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Title: Humours of '37, Grave, Gay and Grim - Rebellion Times in the Canadas
Author: Lizars, Kathleen MacFarlane, Lizars, Robina
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber’s Note:

The corrections listed in the Erratum have been incorporated into the
original.

Italics delimited by underscores.]



  HUMOURS OF ’37

  GRAVE, GAY AND GRIM


  REBELLION TIMES IN THE CANADAS.


  BY
  ROBINA AND KATHLEEN MACFARLANE LIZARS,

  _Authors of “In the Days of the Canada Company: the Story of the
  Settlement of the Huron Tract.”_


  “The humours are commonly the most important and most
  variable parts of the animal body.”


  TORONTO:
  WILLIAM BRIGGS,
  WESLEY BUILDINGS.

  C. W. COATES, MONTREAL.      S. F. HUESTIS, HALIFAX.
  1897.


    Entered, according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the
    year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, by KATHLEEN
    MACFARLANE LIZARS, at the Department of Agriculture.



PREFACE.


The title of this book is built upon the assumption that humour is a
sense of incongruity, not that there was anything specially humorous in
the affairs of ’37 beyond that which arose from the crudeness of the
times.

A medium between the sacrifice of detail attendant on compilation, and
the loss of effect in a whole picture through too close application
of the historic microscope, has been attempted. True proportion is
difficult to compass at short range, yet the motives, ideas and
occurrences which produced the animosities leading to the Rebellion
were the inheritance, the special property, of the men who lived
then; and of them few remain. To those who do and who have so kindly
given their reminiscences special thanks are due. The works of the
documentary and the philosophic historian lie on the shelves ready
to one’s hand; but those who were “Loyalist” and “Rebel” are quickly
dropping into that silence where suffering and injustice, defeat and
victory, meet in common oblivion.

Like lichens on rocks, myths have grown about that time; but the myth
is worth preserving for the sake of the germ of truth which gave it
birth. Historians sometimes tell the truth, not always the whole truth,
certainly never anything but the truth, and nothing is to be despised
which gives a peep at the life as it really was. For complexion of the
times, the local colour of its action, there can be nothing like the
tale of the veteran, of the white-haired, dim-eyed survivor, whose
quaking voice tells out the story of that eventful day. A page from
Pepys or Bellasys lifts a curtain upon what really took place when the
historic essence fails; then some morsels of secret history come to
light, and motives and actions hitherto puzzling stand revealed.

Were all contributed sentences herein to have their rights in inverted
commas the publisher’s stock would be exhausted. The prejudice in
favour of Italics has not been observed in certain cases. “A bas les
prejudices;” in Canada French is not a foreign language.

It is also assumed that every Canadian is familiar with Canadian
history, and that some one or other of its masters is well fixed in
school memories. To those masters, and to many others, an apology
is tendered for wholesale appropriation of their matter. If every
statement made herein were substantiated by the customary foot-note
many unsightly pages would be the result; therefore, as no statement
has been made without due authority, we commend our readers to the
writings of Parkman, Garneau, Dent, McMullen, McCarthy, Macaulay,
Michelet, DeGaspé, LeMoine, David, Morgan, Carrier, Bonnycastle, F.
B. Head, George Head, Macgregor, Bender, Lindsay, Rattray, Scadding,
Thompson and others; to the writings and biographies of the statesmen
and governors quoted; to Governmental Journals and House of Commons
Debates; for the record of events as they daily took place to
innumerable manuscripts, pamphlets and newspapers, written or published
between Sarnia and Quebec and in many American cities, covering in
particular the years ’36, ’37, ’38, ’39, ’40; and to various sources
where Canada is treated as a side issue and not as a main point.
Theller and McLeod have been used where the corroborative testimony of
others warrants a transcription of their humours.

“Whether an eagle or ant in the intellectual world seems to me not to
matter much,” says Joubert. The work of the humble ant is to gather
fragments, and, as the humblest in the tribe, the collectors of
the data from which this mélange has risen offer it to the public,
and as humbly hope they have come within the same writer’s further
observation: “A small talent, if it keeps within its limits and rightly
fulfils its task, may reach the goal just as well as a great one.”

STRATFORD, October, 1897.

Several score of authorities, known or comparatively unknown, have
been drawn on in the compilation of Gallows Hill. Bill Johnston and
Colonel Prince, as they appear here, are derived from twenty-one and
twenty-six authorities respectively. Therefore when the hundredth, and
the twenty-second, and the twenty-seventh, shall arise to contradict,
or disagree with, each and every word herein, the authors beg to be
allowed to see nothing but a humour in the situation.



NEW WORDS TO AN OLD SONG;

OR, JOHN GILPIN TRAVESTIED.


[We are indebted to Miss FitzGibbon for a copy of the Cobourg _Star_
of February 7th, 1838, in which appears, under the above title, an
epitome, from one point of view, of Rebellion events. Its humours make
it a fitting introduction for the papers which follow.]

    “_Now puny discord first broke out,
     And fools rebelled; but what about
                        They could not tell._”

    There lived in famed Toronto town
      A man not very big,
    A belted knight was he likewise,--
      Knight of the old bay wig.

    Mackenzie was this hero called,
      From Scotia’s land he came,
    To sow and reap--if e’er he could--
      The seeds of future fame.

    Well taught was he to broil and scold,
      To slander and to lie,
    The good to libel--but the bad
      Around him close to tie.

    A precious clan this hero got
      To join him in the cause
    Of Freedom, which but truly meant
      Upturning of our laws.

    He travelled all the country round,
      With grievances his cry;
    Then off to father John, at home,
      Right quickly did he hie.

    And then he told so many lies
      That John began to stare;
    And eke he talked so very large
      That John began to swear.

    Then out Mackenzie pulled the roll
      Of those who did complain;
    And for redress of grievances
      He bawled with might and main.

    Now John a so-so clerk had got--
      A Janus-looking elf,
    Who cared for nothing else of earth
      But sleeping and himself.

    Glenelg was snoring in his chair
      His custom every day--
    Then up he got and rubbed his eyes
      To brush the sleep away.

    Said he, “Rebellion is our love,
      In it we do delight;
    So now you may go back again,
      We’ll soon set things to right;

    “For you and all the world must know,
      By it our place we keep.”
    But scarcely had he spoke these words
      When he was fast asleep.

    And when he’d slept ten months or so,
      He called him for a pen;
    But long before it ready was
      He’d sunk to sleep again.

    Now goodman Stephen in his ear
      In whispering accents said--
    “Both pens and paper now, my Lord,
      Are on your table laid.”

    So quick he took the gray goose-quill,
      And wrote a neat despatch;
    Says he, “I think that that, at least,
      Their Tory wiles will match.

    “Just as my name, it may be read
      Whichever way you like,
    Or Whig or Tory, as may best
      The reader’s fancy strike.

    “So And me now Sir Francis Head,--
      A learned knight is he,--
    Successor to the brave Sir John
      I vow that man shall be.”

    Sir Francis came, but long declined
      The proffered post to take,
    Until convinced by Lord Glenelg
      ’Twas for Reform’s sake.

    “Now take this book,” his Lordship said,
      “And in it you may see
    The many wrongs that do oppress
      A people blest and free.

    “And take you also this despatch,
      And read it over well;
    But to the people you need not
      Its whole contents to tell.”

    Sir Francis bowed, and off he came
      In hurry to be here;
    And rabble shout and rabble praise
      Fell thick upon his ear.

    But full amazed was he to see
      The good Sir John depart;
    For blessings flowed from many a lip
      And sighs from many a heart.

    “Good lack!” quoth he, “but this is strange
      Which I do now behold,
    For that Sir John most hated was
      In England we were told!”

    And then he made a little speech,
      And said he’d let them know,
    What his instructions fully were
      He meant to them to show.

    It happened then our worthy knights
      Were met in Parliament,
    And unto them a copy neat
      Of the despatch he sent.

    And then they blustered and they fumed
      And acted as if mad,
    And said though things were bad before,
      They now were twice as bad.

    And then they asked that from their ranks
      Six Councillors he’d choose--
    Six men of wisdom, whose advice
      In all behests he’d use.

    To humour them he did his best,
      And quickly tried the plan, sir:
    But quite as quickly he found out
      That it would never answer.

    He said, “One law shall be my guide,
      From which I’ll never swerve--
    The Constitution I’ll uphold
      With all my might and nerve.”

    So shortly to the right-about
      He sent them in a hurry,
    Which caused among their loving friends
      A most outrageous flurry.

    The House was filled with witty chaps,
      Who of a joke were fond;
    They thought it would be mighty fine
      To ask him for a “Bond.”

    And then were speeches long and thick,
      With nonsense and with rant,
    And “_Rights of Council_” soon became
      Reformers’ fav’rite cant.

    And then one Peter Perry rose,
      And in a flaming speech
    He vowed that he Sir Francis Head
      The use of laws would teach.

    He said he had a plan which should
      The country’s temper try,
    And then he moved him that the House
      Would stop the year’s supply.

    A mighty struggle then arose,
      Of who’d be first to vote;
    For they their lessons well had read
      And knew them all by rote.

    Now up the Speaker of the House
      With hasty step arose,
    A letter from a friend below
      He on the table throws.

    The letter, read, was found to be
      With treason full well pack’d;
    It begg’d that rebels from below
      Might by that House be back’d.

    To print it, it was found too late--
      Alas! they were not able,
    For, dire mischance, some wicked wight
      _Had stole it from the table_.

    Sir Francis took them at their word--
      He was as quick as they--
    And with a speech that made them wince
      He sent them all away.

    Addresses now from far and near
      To him came pouring in,
    That he would give the people chance
      Of choosing better men.

    And now each Briton’s bosom beat chance
      Right joyous at the thought,
    That they at length had gained the
      Which they so long had sought.

    Our tried and trusty Governor,
      Of rebel well aware,
    Defied their malice, and them told
      “To come on if they dare.”

    Now all around our happy land
      Was heard a joyous shout--
    Of forty-seven, rebels all,
      Full thirty were left out.

    Ex-Speaker Bidwell in the dumps
      Vow’d politics he’d quit;
    For well he know in _that there_ House
      He never more could sit.

    Mackenzie also lost his place,
      “_And whete and phlower_” too,
    _Mud Turtle_ and his hopeful gang
      Were left their deeds to rue.

    And Loyalty triumphant was
      In almost every place,
    Its bitter foes were left at home
      To batten on disgrace.

    Of Doctor Duncombe must I tell,
      Who off to England hies,
    And thought a wondrous job to work
      By pawning off his lies.

    How, decked with jewels of all kinds,
      He looked so mighty gay,
    And how his name he quickly changed
      When he got well away.

    And how he met with Jocky R.,
      And Josey Hume, also,
    And what a jolly set they were
      When planning what to do.

    And soon they summ’d up all our wants
      The “tottle” for to find;
    Said Josey, “Soon a storm I’ll raise,”
      Said Duncombe, “That is kind.

    “And--for I know you never stick
      At trick’ry or at lie;
    I think we might make out a case
      Twix’t Roebuck, you and I.”

    But when they’d said their utmost say,
      And vented all their spleen,
    The truth it shortly came to light,
      Such things had never been.

    And then Sir Francis high was praised
      And just applauses met,
    And by his King he straightway was
      Created Baronet.

    Not so Lord Gosford, who, intent
      His nat’ral bent to show,
    The titled minion had become
      Of Speaker Papineau.

    In him rebellion evermore
      Was sure to find a friend;
    His only study seemed to be
      His utmost help to lend.

    It happen’d that the rebel gang
      Some resolutions passed,
    To which they swore that they would stick
      Unto the very last.

    And Melbourne then, to ease their fears,
      Three knowing G’s (_geese_) did send,
    To see if they could calm the French
      And make their murmurs end.

    They quickly came, Lord Gosford chief,
      A pretty set were they,
    And Jean Baptiste, he swore outright
      He not a sou would pay.

    Lord Johnny Russell then got wrath,
      And spoke as lion bold,
    That he the money soon should get
      As in the time of old.

    The Frenchmen at St. Charles then
      Did loud assert their right;
    But soon they found ’twas easier far
      To make a speech than fight.

    For quick the Loyalists around
      Their much loved flag did rally,
    The battle-shout was heard throughout
      The broad St. Lawrence valley.

    Corunna’s chieftain, he was there,
      With gallant Wetherall,
    And many loyal men, prepared
      To conquer or to fall.

    How British bayonets did their Work
      Let razed St. Charles tell;
    St. Eustache, also, where in scores
      The dastard rebels fell.

    Of gallant Markham would I sing,
      And others if I could;
    Of Weir, who most inhumanly
      Was murdered in cold blood.

    But soon the traitors were compelled
      With grief to bite the dust;
    They crouched beneath the British flag,
      As every traitor must.

    But where were they, the _gallant_ chiefs,
      Who led the people on?
    In vain you searched, for they away
      To Yankee-land had gone.

    Among the rebels there were found
      Some dozen M.P.P.’s;
    Who now confined in jail may pass
      The winter at their ease.

    But to Sir Mac. we now return,
      From whom we’ve strayed too long;
    This verse, I think, will just conclude
      The middle of my song.

    Mackenzie and his rebel gang
      In Doel’s brewery met,
    “A bung-hole pack,” Jim Dalton calls
      This mischief-brewing set.

    And there they laid down all their plans
      Of this great revolution,
    And destined Rolph to be the head
      Of their new Constitution.

    At length unto this crew the Knight
      A flaming speech addressed,
    And told the plan which after all
      Did unto him seem best.

    Said he: “My true and trusty friends,
      Though we have promised been
    Reform these many years, yet we
      Reform have never seen.

    “So now, my lads, no longer we
      In anxious doubt must wait,
    The time has come for pulling down
      The Church, the Queen, and State.

    “For vote by ballot we must have,
      And stars and garters too,
    And we must hang Sir Francis Head,
      With all his Tory crew.

    “I’ve written round to all my friends
      That they should ready be,
    And as of them we are now sure
      We’ll gain the victory.

    “The Tories all securely sleep,
      And dream they’ve naught to fear,
    Nor little think that to their end
      They now are drawing near.

    “John Strachan now is quite at rest,
      And Robinson likewise;
    But soon at Freedom’s shrine of them
      We’ll make a sacrifice.

    “The red-coats, too, are far away,
      Removed from every station,
    And now it is our time to burst
      From ‘hateful domination.’

    “The Yankees also are prepared
      To lend a helping hand
    To breed confusion and dismay
      Throughout this happy land.

    “And now, my friends, in right good truth,
      We’ve little time to spare,
    Go quick, collect your several bands
      And arm them with great care.”

    When he had done, all gave a shout
      To show their courage high,
    And then obedient to his words
      In various paths they fly.

    The blacksmith Lount, he active was
      Both spears and swords to make,
    And General Duncombe hoped that soon
      Fort Malden he might take.

    Mackenzie to mail-robbing took--
      A most delightful trade
    For one who every blackguard art
      Erstwhile had well essayed.

    And when he got three hundred men,
      All brave ones as himself,
    He then marched to Toronto town
      To see and gain some pelf.

    Their gallant deeds and gallant acts
      I’m sure I need not tell,
    How full four hundred armed men
      _Ran from the College bell_.

    Nor how full thirty men at least
      Did one old man attack,
    Nor dared to fight him face to face,
      But shot him in the back.

    How good Sir Frank a flag of truce
      With Rolph and Baldwin sent
    Unto the rebel camp, to ask
      Them what was their intent;

    And how they (prompted by the twain)
      Declared ’twas their intention
    To settle all the State affairs
      By General Convention.

    And then Toronto in a blaze
      They threatened for to set,
    But nearer than Montgomery’s
      They ne’er to it could get.

    ’Twas on the seventh of that month
      Which we do call December,
    Sir Francis Head led out his men,--
      That day we’ll long remember.

    And then ’twas glorious fun to see
      What rabble rout could do,--
    They every man took to his heels,
      The word was, _Sauve qui peut_.

    Some hundred taken prisoners were
      On that eventful day;
    Sir Francis with too kind a heart
      He let them all away.

    But “Which way did the leaders run?”
      I think I hear you ask;
    To tell which way they took, I ween,
      Would be an arduous task.

    Soon as the news of this outbreak
      Had gone the country through,
    It was a glorious sight to see
      How quick to arms they flew;

    And ’mongst the foremost in the ranks
      To quell the rebel band,
    Old Erin’s dauntless shamrock stood
      A guardian of the land.

    And then was seen old England’s rose
      In all its pride and glory;
    And Scotland’s thistle, which is known
      In many a deathless story.

    And with them joined thy valiant sons,
      My own adopted land,
    To form around the Queen and laws
      A glorious valiant band.

    MacNab his gallant volunteers
      Led anxious to the fight,
    And all the west poured in her troops
      To stand in freedom’s right.

    Newcastle, too, her quota sent
      Of men both good and true;
    In truth it was a cheering sight
      Their bearing high to view.

    Of Cobourg, too, I needs must sing,
      Which on that trying day
    The fire of virtuous loyalty
      Did to our eyes display.

    There Conger with his company,
      With Calcutt and with Clarke,
    And Warren, with his rifle band,
      Whom every eye did mark.

    And on they went, a gallant set,
      To stop the foes rebelling;
    How many prisoners they took
      Would take some time in telling.

    Meanwhile Mackenzie, safe and sound,
      Had got to Buffalo;
    The Yankees sympathized with him
      And made him quite a show.

    Neutrality it was their law,
      But that they never minded,
    They sympathized with rebels so
      It quite their reason blinded.

    Their papers, too, were filled with stuff,
      With nonsense and with lies:
    So fast they told them, that you’d think
      They lied but for some prize.

    At length, when after much ado
      They got two hundred men,
    Mackenzie in high spunk set off
      To try the job again.

    At first I hear ’twas their intent
      At Waterloo to land,
    But Newcastle’s good rifles there
      Were ready to their hand.

    Rensselaer then took the command
      Of those degraded wretches,
    For some had neither coat nor hat,
      And some not even breeches.

    To Navy Island then they went,
      And there made a great splutter,--
    A Constitution printed off,
      And many threats did utter.

    Alas, for Yankee modesty!
      It really is quite shocking,
    Some _ladies_ made the rebels _shirts_,
      And some, too, sent them stocking.

    Of many acts which by our men
      Right gallantly were done,
    I’ve spun my verse to such a length
      I can relate but one.

    And that the very gallant act
      Of Captain Andrew Drew,
    Whose name must be immortalized,
      Likewise his daring crew.

    A Yankee steamer oft had tried
      The rebels aid to bring;
    This English seaman swore that he
      Would not allow the thing.

    The Captain and his valiant crew,
      Whose names I wot not all,
    From Schlosser cut the steamboat out
      And sent her o’er the Fall.

    Oh! then the Yankees stormed outright,
      And spoke of reparation;
    A mighty flame then rose through this
      Tobacco-chewing nation.

    But little Mat was far too wise
      The risk of war to run,
    For he was one who never thought
      In fighting there was fun.

    So quickly to the frontier he
      Sent General Winfield Scott,
    Who in last war at Lundy’s Lane
      A right good drubbing got.

    Meanwhile upon the rebel host
      Our guns so well did play
    With shot and shell that they right soon
      Were glad to run away.

    And Duncombe, too, oh! where is he,
      The Doctor, brave and bold?
    Some say that he is dead and gone,
      Being perished in the cold.

    And now that the rebellion’s o’er
      Let each true Briton sing,
    Long live the Queen in health and peace,
      And may each rebel swing.

    And good Sir Francis Head, may he
      With health and peace be crowned;
    May earthly happiness to him
      For evermore abound.

    God prosper, too, my own loved land,
      Thy sons so brave and true,
    A heavy debt of loyalty
      Doth England owe to you.

    But as for those said Yankee chaps,
      They well may pine and fret,
    For, by lord Harry, they will have
      To pay us all the debt.

    And now to Mac. there’s still one step
      To end his life of evil;
    Soon may he take the last long leap
      From gibbet to the----.



CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE

  BANEFUL DOMINATION                                         13

  MORE BANEFUL DOMINATION                                    44

  THE CANADAS AT WESTMINSTER                                 63

  A CALL TO UMBRELLAS                                        91

  LE GRAND BRULE                                            132

  GALLOWS HILL                                              161

  AUTOCRATS ALL                                             202

  HURON’S AGE HEROIC                                        272

  DEBORAHS OF ’37                                           308



HUMOURS OF ’37.



Baneful Domination.

“_Every reform was once a private opinion, and when it shall be a
private opinion again it will solve the problem of the age._”


The vivacious Pompadour enlivens the twenty years of her boudoir
conspiracies playing _les graces_ with her lord’s colonies. She throws
the ring; Pitt, at the other end of the game, catches Canada.

The mills of the gods in their slow grind have reversed the conditions
of the contestants; the Norman conquest of England becomes a British
conquest of New France. The descendants of the twenty thousand
barbarians who landed at Hastings have but come to claim their own.

Life is “moving music.” The third movement in this historic sonata
comes back to the original subject, even if the return to the tonic
opens in a minor mode.

“Gentlemen, I commend to your keeping the honour of France,” says the
dying Montcalm.

“Now, God be praised, I die in peace!” and Wolfe expires.

