William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter VIII - MacKenzie's Mission to England


AN interest always attaches to the career of an individual whom the public regards as the victim of injustice, whose crime consists of his having defended a popular right or contended for a principle. The majority of the assembly, in attempting to crush an opponent, had made a martyr. The expelled member had crowds of sympathizers in all parts of the province. Public meetings were held to denounce this arbitrary stretch of privilege. Petitions to the king and the imperial parliament for a redress of grievances, of which the expulsion of Mackenzie was one, were numerously signed. Of these petitions, it was already known, Mackenzie was to be the bearer to the colonial office, where he would personally advocate the reforms for which they prayed.

A counter-movement was set on foot by the official party. With the Reform ministry in England, this party was not very sure of its standing. What might be the result of Mackenzie's visit, armed with numerous petitions, unless some antidote were applied, it would be impossible to tell. The prospect which this state of things held out enraged the official faction ; and, in more than one instance, they resorted to violence, from which Mackenzie only escaped with his life by something little short of a miracle.

On March 19th, 1832, one of the public meetings called by the government party was held at Hamilton. Mackenzie attended by special invitation. As too often happens where two political parties attempt to outnumber one another, at a public meeting, great confusion occurred. On a show of hands for the selection of a chairman both parties claimed the victory; but the sheriff took the chair. The other party—represented by a local paper as being much the more numerous—retired to the court-house green, where an address to the king was adopted. After the meeting Mackenzie went to the house of a friend, Matthew Bailey, where he dined. A rumour had been circulated, in whispers, that a plan had been formed during the day to take Mackenzie's life, or at least to do him such bodily injury as would render it impossible for him to make his contemplated journey to England. Several of his friends apprised him of this, and urged him strongly to leave town before dark. About nine o'clock that night, when he was sitting in a parlor upstairs with a friend writing, the door was suddenly opened without any premonition, and in stepped William J. Kerr and George Petit. When asked to take seats, Kerr at first refused, but immediately afterwards sat down. He almost instantly rose again, and, walking up to the table and turning over the sheets on which Mackenzie had been writing, remarked with much apparent good humour: "Well, Mr. Mackenzie, have you got all our grievances redressed at last?" Something more was said, when Kerr, asking "Mackenzie to speak with him in private, was at once lighted down stairs by the unsuspecting victim, by whom he was followed. Kerr opened the street door; and, while standing on the steps in front, introduced Mackenzie to two or three accomplices, remarking, "This is your man." All at once, one of them seized him by one side of the coat collar, while Kerr seized the other. The candle was dashed to the ground, and they attempted to drag their victim, in the dark, into an open space in front of the house. Mackenzie grasped the door, and, struggling in the hands of the would-be assassins, shrieked, "Murder." One of the party then struck him a terrible blow with a bludgeon, felling him down upon the stone steps, whence he was dragged into the square in front of the house, where he received repeated kicks and blows, and his life was only saved by the opportune arrival of some neighbours with Mr. Bailey's brother. The villains took to their heels, except Kerr, who was upon the ground ; and when he rose, he resorted to the stratagem of assuming not only the innocent man but the protector, saying, "Don't be afraid, Mr. Mackenzie; you shan't be hurt, you shan't be hurt." He then scampered off as well as he could after his accomplices; and next morning he was heard boasting at the Burlington Canal- -a government work of which he was manager—that he had saved Mackenzie's life from the attempt of a band of ruffians! The victim was found to be bleeding profusely, disfigured in the face, injured in the head, and hurt in the chest.

Kerr was a magistrate and a rich man, and had charge of a public work. For the part he played in the outrage he was brought to trial in August, 1832, at the Gore District Assizes, some person, unknown to Mackenzie, having laid the information. Mr. Justice Macaulay was the presiding judge; and, considering the relations. of all the parties, it is proper to say that he showed the greatest impartiality on the trial, though there might be a question about the adequacy of the punishment awarded. A fine of one hundred dollars is not serious to a rich man, nor sufficient punishment for an assault of that aggravated nature which irresistibly carried with it the idea of serious premeditated injury, if not something more. The first blow would probably have proved fatal had not the bludgeon come in contact with the lintel of the door.

The example of Hamilton was followed in York. On July 6th, 1832, at a public meeting called to organize an agricultural society, a disorderly mob, who had left the meeting to cheer the governor, returned, bearing an effigy of Mackenzie, which they burnt, and then made an attack upon the office of the Colonial Advocate. They broke the windows and destroyed some of the type- and were only prevented from doing further mischief by the exertions of a few individuals.

In April, 1832, Mackenzie started on his journey to England as the bearer to the imperial government of petitions which had, for the most part, been born of the excitement arising out of his expulsions from the legislative assembly. The organs of the official party affected to be merry at the idea of a man, who had been twice expelled from the legislature and declared incapable of sitting during that parliament, taking a budget of grievances to Downing Street and expecting to obtain a hearing. But they had reckoned without their host, as the event proved.

