agreed that it would be better to wait till a more suitable vacancy occurred, and departed a proud and self-satisfied man, content to wait for the high honor of the future. Meantime the office was given to a presumedly better man, and the day never came when a sufficiently dignified position was open for D .
Another instance of his ability to send a man away pleased with a disappointment may be given. B , a Conservative exmember, had a claim, or thought he had, to a certain piece of land controlled by the Dominion Government. Failing to get it by correspondence, he came down to Ottawa in no pleasant frame of mind, and to a friend in one of the departments he privately expressed his indignation and his determination to have the piece of land or know the reason why. He went to Sir John's office. In about half an hour his civil service friend was coming past Sir John's office to lunch, as came out into the corridor beaming all over with smiles. "Hello!" said the civil servant, "so you got the land, eh?" At the question, B's smile instantly departed and a pathetic shade of melancholy overspread his face "like a summer cloud," as he replied, "No, I didn't!" The spell had passed off. The civil servant, experienced in such incidents, burst into a fit of laughter at the situation, when B asked half in reproach and half in extenuation of his own position, " Did you ever ask him for anything?"
One secret of Sir John's longevity and capacity for governing was that he did not worry, and did not attempt to do the work which others were paid for doing. He never attempted to superintend the details of departmental work, but having laid down the principles, left the heads or officers to work them out. Having seen that the most intelligent man available was put into a place, he held that man responsible for the work. A certain public institution was established years ago in Upper Canada, and when installing the director he spoke to this effect: "I'll hold you responsible for the working of the institution. You make your own appointments, from assistant doctor down to porter, and use your own best judgment. I may send some candidates to you for a place, but do not take them simply because I send them ; only take them if you really need them and if they suit." The system, under an able head, worked well, until the institution was taken over by the Provincial Government, when, owing to the frequent interference with the details of his work, the director resigned.
Sir John often overruled the policy of his ministers, but he did it with such a grace and deference that the force was not felt, and often the minister whose policy was changed was made to feel that he himself was the author of the change. It was here where the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, his great opponent, failed while holding the reins of power from 1874-8* An able, sincere, conscientious man and an indefatigable worker, Mr. Mackenzie attempted too much, and, under taking the impossible task of being at the top and bottom of all the departmental work, he broke down under the strain . caused by it, and by his disappointment at the failure of those about him to fulfil his ideal of the work he fell heir to. Disappointment at being defeated, after all his hard efforts, weighed heavily with him, and brought on that bodily affliction which left him in a few years the dry shell of what he had been. Sir John, who was personally kind and sympathetic, said to him one day, as they were talking privately on the steps on Parliament Hill, and Mr. Mackenzie was speaking of his weakness and depressed spirits: "Mackenzie, you should not distress yourself over these things. When I fell in 1874,I made up my mind to cease worry and think no more about." " Ah," replied Mr. Mackenzie, "but I have not that happy frame of mind." After Mr. Mackenzie was replaced in the leadership of the Reform party, Sir John was always especially considerate and deferential to him, and no unkind word or recrimination escaped the lips of either.
When "Honest Joe" Rymal's constituency of South Wentworth was won by Mr. F. M. Carpenter, the able representative who still holds the seat, Sir John congratulated the county, and said he was glad they had chosen a workingman—a Carpenter—and he would be glad to associate with him, for he was something of a cabinet-maker himself. In his latter days he frequently got off this joke in varying forms, and was given to repeating some of his other old pleasantries, either from lapse of memory, or forgetting that his addresses were always chronicled by the reporters. It may interest the reader to know that the "cabinet-maker" joke is not original with Sir John. Whether it was adopted by him through a kind of "unconscious cerebration," or is one of the many coincidences of such kinds in literature, is not apparent, but it occurs in Sam Slick's anonymous book, the "Letter Bag of the Great Western," published in 1839. In the preface the humorist says: "To the American reader it may not be altogether unnecessary to state that ' Spring Rice,' like many other terms, has a different meaning on different sides of the Atlantic. In America it signifies a small grain raised! in low land amid much irrigation; in Ireland a small man reared in boggy land amid much irritation, and the name of 'Paddy' is common to both. In the former country it assumes the shape of 'arrack liquor,' in the latter 'a-rack rent.' In both there is an adhesiveness that is valuable, and they are prized on that account by a class of persons called 'cabinet-makers.'"
On the occasion of his last visit to Prince Edward Island, in 1890, Sir John entered his name in the visitors' book of the Legislative Library as "John A. Macdonald, cabinetmaker."
The Premier, talking once with a friend on the peculiar customs of different people, related that on a visit to the West a reception was given him at which a Bishop from Belgium was present. As the party were being escorted by a body of men in Highland costume, the foreign Bishop, seeing the bare legs and kilts, asked why these men were without trowsers. He replied that it was just a local custom, and that whereas the people in some places took off their hats as a mark of honor to distinguished guests, the people here took off their trowsers.
When Sir John visited St. John, in the fall of 1890, he was invited to dinner at the city club. Among the company were several judges, some of whom paid him high compliments in the after-dinner speeches. In reply, he said he highly appreciated all that had been said about about him, for those who had complimented him were certainly good judges.
The Hon. Sydney Smith was a former minister who had charge of agriculture, but who was thought to be rather deficient in his knowledge of the subject. One day he was expatiating on what the Government were doing in the interests of the farmer, and was telling that they had imported a hundred rams of a new breed. He had forgotten the name of the breed, and while he hesitated at the word, John A. suggested, in a stage whisper, " Hydraulic rams!"
An anonymous writer in All the Year Round has given some remarkable instances of great memories. It is there said of Niebuhr that he remembered everything he had read at any period of his life, but could not remember things unconnected with his books, the reverend doctor having within an hour or so of his wedding forgotten that he had been married. John Wesley had a remarkable memory which was vigorous at eighty-five. Andrew Fuller could repeat a poem of 500 lines after having it read once or twice, could recite word for word a sermon or speech, and enumerate the shop signs from Temple Bar to the end of Cheapside in London, describing the principal articles in each shopwindow. Before the days of short-hand reporting, a character known as " Memory Woodfall" used to attend the House of Commons, and after listening to a debate would reproduce the whole without taking a single note. Both Macaulay and Sir Walter Scott had prodigious memories; whili Beronicius of Middleburg knew by heart the works of Virgil, Cicero, Juvenal, Homer, Aristophanes and the two Plinys. While this is an example of " rote " memory, there is in Mezzofanti, the linguist of Bologna, a striking instance of what might be called intelligent memory. Byron described him as "a walking polyglot, a master of languages, and a Briareus of parts of speech." At the age of fifty he was thoroughly versed in fifty languages with their correct pronunciation and colloquialisms. He used to say that he never forgot anything he had ever heard or read.
Almost akin to the memory of Mezzofanti was that of Sir John Macdonald. He was an omnivorous reader, and had the faculty of getting at the main ideas of a book or article by a hasty glance. While he remembered in a remarkable way what he read, and kept thoroughly posted by his own reading on the doings of the world, his memory of faces and persons was phenomenal. His memory of facts and of incidents in which he had taken part was almost equally striking, and it was of course one of the secrets of the fund of anecdotes and stories he always had on hand, though to be sure the enjoyment of his stories was heightened by his gift of imitation and his mastery of a brogue or dialect.
An exhibition of what has before been called the "intelligent memory" was given by John A. at a comparatively early period. Old politicians, and those who have studied the political history of Ontario, will remember the Dundurn estate scandal. The circumstances, as related by a gentleman engaged in the official inquiry into the matter, are that after having retired into private life, old Sir Allan McNab, the deposed head of the Conservative party, became somewhat reduced in circumstances and wished to raise money. The Government required land on which to build an asylum for the d?af and dumb, and by purchasing Sir Allan's estate on which "Dundurn Castle" was built, they would procure a desirable site, and at the same time, by paying a liberal price, help the old man out of his difficulties. It so happened, however, that the transaction was consummated on the very eve of the Government's resignation, and under the circumstances had a suspicious appearance. The Cabinet had passed the order in-council authorizing the purchase on the very day of their retirement, and the warrant had actually not been issued when the Ministry resigned. On the strength of the order-in-council the deputy inspector general issued the warrant without proper authority, and the title for the land was not obtained. The officer lost his head in consequence when the circumstances became known.
A Commission of inquiry was demanded and granted, but when the Commission sat and required John A., he was not to be found. He had disappeared in one of his periodical seasons of dissipation, and when at last he presented himself before the Commission, the prospect of obtaining information was anything but good. His face was sallower than ever they had noticed it, his eyes were bleared, and glanced about in that furtive way peculiar to men in his condition, while the papers quivered in his unnerved hand. The members of the Commission looked at each other and then at him in pity and disappointment, as his testimony was called for. He then began, and without a note to refer to or a moment's hesitation for a fact, he detailed the history of the whole transaction covering a period of twelve to twenty years, giving the most minute particulars with exact dates, all in chronological order and in the most lucid style of narrative. When he had finished, the members of the Commission again looked at each other and at him, but this time it was with wonder and admiration. The spectacle seemed like some performance in magic.
While living at Kingston, he went out into the country to a farm house near Adolphustown on business, and while waiting for the horses to be brought to the door, sat reading a book. When told the vehicle was ready, he dropped the book and came away. Nine years afterwards he visited the same house, and going to the book-case took down the same book and turning to a certain page, said: "There's the very word I read last when I was here nine years ago."
Charles Watson, of St. Vincent, Grey county, formerly lived near Kingston, and the old Chieftain was his legal adviser. Mr. Watson, relates the Owen Sound Sun, attended the great demonstration held there in 1887. Sir John noticed him among the crowd, and walking over extended his hand, saying: "Charlie Watson, am I right?" "Right you are, every time," replied Mr. Watson, and the two friends of by-gone days recalled reminiscences of Kingston life. It was thirty years since they had last met.
In 1867, J. P. Reeves, caretaker of the Government building at Belleville, and a resident of Kingston in his early days, was one of the guard of honor of the Forty-ninth battalion who turned out to receive Prince Arthur. Sir John was one of the party, and after the presentation of the address at the station, Sir John was walking down the platform, scanning the faces of the men, when he suddenly stopped in front of Mr. Reeves and exclaimed, "Hello, Reeves! Stand at ease!" They shook hands and talked over old times for a few minutes, when it transpired that they had not met for over twenty years, when Reeves was only a youth. "The power of memory," says the Intelligencer, mentioning the incident, "shown in recognizing, after such an interval, the countenance and name of a man who had grown from youth to middle age, and was in military uniform among fifty others similarly attired, was wonderful."
Mr. Bell, of the Belleville Intelligencer, met Sir John in 1872, and did not see him again till 1885, when he was one of a deputation to interview the Premier on a political question. Having only exchanged a few words and been in his presence a few minutes on the first occasion, Mr. Bell was proceeding to introduce himself, when Sir John anticipated him and said: "Oh! I know you. You are Mr. Bell, the Intelligencer man." Mr. Conger, of the Picton Gazette, was similarly remembered after a lapse of ten years, Sir John calling him by name, and coming half way across the street to shake hands.
When on his visit to Vancouver in_i886, a man came up to Sir John out of the crowd and began to introduce himself by saying: "Sir John, I suppose you don't remember me." "Oh, yes," replied the Premier, without hesitation. "I met you at a picnic in 1856, and you may remember it was a rainy day." "Yes," said the man, " that was the very occasion" Sir John had met him but this once, and thus remembered him for thirty years. When one considers the changes undergone by the physiognomy of many men in the course of years, with the outward change wrought by growing beards or altering their shape; together with the fact that a public man such'as he would meet hundreds of men in a single day, this gift seems almost miraculous.
Mr. D. McLean, of lona Station, furnishes the following anecdote, of the facts of which he is personally cognizant: "In 1849, John A- Macdonald and Squire George Munroe became acquainted at a convention in Kingston at which they were delegates; they did not meet again until during the memorable campaign of 1882, during which Sir John was tendered a demonstration in the city of St. Thomas. There was an immense procession formed which passed up Talbot street. Sir John, as was his wont, observed everybody, from the highest window to the sidewalks, which were lined with thousands of spectators. When near the Penwarden hotel, where the crowd was thickest, Sir John saw Mr. Munroe in the crowd and ordered the cab to halt. Calling Mr. Munroe by name, he made to get out and greeted Mr. Munroe, who was then about ninety years old, with the.warmth and affection of an old friend. His recollection of the face of this old man, whom he had not seen for a little over thirty-three years, is remarkable."
Once he and a friend were walking together, when a working man stopped before them. Sir John, after shaking hands, said, "Well, D , it is sixteen years since I met you. By the way, how is your boy?" The man agreed as to the time, and said his boy was better. After they parted and went on, the friend said to Sir John, "Of course that was a chance hit." "No," said he, "I remember when I met him before he was in great distress about his little boy, who was suffering from a lame back." To the same friend Sir John said he might forget one face in a thousand but scarcely more.
At a political meeting at Napanee in 1882, when he ran for Lennox, Sir John noticed a gentleman on the platform, and after looking at him for a moment asked, "Isn't your name Ruttan?" "Yes," replied Dr. Ruttan, for it was he who was addressed, " but I never met you, Sir John. How did you know me?" "By your likeness to your brothers," replied he. "But it must be a long time since you have seen them," observed the doctor. "Yes," answered Sir John, " it is now forty years." To know a man by the likeness of brothers whom he had not seen for forty years is a remarkable feat of memory. Sir John, it may be added, immediately began to recall some funny incidents that had occurred when he was a companion with these brothers, and exclaimed, "I tell you what it is, Ruttan, boys now-a-days don't know what fun is!" The spirit of perpetual youth is in the remark.
His suavity and friendliness to people of all grades became a second nature to him. It not only made him admired and beloved by so many, but often won elections for political friends who lacked that faculty in themselves. In the campaign of 1878, he went up to Newmarket. When he arrived he made inquiries as to the leading men of the place of both sides, and seeking introductions chatted and made himself very agreeable. After the meeting his party returned to the station, and while waiting for the train a couple of hundred young people assembled to see him off, without distinction of party. Leaving his friends in the car he went out o11 the platform and began shaking hands with the girls and boys, dispensing a few happy remarks to each. " Why, I never thought he would shake hands with me," chuckled one girl to her companion, and for days Sir John formed the chief topic in the village. The sequel was tnat when the election came off the constituency went Conservative for the first time in many years.
On a trip from Fredericton to St. John down the River St. John three summers ago, a genial gentleman of the latter city was deputed to show the Premier the points of interest on that beautiful and romantic river. The steamer was to stop at Gagetown, and when they were nearing that place our guide asked him if he intended to make a speech, as it was expected that a large crowd would gather at each stopping place. "I can't tell till I sse the crowd," he answered. As the steamer came into the wharf, a large crowd was seen, and the landing place was gay with flags and decorations. When the steamer was made fast, he said, "I am going to speak," and coming to the vessel's side delivered one of his short and happy speeches, which, of course, was well received. At the next place, as they were steaming up to the wharf, our guide asked the same question, and he returned the same answer— "I can't tell till I see the crowd." When the boat was made fast he said, "I'm going ashore," and immediately went out on the wharf, where he spoke privately to all within reach, patting a child on the head here, giving a flower to another there, and kissing a third, while not forgetting attentions to the grown ladies. When the steamer proceeded on her way our guide asked him, ;i Will you tell me, Sir John, why you spoke at Gagetown and not here?" "Why," said he, " they were mostly men at Gagetown, and they were nearly all ladies and children here." The answer contained a great deal of the philosophy of his political success—he suited his behavior to his audience, or, in the language of the scientists, adjusted himself to his environment.
Gagetown, the Shiretown of Queen's Co., at that time was represented by Mr. G. F. Baird, who was accused by the local press of having " stolen the seat " from G. G. King, the present incumbent. Mr. Baird got on board at Gagetown, and crowding his way to the after part of the steamer's deck near where Sir John was sitting, b.'gan with some demonstration to demand a seat. "Strange, very strange, I can't get a seat here. Must have a seat! Got to have a seat 1" "Where is the seat you stole?" asked a farmer standing near Sir John. The latter made a desperate effort to keep his face straight amid the general roar, and waiting until Baird went away he left his chair and went over to the farmer, shaking his hand warmly. Finding that the farmer was a Liberal he congratulated him heartily on his bon mot.
At another small stopping place on the trip a knot of people were gathered, and among them was a good old negro who did service as a local preacher on Sundays, and on the week days made himself useful by working about the wharf and warping the steamer in when she arrived. He was now dressed up in his best clothes, with a silk hat brighter, if possible, than his beaming face, and when the boat was made fast, he stood in an attitude of intense expectancy, thinking Sir John might notice him. The Premier did not observe him, however, till he was nudged by Lady Macdonald, when he arose and made the old man a very emphatic bow, in which there was a slight suggestion of effect. The action sent a thrill of exaltation through every fibre of the old negro's frame, and he bowed back till he nearly bowed himself off the pier. Sir John had no information about the negro, but his friends said the bow was a stroke of policy in its way, for the old negro was both well known and well liked.
An incident showing that his human sympathy and tenderness was not confined to a set of friends, or to his own political supporters, occurred only a month or so before his sickness. A Liberal member, now deceased, had been visiting the restaurant bar too frequently, and wandering into the House, leaned up against the wall, where he became a subject of jest among the members who noticed him. Sir John came in while he stood there, and seeing that he was under the influence of liquor, and that some members were making fun of him, went up to him, and gently taking his arm persuaded him off out of harm's way, talking to him meantime in a friendly manner.
Sir John was an adept at placating an opponent, and many members of the Opposition who would have been "rabid" towards any other head of the Government were like lambs towards him. He had some curious ways of winning the personal good-will of members of the Opposition, and suited his methods to the man. A certain country constituency returned a Reform member who was not only below par in education and natural gifts, but had a fondness for drink. He was, in fact, what one would call a coarse man. Sir John had heard of him, and when he appeared in the precincts of the House went up, and in his most hail-fellow-well-met style introduced himself.
Afterafew words, Sir John said to him: "Why, they told me you were a vulgar, coarse, unsociable fellow with nothing interesting about you; and good for nothing but to drink whiskey. But here I find you as good a fellow as ever I met—in fact you are just the kind of ma'l I like. Let's go downstairs and have a chat." They went into the restaurant, where Sir John ordered a bottle of champagne, and told him some good stories—or, rather, stories that suited the ear of the listener. When they had become friends, Sir John said at parting: "Now, I expect you will vote against me. Of course, that is your duty. But don't think I will be offended at that. You vote just as you think right, because I'll expect it, but you and I will be friends all the same." The new member considered himself enrolled in the great multitude of those who called themselves "personal friends" of the Premier, and it was observed by those who followed the career of the member, that whenever a question of real danger to the Conservative interests came up he did not vote against them, but had some reason for absence.
There were many members of the Opposition whom Sir John's blandishments did not affect, but he did not fail to dispense them in such a way that if they fell short of the mark they would, at least, do himself no harm. Mr. Watson, the able Liberal representative for Marquette, was anxious some years ago to have many abuses in the operation of the Dominion Lands regulations remedied, and called the attention of the Government to the subject, saying he would give them the benefit of his experience. Sir John said he would be happy to have a quiet chat with him, and that what they wanted was more light on the subject. Mr. Watson gave him the benefit of his advice, and a bill was afterwards framed. When the interview was over, Sir John expressed his obligation to Mr. Watson, and added: "I'll tell you what it is, Watson, if all the members were as free from party spirit and prejudice as you and I, the country would be the better for it." Although this was said as a winning compliment, there was a sense in which it was seriously true.
In an after-dinner speech delivered in Toronto, at the Board of Trade banquet, Sir John said: "My good friend in calling upon me described the torture he was suffering in being called upon to make an after-dinner speech. I think he would have been recompensed a good deal for his suffering by the pleasure he must have felt he was bestowing upon his audience. The position in my case is the reverse. I have the greatest pleasure in addressing a Toronto audience, and the torture I hand over to you. (Loud laughter and cheers.) I rise with the greatest pleasure to respond to the toast. I am pleased, and, more than that, I should be insensible if I were not highly gratified by the manner in which you have leceived the toast of the two legislative bodies with which we are principally concerned—the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of Ontario. I have a sort of fatherly interest in the Parliament of Canada because I sat at its cradle, and my good friend, the Premier of Ontario, helped me to rock the cradle. (Loud cheers.)
The bantling has grown to a healthy state of maturity * * * With respect to having a second chamber, I would only call your attention to an old story if you have never heard it. It is an anecdote of George Washington, who was an Englishman at heart and a lover of the English Constitution. On one occasion he was discussing with Mr. Jefferson the question as to the advisability of having a second chamber. Mr. Jefferson, as you all know, was a man in love with the French system then in force, a revolutionary system where they had one chamber only, and a pretty mess they made of it. 'What is the use of a second chamber?' said Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson was then taking a cup of tea with Lady Washington, as she was called in those days. 'Why is it,' answered General Washington, 'you are using a second chamber just at this moment? You have two chambers in your hand. You have a cup and a saucer. In one chamber it was too hot for you, and you poured it out into a second chamber to cool it off.' (Laughter.) We are very favorably situated. We are a very happy people. We are happy and we are resolved to remain so, and the best way to remain so is to go on as we have been doing for the last twenty-one years under our present constitution. (Cheers.)
You know the Italian epitaph which was put upon the tombstone of the sorrowing survivors of the one under the sod: "I was well; I would be better, and here I am.' (Loud laughter.) If you try to be better in the way that some few advise, you will try the quack medicine, and I think you will be in the position of the Italian and have someone else write that epitaph for you." (Hear, hear.)
At the wedding in Toronto last year of Miss Maude Van Koughnet, daughter of the late Salter J. VanKoughnet, one of his old political friends, Sir John met Mr. W. A. Murray, a prominent merchant, whom he had also known a long time. Mr. Murray, though now about seventy, was on the eve of marrying a lady of about sixty, and when the coming event was made known to Sir John he slapped Mr. Murray on the shoulder, and said with a twinkle, "Well, well, boys will be boys."
At the election of 1S82, Sir John ran for Lennox, and during the campaign came to hold a meeting in Adolphustown, the home of his boyhood. The ladies of the village and neighborhood turned out and formed an equestrian procession to escort him from the wharf to the house of Mr. J. J. Watson, one of his schoolmates. The sight of these ladies on horseback, and the crowds of people of all shades of political opinion who had come to welcome this man, was unique in the social or political history of the settlement.
Sir John made himself at home in the house of his early friend, with whom after many years of separation he sat down, and, throwing aside ill thought of politics or ambition, became a boy again, and calling his friend "John Joe," and addressing Mrs. Watson as "Getty," talked with schoolboy animation of those bygone days, when they played tricks with each other on the ice.
