Joseph Edmund Collins.

Life and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada online

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farthingales. A pearl «loth not say to m* this blessed Mary Dooming : ' Knave,
th'iu art fo'.il, avoid me, thou smellest of stables.'

From all which it may he observed that Messir Clown is very
democratic.

At the close of the drama, when the Clown is in the Church
afherine where the hero, Mizias, the Enamorado, is



490 LIFE OF SIX JOHN A. MACJJONALD.

buried, and where tombs are all about, Nugue, the faithful valet
of Manas, says: —

•• Tr.;i.l Kv.r.iitlv, good "lowu. There lies my master. A letter, kinder, braver,
a-a-pla-ue nii't there must bt onloM in the air." [Weej». ]

Whereupon the down remarks sententionsly : —

'• In the : :ith we are in life, tad ihoald 1"' thankful for it.'"

Mr. IIunter-Duvar van also write a wry exquisite lyric, full
of passion and verve, The pity is that he has not given 08
more of bis song; bat let t 1m* following quotations prove that
he has tlif brae tire. Mazias, standing at his prison window,
tbm breaks out int<> \ • -

•' The arthiu.: -ky i- bright, the se«*nt ol BoWHI
Steals like an incense through my prison bars,

D ■»'. th.- brant, nor know it than
Save for a little ■fcaddaral th.- !•
Anear, still lift-, hut in the aHdrila tHitanrta
Are cattle faaiHnfl umh-rneath tall tr
While, like light feathers, in the leaf
Are curls of hlue that tell of cottage fires.
I brave back-ground of mountains, gran<l atari*
That wear for half the year their hoods of snow
But now are rosy-tipped with purple shadows.
The genius of the place is satisfying.
Yet, somehow, hangs a gloom around my heart,
\ -ense of coming ill, —a shifting cloud,

• lark ami thick through which no ray may pierce

till half the stars look through,—
say such feelings come with creeping chill
When steps are passing o'er your unknown grave.
Va ! banish such slim weakness, Ma/i
Even as a life-tin re fettered to the wall

'' ting a song of freedom, and at once
His shackles fall, — no longer walls hold in,
But he is far away among green fiields
With those he loved when his seared life was young ;
B I , who prisoned am with double bond
Of fettered heart that love hath chafed and worn
And iron bare between me and the sun,
Will slip the chain of doleful circumstance
And bask in the impossible and gone
Of love requited for a love bestowed.
[Sings.]
" Fly out, rosy banner, on the breeze !



THOUGHT AND LITERATURE. 491

Clash, music, in a tempest wild and free !
Ring out, bells, above the waving trees !
Shine sun, earth smile, and add thy voice O sea ! —
My lady — lady loves me ! "

This play contains other lyrics even excelling this is beauty
and luxuriance. John Hunter-Duvar is a true poet and a facile-
witted dramatist. His worst fault, perhaps, is an occasional
stiffness, caused by an over- abundance of archaic phrase and
words; and, more rarely, a slip-shod structure of blank verse.
His best dialogue is in prose. His blank verse is not flexible
and varied enough, as a whole, for his thought; and is, at its
best, a monologue of a lofty or contemplative cast. But he
never swells into bombast or turgid ravin - . He has a delicate
feeling for external nature.

Among the French-Canadian poete, besides M. Frechette, may
be mentioned the late M. < tetave ( Wmarie. The verses of this
writer sometimes display grander idea and a stronger lyrical

flow than those of the "laureate," but his ait is far inferior to-

that of the latter. His muse, however, is only i colonist, and
a mere French-Canadian colonist ai thai Be has no sympathy
for anything out of his own latitude and longitude, under which
condition- it Is almost i marvel that he is not a mere musical
wind-spout. Se actually docs sing notes of genuine sweetness,
and instinct with the true poetic fire, though in the scale against
a Roberts, he is as a Li li pi it soldier to the king of Brobdingnag-
Neither is he, though some of his confreres seem to think other-
wise, the equal of Frechette; but he does sometimes display
a loftier imagery, and sing a more bugle-like note than the lat-
ter. M. LeMay has been expending his soul on a tender string
which breathes some mellow music betimes, through which you
frequently catch the undertone of passion. Sentiment on a
small scale, his little sweet loving, and his exquisite polish
and grace, keep this poet happy, no doubt, and delight his
friends; but he will hardly >»> quoted a thousand years from
now. Of M. Suite we have already made mention, as one of
our prose benefactors. • In the literary sphere, this author is a



m LIFE OF SIB JOHN A. MACDOXALD.

jack-of-all-tnules, an artist in none. He writes some ex-
cellent vers.-, bat it is mere poetical raw material, the author
being too impulsive and too impatient to give such polish as
the thought deserves His phrase, though brilliant, is often
uncouth; and his imagination, while rich and darinff. is often
an errant star that leads, no man can say whither.