He arrived in London in time to witness the third reading of the Reform Bill in the House of Lords. Here he made the acquaintance of O'Connell, the great Irish agitator, Cobbett, Joseph Hume, Lord Goderich, Earl Grey and Mr. Stanley, and he has left interesting sketches of most of these men. Of the prime minister he wrote: "Well does Earl Grey merit the high station and distinguished rank to which he has been called; truth and sincerity are stamped on his open, manly, English countenance; intelligence and uprightness are inscribed on all his actions. You may read his speech in the Times or Chronicle; you may imagine to yourself the noblest, happiest manner in which such sentiments might be delivered by a sincere and highly gifted patriot; still your conception will fall far short of the reality of the admirable address and manner of the prime minister of Britain. His Lordship had need of neither the peerage nor the post he fills to point him out as one of the first among men; he was, he is, one of that aristocracy of nature which in any free country are found among the pillars of its liberties, and in any despotism among the foremost to break the tyrant's yoke, or perish in attempting it."

Mackenzie also made the acquaintance of Mr. Rintoul, editor of the Spectator, and of Mr. Black, editor of the Morning Chronicle, which then held almost as important a position as the Times; and he was enabled to address to the British public, through these journals, any observations he had to make on the subject of Canada.

Of all the members of the House of Commons, Joseph Hume rendered the greatest assistance to Mackenzie. He was on the best terms of friendship with the ministry, though he kept his seat on the opposition benches and pursued that independent course which seemed to be the only one possible to him. When he laid before the House of Commons the petition of which Mackenzie was the bearer, he did so not only with the knowledge and consent of the government, but "he was happy to have the assurance of Viscount Goderich [secretary of state 222 for the colonies], that his Lordship was busy inquiring into the grievances complained of with a a view of affording relief." Mackenzie had, by this time, already had an interview with the colonial minister, and, in company with Hume, Viger— who had gone to England on a similar mission on behalf of Lower Canada—and George Ryerson— who had gone to England on behalf of the Methodist Conference—he was to have another interview in a few days.

This interview, at which all the four gentlemen named met Lord Goderich, took place on July 2nd, and lasted nearly three hours. The attempts made to lessen Mackenzie's influence, in the shape of attacks by political opponents in Canada, and the various forms they had taken, appeared to go for nothing with Viscount Goderich. Mackenzie could not trace the effect of such influence. "The conduct of the colonial minister" he found to be "friendly and conciliatory; his language free from asperity; and I left him," adds Mackenzie, "with the impression strongly imprinted on my mind that he sincerely desired our happiness as a colony, and that it was his wish to act an impartial part." The agent of the Upper Canada petitioners explained at length his views of the state of Upper Canada. Viscount Goderich encouraged the deputation to lay the petitions before the House of Commons; and he appears to have recognized, from the first, the substantial nature of many of the grievances which were subjects of complaint. If the ministry-had shown a disposition to treat the petitions as of no great importance, Hume would have brought the whole subject of the political condition of Upper Canada before the House of Commons; and as he would have been warmly seconded by O'Connell and others, an effective demonstration would have been made. Although George Ryerson was present at this interview, he took no part in any of the questions discussed except those relating to religion and education, with which he had been specially charged.

On August 3rd, Mackenzie, in company with Hume and Viger, had a second interview with Viscount Goderich at the colonial office, lasting about an hour and a half. These interviews were not obtained through the intercession of Hume, by whom the agent had first been introduced to members of the ministry, but at the request of Mackenzie, who desired that the three other gentlemen might be included with himself. He afterwards had several interviews with Lord Goderich at which no third person was present. The colonial minister listened to Mackenzie's statements with the greatest attention, though he observed a decorous reticence as to his own views; and even when he had come to conclusions, he did not generally announce them till he had put them into an official shape. In one of these interviews, Mackenzie complained that the revenue of the post-office department, in Upper Canada, was not accounted for, whereupon Lord Goderich proposed to divide the management of the department in Canada, and give Mackenzie control of the western section, with all the accruing emoluments. Mackenzie replied by saying: "So far as I am concerned, the arrangement would be a very beneficial one, as I could not fail to be personally much benefited by it; but your Lordship must see," he added, "that the evil I complain of would be perpetuated instead of being remedied. I must therefore decline the offer." Mackenzie estimated the value of the office, undivided, at fifteen thousand dollars a year, one-half of which he would have obtained if he had accepted Lord Goderich's offer. This was in strict accordance with the whole practice of his life. With every opportunity of acquiring competence, and even wealth, he lived a large portion of his life in poverty, and died under the pressure of pecuniary embarrassment.