At a meeting of workingmen in Ottawa last year, Sir John was asked to speak, and in the course of his address gave a new turning to the turner and cabinet-maker joke, saying: "He had the honor once of being admitted to the Turners' Guild of London, and he told them on that occasion that although he was something of a cabinet maker he had never been a turner, and hoped that he would never turn his coat."
"I should not like my opponents to cease their attacks on me," said he on one occasion; "for I should feel that I was a very insignificant individual indeed. It reminds me of an illustration ] think I have used before. When boys used to go apple stealing they always used to pick the tree that had the most sticks and stones under it. That's the tree that bears the best apples."
In 1890, a deputation from Toronto waited on Sir John to urge the Government to aid the proposed railway from that city north through Nipissing to salt water, at some point on James Bay. One of the deputation urged as a reason for building a line that it would be very useful in the event of foreign invasion, upon which Sir John asked with a wink, if he meant it as a back door for the people to make their exit by.
John Sandfield Macdonald, who was always a violent political opponent of John A. Macdonald, has been mentioned before in these pages. He was a tall man, and was known to every body by his dress. He wore a brown velvet coat of the pea-jacket style, which from his very erect form, and the fact that he wore a collar of extraordinary height, gave him a peculiar appearance. He was very fond of the violin, but, as in the case of the great majority of devotees to this instrument, the violin had no great affinity for him. He indulged his passion, however, in the bachelor quarters where he lived, and his personal friends, among whom was John A., often spent the evening with him. One time, while he was a member of the Reform Government, he left the city, to be absent for a couple of weeks, and told his friends if they wished to use his rooms, to make themselves at home there; leaving word at the same time that if anything important should transpire in connection with public affairs they were to telegraph him. One evening John A. and a party of friends went over to his rooms, took possession and got out his old violin. One of them proposed to get the collar and coat to make the character more complete. These could not be found—for the reason probably that the latter article was on his back; but as the subject was of more importance than anything that had transpired since he left, they sent this urgent message over the wires: "We have found your old fiddle, but where's your coat and collar?"
One of Sir John's speeches, which at the time caused many to wear a broad smile, was that which he made when he returned from Europe, after having been unsuccessful in getting a British or Continental Syndicate to take up the Canadian Pacific, but having, nevertheless, succeeded in placing the completion of the road in the hands of Mr. George Stephen (now Lord Mountstephen) and his Canadian associates.
Sir John was expected by the Quebec train, en route for Ottawa. He was received at the then Hochelaga depot by a number of members of Parliament and citizens prominent in commerce, among whom were Mr. Thomas White, afterwards Minister of the Interior, Mr. M. H. Gault, member for Montreal West—both of whom have since passed over to the majority. The late Premier was never more airily jocose than in referring to the success he had had in getting his syndicate. His speech was important, and strangely enough the only short-hand reporter present was Mr. James Harper, then correspondent of the Toronto Globe, who, wedged in the mass of jocular Conservatives, was able to take the speech verbatim, and preserve it in the columns of the Globe. Then it was that Sir John spoke that sentence of which so much irreverent fun was made in Ontario newspapers, that the time would come when Canada's teeming millions would remember that it was the Conservative party which had given the country its great railway. "I shall not bs present," said Sir John. "I am an old man," he continued, "but I shall perchance look down from the realms above upon a multitude of younger men—a prosperous, populous, and thriving generation—a nation of Canadians, who will see the completion of the road." Mr. Harper says that these words produced a sort of lull in the jollity of the crowd as the Premier's manner was quite reverent when he used them, and there was less jollity afterwards during the short interval within which Sir John remained and chatted with his friends before the train started. Sir John, however, not only lived to see the road finished, but to ride over it from end to end.
An instance of Sir John's surprising readiness was that with which he met the interruptions caused in a great Conservative rally in Montreal in the campaign of 1878. It had been noised abroad during the day that organized interruptions would greet Sir John in the evening. So they did. When Sir John Macdonald commenced to speak there were interruptions from a crowd evidently supplied with tooting horns and a nondescript instrument invented by Fred. Perry. Sir John stopped a moment, and apostrophized the interrupters as " the Herald Brass Band," naming Jim Stewart (since dead), editor of the Herald, and Mr. Fred. Perry in course of his remarks, which "brought down the house." Both Grit and Tory recognized Sir John's wit and the good humor with which he spoke. He was not interrupted much more, though Mr. M. C. Mullarky and others were spattered with eggs thrown by persons in the crowd. These were not meant for Sir John, however.
There were some ill-natured efforts to break up the meeting. In speaking of the occasion, Mr. Harper, then city editor of the Gazette, said the whole yolk of an egg dropped on the notebook on which he was taking notes, and during a melee near the foot of the platform afterwards he was knocked senseless with a club in the hands of some person who probably intended the blow for another. Sir John Macdonald never addressed a meeting in a Montreal square after that date, though he was often in Montreal.
After the meeting he met Mr. Perry—who, though a strong opponent, was a warm personal friend and admirer of the Premier, and had known him since the first year of his parliamentary career in 1844—and said: "Fred., what kind of infernal machine was that you had at the meeting?" Mr. Perry described the instrument, which was made by stretching a skin over the top of a bottle from which the neck had been knocked off, and which, by inserting a knotted horse hair, emitted an unearthly sound. When it was explained Sir John laughed heartily, telling Mr. Perry he would get a patent on that for his Kingston meetings. Talking further over the event of the day, Sir John said to his old friend with a laugh, "Fred., your bark is worse than your bite."
There is related a curious anecdote of one of Sir John's former elections in Kingston. A colored barber there who always served John A., and boasted, by the way, that he gave him his first shave, had become convinced, from what he had observed in the world, that when a man went into politics his moral character was destroyed, and discoursing on the subject to his customers he frequently instanced the case of John A., whom he had known when he was a good boy. A new contest was approaching, and one of the candidates was class-leader in the Methodist Church which the barber attended. A friend of John A. approached the barber on the subject of his "vote and influence," and said, "Of course, you will vote for John A." "Not dis time," replied the barber, "I'se promised my vote to Brudder "The case was reported to John A., who, having already heard the views of the barber on the moral aspect of the question, sent his friend back with an argument which was probably never before used to gain a vote. "You have been telling your customers,'' said the friend, "that a man cannot go into politics without losing his moral character." "Dat's true," breaks in the barber, ''an' I 'sisl on it yit." "And you think Brother is a good religious man?" asked the friend.
"'Deed he is," replied the barber. "Then," said the friend, "John A. being already in, you cannot make him worse; but, now you are going to vote for Brother , and so help to take away his good name, and send him on the road to ruin.too." "Well now, I 'clare to goodness," said the barber, as he fell back into his chair, "dat was a pint what never came into my min' befoah. My vote goes to John A."
The anecdote of the hogs and the chestnuts, though so often referred to by Canadian writers on the tariff question, should perhaps be repeated. A meeting of manufacturers interested in the National Policy was called by Sir John, in the campaign of 1882, and was held in the "Red Parlor" of the Queen's Hotel, Toronto. Sir John had reason to think there was a certain lukewarmness among the manufacturers whose business his National Policy had built up. In a short address he told them a parable of a herd of swine that were eating acorns under an oak tree and never once looked up to inquire what power it was that was shaking the acorns down. Thenceforth, it is said, the manufacturers became more interested in the support of the Conservative party.
The Hon. J. A. Chapleau is Secretary of State, and by virtue of that office is custodian of the Great Seal of the realm. On a certain New Year's Day, he presented himself at the Governor-General's levee clad in a superb seal-skin coat falling below his knees. Sir John, taking him by the arm, led him forward to His Excellency, saying :—" My Lord, this is the Great Seal."
On another occasion, it befell him to present to His Excellency the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who was clad in the official scarlet and ermine, and who is noted no less for the abnormal ruddiness of his complexion than for the profundity of his legal lore. The Premier's introduction was brief but suggestive. "My Lord, permit me to present my well-read friend the Chief Justice."
At his own reception, last New Year's day, a quartet of French priests called upon him, and naturally enough one of them politely inquired whether the Premier had yet had "la grippe." Sir John, with his inimitable twinkle, replied:— "No, my good Father, I have not yet had it, and cannot, therefore, pass it on to you, but I'll tell you what I will do for you, I will give you the Orange grip if you would like to have it." It is only necessary to remember that Canada was at that moment in a high fever of excitement between the Jesuits on one side and the Orangemen on the other to catch the full flavor of this happy reply.
A little while before the election of 1878, the issue of which it was very difficult to prophesy, Sir John was encountered by a member of the Opposition in the vicinity of the French Cathedral one Sunday afternoon.
N "Ah! ha!" exclaimed his political opponent, pointing to the sacred edifice, "perhaps you've just been inside to offer prayers for success at the elections."
"Perhaps I have," was the prompt retort. "You see, there is this difference between your party and mine, my dear fellow. We pray for the people, you prey on them."
The formal opening of the Toronto Industrial Exhibition in 1886 was performed by Sir John, and accompanied by President Withrow, Lieut.-Gov. Robinson and party, he visited many of the buildings, examining the leading exhibits. The Premier was much interested in the apiary department, and wished to understand the uses of the many articles now used in bee culture. He listened very attentively to the explanation given by Mr. F. H. Macpherson, of how the "foundation" was made from wax, with the bases of the cells imprinted thereon; how this labor was saved to the bees, thus enabling them to devote more time to honey-gathering. At the close of the explanations, Sir John turned to President Withrow and said:
"You promised us, Mr. President, that nothing of a wrong or immoral nature should be permitted on these grounds."
"We did, and we have endeavored to prevent all such," said Mr. Withrow.
"Well," said Sir John, "you permit an exhibition of stolen property, and the receivers are allowed to aid and abet the thieves; besides in all these exhibits we have a systematically arranged plan of defrauding the little thief out of his hardearned labors."
A Methodist minister from the Maritime provinces having made a private call on Sir John, rose to leave after a very pleasant conversation, when the Premier remarked: "It is a great pleasure to have a gentleman call upon me who does not want anything."
At another time he humorously observed to a number of clergymen who called on him : "I find I am the most popular minister in Canada. At a Church bazaar the other day, when votes were deposited for the most popular minister, I led the poll."
Mr. C , now of Minnedosa, relates the following anecdote: The township of Emily, in the county of Victoria, Ont, is settled principally by North of Ireland Orangemen, of whom I am one; and Mr. George Dormer, then M.P. for the south riding of the county, was a Roman Catholic. I was an applicant for a commission in the first Red River expedition, and went to Cobourg to consult with the late Lt.-Col. Paterson and Brigade Major Smith. On my way home I met Mr. Dormer on the Midland Railway and explained matters to him. He said Sir John was in Kingston at that moment, and if there was time he would telegraph him. I spoke to the genial conductor, John Bradley, who said they would take on wood and water at Omemee, thereby holding the train about twenty-five minutes. On arriving at the station the following was wired to Sir John: "C has appliedfying him, asked if that was Wylie. On being told it was, he said, "Call him over." After a short chat with him, Sir John asked, " How old are you, Wylie? "I am older than you, Sir John," replied Mr. Wylie. "Then," said the Premier, "you are nearer Heaven." To which Mr. Wylie, who was a Liberal, responded, "If all that's said about you be true, Sir John, you'll never get there." "Blessed are they that are reviled," quickly returned Sir John, as he patted the old Colonel on the shoulder.
An observation by Col. Wylie, by the way, would appear to clear up a doubt expressed on page 68, describing the burning of the Parliament buildings at Montreal, in 1849. I' was reported to the Colonel that the man who carried off the mace on that eventful night bore it to the lodgings of John A. but he would not receive it, and said to the man, "Take it to Sir Allan .McNab."
Many years ago at Kingston an entertainment to celebrate a political victory was given on the private grounds of the late Mr. Morton, the brewer. John A. was attended there by Mr. Machar (an Irish Roman Catholic, who, however, had done much towards putting him in Parliament), and his daughter. It will be remembered that John A. was then an Orangeman. Felicitations were passing on the victory, when John A., throwing his arms around Miss Machar and kissing her, said, " Nothing can stand against us when we blend the orange and green."
When beginning to recover from his critical illness in 1870, referred to in a previous chapter, Dr. Grant allowed him half an oyster at a meal. As his appetite returned he begged for more, but the doctor said it would be dangerous to indulge himself, and added, "Remember, Sir John, the hopes of Canada are now depending on you." "It seems strange," replied the invalid, " that the hopes of Canada should depend on half an oyster."
At the annual concert given by the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society at Ottawa, in 1869, Sir Francis Hincks, who had just returned to Canada and been elected to represent North Renfrew in the House of Commons, gave the principal speech or oration. A local celebrity who was on the platform, noticing Sir John amongst the audience, made his way to that gentleman, and, apparently after a considerable amount of persuasion, succeeded in overcoming the honorable gentleman's modesty so far as to induce him to take a seat on the platform. At the close of Sir Francis Hincks' oration the chairman came forward to announce that the next item on the programme would be a song, but the audience would not have it, and vociferously clamored for a speech from "John A." That gentleman with apparent reluctance advanced to the front of the platform, and told the audience that he did not come there with the intention of speaking but, like the rest of them, to listen. However, being a good-natured individual as they all knew, and being at all times desirous of acceding to the wishes of his friends, if possible, he would try to give them a short speech, although totally unprepared. "I am going to introduce my speech," said he, " by claiming "your sympathy, the sympathy of this Irish audience—not "on the plea advanced by my friend, Sir Francis, namely, "that he is an Irishman, but because I am a Scotchman. If "we look back on the history of my country, we find that it "was peopled by a colony from Ireland : and just as plants "are improved by transplantation, so the Irishman was im"proved and refined by being transplanted from Ireland to "the heather hills of Scotland. So you see my friend Sir "Francis is a specimen of the wild Irishman, and I of the "refined Irishman."
Friends am I with you all.—Julius Caesar.
How he did seem to dive into their hearts
* » # # *
Wooing poor craftsmen with the craft of smiles.— Richard II.
A MULTITUDE OF PERSONAL FRIENDS—TWO HUMBLE DEVOTEES.
One of the psychological phenomena presented in the life of Sir John Macdonald is the number of those whom he could call his personal friends throughout the Dominion, irrespective of class, rank, creed or social position. Thousands would have died for him. On the day of his funeral, the writer was standing on Parliament Hill, when, as the imposing ceremonials were in preparation, a white-haired man, bent with years and tremblingly leaning on a staff, approached and stood near him. Falling into conversation on the subject of the day, the writer asked, "Did you know him?" "Know him?" repeated the aged man in astonishment, as he turned upon the questioner. "Know him? For thirty years I've known no other name." There was something extremely touching in the feeling, amounting to adoration, which could be framed in such words. An old journalist on a leading Conservative daily of Ontario used to be struck with the numbers of old men who when in town would inquire for the editor, and come tottering up the stairs to the editorial office to declare their love for the old chief, and to assure him that they were among his greatest personal friends, and yet most of them had probably met him but once in their lives. So it was with hundreds of public men who had no other claim to intimacy than the impression Sir John had
made on them. Alexander Kennedy, an old and respected resident of Glengarry, lay dying a few days before the Premier was taken ill. The prayers and litany for the dying were being recited when his friend, Senator McMillan, who had just come down from Ottawa, slipped into the sick room; but no sooner did the sick man see him than he interrupted the reading and rose up, as it were from the grave, to inquire, "How is my friend, Sir John?"
What was the secret of this sense of personal connection by which hundreds of thousands felt themselves attached to him? It was not magnetism, for it was, and is still, felt by thousands who had never been spoken to by him in their lives, and by many who never saw him.
The laying of the corner stone of the new dry dock at Kingston in June, 1890. was a recent one of many occasions which brought out this kind of worship which men had for Sir John. There was no distinction of party or sex in the ovation which was given him. "Ladies," to use the words of one of the reports, "banked themselves about the platforms and wherever safety was assured. The thousands of men were more venturesome. They crowded upon the heaps of rocks, they strung themselves upon the tramways, they clung to the jutting rocks in the great cavern and filled the bottom of the great hole. Upon the great derricks little lads clung with feverish grasp, and yelled themselves hoarse when occasion called for it." When Sir John toiled out of the crowd and came upon the platform, there went up, not a cheer, but a roar of voices calculated to move the most unsympathetic spectator. And when he looked about him and saw old friends of so many years' standing, many of them older than himself, his face quivered with emotion. "There's a lump in my throat," said one man to his friend on the platform. "So there is in mine," was the reply, and there were probably few who did not feel the sense of rising emotion as they gazed upon their idol that day.
When Sir John had concluded a speech in which the audience pathetically protested against his statement that he was very near the end of his career, the bagpipes struck up. While they were playing, an elderly woman in a plain dress and style, but with a kind face, gently worked her way upon the platform and moved towards Sir John. As the Premier saw her he sprang to his feet, and with a " Hello, old woman !" grasped her in his arms and gave her a hearty kiss. It was Mrs. Grimason.
"Who is Mrs. Grimason?" was a question asked by many a reader of the newspaper reports, in which mention was made of the incident. Mrs. Grimason was a native of the North of Ireland, who, with her husband, settled in Kingston in the first years of Sir John's parliamentary career. They were poor, and her husband dying, she was left a widow in somewhat straightened circumstances, with several children to support. Her husband had bought from John A., but had not paid for, a lot of land on Princess street. He had let him have it at a reasonable price, and in the time of her difficulty never pressed her for the payments due, and this leniency and kindness was probably what first inspired that feeling towards John A. which grew in her till it became a kind of worship. No topic could absorb her as that; and when she spoke of him the pronouns He and Him were alone sufficient to designate by way of distinction the one from all other beings to whom a pronoun in the miscuiine gender could apply. She had a kind, honest face, was sincere in her friendships as in her dislikes, and though without education to speak of, had sterling good sense and much natural intelligence. Through her devotion to Sir John she acquired quite an acquaintance with "practical politics,'' and there were few prominent members of Parliament whose leading traits she did not know. She kept a tavern on Piincess street, and her property accumulated till she became worth about $50,000. Her influence became no small element in an election, and it was said she could control a hundred votes. To whom these votes went need not be asked. She became so absorbed in that one personality that, in spite of her keen sense of what was becoming in a woman, she would be drawn to his meetings when often she would be the only female present. More than once on election night, when the returns were brought in, she would appear at Sir John's committee room, and walk up among the men to the head of the table and, giving Sir John a kiss, retire without a remark to anyone. When a political picnic was held near Kingston, Mrs. Grimason's van was always at the disposal of Sir John and his party, and in former days she always made one of the party. One beautiful trait in this remarkable old lady was, that she never presumed upon the fact that she was favored with the affection of Sir John. It was only on rare occasions, such as the laying of the corner stone of the dry dock, or the supreme moment of his triumph at an election, that she came within the veil, as it were, and stole a kiss. At any other time she would let him come and go in Kingston without obtruding herself into his presence, although he might playfully take her to task for neglecting to call; and in an election contest she might never go near to take up his time, but would work for votes with all the soul that was in her.
She often longed to go to the Capital and see her deity on the throne of his glory, or, as she expressed it, to see Sir John "take his seat," and at last, some years ago, at the opening of Parliament she made the venture. It was the event of her life, and it is no exaggeration to say that both Sir John and Lady Macdonald were proud and glad to see her. Readers will remember the remark of the old Scotchwoman on the day the Princess Louise was married to the Marquis of Lome, and so became connected with the old house of Argyll. "Hech mon! but the Queen will be a prood woman this day!" It was so that Sir John must have felt when he looked up to the Speaker's gallery on this occasion and saw Mrs. Grimason sitting with Lady Macdonald. After the sitting was over, she was shown all the sights of the Parliament Buildings, and the wife of the Speaker took her to his rooms and had luncheon. When here Mr. Mulock, of Toronto, the Liberal member, happened in, and was introduced to her. She thought it strange that an enemy should be admitted to these sacred precincts, and after manifesting her nervousness and restraint for a few minutes, she determined to tear off the mask, and as she turned a sidelong glance upon him, asked: "Excuse me, Mr. Mulock, may I ask your politics?" Mr. Mulock, who had heard of Mrs. Grimason before, and remembering that she was gifted with a certain eloquence of the kind which Daniel O'Connell had to cope with in Mrs. Moriarty, hesitated and presently admitted, in the apologetic way of one whose crimes have just been unearthed for the first time, that he was a Reformer. Mrs. Grimason's comment on the confession was not soothing to the ears of the criminal who made it, and Mr. Mulock pleaded: "That's rather hard, isn't it, Mrs. Grimason?" Mrs. Grimason did not assuage the wretch's fears by any soft remark. Presently he said, feeling his way gently to her forgiveness: "You live in Kingston, I believe, Mrs. Grimason. You may know an uncle of mine there, Mr.
?'' "And now I think less of ye thin before," quickly retorted Mrs. Grimason, "for your uncle is a good Conservative ;" and after making more remarks on people who disgrace the political traditions of their family, she added with dreadful emphasis, "I hate them damn Grits!"
Sir John dropped into the room just in time to hear this last imprecation, and taking in the situation, laughed till the tears came down. Mr. Mulock laughed too, but it was that hollow kind of laugh with which we all sometimes mask the feelings of a sick heart. Lady Macdonald took her down to Earnscliffe, and she never tired of telling of the kindness that was shown her. In her good rich brogue she would describe her visit: "They have a lovely place all their own, down there by the Rye-do. The house has a lovely slate roof like they have in England, and beautiful grounds, and everything in style, an' a man to wait on the dure. Lady Macdonald kapes her own cow and hins, and they make their own butter, man dear. They have two fine cows and six servants. Lady Macdonald showed me over the house, and in the fine big library there was my picture up beside o' His, just where He sits. After showin' me through the house, she says: 'There now, haven't I made him very comfortable?' She's a very plain woman is Lady Macdonald—not good lookin'—but oh, she's the fine eddication, and that's where she gets the best of thim. Why, I heard her talkin' Frinch to the carpenter workin' about the house. It's her fine edification that makes her so nice, and she takes such good care o' Him. And if I went back there to-day she would make as much of me as if J was the richest woman in the country His library is beautiful, and it's covered over with books to the tip top of the wall. While I was there, the man brought in his letters from the mail,—as thrue as I tell ye there was the full of that of thim" (holding out her apron). As for her sentiments concerning Sir John, words were too weak to express her worship. "There's not a man like him in thelivin' earth," was her sincere and simple estimate. To a question of Sir Henry Smith, as to a statement of his, she replied, "If he said it was so-and-so, I'd take my oath that it was so, whether I knew anything about it or not." She had nearly every photograph ever taken of Sir John, and these she prized above all things, especially the one taken in his Privy Councillor's uniform, which she described as the one "taken in his regimintals fernent the Queen." When Sir John returned to power in 1878, it almost broke her heart to know that he had been personally defeated in Kingston. "I went around the next day," she-said, "cryin' till I hadn't an eye in me head. 'Never mind,' sez Sir John to me, 'they're all below me yet,' sez he, 'an' I'll be all right.' And sure he was, for they elected him away out in British Columby. 'And now,' sez I to Sir John, when I knew he was in, 'take the best position you can get in the hull counthry, and tell them all to go to the divil.' 'Is that what you would do?' sez he. 'Yes,' sez I. He roared and laughed, and then he said the country would go to the dogs if he did that."