The fiercest of the conflict ever rages round a bit of bunting on the
end of a stick. The lilies of France come down; up goes the Union Jack
to usher in the birthday of the Greater Britain, and Horace Walpole
says, “We are forced to ask every morning what victory there is, for
fear of missing one.”

Voltaire gives a fête at Fernay to celebrate the deliverance from
fifteen hundred leagues of frozen country; the Pompadour tells her
Louis that now he may sleep in peace; and outsiders ask of Pitt that
which a celebrated novelist, a century later, asks of his hero--“What
will he do with it?” “The more a man is versed in business,” said the
experienced Pitt, “the more he finds the hand of Providence everywhere.”

But Providence would need to have broad shoulders if generals, kings
and statesmen are to place all their doings there.

       *       *       *       *       *

By 1837 Canada was no longer a giant in its cradle. Colonial boyhood
had arrived; a most obstreperous and well-nigh unmanageable youth, with
many of the usual mistakes of alternate harshness and indulgence from
the parent. For it was not all wisdom that came from Downing Street,
either in despatches or in the gubernatorial flesh. It is easy now to
see that much emanating therefrom came from those whose vision was
confined to the limits of a small island.

The great lubberly youth was given to measuring himself from time to
time; for Canadian epochs are much like the marks made by ambitious
children on the door jamb, marks to show increase in height and a
nearer approach to the stature of the parent.

Canadians’ privileges, like children’s, existed only during the
good pleasure of those who governed them. Some meant well and did
foolishly; others were “somewhat whimsical, fond of military pomp,
accustomed to address deputations, parliamentary or others, as if
they had been so many recruits liable to the quickening influence
of the cat-o’-nine-tails.” One peer in the House of Lords, during a
debate on the vexed Canadian question, demurred at the members of
Colonial Assemblies being treated like froward children, forever tied
to the Executive leading-strings. Canada was, in fact, bound to the
Mother Country by bonds of red tape and nothing else. “Who made you?”
catechized Great Britain. In the words of Mr. Henry Labouchere’s
precocious young catechumen: “Let bygones be bygones; I intend to make
myself,” replied the colony.

The problem of assimilation created by the influx of all nations,
and the fact of two divisions, a conquering and a conquered, with
languages, customs and creeds as diverse as the peoples, made up an
enigma the solution of which still occupies French and English wits
alike.

The English and the French temperaments, each the antipodes of the
other, called for mutual patience and forbearance. But historic truth
compels many admissions: first, that British rule with British freedom
left out made a dark period from the Conquest to the Rebellion;
second, that the national, religious and intellectual ideas of the
French-Canadians, their whole mental attitude, were dominated by
the Quebec Act; and the motto given them by Etienne Parent, “Nos
institutions, notre langue et nos lois,” had become a kind of fetich.
They looked upon themselves as the agents of their mother country
and the Church in the New World; and they argued did they give up
these laws, institutions and language, and become Anglicized, their
nationality would be forever lost.

The toast among officers en route to the Conquest had been, “British
colours on every fort, port and garrison in America.” For many years
after the British flag had first waved on the citadel the habitant
on the plain lifted his eyes to where he had seen the lilies of
France, and with heavy heart said to himself that which has become an
historic saying, “Still we shall see the old folks back again”--words
as pathetic in their hope as the Highlanders’ despairing “We return no
more, no more.”

It is doubtful if at this period the old folks bothered themselves much
about their late colony. Like their own proverb, “In love there is
always one who kisses and one who holds the cheek,” French Canada was
expending a good deal of sentiment upon people who had forgotten that
tucked away in a remote corner of the new world was “a relic preserved
in ice,” a relic of France before the Revolution, its capital the
farthermost point of manner and civilization, a town with an Indian
sounding name, which yet bore upon its front the impress of nobility.
For Quebec is and should be the central point of interest for all
Canadians; the history of the old rock city for many a day was in
effect the history of Canada. History speaks from every stone in its
ruined walls--walls that have sustained five sieges.

The Revolution did not create the same excited interest in Canada that
might have been looked for, yet there were those who “wept bitterly”
when they heard of the execution of the King. The patois, ignorance,
superstition, devotion of its inhabitants, were identical with a time
prior to the Revolution; and with them were the same social ideas and
the same piety.

But the power divided in France among king, nobles, and priest, in
Canada was confined to priest alone; and when the dream of a republic
was dreamt it was the priest and not the British soldier who made the
awakening. The British soldier and those who sent him seem to have
been not a whit better informed about the colony gained than France
was about the colony lost. Some London journalists were not sure
whether Canada formed part of the Cape of Good Hope or of the Argentine
Republic. For a long time the English Government annually sent a
flagpole for the citadel, probably grown in a Canadian forest. Nor
did time improve their knowledge, for as late as the Trent affair one
statesman in the House of Commons informed his more ignorant brethren
that Canada was separated from the United States by the Straits of
Panama.

The acts of Regicide France inspired horror in Canada, yet were not
without their fruits. Despite his title of the “Corsican ogre” and
their horror of revolution, the submission of all Europe to Napoleon
did not make the French of Canadian birth more submissive. Nor did
the nation of shop-keepers, whom he despised and who were to cut his
ambition and send him to his island prison, become more plausible,
courteous or conciliatory, through their sense of victory. Many a
thing, had the positions been reversed, which would have been passed
unnoticed by a phlegmatic Briton, was to the Gallican a national insult.

And LeMoine, that past grand master of the Franco-Anglo-Canadian
complexion, says all too truthfully that conciliation was not a
vice-regal virtue; and one of the singers of the day, a Briton of the
Britons, confirms the opinion:

    “So triumph to the Tories and woe to the Whigs,
      And to all other foes of the nation;
    Let us be through thick and thin caring nothing for the prigs
      Who prate about conciliation.”

But, under its fossil simplicity, Quebec, the “relic preserved in ice,”
untrue to its formation, burned with a fearsome heat and glow in the
years ’37-’38, and those prior to them. The thoughtless words of such
birds of passage as commandants and governors were not calculated to
put out the fire. The very origin of the name Jean Baptiste, applied
generically, arose from a Jean Baptiste answering to every second name
or so of a roll called in 1812, when he turned out in force to defend
the British flag. Getting tired of the monotony of them, said the
officer in his cheerful English way: “D---- them, they are all Jean
Baptistes.” And so the name stuck. General Murray, outraged at any
gold and scarlet apart from his own soldiers, lost all patience at the
sight of French officers in the streets of Quebec. “One cannot tell
the conquering from the conquered when one sees these ---- Frenchmen
walking about with their uniforms and their swords.”[1]

But the French-Canadians did not struggle against individuals except
as they represented a system considered vicious. With the British
Constitution Jean Baptiste was a veritable Oliver Twist. He was not
satisfied with the morsels doled out, but ever asked for more.

True, there were many--at any rate, some--of the higher class French
whose horizon was not bounded by petty feelings regarding race and
religion. These men accepted British rule as one of the fortunes of
war and enjoyed its benefits. An old seigneur, when dying, counselled
his grandson, “Serve your English sovereign with as much zeal and
devotion and loyalty as I have served the French monarch, and receive
my last blessing.” And that king in whose reign insurrection was on
the eve of breaking--irreverently called “Hooked-Nose Old Glorious
Billy”--strangely enough had great sympathy with French-Canadian
feeling, a sympathy which did much to hearten the minority who
counselled abiding by the fortunes of war. But “Old Glorious” was also
called the “People’s Friend,” and the Quebecers had lively and pleasant
memories of him.

In the nine years preceding the fateful one of ’37 there had been
eight colonial ministers, the policy of each differing from that
of his predecessor, and all of them with at best but an elementary
knowledge of colonial affairs and the complexities arising from dual
language, despite the object-lesson daily under their eyes in the
Channel Islands. A little learning is a dangerous thing. Each Colonial
Secretary had that little, and it proved the proverbial pistol which
no one knew was loaded. By them Canadians were spoken of as “aliens
to our nation and constitution,” and it was not thought possible that
Lower Canada, any more than Hindostan or the Cape, could ever become
other than foreign. It was popular and fashionable in some quarters to
underrate the historic recollections which were bound up in religion
and language; and as for Canadian independence, that was an orchid
not yet in vogue. By 1837 he who sat in state in the Château St.
Louis (says LeMoine) in the name of majesty had very decided views on
that subject. H. M. William IV.’s Attorney-General, Charles Ogden, by
virtue of his office “the King’s own Devil,” who was an uncompromising
foe to all evil-doers, held it to mean a hempen collar.

The question of British or French rule grew steadily for a half
century, until Melbourne’s cabinet and Sir John Colborne made effort
to settle it in one way and forever. “Les sacres Anglais” was, in
consequence, the name applied to the followers of the latter; and as
to the former, probably the illiterate habitant, who could not read
the papers but who had an instinct wherewith to reach conclusions,
had his own patois rendering of an English colonial’s opinion that
the politicians comprising the cabinet might “talk summat less and do
summat more.” All classes, indeed, of all sections, were not backward
in giving opinion as to the quality of ministerial despatches; for a
titled lady, writing from a far-off land where she did much work for
the Home Government, dipped her pen in good strong ink and wrote, “My
Lord, if your diplomatic despatches are as obscure as the one which
lies before me, it is no wonder that England should cease to have that
proud preponderance in her foreign relations which she once could boast
of.”

A humorous naturalist had said that the three blessings conferred upon
England by the Hanoverian succession were the suppression of popery,
the national debt, and the importation of the brown or Hanoverian rat.

Strange to say, one of the complexities of the Canadian situation was
the position taken by that very popery which in England was still
looked upon with distrust and suspicion. In 1794, not a decade’s remove
from when the streets of London ran alike with rum and Catholic blood,
through Protestant intolerance and the efforts of a mad nobleman,
Bishop Plessis had thanked God in his Canadian Catholic Cathedral that
the colony was English and free from the horrors enacted in the French
colonies of the day. “Thank your stars,” cried another from the pulpit,
“that you live here under the British flag.”

“The Revolution, so deplorable in itself,” wrote Bishop Hubert of
Quebec, “ensures at this moment three great advantages to Canada:
that of sheltering illustrious exiles; that of procuring for it new
colonists; and that of an increase of its orthodox clergy.” “The French
emigrants have experienced most consolingly the nature of British
generosity. Those of them who shall come to Canada are not likely to
expect that great pecuniary aid will be extended; but the two provinces
offer them resources on all sides.”

Many of the French officers whom the fear of the guillotine sent
over in numbers to England found their way to that country which the
Catholic Canadian priesthood so appreciated. Uncleared land and these
fragments of French noblesse came together in this unforeseen way. But
there was another view of their position when Burke referred to them as
having “taken refuge in the frozen regions and under the despotism of
Britain.” Truly has Britain shouldered many sins, made while you wait
in the factory of rhetoric; nor is it less true that glorious sunny
Canada has suffered equally unjustly as a lesser Siberia from a long
line of writers, beginning with Voltaire, ending--let us hope--with
Kipling.

The French Revolution over, and a mimic one threatening in the colony,
the clergy did not hesitate to remind one another of the fate of
their orders in France, to congratulate themselves they were under a
different régime, nor fail to remember that the War Fund to sustain
British action against the Republicans of France in 1799 had been
subscribed to heavily by many of their brethren and themselves. _Le
Seminaire_ stands in that list, in the midst of many historic names,
against the sum of fifty pounds “per annum during the war.” One point
of great difference between new and old was that the habitants, who
were more enlightened and more religious than their brother peasants
left behind in France, had, with the noblesse, a common calamity in any
prospect which threatened subjugation. The variance ’twixt priest and
people could only end in one way where the people were devout; and the
Lower Canadian has ever been devout and true to Mother Church. But the
“patriot,” who was more apt in diatribe against Tories than in prayers,
spared not the priests in their historical leanings. “Who was the first
Tory?” cries a patriot from his palpitating pages. “The first Tory was
Cain, and the last will be the State-paid priest.”

But if the British Government had in some things acted so kindly and
justly to those of French extraction as to merit such words, in other
matters there had been much of harshness increased by ignorance and
indifference, and the time had come when all had to suffer for such
inconsistencies, and, unfortunately, those most severely who already
were the victims of them.

“C’est la force et le droit qui reglent toutes choses dans le monde.”
Said one of their own writers, “la force en attendant le droit.” In
both Canadas “la force” was local supremacy. The painful development as
to when it should be superseded proved “le droit” and British supremacy
identical.

It was a political struggle prolonged beyond endurance, more than a
real wish to shake free from Britain; a political struggle, where the
combatants were often greedy and abusive partisans who appealed to the
vilest passions of the populace and who were unscrupulous in choosing
their instruments of attack. Capital was made out of sentiment most
likely to appeal to the suffering:

    “Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not
     Who would be free themselves must strike the blow ----”

and Papineau, by speech, manifesto and admission, looked toward the
seat of vice-royalty and made plain the homely sentiment, “Ote toi de
là que moi je m’y mette.” He did not agree with the humble habitant
saying, “C’est le bon Dieu qui nous envoya ça, il faut l’endurer.”
His opinion leaned more to that of O’Connell, who said the French
were the only rightful inhabitants of the country. How much baneful
domination had it taken to so change the Papineau of 1820, when on the
occasion of the death of George III. he says, “... a great national
calamity--the decease of that beloved sovereign who had reigned over
the inhabitants of this country since the day they became British
subjects; it is impossible not to express the feeling of gratitude for
the many benefits received from him, and those of sorrow for his loss
so deeply felt in _this_, as in every other portion of his extensive
dominions. And how could it be otherwise, when each year of his long
reign has been marked by new favours bestowed upon the country?...
Suffice it then at a glance to compare our present happy situation with
that of our fathers on the eve of the day when George III. became their
legitimate monarch ... from that day the reign of the law succeeded to
that of violence.... All these advantages have become our birthright,
and shall, I hope, be the lasting inheritance of our posterity. To
secure them let us only act as British subjects and freemen.”

About ’31 the Lower Canadian Assembly received a lot of new blood; and
very hot, adventurous and zealous blood it was. Young men like Bleury,
Lafontaine, and their confreres, were not backward in naming what they
considered their rights; and they had somewhat unlimited ideas. The
most ardent of the group centred round Papineau and excited him still
further. They scouted Lord Goderich (Robinson) and his concessions so
long as his countrymen formed a majority in their government. This
was a “demarcation insultante” between victor and vanquished. Lord
Dalhousie, “glowing with scarlet and gold,” and followed by a numerous
staff, had brought a session to a close in a peremptory manner, with
words which might have furnished a cue to himself and others. “Many
years of continued discussion ... have proved unavailing to clear
up and set at rest a dispute which moderation and reason might have
speedily terminated.”

To the Loyalist Papineau was the root of all evil. A French
loyal ditty attributed every calamity of the era to him, cholera
morbus, earthquakes and potato-rot included, each stanza finishing
with the refrain, “C’est la faute de Papineau.” “It is certain,”
said the latter, “that before long the whole of America will be
republicanized.... In the days of the Stuarts those who maintained that
the monarchic principle was paramount in Britain lost their heads on
the scaffold.” This, surely, was the proverbial word to the wise.

Naturally, such sentiments made him receive cool treatment in Downing
Street, even when his Ninety-Two Resolutions embodied much truth
and called for affirmative answers. Nothing but the most absolute
democratic rule would satisfy the irreconcilables. Their act in the
House had led to Lord Aylmer being forced to advance the supplies
from the Military Chest, and to embody his disapproval in a resolution
of censure. They in turn voted his censures should be expunged from
the journals of the House. Then Papineau, from the Speaker’s chair,
inveighed against the Mother Country. After the presentation of the
Resolutions, Lord Aylmer, alluding to them, imprudently said that
dissatisfaction was mostly confined to within the walls of the Assembly
rooms, that outside of them the country was at peace and contented.
The men who framed them lost no time in giving him a practical
denial. Resolutions from many parishes approved of the acts of the
Assembly, and the newspaper columns teemed with accounts of popular
demonstrations. Lord Aylmer, however, supposed himself within his
rights. After his recall, at his interview with the King, and supported
by Palmerston and Minto on either side, the monarch declared he
entirely approved of Aylmer’s official conduct, that he had acted like
a true and loyal subject towards a set of traitors and conspirators,
and as became a British officer under the circumstances.

Lord Glenelg sent to the rescue that commission of enquiry, the prelude
to the later Durham one, whereof Lord Gosford was chief. This nobleman,
who became governor of the province, was Irish, and a Protestant,
an opponent of Orangeism, a man of liberal opinions and decisive in
speech and action. He tried every means to make friends in the French
quarter; visited schools and colleges, enchanted all by his charming
politeness of manner, gave a grand ball on the festival day of a
favourite saint, and by his marked attentions at it to Madame Bedard
showed at once his taste and his ability to play a part. He made a
long address to the Chambers, breathing naught but patriotism and
justice; so some still had hope. “To the Canadians, both of French and
British origin, I would say, consider the blessings you might enjoy
but for your dissensions. Offsprings as you are of the two foremost
nations of the earth, you hold a vast and beautiful country, having a
fertile soil with a healthful climate, whilst the noblest river in the
world makes sea-ports of your most remote towns.” He replied to the
Assembly first in French, then in English. There is a possibility of
doing too much, and the _Montreal Gazette_ censured this little bit of
courteous precedence so far as to deny the right of a governor to speak
publicly in any language but his own, and construed this innovation
by the amiable Earl into one that would lead to the Mother-Country’s
degradation. Then what of the Channel Islands, where loyalty was and
is above suspicion; where the Legislature declared that members had
not the right to use English in debate, and “that only in the event
of Jersey having to choose between giving up the French language, or
the protection of England, would they consent to accept the first
alternative.”

Matters progressed till rulers were burned in effigy, and bands of
armed men, prowling about the most disaffected parts, confirmed M.
Lafontaine’s saying, “Every one in the colony is malcontent.” “We have
demanded reforms,” said he, “and not obtained them. It is time to be up
and doing.” “We are despised!” cried M. Morin, “oppression is in store
for us, and even annihilation.... But this state of things need endure
no longer than while we are unable to redress it.”

“It is a second conquest that is wanted in that colony,” said Mr.
Willmot in the House of Commons, when he heard the Canadian news _via_
the _Montreal Gazette_.

So Lord Gosford asked for his recall, got it, stepped into a canoe
after a progress through streets lined with guards of honour composed
of regular and irregular troops, amid “some perfunctory cheering,” and
was paddled to his ship, the band of the 66th playing “Rule Britannia.”
She might rule the waves, but many of those who listened were more than
ever determined that she should not rule Canadians.

The Gosford report was vehemently protested against by Lord Brougham
and Mr. Roebuck, who did not mince matters, but predicted the rebellion
and outlined a probable war with the neighbouring republic.

But Lord John Russell, like Sir Francis Bond Head, did not anticipate
a rebellion.

Lord Gosford had found his task more difficult than he expected. His
predecessor, Sir James Kempt, had done his best and failed, through no
fault of his own but because there was a determination in the majority
of his subjects not to be satisfied. Lord Gosford tried the effect of
a proclamation as an antidote for revolutions. But the habitants tore
it to shreds, crying, “A bas le proclamation! Vive Papineau, vive la
liberté, point de despotisme,” and made their enthusiasm sacred by
holding their meetings at parish church doors. Papineau was omnipotent;
one would imagine ubiquitous, for he seems everywhere. He made the
tour of the northern bank of the St. Lawrence, while his supporters,
Girouard and Lafontaine, took the southern, making the excited people
still more discontented. In after years, as a refugee in Paris,
Papineau disclaimed any practical treason at this time: “None of us
had prepared, desired, or foreseen armed resistance.” Yet the pikes
were further sharpened, and the firelocks looked to; and at St. Thomas
(Que.) alone sixty men on horseback, carrying flags and maple boughs,
preceded him, and following him were several pieces of artillery and
the remainder of the two thousand people who formed his procession.
Bishop Lartigue, a relative of Papineau, warned his people to beware
of revolt, declaring himself impelled by no external influence, only
actuated by motives of conscience. Addressing one hundred and forty
priests, he used unmistakable terms as to how they were to resist
rebellion in the people; no Roman Catholic was permitted to transgress
the laws of the land, nor to set himself up against lawful authority.
He even speaks of “the Government under which we have the happiness to
live,” while his relative was contending that the yoke on the necks of
the Canadians was made in a fashion then obsolete--the Stuart pattern.
But he spoke too late; his people were beyond his control, and they
in turn condemned clerical interference in politics, and the curé in
charge at the combustible Two Mountains had his barns burned in answer
to his exhortation. On the first Monday of every month these sons
of Liberty, organized by Storrow Brown, met--“Son projet réuissoit
à merveille, chaque jours le corps augmentoit en nombre et déjà de
pareilles sociétés se formaient dans la campagne.”

The chronic state of eruption in unhappy Lower Canada had intervals of
quiet only when some governor, with manners of oil and policy of peace,
made an interregnum. All time was not like that of the little Reign of
Terror, full of fear and arbitrary measures, after the suppression of
_Le Canadien_ and the arrest of the judges; but the country felt itself
to be a plaything of not much more weight than the cushion dandled by
Melbourne or the feather blown about by that minister of deceptive
manner. The famous Ninety-two Resolutions embodied the Canadian view of
what was wrong, and the remedy for it. Papineau, their author, owed
much in their construction to his colleague, M. Morin, a gentle, polite
man of letters, with the suave manners of a divine, who neither looked
nor acted the conspirator, despite his many fiery words--as fervid
as those of the idol of the people, the eloquent leader in Canadian
debate, who was nightly carried home to his hotel on the shoulders of
the enthusiastic crowd.