Tki Mission of Low, and OUu r Po hm is the name of a vol-
ume recently publiahed by Hunter, Rose & Company, Toronto.

writer usee the pretty now d\ plume " Caris Sima," but
we have penetrated the disguise, and find that the fair author
fa Ifiss ( '. Mountcastle, of Clinton, Ontario. We confess that
are a good deal interested in this volume, though it is as a
garden in which there are several unseemly weeds growing side
by aids with a number of delightful flowers. We do not find
Hiss kfountoastie devoid of talent, of exceeding cleverness, or
of the possession of a genuine note of song ; but her discrimina-
tion is not good, or she never would have Let that thing about
the oarsman Hanlan, whether written well or ill, — which.would
not be here or there, — appear among her verses. It is bad
enough that boat-racers and horse-racers are to furnish food
to the public through the newspapers, but at all events let
US keep them out of our works of literature. r J ne place for the
professional " sculler " or the racing horse is the pool, and he

i >hould be brought in the sight of anybody except those
who trade in his speed. In some other respects, too, but no-
where to the extent mentioned, has the author sinned, in using
indifferent matter; — having said all of which, we are over our
little fit of temper, and gladly point out two or three of Miss
Mountcastle's many sweet and delightful verses. In " The Voice
of the Waters " is a wild wealth of imagination, a flowing music,
a profusion of epithet, and a boundless command of rhyme.
Here are three lovely lines, spoken by Strathallan to his love
Eleila :

" 'Neath the headland, my love, where the white gulls are flocking,
My boat on the wave of dark Huron is rocking,
And waiting for thee. M



THOUGHT AND LITERATURE. 49£

Here is a bit of clever verse :

* * " Oh, merciful Heaven,
How women deceive,

With their dimpling and smiling, and cruel coquetting,
The wiles of the enemy, Satan, abetting ;
With a heart like a stone in a fair gilded setting.
O — fool ! to believe

In the shallow affection that women profess,
( >r heed the soft glances or tender caress!
Tin sick of believing in mything human,
And tender and beautiful; 'specially woman."

In " Glimpses of Inner Life" occur her Lest verses, and here
are two which no living poet might be ashamed to acknow-
ledge :

" There lingers around thee, my darling, 3
The perfume tweet of the mignonette;

And still, with the faintest of carmine streak,

Doth the wild rote blossom upon thy cheek."

And what a delightful stanza this is:

" M\i /<"•»', mi/ ihifitit'i .' inn paUifairmotm

That lights, though distant, my life's dark noon,
With memory's brightness my sad heart till,
8weetjloweroft}iewil'l>">>l,l» I'-i'li m<: */<//."

We have put these two lines in italics, hecause they seem to
I o contain the genuine note.

We must close with those two stanzas from "A Ret mo-
tion." They are worthy of Mrs. Hemans, and are equal to the
rones of that poet :

"In the long pafct days of my childhood,

I sat at a cottage door ;
And saw with a childish rapture

The sunlight glint on the floor ;
And over the hills and the meadows,

And fretted through beech- wood grove
Where thrushes and robins were singing

Their wonderful tales of love.



4D4 LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

\nd I watched the cumulus cloudlets
Piled, and like mountains riven,

< MHdl / marvelled if thai
Th<i' ilk'J up to /'•"'•• n.

The ascent for a space seemed eas\ .

And then came a ittp so high,
I never could hope t<> climb up it

Without I had vingi to Bj. w

Again we have put in italic- those two delightful lines on
the last quoted stanza. We should like to sec thifl author less
roaring in weeding out the indifferent lines from her poems ;
w. should like to see her keep a greater control over the in-
fttrument, to hold m t it' that expression may be allowed us, and
give BQOre attention to finish, while not permitting any verse to
go from her hands that has a weak spot. These are not vital
shortcomings, but are essential to her art ; and a less rigid dis-
eipline is unworthy of her deeply passionate imagination, and
wealth of verse. Miss Mountcastle is an acquisition to our
choir ; she sings a genuine note, but must learn to confine her
great abilities to subjects worthy of her pen.