In this election her son-in-law voted against Sir John, and came to her and boasted of his candidate's victory. She said she would have given anybody five dollars to "lick" him, and she was so angry she would not speak to him for six months.
"I hope the Lord will spare him for many a year, if it is His holy and blessed will," she would say with a sincere and reverent face, "for what will become of the country without him?" When Sir John lay sick at the time of the last election, she too lay ill. To her clergyman who called upon her, she said her own illness concerned her not, but that daily she went down upon her knees to pray that Sir John might be spared and be elected. "Usually," she added, "I don't trouble the Lord with my worldly affairs, but in a case like this you know I think it is different." Could humility to God and unselfish devotion to man be better expressed in one sentence? It used to be her desire that when she died she should rest near him, and some years ago she was fortunately able to purchase a large plot immediately adjoining the Macdonald plot in the Cataraqui Cemetery, where the remains of her husband were moved.
Another of the many of Sir John's devotees in humble life is Patrick Buckley, a cabman and proprietor of a livery stable in Ottawa, from whose vehicle, it is said, the assassin alighted who killed D'Arcy McGee. He had been Sir Allan McNab's coachman, and was about the only one of the household who could manage the gouty old man. In following his present avocation he kept to the seat of government in all its moves from city to city. For thirty-eight years he had driven Sir John, and from the time of Confederation the Premier seldom rode with anyone else. When Sir John was defeated and resumed his old profession at Toronto, Buckley went there too. When Sir John saw him driving along one day he hailed him, and went over to his cab to shake hands. During all the time Sir John was out of power this faithful old man insisted on driving him about, and refused to accept a cent for the service—a circumstance that could not be attributed to mere policy, as there seemed little likelihood that Sir John ever would be Premier again. It could not have been Buckley's good looks nor the pompous appearance of his vehicle that had won the favor of Sir John, for in former days his old sorrel horse and lumbering, faded, saggy-doored cab were the reverse of attractive, while the wizened, wrinkled face—over which a short sandy grizzly beard bristled out in all directions, and matched well with a pair of shaggy eyebrows, from beneath which a funny pair of big eyes twinkled—was more curious than handsome. A curious little cap he used to wear made his head look smaller than it really was. But Sir John in this odd figure read the one trait he required in a man for this service, and that was faithfulness. Under an exterior that seemed to cover only indolence and ignorance, no one hid more fidelity, discretion or punctuality.
On whatever business Sir John required him, Bmckley was always there, and on time; and no paltry consideration of an extra fare would induce him to risk the disappointment of Sir John. He might be in front of the Parliament Building knowing that he had a clear hour before Sir John would be likely to come out, but though his cab was a public one he would not move for any offers. One day Lady Macdonald came out of the Parliament Building and observed to Buckley that, as it would be twenty minutes before Sir John would be out, she would take a spin down to a place in Wellington street. "No, my lady," said Bucklty, humbly but firmly. When he objected and she still pressed him, "I can't leave this spot till I get the word from Sir John." It was a kind of heroism like Mrs. O'Dowd's at the Battle of Waterloo—and, by the way, expressed in the same words. Sir Frederic de Winton wanting urgently to communicate with the Governor General one day, made the same request with all the authority of his high office, but Buckley declined in a more blunt manner stili, adding, as he jerked his thumb over his shoulder, "There's plinty av cabs down there at the sthand." Buckley used to think that no living man dressed with the same taste as Sir John, and what increased his affection for his chieftain was that the Premier would never allow the old man to carry his parcels from the cab. When he would insist on doing it, Sir John would say, "No, no, Buckley, I am just as young a man as you are," and would run up the steps with his own books. Buckley would often contrast this with the autocratic way with which some of the junior departmental clerks would order him to carry a parcel up to the office, while tripping up empty handed themselves; and then carrying the contrast on to every other member of Parliament, would sum up with, "He's the most wonderful man in the worruld!" Once Buckley, after taking Sir John home, on an occasion when he was somewhat unsettled, drove up amongst a group of members in front of the Buildings, when he was stopped and one of the group said they wished to ask him a question, and as it was very important they hoped and believed he would tell them the truth. Buckley promised he would. "Then," said the questioner, '' was Sir John tight when you drove him down just now?" "What do ye mane?" said Buckley, looking for some road of escape. "Was he in liquor,—was he drunk?" "Shure," replied Buckley, "I have driven him all these years, and I never seen him in better health in me life thin to-day." The party had made a bet concerning Sir John, and were to decide it by Buckley. It was a clever cut for the old cabman between a collision with the chariot wheels of his conscience on the one side and the ditch of falsehood on the other; but it was agreed by all that Sir John himself could not have steered through more cleverly.
One morning Buckley greeted the Premier with " I'm glad to see ye lookin' so well this morning, Sir John; and may it be a long time before I see anybody else in yer shoes." "You won't, Buckley," replied Sir John, "as long as I've got them on!"
When the Premier was in the throes of his last illness, Buckley was on hand to render his humble service day and night, and as the tears rolled down his cheeks, he said to an Empire reporter: "I have driven Sir John for thirty-eight years, winter and summer, and now they tell me he must die. I have never known him to be out of temper; never known him to say a cross word, no matter how rough the road might be or how careless I might drive. Do you remember his grey suit of clothes? One time I called for him and he had on another suit. As he was going to meet some important people I said to him (for I knew him so well I could take liberties with him), I said, 'Sir John, why didn't you put on your grey suit? You look much better in it.' 'Is that so, Buckley?' said he, and he went and changed his clothes. * * Dear, dear, they say there is no hope. My, my, his like will never be seen in Canada again."
A " strange coincidence," to use a phrase
By which such things are settled nowadays. —Byron.
SOME COINCIDENCES IN SIR JOHN'S LIFE.
In previous chapters a number of coincidences in the life of Sir John Macdonald are given, such, for instance, as taking into his office a student who was to be his peer in knowledge of constitutional law, who was to contest an election with him, to sit in Parliament with him, and like him to be a Premier; such as the appearance in Canada and the starting of the Globe by George Brown* in the very year he entered Parliament; and such as the coincidence of his second marriage with the union of the provinces.
Many others can be noted by the reader, and many have been pointed out by writers in the press since his death.
There died a month before the Premier, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a cousin named John Maitland Macdonald. He was a remarkable character, and was a geologist, mineralogist, mining expert and speculator. The papers mentioning his death said he "squandered three fortunes in England, Australia and the States. He inherited the title of Lord Maitland from his mother, but never assumed it. He had been an officer in a regiment of the Lancers, and was a classmate of the African explorer, Livingstone. While serving in Africa he was captured by the Arabs and held for two years, when he was ransomed by the English ransom fund."
* Another coincidence in regard to Mr. Brown was that when he was buried the Presbyterian Synod was in session at Toronto, and attended the funeral in a body; and when Sir John was buried the General Assembly of the same Church was in session at Kingston, and also attended the funeral in a body.
See also the coincidence related of Dr. Stewart, of Kingston.
Another cousin, Hugh Macdonald of Essex county, Ont., died the day before the Premier, at the age of 87.
The last speech Sir John made was in defence of his old colleague, Sir Charles Tupper, and it was just after his old friend, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, had made a defence of the same colleague that he was stricken by the assassin.
The day of Sir John's funeral was the eighteenth anniversary of the arrival in Montreal, for interment, of the body of his "political twin brother," Sir George E. Cartier. When Sir George died, the Canadian Pacific scandal was just looming up, and when Sir John died another scandal was coming up for investigation, the principal in the charge being one of his own colleagues. The Hon. J. C. Aikins, a friend of all the public men concerned, was a pall-bearer at the funeral of both Sir George E. Cartier and Sir John Macdonald.
VVhile Sir John lay unconscious in his last illness at Ottawa, Sir A. A. Dorion, one of his oldest political opponents and a colleague of Hon. George Brown in the Brown-Dorion Government, was dying in Montreal from the same disease, paralysis.
The steamer John A. Macdonald, called after the Premier, and owned at Garden Island, Kingston, was always known as a lucky boat, but on the day of his funeral news was brought of her having run aground in Lachine Lake.
Sir John's state funeral at Ottawa took place in the midst of a violent thunder-storm. Napoleon the First also was conveyed to his tomb during a thunder-storm, and so was his rival, the Duke of Wellington.
Among incidents connected with Sir John's death, the following was related the other day, by Dr. Wild, from the pulpit of the Bond Street Congregational Church, Toronto: "A few weeks ago a friend called on me, telling me he was going to New York, and asking if I could arrange a secret seance with a spiritualist in that city. I gave him a letter of introduction, and a private seance was arranged for him. He was told several remarkable things about himself and relatives; and the medium further said: :You hardly believe in spiritualism, but I tell you something whereby you may know that I am not deceiving you. In two weeks from now a prominent man in Canada will die. His death will cause great alarm and arouse sympathy throughout the land. Nothing will be talked of for several days but his death and funeral.' My friend now declares that he foretold the death of Sir John A. Macdonald. Now, it may be so or it may not. For myself I cannot positively say. I leave the matter with you."
Some months ago a fortune teller at Sault Ste. Marie predicted that Sir John would die very shortly after the election, but no one took any notice of the statement at the time.
Sir John's death took place on the anniversary of the battle of Stoney Creek, an engagement in which his old predecessor in the Conservative party, Sir Allan McNab, took pari, and which turned the fortune of war in favor of Canada.
Rave compound of oddity, frolic and fun. —Goldsmith
Not chaos-like together crushed and bruised,
But, as the world, harmoniously confused,
Where order in variety we see,
And where, though all things differ, all agree. —Pope.
PERSONAL TRAITS, HABITS AND TASTES.
Many of Sir John's personal peculiarities have been noticed in preceding chapters, but a few more random references will interest the reader.
While he was a hard worker, he was remarkably temperate in his diet. He usually rose between eight and nine in the morning, when he took a cup of tea or coffee and toast, and then went to work till eleven, when he had breakfast, at which very frequently visitors were present. The dinner was at six or seven ; and often he took something light at ten or eleven at night. But all these meals were light. Of late years he did not sleep more than from five to seven hours. He generally took a bundle of newspapers or magazines to bed with him, and with these he read himself to sleep. A friend and colleague, upon his first acquaintance with Sir John, used to wonder how he kept himself so well posted on questions of the day, particularly with current literature, as he never saw the Premier touch a paper or book in his office, and never noticed him spending hours in the library, as many other prominent men did, but the mystery was solved when he learned of Sir John's habit of reading in bed. This was a habit of old standing, and recalls an incident of the visit of the Confederation delegates to England. As before mentioned, the delegates were quartered at the Westminster Palace Hotel in London. and one night during their stay an alarm of fire was raised in the hotel, and the Canadians, who were aroused at the alarm, were surprised to learn that it was caused by their own chairman. John A. had taken a paper to bed, and having fallen asleep, his lamp set the bed curtains on fire, and nearly caused a conflagration. He was scorched by the flame, and narrowly escaped disfiguration for life. As he went to sleep reading, so on waking he read in bed, often spending a considerable time before rising. He seldom or never allowed himself to be diverted by reading at his office, or while doing the considerable official work he performed at his house. One duty of his private secretary was to go through papers which he had no time to read, and clip or select articles or news of special interest. A correspondent of the Montreal Star, describing his habits some years ago, said that "even when he goes off in summer to his pretty seaside residence at Riviere du Loup, below Quebec, he is particular to have the local papers sent him ; and if the newspaper offices are a day late in changing the address, a reminder from his private secretary comes over the wires."
It was said in one of the biographies that Sir John spent his evenings commonly at the club, usually playing whist; but he had neither the one habit nor the other. Neither did he use tobacco in any form. Freedom from the latter habit was one reason why his nerves were so firm. The autograph signature in the frontispiece was penned only last year, and his latest letters show a steady hand and the beautiful penmanship for which he was noted. In former years he used to write nearly all his own personal letters, but of late years this work was done chiefly by his secretary, though he wrote many up to the last months of his life.
As stated in earlier chapters, he was never devoted to athletics, though appreciating the taste in Canadian youth. About three years ago he was asked to open the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Association's new building, and in the course of his address he said: "I was never very strong in athletics myself. My recollections of attempts in that way were not very happy, because when I was a boy at school I was fighting all the time, but I always got licked (laughter), and it only shows what a disinterested person I am to come here, and, forgetting my numerous defeats, encourage young men— I was young myself once I would have you know—in the establishment of such an association." Sir John was honorary patron of the Oshkosh Toboggan Club of Ottawa, and consented to open their new slide. The night fixed proved bitterly cold, but the Premier turned out on time and took part in the procession of snow shoers. When asked to speak a few words he said, looking around at the decorations, that "they had evidently brought him to a nice place. Some might wonder why he was there at all, as he was evidently going down hill fast enough. His opponents, however, would consider it appropriate for him to open the slide, because they had always looked upon him as a slippery customer." After some further humor-isms Sir John, haying declared the slide open, seated himself on a toboggan, and admist a discharge of fire works, and the cheers of the crowd, " the veteran chieftain shot down the hill at the rate of thirty miles an hour, and in a few seconds was at the other side of the frozen Rideau, a quarter of a mile away." Sir John was not a particularly good pedestrian, and in recent years drove almost everywhere in a cab; although during the last year or two, at Lady Macdonald's request, he took walks for the benefit of his health, and found it improved him. His cab hire during the past three or four years amounted to nearly $1,000 a year, and the item in the official returns came in for some criticism last year. To this Sir John replied, "The fact of the matter is, as long as I am Premier the over-burdened tax payers will have to pay my cab hire. I think they will be quite willing to pay it, and they will think, with the hon. gentleman, that the sum is not too small, because the older I get the less will my powers of walking continue. I may tell the hon. gentleman that in the winter time I take a cab from my house to Parliament, but in order to economize a little last summer I occasionally took a ride in a bus. I saved a little money by riding in the bus instead of Buckley's cab, but the buses are too cold for my feet in winter and I get a cab now." The item, it is needless to say, passed without further discussion.
Sir John was five feet eleven inches in height, and at the time of the laying of the corner stone of the Kingston graving dock in 1890 weighed 180 lbs., which, strange to say, was more than he ever weighed before.
Shortly after Sir John's restoration to power, he suffered a good deal from catarrh of the stomach, and his end seemed to him so near that he came to the council room one day in 1880 and announced to his colleagues that he was going to retire, at the same time requesting them to choose from among themselves a successor to the premiership. His colleagues, however, apart from the difficulty of choosing a successor, felt what a void there would be without him, and would not listen to this proposal. "Nonsense!" said Sir Charles Tupper to him, "you will bury most of us yet;" and when after a visit to England, and a course of treatment there, he returned greatly improved, it really seemed as if Sir Charles' prediction would prove true. During the time of this physical trouble he could eat scarcely anything but biscuits and cream and such light food, with small but regular quantities of spirits.
Although he spoke of retirement at that time, it was probably because of the temporary depression of spirits caused by his physical trouble; and it may be affirmed that his grasp of power was never relaxed, except under the stress of this depression and for the moment. He loved power, and never made any secret of it to friend or foe. A friend and admirer of his considered that the two most marked features of his character were love of power and contempt of money. When the Supreme Court was established at Ottawa a friend advised him to take the chief justice-ship and retire into the comparative quiet of that position and take life easy. He ridiculed the idea, and said he would rather be a dead premier than a live chief justice. His prediction that he would die like Pitt was fulfilled. This famous English statesman appeared in the House of Lords on April 7th, 1778, "to speak on a motion to acknowledge the independence of the United States. He was swathed in flannel, crutch in hand, emaciated and debilitated; and at the end of his speech fell in an apoplectic fit, and was borne home to die a few weeks afterwards. What Sir John no doubt meant was, that he desired to die in harness» and he has had his wish gratified, for he was working and discussing affairs up to the moment that the blow fell." ** Kingston News.
He said once to Samuel Thompson, author of "Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer," "I don't care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the sake of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country." And it is quite likely that he would have approached nearer to his ideal of what was in the country's interest if he had not given way often to the clamors of selfish partizans. There are often times," said he once to another old friend, "when I do things that are against my conscience, and which I know are wrong; but if I did not make certain allowances for the weakness of human nature, my party would turn me out of power, and those who took my place would manage things worse than I." The reasoning is indefensible, but it is one of the evils of government by a party machine. Once, in 1864, he was talking to a party of political friends, when one of them, Mr. R , asked: "John A., why don't you give us a cheaper legislature?" Quickly the reply came, "You send me a belter set of men and I'll give you not only a cheaper but a better legislature. Like any cabinet-maker, I do the best I can with the lumber you furnish me." There was a laugh at this clear and simple statement of the case, for Mr. R.'s own county was represented by a man of the poorest qualifications, and of whom he had himself been complaining.
Respecting the style of his oratory, opinions differ as widely as on most phases of his character. It is the opinion of a great many who assume to be judges, that he did not compare with many of his contemporaries in eloquence, and yet in the words of a Reform journalist, "a single speech of his on the Washington Treaty counted for fifty votes in the House." A critic writing of him in 1870, as he sat in the House before his illness, said, " Whether the massive head, rendered still more massive in appearance by the profusion of vagrant jetty curls, clustering half way down the brow, be sedately poised on the left hand in an attitude of seemingly profound attention, listening to the vagaries of some weak opponent or some not very able supporter, or whether it be carried jauntily with a smiling countenance, under the discharge of the heaviest artillery of the Opposition, the spectator is at no loss to discover that there sits a man who, either by study or natural endowment, is possessed of the qualities essential to a successful party leader. * * He is rather distinguished for speaking without premeditation, and is a master of repartee. Impatient of the tediousness of formal debate where a few minutes of conversational discussion would dispel every misconception, he leans to seeming frivolity in Parliament rather than to ponderous dignity, though none are more ready to rebuke misplaced triviality of expression on questions , affecting the dignity or honor of the country. He makes very few set speeches, but many bursts of extempore impassioned eloquence come from his lips. He is the plague of the reporters' gallery, from careless utterance, irregular inflections of voice, and general disregard of acoustic effect; yet there are occasions when his voice swells and his words flow with extraordinary rapidity, when every sound is hushed and all ears bend to catch the rushing torrent of eloquence which rolls with overpowering velocity from his lips. Such accidental outgushes of strong impetuous feeling usually last but for a few minutes, yet often they have called forth bursts of the wildest enthusiasm." The same writer thought that in debate it was questionable whether he knew how to be reserved. The writer of a clever but caustic anonymous pamphlet, entitled the "Political Adventures of Sir John A. Macdonald," says he "never understands a subject unless it refers to himself; has none of the high-toned eloquence of Bright ; none of the keen logic and the reserve of intellectual power that distinguish Edward Blake; none of the subtle analysis or the sustained argument of Gladstone; but he has the art of adapting himself to the mental capacity of his audience; of supplying the apt illustration most familiar to their ideas and habits; of assuming an air of earnestness even when it is sometimes hard to believe it real; * * and of dexterously appropriating, as his own, popular ideas or patriotic sentiment."
The writer of an obituary article of more than usual ability * looks for something outside of the mere matter of his speeches to account for his power to move men. "Amidst changes for which many contended and against which thousands fought, during a reconstruction of constitutions, the confederation of provinces, the control of innumerable diverse interests, Sir John held his place. While the chiefs of mighty factions fought and fell, while a new geography was planned, a new constitution created, a revolution was begun and ended, while questions were discussed and feuds engendered, this great man, whose greatness was denied by his opponents and admitted without explicable reason by his friends, maintained his supremacy. Promises were made without regard to the possibility of fulfilment. Friends besought him, enemies besieged him, and yet smilingly in the midst of such conflicts the great old man jested with his friends, jeered at his enemies, triumphed when other men would have been overwhelmed, and became the idol of the people when men esteemed greater were offered in sacrifice. It would be unbecoming, in speaking of departing greatness, to make any attempt to overlook or belittle those special qualities so seldom recognized as the central and controlling influence of a successful life. If skill as a rhetorician were to be the standard by which we judge statesmen, Edward Blake would long ago have superseded Sir John. If capacity for detail, rugged honesty of purpose, a contempt for those things by which ordinary politicians intrench themselves, were recognized, Alexander Mackenzie, even in his palsied age, would still 'be Premier. If being the son of a sect and the apostle of a creed were to make a man supreme, Sir John would neither have attained nor retained the confidence of the people. Then there seems to be something behind all these things, some power to divine that which must happen. * * The man who knows what is to take place is impatient and often unpopular until he is entrusted with the management of affairs and can demonstrate the correctness of his theories. Accident or the design of Providence early placed Sir John in a position where he could prove his aptness as a leader of men and the director of affairs. Long-continued success, an almost reckless disregard of the opinions of others, a buoyant cheerfulness, an unobtrusive egotism which only betrayed itself in his apparent faith that he was born to live and be supreme, characterized Sir John from the beginning."
Speaking of his manoeuvres on the floor of the House, one biographer says: "Rigid partizans, who pride themselves on consistency, call his flexible temperament by the invidious phrases of pliability or indifference to principle. But that is simply because they fail to occupy the same standpoint, and survey public measures over a more contracted horizon. After all, the statesmen who have left their mark on the world's history have been the least consistent of the tribe; and it may well be doubted whether any man can hope to rise above mediocrity who looks within to the exclusion of what lies about him. To a greater or less extent a leader cannot successfully command unless he is also content to be a follower. He merely guides, shapes and measurably alters the course of the ship of state, but supplies none of its motive power. * * * He can hardly be styled an orator, yet few men are equipped so fully with an almost magical power of steadying waverers or startling opponents."