Mackenzie was not received at the colonial office in a representative character—he was delegated by the York "Central Committee of the Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty"—but as an individual having an interest in the affairs of the province, and a member of the legislature of Upper Canada. It was agreed that he should address what complaints he had to make to the colonial secretary in writing. He made the fullest use of this privilege, writing long documents on a great number of subjects in which Canadians were then interested. It was in the preparation of these papers that he performed the extraordinary feat, referred to in a previous part of this work, of continuing to write six days and six nights, without ever going to bed, and only falling asleep occasionally, for a few minutes, at his desk. He ventured to predict that, unless the system of government in Upper Canada were ameliorated, the result must be civil war. "Against gloomy prophecies of this nature," Lord Goderich replied, " every man conversant with public business must learn to fortify his mind," adding that he regarded them as the usual resource of those who wished to extort from the fears of governments conclusions in favour of which no adequate reasons could be offered. Mackenzie often referred to this prediction; and, so far from having intended it as a threat, took credit for it as a warning of the inevitable results of the policy pursued, contending that, if it had been heeded, all the disasters which followed would have been averted. He at this time also addressed to the colonial secretary a number of documents, including a lengthy " Memoir" on the state of the province, embracing a variety of topics. To this and some other documents Lord Goderich replied at great length, on November 8th, 1832, and in a tone and temper very different from those in which the local officials were accustomed to indulge.

Lord Goderich at first stated the number of names attached to the petitions, of which Mackenzie was the bearer, at twelve thousand and seventy-five. Upon a recount at Mackenzie's request, there were found to be twenty-four thousand five hundred signatures; but it was said there were other petitions signed by twenty-six thousand eight hundred and fifty-four persons, "who concur in expressing their cordial satisfaction in those laws and institutions which the other sort of petitioners have impugned."

While combating a great many of the arguments adduced by Mackenzie, Lord Goderich yielded to his views upon several points. Hitherto no indemnity had been paid to members of the assembly representing town constituences. Lord Goderich directed the governor not to oppose objection to any measure that might be presented to his acceptance "for placing the town and county representatives on the same footing in this respect." He also agreed to place upon the same footing as Quakers other religious bodies who had a like objection to taking an oath. It having been alleged that the local executive distributed the public lands among their favourites without the authority of law, His Majesty, upon the advice of the colonial minister, interdicted the gratuitous disposal of public lands, and requested that they should be made subject to public competition, with a view "to the utter exclusion of any such favouritism as is thus deprecated." He instructed the governor to adopt all constitutional means to procure a repeal of the law which disqualified British subjects from voting at elections after their return from foreign countries; and also that44 His Majesty expects and requires of you neither to practise, nor to allow, on the part of those who are officially subordinate to you, any interference with the right of His Majesty's subjects to the free and unbiased choice of their representatives." " His Majesty," it was further stated, "now directs me to instruct you to forward, to the utmost extent of your lawful authority and influence, every scheme for the extension of education amongst the youth of the province, and especially the poorest and most destitute among their number, which may be suggested from any quarter, with a reasonable prospect of promoting that design."

It had been the custom of the governors to excuse themselves from laying a full statement of the revenue and expenditure before the legislature, by pleading the restrictions imposed by their instructions. But Lord Goderich rendered this excuse impossible in future by the averment that "if the royal instructions are supposed to forbid the most unreserved communication with the House of Assembly of the manner in which the public money, from whatever source derived, is expended, such a construction is foreign to His Majesty's design." "Nothing," it was added, "is to be gained by concealment upon questions of this nature, and a degree of suspicion and pre-228 judice is naturally excited, which, however ill-founded, often appears in the result to be incurable." Coming to the question of ecclesiastics holding seats in the legislative council, Lord Goderich said it was expected of the bishop and the archdeacon, "that they should abstain from interference in any secular matter that may be agitated at that board." But, even under this restriction, Lord Goderich added, "I have no solicitude for retaining either the bishop or the archdeacon on the list of legislative councillors; but, on the contrary, am rather predisposed to the opinion that, by resigning their seats, they would best consult their own personal comfort, and the success of their designs for the spiritual good of the people." But, as their seats were held for life, their resignations must be voluntary; since, it was argued, there would be no justification for degrading them from their positions when no specific violation of duty had been imputed to them. If the expense of elections was so inordinate as represented, the governor was instructed to "signify to the legislative bodies that it is the earnest desire of His Majesty, that every practical method should be taken for correcting what would be so great an evil, by reducing the cost 'within the narrowest possible limit.'" In reference to an independent judiciary, Lord Goderich, anticipating the complaints now addressed to him, had directed the governor to suggest the enactment of a bill for that purpose. Thus, another point urged by Mackenzie and those who acted with him, when they conceived that Judge Willis was offered up a sacrifice to the displeasure of the local executive, had been gained.

Such are some of the concessions obtained by Mackenzie, during his visit to England, from the imperial government. The despatch of Lord Goderich was intended for the public eye, and its style was eminently diplomatic. On several points he differed from Mackenzie; and sometimes he succeeded in putting his correspondent in the wrong. Unfortunately there were reasons, as afterwards appeared, for doubting the sincerity of some of Lord Goderich's professions.

The reception which the despatch of Lord Goderich met at the hands of the Family Compact, shows better than almost anything else the lengths to which a faction, spoiled by a long course of unchecked and irresponsible power, would go. The legislative council, instead of placing it on their journals, took the unusual course of returning it to the governor. Mackenzie's correspondence, to which the colonial secretary had taken so much trouble to reply, they assured the governor they viewed "with the most unqualified contempt"; and the despatch of Lord Goderich, so far as it was a reply to that correspondence, they could not "regard as calling for the serious attention of the legislative council."