The arduous duties of journalism prevent Mr. Martin
J. Griffin from devoting hjfl talents more to contributions to
enduring literature. A daily newspaper is a vast absorbent,
sapping out of the most exhaustless mind all its freshness,
mellowness, and flavour ; yet the journalist ought not to forget
that what he writes from day to day is only an evanescent
food, looked at, thrown aside, and seldom remembered again ;
while a work of literature, if containing merit, will endure, and
instruct, and make better generations yet unborn. This is
how, when we are departing, we can

" leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time."

But Mr. Griffin contributed to the last Christmas number of
the Mail a poem addressed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, so



THOUGHT AND LITERATURE. 495

swinging, airy and free, that we give one or two of the

stanzas :

" And so he's taken leave at length

Of college grave and students antic,
To spend his last remaining days

In writing papers for th' ' Atlantic ! "
His last \ — his best ! go to ! ye knaves,

That say our poet's getting oldish,
JJo ,j, find weakness in f/«

think the mm a little oolditk.* 1

There is in this the lilt and swing of Gerald Griffin at his
while the lines in italics arc altogether masterpieces of
cleverness. Here is a reminiscence of the buried past; and
Mr, Griffin touches the chord with a Peeling hand: —

"Oi Eriendi might read with eyes half dim

And hearts with time grown rather mellow,
And reading, call, ' A health t<> him,

Be wasn't halt a baddish fell
We knew htm once — 'twas years ago,

Wh.n w. were young and flowers were springing ;
We saw hint daily come ;md go,

And heard and praised his simple singing.'

11 ' *TwttM, /""'■ the pine ivooils whiskered need
Their secrets t<> th> »'•,/„,/. rin
And how the surges murmured meet
Responses to the deep emotion.' "

The music in these lines marked is harp-like and striking,
and the sentiment is pleasing. It is not too much to hope
that Mr. Griffin will be able to steal away sometimes from the
turmoil of journalism, and contribute from the fulness of his
fine talents something to our store of native letters.

In the Canadian Monthly a number of writers, many of
whom deserved encouragement, appeared front time to time.
We cannot wait now to refer at length to " Seranus " whom
we understand to be Mrs. J. F. Harrison, of Ottawa, who some-



LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

times wrote fragments instinct with intense passion and a depth
of melody. Another valued contributor to the Month!;/ was
Mr. J. G. Bourinot. B.A.. clerk of the house of commons, Ottawa.
Mr. Bourinoto contributions to literature have been valuable in
their way. especially his pamphlet on the intellectual develop-
ment of the Canadian people. Mr. Davin lately set his lance
against Mr. Bourinot'a English, hut Mr. Davin'a English is not
any better than Mr. Bourinot s, howeyer many other charming
qualities it may possess. Mr. \Y. 1). Le Sueur also contri-
buted a number o( subtle and searching papers to the Month!;/
for the publication of which the blockhead editor <>t" a religious
paper charged the editor, Mr. Adam, with leanings to agnosti-
cism Amnmg our younger writer^ who show decided promise
may he mentioned Mr. Archibald Lumpman, B.A., of Toronto ;
and Mr. .1. A. Ritchie, of Ottawa. We have seen in Our Con-
t. in the Oa Monthly sod elsewhere verses of there

young gentlemen that justify as in predicting brilliant things
• »t" their future. Mr. Lampman has an exquisite touch, and has
already written some lines of the very highest merit. Mi
ii«- has awakened from the strings of his instrument, a
mellow music, that is large with promise of admirable
thin - .

In nearly every school-book we find something from Mr.
Sangster, which is given as a sample of " good Canadian poetry:
but any of this writer's verse that we have read, and we think
we have seen it all, was not worth a brass farthing. His name
only appears here that he may not be confounded with our
Canadian poets.

And now wdrile on this subject let us say that as well may
we hope for " roses in December, ice in June," as to look for a
literature without a nationality. But in the awakening of
that national life for which we yearn, we may count on a
creative period in our literature ; for the time when our young
nation will put on the intellectual blossoms of romance and
soncr. Some of those who, while believing that the days of