“Since the origin and language of the French-Canadians have become a
pretext for vituperation, for exclusions, for their meriting the stigma
of political inferiority, for deprivation of our rights and ignoring
public interests, the Chamber hereby enters its protest against such
arrogant assumptions, and appeals against them to the justice of the
King and Parliament of Great Britain, likewise to the honourable
feeling of the whole British people. The numerical though not dominant
majority of this colony are not themselves disposed to esteem lightly
the consideration which they inherit from being allied in blood to a
nation equal, at least, to Britain in civilization and excelling her in
knowledge of the arts and sciences--a nation, too, now the worthy rival
of Britain for its institutions.”

Certain it is, the policy of the British Clique, so called, was moulded
more upon old than new country needs and ideas, and was suited to
the times of George I. and Louis XIV. more than to the dawn of the
Victorian era. But ’tis always darkest the hour before day, and the
torch lighted by Papineau was unfortunately to make conflagration
as well as illumination. It was the old, old story of theorists and
political agitators exciting popular discontent and alarm more than
the occasion warranted, by exaggerations retarding instead of speeding
a cause, with another story of procrastination and cross-purposes
from the Mother Country. Further, history was corroborated in that a
demagogue ends as a tyrant. A super-loyal newspaper did not hesitate to
say that the only way to calm Canada was to purge the Colonial Office
from King Stephen _down_ to Glenelg, and to do so by one huge petition
to Majesty signed by every Canadian from Quebec to Amherstburg. For
Lord Glenelg, with the best intentions in the world, had a positive
genius for doing the wrong thing.

But even such evidences of ignorance as did arrive by despatches and
otherwise did not warrant, in the minds of many Liberals, the overthrow
of a monarchy. They made allowance for good disposition in the
abstract, and spoke of “want of knowledge and characteristic apathy.”
The influence of these men cannot now be overestimated. They were then
looked upon with suspicion by either side, for they recognized that
gigantic obstacles and class exclusions were to be met; a recognition
which lessened the credit of their heartfelt “Je suis loyal.” On the
other hand, a good many French Canadians were made to join the rebel
side by intimidation.

If the assurance of “Je suis loyal” did not come quickly enough some
inoffensive Frenchman would find himself popped into the guardhouse,
and the results of jealousy and over-zeal have left us many absurd
stories. A county M.P., at the Château one sultry evening, seeing the
rest all busy at ice-cream, asked for some. The Canadian Solon took a
huge spoonful, his first taste of such a delicacy. With a feeling of
rage at what he thought an insult, or at least neglect, he cried out
what is translated into, “You abominable rascal, had this been for an
Englishman you would have taken the chill off.”

No more condemnatory record exists of the British Clique than that
left of it in its earliest days by Governor Murray, a man not likely,
to judge by the personal anecdotes we have of his reign, to be accused
of French proclivities. For a time everything was given a French turn,
and “Don’t _moushify me_,” in the words of an eminent literary man,
showed the essence of British feeling of the day.

Although Murray said the ignorance of the French-Canadian and his
devotion to his priest ran together, and that the veneration was
in proportion to the ignorance, he has to say also that, with the
exception of nineteen Protestant families and a few half-pay officers,
most of the British population were traders, followers of the army,
men of mean education. All had their fortunes to make: “I fear few are
solicitous about the means when the end can be obtained.... The most
immoral collection of men I ever knew, of course little calculated to
make the new subjects enamoured with our laws, religion and customs,
and far less adapted to enforce these laws which are to govern.”

Canadians were then a frugal, industrious, moral set of men, noblesse
and peasantry alike, knit to each other by ties made in the time of
common danger; the former as much contemned by Murray’s compatriots for
their superior birth and behaviour as the latter were by him for their
ignorance. In his despatch to the king’s advisers he is particularly
hard on the judge and attorney-general, neither of whom knew the
French language,--nor, indeed, did any of the men to whom offices
of greatest trust were bestowed by the sub-letting of posts whose
property they became through favour. In a word, a more worthless set of
officials could not be gathered together than that which carried out
the beginning of British rule in Lower Canada. Haphazard circumstance
placed them where they were, and they scrupled not to make themselves
paramount.

This oligarchy, made up “of the driftwood of the army and manned by
buccaneers of the law, knew how to seize occasion and circumstance;”
and the governors, “fascinated by these official anacondas, fell into
their folds and became their prey, were their puppets and servants, and
made ministers of them instead of ministering to them.”

Papineau contended that when all the people in any country unanimously
repudiate a bad law it is thereby abrogated. To which sentiment Mr.
Stuart responded, “This is rebellion.” Unfortunately, with many high
in office, some governors included, any measure of opposition meant
rebellion, and, like Mr. Stuart, they did not hesitate to say so.

Papineau, and those whom he represented, looked upon the British
Government as a mélange of old usages, old charters, old fictions,
and prejudices old and new, new and old corruptions, the right of the
privileged few to govern the mass. The boasted “image and transcript”
in Canada was called by them a veritable Jack-’o-lantern, a chameleon
that assumed colour as required.

In Papineau’s interview with Lord Bathurst some years before
rebellion, that nobleman, after allowing that difficulties existed,
blaming remoteness from England and nearness to the United States
as aggravating circumstances, asked for only twenty-five years of
patriotic resignation to what he considered a hard but, under the
circumstances, natural state of things. But Papineau’s Utopia differed
from Lord Bathurst’s; and he told him so.

It was now that it came to be acknowledged there was something more
powerful than Parliament, governor, or priest. That was opinion after
it had spoken in print. On being asked how much treason a man might
write and not be in danger of criminal prosecution, Horne Tooke
replied: “I don’t know, but I am trying to find out.” Where anything
belonging to Majesty, even so remotely as an article in the military
stores, was irreverently treated, the article in question became of
importance through the importance of its royal owner, and treason could
lurk in a misused garment.

    “For grosser wickedness and sin,
     As robbery, murder, drinking gin,”

the penalties were then heavy indeed; but the nature of treason,
according to the Common Law of England, is vague, and judges were
sometimes put to rare shifts to find it. Evidently it did not always
dwell in the heart alone, but on occasion could be found by a diligent
judge considerably below that organ. A tailor, tried for the murder of
a soldier, had the following peroration tacked on to his death sentence
by a judge who was loyal enough to have been a Canadian:

“And not only did you murder him, but you did thrust, or push, or
pierce, or project, or propel the lethal weapon through the belly-band
of his breeches, which were His Majesty’s!”

“To slay a judge under specified circumstances” was also a count in
treason, and this knight of the bodkin doubtless longed to thrust his
tool into his wordy antagonist. But as a phrenologist has told us, the
judge could best illustrate his bump of veneration by the feeling with
which Tories of the old school regarded their sovereign. In Canada a
man had not to show sedition in order to be suspended; for there was
a law to banish him if he were “about to endeavour to alienate the
minds of His Majesty’s subjects ... from his person or Government.”
She foreshadowed the methods of the Mikado; when it was desired to
punish a man “a crime was invented to suit his case”--an inversion of
the punishment fitting the crime. Sir James Mackintosh succeeded in
passing two bills lessening the list of crimes punished by hanging; but
Lord Eldon demurred at the noose being done away with in case of five
shillings worth of shoplifting, as the small tradesmen would be ruined.
Then, why not quartering and other horrors for treason?

They certainly left no stone unturned in Canada to find out details in
matters of treason or libel. The _John Bull_ and other English papers
handled some cases without gloves; but it was reserved for Canada
to show what could be done with printers’ ink. The type fairly flew
into place under the willing fingers of compositors who were also
politicians. Minerva in the printing office is oftentimes undignified.
She seems to have been particularly so in the case of _Le Canadien_,
a paper founded in 1806. Its wood-cut frontispiece had the arms and
emblems of Canada, with two beavers hard at work biting the slender
tie which attached the scroll to the insignia of Great Britain,
and, of course, a suitable motto. Two reporters of that stormy time
added to the excitement of the Assembly by throwing assafœtida on
the stoves. The odour was insupportable, and the too enthusiastic
scribes were taken in charge by the sergeant-at-arms. Like many others
whose freedom that functionary sought to curtail, they could not be
found when wanted. When the type, paper and presses of _Le Canadien_
office, under a warrant from Judge Sewell, were seized in 1810, the
magistrate, attended by a file of soldiers, removed all to the vaults
of the Courthouse. This act, with the long imprisonment without trial
which followed, was considered one of the most arbitrary committed
since Hanoverian rule began. The printers were arrested, as were also
the leading members of the Assembly, Messrs. Pierre Bedard, Tachereau
and Blanchet. When some of these members had been admitted to the bar,
M. Perrault, one of those discreet men who were the saving of their
country, patriotic but prudent, made the caustic remark: “So many men
forced to steal in order to make a living! I shall certainly yet see
some of you hanged.” It was quite easy to hang a man in days when the
death penalty covered an incredible number of offences, when a boy
could receive that sentence for killing a cow or a child for stealing
sweets from a pastry cook’s window. So M. Perrault had a margin for
his prediction. This half-jocular condemnation of the legal profession
was prevalent to a degree which made many believe that in a corner of
the Protestant hell, which was separate from and hotter than the Roman
Catholic one, was a place reserved for lawyers. “There they will have
a little hell of their own, and even well lighted for them to see each
other the better; and there, after having deceived their poor clients
on earth, they will tear each other to pieces without the devil having
the bother of helping them.”

In ’37, when three of the members had become judges, Perrault made his
pun by saying, “I have often predicted that I should see some of you
hanged (_pendu_); there are now three of you suspended (_suspendu_),
which is nearly the same thing.” Those who were partners in guilt in
the writings of this “seditious paper” were sent to gaol, and we learn
that the article which gave chief offence was one entitled “Take hold
of your nose by the tip.” Maladministration was evidently malodorous.
Such proceedings naturally caused excitement, and the fears of those
in power made them redouble the city guards and patrols.

But if _Le Canadien_ had been conducted with animosity, it was also
marked by much ability. Nor had it a monopoly of the former. The
Anglo-Canadian papers, too, knew how to be bitter and violent. The
press of those times indulged in wonderful prophecies. But the future
is in the lap of the gods, so said the more knowing ancients; and if
any of those ’37 prophecies had the flavour of truth it is to be found
in those of the contemned Reformers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in the century Judge Sewell had got into trouble. He was accused
of usurping parliamentary authority, by undue influence persuading the
Governor (Craig) to dissolve the House and also to address the members
in an insulting manner; and later there were the Bedards’ affairs.
Judge Monk was also accused. Judge Sewell went to London to defend
himself, which he did to such good purpose, backed by the influence of
Prince Edward, that he gained the ear and confidence of Lord Bathurst.
His explanations were accepted, and fresh favours were in store for him
from the incoming Governor Sherbrooke.

Although “each new muddler” blamed his predecessor for his own
misgovernment, the tasks falling to the Governors were not easy.
Under Kempt came up the question of giving legal status to Jews and
Methodists, the question regarding the former going back some twenty
years, when, under the administration of “little king Craig,” there
was endless trouble over Mr. Ezekiel Hart’s presence in the House.
Expelled and returned alternately, Hart was doubly obnoxious as a
Jew and an Englishman. Methodism had an equally hard time since the
First Gentleman in Europe had said that that faith was not the faith
of a gentleman. The characteristics of the personnel of the House of
Assembly in the years of the century prior to the Rebellion could
doubtless fill volumes of humours. Most of the members from the Lower
St. Lawrence arrived in schooners, sometimes remaining in them as
boarders; or they put up at some Lower Town hostelry, content with
their cowpacks and scorning Day & Martin. The members from down the
Gulf were sure to be of the right political stripe, from a clerical
point of view, or their constituents stood a chance of being “locked
out of heaven.” One head of a house who dared to be a Liberal in those
illiberal times, an educated man, and likely to have possessed weight
in character as well as by his appointments in his native village, so
locked himself out. His child of seven came home from school in tears
one day, and after much coaxing to disburden his woe confided to his
mother that in seven years his father, a parent much-beloved, would be
a loup-garou. The end of this persecution was a removal over the border.

But there were not many who had the courage of their convictions in the
face of the Church’s No--they were all too good Catholics then. Stories
of their religious life provide material for a picture whose beauty
cannot be surpassed. A niche was hollowed in a wall of most Canadian
homes to hold a figure of the “Blessed Lord,” or His equally dear
Mother; and it is recorded of one of the first of Canadian gentlemen of
his time that he never passed a wayside cross without baring his head,
saying once in explanation, “One should always bare the head before the
sign of our redemption and perform an act of penitence.” The humbler
sort began no dangerous work, such as roofing, without a prayer. With
heads uncovered, the workers knelt down, while some one of the oldest
of the company recited the prayer to which all made response and Amen.
Nor was thanksgiving omitted when the harvest firstfruits were sold at
the door of the parish church. Close by the housewife’s bedhead hung
her chaplet, black temperance cross and bottle of holy water; from the
last the floor was sprinkled before every thunderstorm. And nothing was
done by natural agency. Even the old, worn-out curé, who met death by
the bursting of the powder-magazine on board the ship in which he was
returning to France, was “blown into heaven.”

But once the primitive ones left their village they were much at sea,
and we have a member for Berthier, whom we shall credit as being
both pious and Tory, arriving in Quebec with his wife one winter’s
evening in his traineau. They drew up at the parliamentary buildings
and surveyed the four-and-twenty windows above them, wondering which
one would fall to their lot for the season. They descended, boxes and
bundles after them, rapped at the door and presented their compliments
to the grinning messenger. “He was the member for Berthier, and this
was Madame his wife;” they had brought their winter’s provisions
with them, and all in life needed to allow him to pursue his work of
serving his country as a statesman was a cooking stove, which he looked
to a paternal government to supply. When told that not one of the
four-and-twenty windows belonged to him, and that family accommodation
did not enter into the estimates, the member from Berthier stowed his
wife and bundles back in the traineau, gave his steed a smart cut, and
indignantly and forever turned his back upon the Legislative walls of
his province.

What did he not miss? Within them Papineau was making rounded periods,
holding men entranced by his eloquence; Andrew Stuart was defending
British rights; yet another Stuart thundered against the tyranny of the
oligarchy, the privileged few; and Nielson and other discreet Liberals
sought to steer a middle course of justice without rebellion. No wonder
that from this concert discords met the ears of the audiences without.

Peculiarities and eccentricities were not confined to the rural
populace and members of Parliament. “Go on board, my men, go on board
without fear,” was a magistrate’s dismissal to two evil-faced tars
who had deserted their ship at sailing time because they thought her
unseaworthy; “I tell you you are born to be hanged, so therefore you
cannot be drowned.”

“If anyone has a cause,” said one dignified prothonotary, “let him
appear, for the Court is about to close.” “But,” said the judge
above him, “the law states we must sit to-morrow.” Turning to the
public the prothonotary made further announcement: “The judge says
he will sit to-morrow, but the prothonotary will not be here.” And
in his Louis XIV. costume, cut-away coat with stiff and embroidered
collar, knee-breeches of black cloth, black silk stockings, frills on
shirt-bosom and cuffs, the silver-buckled shoes of the prothonotary
bore their somewhat stubborn wearer away.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the beginning of the century it was only occasionally that foreign
news reached Canada. With time postal matters improved; but news was
still only occasional. At the advent of a vessel at Father Point the
primitive telegraph of the yard and balls was used, and at night
fires were lighted to carry the tidings from cape to cape. The means
of intercommunication depended upon the size of the post-bag, the
fidelity of the carrier, and on the state of the storm-strewn paths or
trackless wastes which had to be crossed. The bag for Gaspé and Baie
des Chaleurs was made up once in a winter and sent to Quebec, dark
leather with heavy clasps and strapped on an Indian’s back. The man
travelled on snowshoes, and when tired would transfer his load to the
sled drawn by his faithful Indian dog. There were others whose mode
of transit was much the same, but whose beats were shorter and trips
more frequent. “Do not forget,” would say a certain old Seigneur, “to
have Seguin’s supper prepared for him.” Seguin was postman for that
large country-side, and generally arrived during the night at the manor
house. The doors, under early Canadian habit, were unlatched; Seguin
would quietly enter, sit down, take his supper, and produce from his
pockets the letters and papers which made the Seigneur’s mail, leave
them on the table, then as quietly let himself out into the night
again, to pursue his journey to the next point. Such latitude in trust
was possible in a country where law in its beginning was a matter of
personal administration aided by keep, and four-post gibbet whose iron
collar might bear the family arms.

Nor was other travel in a very advanced state. The palm of beauty
was then, as now, accorded the St. Lawrence, but one traveller from
abroad wrote, “’Tis a sad waste of life to ascend the St. Lawrence in
a bateau.” By 1818 “a first-class steamer” made its exhausted way from
Quebec to Montreal; aided by a strong wind it covered seven leagues in
nine hours. This exhilarating motion caused the historian Christie, one
of the pleased passengers, to open his window and hail his friends, “We
are going famously!” By the third day’s voyage they were at the foot of
the current below Montreal, and with the united aid of forty-two oxen
they reached the haven for which they were bound.

With news so transmitted and the bulk of the population unable to
read or write, and with only the comparatively wealthy and the
adventurous able or willing to travel, it is not surprising that
“the focus of sedition, that asylum for all the demagogic turbulence
of the province,” the Assembly rooms at Quebec, had not succeeded
in disseminating their beliefs and hopes among the most rural of
the population. One thing which made remote villages loath to be
disturbed was that they had more than once seen noisy demagogues and
blatant liberators side with the alien powers when opportunity for
self-aggrandizement came. Also, in many cases their isolated lot
precluded feeling governmental pressure. But in the county of Two
Mountains, at St. Denis, St. Charles, and also at Berthier, they were
alert enough, and the most stirring pages in the coming revolt were
to be written in blood in these localities. There secret associations
flourished; open resistance only waited opportunity. There the Sons
of Liberty drilled and wrote themselves into fervour, with pikes made
by local blacksmiths and manifestoes founded on French and Irish
models for outward tokens of the inward faith: “The diabolical policy
of England towards her Canadian subjects, like to her policy towards
Ireland, forever staining her bloody escutcheon.” The history of “my
own, my native land,” inspires all words written from this point of
view; one patriot, “plethoric with rhethoric,” had many fine lines,
such as “the torch, the sword, and the savage,” and pages devoted to
the “tyrannical government of palace pets.”

Away back in 1807 many militia officers of fluctuating loyalty had
been dismissed, and the precedent established by Governor Craig was
continued. Papineau was one of these officers; he had made an insolent
reply--“The pretension of the Governor to interrogate me respecting my
conduct at St. Laurent is an impertinence which I repel with contempt
and silence”--to the Governor’s secretary, and had to suffer for it.
The political compact called the Confederation of the Six Counties was
governed by some of those so dismissed, and they all grew still more
enthusiastic from the sight of such banner legends as “Papineau and the
Elective System,” “Our Friends of Upper Canada,” “Independence.” The
Legislative Council was pictorially represented by a skull and cross
bones, and the declaration of the rights of man was voiced.

In addition to present troubles there was a perpetual harking back at
these meetings to old scores, impelling “the people to wrestle with
the serried hordes of their oppressors in the bloody struggles which
must intervene” before “the injured, oppressed, and enslaved Canadian”
could escape from “the diabolical policy of England.” There was a
liberty pole, and Papineau, burning, energetic, flowery of speech,
promised all things as crown to laudable effort “in the sacred cause
of freedom.” It was a Canada “regenerated, disenthralled, and blessed
with a liberal government” which the prophetic speech of Papineau
had foreshadowed; and the “lives, fortunes, and sacred honour” of
his hearers were there and then pledged with his own to aid in that
regeneration. That “Frenchified Englishman,” Dr. Wolfred Nelson, also
spoke; and Girod,--a Swiss, who taught agriculture in a Quebec school
for boys, got up by that true patriot Perrault,--destined shortly for
a tragic fate, was there. At this meeting Papineau thought he had
set a ball rolling which would not easily be stopped. Already it was
careering in an unpleasantly rapid manner. He deprecated the use of
arms, and advised as punishment to England that nothing should be
bought from her. This reprisal on the nation of shopkeepers Nelson
thought a peddling policy; that the time was come for armed action, not
pocket inaction. Papineau’s opinion was disappointing to the fiery wing
of the Confederation. Again did Bishop Lartigue warn generally against
evil counsels, reminding his flock that a cardinal rule of the Church
was obedience to the powers that be; and every one of his clergy echoed
him.

“Il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte” was once oddly applied by a
lady who heard a canon of the Church say that St. Piat, after his head
was cut off, walked two leagues with it in his hand. She could not
gainsay such an authority, so said, “I can quite believe it. On such
occasions the first step is the only difficulty.”