The legislative assembly discussed, at great length, the question of sending back this despatch. After a heated debate, the House, by a vote of twenty-one against twelve, resolved not to allow the documents accompanying the despatch, and on which it was founded, to go upon the journals. A subsequent House gave such portions of these documents as Mackenzie selected an enduring record in the famous "Seventh Report of the Committee on Grievances." The newspaper advocates of the official party went a little beyond the officials themselves. The principal of them, the Courier, described the despatch of Lord Goderich as "an elegant piece of fiddle-faddle, full of clever stupidity and condescending impertinence."

But the end was not yet. The repeated expulsions of Mackenzie from the legislative assembly, in which Crown officers had borne a conspicuous and discreditable part; had attracted the attention of the imperial government. The objections which the colonial secretary entertained to these expulsions were early communicated to Sir John Colborne; and they were fully explained, in the summer of 1832, to the Crown officers, Hagerman and Boulton, and to others "whose official situation placed them in a confidential relation to the government." The matter was first brought to the attention of the colonial office by Hume ; and the authorities sent instructions to Sir John Colborne to desire the officials by whom he was surrounded not to be concerned m the repetition of so objectionable a procedure. But, notwithstanding this warning, they remained contumacious. While absent in England Mackenzie had again been expelled from the legislative assembly; and the attorney-general, opposing his constitutional law to that of the imperial government, argued for the legality of the course pursued by the House. Both the Crown officers voted for a motion to return to Lord Goderich the despatch and accompanying documents, and found themselves in a minority.

The dismissal of Attorney-General Boulton and Solicitor-General Hagerman, resolved upon in March, 1833, was the result of the discreditable part they had taken in the repeated expulsions of Mackenzie from the legislature, as well as for having, upon other questions, opposed the policy of the imperial government, and thus cast doubts upon the sincerity of its motives.

On March 7th, Mackenzie had a long interview with Lord Howick, under-secretary of state for the colonies, at the colonial office; and it was at the request of that official that he put his complaint against the Crown officers into writing. Next day they assumed the required form; and two days later he had another interview with Lord Goderich, when, in reference to the Crown officers, the under-secretary remarked, "They are removed." But it appears, by the date of Lord Goderich's letter, that their removal had been determined on four days before.

When the despatch of Lord Goderich, ordering the removal of the Crown law-officers, reached Upper Canada, Hagerman had started for England, where on May 6th, while going into the colonial office, he met Mackenzie coming out. Boulton was at York, but soon followed. It is interesting to see how the official party, which had long claimed a monopoly of loyalty, bore this reverse. An article appeared in the Upper Canada Courier, attributed to the pen of the deprived attorney-general, containing direct threats of rebellion. The removal of these two functionaries was described as being "as high-handed and arbitrary a stretch of power as has been enacted before the face of high heaven, in any of the four quarters of this nether world, for many and many a long day." "The united factions of Mackenzie, Goderich, and the Yankee Methodists" were spoken of in the most contemptuous terms. Of the friends of Boulton and Hagerman, it was confessed that "instead of dwelling with delight and confidence upon their connection with the glorious empire of their sires, with a determination to support that connection, as many of them have already supported it, with their fortunes or their blood, their affections are already more than half alienated from the government of that country; and in the apprehension that the same insulting and degrading course of policy towards them is likely to be continued, they already begin to 4 cast about' in ' their mind's eye,' for some new state of political existence which shall effectually put the colony beyond the reach of injury and insult from any and every ignoramus whom the political lottery of the day may chance to elevate to the chair of the colonial office." The colonial secretary, it was added, by his course of liberality, had not only "alienated the affections" of the Boulton-Hagerman school of politicians, but had " produced the feelings of resentment, and views with regard to the future," which caused them to look for "some new state of political existence."

Hagerman arrived in England about the time the despatch ordering his removal reached Canada; and Boulton followed immediately on learning of his dismissal. Mr. Stanley, who had succeeded Lord Goderich as secretary for the colonies, restored Hagerman to his official position in the June following, within three months after his dismissal. It was afterwards officially stated that Hagerman's restoration was the consequence of exculpatory evidence offered by him. Boulton at the same time obtained the office of chief justice of Newfoundland, where he soon embroiled himself with a large and influential section of the population, whereupon the imperial government relieved him of that charge also.

Mackenzie was discouraged at finding a portion of his success already neutralized. After recently expressing the greatest confidence in the justice of the imperial government, he now bitterly exclaimed: "I am disappointed. The prospect before us is indeed dark and gloomy."