In his style of delivery he was peculiar. He would run on for two or three sentences in a monotone in which but few words could be distinctly made out from the strangers' gallery; then he would throw out a single word with a tremendous jerk of the head, and such emphasis that it could be heard in any part of the chamber. This explosion would sometimes be accompanied by a rapid glance round the whole House, taking in every part, from the Speaker on his left to those "who sat behind him on his right. He often spoke with his hands in his pockets, and seldom gesticulated with his arms, except to point a finger at some member of the Opposition at whom he might be levelling a joke. In his early years he was more demonstrative on the floor, and his voice had a certain melody which he lost with advancing age. His manner in his office or in private life was simple and unaffected. In discussing a matter with an interviewer he entered into the subject—no matter how personal or unimportant it was— with as much earnestness and interest as if it was a question touching the Constitution; and he was deferential in giving his views. At home he was very fond of children, and he would sit and engage in their amusements, and make them laugh by propounding riddles or telling them stories. He often used to go down to the house of Col. Macpherson, his nephew, to spend an hour romping with the children. A friend of his in Kingston remembers seeing him toss his silk hat back on his head and get down in the street to play marbles with some little boys. This was when he himself had risen to the dignity of lawyer with an office of his own. The affection he had for children was reciprocated by them, and there were not many little boys or girls of his acquaintance who did not like Sir John. By his second marriage he had only one child, a daughter Mary, who has always been a victim of hydrocephalus—an affliction caused by an effusion of water on the brain. He loved this daughter very tenderly, and it was touching to see the way in which he tried to make her and himself, as well as those about him, believe she was just as other girls are. Not very long ago Mary had a girls' party. When the young people were preparing to leave, he persuaded them to stay a little longer, as she was fond of seeing them dance. When they resumed the dance, he leaned over his -child's chair and said, "You see, May, they want a little more of your society—and a little dancing by the way." How delicately and touchingly the illusion was contrived!
Some years ago, a correspondent of the London World visited Sir John, at Earnscliffe, and gave this picture of the Premier at home :—
Where the cliffs rise up abruptly and overhang the river, nestling in a grove of stunted pine, hangs Earnscliffe—such a "house on a hill" as honest Robert Burton would have deemed suitable for a "nobleman" of his own day. Truly a favored spot, perhaps the most favored of the many lovely halting places around the Capital, to one at least who loves the rugged beauty of the Canadian forest, whose dark-green fringe spreads beyond the silver sweep of the water at the foot of the cliff, and is swallowed up in the veil over the Hull mountains beyond, till it dissolves at evening into the melting pink and yellow of the Canadian sunset glory, whose tender brilliance no pen can describe. The house itself is of grey •stone, its outlines broken and varied by poetic gable and hospitable arch. The quiet peacefulness which surrounds it seems to harmonize better with Sir John Macdonald's book loving tastes than the fashionable bustle of "Sandy Hill," the Mayfair of Ottawa, where stands the home presented to him by his admirers and friends. Perhaps it was for this very reason that the noise of the city was exchanged for these, quiet solitudes a , goodly tramp—for Canadians are by no means enthusiastic walkers—from the surrounding dwellings in the neighborhood. With but a brief delay, we are shown into the well-furnished library, where the Prime Minister of Canada spends his leisure time among his well-loved books. As he rises to greet us, we are struck with the resemblance to the late Lord Beaconsfield which has struck so many before. A remarkable man truly, and for nothing more^ perhaps, than for that wonderful gift of accommodating himself to his company or his position, which he seems to have caught with his features from our own great statesman. Full of work as he always is—for with him, at least, no office could be a sinecure—he is nevertheless always ready for a few minutes' gossip upon comparatively unimportant topics: He receives us with old-fashioned courtesy, and talks, with a freedoflft which is rare among men in his position, of all manner of things, from Imperial Federation to the price of wheat. Of books too, if we wish, for, as was said, Sir John Macdonald unites in his person an unusual combination of qualities. He is at once a student and a man of the world. Possessed of a remarkably retentive memory, he is a ravenous devourer of books. Of books of all kinds, it is said, for we are told that a common practice of our host, after an unusually severe spell of Parliamentary work, is to relieve his over-worked brain by a systematic course of real yellow-backs, tales of the most blood-curdling horrors, of the most approved blood and thunder type. Be this as it may, he certainly finds time amidst his numerous Parliamentary and social duties to keep " au courant" with all the literature of the day, and of such he talks with all the appreciation, though none of the pedantry f of a scholar. From this his genial tastes and warm sympathy with his kind naturally preserve him, backed perhaps by his keen relish for social enjoyment. * * *
When we rise to go, Sir John accompanies us across the lawn, and points out the quiet charms of the situation. "You see below us here the stream is quite clear. A little farther up those wretched mill-owners have choked it with logs and chips and driftwood, but we get the full flow of the river, and all such things are carried away before they can collect. How quiet it is! Hark!" And from below comes the musical dip of oars beating time to the chant of the voyageurs, as they guide the great pine logs down towards the lumber markets of the St. Lawrence. And Sir John goes on to tell us how he and Lady Macdonald paid a visit once to these same primitive watermen, and with what hospitality they met, and how they enjoyed the rude fare so heartily offered, the boiled pork and sauerkraut, and the delicious bread baked on the raft, for which the voyageur cooks are so famous. To which Lady Macdonald, who has just come up, adds, " Yes dear, all but the sauerkraut."
In his literary tastes, Sir John was cosmopolitan. He was fond of the marvelous, but not to such an extent as Lord Beaconsfield. As before mentioned, he frequently put himself to sleep upon a cheap novel, and some situation depicted by the novelist would be neatly fitted in to one of his speeches a month or a year afterwards, as an anecdote or illustration. He liked poetry, and in his youth he even wrote a few stray verses himself. He would get Mr. Griffin, the Parliamentary Librarian, to send him down all the new books that were worth noticing, and he would skim through them, half a dozen at a time. He had a high opinion of a poem by Cardinal Newman, called the "Dream of Gerontius." It describes the experience, in a dream, of a man who dies, and whose soul is taken to Paradise in charge of an angel. The angel explains the mysteries of the strange sphere to the inquiring spirit; and the poem is "full of bold Miltonic conceptions of the mysteries of eternity." Sir John also admired Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son.
It has already been mentioned that Sir John refused a peerage, and he did not set the value most men would upon the dignities that were conferred upon him; but what he valued more than anything else was the honor of being made a Prjvy Councillor of the Queen.
Illustrations have already been given of his extraordinary personal influence over men, and of his ability to hold together elements the most diverse and discordant. Of the first mentioned gift, the case of the Hon. Joseph Howe at the time of Confederation furnishes an illustration which, though known to most readers, may here be given in the words of Dent: "Nova Scotia had been protesting against the Union into which Mr. Howe and his friends complained they had been dragged. Everything short of rebellion, and very little short of that, had been threatened. The leader of the Federal Government saw the necessity of allaying an opposition which was as persistent as it was fervent and active; and the best way of doing this was to reconcile Howe, the most stalwart son of Nova Scotia, to the new state of things, and induce him to aid in working the detested machine of Confederation. At this time the leader of the Ontario Government had, for some reason, become thoroughly disaffected to the Premier of the Dominion. The hostility, though not very notorious, was restrained with difficulty, and was in danger of finding expression on some unforeseen emergency. In obtaining the services of Mr. Howe, the aid of the Ontario Premier would be very useful if it could be got. Sir John resolved to ask this aid; though most persons in his position would have concluded that Mr. Howe, to whom a seat in the Cabinet could be offered, would prove an easier conquest than the Ontario Premier, who was already in possession of all Sir John had to give him, and whose ill-concealed hostility was taking a more personal form than that of Mr. Howe. When the two Premiers met in the Queen's hotel, Toronto, there was much reason to fear an explosion, for it was with great difficulty that Mr. Sandfield Macdonald restrained the expression of his feelings. They walked separately to the Attorney-General's office, and when they were left alone their mutual friends feared that an open rupture would be the result of their meeting. What happened? In less than an hour the Ontario Premier confided to a friend whom he met in the street, that he and his namesake of the Dominion were to start next morning by different routes to win over Howe by their joint persuasions. Such an exertion of personal influence over a man who could himself exercise no small share of magnetic influence is as remarkable as it israre, and it attests the possession by Sir John of those qualities which pre-eminently qualify a man to be a leader of men."
In his exceedingly graphic and instructive book, " Problems of Greater Britain," recently published, Sir Charles Dilke said the composition of Sir John's Cabinet was a monument to his powers of management. "There never was a ministry so singular for the successful admixture of incongruous elements. Sir Hector Langevin, who is eleven years younger than his chief, although Sir John Macdonald looks his junior, represents the French Roman Catholics, together with Sir Adolphe Caron and Mr. J. A. Chapleau. Sir John Thompson, the Minister of Justice, is a Roman Catholic of a very different type, being by birth a Nova Scotia Presbyterian. Another Roman Catholic member of the Cabinet became celebrated in 1882 as the mover in the Dominion House of the address to Her Majesty, praying she would grant home rule to Ireland. Side^by side with these sit as colleagues high officials of Grand Orange lodges, and such is the influence of the Prime Minister that they, carrying with them many non-official Orangemen, voted against the disallowance of the Jesuits Estates Bill of Quebec in the face of the hot opposition of the whole Orange society of Ontario and of every Protestant Church."
A writer in the Toronto World makes the following brief but clever analysis of the secret of Sir John's power:
"The question has often been asked wherein lay his power. A survey of the civilized world fails to find a parallel. During the time he has held power in the Dominion, the political figures have changed in every capital on the globe.
"Men have come and gone—arisen, shone and subsided into darkness. He alone grew from year to year in the people's affections until the spectacle was afforded of a statesman in a free state exercising all the powers of autocracy. He was continually surrounded by able men, men who exceeded him in eloquence, in learning, in power of intellect, but not one of them thought to dispute his preeminence. Cartier, Hincks, Galt, Tilley, Tupper, Howe, MacDougall, all bowed to his spell and acknowledged the master.
"It would be difficult, perhaps, to briefly state what were the qualifications and faculties that he brought into his career, but the chief of them seem to have been these :—A well regulated ambition. Concentration of aim. Shrewd insight into the motives that actuate men. Adaptability, and lack of strong convictions. Cosmopolitanism largeness of spirit. Inflexible will and undeviating purpose.
"These may be enlarged by remarking that he showed no haste in plucking the fruit his ambition craved until it was ripe. He could have been Premier before he was, but gave way to other men. As to concentration of aim, he made politics his trade, and had no other' occupation or distraction. The third attribute (insight into motives) has been sufficiently attested in numberless instances. His adaptability is likewise very apparent all through his life. His whole history is a series of adaptations, which he wrought up to the eleventh hour. What is termed his cosmopolitanism largeness of spirit is an attempt to put into a phrase what was his chief characteristic, allied as it was mentally to his adaptability. He was placed in a country where there were perhaps as many divergent elements as it is possible to conceive of. A great number of antagonistic and repellent elements were met together in small arena. There were French, English, Irish, Scotch. There were French and Irish Roman Catholics and North of Ireland Orangemen. All had to be ruled. The man to rule them was the man who was none of these sectaries. That was Sir John Macdonald. He was colorless in nationality and denominationalism. A Scotchman, it was long a moot question where he was born. A Protestant, it was never very certain which sect he adhered to. He was, it maybe said, a common center around which the heterogeneous mass that made up the dominant party could agree with, and consent to revolve. All this would have been useless, however, without the ambition, the -energy of purpose and the unbending will.
"He is the greatest figure in Canadian history, not excepting the heroes that brought the wilds of North America under the flag of France."
He was no harsh self-righteous Pharisee,—
The tender Christ compassioned such as he
And took their part. — y. W. Bengough.
HIS RELIGIOUS TEMPER AND SENTIMENTS.
Without pretending to sanctity in his earlier days Sir John grew into or inherited many of the Christian virtues, and among these were notably, patience, humility, forgetfulness of injuries, unselfishness, freedom from resentment or personal ill-will to any one, and freedom from that greed of money which is a specific American sin. He was as free from bigotry as it was possible for a human creature to be. He had his besetting sins, and was therefore tarred with the same brush by which the face of all humanity is spiritually daubed, and there is no doubt that at times he felt those pangs which all must feel who stand up before the spotless Judge of all the earth, and these pangs became keener as he drew near to the close of life.
A few fragments of his religious sentiments have been given at various times, and these are reproduced here chiefly in his own words.
One friend says he had a really reverent mind, and was "humble in estimating his own place in the work cut out for his generation by Providence."
The Rev. J. Bogart, of St. Alban's Anglican Church,—of which Lady Macdonald had long been a member, and of which he also, though born a Presbyterian, became a member—in one of his pulpit references said: "His regularity in attendance at God's house, notwithstanding the cares of state and his many onerous duties; his earnest devotion and reverent demeanor when engaged in the worship of God, more especially in celebration of the Holy Eucharist; his humble attention to the message delivered by God's ambassador, all show the love he entertained for God's service, which he also exhibited by receiving thankfully that which small minds cavil and sneer at. The gentle pressure he gave to the hand of the priest when placed in his [during his illness], and his fervent declaration of trust in the one great High Priest, spoke of his hopes for the life to come."
At the Methodist Conference at Ottawa, in June, 1890, he appeared at the Conference and spoke. He referred to the success of the churches in the midst of pseudo-science and unbelief, and said it afforded him great comfort in his declining years to know that the various churches were waging a prosperous war for truth and righteousness. "A.s an old man I can only pray that my declining years may be soothed by the continued prosperity of the great Methodism of our land."
Before this—at the laying of the corner-stone of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Kingston, in 1878—Sir John said in the course of an address: "The champions of infidelity were many in number, and were men of the highest culture in science and philosophy. There were men who lived pure lives and were sincere in their convictions, but who devoted themselves unitedly and systematically to the work of destruction. * * It was a happy omen that men were arising on the side of orthodoxy who brought equal culture and power to the battle with free thought."
During the same year, at a meeting held to further an additional endowment to Queen's University, Kingston, Sir John referred to the fact that he had stood at the cradle as it were of the University, and in the course of his speech he said: "There was one great reason why the College commended itself to all Presbyterians, and that was because unfortunately the world was now alarmed by the progress of infidelity. Science indeed seemed to be joining itself with infidelity ; and it would require all the culture, education and the resources that education could give to enable the teachers of Christianity to meet with equal weapons on the same field and with the same force all that science, that skeptics that materialists, positivists and all the other ists were doing to swell the tide of infidelity all over the civilized world. Therefore if there ever was a time when those who called themselves Christians and those who believed the truths of the Gospel should join in supporting an institution established to further their views it was now."
The occasion calls to mind a beautiful anecdote of a religious kind. Principal Grant of Queen's University, Kingston, was conducting a campaign for the securing of an endowment fund. Sir John, as one of the founders of the institution, was deeply interested in the enterprise. By a happy chance he was sitting with a gentleman of much wealth in Toronto when the indefatigable Principal, who had already secured a handsome subscription from this gentleman, called to renew the attack in hopes of having the subscription doubled. Principal Grant was of course delighted at finding Sir John there, and at once called upon him to aid in the attack. The gentleman thus beset by a Premier and a Principal at last said in desperation,
"No, no; what I gave you before I gave you for all time."
Leaning towards his old friend Sir John laid his hand upon his knee, and, looking him earnestly in the face, said in his most winning tones:
"Then, my dear sir, won't you give as much more for eternity?" The appeal was effectual.
Another memorable remark was made by him some years ago, when a large deputation of the Licensed Victuallers Association waited upon him in their interest. During the interview some hard things were said about the churches. "Stop, gentlemen," said Sir John, "don't fight the churches. As soon as the churches do their duty your days are numbered."
In a sketch written several years ago for the Toronto News, a correspondent, "Wayfarer," shows Sir John in a light in which perhaps few had ever viewed him during his lifetime:—
"I knew that Sir John Macdonald had religious convictions. Several years ago, when the United Empire Club was in existence, he came in there one night—I think it was Sunday night. Mr. Manning and a party of solid old Tories were at one end of the parlor. James E. Smith was there also, Jack Beatty, Col. Arthurs and several others I can't now remember. The entry of Sir John caused some little excitement, and there were hearty hand-shakings and exchanges of compliments. The visitor had just come from the Metropolitan or some other church, where he had heard Rev. John Potts preach. A sort of incredulous little laugh went round among a few, when Sir John said that he had been* at church. That is a way some minds have of receiving information they would rather not hear, for even the presence of a man who is trying to do well is a reproach to those who do ill, and there is always an effort made to frown or laugh him down. Rev. Mr. Potts had discoursed about the sermon on the Mount. Sir John was very grave, and was in no way disposed to countenance the air of levity that some were inclined to wear. As he leaned easily on the back of a chair, he began to speak to those seated around him of the Beatitudes. One by one he told them over, commenting on each, and showing, by the deep reverence of his manner that he had a high conception of the majestic mind that wrought them. He spoke for about ten minutes, perhaps more, with an attractive earnestness that had its effect upon all who heard him. And when he had ended he gravely wished his company 'good evening!' and departed. There was silence in that room for five minutes after he went out. Several there had learned a lesson, and from that day they saw more of the man than the politician in Sir John Macdonald.
"When he was travelling through the country on the parlor car Jamaica during the last campaign up near London, or on the Western Division somewhere, that I do not remember very well, a stick of timber protruding from a passing train struck the Jamaica and smashed one end of it. When the train arrived in the city the next night, I went down to see what damage had been done, for it had been noised abroad that an attempt had been made to wreck the train. The colored porter answered my summons at the door, and he showed me into one of the compartments fitted up as a parlor. Sir John Macdonald sat in an easy chair reading the Bible. He was alone in the car, with the exception of the porter, the other ministers having gone elsewhere, and he was about going to bed. He looked very lonely sitting there in the dim light. He was reading David's Psalms, that have been a comfort to the weary for many hundreds of years. My stay was brief, for it was only to congratulate him on his escape from injury. As I passed out I put a question to the porter. It was prying into private affairs, but I could not help it. The porter's reply was, 'Yes, sir; he always reads the Book before going to bed.' I had formed a different opinion of him. I had judged him by his reputation, until I knew his character; and throughout the country there are thousands, not alone among the Methodistsj who will not look at this matter with the narrow prejudices of politics, but will love him for his action of a few nights ago, because they are convinced that what he has declared for is the Truth."
For some years past, Sir John had daily family prayers in his home, a fact which many who assumed to be on intimate terms would not believe when told it during his lifetime. This will be believed, however, when the following interview, given to the St. Thomas Times by the Rev. J. E. Hunter, the evangelist, is studied. It refers to the revival meetings held' by himself and Mr. Crossley in the Dominion Square Methodist Church, Ottawa, a little over three years ago, and which continued for about seven weeks.
"He was like a king in Ottawa," said Mr. Hunter; "everybody loved him." In this respect his testimony agreed with what has been so frequently said, namely, that Sir John made no personal enemies.
Sir John and Lady Macdonald were present at the evening meeting on the first Sunday, and on that occasion stayed for the after meeting and remained to its close. From that time their interest deepened and they attended frequently, Sir John being present on his seventy-third birthday. Parliament was in session at the time, and Sir John would hasten home, get his dinner and telephone the usher of the-church to reserve seats for himself and Lady Macdonald and some friends who generally accompanied him.
Referring again to the effect upon Sir John of the addresses, Mr. Hunter said: "I have seen, him sit with tears in his eyes, drinking in what was said, and he would also testify his appreciation and sympathy by warmly shaking our hands. This continued until we asked those who desired to have the prayers of God's people for their souls to stand up. When Sir John and Lady Macdonald rose it was like an electric shock in that vast audience to see that godly woman and her distinguished husband stand up together. 'Let us pray,' said I, and as all bowed their heads in prayer, there never seemed to have been such divine influence in a meeting. When we lifted up our heads every eye seemed to be bathed in tears, Sir John's among the others.
"He invited Rev. W. W. Carson, Mr. Crossley and myself to his home, where we dined with him and Lady Macdonald. The air was that of a Christian home. As we came to the table, Sir John requested me to ask a blessing, and at the close of the meal by his desire Mr. Crossley returned thanks. Though somewhat nervous about it, I had interviews with Sir John on the question of his personal salvation, one in the church and the other at his home. During these interviews [ said, 'I am glad to see that you have taken the stand you did. You never did a more manly thing in your life.'"
Sir John said he had never had any doubt as to the reality of these things, he had never been sceptical, though he acknowledged he had been sinful. He had never, he said, forgotten the home-training and the godly influence of his parents. In his early days he had associated much with the Ryersons, and had often heard them preach at camp meetings, and their sermons made a deep impression on his mind which he had never forgotten.
Said Mr. Hunter, "I would like to know before leaving you, Sir John, if you have accepted Christ as your personal Savior."
Sir John said, with tears in his eyes, " I have, Mr. Hunter."
Mr. Hunter asked if he had any objection to state this at the closing meeting.
Said Sir John, "I have no objection, but you know there are some who will say, if I do it, that it is from sinister motives, but I will think over it."
"Thank God," said Mr. Hunter. "May the Lord bless you. You have helped us very much in our meetings in Ottawa. Doubtless for it you will have many stars in your crown of rejoicing."
Sir John's interest continued to deepen till the close, and he was at the farewell meeting, as was also Lady Macdonald, When he came to bid us good-bye, there were tears in his eyes and ours, and we felt very much drawn to him and that he felt a fatherly interest in us. The last thing he did was to turn as he was going down the stairs from the vestry and kiss his hand to us, which he seemed to do as tenderly as a mother would throw a kiss to her child. This was the last time I saw him, although we have often had letters and telegrams from him, in which he manifested the deepest interest in our work, and I have no doubt I shall meet Sir John at the gates of Heaven."
The hymn entitled "Rest," by Rev. Father Ryan, the poet of the Confederate States, is said to have been a favorite with him. It is as follows :—
My feet are wearied, and my hands are tired,
My soul oppressed—,
And I desire, what I have long desired—
'Tis hard to toil—when toil is almost vain,
In barren ways;
'Tis hard to sow—and never garner grain,
In harvest days.
The burden of my days is hard to bear,
But God knows best; And I have prayed—but vain has been my prayer
For rest—sweet rest.
'Tis hard to plant in spring and never reap
The autumn yield;
'Tis hard to till, and when 'tis tilled 1o weep
O'er fruitless field.
And so I cry a weak and human cry,
And so I sigh a weak and human sigh,
For rest—for rest.
My way has wound across the desert years,
And cares infest
My path, and through the flowing of hot tears
I pine—for rest.
'Twas always so; when but a child I laid
On mother's breast
My wearied little head: e'en then I prayed
As now—for rest.
And I am restless still. T'will soon be o'er—
For down the west
Life's sun is setting, and I see the shore
Where I shall rest.
The patriot raised his aged arm,
And gazed to Heaven with rev'rent eye,
"A British subject I was born,
A British subject I will die."
—y. A. Phillips.
A thousand hearts are great within my bosom:
Advance our standard, set upon our foes;
Our ancient word of courage, fair St. George,
Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!
Upon them! Victory sits on our helms.
THE LAST CAMPAIGN.
Sir John's prescience has been spoken of in previous chapters, and it was again manifested in his last campaign. In his latter days he was fond of speaking of himself as a doctor retiring from active practice—" a consulting physician ;" but the consulting physician had his finger always on the public pulse, and knew every symptom of the patient. It was well known to those behind the scenes that more than one member of his Cabinet, and many of his prominent followers outside, thought the time for holding the election, early in 1891, was inopportune, but when the public sentiment evolved by the campaign was disclosed, the dissenters admitted that he had chosen the right moment, and that they were wrong.