Alas, many at these meetings were to exhibit the price of a first step;
heads were to come off and necks to be broken, and every step in that
blood-stained via doloroso which led to the Union, to the righting of
Englishmen’s and Frenchmen’s wrongs, to establishing Canadian rights
to be French or British, was to cost bitterly,--cost how bitterly only
one can know who reads the story in its human aspect, not politically
alone. It is a strange thing that privileges so purely British as
those asked for, the abolition of the death sentence except in case of
murder, “that chimera called Responsible Government,” the unquestioned
use of a national language in public affairs, freedom of the press,
should have been asked for by Frenchmen, denied by Englishmen, and
fought for to the death by many of each nationality.

All time from the Conquest to the Rebellion seems to belong to the
latter event. For the causes of it reach back by perspective into
Misrule, making a vanishing point in Mistake.



More Baneful Domination.

    “_Away with those hateful distinctions of English and Canadian._”

    --EDWARD DUKE OF KENT.


Treason always labours under disadvantage when it makes preliminary
arrangements; and it is often obliged to found combinations on
defective data, not reckoning upon disturbing forces and the sudden
appearance of the unforeseen. But if so in ordinary cases, what must
it have been when, in Upper Canada, sympathy with the French and
dissatisfaction with existing Upper Canadian institutions ended in a
determination to combine forces and make a common cause.

Each province had its distinct enemies; but distance was one common
to both. They were divided from the metropolis and arsenal of the
Empire by ocean, storm, and wooden ships; and tracts of native roadless
wilderness, long stretches of roads of mud and corduroy, and the
intercepting reserve, helped to keep man from man. A huge place; and
the badness of its affairs was in proportion to its size. With no
hint of the future iron belt from Atlantic to Pacific, all travel was
by stage, a painful mode, and costing some $24.00 from Montreal to
Toronto; or if by water, in long flat-bottomed bateaux rowed by four
men, Durham boat, barge, or the new ventures, steamboats, where as yet
passenger quarters were in the hold.

The element of Upper Canada was crude, and the homesick letters of the
new-come emigrants sighed over the rude surroundings. But perhaps the
rudest thing which the settlers of ’37 found was the apology for a form
of government then offered to them. An idea had prevailed in the home
countries that Canada was the best of the colonies. But this idea was
dispelled by Mackenzie; those of his earlier writings which reached
Britain rendered such a sorry account of Canadian happiness that people
who had confidence in his book thought twice before they risked fortune
in what evidently had become his country through necessity.

Some time previous to the publication of his book (“Sketches of
Canada and the United States”), he had been good enough to write
Lord Dalhousie, “So far, your Lordship’s administration is just and
reasonable.” To him Canadian affairs were like a falling barometer,
soon to end in storm, and there was every ground for the statement of a
United States editor that Mackenzie constituted himself the patron or
the censor of the race.

    “Oh, England is a pleasant place for them that’s rich and high,
    But England is a cruel place for such poor folk as I.”

There was no iron hand in a silken glove about the oligarchy; the hand
was always in evidence to Mackenzie and his kind, and Canada was not a
whit better than Kingsley’s apostrophized land.

It is easy at this time of day to cast reflections upon the ruling
class of that period, a class chiefly composed of sons of officers in
the army and navy, for the most part gentlemen in the conventional
sense of the term--a crime laid to their charge by some who could not
forgive it. They naturally came to centre in themselves all offices of
honour and emolument; and the governors, all gentle if some foolish,
looked to them for counsel and support, before time was allowed for
reflection, the governors so cleverly governed that they knew it not.
Gifts of the Crown naturally followed, and the great Pact grew richer,
alongside of that older Compact of the sister province. It is a case
for “put yourself in his place.” The burden and heat of the day had
fallen on these men; they but followed the instinct to reap where one
has strawed, and carried out to the letter the axiom that unlimited
power is more than mortal is framed to bear.

“The tyrannical government of palace pets” furnishes pages of
misgovernment. It took a clear head, a steady will and a true heart
to cling to British connection and the Union Jack, when desperation
made some determined to be rid of the Toronto rule, which was to them
odious, unjust, intolerable. And yet, when we review that epoch of
dissolution and transformation, the errors and shortcomings of either
party, the two sides of the dispute stand out so clearly that we wonder
anyone could then think he was altogether right. “Flayed with whips and
scorped with scorpions,” one side said, “there is no alternative but a
tame, unmanly submission or a bold and vigorous assertion of our rights
as freemen;” while the other, by the mouth of its governor, likened
Canada, standing in “the flourishing continent of North America,” to
a “girdled tree with drooping branches.” Certainly, the simile was
good; and with all justice to the side of Tory or Reformer, Royalist,
Rebel, Loyalist _and_ Loyalist, a retrospective glance discloses a
knife on either side busy at the process of girdling. “What is the best
government on earth?” asks a school-book in use in Duncombe’s District
and printed in Boston for Canadian schools; “A Republican Government
like the United States,” is the unqualified next line. “What is the
worst government on earth?”--“A Monarchical Government like that of
England and Canada.” “Can the King of England order any man’s head cut
off and confiscate his property?”--“Yes.” “Will you, if the occasion
arrives, rise up and rebel against such a government as yours, and
join the States?”--“Yes, with all my power and influence.” The Yankee
school-master, a chief agent of this propaganda, was one of the first
prisoners.

The Family Compact believed the chief beauty of government to be
simplicity, the foremost tenet loyalty to one another. But men outside
the Pact, every whit as much gentlemen and each in turn bearing his
part of that heat and burden, awoke to a sense of individualism, each
to realize that he was a unit in the commonweal.

The forerunner of the new dispensation was Robert Gourlay. And what
and if his sorrows had so overwhelmed his wits, he yet was the founder
of public opinion in Upper Canada; nor is it less true that the first
outcome of his martyrdom was that life was made harder for those who
dared to follow where he had failed.

“Whaur ye gaun, Sawndie?” “E’en to the club just to conthradick a bit;”
and Mackenzie, right as he was in many points, leaves us in no doubt
as to his descent and his ability to “conthradick” for pure love of
so doing. Also his club covered a wide area, and his influence over a
tract as wide as his ability to contradict was phenomenal.

Passing the line between the Canadas, Glengarry showed the change from
French to British ways. Not only were the features and tongues of the
inhabitants different, but there was an entire absence of that thrifty,
snug cottage comfort which distinguished the half-brother below. With
outsides unfinished, no taut lines about them, both houses and original
huts proclaimed a people undaunted by obstacles and surmounting them
by indifference to detail. Here all were loyal. Stories of the famous
Glengarry Fencibles of 1812 took up the leisure hours, and the spirit
of the Loyalist fighting bishop was paramount. That prelate would not
tell his people _how_ to vote, but he talked of “these radicals who
aim at the destruction of our Holy Religion;” and this word to those
already wise was sufficient.

Next came Prescott, once La Galette, well built on a rocky prominence,
the site of a former entrenchment, a place mentioned in old French
diaries from the time of La Salle, the white of its tall, massive
tower, roofed with a tin dome and built out on a rounding point covered
with evergreen, making an abrupt feature in the river bank. Enormous
sails flapping in the breeze proclaimed its functions, and a fort in
process of erection, not having a moiety of its aggressive strength
of appearance, lay near it. Here the people were of two minds, many
ready to be sympathisers in a movement though lacking the force to be
leaders; prominent men, some of them, and wishing for a lead, while
others, living in the remote shadow of the dominant party, were so
securely attached to crown and flag that they were ready to defend that
party for the sake of the flag whose exclusive property it seemed to be.

Farther on, as the river broadened towards the chain of lakes, came
Kingston, its “agreeable, genteel society accommodated in houses of
stone and wood,” also much divided by party. In the harbour ships of
war stood close to the shore, where blockhouse and fort commanded the
entrance. Fort Henry, begun in ’32, had by February, ’36, cost England
more than £50,000; its area did not exceed an acre, the walls, massive
outworks and aspect evidently conveniently designed for the success of
the enemy. A few more years were required for its completion and to
level the glacis; but although unfinished it was to be the theatre of
a tragedy. In its finished state it has been described as a colossal
monument to military stupidity. From the top of the inner fort lie
in view the famous “cow pasture,” Dead Man’s Bay where some fourteen
men were drowned during construction of the fort on Cedar Island, and
Shoal Tower, all points of arrest to the eye in that ever-beautiful
scene. Several old war-ships left from 1812 were in 1831 kept at the
dockyards, shingled over and protected, some fated later to be sunk
as useless, one to be burnt to the water’s edge. Hard by there was a
dockyard, furnished with every article of naval stores required for
the equipment of ships of war. Two seventy-fours, a frigate, a sloop
of war and eleven gunboats reposed under cover on stocks. They were
not planked, but men employed for the purpose replaced decaying bits
of timber, and it was estimated that in little more than a month they
could be got ready for sea. Immense sums had been expended during that
war upon unnecessary things, unaccountable ignorance having sent the
woodwork of the frigate _Psyche_ to a country where it could have been
provided on the spot at one-hundredth of the expense and in one-tenth
of the time necessary to convey it there. Even wedges had been sent,
and the Admiralty, full of salt-water notions, was paternal enough to
include a full supply of water casks for use on Lake Ontario, where a
bucket overboard could draw up water undreamed of by Jack tars, from
a reservoir through which flowed nearly half the fresh water supply
of the globe. Clearly, details of geography were not included in the
lists for those bright youths who were preparing for the Admiralty,
and nowhere in Canada was the foolish touch of a prodigal-handed parent
seen to more advantage than in Kingston.

Across the lake at Sackett’s Harbour was a ship of 102 guns, apparently
put together in a substantial manner in forty days from the day the
first tree used in her construction was cut down. Peace declared, she
was never launched; and, agreeably to the terms of the treaty, which
called for the abolition of an armed force on the lakes, six or seven
more American vessels were sunk in the harbour and, in the parlance of
their owners, were “progressing to dissolution.” Green timber might
have proved as good a vehicle for the squandering of money as imported
wedges and water-casks.

But although there was then this show of vessels in Kingston, a
practical military man of ’37 records that the dockyard was a grazing
ground, that the Royal Engineers’ department did naught but patch
up barracks in much the same state as the ships, not a ship, boat,
sail or oar was available, and that sad havoc had been made by the
twenty-two years of profound peace and disuse in harness, waggons,
carriages, limbers, wheels, drag-ropes and other munitions of war. The
powder would not light, and moths had destroyed blankets and bedding.
Artillery with no horses to the guns, and part of the 66th regiment,
represented the military force at the half-finished fort.

At Kingston Her Majesty’s accession was proclaimed on a certain Monday
in August of ’37 by Mr. Sheriff Bullock and the other authorities, but
“the procession was meagre and pitiful in the extreme.” And this state
of affairs was because of the dislike “manifested by many to petticoat
government.”

Farther on, the peninsula of Prince Edward should have been the
very paradise of loyalty if any inference were to be made from its
nomenclature: Adolphusburg, Maryburg, Sophiasburg, a transatlantic
inventory of major and minor royalties. But, although it had sent forth
a Hagerman, the Bidwells were there too, all champions in the coming
struggle for what each loyally believed to be the right. Every town and
hamlet along that immense waterway had heard the call of Mackenzie from
either lips or pen, and some dwellers in each had responded.

With York is reached the centre of grievance, the house of hate,
where the principals in the coming struggle dwelt in a succession of
patched-up peace, revolts, domineering unfairness, harsh punishments
and secret reprisals, a panoramic play in which the first act was
tyranny and the last revolution. Some of the by-play reads childishly
enough. Mackenzie’s stationery shop in King Street contained window
decorations of the most soul-harrowing kind, and all belonging to the
era of belief in eternal punishment. The asperities of Mackenzie’s
truly Presbyterian enjoyment had not yet been softened by a Farrar or a
Macdonnell. The prints there displayed depicted Sir Francis Bond Head,
Hagerman, Robinson, Draper and Judge Jones as squirming in all the
torments of a realistic hell, relieved by sketches of a personal devil
whose barbed tail was used as a transfixing hook for one or other of
these Tories, the more conveniently to spit and cook him. The Canadian
ejaculations of former times, “May an Iroquois broil me,” or “Tors mon
âme au bout d’un piquet” (Twist my soul on the end of a fence rail),
were forever routed. Like Pope and an interrogation point, Mackenzie
was a little thing who would ask questions, any crookedness about him
being the peculiar twists and turns made possible by nature to his
rapier-like tongue. His paper heralded the day of Carlyle and Doré,
anticipating the former’s “gloomy procession of the nations going to
perdition, America the advance guard.” When he thus bearded these lions
in their dens they promptly called--through the government organ--for
the suppression of the first issue of this obnoxious paper; further,
that the editor should be banished, and the entire edition confiscated.
Vituperative, he had a command of uncomfortable words fitted to every
circumstance, his ability to scent out abuses phenomenal. But he was
not banished, nor his pen and pencil confiscated, nor yet did his
influence stop at this point in the long journey from Glengarry to
Windsor. And why should such a pen be confiscated? While the Family
Compact were expelling Mackenzie, imprisoning Collins, and hunting to
death any poor stray printer who dared put his want of admiration of
them in type, no less great a person than their King was feign to be
out of his wits because he was not only libelled but had no redress.
He laments the existence of “such a curse ... as a licentious and
uncontrolled press,” and of a state of things which renders the law
with respect to libellers and agitators a dead letter. Poor King,
happy Family Compact; Canada had no dead laws if the people who
administered them wished them quick. “The Irish agitators, the reviews
and, above all, the press, continue to annoy the King exceedingly;”
but Earl Grey said the only way with newspaper attacks was the Irish
way, “to keep never minding.” Also Lord Goderich writes to Sir John
Colborne in ’32: “I must entirely decline, as perfectly irrelevant
to any practical question, the inquiry whether at a comparatively
remote period prosecutions against the editors of newspapers were
improperly instituted or not.” It is needless to look beyond Mr.
Mackenzie’s journal to be convinced that there is no latitude which
the most ardent lover of free discussion ever claimed for such writers
which is not enjoyed in Upper Canada. Had he looked beyond Mr.
Mackenzie’s journal he would have found the Reformers called “juggling,
illiterate boobies--a tippling band--mountebank riffraff--a saintly
clan--Mackenzie a politico-religious juggler.” The Reform Parliament
was “the league of knave and fool--a ribald conclave;” and Mr. Ryerson,
when under a temporary cloud, was called “a man of profound hypocrisy
and unblushing effrontery, who sits blinking on his perch like Satan
when he perched on the tree of life in the shape of a cormorant, to
meditate the ruin of our first parents in the Garden of Eden!”

Following the frontier line, Niagara, looking like a “dilapidated
hennery,” had not much in the aspect of its feeble fort to awe the
rebellious spirits. They remembered the cruel sufferings of Gourlay,
the demolition of Forsyth’s property, and could not be awed back into
what had technically come to be known as loyalty by any associations
of “Stamford,” or by the leavening power of the U. E. Loyalism which
abounded in that district. Thence on to the hamlets of Dunnville and
Port Dover, past the Dutch settlement called the Sugar Loaves--six
conical hills rising from the low ground near the lake--to where that
old lion, Colonel Talbot, perched midway between Niagara and Detroit,
on Lake Erie, dared any among his many settlers to name a grievance.
Thence to Amherstburg and Windsor, and on to Goderich, youngest of
them all, and beyond which was primeval wilderness, a matted and
mighty forest on which clouds and thick darkness still rested--known
only to the savage, the wild beast, or perhaps to some stoic of the
woods who was hustled out of his dream of quiet by the hunt after that
ever-receding point of the compass, the West. Over such an area did
the influence of this small, almost childish figure of a man extend.
And up and down the land within this water-bound border, in outlying
interior townships, did his message penetrate until, as the seasons
advanced and the times grew ripe, he seemed to hold within the hollow
of his small palm--a palm never crossed with gold--the power for which
Governor and Council schemed without tiring or maintained by the right
of might.

As early as ’34 the Canadian Alliance had been formed, not local in
aim, but “entering into close alliance with any similar association
that may be found in Lower Canada or other colonies.” The democratic
tendency of its resolutions caused it to be called revolutionary by
the governmental party; but then anything outside of that party was
“rebel.” When matters focused between Sir Francis and that which
he called his “low-bred antagonist, democracy,” evenly balanced
persons became “notorious republicans;” Postmaster Howard, who came
of ultra-loyal stock, was deposed from office chiefly because his
son, a lad of ten, read a radical newspaper; and we find an “old
dyed-in-the-wool Tory, a writer of some note,” afterwards saying: “When
I look back over events which were thought all right by the Loyalists
of those times, I only wonder there were not thousands of Mackenzies
and Papineaus.” Might with the Loyalists made right; Mr. Hagerman would
not “stoop to enquire whether this act was right or wrong, it was
sufficient for him the House had done it.” It was clear, too, that the
Chief-Justice himself was no student of George III. in the meaning of
the word “mob,” and it was exasperating to the last to hear themselves
spoken of as “a few individuals,” their serious conclaves as “casual
meetings,” their petitions as “got up by somebody or other.”

The Alliance was pledged to disseminate its principles and educate
the people by gratuitous issues of political pamphlets and sheets.
The series of meetings organized to bring the people together showed
sympathy with Papineau throughout. Lloyd was the trusted messenger sent
to convey that sympathy; but at first it was not a sympathy backed up
by physical force. “Much may be done without blood” was the keynote
of its temperate tone. Yet, as where Papineau’s own disclaimers of
physical force were heard, in Upper Canada the meeting ended in drill;
Brown Besses were furbished up, and the clink of the blacksmith’s
hammer might be heard in any forest forge busy fashioning into shape
the pikes which were made in such shape as to be equally happy in
ripping or stabbing.

In November, ’37, Papineau sent despatches to Upper Canada by the
hands of M. Dufort, with an appeal for support as soon as they should
have recourse to arms there. The mission carried Dufort still farther
west, and in Michigan a Council of War was held, embracing many names
prominent in that section. Cheers for Papineau and “the gallant people
of the sister province” were tempered in their enthusiasm by fears
in some minds that there was a disposition to establish the Roman
Catholic as a dominant or State Church in the Lower Province. State
Church, they said, was one of their own most formidable enemies. At
one meeting those composing it were called upon to divide, those in
sympathy with Papineau to go to the right of the chairman. Only three
remained on the left. The sympathy, which was general, grew more
enthusiastic over common woes. “They,” (the British) said Papineau,
“are going to rob you of your money. Your duty then is plain. Give
them no money to steal. Keep it in your pockets.” The women of the
country, handsome and patriotic, were exhorted to clothe themselves
and their children in a way to destroy the revenue, and to assist
the men to prevent the forging of chains of undue taxation and duty.
“Henceforth there must be no peace in the province, no quarter for the
plunderers. Agitate, agitate, agitate. Destroy the revenue, denounce
the oppressors. Everything is lawful when the fundamental liberties
are in danger.” In his newspaper Mackenzie calmly discussed the
probability of their success under the question: “Can the Canadians
conquer?” drawing a picture of two or three thousand of them, headed by
Mr. Speaker Papineau, muskets on shoulders, determined to resist and
finally throw off British tyranny. He argued that they could conquer,
everywhere, except that “old fortalice, Quebec,” the daily sight of
whose sombre walls, no doubt, was instrumental in keeping her own
citizens the quietest in those troublous times. He pointed out how
their organization was better than dreamed of by Lord Gosford, how as
marksmen they were more than a match for the British Atkins, how the
garrison might possibly desert rather than fire, how blood would tell
and Britons over the border come flocking to the Canadian standard;
how no House of Commons would spend fifty or sixty millions to put
down rebellion in what was already “a costly encumbrance,” and how the
men who commanded these malcontents were, as already shown, renegade
regular or dismissed militia officers.

At one of these outside meetings emblems, devices and mottoes were
even more significant than words. On one flag was a star surrounded by
minor stars, a death’s head in the centre, with “Liberty or Death;”
another showed “Liberty” surrounded with pikes, swords, muskets and
cannon, “by way of relief to the eye.” In another decoration Father
Time discarded his scythe and rested his hands in an up-to-date fashion
on a cannon. A Liberty Pole one hundred feet high was contemplated in
imitation of the Papineau pole; but methods likely to be successful
under skilful French management came to naught with the clumsier
Anglo-Saxon. Certain it is, no poet had yet arisen from that hot-bed
of poesie, treason, though doggerel adorned many flags. The concluding
lines in one effort show Pegasus’ attempt to settle into a steadier
trot:

    “Ireland will sound her harp, and wave
      Her pure green banner for your right;
    Canadians never will be slaves--
      Up, Sons of Freedom, to the fight!”

But Ireland’s other arm was waving a banner of a different colour.
Orangeman followed Liberal with the usual results, fights and many
black eyes; horsemen then escorted the organizers of the meetings;
and after threats of assassination and guns snapping in the pan,
angry cavalcades of hundreds of carriages and mounted men, quiet at
the shilelah’s point was in most instances gained. The pretended
constitution was announced a humbug, the people living under the worst
of despotism. Discontent, vengeance and rage were in men’s hearts.

Two years before this period Mackenzie had visited Quebec, one of a
deputation to cement the fellowship existing between Reformers of the
two provinces. They found many of their grievances identical, and their
oneness in determination to overcome them would, it was hoped, prove
to Canadian and English authorities alike that “the tide was setting
in with such unmistakable force against bad government that, if they
do not yield to it before long, it will shortly overwhelm them in its
rapid and onward progress.”