The restoration of Hagerman seems to have been due as much, if not more, to the change that had taken place in the administration of the colonial office as to the exculpatory evidence he had offered. Lord Goderich, so long as he retained the seals, continued to court interviews with Mackenzie, and to solicit information from him on the affairs of Canada. Thus on March 27th, 1833, Lord Howick wrote him: "I am desired by his Lordship to acquaint you that he is disposed to think that much advantage might be derived from a personal communication from yourself and Mr. Viger, either to this place, the postmaster-general, or the secretary of the post-office, on the questions which have been agitated in Upper and Lower Canada respecting the post-office in those provinces." If his known intention to leave London in a few days would prevent a personal interview, Mackenzie was requested to put any suggestions he might have to make into writing. He thereupon drew up a scheme of post-office reform for the province, supporting his recommendation by a number of documents, including several reports on the subject by committees of the Houses of Assembly in Upper and Lower Canada. The request for an interview, on the part of Lord Goderich, was repeated; but when that gentleman was about resigning the administration of the colonial office, he directed that the whole matter be left over for the determination of Mr. Stanley. The new colonial minister decided to send for Mr. Stayner, deputy postmaster-general at Quebec, to hear his explanation, before arriving at any conclusion; and Mackenzie left London the day on which Stayner arrived there. The result was to bring out information regarding the post-office revenue, which had been persistently refused to the demands of the House of Assembly. A return, which Stayner was requested to make for the information of the House of Commons, showed him to be in possession of perquisites to several times the amount of his salary. In the course of a long interview with Mr. Stanley at the colonial office in the month of May, Mackenzie strongly urged the necessity of giving the Canadians the control of the post-office revenue, as well as every other revenue arising in the province, for the reason that mismanagement must lead to discontent, and estrange the colonists from the mother country.

As has been already stated, Mackenzie successfully invoked the royal veto against the bill for increasing the capital stock of the Bank of Upper Canada, which was passed in his absence from the House occasioned by his second expulsion. This result was obtained after the objections to the measure had been stated at length to Lord Goderich, and after much correspondence with the Board of Trade. At the same time, and for similar reasons, the Kingston Bank Act was disallowed.

It may strike the reader, at this time of day, as singular that an agent and leader of a colonial party which claimed to be the exponent of a liberal creed and the interpreter of popular opinion, should be so ready to invoke the interference of the imperial government and the royal veto in the local affairs of the province. To a certain extent the seeming anomaly admits of explanation. On many questions, the local executive, acting through the Crown-nominated and dependent legislative council, thwarted the wishes of the people's representatives ; and, under an irresponsible local administration, there was no effective appeal possible but to the imperial government. But, in some cases, interference against the decisions of the popular branch of the legislature was invoked. Appeals of this nature, unless some plain and obvious principle were violated, could hardly be justified.

The Rev. Egerton Ryerson, arriving in England while Mackenzie was there, was through him introduced to the colonial office. Ryerson was delegated by the Canadian conference to submit a proposition for a union between the body it represented and the English Methodists. Without entering into the merits of the case, it will be sufficient to say that the course pursued by Ryerson, while in England and after his return to Canada, gave Mackenzie great offence, and he often, to the last years of his life, expressed regret that he had done anything to secure Ryerson admittance to the colonial office, which, in spite of the access which Mackenzie obtained, had for nearly eighteen months shut its doors in the face of Viger, who went as the delegate of the Lower Canada assembly. Baldwin, who afterwards visited London, was never able to obtain an audience of the colonial minister. Viger was in London long before Mackenzie, whom he had vainly solicited to accompany him, offering to bear the charge of his expenses.

Early in 1833, Mackenzie published in London an octavo volume of five hundred pages, under the title of Sketches of Canada and the United States. It treated of a great variety of subjects having no necessary connection with one another, and little regard was paid to method in the arrangement. The greater part of the book consisted of notes taken by the author while travelling, at different times, in the United States and Canada.

Before returning to Canada, Mackenzie revisited Scotland in company with Mrs. Mackenzie, after making a tour of a large part of England. When he arrived in his native city of Dundee, he was struck with the changes that time had wrought. In a letter he says: " After a long absence from a country, one of the most striking changes noticeable is that in the age of the people. I have been introduced to cousins I left in the cradle, who are now grown men and women—some of them married, some studying law, some at college, some clerks in banks, some learning mechanical occupations, and others farming. . . . In the churches the same changes are visible. In the two Sundays spent here and in Strath-more we have regularly gone to the Kirk, sometimes to the Seceders, and sometimes to hear the established clergy. The walls of the Kirks, the seats, the pulpits, many in the congregation, I could remember from infancy, but the ministers were, some of them, new to me. There were enough, however, of old recollections to make these last visits to Scottish places of worship deeply interesting."

While in Dundee, Mackenzie made a settlement with such of his creditors as he had been unable to pay when he left Scotland, with their consent, for Canada in 1820. He sailed from London on June 25th, 1833, and arrived at Quebec on August 18th, after an absence of nearly eighteen months. In Quebec and Montreal he was pressed to accept of public dinners, but in both cases he declined, excusing himself on the ground of his long absence from Canada, and his desire to arrive at York as soon as possible.