TIIO V GUT AND LITERATURE. 497

subordination and inferiority ought soon to come to an end ,
still shrink timidly back into their shell, when asked to take-
up the question of our disenthralment practically, on the
ground that our confederation is yet only a tiny thing, that we
would be as a waif among the nations, forget that at the date
of confederation the joint population of our provinces was
greater than that of any one, of thirty-seven European Sov-
- n ign States, and that at this day our population exceeds that
of either Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Saxony, Greece, or
Holland, more than doubling that of Denmark, and more than

trebling that of Holland. They have forgotten, too, that the
Btar of empire is moving in our direction ; thai we have open
doors facing towards tie- emigrant of all quarters of the globe ;
that we have to the west of us half a continent of wheat land,
<•'//< iliU o that already

railroads have thrown this unrivalled territory, open to the
husbandman; that every ship thai crosses the ocean is laden
with human freight for our new country ; that our western
expanding by strides, and that capital, intelligence,
and enterprii >ming from all quarters of the civilized

world to their lot with as. Neither are we like the

[rishman or the Russian unfit t<> take tie- supreme government
into our own hands ; for a beneficent »ducational system has
been for many years shedding its light among us, that now, the
intellectual condition <»t tie- mass of our people is far higher
than that of England herself, or of any other European state.
That a change must BOOn come in our political status, no one
whose opinion is of any value will now deny; and to the spec-
ulating mind one of three courses will be open: Federation
with the empire, a scheme which is the birth of a disordered
poetic Imagination ; annexat ion with the United States — a pro-
posal for which we have not the remotest sympathy, and whi^h,
we helieve, would be unwelcome to the people, but which is
infinitely preferable to that disordered plagiarism of Mr. Justin
lid Sarthy "the plan of a general federation" — and Canadian

FF



498 LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

Independence, We need not repeat what we have expressed
90 often, that for this latter scheme are we heart and soul ; that
li.) other change will satisfy the manly, yearning spirit of our
young Canadians j and that it fcs our duty now to bestir our-
selv< ganine, and to tire not nor reel till our Colonial-

Ism shall have become a thing of the past, and oar Canada

stand robust, and pare, and manly, and intelligent, among the

nations of the earth. But we must awake from our sordid
ignominy, our cowardly sloth ; unless, indeed, the chains befii
us, and we are happy in the bondage. J t we be, then liberty
i^ an impertinence upon <>ur lips, and the rights of free-born

citizenship a boon of which we are not worthy. If we DC, then
i^ it the duty of our p r eS B and our public men to stitle the im-
pulse of manhood, till, coiling the chain about us, we lie down
in our dishonoured rest

u Fiesiiwi he is not, but slave,

Who stands not out on my side ;
His own hand hollows his grave,
toength is in nie to save
Where strength is none to abide.

Time shall tread on his name

That was written for honour of old,
Who hath taken a change for fame
Dust, and silver, and shame,

Aahes, and iron, and gold."





CHAPTER XXIV.



SIR JOHN AT HOME — LADY MA< DONALD.



f |MIK career of a man who figures in high public station i^
J. like unto the passage of a boat down ;i stream whose course
Lies through the rough way and the smooth: now lie loiters
along through (he rolling prairie, again la- plunges through
wild mountain-chasms, where sometimes the frail toy that car-
Vim is -wall. .wed up ; or we see him in the boiling surge,
his eye bright-calm, his uervee tense and raze, as with steady
arm he steers triumphantly through the danger: yet again,
looking, we behold his boat enter some low. misty lan<l through
which they say only those men wander who do dark-mysterious
things; hut the little barque ean tarry not, for it is bounden to
the motion of the flood, which is borne on the never-ceasing
wheels of time, till at last the pa- made, and, as the sun

- down, the voyager reaches the arms of the haven, the
wide-spreading, tranquil sea.* We have followed Sir John



* The following are some of the measures of legislation accomplished by the Right
H iii. gentleman since entering public life: — The secularization of the clergy re-
serves ; the improvement of the criminal law- ; the promotion of public instruc-
tion ; the consolidation of the statutes; the extension of the pannidpaJ Ijstena ; tin-
reorganization of the militia ; settlement of the seat of Government question ; the
establishment of direct steam mail communication with Europe ; the establishment
of additional penitentiaries, criminal lunatic asylums and reformatory prisons, and
providing for the inspection thereof : the providing for the internal economy of th«
of Commons ; the reorganization of the ( 'ivil Service on a j>ermament basis ;
the construction of the I nt.nolonial Railway ; the enlargement of the canals ; the
enactment of a stringent election law ; the ratification of the Washington Treaty :
:if. tl'i.tti'ii o| 1'.. X.A. ; the OTttmion and consolidation of the Dominion ;
the adoption of a National Policy, and a measure for the construction of the Canada
Pacific Kailway.