Truly the progress had been rapid and onward. It was now “Hurrah for
Papineau” in every Upper Canadian inn where the two hundred meetings
held in this year of ’37 might happen to rendezvous. And yet there
were some who opined that Mackenzie’s bark was worse than his bite;
who, with Lord Gosford and the Provincial Governor, did not apprehend
a rebellion. The province was, in the words of its Governor--in his
opinion--more tranquil than any part of England; and because there
was a demand for Union Jack flags it was argued that if people loved
that flag they would willingly die for the oligarchy. To many minds,
the Pact was the most untrue and disloyal element in the province; and
according to the point of view the sides unfurled these significant
bits of red and blue bunting, each man defining to his own satisfaction
the meaning of that vexed word loyalty.

The Hon. Peter McGill had said at a loyalist meeting, “... the
organization (to repel rebels), that it may combine both moral
determination and physical force, must be military as well as
political. There must be an army as well as a congress, there must be
pikes and rifles as well as men and tongues.” The answer to these wise
words, useful to either side as containing solid truth for each, was a
miserable attention, an exhibition of incompetence on the rebel side
towards that necessary military wing, and on the Governor’s side the
answer was the removal of all the troops in the province. The one party
was no longer the superior of the other; with the dreadful difference
that there was unanimity on the loyalist side, as against jealousies
and multiplicity of leadership on the other.

It so happened that in the year ’34, partly in compensation to him for
his expulsion from the House of Assembly, Mackenzie had been raised to
the dignity of first Mayor of York, and, as in the words of his own
rhyme, changed the name to the far better Canadian one of Toronto:

    “Come hither, come hither, my little dog Ponto,
    Let’s trot down and see where Little York’s gone to;
    For forty big Tories, assembled in junta,
    Have murdered poor Little York in the City of Toronto.”

Calendars tell us that the pillory was abolished in ’37. When reading
the life of Mackenzie one would imagine the statement a mistake,
so popular did pillory methods seem. So far as unmerited obloquy,
misrepresentation at home and abroad from those who pretended to
despise and at heart feared him, personal insult, outrage, hard
words, kicks from men who made up in inches what they lacked in
justice, could constitute a pillory, Mackenzie had for years stood in
it metaphorically, the old conditions being carried out faithfully,
since practically it had been a punishment thought meet for authors
and publishers of seditious pamphlets. A wise man has said: “Whereas
before, our fathers had no other books but the score and tally, thou
hast caused printing to be used; and contrary to the king, his crown
and dignity, thou hast built a paper mill.” In certain cases, too, the
persecution was unpopular, and the intended disgrace became a species
of triumph. A public pillory and stocks were still part of the actual
machinery of government in Little York, and unfortunately for his own
good name Mackenzie celebrated Toronto’s first year by using the stocks
and otherwise conducting himself in a way mortifying to his friends,
most satisfactory to his enemies, and calculated to still further
alienate those members of the Reform party to whom he seems to have
been personally objectionable even when his mistakes of judgment did
not run the length of seditious writing or putting women in the stocks.

But extraordinary acts and extraordinary words were not confined
to Canada. It was reserved for a member of Parliament, a British
statesman, to pen words the repetition of which alone was sufficient
to overturn the feelings of the majority of the thinking and
well-intentioned portion of the colony. Never did Tory press or Tory
lips tire of abusing saddle-bag doctors and saddle-bag ministers as
the purveyors of treason, the latter, in guise of Methodist preacher,
supposed to scatter seeds of faith and sedition with the same hand.
Strangely enough, Dr. Ryerson, the most prominent Methodist in the
country, was Tory enough to provoke the wrath of the radical Mr. Hume.
In a letter to Mackenzie, so abusive that all must wonder a gentleman
could write it, Hume made the clergyman an object of abuse in words
which stamped the receiver as well as the writer everything their most
ardent enemies desired and believed them to be.

That letter did more for Loyalism in Upper Canada than the concentrated
action of Governor, oligarchy, and Tory press could ever do to hurt
it. Mackenzie, to work off a private spleen of his own against Dr.
Ryerson, published the obnoxious document without comment. Vain was it
for its author to hasten to say “that the misrule of the Government
of Canada, and the monopolizing, selfish domination of such men as
had lately (though but a small faction of the people) resisted all
improvement and reform, would lose the countenance of the authorities
in Downing Street, and leave the people in freedom to manage their own
affairs.” The mischief was done. On the one hand, many of the most
reputable of that body through which amelioration of condition might be
hoped to come were forever divorced from a party that could voice such
sentiments; and on the other, it placed a weapon ready to the hand of
those men who, the incarnation of Toryism, honestly believed themselves
to be the only conservers of loyalty left. By noon of that day, in
May, ’34, when the “copious extracts” were published by Mackenzie, he
and the writer of them were execrated by many who, an hour before that
electrical sheet was issued, had been friends or silent sympathisers.

The whole country was under baneful domination; but not of the
mother-land. Great provocations had brought just condemnations, and the
match was about to be put to the torch. The rights of the people and
the prerogative of the Crown bade fair to become parallel lines that
could not meet. Some still believed in a brighter future; but the few
streaks of light which they declared they could discern in that darkest
hour before dawn were blood-red. Day was to be ushered in with much
woe, although more than one writer has been found to call Rebellion “a
magniloquent word” as applied to all the unsettled humours of the land
in that episode of Canadian history.

Had Shakespeare, born to still further glory, tarried till Canadian
times, he might have added a syllable or so when he wrote “The devil
knew what he did when he made men politic.” But then, a contemporary
diary of his time tells us: “I have heard it stated that Mr.
Shakespeare was a natural wit, but had not any art at all;” and he
would have needed both to do justice to the Canadian question.

That which was called “the almost romantically loyal Canadian
population” had diverse ways of showing loyal enthusiasm, when (to
quote Mackenzie in after years), a “person known as Victoria, the
sovereign of England and the Canadas,” came “to keep up the dignity
of that article called a crown.” _Te Deums_ were sung in the French
cathedrals, it is true, but many in the congregations rose and walked
out. But at the coronation illuminations in Toronto, although one
transparency quoted the words of the late king, “The Canadas must not
be lost or given away,” another came as rider to it, “The Constitution,
the whole Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution.” For many
in Upper Canada were as dissatisfied with the portions of that system
imported by Governor Simcoe as their French brethren were. Here as
there the broad basis of it, the Will of the People, was a dead letter.

Happily for Toronto on that occasion it had that British characteristic
which, however Tory might abuse Whig, or Reformer predict the ruin of
everything Tory, made all men unite--for the day at least--in fealty
to the young Queen, and, more wonderful still, in good-will towards
one another. Elsewhere there were forecasts of petticoat government,
when “the speech from the throne would dwell chiefly on embroideries,
nurseries and soap.” How were they to know that the slim and beautiful
young fingers which held the sceptre were strong, tenacious, and of an
even touch, or that the girlish form held a mother heart large enough
and to spare for her own and every bairn within her realm.

So did the shuttles angrily fly to and fro in the warp and woof
of coming catastrophe in the year when Her Majesty came into her
inheritance of discontent.



The Canadas at Westminster.

“_I put not my faith in Princes, for that would be forgetting the rules
of Holy Writ; but, begging your pardon, I still put my faith in Peers._”

“‘_I am glad I am not the eldest son,’ said the younger Pitt when he
heard of his father’s elevation to an earldom; ‘I want to speak in the
House of Commons like papa._’”

“_A politic caution, a guarded circumspection, were among the ruling
principles of our forefathers._”


The man who wrote the letter calculated to create trouble and promote
that already begun was quite a personage in the Radical wing of the
House of Commons. A Scotchman from Montrose, born in 1777, he was
son of a captain of a trading vessel; the father’s early death left
this Joseph and numerous brothers and sisters to the care of a mother
who was a woman of extraordinary perseverance and energy. She kept
a small stand on market-day in Montrose, and Fox Maule, afterwards
Lord Panmure, seeing young Joseph there, was seized with the whim to
apprentice him to a druggist. A subsequent apprenticeship to surgery
and a voyage to India led to his study there of the native dialects,
a knowledge of which he made such good use that in the war with the
Mahrattas he became interpreter, an office of emolument and honour.
He returned to Britain at the peace of 1807, and began a tour there
so minute and exhaustive that he visited every manufacturing town. He
then went as thoroughly through Southern Europe, and with his head
thus equipped entered the House as Tory member for the borough of
Weymouth in 1812, calculated to make a figure there and carry much
weight through native ability and wide experience. Once more he tried
his rôle of interpreter between those who could not or would not
understand each other. His opponents found it impossible to tire or
baffle him; repulses were thrown away on him, and he returned to the
charge, unconscious, ready to repeat a hundredth time that which they
had declared unreasonable.

“What manner of man is Joseph Hume?” asks _The Noctes_. “Did you never
see him?” says North. “He is a shrewd-looking fellow enough, but
most decidedly vulgar. Nobody that sees him could ever for a moment
suspect him of being a gentleman born. He has the air of a Montrose
dandy at this moment, and there is an intolerable affectation about
the creature. I suppose he must have sunk quite into the dirt since
Croker curried him.” “I don’t believe anything can make an impression
on him. A gentleman’s whip would not be felt through the beaver of
a coal-heaver.” He was, in fact, short, broad, stiff, square and
copperfaced. He exhibited the uncouthness of the Scot in relief,
and his speech, in all the worst of the Scotch brogue, “barbarous
exceedingly,” baffled description. “Depend upon it, Joseph will go
on just as he has been doing.” And he had been going on from his
place as Radical member for Montrose. Added to all, he was a master
of detail. In spite of his earnestness, he often convulsed the House
with his Scotch bulls when he intended most to impress. Expatiating
on the virtues of the French-Canadians, he exclaimed, “I say, sir,
they are the best and gentlest race in Europe (laughter), aye”--waxing
hotter--“or in Africa” (roars of laughter). Sir Francis Bond Head
did not scruple to say that Hume was the greatest rebel of the lot,
and, in his turn, Hume made a furious attack on Sir Francis. However,
he was just as vigorously answered by Lord Grey, and then the morning
papers said “that Hume had not been able to make Head.” Politics
were so bitter then that all Reformers were rebels. Hume’s letter of
March 29th, 1834, in which he says, “_Your_ cause is _their_ cause,
_your_ defeat would be _their_ subjection. Go on, therefore, I beseech
you, and success, glorious success, must inevitably crown your joint
efforts,” sounds as if Sir Francis might have had reason for his
opinion. By 1839 a public dinner had been given this erstwhile Tory,
in testimony of his eminent public services and constant advocacy in
the cause of reform. Says North, “Why, a small matter will make a man
who has once ratted rat again. We all remember what Joe Hume was a few
years ago!”

“A Tory?”

“I would not prostitute the name so far, but he always voted with them.”

    “At the Whigs it was then his chief pleasure to rail,
     He opposed all the Catholic claims tooth and nail....”

“Why, no wonder ... he hates the Tories. They never thought of him
while he was with them, and now the Whigs do talk of Joe as if he were
somebody. But, as _John Bull_ says,

    “‘A very small man with the Tories
      Is a very great man ’mong the Whigs.’”

It was a time of general unrest and suspicion, just from the likelihood
of change and the alarming precedents set up. No two men could be
seen anywhere in the same neighbourhood without arousing ideas of
coalition, hope, suspicion and a host of feelings--as, for instance,
when “Mr. Roebuck was seen in a quarter which left little doubt that
he had been with Lord Brougham. It is very generally thought that
something is about to happen.” Mr. Roebuck, like Mr. Hume, was a
marked man and an out-and-out Canadian sympathiser. He, according to a
well-known and accredited newspaper, “was paid by the Lower Canadian
House of Assembly to expatiate on grievances, and to declare at all
times and in all places to those who have no personal acquaintance
with the Canadas that the people there are _restless, dissatisfied,
yearning for republican institutions, and that unless the never-ending,
still-beginning concessions they require are granted, another American
war must be the result_.” The effect of his words was weakened by
his appearance, which was that of a boy of eighteen. “If we do not
immediately take active measures,” was Sir John Colborne’s antiphon
from across the sea, “to arm and organize our friends, the province
(Lower Canada) will be lost to us.”

He did organize--“Why, slaves, ’tis in our power to hang ye.” “Very
likely,” came the answer, “’tis in our power, then, to be hanged and
scorn ye.”

What in Canada were called Roebuck’s “remarques ordinaires” were
constant philippics against administrative abuses there. He wanted some
means to be found as remedy for the defects. He laboured unceasingly.
In speeches, writings in journals and pamphlets and periodicals, in
season and out of season, he lost no chance to plead the cause of the
Canadas. Naturally, he was “abusive and ridiculous” in these letters
to such as did not agree with him. Had his nomination been properly
confirmed, his income as agent would have been £1,000 a year; but the
want of it did not slacken his efforts. “While such is the nature and
conduct of this petty and vulgar oligarchy, I beseech the House to
consider the peculiar position of the people over whom they domineer.”
He then goes on to draw a picture of the superior scene across the St.
Lawrence; a natural enough picture to be drawn by an American, born
with prejudices in favour of his native land. He goes on: “With such
a sight before them it is not wonderful that the Canadian people have
imbibed the free spirit of America, and that they bear with impatience
the insolence, the ignorance, the incapacity and the vice of the nest
of official cormorants who, under the festering domination of England,
have constituted themselves an aristocracy, with all the vices of such
a body, without one of the redeeming qualities which are supposed
to lessen the mischiefs which are the natural attendants of all
aristocracies. It is of a people thus high-spirited, pestered and stung
to madness by this pestilential brood, that I demand your attention.”

But the Canadians, though grateful, were aware he did not always act
with prudence in their behalf. He and Mr. Hume together had presided
at a meeting where the latter declared that Canada was of no advantage
to Britain. But they gave him and all who mentioned them kindly in the
House of Commons--O’Connell, Pakington and others who had spoken for
them--their heartfelt thanks.

Labouchere, French by descent, stood up in their defence and vindicated
their claims. “I look upon the Act of 1791,” said he, “as the Magna
Charta of Canadian freedom,” and contended that a more rigid following
of Pitt’s intentions would have resulted in better things. He denounced
the prejudice of one race against another, nor deemed a council so
altogether British wholesome government for people so entirely French.
The French had many champions in that historic chamber. Sir James
Mackintosh, author of “_Vindiciæ Gallicæ_,” a man whose whole bias of
mind had been turned and held fast by French revolution, equipped by
nature with all the powers and attributes of statesmanship, and who had
brought all to bear on home politics and legislation in the broadest
imperial sense, was not the least of these. He had undertaken, years
before the blooming of that bitter blossom, the Canadian aloe--tenacity
of life is one of its virtues,--the successful defence of a French
emigrant for libel on the consul; his residence in Bombay, as Recorder,
had been famous for his wholesome administration between British and
native rights; he had strongly opposed “the green bag and spy system;”
had voted against the severe restrictions of the Alien Bill, and had
moved against the existing state of the criminal law; so that he
did not speak, as many did on Canadian affairs, without special or
collateral experience. He wanted the dependency governed on principles
of justice, few and simple; protection against alien influence, and
freedom to conduct their own affairs and manage their own trade.

    “A British king see now assume
     Judicial sovereignty, ‘_coutume_,’
     And that of Paris cease to reign
     Throughout the Canada domain.”[2]

He even allowed merit to that old _coutume_ in comparison with affairs
as they existed under British law, and in sarcastic humour ran a
parallel between them.

When

    “Quebec first raised the legal courts
     For Does or Roes to hold their sports,”[2]

the spirit of the _Conseil Souverain_ was one which did not at the
Conquest migrate to the new body: “Nous avons cru ne pouvoir prendre
une meilleure résolution qu’en établisant une justice réglé et un
Conseil Souverain dans le dits pays, pour y faire fleurir les lois,
maintenir et appuyer les bons, chatier les méchants, et contenir chacun
en son droit.”

Sir James now held the Governor responsible for the existing state
of affairs; he accused the Colonial Minister of appealing to the
sympathies of the House in favour of British interests only. Were the
twenty thousand British to be privileged at the expense of the four
hundred thousand French? Were the former to be cared for exclusively,
their religious sympathies so fostered as to bring about Protestant
domination? Again he draws a parallel between what Ireland was and what
Canada might become, and in the name of heaven, his eloquence aided by
large grey melancholy eyes, adjured them solemnly that such a scourge
fall not a second time upon any land under Britain’s sway. “Above all,
let not the French-Canadians suppose for a moment that their rights or
aspirations are less cared for by us than those of their fellow-adult
colonists of our own blood.... Finally, I look upon a distinction in
the treatment of races and the division of a population into distinct
classes as most perilous in every way and at all times.”

Then Melbourne rose to reply that nothing was as unsafe as analogy,
particularly historical analogy.

And Lord Aylmer thought, after an extensive tour of the French
province, giving all these questions earnest consideration, that the
best way to settle the question was to bring in thousands of the Irish
to the colony; the Eastern Townships he estimated could take five
hundred thousand, and the valley of the Ottawa one hundred thousand.
These painstaking, conscientious governors generally left England laden
with minute instructions, and came on the scene with exact directions
as to their action. The Canadians, first credulous, afterwards wary and
lastly suspicious, shrewdly guessed that many of the “_impromptus_”
were in the Governor’s pocket; they also knew that Lord Glenelg was a
Reformer in London and a Conservative in Quebec. They believed that
orders publicly given carried with them secret advice not to have
them enforced, as they were meant “only to blarney the Radicals.” And
Papineau had told them that the same hand which wrote the King’s speech
penned the answer to it. When the Irish emigrant did come he brought
the cholera with him, and Jean cried out again that legislation and
emigration only meant fresh trouble.

The amount of thought bestowed upon the Canadas by these statesmen no
one, not even the most discontented Canadian, denied. But the mistaken
data from which many of the arguments were drawn maddened some; and
aristocratic mannerisms, when brought into contact with the democratic
Upper Canadian, gave offence. There was a great deal of the picturesque
about Jean Baptiste, and of him much was known; retiring governors and
officers took with them bulky note-books full of anecdotes. In Upper
Canada there was nothing of the picturesque, and the same note-books,
developed into goodly volumes, tell us it in print without flinching.
True, those intent on learning had Basil Hall’s Sketches, with accounts
of Hall’s five thousand two hundred and thirty-seven miles of travel;
but though the former were beautifully done the latter were meagre, and
with the exception of Niagara make the Upper Province as uninteresting
as its own crows. For foundation they had Charlevoix; but, says
Charlevoix, “The horned owl is good eating, many prefer his flesh to
chickens. He lives in winter on ground mice which he has caught the
previous fall, breaking their legs first, a most useful precaution to
prevent their escape, and then fattens them up with care for daily
use.” Could housewife with Thanksgiving turkey do more!

Now a good many of those who came after Charlevoix and reported on
us took him--perhaps unconsciously, perhaps conscientiously, for
Charlevoix was a good man--for a literary model, pushing to the extreme
limit their rights and privileges as travellers. They read, did these
mighty and well-meaning statesmen, in their leisure hours. Nor in later
years were the English less credulous when Canadian curiosities came to
them bodily. When a party of Indians were nightly attracting large and
wondering masses of the classes, one of the Royal Household, with two
others as white as himself, one of the trio six feet two of apparent
savagedom, arrayed themselves as magnificent Bois Brûlé, a Sac and a
Sioux respectively, to appear before a brilliant array of fashion,
wealth and beauty, carry out an unusually thrilling programme and be
loaded with gifts by the spectators. The “interpreter” of the three got
into rather a mess through his attempt to interpret too much, and in a
final frenzy of dancing they danced off some paint made liquid by their
desire to be honest in giving enough for their lavish remuneration.
An earl in the audience failed to recognize his brother in one of the
chief actors, voice and speech being disguised by a rifle bullet held
in the mouth. The sequel was the return of the presents and a chase
home to lodgings, followed by a yelling crowd of ragamuffins who turned
out to be truer savages than those whom they termed Hopjibbeways. The
Indian came first in romantic interest to the Englishman, particularly
when got ready for an audience by a clever manager. To hear a handsome,
strapping Bois Brûlé sing “To the land of my fathers, white man, let
me go,” was enough to draw tears. Next in point of interest to this
link between red and white came the habitant. The Upper Canadian was
very tame after these two, and Toronto was but “a place of considerable
importance ... in the eyes of its inhabitants.”

Another writes of travel by water as he finds it in America: “There is
no toothbrush in the country, simply I believe the article is entirely
unknown to the American toilet. A common towel, however, passes from
hand to hand, and suffices for the perfunctory ablutions of the
whole party on board.” No man in England would take the trouble to
contradict this; it was much easier to buy the book, read, be amused,
and believe--as he did with the Indian party.

Much as Mackenzie was instrumental in doing for his country, he was
scarcely a person to make his province interesting when he presented
himself in London.

    “Now Willie’s awa’ frae the land o’ contention,
     Frae the land o’ mistake and the friends o’ dissension;
     He’s gane o’er the waves as an agent befitting
     Our claims to support in the councils o’ Britain,”

sang a Canadian bard in 1832, when Mackenzie, with his monster
grievance book under his arm, set sail for the Home Office.