To the last years of his life, Mackenzie was proud of the reforms which his journey to England was the means of effecting in the government of Upper Canada ; and he ever continued to cherish a grateful remembrance of the aid rendered him by Mr. Ellice, Mr. Hume, and others from whom he received assistance in the execution of his mission. Considering that he went to England in no official capacity; that he was probably opposed in the private communications of the military governor; and that attempts had been made by his enemies to disgrace him by thrice expelling him from the legislative assembly, it must be confessed that the success which he achieved was greater than that of any other man who ever went from Canada, in a non-official capacity, on a similar errand.

Of this journey the people's agent was left to bear the greater part of the expense. The actual disbursements were £676, of which he received £150. Payment of the balance was recommended by a committee of the assembly, but was never made on account of the supplies being withheld, and the country which he had served with such disinterested devotion allowed him to go down to the grave in poverty. Many years afterwards, in 1868, on the petition of Mrs. Mackenzie containing a statement 240 of the facts and asking for the reimbursement of the expenses so incurred by her husband, the legislature of Ontario, on the recommendation of the government, granted her the sum of four thousand dollars in settlement of the claim.

Mackenzie was expelled for the third time from the House of Assembly, while he was absent in England. The session commenced on October 31st, 1832. On November 2nd, MacNab, without waiting till the governor's speech was answered, moved that the entries in the journals relative to the previous expulsion be read. Solicitor-General Hagerman, who was then in possession of the constitutional objections urged by the imperial government against these proceedings, contended that though the county of York could elect whom they pleased, the House had the right, by a simple resolution, to determine the eligibility of whomsoever they might send; and thus, in fact, to create a disability not sanctioned by law. Very little argument was required to convince the majority that this monstrous stretch of privilege was equally proper and expedient. The resolution having been carried, on a division of fifteen against eight, all that remained to be done was to prove or assert the identity of the William Lyon Mackenzie elected for York with the William Lyon Mackenzie previously expelled by the House, and to declare him ineligible to sit or vote in the House. MacNab thought it sufficient to assert the fact and the disability. He moved a second resolution to that effect. This having been carried, on the same division as the first, the third expulsion was decreed, for no other reason than that there had been two others —a ground which MacNab himself afterwards admitted to be untenable.

This arbitrary and utterly indefensible proceeding was promptly resented, as it had been on the two previous similar occasions, by the constituency of York. In the absence of Mackenzie, his friends brought his claims before the electors. The electors considered their privileges invaded ; and so strong was the feeling that no one ventured to come forward and declare himself the candidate of the official party. Mackenzie was therefore unanimously re-elected.

On his return to York and desiring to take the usual oaths, Mr. Fitzgibbon refused to administer them to him as the member elect. This time there was to be no expulsion. The matter had assumed a new shape. It was contended that there had been no election. Bidwell brought the question to a vote. He moved, in substance, that Mackenzie had been duly elected for the county of York; that he was under no legal disability, and was by the law and constitution a member of the House; and that, upon taking the oath, which the law made it the duty of the commissioner to administer, he would have a right to sit and vote in the House. The motion was rejected on a vote of eighteen against seven. MacNab, who admitted Mackenzie's eligibility for election, contended that, though the county of York might elect, the House had the right to refuse to receive the member elected, thereby taking up an impossible position. He had voted that Mackenzie was incapable of holding a seat in the House during that parliament; though he held that the electors had a right to elect him. Perry asked the House to affirm a principle which is now held by the best authorities to embody sound constitutional law: that the House had no right, without the concurrence of the other branches of the government, to disfranchise any elector, or to disqualify any person from being elected, when such elector or person elected is under no legal disability; but he was able to command only thirteen votes in a House of thirty-two members. On a vote of eighteen against fifteen, the House then repeated its resolution that Mackenzie should not be permitted to take a seat or vote as a member during the session; after which, a motion ordering a writ for a new election was carried by a bare majority of one, the minority being of opinion that Mackenzie, having been duly elected, was qualified to serve, and that in reality there was no vacancy.