There were rumors, in the early months of 1890, of the pending election, but so far as the general public were concerned he kept a close mouth, and it is doubtful how far his own intimates knew his mind on the subject at that time. To the question of Col. Smith, the assistant sergeant-at-arms, one day as to the date of the election, he, replied in his usual vein: "Well, Colonel, I cannot say, I haven't seen the morning papers yet. They settle all those things for us, you know." At a dinner given him by the Albany Club in Toronto, in January, 1891, he let drop the first hint intended to be read by those who run, when he said, in reply to a question, that there was no harm in being prepared. In a short speech on the same occasion he said: "As you are all Conservatives, there is no need to try and convert you—that effort will have to be reserved for the uniegenerate Grits. Their fright, when they hear rumors of a dissolution, is most amusing, for although they have been valiantly proclaiming that they wanted the opportunity to appeal to the people, they immediately begin to abuse the Governor General, and call upon him to refuse a dissolution. They have as many aliases for their policy as a thief hr.s excuses for his wrong-doing. It has been commercial union, unrestricted reciprocity, and latterly tariff reform; but there is another name by which it must be known, and that is annexation—which is treason. But we are prepared for them. We have a Minister of Justice at Ottawa and an Attorney General at Toronto who will certainly put the law in force." (Laughter.) He then declared that the Government were going to stand by the policy they introduced in 1878.
The elections were fixed for the fifth of March, and on the ninth of February he issued a manifesto addressed to the people of Canada, and dealing almost exclusively with the commercial and other relations between Canada and the United States. He made it clear to the meanest understanding, that the fiscal policy of the country would not be changed. After pointing out the disadvantages, both immediate and remote, of commercial union or unrestricted reciprocity, he concluded in words which will well bear repeating:
"For a century and a half this country has grown and flourished under the protecting aegis of the British crown. The gallant race who first bore to our shores the blessings of civilization, passed by an easy transition from French to English rule, and now form one of the most powerful law abiding portions of the community. These pioneers were speedily recruited by the advent of a loyal band of British subjects, who gave up everything that men most prize, and were content to begin life anew in the wilderness, rather than forego allegiance to their sovereign. To the descendants of these men, and to the multitude of Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotchmen who emigrated to Canada that they might build up new homes without ceasing to be British subjects—to you, Canadians, I appeal, and I ask you what have you to gain by surrendering that which your fathers held most dear? Under the broad folds of the Union Jack, we enjoy the most ample liberty to govern ourselves as we please, and at the same time we participate in the advantages which flow from association with the mightiest empire that the world has ever seen. Not only are we free to manage our own domestic concerns, but practically we possess the privilege of making our own treaties with foreign countries, and in our relations with the outside world we enjoy the prestige inspired by a consciousness of the fact that behind us towers the majesty of England.
"The question which you will shortly be called upon to determine resolves itself into this: Shall we endanger our possession of the great heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers, and submit ourselves to direct taxation, for the privilege of having our tariff fixed at Washington, with a prospect of ultimately becoming part of the American Union?
"I commend these issues to your determination and to the judgment of the whole people of Canada, with an uncloude have trusted me in the past, and to the young hope of the country, with whom rests its destinies in the future, to give me their united and strenuous aid, in this my la.it effort for the unity of the Empire, and the preservation of our commercial and political freedom."
A few days after issuing this appeal, he addressed a vast audience in the Academy of Music, Toronto, where he aroused almost unparalleled enthusiasm and created a profound sensation by exposing a secret pamphlet, written by a well-known political writer, and suggesting to the American Government methods by which Canada could be forced into annexation.
The association of the writer of the pamphlet with certain leading Liberal politicians told heavily against the party in the campaign, and many life-long Liberals in every Province declared their intention of casting their first vote for Sir John. The rousing of the latent sentiment of loyalty countervailed the uneasy and dissatisfied feeling that had been developing on questions of trade, and the result was that Sir John was sustained by a fair majority.
He had exhibited the activity of youth in the campaign. His tour through Ontario was thought to have eclipsed Gladstone's Midlothian march. The Toronto World catalogued a week's work as follows :—" After a busy day's work at Ottawa, he left Monday morning for Toronto, arriving here next morning. The Red Parlor was visited by scores of friends and workers during the day. In the evening Sir John delivered his great speech at the Academy, exploding like a bombshell the story of Farrer's treachery. Wednesday afternoon he spoke from the rear of his car at Oakville to the electors of Halton. That evening, in Hamilton, the huge crowds compelled him to speak at two meetings. Thursday he spoke at Strathroy. Friday, he addressed the electors of London on behalf of his old colleague, Hon. John Carling. On Saturday, in the morning, he spoke at Stratford; at i p. m. he made an address of nearly an hour at St. Mary's« He spoke briefly at Giielph and Acton, and arrived in Brampton about 7 p. m., when he spoke for fifty minutes in support of Mr. A. McCulla, and then went on to Toronto." Other days in the campaign were equally remarkable for the amount of work and traveling he did; and on some occasions he made two or three speeches in an evening. At times when not traveling he kept three secretaries at work answering letters, encouraging his friends from one end of the Dominion to the other, and giving counsel where it was needed.
He took a violent cold while going through a storm from Kingston to Napanee on the 24th of February, and on returning to Kingston was prostrated. This collapse, after the over-exertion of the preceding days, conveyed the premonition of the stroke that was to carry him off.
There is a pathetic interest in this visit to Napanee, as it was the occasion of his last public address. "Script}' writing to the Empire, gives an account of it, from which the following extract is made :—" On the night of the 24th wind and rain had blocked the roads with ice, making them well nigh impassable; but the ardent yeomen of Lennox were not to be cheated out of, perhaps, their last gaze on the old chieftain. The rush was terrific, and common to all shades of political opinion. When the old man stepped from the train he was greeted with strains from a bag-pipe, blown by a Highlander in full costume. Sir John was greatly pleased by this happy reference to the time when he was younger and was a piper in the St. Andrew's Society, Kingston. He left much to be implied when he said: "I am not quite as young as I used to be." * * The Opera Hall would not hold half the crowd, so an overflow meeting had to be held in the Town Hall. As the demand was imperative, he had to make two speeches instead of one. Although they refused to accept any excuse in the excitement of expectation, yet, as soon as he stood before them, his audience felt that the beginning of the end had come, and clamor gave place to sympathy and /egret. During his speech, the old man leaned on his staff, 9
weakened by the strenuous exertions he had made all through the campaign, yet showing the reason of his success. He gave the impression not. of the haughty indifference of one resting on the dignity of his high station, but the calm confidence of one who rested his claim on the simple fact that he was a man wishing the sympathies of his fellow men. His whole appearance indicated an exhausted frame that was only supported by the extreme vitality of his spirit; yet some were ungenerous enough to misconstrue his weakness and vilify his name. At the close of his address, Mr. Elliott, Collector of Customs, approached Sir John and intimated that he had done enough for one day. Seven years had passed since the two had stood face to face, and as Sir John in his uniform kindness of heart pressed Mr. Elliott's hand warmly, he said, 'It is the last time, Elliott!'
"So indeed it proved, though, perhaps, not in the sense Sir John intended it, and certainly not in the sense in which it was taken. * * His exit from the Opera Hall was blocked by a company of eager school girls, who wished to shake hands with the veteran Premier. He shook them each by the hand, and kissing the smallest one, bade her keep a warm spot in her heart for him. * * His mind was on the campaign, not upon his own physical condition, and so clearly did he sketch the outlook, so animated were his witticisms, and so contagious his hopefulness, that when he took final leave there was left behind little apprehension of approaching illness."
"I am dying, Egypt,, dying." —Anthony and Cleopatra,
Twelve days and nights she withered thus; at last
Without a groan, or sigh, or glance to show
A parting pang, the spirit from her passed;
And they who watched her nearest could not know
The very instant till the change that cast
Her sweet face into shadow, dull and slow,
Glazed o'er her eyes—the beautiful, the black—
Oh! to possess such lustre—and then lack! —Byron.
LAST ILLNESS, DEATH AND BURIAL
When Sir John was taken ill at Kingston, his physicians insisted upon perfect rest, which he took for a few days as far as traveling was concerned; but his mind was so absorbed in the campaign that he apparently recovered his health, and returned to Ottawa in time to give a vote for the local candidate on the day of the election.
On the night of the election (5th March), he sat up nearly all night receiving the returns which were transmitted by private wire to Earnscliffe, where he and his secretary kept tally as the reports came in. About noon the next day he arose, and at once proceeded to answer the hundreds of telegrams and cablegrams of congratulation upon his victory. His voice had failed him and he could only speak in a whisper, but his messages were cheerful, and he could tell some of the newspaper correspondents to express his gratitude to the people of Canada. He had been returned for Kingston by a majority of 474 over Mr. Alexander Gunn, his old opponent, and sent a telegram of thanks to his "loyal and trusty friends for this great victory."
Parliament met on the 29th of April, and Sir John had the gratification of sitting down in the legislative hall with his son, who had been elected by a large majority for Winnipeg. The occasion, to his political friends at least, was a moving one. Only a year before Hugh John Macdonald's name had been brought up in the House in connection with the Ryckert timber limit scandal. Sir John in a few words, in uttering which it was evident he was laboring under emotion, said he knew his son had faults, but from his knowledge of him from youth up, he believed that dishonesty was not one of those faults. After the case was gone into, Mr. Mills arose from the Opposition benches and said that after a careful examination he believed that nothing had been done by Mr. Macdonald that reflected upon his honor. At this vindication of his son's character the Premier was deeply moved. He did not speak, but with tears in his eyes bowed towards Mr. Mills.
A newspaper correspondent described the Premier's appearance in the House with his son: "Just as the hands of the clock pointed to the half hour after twelve, a burst of applause from the Conservative benches greeted the veteran Premier as he entered arm in arm with his son. The old chief never looked better. He was.dressed in a frock coat with light trousers, with the traditional red neck-tie and a "stovepipe" hat. His eye was clear, his step elastic, and everything betokened that he was in good condition for the hard work of the session. After the Premier had exchanged greetings with his followers, who pressed forward to grasp his hand, father and son together took the oath and together affixed their autographs to the parchment, the son signing on the line below Sir John. Then more hand-shaking was in order. It was a pleasant sight to see the two Leaders exchange greetings." This, however, was a rather rosy view of Sir John's condition; for when he spoke on the Address it was noticed that he was not as forcible as usual, nor so happy in his style of delivery, as he frequently stumbled in search of a word. He was, however, as cheerful in his disposition as of old, and the same quickness of movement characterized him up to the moment of his last illness.d confidence that you will proclaim to the world your resolve to show yourselves not unworthy of the proud distinction you enjoy of being numbered among the most dutiful and loyal subjects of our beloved Queen.
"As for myself, my course is clear. A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die. With my utmost effort, with my latest breath, will I oppose the veiled treason which attempts by sordid means and mercenary proffers to lure our people from their allegiance. During my long public service of nearly half a century, I have been true to my country and its best interests, and I appeal with equal confidence to the men who In the early days of the session there were rumors of his decreasing physical strength, and the newspapers began to speculate as to what would happen if Sir John should be taken off. On the night of the 12th of May he was expected at the reception at Government House but was not able to attend, having been seized with a strange weakness while passing from the Commons chamber to his private room. Next day he went to his office and thence went to meet the Governor, Sir John Thompson and the Hon. C. H. Tupper at His Excellency's office. After this conference, instead of going to the House as he intended, he felt so ill that he hurried home, and was obliged to remain there some days, while the work of the House dragged. Mr. Laurier, the Opposition leader, was laid up at the same time. Commenting on the feeling in the House, the Star correspondent wrote at the time: "It is only in their absence that one realizes how much of the business of the House depends on those two men. * * * The enormous value of both men at their present posts is patent to every, one. It is a very common occurrence when Sir John is only away in his rooms down near the Library for Sir Hector Langevin, who leads the House in his absence, to send a page for him when the debate begins to get involved. They like to feel his hand at the helm."
In a few days he recovered so as to appear in the House. On Friday, the 22nd of May, he seemed to have regained his former spirit, and as he went around among his followers in the House, giving a word here, telling an anecdote there, and talking to little knots of members, many remarked that he was "the Sir John of old." But it was only like the blazing out of those variable stars which flash with unusual brightness before they disappear from the heavens. He had already, it is said, received a premonitory touch from that remorseless diseases which had carried away two members of his family. He knew his time had come. Discussing some question of legislation with Sir John Thompson, he said, " You carry that through, Thompson, but I will not be there to help you."
Of late the death of friends had made a more than ordinary impression on him on each occasion, and'his latter years had been marked by many bereavements in the decease of those to whom he was personally much attached. His tenderness seemed to increase with his years. Those who were in Parliament when his old friend, the Hon. Thomas White, died will not readily forget the spectacle presented by the old man, when on rising to address the House he got as far as "Mr. Speaker," and after two or three attempts to proceed, threw himself sobbing upon his desk—a tribute of affection such as Hansard never recorded in Imperial or Colonial Parliament. So now at almost every turn the shadow of the coming event was thrown across his path, or else he sought it out.
On the occasion referred to in the House he was, however, full of life and spirits. The House was in supply, and were considering the item of the High Commissioner's salary, which was being criticized by the Opposition. Mr. Paterson, of Brant, said in a loud tone: "Might I ask the First Minister, did the High Commissioner tell the truth to the people of Kingston? Did he speak truly when he said that Sir John Macdonald had sent him to that meeting, and had sent a message with this gentleman who is a leading civil servant of this country? That is a question that can be very easily answered, and if the First Minister will favor us with a reply, then perhaps we might be able to follow it up with inquiries in other directions."
Sir John was then chatting with friends in the back benches, but at this challenge he came forward to his own seat and said:
"Well, Mr. Chairman, I cannot resist the seductive tones of my hon, friend, and I may answer him. Sir Charles Tupper did go there at my request, and he made the speech at my instance, and I fancy that his speech must have had a considerable influence, because in the previous election I was elected by a majority of seventeen; and after Sir Charles Tupper made this speech I was elected by a majority that only wanted 17 of 500. You see, I was pretty wise in my generation in asking Sir Charles to go there and make a speech for me."
"You would be wise if you stopped him at that point," said Mr. Paterson.
"I will go a little further," said Sir John, "and I will say that Sir Charles Tupper came out from England to give us the advantage of his skill, and influence, and eloquence, at my special request."
Mr. Paterson observed that as the counties east of Kingston went pretty solidly Reform, he must have lost his shrewdness or his eloquence as he went east.
"I will tell you what he did lose," replied Sir John, "he lost his voice."
When further pressed by Mr. McMullen to explain why Sir Charles was called out to Canada during the campaign, Sir John replied, "I have already stated what I asked him to come out for."
These were his last words uttered publicly on the floor of the House. That evening he went down to the parliamentary hair-dresser, Napoleon Audette, to be shaved. Audette gave to a newspaper correspondent an account of this and one of the last previous occasions of serving the Premier. On visiting him just after the recent election, he said: "Well, Sir John, you ought to be proud of the great' victory." "I am," replied the Premier. "Still, I am sorry that some of our friends went down; some have fallen, but we cannot go into a great battle without losing brave soldiers. You did well in Ottawa, Napoleon, and I am glad the party came through." Then he added, "You remember the Princess Louise? You will be glad ta hear she cabled me congratulations. She always remembers Canada."
On this last occasion, while Audette was shaving him, the Premier said, addressing one of the attendants, "Boy, hand me that picture." This Was a photograph of the celebrated engraving of the members of "The special Court assembled under the authority of the Seigniorial Act of the Provincial Parliament, 1854, o11 its opening on the 4th day of September, 1855." Sir John gazed on the faces of the judges for several minutes, put the picture down, and sighed. A few seconds after he took it up again, recalling to mind the old days of Morin, Day, Duval, Bowen, Augers, Caron, Loranger, Mackay, Beaudry, Dunkin, Badgley, Short, Meredith, Smith, Lafontaine, Drummond, Cherrier, and others who formed the Court at that period. He looked intently over the faces again, and,, putting it down, muttered, "All gone, all gone." He then took out some silver, remarking, "Now, Audette, I think I owed you for a visit to Eamscliffe," and, settling the account, presented the attendants with his remaining change. This was his last visit to that portion of the Parliament buildings. Audette gathered up the hair he had cut from the Premier's head, remarking afterwards, "I would not part with it for a mine. I fear poor Sir John felt he was not long for this world. He looked so much at that picture of the old faces."
Sir John did not remain that evening till the adjournment. The hours were wearing on, and Mr. Bowell, thinking Sir John ought to be taking rest, asked Mr. Foster, whose seat was next the Premier's, to suggest that he should go home. Mr. Foster felt delicate on the subject and would not make the suggestion, but Mr. Bowell, in his bluff but kindly way, came over to Sir John's seat and, watch in hand, said, "Sir John, don't you think it about time that boys like you were at home in bed?" Looking up into Mr. Bowell's face with the kindness and simplicity of a child, Sir John replied: '' Yes, Bowell, I suppose it is. I will go. Good-night."
That was his last " good-night" here. Debates would go on, divisions would be taken, the whips would gather in the members from lobby and library, from restaurant and retiring room, but the alert figure and the subtle brain of Sir John would never more be here to guide and control.
On the following day he attended the Cabinet Council meeting, and returning home dressed for his usual Saturday afternoon reception, when he was most attentive to his guests; but on Sunday morning, the Queen's Birthday, he was taken quite ill, and it was erroneously reported that he had congestion of the lungs. On Monday he remained at home; and though he did considerable correspondence at his house in the early part of the "Week, Doctors George Ross and James Stewart were called up from Montreal on Thursday, 28th, to consult with his physician, Dr. Powell. On consulting, they issued the following bulletin, which was regarded as ominous: "Sir John Macdonald has had a return of his attack of physical and nervous prostration, and we have enjoined positively complete rest for the present and entire freedom from public business."
On the previous day he had gone through considerable public business, and when the physician enjoined upon him that he must go to bed and remain quiet, he replied:
"I cannot lie here with my eyes shut. It would drive me crazy." *
As late as Friday, the 29th, he sent for some of his colleagues and discussed public business, and gave to Mr. Haggart and Mr. Collingwood Schreiber explicit instructions regarding work in the Department of Railways and Canals. On that day, too, he was able to dictate in clear terms a reply to a message of sympathy and inquiry that had come from the Princess Louise among many others— " Thanks for your gracious message." At a little after four in the afternoon, or only a couple of hours after he had dictated this message, and while he was sitting up chatting with Dr. Powell, telling him what nourishment he was taking, that physician was horrified to see a dreadful change come over the face of his patient. His features became fixed and set, he was suddenly bereft of his power of speech, and "fell back in the awful embrace of paralysis." A bulletin was issued about eight o'clock announcing the relapse, and the news caused consternation throughout the House. While the business lagged, further tidings were awaited, and came about half-past nine in a note addressed to Sir Hector Langevin. As the note was passed from one minister to another, the members could see that bad news had come. All eyes were fixed upon Sir Hector, when, in tears and with a trembling frame, he rose to say that the Premier was in a most critical condition, and to move the adjournment of the debate. The debate had already lost its interest when the solemn message was announced, and Mr. Laurier, the Liberal leader, seconded the motion, he too being almost overcome by his feelings. A sudden sadness seemed to settle on the House as the members silently separated in twos and threes, whispering over the news as if they were already in a chamber of death. As the lobbies were cleared it was felt that Sir John would never appear within those walls again; and in the electric light tears were seen glistening in the eyes of more than one member. While from dozens of telegraphic instruments the same sad message was being sent east, west, north and south to every newspaper office on the continent, cabs containing Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, and special correspondents were rattling away down Parliament Hill towards Eamscliffe, where the man whose picture was in every mind lay too helpless to move a limb or even to stir his tongue, and unconscious of all the anxiety that was centred upon his stricken frame. The Governor General came to bid good-bye to his faithful minister, but the minister heeded not the honor, nor rose to do him reverence.
It was found that the stroke was accompanied by hemorrhage of the brain, and the majority of the public, as well as the physicians, soon felt that it would be only a matter of on:- s, or of days at most, when all would be over.
Meantime telegrams and cablegrams of inquiry continued to pour in, from the Queen of England and the Viceroy of India, down to citizens of the obscurest village in Canada. The whole nation watched at his beside. The bulletins of the daily newspapers were filled almost exclusively with announce merits of his condition, and pages in every paper were taken up with the subject and with reviews of his life and work. It was the topic of every knot of men gathered talking on the street, and of every group gathered in a Canadian home. The gathering shadows of this death fell visibly on each separate household in the Dominion.
Bulletins were issued by the attending physicians, Dr. Powell, Sir James Grant, M.D., and Dr. Wright, several times each day; some announcing that he was taking nourishment, was conscious though weak, or resting peacefully, and others that he was rapidly sinking.
From morning till night of each long day a stream of friends and inquirers pressed to the gates of Earnscliffe; but the policeman on guard permitted but one now and again to enter. Silence reigned about the house, in a front upper room of which, with window open wide, the dying Premier lay. Lady Macdonald hovered about the sick room night and day, and clung to the few words of hope which could be gleaned from the doctors.
On the night of Saturday, 31st May, he could move his right foot and hand, which had been paralyzed since Friday, and could take a little milk in spirits. On Sunday afternoon he was turned in bed, and, after taking a little champagne, dozed off into his first natural sleep since the seizure.
On Saturday, a meeting of the Cabinet was held. It was the first meeting of the heads of the Government since their Chief had been stricken, and the feeling that he had forever left the room in which his genius had so long prevailed took away every faculty of statecraft. Like sheep scattered when the shepherd was smitten, or like "children crying in the night, and with no language but a cry," they gathered only to ask each other, "What shall we do?" When Sir Hector Lahgevin, the temporary leader of the House of Commons» rose to make a statement concerning Sir John on Monday, and to say that death might be expected any moment, he did so under great emotion, and during the day was so absentminded that he could not answer the formal questions put till one of his colleagues came to his assistance. The air was full of reports of Sir John's death, and no sooner was one report proved false than another arose like a ghost that would not be laid. And yet hundreds of his old friends refused to believe the facts as posted up on the bulletins, and declared that he would live years yet.
As the Sabbath sun crept up and shot a bloody eye across the Laurentian Hills upon Ottawa it lighted up a region of intense quiet—a quiet that was solemnized by the hollow booming of the distant Chaudiere Falls. The air, as the day advanced, was sultry, breezeless and filmy with the smoke of some distant forest fires; and not only through this day, but throughout the ensuing week, there was a certain smothery feeling that seemed to oppress the spirits of all—a feeling that was well expressed in the following lines by an anonymous poet in
For a week the red sun beat
Over the City on the Hill,
Till the rights fell heavy with heat,
Till the dawns rose, close and still,
And the breath of the morning, perturbed,
And the river's sullen breath.