The quiet of the vessel after his late life in Little York was irksome;
so this stormy petrel went aloft one night in a howling tempest,
no doubt in a fit of home-sickness, and remained for hours at the
masthead. Scarcely had he descended when one of the sails was blown
away.

    “Then there the Reformers shall cordially meet him,
     An’ there his great namesake, King William, shall greet him.”

He lost no time in putting himself in communication with Hume,
Roebuck, Cobbett and O’Connell, and with Lord Goderich, then Colonial
Secretary; but just how far the meeting was cordial, with those from
whom cordiality was expected, only a long comparison of data can show.
Even then our opinions had weight, as in ’31 when Brougham wrote: “Dear
Lord Grey, the enclosed is from a Canadian paper; they have let you
off well, as being priggish and having a Newcastle burr, and _also_ as
_not_ being like O’Connell.” Mackenzie was in the nick of time to see
that wonderful sight for eyes such as his--a great aristocracy bowing
to the will of a great people--to hear the third reading of the Reform
Bill. He was lucky enough to get into that small gallery in the House
of Lords which accommodates only some eighty persons. He noticed that
but few peers had arrived, and that a number of members from the Lower
House stood about. To stand they were forced, or sit upon the matting,
for there were neither chairs nor benches for them--a state of things
highly displeasing to the fiery little democratic demagogue perched
aloft, anxious to hear and determined that others should yet hear him.

At the Colonial Office he was simply a person interested in Canadian
affairs, and useful as one able to furnish information. But he
furnished it in such a discursive manner and adorned it with so much
rhetoric that the Colonial Secretary found his document “singularly
ill-adapted to bring questions of so much intricacy and importance
to a definite issue.” The impression Mackenzie might have made was
nullified by the counter-document adroitly sent in ahead of his own by
the Canadian party in power, wherein a greater number of signatures
than he had been able to get appended to dissatisfaction testified to
satisfaction with affairs as they then existed in the Upper Province.
The customary despatch followed. Some of Mackenzie’s arguments were
treated with cutting severity; but an impression must have been made by
them, for the despatch carried news most distressing to the oligarchy,
which was modelled after the spirit of St.Paul,--that there should be
no schism in the body, that the members should have the same care one
for the other.

To these Tories of York it was all gall and wormwood. Nor could they
accept it. Mackenzie had spent six days and six nights in London, with
only an occasional forty winks taken in his chair, while he further
expressed himself and those he represented. His epistolary feat was
regarded by the Upper Canadian House with unqualified contempt, and
Lord Goderich’s moderately lengthy one as “not calling for the serious
attention of the Legislative Council.” Mackenzie had ventured to
predict in his vigil of ink and words that unless the system of the
government of Upper Canada was changed civil war must follow. But
peers also sometimes have insomnia and know the distressing results;
so he was warned: “Against gloomy prophecies of this nature, every man
conversant with public business must fortify his mind.” The time was
not far distant when he might say, “I told you so.” The Home Office
listened with great attention, but observed close reticence in regard
to itself. The Colonial Minister looked upon such predictions as a
mode to extort concessions for which no adequate reason could be
offered. Nevertheless, the two Crown officers who were Mr. Mackenzie’s
most particular aversions at that time had to go. The weapon of
animadversion sent skipping across seas for the purpose of his
humiliation had proved a kind of boomerang, and the Attorney-General
and Solicitor-General were left free to make as many contemptuous
expressions as they pleased concerning the Colonial Secretary and his
brethren, being looked upon by the last-named as rebels themselves,
since they had, “in their places in the Assembly, taken a part directly
opposed to the assured policy of His Majesty’s Government.” Such is
the strength of point of view; for the libellous rebel doing his
busiest utmost against them was to them “an individual who had been
twice expelled” this same House of Assembly. Under the first affected
hauteur of the dismissed officials there had been many qualms; the
Attorney-General thought it ill became the Colonial Secretary to
“sit down and answer this rigmarole trash” (Mackenzie’s hard work
of seventy-two sleepless hours), “and it would much less become the
Canadian House of Assembly to give it further weight by making it
more public.” One, a little more sane, thought that if Mackenzie’s
papers contained such an amount of falsehood and fallacy, the best way
to expose such was by publication. But a large vote decided that it
should not go upon the Journals, and the official organ called Lord
Goderich’s despatch an elegant piece of fiddle-faddle, ... full of
clever stupidity and condescending impertinence. The removal of the two
Crown officers was described as “as high-handed and arbitrary 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 organ’s vocabulary displayed such combinations as “political
mountebank--fools and knaves--all fools and knaves who listened to the
silly complaints of the swinish multitude against the honourable and
learned gentlemen connected with the administration of government.”

Whenever time dragged withal in the Upper Canadian House they
re-expelled Mackenzie and fulminated anew against “the united factions
of Mackenzie, Goderich, and the Yankee Methodists.”

Mackenzie’s friends lost no time in celebrating what was to be a
short-lived triumph:

    “They sneered at Mackenzie and quizzed his red wig;
       That the man was too poor they delighted to show,
     Nor dreamed with such triumph the future was big,
       As chanting the death song of Boulton and Co.

     Rail on, and condemn the corps baronial,
       Lord Goderich and Howick despatched at a blow,
     Those peers who knew nothing of interests colonial,
       In proof read the march route of Boulton and Co.”

Lord Goderich’s polite wish not to hamper any nor coerce--that these
gentlemen might be “at full liberty, as members of the Legislature, to
follow the dictates of their own judgment”--ended in the dictates of
anger appearing in hard words in the official press. The affections of
these tried Loyalists were said to have been estranged; moreover, “they
were casting about in their mind’s eye for some new state of political
existence” which would put them and their 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.”

Now Mackenzie himself could not have done better than this, nor had he
yet gone even thus far.

But the official in that chair was used to many hard knocks, and the
individual was changed so often that the blows had no time to take
effect. Nor was the incomer ever anxious to avenge the woes of his
predecessor.

“Prosperity Robinson,” _alias_ “Goosey Goderich,” soon to be Lord
Ripon, “the dodo of the Reform party,” stepped out. Mr. Stanley,
“Rupert of debate,” stepped in. The two dispossessed of Canadian
power lost no time in presenting themselves at the Colonial Office,
one of them going in as his small adversary, Mr. Mackenzie, happened
to be coming out, and the personal interview with the possessors of
“alienated affections” made the new Secretary make a bid for the return
of these valuables by reinstating the ex-Solicitor-General, and giving
the ex-Attorney-General the Chief-Justiceship of

              “Some place abroad,
    Where sailors gang to fish for cod,”

in what was called the Cinderella of the colonies, Newfoundland.
History is silent, as far as we can learn, on the state of his
affections thereafter, transplanted and uprooted so often. We presume
they withered and a’ wede awa’.

Now this Chief-Justice had formerly called Mackenzie a reptile, and the
other gentleman had dubbed him a spaniel dog--quite a leap from the
general to the special, had but Darwin, then somewhere near American
waters casting his search-light of enquiry from H. M. S. _Beagle_,
known of it.

Mackenzie was in despair: “I am disappointed. The prospect before us
is indeed dark and gloomy.” But rallying from this despondency, in his
usual peppery style he told Mr. Stanley the appointments would be “a
spoke in the wheel in another violent revolution in America.” Hume
wrote that he judged the disposition of the Secretary was to promote
rather than to punish for improper conduct, and thereby encourage the
misgovernment in Canada, which Lord Goderich’s policy had been likely
to prevent.

Well might a Canadian paper, announcing the advent of the new
Attorney-General, Jameson, say: “It is to be hoped he will view the
real situation of the people of this province from his own observation.”

The Iroquois was always ready to drink to the King’s health, be
he a George or a William; Stanley might declaim about “the most
odious and blood-thirsty tyranny of French republicanism;” but this
little Canadianized Scotchman, with his clever pen and tongue, misty
conceptions of statesmanship, real grievances and revolutionary speech,
was more than the Home Government could “thole.” The Earl of Ripon, in
1839, stated that Mackenzie in his correspondence of 1835 sought to
make himself appear a very great man, whereas in reality he was a very
little man. In his apologetic we find: “Well, he saw Mr. Mackenzie. He
did not know that Mr. Mackenzie was a broken-down peddler. He knew that
Mr. Mackenzie was an exceedingly troublesome person. He was perfectly
satisfied, from the conduct of the individual, that Mr. Mackenzie
was as vain and shallow a person as he had ever encountered. If the
conference alluded to by Mr. Mackenzie was of only two hours’ duration,
he must say it was the longest two hours he had ever known.”

How to make a common unity, a compact and harmonious people, out of
their uncommon ancestors became the problem. “Not that our heads are
some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald,” said the Canadian
mélange, “but that our wits are so diversely coloured.” Some of
the men who were to solve the problem do not read as if equipped by
appearance or culture to handle with their delicate fingers such homely
subjects. Scarcely a week passed without a fresh turn up of the cards
in Canada; and although Mr. Warburton wondered if the colony were worth
retaining, the game worth the candle, the young Queen, in that part of
her speech which dealt with the Canadian question, had an undertone
of determination “to maintain her supremacy throughout the whole of
the North American colonies,” and how the game would finally turn out
became daily involved at Westminster in greater doubt and difficulty.
At this time an editor in the United States uttered prophecy: “We do
earnestly believe that the Virgin Queen of England is destined to be
one of the most extraordinary characters of the present age or any
country. She is a little Napoleon in petticoats--as determined, as
lofty, as generous, as original as he was. Wait and see.”

“My Lords,” said the Great Duke, referring to her speech quoted from,
“I could have wished that this declaration of Her Majesty had been
accompanied by corresponding efforts to enable Her Majesty to carry
those intentions into effect.”

“Sir Robert Peel, who played upon the House as upon an old fiddle,”
regretted that there was not also in that speech a stronger expression
of sympathy for the sufferings of their brave and loyal fellow-subjects
in the colonies--at which there were cheers from both sides of the
House. He could not too much admire the bravery, the loyalty, the
devotedness of the Canadians. Nor did this arise from interested
motives; it was sincere attachment to monarchical principles, and
sincere opposition to a republican form of government.

There were many men, interesting in themselves, in debate on us then;
but individually, and as he borrowed interest from his position towards
that centre of all observation, the young Queen, came Melbourne.

While still William Lamb he had hated what he called the creeping
palsy of misgiving, tried hard to resist it, and developed into one of
those not afraid to advance with the age. He had no “extreme faith in
religion, politics, or love.” Accordingly, to him patriotism and wisdom
were not confined to the Whigs alone. The oh-oh’s and ironical cheers
from what he knew to be a powerful majority moved him not; he was as
easy, comfortable, good-humoured, as ever. Quaintness, originality of a
manner fitful, abrupt, full of irony, at times of a tenderness almost
feminine, distinguished him, together with an insuperable aversion to
“platitudes, palaverings,”--and bishops. In an age when swearing was
as common in drawing-rooms as in the field, England’s Prime Minister
was an acknowledged past-master in the art, and by inflections gave a
dozen changes to the small familiar four-lettered British adjective in
most common use. In ordinary transactions he loved a chirpy oath; but
in his dealings with the bishops was forced to coin a “superdamnable.”
The Order of the Garter was a great favourite with him, “because there
was no damned merit about it.” Utilitarian levelling like Bentham’s
he regarded as nonsense; state parsimony like Hume’s, a “pettifogging
blunder;” radicalism after the manner of Cobbett and others he called
mere ragamuffinism; but he told his peers plainly that the time had
gone by when any set of men could put themselves up as a check against
national opinion, that antique usages could not prevail against reason
and argument--truths spoken with the voice of the Commons in that place
where such a voice was almost unknown, seldom heard. Yet rancour was
foreign to his nature: “The great fault of the present time (1835) is
that men hate each other so damnably; for my part, I love them all.”
And all with the air of a good-tempered, jovial gentleman.

“If something of his amiable spirit could be caught by others,” said a
friend, “and grafted on Lord Wellesley’s counsel to ‘_demolish these
people_,’ matters would not be difficult.”

Called upon frantically by friend and foe at a time of crisis “_to do_
something,” the responsibility of the times thrown on him, he sat tight
and calmly answered, “Whenever you are in doubt what should be done--do
nothing.”

This all sounds like the man for the Canadas. Nine hundred or so of his
peers gnashed their teeth at him,--if peers ever so use their molars;
and in Canada they wrote of “the prolific source of political evil, the
profligate course of imbecile rulers.”

William the Fourth had called him “a great gentleman,” although he
and his government had been “kicked out” by that obstinate, morbid,
prejudiced and somewhat imaginative monarch. Naturally, Melbourne
refused an earldom and a garter; but in his final advice to the
sovereign he was as tactful as ever in making the latter partially
modify the note of dismissal, thereby averting a storm of popular
feeling and individual resentment of ministers. “Mind what you are
about in Canada,” said the King when final instructions were given to
Lord Gosford before he left England, and Melbourne and Glenelg--the
Sleeping Beauty--found the monarch as hard to manage as the colony
itself. “By ---- I will never consent to alienate the Crown Lands nor
to make the Council elective. Mind me, my lord, the cabinet is not
my cabinet; they had better take care, or by ---- I will have them
impeached. You are a gentleman, I believe, I have no fear of you; but
take care what you do.”

Posing as a man of pleasure, in reality a capable man of business,
Melbourne lounged through his duties in a way to exasperate friend
and foe. But as he lounged, he learned men and manners, determined to
_see into_ things, and even in Ireland, when Chief Secretary, said,
“If agitation would not go to bed he would like to have a chat with
it.” He was ever pleading for concession to the demands of the people,
dreading the consequences of refusal. “Everything about him seems to
betoken careless desolation; anyone would suppose from his manner that
he was playing at chuck-farthing with human happiness, that he was
always on the heels of fortune, that he would giggle away the great
Charter.... But I accuse our Minister,” said his critic, “of honesty
and diligence; I deny that he is careless and rude; he is nothing
more than a man of good understanding and good principle, disguised
in the eternal and somewhat wearisome affectation of a political
_roué_.” Perfectly courteous to others, it was impossible for others
to be discourteous to him, always excepting Brougham. But even before
Brougham he did not quail, and always could give tit for tat, much to
the delight of the audience of peers who, like schoolboys, exulted
whenever their terror, the bully of the class, got a drubbing. The
tongue which Brougham sarcastically spoke of as attuned to courtly
airs, made to gloze and flatter, flayed him so completely with its
quiet polish that he winced under its lash and betrayed, by his own
increased violence of invective, the weight of the punishment. Soon
after the accession the press said Lord Melbourne was about to publish
a work on chess--the best method of playing the Queen, of getting
possession of the castle, an entire disregard of the old system as to
bishops, being points in the book. This genial, indolent statesman, who
fearlessly told the truth irrespective of party, was rubicund, with
the aquiline nose of the aristocrat; his large blue eyes sometimes
flashed with fire, but oftener brimmed with merriment. The noble head,
sturdy plainly clad and careless-looking figure, consorted well with
the _laisser aller_ expression of face. Strange to say, he, like Lord
John Russell, usually stuttered out his speeches, thumping the table
or desk before him as if to work out the sentences that would not get
themselves delivered. The Reform Bill made him specially energetic.
Sitting next to him was a very noble earl who wore his hat well over
his brows, weighing the _pros_ and _cons_ of too much liberty--for
other people. Melbourne in his heat took his own white hat in his right
hand, beat the air with it in inarticulate struggle, and brought the
white to bear, crown to crown, upon the black one. The blow was fair,
the arm muscular; the very noble earl looked like the ancient White
Knight, with head apparently wedged between his shoulders. He sat
speechless for a moment, and then nimbly springing to his feet, amid
roars of laughter, twisted his head free and regained his vision. And
when the roar subsided, the Duke of Buckingham thought that the great
statesman so suddenly beclouded could scarcely see his way out of the
difficulty, and the laughter was renewed. To see a way out of the
Canadian difficulty was to find a clue in a maze.

Canadian Tories were triumphant over the fall of the Ministry on the
Jamaica question. “We cannot guess,” says one editor, “into what hands
Her Majesty may be pleased to commit the trust which Lord Melbourne
has declared his unfitness to administer.” The incoming man, Peel,
quoted the state of Canada as among the trying questions which made
the office of premiership the most arduous, the most important that
any human being could be called upon to perform ... the greatest
trust, almost without exception, in the whole civilized world, that
could fall on any individual. A few moments later he had to confess
that there was one question worse than the Canadian one, greater than
colonial politics, a “_question de jupons_.” So the Government, after
forty-eight hours’ attempt at change, reverted to its former holders;
Canadian Tories were as glum as ever, and said Melbourne was again the
governor of the petticoatocracy.

The St. Lawrence alone made the colony worth keeping; also, Canada
by its confines came in contact with Russia; it was the seat of the
most valuable fur trade in the world, and England would not be out of
possession of it for two months before a French fleet would be anchored
in the Gulf. These were thoughts impossible to think with calmness,
worse even than annexation to the United States. The least calm of
these men who debated upon what we were worth, and just what should
become of us, was Brougham. Like most who love to torment, he himself
was easily tormented. How does this champion of liberty look as he
rises to condemn the policy on the Canadian question as “vacillating,
imbecile, and indolent;” as he puts his awkward questions to those
whom he calls his “noble friends” or “the noble lords,” all looking
marvellously uncomfortable when their names are in that merciless
mouth. We hear of him as absent from his place, ill in Paris through
having swallowed a needle; yet after his return, one could imagine,
in spite of his pointed replies, that his gastronomic feat had been
to swallow a flail. “The foolish fellow with the curls has absolutely
touched him,” says a contemporary writer.... “Make way, good people,
the bull is coming--chained or loose, right or wrong, he can stand
it no longer; with one lashing bound he clears every obstacle--there
he is, with tail erect and head depressed, snorting in the middle of
the arena.” The eyes flash, the brows gather, the dark iron grey hair
stands up rigid, his arm is raised, his voice high; he is well out
of the lush pastures of rhodomontade and diffuseness. The display of
his power and the fertility of his mind amazes friend and foe; for
the genius of his fervent intellect includes French cookery, Italian
poetry, bees and cell building, and a host of subjects seemingly far
removed from law and politics. This must have been knowledge gained at
the cost of his profession, for an epigram has it that he knew a little
of everything, even of law. “Brougham, though a Whig, is not a goose,”
says the _Noctes_. Certainly “the whipster peer” who was so lately
defiant does not look as if he thought so, as his late pretty bits of
rhetoric rattle about his own ears. Sarcasm on his tongue, bile in his
heart, Brougham talks pure vitriol, and everywhere a word falls a scar
remains.

His foes accused him of being “one of those juggling fiends”

                    “Who never spoke before,
    But cried, ‘I warned you,’ when the event is o’er.”

He contended that his conduct on the Canadian question had been
“impudently, falsely and foully aspersed.” So far from being a
juggling fiend who did not warn until the event was o’er, instead of
standing by and not giving a timely warning, he had, not less than ten
months before, standing in that place, denounced the policy of the
Government. More, he had entered his protests on the journals, warning,
distinctly warning, the Government that their proceedings would lead
to insurrection; and to mark the falseness of the quotation, more
marvellous still, he had never twitted them when the event was o’er by
saying he had warned them.

There were, however, occasions and combinations which dismayed even
Brougham. He, Ellis, Hume, Papineau and Bedard, happened to meet in
Paris. Much to the satirical disgust of some Canadian papers, Lord
Brougham declined a dinner invitation and remained in bed in order to
be quite incapacitated, as he had good reason to fear that his seat at
table would be opposite Papineau.

But there is a grave in the Benchers’ Plot at Lincoln’s Inn which tells
the tale of the one vulnerable spot, the wound which would not heal,
in this extraordinary, audacious, eloquent man, this free lance, the
critic of administrations, so prone to wound others. There he laid his
only remaining child, a girl of seventeen, his application to have her
so buried listened to by the Benchers because he too wished to be laid
there in the same grave with her.

The third in this trio who faithfully laboured to abolish or mitigate
“toil, taxes, tears and blood,”--who all for their pains were burned
in effigy in Quebec and other places--was Lord Glenelg. The following
is a travesty on what were supposed to be the instructions given by
him, when debates as to what would prevent rebellion were followed
by debates on what would cure it, Lord Durham chosen the Physician
Extraordinary for colonial ills. The document was intended to regulate
the Canadian Government, and showed the zeal and watchfulness of Lord
Glenelg:

“First of all, endeavour to discover of what rebellion consists; it
is not exactly murder or manslaughter, or precisely highway robbery
or burglary; but it may, in a measure, consist of all.” The witty
gentleman who wrote thus far was quite right, but his words were
two-edged. Lount’s death has more than once been called murder, and
rebellion losses discovered some pretty kinds of robbery. “I have
looked into all the dictionaries, and I find that the definitions
given are pretty much alike; but I would not be quite certain that
they are right.” Lord Glenelg had personally written Sir F. B. Head
on his appointment a year or so before, “You have been selected for
this office at an era of more difficulty and importance than any which
has hitherto occurred in the history of that part of His Majesty’s
dominions. The expression of confidence in your discretion and ability
which the choice implies would only be weakened by any mere formal
assurance which I could convey to you.” Now any man who could ascribe
discretion and ability to Sir Francis Bond Head had need of recourse to
dictionaries.