Mackenzie went back to his constituents on December 16th, 1833, and was once more reelected without opposition. It deserves to be noticed that, in his address to the electors, he declared "the grand defect in the colonial constitution" to be "the want of responsible government." The election being over, a series of resolutions were put to the meeting and carried unanimously. Among other things, they called for an inquiry into the conduct of Sir John Colborne, whom they charged with interfering with the constitutional rights of the people. The intention of a large body of the electors to accompany Mackenzie to the assembly at York being known, he entreated them to abstain from any acts of violence. They reached the House soon after mid-day. The galleries were soon filled; some were admitted below the bar, and others remained in the lobbies, for want of room inside. The result was awaited with great anxiety by the large body of electors, who were becoming indignant at being defrauded of the franchise by the repeated expulsions of one of their members from the House, or the refusal of the majority to receive him. Perry rose to present a petition against a repetition of the proceedings by which the county of York had been deprived of half its legal representation. MacNab, in opposing its reception, was hissed from the gallery. It was now proposed to clear the gallery of the crowd of strangers with which it was packed; and when the operation had been partially completed, the sergeant-at-arms went up to Mackenzie, who was waiting below the bar to be sworn in, and ordered him to leave. He replied that he had been unanimously elected by the county of York, and that the writ had been returned to the clerk of the Crown in chancery, who was present in the House. If leave were given, he would prove that he had a right there. The sergeant-at-arms—MacNab, father of the member— then seized him by the collar, in a violent manner, saying, while he dragged him towards the door, "You shall go out." A brawny Highlander, one of the four or five who still remained, interposed either with a blow at the officer or held him back. As soon as the door was opened, the crowd, who had descended from the gallery to the lobby, rushed forward; but before they could get in, the door was bolted and barricaded with benches, members and officers pressing towards the door to prevent it being forced. The galleries, which had only been partially cleared, were the scene of great confusion. The excitement was extreme, and the business of the House was brought to a stand. The question of sending to prison the stalwart Highlander who had interfered with the sergeant-at-arms, was raised ; but a bystander remarked that " he feared it would be no easy matter to find the gaol, on such an errand." That official now returned to Mackenzie, and asked him to give proof of his election. This having been done, the officer of the House informed the Speaker, from whom he received orders to clear the space below the bar of strangers, that Mackenzie claimed to remain as a member. The Speaker urged the commissioners to refuse to administer the oaths, and afterwards decided that Mackenzie was a stranger because he had not taken them. MacNab (the member) said that to allow Mackenzie to remain below the bar would be a proof of pusillanimity in the House, in issuing an order which they had not the courage to enforce. It was not till after a long debate that the Speaker decided that Mackenzie was a stranger and not entitled to remain below the bar, whereupon the sergeant-at-arms removed him.

The hissing that took place in the gallery was unjustifiable. Such a proceeding is almost invariably the precursor of a revolutionary movement. But let us apportion the degree of censure due to the various parties. The electors of York had been defrauded of their elective rights by the proceedings of the House, some of which were clearly unconstitutional. The endurance of the electors was well-nigh exhausted; and, while their interference with the deliberations of the House cannot be justified, the repeated provocations they had received must be taken into account. The conduct of the majority was revolutionary.

It was indeed a memorable day in Canada. There were among the electors some who argued that, if their member was forcibly ejected from the House, they, too, would be justified in resorting to force in defence of their violated rights. They had, they said to one another, some old rusty muskets which they might furbish up for future use, if this sort of thing were to be continued.

On the following day Mr. Morris moved that Mr. Mackenzie, having libelled the House more than two years before and made no reparation, a previous resolution declaring him unworthy of a seat therein ought to be adhered to; to which MacNab added, by way of amendment, " and therefore the said William Lyon Mackenzie, again elected and returned to represent the county of York in this present parliament, is hereby expelled." The resolution, as amended, was carried by a very narrow majority, the vote being twenty-two against eighteen.

In the evening Mackenzie addressed a communication to the governor stating what had occurred, and requesting to be permitted to take the oath before His Excellency, according to a provision of the Constitutional Act, or that some other prompt and immediate relief might be afforded to him and his constituents. The question was referred to Attorney-General Jameson, who reported that Mackenzie was entitled to take the oath, and that no person commissioned by the governor had a right to refuse, since his office was ministerial and not judicial. The governor therefore directed Mr. Beikie, clerk of the executive council, to administer the oath. Mackenzie did not go before the clerk for this purpose till February 11th, feeling no doubt that, as the House had declared him expelled, he would not be allowed to take his seat. He finally made the trial at the urgent request of his friends. But we must here notice some events, and their consequence, that occurred in the interval.

The majority of the House were more than half afraid of the possible consequence of their act. The governor, completely under the control of his irresponsible advisers, firmly believed that the official party was the sole depository of loyalty in the province. In reply to representations made to him by Mackenzie, Mackintosh, Ketchum, and Shepard, at a personal interview, he recommended "that Mr. Mackenzie may offer to make the reparation which the House, by their late resolution, seem to expect from him "—a piece of advice that Was very unlikely to be taken. In their interview with Sir John Colborne, Mackenzie and the three gentlemen who accompanied him had 248 complained of the refusal of S. P. Jarvis and Joseph Fitzgibbon, commissioners appointed to administer the oaths to members of the assembly. These gentlemen subsequently apologized for their conduct, and their apologies were sent to the governor along with the letter of his secretary recommending the offer of reparation.

Petitions breathing defiance began to reach the governor. "Loyal as the inhabitants of this country unquestionably are," said a petition from Whitby, "your petitioners will not disguise from your Excellency that they consider longer endurance, under their present oppressions, neither a virtue nor a duty. For though all mankind admit the claims of good government to the respect and support of the governed, yet very different considerations are due to that which is regardless of public interests, wars with public inclinations and feelings, and only aids or connives at oppression." In other petitions the electors complained that laws were passed without their consent, and a dissolution of the legislature was prayed for. A town meeting, in King, refused to appoint an assessor and collector of taxes, on the ground that they had no right to pay taxes when the assembly robbed them of half their representation.