And the halting spring showers, curbed
In the awful face of Death,
Told that a soul was passing,
Told to the souls in fear
That the dreaded end was near.
Thus—while that red sun hung,
What but Death in the air >
While the smoky shadows clung
To tower and river and square,
And ever through gloom and glare,
Came—like a funeral boom—
The distant roar of Chaudiere.
By that dull note of doom,
By a Nation's vast despair,
Death—what else—in the air!
On Sunday morning, the telegraph companies sent out a message to the pulpit of every church reached by their wires throughout the Dominion, and, that morning, appeals from thousands of pulpits and from hundreds of thousands of worshippers went up to the Throne of Heaven, imploring that, if possible, the first man of their nation might be spared a little longer, and, if not, that he might be received into the haven of eternal rest.
Throughout the day the sufferer lay, with face as ashy as the ashy clusters of hair in which it was pillowed. At times he was quite conscious, and could possibly hear the church bells and the chaunts that floated through his latticed window from the Corpus Christi processionists that were abroad this morning with banners aud decorations. At times he could make his wants known by a movement or by a gentle pressure of the hand when a question would be asked by Mr. Fred. White, his former private secretary, or Mr. Joseph Pope, his present private secretary, who faithfully watched by his bedside. Physicians who knew the nature of paralysis, and who knew the violence of the seizure, gave him thirty-six hours to live from Friday; but he lingered on from hour to hour and from day to day, and on Friday he was still alive, while, against recurring reports of his death, men were saying that he would again come back to rule on Parliament Hill.
On Monday, the ist June, the bells had been taken off the street cars that passed near Earnscliffe, that no noise should disturb the sufferer, and even the steamers that ply up and down the river, towing barges or rafts, ceased their whistling and slowed up their engines as they approached the foot of the cliff; while those who came to and fro in the grounds treaded with care on the graveled walks. Daring the week, however, the rule of excluding visitors was somewhat relaxed, and in the lawn under the shadows cast by the maple trees, as the moon rose each night, groups of ministers and members of Parliament gathered with their friends, and whispered of but one subject as they looked upon the dark river below, or gazed up to the window where the sick man lay.
His little six year old grandchild, " Jack," whose features, every body says, so much resemble his grandfather's, often told the visitors that "grandpa was very ill," but, child-like, would soon become interested in sailing his toy yachtor some other childish play. O.i Wednesday he came in, and, meeting Lady Macdonald, said, ': I want to see grandpa." Lady Macdonald told him he could not; but the child pleaded, and at last he was led into the room.
At that moment the Premier had his eyes wide open, which had not occurred for some time, and as the lad came to the bedside and stroked his hand his countenance lightened up with pleasure. While the child prattled away, Lady Macdonald, seeing the good effect on the patient, immediately sent for her daughter Mary, Jack did not know how powerless his grandfather was to answer the questions he was continually asking, but Mary did, and with a tenderness and skill that were pathetic she managed to persuade him to forego his questions. The excitement soon told on the weakened old man, however, and in a few moments, with little Jack's hand still in his, he dozed off to unconsciousness. His vital powers were waning surely, if not so fast as many expected; his circulation was growing weaker, the eyes were sinking and the tissues wasting. On Friday evening the waiting millions who had watched in heart by this bedside were warned by wire from the operator in the tent in Earnscliffe grounds that " the end was near." At half-past ten Saturday morning, Sir James Grant, emerging from the house, said to a reporter, "He is going fast. This is the last flicker in the socket." His breathing became rapid and labored, his heart action weaker, and as the last few tickings of a clock when it is about to stop become feebler and quicker to the ear of the listener, so the pendulum that kept this great life so long in action was swinging short to its final stroke, till about a quarter past ten on Saturday night, the sixth of June, the pulsations ceased, and the spirit of John A. Macdonald left its tenement of seventy-six years and went out into the Invisible World.
When his poor invalid daughter heard he was dead, she said in her peculiar slow and measured accents, "I must try and be a comfort to mother now, instead of a burden to her.'
At last the strain was over, and all that could now be done pertained to the pomp and pageantry of a public funeral. The remains were embalmed, and it was decided in Parliament to honor the dead chieftain with a state funeral. A simple funeral service was held in the house, and on Tuesday the body was moved to the Senate Chamber, there to lie in state till the next afternoon. Here while the press poured forth a universal panegyric from between inverted rules, while flags fluttered at half-mast in every city, town and hamlet, and while some sign of mourning was visible in every household, like as when the destroying angel passed over Egypt, thousands were pouring into Ottawa by every train on every line of railway to get a last look at all that was left of the Old Leader. A double line of policemen marked a channel from the outer entrances to the Senate Chamber where the casket lay and so on to the place of exit, and along this channel all day a continuous stream of people was maintained. The next morning at half-past five a photographer came to take a view of the dead Chieftain as he lay in Privy Councillor's uniform, sword by his side, and already fifty visitors were counted in the Chamber at a time. Wreaths and emblems of flowers came by every express delivery, until on Wednesday morning the Senate Chamber in which they were placed looked like a vast conservatory. A wreath was ordered to be placed there by the Queen, and the Governor General coming into the Chamber reverently placed a tribute at the casket with his own hands.
At one o'clock on Wednesday, the most imposing funeral pageant ever witnessed in Canada formed in front of the Parliament Buildings, and proceeded to St. Alban's Church. In the procession were the Governor General and staff, Lieutenant Governors of the provinces, Judges of the Supreme court, Commander in chief of the Militia, members of the Privy Council, Senators and members of the House of Commons, officers of the Militia, mayors of cities, deputations from various corporations, and various societies in bodies. The official robes and dresses of the dignitaries of State, the bright uniforms of the soldiers who marched with arms re versed, the contrast presented to the uniforms by the mourning emblems, the solemn faces of the crowds, the bands of music,—from the throats of whose polished instruments the strains of grief so piercingly expressed in the "Dead March in Saul" lift the dead echoes of the stifling air,—make a combination of sight and sound to move the most unemotional spectator.
Ah! what thoughts were passing in the minds of these old senators and members of the Common*, these high officials and lieutenant governors whose dignities were creations of the dead Leader whose lead they were following for the last time on earth? Many of them he had often led whither they would not, and now all of them he leads whither they would not—to the grave. These little parliamentary pages marching in their trim knickerbockers and smart black jackets after the members, how often at the snap of his nervous finger have they leaped to catch his message and convey it to some member who would perform his will as quickly and willingly as the messenger that brought it. And can they do nothing more? The ministers are here, the followers in Parliament are here, the pages are here, and all the paraphernalia to carry out any behest that such a leader can make—and all are ready and willing—can he lead them? Yes, he is leading them—to the chamber of a House of Commons to which all are sure of election. They are sure to follow him, but the volition of leadership is no longer his. The height of his ambition was reached, and to this his leadership has led!
Ambition's voice was in my ear, she whispered yesterday,
"How goodly is the land of Room," how wide the Russian sway!
How blest to conquer either realm, and dwell through life to come
Lull'd by the harp's melodious string, cheer'd by the northern drum!"
But Wisdom heard: "O youth," she said, "in passion's fetter tied,
O come with me and see a sight shall cure thee of thy pride!"
She led me to a lonely dell, a sad and shady ground,
Where many an ancient sepulchre gleam'd in the moonshine round.
And "Here Secunder t sleeps," she cried;—" this is his rival's stone,
And here the mighty Chief reclines who reared the Median throne-
Enquire of these, does aught of all their ancient pomp remain,
Save late regret and bitter tears, for ever and in vain?
Return, return, and to thy heart thus let the vision speak:
'The lesser fame, the lighter load—and blessed be the meek.'"
The procession moves on to the church through streets draped in mourning and crowded with mournful spectators; and after the service for the dead in St. Alban's the procession is reformed to proceed back through the city to the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, whence the body would be conveyed to Kingston. For days the air was heavy and sultry, and no rain had fallen for a long time, but while the procession was reforming, banks of black clouds rolled down upon the city, and as the funeral car slowly passed the Parliament Buildings, the forked lightnings played above the tower, and, with the echoing crash of thunder, torrents of rain came down, drenching the processionists. It was the first thunder storm of the season at the Capital.
The heavily draped funeral train—the first funeral train that ever went over this line—was met at every station by crowds who came to pay some floral or other tribute, as it proceeded to Kingston, where the body of her beloved citizen was received by the people and placed in state in the City Hall, with every mark of grief and affection. Another long and imposing procession followed the remains the next day' through the draped streets of the city of his youth to the picturesque cemetery of Calaraqui, and here, by the side of his mother and father and the members of his family who had passed on before, the great Canadian was laid to rest. On the granite shaft which had been erected by him to commemorate the dead of his family the single word "Macdonald" was cut in plain Gothic letters, and on his own casket only the plain name "John Alexander Macdonald" was engraved. All nationalities, all creeds, all societies and art ranks stood about his grave in common mourning.
Never was a man so widely lamented, and never did a death strike a whole nation with such a feeling of personal loss. In hundreds of churches on that day memorial services were held,* and for a week or more there were few courts that sat, from the Supreme courts down to county courts, few city councils or municipal councils, and few public bodies that assembled, without making some allusion to Sir John, expressing sorrow at his death or praise of his many great qualities. Of these qualities surely not the least was his affectionate loyalty to the Empire, of which he was—from the Canadian point of vision—so colossal a figure.
* The memorial service held in Westminster Abbey, London, was without precedent in the death records of colonial statesmen.
Premiers Compared—The'episode Of The Rebellion— Sir John's Ancestors—His Last Will—A Per-
Sonal Letter—Origin Of "Old To-morrow "— Senator Boyd's Reminiscences—A Sermon.
By the Rev. Ernest A. Willoughby King, M.A.
"None but himself can be his parallel." —L. Theobald,
Some points of similarity and contrast in the circumstances, careers and characteristics of Sir John A. Macdonald, K.C.B., and Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield; with some other comparisons and correspondences*
Mr. Disraeli and Mr. Macdonald were bom within a decade of each other.
Both came of families outside of political circles, and of no special parliamentary influence.
Each was brought up in a country not the father-land o f his ancestors.
In his adopted country each has been associated with the most prominent men of two generations, and has served in a long public life under one and the same Sovereign.
* Many of the parallels herein given in reference to Lord Beaconsfield are derived from a French pamphlet published in 1880 by the Hon. Jos. Tass£, editor of La Minervc.
Both Mr. Disraeli and Mr. Macdonald studied law, the latter alone entered upon its practice.
Both were "self-made," and became (under God) the "architects of their own fortunes," and reached the height of their ambition.
In 1837, at the age of 32, and after 4 defeats, Disraeli was elected successively for Maidstone, Shrewsbury and Buckingham, and sat for the last place 29 years, and in both Houses for 44 years.
In 1844, at the age of 29, Mr. Macdonald was elected and always returned for Kingston—except after one defeat, when he sat for Victoria, B.C.—during his 47 years of parliamentary service—a period without parallel.
Disraeli after 12 years became 3 times Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was always Conservative.
So was Mr. Macdonald, who after 2 l/2 years' service became Receiver General, and held other offices under the Crown for more than 35 years.
One presided over the destinies of the most powerful Empire of the earth; the other swayed half a continent.
Both statesmen were rather tall and lithe in figure, slightly stooped, with pale or sallow complexions, close-shaven, neatly and carefully dressed. They bore countenances wrinkled, and of oft-changing expression. Both had dark waving locks, with "a curl that hung lonesomely down on the forehead," a prominent oriental nose, dark eyes full of fire and penetration, a mouth to indicate or to conceal the feelings, a brow well developed, and withal a constitution elastic and full of endurance, whether for campaigning, organizing or attending long and late-houred sessions. Sir John Macdonald had a quick, gliding or semi-limping gait, a pleasing nod, and a smiling, unaffected, jaunty manner, such as were noticeable in Lord Beaconsfield; and in each the charm of his personal presence passed, by common consent, for a political power. .
What has been said of one might be said of the other, viz:— "I never saw a human visage so scarred and scored with strange lines. * * * Beyond doubt it is a thoughtful face, and beyond doubt also is profoundly contemptuous of other people's thoughts."
At the landing of Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne in Halifax, Mr. Boyd, an English correspondent, was present with a friend, when the latter called out as Sir John came into view, "Boyd, Boyd, there's Dizzy to the life!"
In Oxford, when Sir John received the degree of D.C.L., the students shouted, Dizzy! Dizzy!
More than 25 years ago, when Sir John Macdonald visited Fredericton, a friend of the Premier asked a certain gentleman to meet him on the steamer there, saying: "You will know him by his likeness to Disraeli." Sir John was told of this, when he remarked, "Yes; they do say we look alike."
In "Problems of Greater Britain," Sir Charles Dilke has' most interestingly written thus:— "The Prime Minister of the Dominion is frequently likened to Mr. Disraeli, but this is chiefly a matter of facial similarity, a point in which the resemblance is striking. The first time that I saw Sir John Macdonald was shortly after Lord Beaconsfield's death, and as the clock struck midnight. I was starting from Euston Station, and there appeared on the steps of the railway station, in Privy Councillor's uniform (the right to wear which is confined to so small a number of persons that one expects to know by sight those who wear it), a figure precisely similar to that of the late Conservative leader, and it required indeed a severe exercise of presence of mind to remember that there had been a city banquet, from which the apparition must be coming, and to rapidly arrive by a process of exhaustion at the knowledge that this twin brother of that Lord Beaconsfield, whom shortly before I had seen in the sick-room which he was not to leave, must be the Prime Minister of Canada."
When Sir John Macdonald visited London after Lord Beaconsfield's death, he created quite a stir at a reception where one noble lady fainted at his approach, thinking he was the idol of the Primrose League restored to life.
At Quebec, in 1864, when a ball was given to the Maritime Province delegates, Mr. Geo. A. Sala, then correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, a keen observer and close critic of public men, being present and seeing Mr. Macdonald come in, asked, "Who is he?" and remarked, •" How like Disraeli! and with a strong dash of Milner Gibson too. A remarkable man, I should think. One would inquire his name anywhere."
The New York Sun recently spoke of Sir John as one of the most distinguished looking men in the Dominion, adding, "His face is very striking, and will suggest to different observers a likeness to different men. Some say he resembles Washington or Edwin Booth, others that his face and Disraeli's are as alike as two peas. As a matter of fact Sir John does resemble all these famous persons."
In disposition and the charms connected with their domestic life much similarity existed between the two Premiers. Their talk ran "from grave to gay, from lively to severe," being interspersed with philosophical reflections, anecdotes, witticisms and repartees.
Both had a vivid imagination with long and wise foresight, and seem to have kept high aims before them, and to have maintained firm faith in a great personal future. Each knew how to get over disadvantages, to conciliate leading families, to overcome jealousy in rivals, to rise successfully to positions which the superiority of his talents secured, and to make himself acceptable to the public by personifying in word and deed the national spirit.
|Sir John Alexander Macdonald campaign poster|
SIMILAR POLITICAL TACT AND AIMS.
In 1843, Disraeli formed young enthusiastic workers into the "Young England" party, pledged to follow him loyally; while in Canada young men in the "Junior Conservative Clubs " have as warmly followed Sir John Macdonald—a result ^ to both Leaders doubtless of their well-known partiality for young men and interest in them.
Both were masters of influence over others, keen observers of human nature, and competent to turn even men's inconsistencies to good account. They have both been called "adventurers," and "lovers of power," and it has been said that an "incomprehensible mixture of great qualities and incredible flippancy made the greatest of their rivals seem commonplace."
Disraeli gained his party over to his ideas by not being too exacting, and by consenting to sacrifices both for friends and foes. He often changed Reformers into Conservatives. He distinguished essentials from accidentals. Thus he led a broad national party, based upon a conviction that the institutions of the country were the outcome of its needs, and the guarantee of its liberties, its greatness and its prosperity, commercial and constitutional.
Similar changes have taken place in Canada under the leadership of her Premier. Upper Canadian Tories and Reformers were united with the French party of Lower Canada, and from this union came that Conservative party which has governed the country so long.
Disraeli did much to unite in bonds of mutual interest the two great nations, England and France, and he drew attention to the brilliant future reserved for the Canadian Confederation.
In dealing with their descendants on this continent, Sir John allayed religious and national prejudices, and cemented the French and English elements of Canada. Often at the expense of popularity among his own people, he aimed to unite races, to impress a homogeneous character upon the country, and to consolidate its political institutions.
Although he had no English blood in his veins and was the son of an unjustly treated race, a Jew by birth and sentiment, yet Lord Beaconsfield kept always in view the prosperity and aggrandizement of his adopted country, and he admired the British Constitution as the most perfect of all forms of government, ancient or modern.
So likewise did Sir John Macdonald.
The Liberal party in England tried to weaken the union between the Mother Country and her colonies, but Disraeli labored to strengthen that attachment by shewing its worth and power both in peace and war.
With similar zeal Sir John exalted the advantages of Canada's union with Great Britain. A great Anglo-Saxon alliance, with a central administration, having the colonies as auxiliary powers, all united under the same Sovereign, and devoted to the same British interests, was his dream.
Sir John Macdonald's speeches on Confederation indicate how this vast political project was developed in his mind.
A similar idea of the intimate connection between Colonial welfare and loyalty, and England's welfare and greatness, was fostered by Lord Beaconsfield.
The Conservatives in England used to depend upon the aristocratic families for recruits, and the Whigs upon the farming and working classes. But with rare skill in regulating, for example, factory work, in securing more comfortable homes, and through electoral reforms, Mr. Disraeli overcame the enmity of the artizan classes against the Conservative party, attached them to it by broad and progressive principles, and enrolled them under his banner. He thus permanently united property, labor and capital—the great social forces of England.
With like wisdom Sir John through different statutes closely secured the votes of farmers, manufacturers, mechanics and workmen by protecting home industries, extending the franchise, and legally recognizing workingmen's associations.
The aims of both politicians seem to have been to adapt legislation to the needs, circumstances and ruling sentiments f the country. They feared not to modify their opinions and methods of influence, as occasion demanded.
The numerous and powerful Primrose League represents and perpetuates the influence of Lord Beaconsfield upon English politics; and in view of a similar effect in Canada it is proposed to form a Maple League, in order to perpetuate the principles of the late Canadian Premier.
Disraeli hazarded the bold opinion that England is an, Asiatic Power whose centre of gravity is Calcutta, in allusion to the many millions of British subjects in Asia. So to increase English influence in the East he gained control of the Suez Canal, acquired Cyprus, and made Queen Victoria Empress of India.
Sir John Macdonald with like statesmanship labored to open for colonization the vast territories of the Canadian Northwest, which he foresaw destined to receive millions of inhabitants, and certain to affect the economic conditions even of the whole world. So he bent his energies to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway, in order that, with the fast steamship service on the Pacific Ocean, it might be the most rapid and independent route between England and the East. At the same time he developed a vast region, into which could be directed that surplus of population which is too often attracted by neighboring and not always friendly powers.
The above-named great enterprises, with which England's and Canada's wise Premiers have both been associated, have prepared the British Empire,—always so powerful in commerce—for the "conquest of universal traffic."
SECRETS OF SUCCESS.
"A smile for a friend, a sneer for the world, is the way to govern mankind," said Mr. Disraeli in one of his books, and on his foes he certainly did not spare sarcasm.
Sir John also was a master at raillery, yet he was wont to avoid fruitless irritation, and could use satire good-humoredly, and his rare courtesy often gained him valuable recruits even, among his opponents.
Certainly Sir John had enemies, whom his talents so long shut out from power.
In like manner Disraeli passed for the "best abused man in England."
Neither politician hesitated even to employ opponents, or to put young men forward, if by so doing the good of the public could be the better guaranteed.
Both understood the art of politics, constitutional history and the working of English institutions.
Neither was a great orator, but each could by words, ready, vigorous and incisive, persuade, captivate and control his chamber, and this more by spoken action than by eloquence. Thus each could bend men to his ideas and sentiments,—one of the greatest triumphs of oratory.
Both Disraeli and Sir John understood parliamentary strategy. They could conceal their tactics, so as to make use of defects in the defenses of an adversary, and even to set traps for him from which he rarely escaped.
In this way they often brought about the most unexpected and surprising changes. In fact, Disraeli himself said that "to govern men is not enough, one must astonish them." And so he did. Like many other celebrated men, both of these great politicians owed much to their wives.
By her large private means the Viscountess Beaconsfield contributed much to facilitate her husband's becoming remarkable in the service of his country. This he himself gratefully acknowledged, even declaring that he owed all his success to his wife.
Similarly, Baroness Macdonald, of Earnscliffe, had the happiest influence over the later career of her husband. A woman of fine intellect, of distinguished origin and bearing, of benevolent heart and devoted attachment, she has been nobly associated with the career of her husband, and has always stood high in popular favor.
As chiefs these two political leaders seemed made for their parties and their parties for them, and there appeared on neither side any desire of change.
Sir John received a tangible mark of appreciation in a large sum of money obtained by public subscription among his friends in 1870.
In 1873, Disraeli was elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, where a public banquet was held in his honor. The day after becoming a peer Lord Beaconsfield was presented with a County Crown, the result of a general subscription organized by the workingmen of England in testimony of his worth.
Disraeli was applauded as having been the chief of his party for a longer period than any one else in English annals.
The same may be said of Sir John Macdonald's premiership, and of his leadership of the Conservative party in Canada.
Political life with its successes and reverses seemed for both of these remarkable men their true element, out of which they could not live, and in which they both attained to the highest and most influential positions.
Neither pretended to be infallible. On more than one occasion they declared that if they could have acted over again in certain matters, they would have done differently. Sir John frankly owned that he made mistakes in language not unlike that of Disraeli, who once said to the electors of Buckingham, "I have done things that I regret, I have said many things that I deplore."
Both Mr. Disraeli and Mr. Macdonald had their public services signally recognized by the bestowal of remarkable Imperial honors. After his wife's elevation, Disraeli was himself raised to the peerage. The Queen first nominated Mr Macdonald a member of her Privy Council and afterwards made him a Knight. Sir John, like his prototype Lord Beaconsfield, was a favorite at the English Court. He had audiences with the Queen, and was her guest at Windsor. From Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lome, Sir John received many marks of friendship. It is said that Her Majesty had desired to confer honors which he begged to be allowed to decline.
Only Sir Robert VValpole's periods of power in the English Cabinet (between 1714 and 1742) aggregate so many years as Sir John served in a ministerial capacity, whilst the latter's period of virtual supremacy surpassed even Walpole's, and has no parallel for length and efficiency except in the careers of men abroad, such as Prince Bismarck, the German Chancellor, and Her Tisza, President of the Hungarian Ministry.