The bogus Lord Glenelg then continues his theorizing, on the basis that
a mascot is a mascot. “A rebel is undoubtedly a person who rebels, and
rebellion is unquestionably the act of a rebel; you will therefore
ascertain whether there is a rebel, whether that rebel rebels, and
if he does rebel whether it be rebellion. Having decided the point,
you will then consider what is to be done. I am strongly of opinion
that as long as rebellion lasts it will continue. Now, it would be
requisite to learn the probable duration of the rebellion, which, I
should think, would depend in some measure on the causes which excited
it. Your object will be, therefore, to make its continuance as short as
possible; and if you cannot suppress it all at once, you will do it as
soon as you can. Then, as to the method of suppressing. I know of no
way so efficacious as that of putting it down. I would advise neither
severity nor conciliation, but only measures which will deter the bad
or win them over. I would neither hang, pardon nor fine a single rebel,
but let the law take its course, tempered with mercy.” The last Sir
George Arthur did.

“By following these general instructions you will most assuredly set
the Canadian question at rest, and I comfort myself with the idea that
my rest will not be broken up again while I hold the colonial seat.
Should any difficulty occur, I beg of you to send to me for further
instructions; but I place such confidence in the advice I have already
given that I shall not anticipate any application to disturb my
slumbers.”

At the date of this ironical issue there were questions, seriously
enough put, as to why Lord Gosford should be decorated with the Order
of the Bath, the inference from the wording being that, unlike the
Garter, it had some “merit” in it; merit which this Tory sheet failed
to discover: “Given in a mad spirit of democratical arrogance to make
rank and honours mere butts for public derision ... they generate a
swarm of obscure baronets”--poor Sir Francis! “Last, and worst, they
bestow that distinction, which was intended for the highest military
and civil merit, on Lord Gosford, who found a colony in peace(!)
and left it in rebellion.” The colony did not think so: il était
un excellent homme. L. O. David says that only where he found it
impossible to work out his mission of pacification he took vigorous
measures, which were forced upon him. He left behind him, says the
legend, le trop-célèbre Colborne.

I have laboured with all my wits, my pains and strong endeavours, said
each debater; and Canada, Shakespearian in turn, replied, “Pray you,
let us not be the laughingstocks of other men’s humours.”

There were many winter nights of ’37 made anxious to the colonies, when
“Goderich, amiable but timid, ... Lord Glenelg, sleepy, ... Howick,
mischievous, ... and the _real Judas_, Mr. Stephen, debated leisurely,
and Mr. Disraeli began his romance of politics.”

“Well, Mr. Disraeli,” said Lord Melbourne, “what is your idea in
entering Parliament?” “To be Prime Minister, my Lord,” was the daring
answer; not quite as, in their minor world of politics, Papineau and
Mackenzie dreamt of presidency in new republics.

On the night of Gallows Hill, December 7, ’37, while Toronto was in a
flutter of excited wonder and self-congratulation, while Mackenzie was
speeding one way, Rolph another, and Papineau had already crossed the
lines, the British House of Commons echoed to the sonorous brogue of
the Celtic Thunderer and to Mr. Disraeli’s famous failure of a maiden
speech. “A failure is nothing,” said the man destined to be great; “it
may be deserved or it may be remedied. In the first instance, it brings
self-knowledge; in the second, it develops a new combination which may
be triumphant.” Words as prophetic for the failure in Canada as for his
own.

If, with Henry VI., we can say of Mackenzie, a bedlam and ambitious
humour makes him oppose himself against his king, so might these Lords
and Commons, Governors and Commanders, have taken pains with the
habitant to “attend him carefully and feed his humours kindly as we
may.” The French were such very children. “Oh mon Dieu,” cried one from
the bottom of a boat while he and his companions looked momentarily for
destruction, “if you mean to do anything, do it quickly! Once we are
at the bottom it will be too late. Allons mon Dieu! just one little
puff of wind, and we shall escape!”

Far back as the times of the beloved Murray, when they had at his
recall petitioned the King to send him back to them--for he and his
military council “were upright officers, who, without prejudice and
without emolument,” did their best--and received as answer the arrival
of Carleton in his stead, they were satisfied. For Carleton “was
chosen by your Majesty.” Even the Duke of Richmond, in his short and
stormy encounter with the Houses of Assembly, was beloved; why? They
hailed the prestige of his exalted rank, for he was not only Duke of
Richmond but Duc d’Aubigny, direct from the Duchess of that title,
who had been invested with it by _Louis Quatorze_, their own Grand
Monarque, as his other ancestors had been by Charles. Why did not
some quick wit in the year ’37 follow the Scotch plan of providing
a monarch for England instead of allowing that that place provided
rulers for Scotland, and draw a parallel between James, who was Sixth
of Scotland before he added England to his domain, and the young
Queen whose claim to anything and everything came straight down from
France? “The Norman-French of Quebec may well feel proud when they
remember that they can claim what no other portion of the Empire can
assert--that they are governed by a monarch of their own race, who
holds her sceptre as the heir of Rollo, the Norman sea-king, who first
led their ancestors forth from the forests of the north to the plains
of Normandy.”



A Call to Umbrellas.

“_We must have bloody noses, and cracked crowns, and pass them current,
too._”


In 1837 people did not do things by halves. _De mortuis nil nisi bonum_
doubled its meaning from the fervour of the abuse and obloquy cast upon
the subject of it during life. William IV. found even his Queen--to
whom, by the way, though she was jostled on the edge of accession by
Mrs. Jordan and others, he seems to have been devoted--satirized,
lampooned, vilified, by press and tongues alike. No sooner is he
himself dead than his demise becomes “mournful intelligence,”
“melancholy event,” “affecting news,” “distressing circumstance of the
death of our beloved monarch.”

Out of the chaos left behind him steps a girlish figure, not unlike,
in her bare feet and streaming hair, to some picture of early Italy, a
Stella Matutina.

Her head and hands are touched with the holy Chrism; Melbourne redeems
the sword of state with a hundred shillings; two archbishops and
some peers lift the tiny figure into the throne; no champion throws
the glove; the acclamations of thousands proclaim her crowned, peers
and peeresses put on their coronets; trumpets blare above the boom
of cannon; the heads of a nation are bowed in the silence of prayer;
“Stand firm and hold fast,” adjures His Grace; the old do homage and
become her liege men of life and limb and of earthly worship, and of
faith and truth which they will bear unto her, to live and die against
all manner of folk. All the romance of the Middle Ages seems crowded
round that small figure in St. Edward’s chair, and Stella Matutina
becomes Queen Regnant.

When she opened her first Parliament the Repeal Cry and disturbed
Canada were vexing elements in discussion; but the young sovereign
placed her trust “upon the love and affection of my people;” and that
trust, as we see, was not misplaced.

The Far West was long in hearing of her accession. “There was a deep
slumberous calm all around, as if Nature had not yet awoke from her
night’s rest; then the atmosphere began to kindle with gradual light;
it grew brighter and brighter; towards the east the sky and water
intermingled in radiance and flowed and glowed together in a bath of
fire. Against it rose the black hull of a large vessel, with masts
and spars rising against the sky. One man stood in the bows, with an
immense oar which he slowly pulled, walking backwards and forwards; but
vain seemed all his toil with the heavy black craft, for it was much
against both wind and current and it lay like a black log and moved
not. We rowed up to the side and hailed him, ‘What news?’ What news
indeed, to these people weeks away from civilization, newspapers and
letters. ‘William Fourth was dead, and Queen Victoria reigned in his
stead.’”

“Canada will never cost English ministers another thought or care if
they will but leave her entirely alone, to govern herself as she thinks
fit.” Then came the division of opinion as to what was fit, to be
followed later by the opinions of Lords Durham and Sydenham upon the
dominant party, to be in the meantime fought for by all. Some held it
wisdom to say that a despotic government was the best safeguard of the
poorer classes. A certain gentleman aired this idea in Canada, saying a
governor and council was the only thing for that country. His Canadian
listener looked at him fixedly for a moment, asking again if that were
really his opinion,--“Then, sir, I pity your intellects.”

There was an ominous smoke from the fire in Canadian hearts over this
question of class prejudices. Those were the days when a barrister
would not shake hands with a solicitor, nor would a “dissenting”
minister be allowed within the pale of society. Governor Maitland had
been particularly hard upon this latter so-called shady lot of people.
A store-keeping militia officer refused a challenge because the second
who brought it was a saddler. The honourable profession of teaching was
looked at so askance that to become a teacher was an avowal of poverty
and hopelessness. Yet joined to this Old World nonsense, transplanted
to a world so new that the crops sprung out of untilled ground, was the
fact that many of the noblesse, indigenous as the burdock and thistle,
drew their rent rolls from the village stores, and with the rearing of
the head of what was called “the hydra-headed democracy,” Froissart’s
fear was shared “that all gentility was about to perish.”

Under these circumstances military life naturally gave scope for much
originality in uniform, accoutrement, and deportment. At one drill
three or four hundred men were marshalled, or rather scattered in
a picturesque fashion hither and thither. A few well-mounted ones,
dressed as lancers, in uniforms which were anything but uniform,
flourished back and forth over the greensward to the great peril of
spectators, they and their horses equally wild, disorderly, spirited
and undisciplined. Occasionally a carving or butcher knife lashed to
the end of a fishing pole did good duty for lance,--not a whit more
astounding in appearance and use than the concert of marrow-bones and
cleavers which some years before had nearly frightened the Duchess of
York to death on her arrival in England.

But the lancers were perfection compared with the infantry. Here
there was no attempt at uniformity of dress, appearance or movement;
a few had coats, others jackets; a greater number had neither coats
nor jackets, but appeared in shirt-sleeves, white or checked, clean
or dirty, in edifying variety. Some wore hats, some caps; some had
their own shaggy heads of hair. Some had fire-locks, some had old
swords suspended in belts or stuck in waistbands; but the greater
number shouldered sticks. An occasional umbrella was to be seen, but
umbrellas were too precious to allow of liberties; some said, “But for
these vile guns I myself would have been a soldier;” some were willing
to enlist for gardin’, but not for shootin’. The word of command was
thus given:--“Gentlemen with the umbrellas, take ground to the right;
gentlemen with the walking-sticks, take ground to the left.” They
ran after each other, elbowed and kicked, stooped, chattered; and if
the commanding officer turned his back for a moment, very easily sat
down. One officer made himself hoarse shouting out orders which no one
thought of obeying with the exception of two or three men in front. But
the lancers flourished their lances, galloped, and capered, curvetted
(and tripped) to the admiration of all. The captain of the lancers was
the proprietor of the village store, and shortly after the military
display might have been seen, plumed helmet in hand, vaulting over his
counter to serve one customer a pennyworth of tobacco and another a
yard of check. The parade day ended in a riot, in which the colonel
was knocked down and one or two others seriously, if not fatally,
injured. “Most elegantly drunk,” “superbly corned,” the gallant
lancers, for want of an enemy, fought with one another. One invention
of ’37 was a fuddleometer, an instrument designed to warn a man when
he had taken his innermost utmost. But it does not seem to have been
adopted at the War Office. Be that as it may, “these were the men who
were out in ’37, and they did good work too.”

A glance at the method of preparation at times employed by their
enemies shows a uniformity in style. One captain, in calling his
company together, enumerating “You gentlemen with the guns, ramrods,
horsewhips, walking-canes and umbrellas, and them that hasn’t _any_,”
could not get his men together, because at the time most of them
happened to be engaged either as players in, or spectators of, a most
interesting game of fives. The captain consulted his hand-book of
instructions to see what was proper to do in such circumstances, and
exhorted them persuasively and politely:

“Now, gentlemen, I am going to carry you through the revolutions of
the manual exercise, and I hope, gentlemen, you will have a little
patience. I’ll be as short as possible; and I hope, gentlemen, if I
should be going wrong, one of you gentlemen will be good enough to
put me right again, for I mean all for the best. _Take aim! Ram down
cartridge_--no, no, _fire_--I remember now, firing comes next after
taking aim; but with your permission, gentlemen, I’ll _read_ the words
of command.”

“Oh, yes, read it, Captain, read it, that will save time.”

“_’Tention_, the whole then. Please to observe, gentlemen, that at the
word ‘fire,’ you _must_ fire, that is if any of your guns are loaded;
and all you gentlemen fellow-soldiers, who’s armed with nothing but
sticks and riding switches and cornstalks, needn’t go through the
firings, but stand as you are and keep yourselves to yourselves....
_Handle cartridge!_ Pretty well, considering you done it wrong end
foremost.... _Draw rammer!_ Those who have no rammers to their guns
need not draw.... Handsomely done, and all together too, except that
a few of you were a little too soon and some a little too late....
_Charge bagonet!_”

(Some of the men) “That can’t be right, Captain. How can we charge
bagonets without our guns?”

“I don’t know as to that, but I know I’m right, for here it is printed,
if I know how to read--it’s as plain as the nose on your--faith,
I’m wrong! I’ve turned over two leaves at once. I beg your pardon,
gentlemen,--we’ll not stay out long, and we’ll have something to drink
as soon as we’ve done. Come, boys, get off the stumps.... _Advance
arms!_ Very well done; turn stocks of your guns in front, gentlemen,
and that will bring the barrels behind; and hold them straight up and
down please.... Very well done, gentlemen, you have improved vastly.
What a thing it is to see men under good discipline. Now, gentlemen, we
come to the revolutions--but Lord, men, how _did_ you get into such a
higglety-pigglety?”

The fact was, the sun had come round and roasted the right wing of
the veterans, and, as they were poorly provided with umbrellas, they
found it convenient to follow the shade. In a vain attempt to go to
war under the shadow of their own muskets, and huddling round to the
left, they had changed their crescent to a pair of pothooks. The men
objected to the captain’s demand for further “revolutions,” as they
had already been on the ground for three-quarters of an hour, and they
reminded him frequently of his promise to be as quick as he could. He
might fine them if he chose, but they were thirsty and they would not
go without a drink to please any captain. The dispute waxed hotter,
until he settled it by sending for some grog, and the fifteen guns,
ten ramrods, twelve gun-locks, three rifle-pouches and twenty-two
horse-whips, walking-canes and umbrellas, fortified themselves for
further exertions. The result of the next order or two was doubly
groggy.

“’Tention to the whole. To the left, no--that is the left--I mean the
right--left wheel--march.” He was strictly obeyed, some wheeling to the
right, others left, and some both ways.

“Halt--let’s try again! I could not just tell my right hand from my
left--long as I have served, I find something new to learn every
day--now gentlemen, do that motion once more.” By the help of a
non-commissioned officer in front of each platoon they succeeded in
wheeling this time with some regularity.

“’Tention the whole--_by divisions--to the right, wheel--march!_”

They did wheel and they did march, and it seemed as if Bedlam had
broken loose; every man took the command:

“Not so fast on the right!”

“Haul down those umbrellas!”

“Faster on the left--keep back in the middle!”

“Don’t crowd so!”

“I’ve lost my shoe!” And by this time confusion was so many times
confounded that the narrative had to cease perforce.

There is a Sherlock Holmes-like story told of a deserter from the
British army who tried to enlist in Buffalo. His good manner and
address were noticeable, and he was supposed to be no common recruit.
A surgeon who suspected him suddenly called out “Attention!” and as the
man’s hands dropped by his side he stood confessed a soldier.

At Fort Brady, with its whitewashed palisades and little mushroom
towers, was a castle, unrivalled in modern architecture. On the
greensward in front were drilled an awkward squad of matchless
awkwardness, in that way the superiors of any Canadians whom they might
propose to attack. On occasion one would give his front file a punch
in the small of the back to speed his movements, another would aim a
kick for the same purpose; each had a humour to knock his neighbour
indifferently well. The sentinels, in flannel jackets, were lounging
up and down, looking like ploughboys ready to shoot sparrows, quite in
keeping with their surroundings. But on the Canadian side there were
not even these vivid demonstrations of power. Enthusiasm, however, made
up for many shortcomings.

In all the newspapers of the two provinces such productions as that
shown in reduced fac-simile on the opposite page might be seen; age
has robbed the original, now lying before us, of a few words, but the
lettering and alignment are unaltered.

The chronicler has it that Brockville’s corps began with twenty-three
inoffensive and respectable men of small merchandise, who essayed
to hearten themselves and terrify the French by adopting the name
Invincibles. This amused Kingston, and a corps was accordingly turned
out from there, called the Unconquerables, in order not to be behind
“the paltry little village down the river,” and in a bogus notice from
one “Captain Focus, commanding,” there was an N.B.: “No Unconquerable
permitted to attend muster without his shoes well blacked and his
breeches well mended.”

[Illustration]

One colonel issued instructions that above all things solid form must
be preserved,--should a man fall, close and cover the vacancy. An
Irishman with a bass voice and sepulchral delivery gravely asked, “And
would your honour have us step on a did man?”

The word “halt” had little power to make some militia corps stationary;
it rather accelerated their speed. “Halt--halt--halt!” cried a
perspiring officer as he chased his men, and as near explosion point
as his own gun; “if you don’t halt I’ll walk you five miles!” The
threat prevailed, and they halted. But they were peremptory enough when
individually they had to give the same order. Both sides, loyalist and
patriot, saw an enemy in every bush and were always ready for a spy.
Excitement was running high in a Yonge Street village one day, when a
lad, young Jakeway, hearing an unusual noise in the street, walked out
to see what it was. One of a number of armed men before the village
inn called to him to halt, taking him for a spy. But the lad turned
away and did not hear. The man, upon no further provocation, raised
his gun to shoot, but another, less ardent, knocked the weapon up and
contented himself with Jakeway’s arrest. The leader recognized him as
an inoffensive onlooker, and dismissed him with an apology. No one
was to pass certain outposts out of Kingston without passport, the
parole and countersign. The Montreal mail with four horses dashed to
the bridge at Kingston Mills as the militia sentry’s _halt_ rang out.
But the coachman, as fit as himself, paid no heed; so the sentry’s
bayonet pierced the breast of one of the leaders. Complaint was made
to the Postmaster-General, but the sentry was promoted and Government
would afford no redress. It knew a good man. That same night brought
commanding officer and men, clothed and armed, to parade. By lantern
light they were made load and told “_the time was come_.” On the
principle of first fire, then enquire, a man in the front rank--of
course an Irishman--discharged his musket in his officer’s face. “Be
jabers,” said he, when asked for explanation and congratulated on the
harmlessness of his aim, “Colonel, I wuz that full of fight I cuddn’t
help it.”

But at the grand inspection in and about Kingston, which took place
chiefly before St. George’s church, with the same hearty bluff
Englishman, Colonel Bonnycastle, in command, the troops, six hundred
and fifty in number, newly clothed and equipped, made a handsome
showing, and considering their rawness performed their evolutions
creditably and without damage to themselves or him.

“Are these British soldiers?” asked an onlooker who was shrewdly
guessed to be a military spy from the other side.

“Oh, no, not at all, only the Frontenac militia.”

“Then if they are militia,” returned the American, “all I can say is
they must be _regular_ militia.”

Old Peninsula officers, remnants of Brock’s army, veterans from
everywhere British, helped from Quebec to Sarnia to leaven this mass of
raw colonial fighting material, and they developed it into something
very ugly to tackle.

But even veterans want substantial recompense for service, and in ’37
Sir Francis received a strong appeal from one of them:

    “_May it please your Honor and Glory, for iver more,
    Amen._

“I, ---- ----, formly belonging to the 49th Regt of Foot was sent to
this country in 1817 by his Majesty George the Forth to git land for
myself and boys; but my boys was to small, but Plase your Honor now
the Can work, so I hope your honor wold be so good to a low them Land,
because the are Intitle to it by Lord Bathus. I was spaking to His Lord
Ship in his one office in Downing Street, London, and he tould me to
beshure I wold Git land for my boys. Plase your Honor, I was spaking to
Lord Almor before he went home about the land for my boys, and he sed
to beshure I was Intitle to it. Lord Almor was Captain in the one Regt
that is the Old 49th Regt foot. Plase your honor I hope you will doe a
old Solder Justis. God bless you and your family.

  “Your most humble Sarvint

  “---- ----

“N.B. Plase your Honor I hope you will excuse my Vulgar way of writing
to you, but these is hard times Governor so I hope you will send me an
answer.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Not one of them was too far off to hear the despatchmen as they rode
along the half-made roads, with bugles blowing the call to arms. Spear
in boot, sword clanking by his side, the despatchman was an impressive
figure which still lives in the memory of some of those who in their
youth answered to his call. No one disputed his word; at his behest
the farmer had to go, and the farmer’s horses had to be harnessed to
furnish transport for recruits. “Four of us were out, ’cause why, we
had to. Two of us were stacking cornstalks, one was at the creek with
the horses, and I was mending the fence. It was a beautiful day, and
the air was clear enough to hear anything, let alone that bugle. The
tooting was followed by the appearance of a lot of men, and we were
ordered to fall in. It took me only a minute to run into the house for
some things; none of us had a gun, and on the way we cut ourselves
cudgels. There was not any volunteering about it, for it was a regular
press. I was the youngest, and mother she did cry like sixty.”