Hume, removed from the influence of local feelings and prejudices, wrote from London to Mackenzie, giving his opinion that the events of December 16th and 17th—Mackenzie's unanimous re-election and his forcible ejection and re-expulsion —would hasten the crisis that would terminate in the independence of Canada. But he was smarting under a sense of injury in consequence of some attack made upon him by the Rev. Egerton Ryerson ; and his letter was at once intemperate and indiscreet. In speaking of the " baneful domination" of the mother country as a thing for Canada to rid itself of as soon as possible, he failed to make the proper distinction between the colonial oligarchy and the imperial government, though the latter, with every desire to do justice, upheld a false system, and was not infrequently misled by the prejudiced and interested statements of the knot of permanent and irresponsible officials by whom the governor was surrounded.

The colonial oligarchs and their supporters in the assembly were just as ready to complain of the domination exercised by Downing Street over the local affairs of the province as Hume himself, when their interests were interfered with. The disallowance of the Bank Charter Acts, to which reference has already been made, almost created a rebellion among the Tories of Upper Canada. In March, 1834, the assembly passed an address to the king protesting, in the most energetic terms, against the exercise of the royal veto in that case, laying down the general principle that, in all local affairs, the provincial legislature ought to be supreme. To have extorted assent to such a declaration, from a 250 section of the Tories, was no small gain. There seems to be no question that they did not comprehend the full force of a declaration that was to make the legislature supreme in local matters.

On February 11th, 1834, no new writ had been issued for a new election; and Mackenzie went before the clerk of the executive council and took the oath prescribed for members of the legislature. At three o'clock on the same day, he walked into the House of Assembly and took his seat among the members. The House was in committee of the whole. He had not been long there when he received a visit from Mr. MacNab, sergeant-at-arms, who informed him that he was a stranger, and must retire. Mackenzie replied that he was a member of the House, legally elected and duly sworn; and he produced an attested copy of the oath. He was, he said, charged with no offence or irregularity that could disqualify him for sitting and voting. Before going to the House, he had given public notice that he should not leave his seat unless violence were used; and he now told the sergeant-at-arms that if he interfered it would be at his peril. This officer replied that he must use force.

Mackenzie was three times forcibly taken from his seat; and when he appealed to the Speaker for protection, that functionary replied that it was not possible for the sergeant-at-arms to have mistaken his duty. A resolution in favour of his taking his seat was lost on a vote of twenty-one against fifteen. While these proceedings were going on, there was a dense crowd in the gallery, whose general conduct was orderly and decorous, Mackenzie having previously cautioned them to remain "quiet and passive spectators."

A few days after these arbitrary proceedings on the part of the majority of the House had taken place, Mr. Duncombe made a motion which was intended to bring about a new election for the county of York by a side wind. Mackenzie's friends did not admit that his seat was legally vacant; and therefore they could not vote for the issuing of a writ for a new election. Duncombe's resolution instructed the Speaker to take the necessary steps to have any vacancy in the House forthwith supplied; but it was rejected, as was also a motion proposed by MacNab for issuing a writ for the election of a member for York in the place of Mr. Mackenzie expelled. And so the county of York remained unrepresented during nearly a whole parliament.

A brief review of the whole proceedings will give the best idea of the spirit in which they were conducted. At first, an attempt was made to expel the obnoxious member because he had, at his own cost, distributed copies of the journals of the House, without note or comment, unaccompanied by the appendix. Next, a pretended libel, published in a newspaper, was made a ground of expulsion, and acted upon. Neither of the articles complained of was half so severe as articles that are now daily published without exciting attention. Then a new libel was discovered, and made the cause of a second expulsion. This time the House stretched the power of privilege to the extent of creating a disqualification unknown to the law. The third time, the House contented itself with giving force to this declared disability. Next time, a unanimous re-election was declared to be no election at all, though the returning officer had returned Mackenzie as duly elected, and no candidate had appeared to oppose him. The fifth time, he was declared expelled, though not allowed by the House to take the oaths or his seat; and the same majority that now expelled him had declared, a short time before, that he was not, and could not be elected, they having assumed that he was incapable of being elected during that parliament. This last time he was, at first, forcibly ejected from the space below the bar on a motion to clear the House of strangers, because, not having taken the oaths which the Speaker urged the commissioners not to administer, he must be treated as a stranger; and then, after he had taken the oath, he was again forcibly dragged from his seat by the sergeant-at-arms, condemned to silence under the outrage, and threatened with imprisonment. The frequency and the facility with which the majority shifted their ground, showed that all they wanted was a colourable pretext for carrying out a foregone conclusion, to rid themselves of the presence of an opponent who gave them so much trouble.

As in the case of Wilkes, who was expelled from the House of Commons, the whole of the proceedings relating to these expulsions were expunged from the journals of the assembly, being declared subversive of the rights of the whole body of electors of Upper Canada. This was done in the first session of the next parliament, on July 16th, 1835, by a vote of twenty-eight to seven. MacNab voted to expunge his own resolutions, and frankly admitted that the House was wrong in grounding its third expulsion on the fact of the second. From first to last, the proceedings against Mackenzie were conceived in a party spirit, and carried by party votes. No worse description or condemnation of them could be given, seeing that they were in their nature judicial.


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