The younger Pitt's premiership lasted 19 years. So did Sir John Macdonald's in periods of 6 and 13 years
Sir Chas. Dilke, already quoted, has further said of the late Premier:— "The position of personal influence which Sir John A. Macdonald holds in the Dominion is unique among the politicians of the British Empire. If it were possible to institute a comparison between a colonial possession and a first-class European power, Sir John Macdonald's position in Canada might be likened to that of Prince Bismarck in the German Empire.
"In personal characteristics there is much in 'John A.,' as he is often styled, to remind one of another European statesman now deceased—Signor Depretis, the late Prime Minister of Italy—for there are certainly not a few points of resemblance between 'The Old Stradella' and 'Old To-morrow,' as Sir John is also frequently called, from his custom of putting off all disagreeable matters. * * * Sir John Macdonald's chief outward note is his expansiveness, and the main point of difference from Disraeli is the contrast between his buoyancy and the well-known sphinx attitude. Macdonald is the life and soul of every gathering in which he takes a part, and in the exuberance of his antique youthfulness Sir John Macdonald resembles less Mr. Disraeli than Mr. Gladstone, whose junior he is by a few days more than five years, and whom he also successfully follows in House of Commons tactics or adroitness, as well as in his detestation of those who keep him past midnight chained to his House of Commons' seat."
Comparing Sir John Macdonald with Lord Palmerston, as well as with Lord Beaconsfield, it may be said that the "Imperial idea" dominated all the three.
To increase British power was all but a passion with Lord Palmerston. He thus represented English character and opinion, and with that sentiment directed England's foreign policy, and so emulated Chatham, Fox, Burke, Peel, and Canning.
Similarly Beaconsfield gained popular support through his national instincts, and worked for the glory of the British Crown, for the development, expansion and protection of England's interests, and for the maintenance of the Empire's prestige.
Both Palmerston and Beaconsfield believed that desire for peace should never justify submission to affront. They realized that Great Britain's position depended upon a willingness to fulfil her highest duties if she would continue to have the respect of the world and to retain her superior situation of dignity.
The patriotism of Lords Palmerston and Beaconsfield desired British to be like Roman citizenship of days gone by, so that a Briton, like the old Roman, should be free from indignity and injustice in any and every land.
In fact, they wished every British subject to be protected by the ever-watchful eye and strong arm of the Mother Country. So, too, was the value of British citizenship extolled by Sir John Macdonald. He expressed the hope that his children, if not himself, might see Canada the right arm of England and a powerful auxiliary of the Empire, and the "Dominion" become a worthy portion of a vast and beneficent Imperial structure.
All three statesmen felt that local patriotism was not enough to satisfy Imperial aspirations.
Their wide and noble aim was the uniting of distant peoples by a wise protection and development of all their interests.
All three held office for a long time and died full of years and honors, and their influence will perpetuate their own Imperial idea, namely, the belief in a glorious future for a powerfully united British people.*
A triple comparison has also been made between the characters and achievements of Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales; Mr. Cecil Rhodes, Premier of the Cape; and Sir John Macdonald, the late Premier of Canada.
They have been named together by the Pall Mall Gazette as "cohesive forces of the Colonial Empire."
A similarity between Sir John's career and Pitt's is well conveyed by the inscription upon the latter's monument in the Guildhall of London, as follows :—" Dispensing for nearly forty years the favors of the Crown, he lived without ostentation and died poor."
A FEW OPINIONS ON THIS AND OTHER POINTS.
In this connection, the Hon. Mr. Abbott, when alluding in the Senate to the late Canadian Premier's death, said :—" Sir John Macdonald lived during the greater part of his life with unparalleled facilities for amassing wealth. He died a comparatively poor man. * * * None of his bitterest enemies ever accused him of using his political power for his personal advantage."
These remarks about Sir John not having enriched himself were re-echoed by the Hon. Mr. Scott, leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Mr. Laurier, Leader of the Opposition, in eulogizing Sir John, said, in reference to his fondness for power :—
The Empire. "In my judgment, even the career of William Pitt can hardly compare with that of Sir John Macdonald in this respect. In the intimacy of his domestic circle he was fond of repeating that his end would be as the end of Lord Chatham, that he would be carried away from the floor of Parliament to die. How true his vision into the future was we now know, for we saw him, at the last, with enfeebled health and declining strength struggling on the floor of Parliament until—the hand of fate upon him—he was carried to his home to die; and thus to die with his armor on was probably his ambition. To-day we deplore the loss of him whom we all unite in saying was the foremost Canadian of his time, and who filled the largest place in Canadian history."
Mr. Martin J. Griffin, the Librarian of Parliament at Ottawa, has just contributed to the N. Y. Independent an interesting sketch of the late Premier, Sir John Macdonald. "The last time he spoke to the present writer," he says, "was at night, during the debate on the Franchise bill, when he came to my room to inquire what Mr. Disraeli had done about the elections in view of the Reform bill of 1867 ; he obtained his precedent, thanked me in his pleasant way, and went back to the House of Commons with such a haggard face and such a faltering step that my eyes filled with an involuntary emotion." Mr. Griffin describes some of Sir John's personal characteristics. "He was sure to have read the last new book worth reading, and to have got at the pith of it quickly. He kept well up with the reviews as well as with the books. A few days before he entered on the campaign of 1891 he was in the Library of Parliament, and amid much talk of other things, he expressed his high appreciation of the exquisite article in the London Spectator on Cardinal Newman; he gave some anecdotes of Lord Houghton, which have not appeared in print, and an adventure with the late Walter Bagehot at'a London dinner-party; he explained his opinions as to the' reasons why the Whigs dealt ungratefully by Edmund Burke, and gave a short account of a conversation with Lord Beaconsfield. One of his remarks I will venture to repeat. "The day before the Montreal physicians went to see him he kept his two secretaries busily employed.. He had said that Lord Beaconsfield in solemn moments was much a Hebrew, and he illustrated it thus. He said that he told Lord Beaconsfield he had been in public life and mainly in office for forty years. 'Ah,' said Lord Beaconsfield, 'just as iong as David reigned.' This much, too, may be said :— Had Lord Beaconsfield lived longer, and Sir John Macdonald continued during that time, as he did, in power, the policy of the Ministers of the Queen would have had a more direct bearing on the development of Canada."
Amongst opinions about comparative careers and characteristics is the following of Mr. N. F. Davin, given in the House of Commons when Sir John's death was formally announced:
"Mr. Speaker, the man whom we mourn here to-day was emphatically a great man. When I came to Canada first, his friends, misdoubting that they might have formed a provincial conception of Sir John Macdonald, used to come to me and ask how he would compare with the great men in England. I said that he could stand up to the greatest of them, and when I knew him intimately, and was brought closely in contact with him, I became more and more convinced that far from doubting he could stand up to the greatest of them; few of them had the varied qualities, the extraordinary, varied and complex qualities that are necessary to make a political leader, such as was Sir John Macdonald. Ranging over the field of history, and recalling the names of the men who have reached those heights, which it takes a lifetime to climb, it is hardly possible to find one who has possessed the varied qualities of the great man who the other day was leading in this House. You may find great power of intellect, great powers of statesmanship, far-reaching views, great powers of oratory, but where will you find, conjoined with all these, that politeness that never fails, that delicate consideration for the feelings of others, that exquisite urbanity which distinguished Sir John Macdonald?"
Lord Salisbury, paying a tribute in the House of Lords to the late Premier of Canada, just after his death, said, "that Sir John Macdonald was as great a constitutional statesman as any nation had ever seen."
It may justly be said that the late Canadian Premier, Sir John Macdonald, was great in himself, great in position and power, great as a politician and a patriot, great as a debater and party-leader, great in tact and discretion, great, too, in clear headedness, conciliation and kind-heartedness.
He had his faults. Who has not? But the good qualities of heart and hand predominated. In the thick of political warfare and bitter party rancor this geniality remained unchanged, and won the affection of opponents as well as of adherents. In the midst of perplexities a favorite maxim seems to have been to wait till "to-morrow "—to do nothing —and trust to time, the great miracle-worker of any age, to develop a natural and wise solution.
At a meeting of the City Council of Toronto, the following choice words occur in a resolution of sorrow :—
"In history the name of the late Premier will shine as that of a statesman who controlled parliaments, directed parties and guided the destinies of a people. He will also be remembered as a man of a large heart, broad sympathies and a rare personal magnetism, who commanded the esteem of his political opponents, and won the love of his countrymen."
Sir John has been called the "Father of the Dominion," "Father of his country," Pere de la Patrie," and not merely a Canadian but an Imperial statesman. "The brightest gem in the British crown was polished and set by his hand," said Mr. Davin.
Hon. Mr. Abbott, in the Senate, said:—
"He built up for himself a reputation, not only on this continent but in England, scarcely second to that of any statesman who has sat in the councils of the Empire."
La Minerve, commenting upon Sir John's death, said: "In Europe the deceased would have ranked with the Beaconsfields, Gladstones, Salisburys, Thiers, Guizots, Bismarcks, Metternichs, Gortschakoffs. He is one of their peers."
The London Times of June 8 remarks of Sir John Macdonald that, " For the same minister to have won four general elections in succession is unexampled in the modern history of parliamentary government in Anglo-Saxon communities.
It is an indubitable fact that Sir John Macdonald captivated the imagination of the Canadians by a policy conceived on broad patriotic principles, and appealing as strongly to national sentiment as it seemed to appeal to material interests."
Posterity will recall the name Sir John Macdonald as one who helped to lay the basis of the Great Confederation, which is destined to become not only the generous rival of the United States, but a " Greater Britain."
These two first ministers of England and Canada whose careers we have compared are "examples of the striking success reserved for talent, work and perseverance in countries truly free."
In Lord Beaconsfield and Sir John Macdonald we have proof that there is no degree so exalted in the social and political scale which, by those who know how to deserve the confidence of their fellow-citizens, may not be attained by the subjects of Queen Victoria.
VIVAT REGINA ET IMPERATRIX.
THE EPISODE OF THE REBELLION.
[To the following letter to the Empire, from Mr. WilliamGunn of Walkerton, it is only necessary to add that though Mr. Macdonald was engaged to defend Von Schoultz, he made np address to the court, as would be inferred, and as has.been stated by so many biographers. Von Schoultz himself saw that no "forensic skill" could save him, and his action as detailed in chapter VII. shows this.]
The prisoners taken at the battle of the windmill at Prescott, in September, 1838, were brought up to Kingston in the old mail steamer Canada and landed at Scobell's wharf, foot of Brock street, where Sanderson & Murray carried on the forwarding business, and for whom I was then agent. A stout rope was fastened around the chest of Gen. Von Schoultz, to which the other prisoners were fastened by the right hand and the left hand alternately. In this way they were marched to TSte du Pont barracks and Fort Henry, pelted by the rabble in the crowd, the jail of the county being too small to accommodate the number, some 12o or 130 men. Although taken by the military in the act of war, in consequence of some peculiarity of the law these prisoners were retained, not in military custody, but in the custody of the sheriff. On a certain night a number of them made their escape. Col. Dundas, of the 83rd regiment, being commandant of the garrison, had Mr. Ashley, the jailer, arrested, and afterwards prosecuted in the Court of Queen's Bench for alleged complicity in the escape. The case excited intense interest. Mr. Ashley was a strong Reformer. The public mind was greatly excited against the American sympathizers. John A. Macdonald, then a very young lawyer who had not hitherto distinguished himself in any way, defended Mr. Ashley. I was present during the whole of the trial, which lasted two days or more. Mr. Macdonald handled the military authorities with great severity, for which they never forgave him, and this feeling of antagonism was kept up, each new coming regiment evidently receiving the tradition from its predecessor in the garrison, but John A. cared nothing for that. Although Mr. Macdonald's friends did not sympathize with him in his onslaught on the military authorities, yet all were surprised and delighted at the wonderful tact and forensic ability he so suddenly displayed in that trial. The jury, after long deliberation, acquitted Mr. Ashley. The name and praise of the young lawyer were on every tongue. He had made his mark. This was at the Fall Assizes for 1838. His defence of Von Schoultz, for which he was specially retained by friends of Von Schoultz in Syracuse, New York, was subsequent to this. Von Schoultz, while animated by noble motives, had been basely misled as to the condition of things in Canada. He requested as a soldier to be shot, but all that Mr. Macdonald's abilities and energetic effort on his behalf could accomplish was that, instead of being hanged on the common jail scaffold with his companions in arms, he was hanged on a scaffold specially erected under the guns of Fort Henry. The first elevation John A. received at the hand of his fellows was his election in 1840 or 1841, as president of the St. Andrew's Society of Kingston. The society turned out largely in kilts in midwinter to meet Sir Charles Metcalfe on his arrival, via New York and across the ice from Cape Vincent, as GovernorGeneral. As president of the society, Mr. Macdonald was invited to dine at Government house, and that was his first contact with public life. I voted for John A. as president in 1840 or 1841. He, with all his numerous Scotch young friends, had supported Mr. Manahan in the general election of 1840 or 1841, but when, in response to the requisition presented to him by all classes in Kingston, he consented to run in 1844, he was returned by the majority you mention, 240, although Mr. Manahan was a gentleman highly esteemed in Kingston. Sir John was always truly loyal. In 1838 he joined a volunteer company in Kingston, where he became proficient in drill and military duty. Hon. Mr. Mowat was a member of the same company, which was highly complimented by Col. Dundas on its efficiency."
SIR JOHN'S ANCESTORS.
(From a letter of Duncan Davidson, of Boissevain, to the Winnipeg Free Press.)
In the many biographical sketches of the late Sir John A. Macdonald in the public press, I have not observed any account of his ancestors beyond his father and mother. They can, however, be traced back for two generations at least, and I believe the late Premier looked upon them with considerable pride. His father was a native of the parish of Dornock, Sutherlandshire, and I believe he could boast of gentle blood. But I believe he was more indebted to the maternal side of the house for his intellectual vigor and strong personality. His maternal grandmother was the daughter of Grant of Glemmorrstow, a very old family in Inverness-shire. She married Colonel Shaw, who having died, he was left a widow. She married the second time Capt. Shaw, who was cornet in Lord Elisha's Horse on the fatal field of Culloden, fighting for the Pretender. After the settlement of affairs, he, like many of his countrymen, took service in the British army, where he rose to the rank of captain, and upon retiring from the army he occupied till her death the farm of Dalnavert, in Badenach, Inverness-shire. Here on the banks of the romantic River Spey, and under the shades of the highest and most rugged part of the Grampians, with their primeval and extensive forests, Sir John A. Macdonald's mother was born and brought up until she married Sir John's father, who had business relations in Glasgow, where they resided until 1820, when they emigrated to Canada and settled in Kingston. * * *
Another daughter of Captain Shaw was married to Colonel McPherson, a son of Cheny McPherson, captain of the Black Watch, who with his clan espoused the Pretender's cause, was particularly obnoxious to the Government, but escaped to France and died in exile. Colonel McPherson and his wife died in Kingston, and are buried in the family burying place there. A third daughter of Captain Shaw was married to Captain Alexander Clark, who upon the death of his father-in-law occupied the farm of Dalnavert till his death, when he was succeeded by his son, Captain James Clark, of the 42nd Highlanders, who also died several years ago. Captain Alexander Clark had a large family, one of whom, being his own first cousin, Sir John A. Macdonald married, and was the mother of Hugh John Macdonald, M.P., the late Premier's only son. She died many years ago. Captain Clark was nearly related to James McPherson, the famous translator of Ossian's poems, and was the next at law after Sir David Brewster's family to the beautiful estate of Belleville. Sir David was married to McPherson's youngest daughter, and, of course, his family came first. On the north side of the Spey, opposite Dalnavert, is Kinrara, a seat of the late Duke of Gordon. Here lies in a romantic spot in quiet repose the ashes of the clever and celebrated Duchess Jean Gordon, who played such a conspicuous figure in the aristocratic and political circles of the exciting days of the regency of George IV. The dukedom of Gordon became extinct in the son of the illustrious Duchess, but has been revived and attached to the Richmond family, who is both: Duke of Richmond and Gordon and Earl of Kinrara. Along„ side Dalnavert is the farm of South Kinrara, where the gallant Colonel Lewis Carmichael, who commanded the Glengarry Highlanders in the rebellion of 1837 and !838, was born. A rough but imposing monument on an island in the St.. Lawrence commemorates the event. Those were the surroundings in which the late illustrious Premier's mother was brought up. She was a lady of a very superior intellect, and I believe that Sir John bore a remarkable resemblance to her."
HIS LAST WILL.
I, John Alexander Macdonald, of the city of Ottawa, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, do hereby revoke all former wills and testamentary dispositions made by me, declare this to be my last will and testament.
I hereby appoint my friends the Honorable Edgar Dewdney, now of Ottawa, and Frederick White, and Joseph Pope, of Ottawa, Esquires, and my son, Hugh John Macdonald, of Winnipeg, Esquire, executors of this, my last will and testament.
I do nominate and appoint my said executors in connection with my dear wife Susan. Agnes Macdonald, to be guardians of my daughter Mary, who will probably be through life incapable of»managing her own affairs.
I give and devise all my real estate and property in the City of Ottawa unto my said executors in trust to allow my said wife to occupy the same during her life free of rent. In case she should desire to have such property sold, then in trust to sell and dispose of the same in whole or in part, and to transfer the purchase moneys and any securities they may take for the payment of the same to the trustees or trustee under my said wife's marriage settlement with me, subject to the trusts and conditions in the said settlement mentioned. In case the said property remains unsold at the time of her decease, then in trust to sell and dispose of the same and apply the purchase money for the benefit of my said daughter Mary, either by transferring the same and any securities taken therefor to the trustees or trustee under the said marriage settlement, or in such other manner as they may deem most for her benefit; and, in case of my wife surviving her daughter, then in trust for the family of my said son in manner hereinafter mentioned and provided.
I give and bequeath unto my said executors all my personal estate and property not hereby otherwise disposed of upon trust to sell, call in and convert into money the same or such part thereof as shall not consist of money; provided, however, that they may postpone such sale, calling in or conversion thereof for so long as they shall think fit, and shall out of the money produced by such sale, calling in or conversion, pay my funeral expenses and testamentary expenses and my debts, and shall invest the residue in some one or more of the modes f investment hereinafter authorized in the manner following) that is to say: As to one moiety thereof and during the life of my daughter and of her mother to pay such mother my wife the interest, dividends and income thereof for the maintenance, education and advancement in life of my said daughter, and with power to my wife to invest or apply the same for her use and benefit as she my said wife may, in the unfettered exercise of her discretion, think fit without any liability on the part of my executors to see to the application thereof; and upon the death of my said daughter to stand possessed of the said moiety and the interest, dividends, and income thereof for the benefit of my said wife; and after her death for the benefit and advantage of the wife and child or children then living of my said son in the manner hereinafter provided as to the disposition of the other moiety of my personal property. And as to the said other moiety in trust to apply the interest, dividends and income thereof for the benefit of the wife of my said son, and for the maintenance, education and advancement in life of the said child or children, and generally to apply the same for his or their use and benefit, as they in the unfettered exercise of their discretion may .think fit, including the right to pay to my said son from time to time the said interest, dividends and income, for the purpose aforesaid, and as to these several applications without any liability on the part of my executors to such applications ; and as the said child or children shall become of the age of twenty-one years, either to divide and transfer to each child his or her share of the last mentioned moiety, or to continue the payment of such dividends, interest and income only, as they in their unfettered discretion may see fit, and I would suggest the expediency before any daughter of my son is married ,of my executors causing an ante-nuptial marriage settlement to be made on such conditions and with such provisions as my executors shall see fit.
There are two policies on my life in the Standard Life Assurance Company of Edinburgh of ^2000 sterling each. One, numbered 1505, has been assigned to the trustees of the said marriage settlement; the other, numbered 317,I bequeath to my executors in trust to invest the same and the proceeds thereof in the manner in which they are herein authorized to make investments, and to pay the annual interest, dividends and interest thereof to my son during his life, and after his death to apply the principal and interest thereof in manner herein before provided as to the second moiety of my personal estate—settled upon his child or children.
I bequeath to my son my law library and all and singular my law books, including such books of reference as are usually found in a well-appointed law library; provided that in case of doubt as to whether any particular book or class of books is included in this bequest, such doubt snall be resolved by my executors or the majority of them. My sister, Louisa Jean Macdonald, now deceased, bequeathed to me all her estate, and made me sole executor of her last will. There is, notwithstanding, in her name, certain stock in the Trust and Loan Company of Canada and in the Confederation Life Insurance Company of Toronto. These stocks or shares I give and bequeath to my said son for his own use and benefit.
I give and bequeath any shares in the capital stock of the Canadian Pacific Railway whereof I may die possessed, and whether standing in my own name or in that of any other person for my benefit, to my executors in trust to pay the dividends therefrom to my said wife during her life, and after her decease to deal with the said shares in the manner herein before provided with respect to my general personal estate, with power to sell the said shares or any portion thereof and invest the proceeds thereof in some one or more of the modes of investment hereinafter mentioned, and then in trust to pay the dividends or income therefrom to my said wife during her life and after her death to deal with the said last mentioned investments in the manner herein before provided with respect to my general personal estate.
I give and bequeath to my wife for her own use and benefit all my jewels, trinkets, watches, plate, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, statues, statuettes, busts, articles of vertu, furniture and household effects, other than those hereby otherwise disposed of, and without wishing or intending to impress any trust upon the same, I leave it entirely to her discretion whether any of the articles hereby bequeathed to her should be given to my son Hugh, or in case of his decease to his son as being connected with my career as a public man. I would suggest that my said wife should first select out of said books such volumes as she would wish to keep, and then offer the remainder thereof for sale at Toronto or Ottawa by public auction, as many of my friends may desire to possess a book of mine. As the personal welfare of my wife is already provided for by my marriage settlement, and by the testimonial so kindly and thoughtfully presented by a number of my personal and political friends, and settled by deed of trust bearing date the 27th day of March, 1872,I desire that the benefit she may take under my will shall be accepted by her in full satisfaction of her claim to dower out of my real estate, of which I now am or shall hereafter be seized. As to any residue or balance that may from time to time remain in the hands of the trustees of the said last-mentioned trust, and arising from the interest, dividends or income derived from the moneys or securities for money thereby settled after payment out of the same to my wife of the annuity of two thousand dollars by said trust deed provided to be paid, I desire that while my wife and daughter shall both be living, from time to time and immediately after such payment shall be made to my wife on account of such annuity, one moiety of the said residue or balance remaining in the hands of the said trustees shall be paid over to my executors for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the wife and child or children of my said son in the manner hereinbefore provided with respect to such wife, child or children, and the other half to my wife to be expended or invested at her own will and pleasure, knowing well that in expending or investing the same she will have due regard to the interests of my said daughter, and in case my said daughter shall predecease my wife, I desire that during the lifetime of my said wife the whole of the said residue or balance from time to time remaining in the hands of the trustees, after payment of the said annuity, shall be paid to my executors, to be applied by them for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the wife and child or children of my son in manner herein before described, and that after the decease of my wife the whole of the moneys, funds and securities, the proceeds of the said testimonial, be applied also for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the said wife and child or children of my son in the manner herein before described. In case my wife should predecease my said daughter, I desire that the whole of the said moneys, funds and securities proceeds as aforesaid be by the said trustees paid over, transferred and assigned to my executors, who shall hold the same in trust to apply and invest the same in some one or more of the modes of investment hereinafter authorized, and shall, during the lifetime of my said daughter, apply one moiety of the interest, dividends and income thereof for the benefit and advantage of my said daughter in the same manner, for the same purposes and with the same discretionary powers as is herein before provided with respect to other properties settled for her advantage, and shall apply the other moiety for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the wife and child or children of my said son in the manner herein before described, and upon the death of my said daughter, I direct that my executors shall apply the moiety first above mentioned as well for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the said wife, child and children in the manner herein before described as well as the moiely secondly above mentioned.