499



500 LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDOKALD.

Macdenald down the stream, and we believe he has done his
duty. On some trivial occasions his course may not have re-
commended itself to our judgment; l>ut oven these incidents
we have had the disadvantage of viewing from distant ground,

and might* on a ck*>e examination, find that it is we who were
mistaken. Party being unfortunately the Canadian vehicle of

rnment, our statesmen are all, more or less, bondsmen to

VStem : and even that writer of history who sits down to

his task with the desire of discovering shortcomings in the
: 1 of Sir John Bfacdonald will find, when Ids work is done

that he i nly to make an array of such transgressions

ire sanctioned by party morality, not fewer, neither more

heinous, than those to he laid at the threshold of any of his
«mh temporaries, domestic or foreign. But if he set himself to
follow the record in cold blood, and to dohisduty,he would
find that the influence of Sir John Ifacdonald's career upon the

political life of the country, and upon puhlic opinion, has been
greater and better, and of a nature that will prove more endur-
ing, than that of any other Canadian statesman, whether dead
or living. That Sir John is a partyist it would be no use to
deny : hut there is no man in this country who more abhors
ty than lie; and it is only a few days ago
since he declared that the usefulness of that journal was gone
which had not an independent intelligence of its own, and
which became the mere organ of a doctrine or of a party of
men. Sir John has always, and to a far greater extent than
we could wish, sought to instil a feeling of loyalty among Can-
adians to the British empire ; but he has also, more than any
other Canadian statesman, taught us the duty of loyalty to
ourselves. His doctrine seems to us to have been like this : My
great wish is that Canada shall remain an ally of Great Britain,
and I desire to see the same sentiment among our people ; but
to our own selves we must be true. We should be loyal to Great
Britain ; we must be loyal to Canada. Once, indeed, he char-
acterized a scheme of Mr. Blake's, of which we do not disap-



SIR JOHN AT HOME— LADY MACDONALD. 501

prove, as "veiled treason" — though had it been veiled treason
that would not have given it less value — Imt this was only
a platform small-arm; he has taught us the adjective national,
and he has given us a national policy. Nay, more than this
when he believed that policy to be for Canada's best interests
— and his opponents cried out that it would endanger British
connection, — a newspaper, voicing his sentiments, replied, "Then
so much the worse for British connexion" It is notorious that
Sir .John is ten times more popular with the young men than
either his late or his present rival ; and the explanation of this

is : tin- policy of Canadian loyalty to Canadian interests which

be lias adopted, Both Messrs. Blake and Mackenzie have shown
deep concern in the welfare of their country, but it was a cold-
led Interest, an instinct arising from an intellectual scum'

of duty, with as much warmth of impulse SS B sheriff might
in whipping a malefactor at the post. In a country like

this, too, where the tendency Lb to carry political malevolence

bom the platform to the tire-id.', the influence of Sir John

has been good. He has dealt hard blows to opponents, but he

no poison upon his blade ; and some of those who have

not been able to agree with the public policy of the right hon.
gentleman, and who have given him hard thrusts which have
been repaid with "usury thereto" — are his wannest personal

friends. Among his own Colleagues, his voice is a pervading

harmony; and we have the testimony of those who have sat

with him, that sometimes, on his leaving the scene, the instr-
ument has become jangled and out of tune, till his hand has

in touched the strings and renewed the concord. The keen-

-t« nerat the keyhole or the windows of Sir John's council
•chamber hears not the faintest note of discord, though some-
times we have seen the door open, and a colleague come out
who has never gone in again : the very "taking off" has been
effected not alone with absolute secrecy, but positive harmony.
'lie- same great newspaper that has likened Sir John's surpass-
ing gift of leadership to the feat of the Hindoo juggler in



LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

keeping a half-dozen balls in the air at once,asmuchcomprehends
that power of subtle tact by which i mind understanding
human nature rules through that knowledge, as its founder
knew of any way to lnana^v a party except to drive it. Sir
John'fl rule has D driving and the whip, but

one of leading and good-will

Sir John i> scarcely less effective on the platform than in
the council, though he is not a great orator; yet his speeches
have a strong appealing note, a flavour and a conquering sym-
pathy only found in a man of marked individuality; but this
subtle quality does not bear handling, and gives no evidence of
it-. -If in his printed add The passionate outbursts of

O'Connell, instinct with the tire of personality, and those
weirdly fascinating ul i of Shiel, are paraded upon the

pag« 08 like c or pses, with no more glow than one of the

in>utlerably eloquent, >earchin-\ and philosophical fluxes of



Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 41 of 57)