All moneys liable to be invested under this my will may be invested in or upon any of the public stocks or funds or other Government securities of Great Britain and Ireland, or of the United States of America, or of the Dominion of Canada, or of any province of the Dominion, or upon the debentures or securities of any municipal corporation of any county, city town or township in the Dominion, or upon mortgage upon real estate, either freehold or leasehold, in the said Dominion, or in the capital stock of any bank duly incorporated by the Legislature of the said Dominion, or in any incorporated loan or investment company of the said Dominion, with discretionary power to my executors from time to time to alter, vary and transpose the said investment for others of a like nature; and in lending money on any mortgage security, my trustees may accept any title or evidence of title that may appear to them sufficient, and may at any time release any part of the property comprised in any mortgage security upon being satisfied that the remaining property comprised therein is a sufficient security for the money owing thereon.
I desire to repeat that wherever in this my will I have desired that any interest, dividends or income shall be paid for the benefit, maintenance and advancement of the wife and child or children of my said son, the same may be paid to my son if my executors think proper to do so for the said purposes, and that my executors shall not be obliged to see to the due application thereof. I desire that I shall be buried in the Kingston cemetery near the grave of my mother, as I promised her that I should be there buried. ,
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety.
John A. Macdonald [L.S.].
Signed, sealed, delivered and declared by the said testator, John Alexander Macdonald, as for his last will and testament, in the presence of us, both being present at the same time, who at his request and in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as attesting witnesses.
A PERSONAL LETTER.
The following is a sample of Sir John's private letters :—
Kingston, July 4, '64.
My Dear Daly :—
I want you to get for me a neat, light, efficient fowling-piece for Hugh—say for a boy of 16—with the necessary apparatus. I don't know anything about such things, and I suppose you don't know much, but you can get one of your sporting friends to select. I want a good, but not an expensive article. Hugh will probably choose his double-barrel for himself by-and-bye.
Poor Morton was buried yesterday. The funeral was very large.
Yours always,John A. Macdonald.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME "OLD TO-MORROW."
There has been a general impression that the nick-name "Old To-morrow," so commonly applied to Sir John, was first given by an Indian chief, and Poundmaker's name has been mentioned as the chief. A correspondent from the Northwest, however, kindly gives me the origin, as follows :—
"As I do not remember ever having seen an account of the origin of the name 'Old To-morrow,' it may interest you to know it. Sir John always controlled the North West Mounted Police. In the fall of 1881, Col. Irvine, the commissioner of the force, was in Ottawa with his adjutant, Superintendent Cotton. A young gentleman of Montreal, Mr. Ronald Prevost, • was very anxious to obtain a commission on the force. . He was visiting Ottawa for this purpose and was living at the same hotel—the Old Queen's—with Col. Irvine and Supt. Cotton. Mr. Prevost was very anxious to see Sir John but could not succeed. Day after day he went to see him, but always came back with the stereotyped answer: 'Come back to-morrow.' This must have continued for several weeks, till the officers were accustomed to greet Prevost with ' Well, are you to go back to-morrow?' One evening he came into Col. Irvine's room and said he was to see Sir John to-morrow, when Col. Irvine cried out, 'Old To-morrow would be just the name for Sir John,' and he immediately gave the Blackfoot translation of it—Ap-e-naq-wis. The party laughed over the idea, and it soon spread and was taken up by the daily press. It indicated Sir John's tendency to allow time to settle difficult questions; not to move hastily, but to adjourn the decision of •dangerous matters until opinion had cooled. His opponents applied it to him in the sense of temporizing with grave questions which demanded instant action. They frequently called him 'Old To-morrow,' in discussing the Half-breed rebellion, accusing him of criminal delay in dealing with that question. The Opposition papers often stated that the name was applied by the Indians, and, I believe, attributed it to the Blackfoot chief, Crowfoot. The Indians may have heard the name, but I do not think he was commonly known by it among them."
SENATOR BOYD'S REMINISCENCES.
The following is the substance of an interview with Senator Boyd, of St. John, N.B., published in the Ottawa Journal; "The only pity," said the senator, "is that Sir John before his death did not see consummated his long cherished hope in the admission of Newfoundland into Canada and the signing of the treaty of reciprocity with the United States, which was the cause of his late appeal to the country. He got his country's verdict in the late election, but instead of taking the needed rest which his life-long friend, Senator Sullivan, urged him to take after his labors in Kingston, he came to the Capital and plunged into arduous Cabinet work. A week after the opening of Parliament I was in the Railway office. He sent for me. He was just preparing for toilsome work, with a bundle of papers in his hand, looking very tired and breathing heavily. I said, 'Ah, Sir John, you should not work so.' He replied, 'My dear Boyd, I cannot help it; the work must be done.' I replied, 'God in His providence has given to our great party in the last election many excellent ministers of railways, but only one for Premier in this time, when the potsherds are dashing against each other.' But he only smiled, and with some usual kindly, merry words I parted forever with my steadfast friend of a quarter of a century.
''Eight months ago, he visited St. John and spoke to our workers at the great exhibition. In the evening six thousand gave him a royal welcome in our largest rink, and thousands left unable to get near it. 'We want to look at Sir John,' was said by old men who had voted for him since 1867, and some of whom had come hundre ds of miles to see their leader and if possible shake his hand
"A quarter of a century before, he came to see the city, and that night in St. John he met some of our people along with his friend, Sir Charles Tupper, who had him in medical care. There were Sandfield Macdonald, Judge Tuck, Simeon Jones, Judges King, Palmer and Waters. And how the hours flew! His humorous stories were a revelation to us all. Lady Macdonald and Colonel Bernard were with him. Among other places, we visited 1 )r. Waddell at our model asylum for the insane, where a lovely girl under religious melancholy said, 'Ah lady, I love you, may I kiss you?' And the mistress of Earnscliffe kissed her young wan cheek, and both looked happier for it.
"During the first preparation of the N. P. tariff, which fell specially to the lot of the then Finance Minister, Sir Leonard Tilley, that statesman, worn out with the work, was ordered by Sir James Grant to a darkened room. Sir John said to me, 'THey will have to go it blind now.' In after years, when Sir Leonard had to go to the Massachusetts hospital, Sir John, most anxious for his recovery, sent for me on my return and made solicitous inquiries for him. Then the Premier branched off to politics, and asked, 'Did you hear much of the fishery question in Boston?' 'Yes,' I said, 'it was all the talk, and so I secured interviews with the Democratic Globe and Republican Journal for Sir Leonard and other persons of influence.' Sir John's eye brightened as he said, 'That's good—we only need to mutually understand these questions, for both only seek what is their own, and God knows, next to the prosperity of Canada and Great Britain we seek that of the United States, for our interests are one. We are of the same family, and each should say of the other as the Psalmist puts it, " Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces."'
"How he was longing," exclaimed Mr. Boyd, "for the coming treaty, which he was working toward, which would forever remove the petty irritations which ought never to have existed.
"It was my privilege," continued the senator, "to attend the Conservative caucus of some seven weeks ago, when he made some pleasant allusions to the senators coming among them, alluding to the invitation he gave me to be presentWho will ever forget his reception as he entered the room? And then the address of this experienced father to the young M. P.'s, not to prepare long essays, but to fill their minds, and then speak out what they thought, warm and fresh—always to be ready with a reason. The wit, wisdom, adaptability, and the binding together of his remarks were so manifest! He had an inimitable way with his young supporters. Take the one, for instance, whom he dubbed Ajax—Mr. Weldon of Albert. Mr. Weldon wrote the Premier for a little favor, closing his request with the words, 'Grant me but this, dear Sir John, and Ajax asks no more.' The prompt reply came: 'The favor is granted, but only on condition that Ajax will ask for more.'
"I remember one striking instance of Sir John's nervous endurance. He left Earnsclifle at 9 a. m., attended committees, met deputations and men in Parliament from 3 p.m. until 6 a.m. next morning, not having gone home for rest. After a speech of six hours from Mr. Blake, Sir John arose at 4 a.m. to reply. Lady Macdonald, I remember, was anxiously scanning his face from the gallery, and I said to her 'Bright as ever.' And so he was. Jaunty as a boy, smacking his lips as though he was enjoying a sweet morsel, and merry as a spring song bird, he for two hours dissected Blake's oration, left only bare bones, and showed that all his talk about Ireland had no more substantial foundation than had the same orator's speech in defense of Riel."
Mr. Boyd went on to state something of which the Journal does not remember much public mention before. "Twenty years before," he said, "Sir John framed a bill for Ireland, which, had it been adopted then, as was his bill for Canada in 1867, would have made Ireland as prosperous as has been Canada. This did Justin McCarthy publicly avow at a banquet to him in St. John, five years ago."
Continuing, Mr. Boyd made some references to Public and Separate school issues, in which he said Sir John had taken an interest which might have culminated in action had he lived. '• But even for this," said Mr. Boyd> "let me use the words of Principal Grant of Queen's University, when writing me last week on Sir John's death: 'We are in critical times, and the skillful hand that has been piloting us is about to be withdrawn from the helm. However, no man is indispensable—let us have faith in God, and He will do exceeding more than we can ask or think.'
"Like President Lincoln," said Mr. Boyd, "Sir John was an example of the men who are most thoughtful, and yet most cheerful; who perhaps could not carry the heavy burdens of care, had they not a merry heart to keep them. I remember how on a trip down the Bay of Fundy, while Lady Macdonald discoursed with Capt. Thompson on the coasts, the tides and currents, Sir John sat with me full of fun and story, glad to shake off the weighty cares of state for even the day.
"As has often been said, he never forgot a service. Some years ago he claimed from one of his ministers a place in the department for a poor woman, because 'thirty years before her father was a supporter of mine in Quebec' "Last year at Riviere du Loup, a young lady of the city} whose rich voice can be heard in the choir of Rev. Mr. Casey's church, sang to him, and daily he would ask her for his favorite, 'The land o' the leal.'" Senator Boyd then gave the words:
I'm wearin awa', Jean,
Like snaw wreath in thaw, Jean;
I'm wearin awa'
To the lando' the leal.
There's nae sorrow there, Jean,
There's neither cauld nor care, Jean,
The day is aye fair
In the land o' the leal.
Then dry that tearful e'e, Jean,
My soul langs to be free, Jean,
And angels wait on me
To the land o' the leal
Now fare ye well, my ain Jean,
This world's care is vain, Jean,
We'll meet and aye be fain
In the land o' the leal.
"And our great leader," concluded the senator feelingly,
"is there now, for I had seen him with earnest face listening
and with full voice singing at nightly services in a church
here beside his wife the songs which enabled him, while pass»
ing through the valley and shadow, to fear no evil. And so
while our country, which he made, mourns him, I trust his
life's work will not be lost on us, and as for me,
"I wait and trust the end may prove,
That here and there, below, above,
The chastening heals; the blow is love."
Delivered In Bond-street Church, Toronto, June 7
By Joseph Wild, D.D.
"Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel." II Samuel iii. 38.
These words express the estimate and sorrow of King David in relation to the life and death of Abner. Language similar to this, I believe our beloved Queen Victoria could use in respect to the life and death of the late Sir John A. Macdonald. Not a more useful, faithful and loyal subject had she among the millions in the vast Empire over which she rules so acceptably than the departed brother we mourn over this day. Canada and the country's interest and the name of Sir John A. Macdonald have been so intimately mixed for a generation past that we shall have some difficulty in separating them for a short time to come.
No one familiar with Sir John thirty years ago would have thought that he would have lived so long,, and been so well and active. I remember at that lima his death was looked for at any time. I am under the impression that the most of his latter years of active life are due to the influence, watchful care and rare judgment of Lady Macdonald. Their marriage was one of love—as ours has all been. (Laughter.) And their wedded life has been one of trust and supreme respect in and for one another—a remarkable example for any politician and statesman in this respect. Lady Macdonald deserves the honor and well-merited esteem of the people of this Dominion for the noble part she has played so lovingly, so well and so successfully.
Any person having seen the late Benjamin Disraeli and Sir John would at once acknowledge a remarkable personal likeness between the two; and it is well known that each of these wonderful men had extra reverence for his wife, and their wives had very great influence over them. In the time allowed for a sermon one cannot do justice to this memorial service. Though I cannot say that I approve of all Sir John has said and done—and sometimes I have taken the liberty to criticize his actions in the past—yet this I can freely say, I believe him to have been the ablest, b^st and most useful citizen that Canada has ever had. (Applause.) A young and growing country like ours needs just such a mm; especially so till the ship of State has passed by the breakers and entered into smooth and steady waters. God be thanked that he has been spared so long, and enabled to do so much for his country's welfare. His presence, influence, and guiding hand will be missed but the country will go on. There is anothe.r loyal diamond in the rough somewhere among our people that will come to light when needed, and will be polished by the country's necessities and demands. He may be called the father of Confederation without any great force in the objection. I can remember when the provinces were small, scattered municipalities, and when Upper and Lower Canada were at deadlock in each other's arms—bitter and complaining one towards the other—a time when many of our best citizens in both Provinces despaired of the peace and unity of our land. In those uncertain and stormy times the political anchor and hope of the country was John A. Macdonald. From him others drew inspiration, hope, and courage. The danger point was passed in 1867, and Confederation became a fact to last till the world ends. (Applause.) The work that this statesman has done and completed on lines like these— hell nor earth will never undo. Our Confederation was not born in war, like the United States or that of Germany, Italy and other federated countries, which, without a single exception, ,had to fight for their Confederation. Why have we been an exception? I believe it is very largely due to the skill and courage of the late Sir John A. Macdonald. Find some other reason for it if you can, but we ate a remarkably singular exception- (Applause.) We are the only people on the face of the earth that ever went into confederation peaceably.
In our relations and dealings with other countries, even Great Britain, he never allowed us to suffer; his genius and tact always kept the country's interests in safety. He took an active part in the commission that met at Washington to settle the Alabama claims, the Fenian raid and other such difficulties in 1871. And in the subsequent fishery commission that met in Halifax, he was, of course, the chief person, gaining for the Dominion the award of $5,500,000, and which I_believe we should not have received had any other man been sent as chief commissioner. In talking with the late President Garfield, he turned his conversation to Sir John and said: "He is a remarkable man. I saw him the other day, and very different to what I expected him to be in his personal appearance. And do you know it has always amused me when I think of that Alabama claim; our men thought they had diplomatic children to play with, but that Sir John A. euchred them all." (Applause.) Sir John's strength was a rope of several cords. First, he was a pleasant man, genial to friends or opponents, and no one had so many friends among his opponents as this same man. Of all men he was the^best for a commission to go and interview. No one had need to be afraid of being insulted or cut short when he went into his presence. In the second place, he was a remarkably good judge of men; he had a knowledge of human character, and knew the weakness and strength of those with whom he surrounded himself. In the third place, he had good foresight on the line of national forces; he could see ahead several years. No man knew better when to plunge an election on the country than he did. In the fourth place, he was well posted in the dangeis, wants and strength of our country; no man was better posted with regard to the relative condition of our country. In the fifth place, he was a man who had great influence over other men—a sort of magnetic influence, I presume, arising from his own self-control, and from his faith in the country. Look at the elements he held together, racial and religious; who could keep together the different races and religions in Cabinet and Parliament like Sir John? No man. I am told by one of the members of the Cabinet that in his presence they are as quiet as lambs. Yet he was a decided man; we have a fine example of that in the case of Kiel. I was in Ottawa at that time, when all those French members—the Roman Catholic members at least—
were requested to stay out for half an hour till he decided. When the half hour was up they had to come in and hear the result, and he stood to his post like a man to fall or carry as he had decided to do. (Applause.) It was a critical moment, but I have always been glad that he stood so true at that point. I was conversing with a gentleman from Montreal a short time ago, and we got into politics (and when you get there you are sure to find John A.—you couldn't talk about them any more than you could get a Grip without his picture) and he surprised me by this statement: "lam opposed to John A. in politics and always vote against his party, but I want to say this, that I am glad that John A. lives and I hope he will live a long time. Now, mark you," he says, "I like him, though I oppose him, because we are thoroughly persuaded that no other man could hold us together in peace; whereas in time past we were broken up into too many parties which was dangerous to the welfare and trade of the country, so that if we are not in favor of his political platform at all, yet we find that he is of service to the country." In the sixth place, he was loyal to his country, to the Empire and to his Queen. His famous remark is now a truism, "A British subject I was born, and a British subject I will die." ("Applause.)
Yonder in Earnscliffa the mortal remains of the patriarch rest in quietness, while the spirit has gone to God who gave it. I am glad that he was not allowed to linger in pain and suffering, and also that he was in the harness when he was called. I would have hated to see him a poor paralyzed man without that activity of brain that so characterized him in the past, or to have seen him thrust overboard like a Bismarck and become an inferior citizen in this our prosperous Dominion. I am glad that after this long night of service it has pleased the Father of us all to call him suddenly from his task, and to cause him to cease his work at once and live.
I have said he was remarkably loyal, and his own description of loyalty is worth remembering. "It is the fashion in some quarters to sneer at loyalty. I believe that the sentiment of loyalty and the sentiment of patriotism are both requisite in order to make any country a great country. I do not believe in that universal charity which makes every man love foreign nations better than his own. I believe that even under a cloud of misfortune loyalty and allegiance should be the ruling principle in every honest heart. I believe as was believed in early times, that loyalty is still the same whether it win or lose the game^-true as the dial to the sun although it be not shined upon." A better description of loyalty you can hardly get than that. In the seventh place, he had faith in his country, and that is what a great many people have not to-day when speaking about it, I am sorry to say, and, therefore, he was always planning gigantic enterprises that must receive their true value in generations to come, such as spreading out tailways, enlarging canals, and especially that wonderful undertaking, the Canadian Pacific Railway, extending from ocean to ocean—that must remain one of the finest monuments to any statesman in the world. (Applause.) In the eighth place, he was a hard worker, and did more than any other man has done at Ottawa. A few weeks ago, just before the opening of Parliament, I was taking dinner with one of the members of the Cabinet. Said he, "You will have to excuse me; I shall have to go. The old man is going to kill the whole of us. A very great number of deputations are in the city waiting, and he is receiving two or three a day, and we are getting tired out." In the ninth place, he was honest himself, he has made no wealth (he has been clear on that point); sometimes he has been cajoled and deceived into paths that he could not justify. I remember a little incident that occurred about two years ago that provoked my sympathy and at the same time made me feel a little angry when the estimates were brought down. Among the items that were presented there was $134 for cab fare for the Prime Minister. Some one got up and objected to it. Many of you will remember the answer: "I am sorry that the honorable gentleman objects to that small item; I do myself; but here
I am in the latter days of nay life; I am not able to keep a footman, horse and carriage, and my limbs are getting so weary and weak that I cannot walk as I used to, and it does seem hard to me that I am not to be allowed to ride occasionally to and from my residence on business purposes." Oh, I thought the answer was a very nice one. Here is a man,, after nearly half a century's active work, who has not the luxuries of the rich and who himself is a poor man. It speaks much for his honesty and integrity on his own line. (Applause.)
With respect to the famous Pacific scandal; now, I think his answer to that is rather a manly one. He knew his fault and acknowledged it. He says in one part of his speech, "I have fought the battle of Confederation, the battle of union, the battle of the Dominion of Canada. I throw myself upon this House; I throw myself upon this country; I throw myself upon posterity; and I believe that, notwithstanding the many failings in my life, I shall have the voice of this country and this House rallying around me. And, sir, if I am mistaken in that, I can confidently appeal to a higher court—to the court of my own conscience, and to the court of posterity. I leave it with this House with every confidence. I am equal to either fortune. I can see past the decision of this House either for or against me.; but whether it be for or against me I know, and it is no vain boast for me to say so— for even my enemies will admit that I am no boaster—that there does not exist in Canada a man who has given more of his time, more of his heart, more of his wealth, or more of his intellect and power, such as they may be, for the good of this Dominion of Canada." (Applause.,) He was above all a Canadian; a Scotchman by birth and a credit to his race, among whom competition is so great and superiority so difficult of attainment, because Scotland has given birth to so many great and noble men; but Sir John A. Macdonald is not the least Scotchman by any means; still he was in a preeminent sense a Canadian. There was no clannishness in him. He was not sectarian.
Sir John's fidelity and ability have given the country renown, respect and influence, especially in the money market, and that is a point that interests some of us. It is a queer thing, but it is a fact, that when John A. is at the head we can borrow money from 2 to 1 }4 per cent, cheaper. Why is that? Because he has confidence in the country and imparts that confidence to others, and if the world continues they know they will get their interest and principal back.
It is pleasing amidst the gloom and sorrow of his sickness to see the world-wide interest taken in him. Our beloved Queen—God bless her,I love her more every day (applause)— asks for a report twice a day of one of her colonial subjects. And I am glad the press has been so generous toward the sick and now dead chieftain. It did my soul good to read the scores of newspaper references. I like when a man has done his work and done the best he could—even with failings, as he himself acknowledged—that the people will try when he has gone to sleep to speak kindly of him. May they be as generous to you and me on a smaller scale when they come to recount the race we have run and the battles we have fought. May his influence abide with us for good in all that makes for the interests, prosperity and peace of our country. Farewell, old patriarch! Farewell, old chieftain! Farewell, old man, so called! Farewell, noble Premier of Canada! Sir John A., farewell! God bless your family, and bless the country you have lived in and done so much for. Amen.
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
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September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
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09/29/79 – 02/28/81
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03/01/81 – 07/06/81
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07/10/81 – 11/04/81
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11/20/84 - 11/19/85
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01/22/88 - 01/29/89
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Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
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March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
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June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
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