Everywhere the rigours of barrack life, drill, and life generally were
lightened by practical jokes and bogus challenges. John Strachan,
junior, once gravely challenged a cow, gave her one more chance to
answer, and then, in defence of his country, took her life. What is
more, he had to pay for her.

In Quebec the volunteer days of ’37-38 were festive times. With
population that followed a thin line of river border and condensed
at the two cities, and with superior means of equipment and drill,
the period of formation was not so lengthy as in Upper Canada.
Lieutenant-Colonel the Honourable James Hope was chosen by Lord Gosford
as commander of the volunteer force. In December, ’37, the garrison
at Quebec was reduced to one company of Royal Artillery. No greater
compliment could be paid Major Sewell, late of the 49th, Brock’s
own--with his regiment in uniforms of “blue coat and buff breeches,
white blanket coat and green facings, blue cap and light band”--than to
put him in charge of that important post. He had some veterans among
them, Henry Lemesurier, a captain minus his right arm, which had been
carried away by a round-shot at the battle of Salamanca when bearing
the colours of his regiment--the 74th--for one. The militia force in
the beginning of the year was incomplete and inefficient, looking
formidable with its list of every officer from colonel to corporal,
but with many, officers and men alike, who had never handled a musket.
But they were to get used to the smell of powder. “Lord love your
honour, the smell of gunpowder, did you say? Divil a bit do we care
for it--it’s the balls we do be moindin’.” And well he might say so,
for not even H. M. Regular Rocket troop was to be entirely trusted.
At St. Eustache, under the impression that rockets like wine improve
with age, one, a relic of the Peninsula, was fired. It was a mellow old
fellow, slow in making up its mind. Instead of rising it fell, failed
to clear the unaccustomed snake fence which lay in the track, broke
off its tail and sent its huge head whirling and whizzing, twirling
and sizzling, over a ploughed field, with Head-quarter staff, Rocket
troop and all before it in mad flight to escape. It seized upon one
volunteer to play particular pranks with, and chased him round and
round the field, until, exhausted, he fell between the furrows, and the
rocket, balked of its prey, went out with a final bang. Convinced that
his enemy was defunct the man got somehow to his feet, and never drew
breath--so the story goes--until Montreal was reached.

The first paid corps raised at Quebec was named the Porkeaters, a
regiment some six hundred strong, able-bodied, resolute fellows,
mostly Irish labourers, mechanics and tradesmen, who did no discredit
to their supposed diet. These bacon-fed knaves began by looking the
awkward squad; but drill by the non-coms, of the regulars, aided by
strict discipline, soon made them perform their evolutions with the
regularity and precision of their instructors. It is easy to fancy this
regiment going into action under Colonel Rasher, with the wholesome
advice, _Salvum Larder_, floating to the breeze in the hands of Ensign
Flitch--“Charge, Sausage, charge; On, Bacons, on,” the last words of
some local Marmion.

A fine cavalry corps, well-mounted, muscular fellows, under Major
Burnet, did good work; yet temperate withal, not like Strange’s troop
in Kingston. The latter had been in semi-activity since ’34--that
is to say, they were drilled on foot, with sticks for sabres. The
consequence was that when they were furnished with arms and mounted on
steeds of many sizes, difficulties ensued. Calm Sergeant Nobbs, sword
in hand, all his neighbours equally hard at work mastering horse and
weapon, unfortunately drew the curb at an inopportune moment as he was
demonstrating his mode of parrying. Up came the horse’s head, and off
went its ears.

Also at Quebec were the Queen’s Pets, composed of seafaring men,
under Captain Rayside, a veteran naval officer, in long blue
pea-jackets, blue breeches, round fur caps with long ears, and red
woollen cravats--evidently the young Queen was supposed to be fond of
novelty--their arms, horse pistols, broad cutlasses and carronade.
Companies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 in this regiment had blue loose coats
with red collars, blue breeches, and high fur caps with long ears; the
Highland company had Rob Roy tartan trews, Scotch bonnets and dark
frock coats.

The Fauch-a-Ballaughs were gayer still, in white blanket coat, red
sash, green buttons, green facings and green seams, high cap with green
top falling over--an old hat and the humour of forty fancies pricked
int’ it for a feather--and blue breeches with a red stripe.

One corps had a euphonious and suggestive Dahomean title from
corporations gained in forty years of piping peace and good dinners.
They were chiefly Lower Town merchants, veterans in business if not in
war, who soon brought their cognomens under the discipline of black
leather belts, cartouche box and twenty rounds of ball cartridge; good
Brown Besses rested on the shelves provided by a kindly Mother Nature;
and with much puffing and blowing, their eyes fronted and righted until
a permanent cast was threatened.

All corps dined much, whether they were to fight or not. Military
dinners were frequent, and always went off with great _éclat_, the
local excitement lending “go” to them all. Even in that time of
ferment there were, as there had been since the Conquest, sensible
men, French and English, of the better classes who had made the fact
of a common enemy--the American assault of Quebec--a ground for
a common patriotism. History has handed down a glowing account of
one St. Andrew’s dinner given in ’37, in Quebec, and Mr. Archibald
Campbell’s lines, sung by himself in a clear and mellow voice, are
worth reproduction as indicative of the Scottish spirit:

    “Men of Scotia’s blood or land,
     No longer let us idly stand
     Our ‘origin’ which traitors brand
                 As ‘foreign’ here.

     By gallant hearts those rights were gained,
     By gallant hearts shall be maintained,
     E’en tho’ our dearest blood be drained
                 Those rights to keep.

     On the crest of Abram’s heights,
     Victorious in a thousand fights,
     The Scottish broadsword won our rights,
                 Wi’ fatal sweep.

     Then when the Gaul shall ask again
     _Who_ called us here across the Main,
     Each Scot shall answer, bold and plain,
                 ‘Wolfe sent me here.’

    Be men like those the hero brought,
    With their best blood the land was bought,
    And, fighting as your fathers fought,
                Keep it or die.”

There were men then in Quebec whose denunciations of British rule were
given with a vim not exceeded by Papineau himself, who were destined,
fermentation over, to be like the wine kept for the end of the feast.
It so happened that Sir E. P. Taché, aide-de-camp to the Queen in after
years, was then Patriote--to be spelled in capitals and rolled with
the reverberation of the Parisian R. He was subjected to an unexpected
domiciliary visit, as a cannon was supposed to be hidden under his
winter supply of provisions. The searchers were rewarded by a pair
of duelling pistols, then a part of every gentleman’s outfit, and a
veritable Mons Meg, six inches long, which belonged to a small boy of
the same number of years.

As history counts, it was not long before Etienne Taché, in the
fold and one of our Queen’s knights good and true, declared “the
last gun fired for British supremacy in America would be fired by a
French-Canadian.”

From survivors, and from a few printed memorials, one finds that
what was known as Training Day seems to have been a great farce in
Upper Canada. The 4th of June, King George’s birthday, was its date.
Descriptions of it take one back to the Duke of Brunswick’s lament
over his army--that if it had been generaled by shoemakers and tailors
it could not have been worse, for the Duke’s general marched with
his division like cabbages and turnips in defile. Here there was no
likeness to anything so formal; the army manœuvres partook of the
wild luxuriance of native growths. If twelve were the hour for muster
on the common at Fort George, it was sure to be after one before the
arduous work of falling in began. “The men answered to their names, as
the rolls of the various companies were called, with a readiness and
distinctness of tone which showed that, in spite of the weather, they
were wide-awake,” says the chronicle. Once they became more active a
scene ensued which could not fail to gladden the eyes of the onlookers.
In time, either slow or quick, the men did not seem to be guided by any
rule of book, but exemplified home-made tactics, presenting lines for
which mathematicians have yet furnished no name, putting out flanking
parties at either end, and as nearly squaring a circle and circling a
square as possible. “Though many jokes were passed, fewer sods were
thrown than usual.” Even later than ’37, once men had been out and had
come home veterans their services were in demand by officers newly
appointed. As in the days of the good Duke of York, ignorance was an
officer’s perquisite; then some intelligent sergeant whispered the
word of command which his officer was ashamed to know; here, the poor
officer was willing, but perhaps had a sergeant as ignorant as himself.
However, he was not too haughty to search for some private to help
him. “Say, they tell me you were out,” said one of these officers to
a private; “I suppose you know something of military training. Now, I
am a captain and don’t know anything, and I believe I’ll appoint you
my sergeant.” The scene of initiation was by the Little Thames, on
what was later to be a Court House site, thenceforward to be known as
Stratford. The captain wore the battered remains of a tall silk hat, a
black tailed coat, white linen trousers about six inches too short, and
hose a world too wide for his shrunk shanks. The hastily-made sergeant,
Tom Stoney, a blue-eyed young Irishman with a spice of fun but kind
at heart, armed his superior officer with his own cavalry sword, and
taking him into his small saddler-shop made himself military tailor
as well. The captain never would have rested without spurs had he
known that the late King on his first appearance in military uniform,
although unmounted, wore a pair of gold ones that reached halfway up
his legs like a gamecock. Stoney drew down the white pantaloons as
far and as tight as possible, sewed on buttons, and cut and sewed two
leather straps to aid in keeping the captain together. The men were got
into line; the captain meekly took his place among them. “Right face!”
cried the sergeant, and off flew a button, up went the trouser-leg to
the knee--“pursued my humour, not pursuing his”--rejoicing in regained
freedom, relented and came down again. Clump-clamp went the leather
strap with every step. The sergeant’s commands came quicker than ever,
the captain perspired, and toiling behind his men removed his silk hat
to wipe his streaming face. Then he ventured his first “command”: “I
think we have had enough drill; we’ll march down to the distillery,
boys, if you like.” And they did.

In the Talbot District, Training Day since 1812 had been kept up with
constancy. In spite of that, the inhabitants were somewhat unprepared
when ’37 came. But the gathering of the Loyalists, however isolated
they were from one another, was willing and surprisingly quick. Old
officers of the army sought for and gathered up volunteers; they had
neither drum nor fife, but there was a ready response from willing
hearts, and from hands equally willing, however uncouth and unused
to arms. The most embarrassing hindrances, sometimes, to everything
like organization and drill and obedience to orders were those same
old soldiers when, as was generally the case, they knew more than
their officers. They stood in the ranks, and at the same time found
fault with every word of command, so that they demoralized that which
they had brought together. No set of volunteers was more difficult
to handle than the old soldiers who had settled in Adelaide. Captain
Pegley, although himself a retired regular officer, found them almost
unmanageable when mixed with the more docile farmers and farmers’ sons.
After much adjuration he at length broke out into exclamations which,
on the whole, suited his mixed audience better than set military
phrase. “Haw, man! gee, man!” cried he, a startling contrast to the
studied politeness of some of the subs, who, with nothing whatever of
the drill-sergeant tone, whenever the openings in the ranks were too
wide, would say, “Won’t you be kind enough to step nearer this way;
now, you men, be good enough to keep your places.” The sharpest order
delivered by these subs was, “Halt! and let the others come up, can’t
you!” Wheeling into line disclosed a line looking like the snake fence
surrounding the stubble field which contained the wheel.

Marching in quick time with one bagpipe and a fiddle, or with a single
drum and fife, was not antidote enough to the stubble as they passed
the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel in blue frock coat, white trousers
shoved up from his boots, a round hat above his fat face, seated in
unostentatious dignity on his venerable white mare, whose sides were
blown out with grass and her neck adorned with a rope halter. “Now,
men, _won’t_ you fall in,” he would pathetically inquire, while they
showed every disposition to fall out. For, instead of the drum boy, in
the centre of the parade-ground was a keg containing that liquid which
in Lower Canada, when carried in a seal-skin covered bottle, was known
as _Lac dulce_, or sometimes as old man’s milk. Then would Captain
Rappelje command to drink the Sovereign’s health, which was done _con
amore_; trials of strength, boxing and wrestling, would follow, when
“Abe would knock Jehial as straight as a loon’s foot.”

What would men not do to keep these kegs full. Once Colonel Bostwick
and Captain Neville were temporarily absent at the same time, while
certain points on the river were guarded against surprise; the rebels
were hourly expected, but failed to appear. Advantage was taken of the
officers’ absence to cross at one of these points, to replenish the
canteen. The boat, showing lights, returned before the expected time.
Those on the pier bethought them of a Yankee boast to come across and
eat the small village before breakfast. They prepared to fire into the
boat, but changed their minds, and rushed to where their Captain and a
companion were soundly sleeping. The pile of discarded clothing by the
couch had been rather mixed, and the Captain measured six foot odd; his
companion’s valour was contained in few inches.

“Come, come quick, quick, the rebels are upon us!” brought them to
their feet, the big Captain thrusting himself as far as he could, and
farther than the garments bargained for, into the unmentionables of
the smaller man. They refused to cover below the calf; he tried to
withdraw, they were obdurate, and in an agony of thought the enemy’s
knock was heard. The small man had meanwhile decamped with a train at
either heel. The Captain seized a jacket which matched the rest of
his suit; in desperation he took the quilt, and in toga arrayed, like
“that hook-nosed fellow of Rome,” reached the wharf in time to receive
the whiskey kegs, where he delivered a lecture on breach of discipline
and ordered the men to the guard-house. This Captain was a formidable
figure out of his quilt, in his own red uniform with white facings and
girt with a sword whose hilt of ivory and brass was further decorated
with two beavers conventionalized beyond even the requirements of
modern art. The sash, of double twisted silk, strange to say had been
the property of John Rolph, who, during his life in Middlesex, had
made his home in Captain Neville’s house--a queer foregathering, for
we all know the one, and the latter was after the pattern of the U. E.
Loyalist definition in 1777:

    “By Tory now is understood
     A man who seeks his country’s good.”

Captain Neville and Colonel Mahlon Burwell had a friendly rivalry as
to who would furnish the country to which they were both so devoted
with the most warlike sons. Leonidas, Blucher, Hannibal, Napoleon and
Brock, did they call their unprotesting infants, until a mother rose to
the assertion of her prerogative when Wolfe was suggested for one of
her babies. The most warlike of this cream of heroism weighed but two
pounds when he came into the world, and was put in his father’s carpet
slipper to be weighed. Great, then, was the consternation when at the
outbreak the following regimental order was issued, embracing fathers
and sons:

“You are hereby ordered and required to warn all the men from sixteen
to sixty, within limits of the late Captain David Rappelje’s company,
to meet at St. Thomas, 13th inst., on Wednesday, with arms and
ammunition, of whom I will take command.” The same village walls held
another order from Sir Francis Bond Head. The result was more men
brought together than ever before in the history of the settlement.
The Mansion House was the great rallying point, and here, after the
Scotch fashion, business was discussed, the suspected ones talked over
by the extra loyal, and toasts and maledictions drunk according to
the politics of the thirsty. That part of the country was one of the
most disaffected sections, and neighbour looked upon neighbour with
suspicion.

Some time before this, roused out of his retirement by the tales of
agitation which he heard, Colonel Talbot attended the only political
meeting of his Canadian life. On St. George’s Day of the year when Sir
John Colborne, one of his nearest friends, took such a conspicuous
part in the provincial elections, a large party of his people went
out to meet the Colonel on the way from his Canadian Malahide castle.
They found him on the top of Drake’s Hill, from which a beautiful
view was afforded of the pleasant valley they were ready to defend.
He entered the town, surrounded by waving flags bearing “The Hon.
Thomas Talbot, Founder of the Talbot Settlement,” and other descriptive
legends. The venerable figure of the eccentric lord of the manor,
Executive Councillor, friend and fellow-officer of Wellington, stood
there surveying his flock, the majority cheering him to the echo; but
knots here and there bestowed unfavourable glances on them and him.
His address was full of wit and sage advice. Some of the veterans,
clad like himself in home-spun, who had toiled under his eye and by
his aid had emerged from poverty to wealth, stood, with hands in their
capacious pockets, looking up at him as if they “could fairly swallow
his words.” When he referred to the pains he had taken to preserve
loyalty among them, “That’s true, Colonel,” came as involuntary
response. “But,” said he, “in spite of all my efforts, some black sheep
have got into the flock--aye, and they have got the r-r-rot-t-t, too!”

His well-known aversion to altercation or controversy resulted in his
being the only speaker. A loyal address was dictated by him extolling
the blessings of government as then enjoyed and resting the blame of
disaffection on the religious teaching of a certain lot of immigrants
who had come to the Talbot Settlement in time to enjoy its prosperity,
and then, not having the devotion bred by being first-comers, found
it easy to pick flaws. The year ’37 brought to them a mysterious
individual mounted on a cream-coloured horse which ambled him along
the lanes and roads of Yarmouth. Like the clock peddler, the stranger
wore deep green glasses in his spectacles. After his labours of
disseminating dissension were over he managed to make his escape,
but the cream-coloured nag figured as an officer’s charger on the
Loyalist side--according to his late owner’s opinion, much after the
manner of the unmounted Glengarries whose humour it was to steal at a
moment’s rest--“convey, the wise it call”--but from the opposite point
of view was _pressed_ into government service. It was an animal of no
prejudices, for with its rider it was always in the van.

Of those whose looks burned as they listened to the Colonel, and who
would not subscribe to the address, some were yet to stand upon the
drop to die for treason--a dignified name with which Colonel Talbot, in
common with Drew, Prince and others, would have had little patience.
These disaffected were chiefly influenced by an Englishman, George
Lawton, who, like a good many of the demagogues of that day, had been
a factious pate elsewhere. Concerned in the Bristol Riots, he was well
up in the catch-words which thrilled the crowds there, and he used his
strong mind and nimble tongue upon Canadian complications. He had to
escape, somehow, from the consequences of his acts at home; so a sham
illness and a sham death, a stuffed coffin and a funeral, and a voyage
of the supposed deceased brought George Lawton to the Talbot District
to sow those “seed-grains” of revolutionary doctrine which were to make
him a second time an outcast. One of the first persons he met in this
country was a chief mourner who had followed his coffin to the grave.

As early as ’33, Colonel Talbot writes to a friend: “My rebels
endeavoured to hold a meeting at St. Thomas on the 17th, Dr. Franklin’s
birthday as I am informed, but in which they were frustrated by my
Royal Guards, who routed the rascals at all points and drove them out
of the village like sheep, numbers with broken heads leaving their
hats behind them--the glorious work of old Colonel Hickory. In short,
it was a most splendid victory. Mr. Fraser, the Wesleyan minister,
behaved admirably on the occasion, and I scarcely think they will
venture to call another meeting in St. Thomas. Their object was to form
a political union, the articles of which were to elect the Legislative
Council and magistrates.”

At all periods of the Rebellion Talbot’s District provided much
“sympathy.” Several men from Port Stanley set out to join the
sympathisers who were making ready at Detroit. Their small vessel was
provided with boiler and machinery, and they made fair headway until
off a spot near the Lake Road, when the rudder gave way. In a frenzy of
conscience the boat made for her own shore and stuck in the sand-bank.
Just at that point there happened to be a small company of dragoons,
who, when they saw the boat coming towards them, with armed men in
it, divided into two parties and galloped off in opposite directions.
The officer of the company, in two minds to go both ways at once,
solved his difficulty by popping under an upturned canoe. The would-be
saviours of their country in the rebel boat got clear of the sand-bank
and made off, upon which the dragoons galloped back to look after their
captain. After a careful search, for he was very coy, they found him
under his canoe canopy, not a bad makeshift where umbrellas were not
procurable.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was scarcely a locality which did not give evidence that the
rebel spirit had a lodgment not far off. But also in each there were
martial spirits eager and willing to lead or be one of loyalist
troops. Some of them tell their own stories so well that it would be
a pity to garble or curtail them. One man describes how he gave up
his professional work, as the winter and the Rebellion were coming
on together. “... The political horizon at that time looked rather
squally. The Rads. were holding frequent meetings in different parts
of the country, at which loud and long speeches were made to the
ignorant and wicked, until it broke out in a general rising among the
disaffected portion--which was the largest portion of the County of
York. In Simcoe the Rads. were fully half the population; but they did
not turn out for fear of the other half, among whom were many fiery
Orangemen. And to this Order I attribute the safety of our country,
although many loyal men, not Orangemen, turned out in behalf of the
Government. Without these men we should have failed, as, before troops
could arrive from England, the Yankees would have flooded the country.

“The Home District appeared to be the stronghold of the disaffected
in Upper Canada. On the 4th of December, as I was going towards
Queensville, I met five or six men with rifles, whom I knew to be fond
of hunting deer. We talked about hunting and I went on my way, when I
met sixty or seventy more, straggling along, some with guns, some with
swords, and others unarmed. They had several waggons with them, which
appeared loaded, but were covered up. I began to suspect their object,
but could get no satisfaction to my questions. Then I met a young
fellow whom I followed into his father’s house, and saw his father give
him a pair of boots and some money. That convinced me. I then turned
back and followed the party, when I met a man who told me my suspicions
were correct, and that they were going to take Toronto. I advised him
to go home, but he said he dare not; so then I told him he had better
go to the States. He said he would, and I afterwards learned that he
took my advice. On my way south I went into the tavern on Tory Hill,
and asked the landlady if she understood the movement, to which she
replied that they were going to take Toronto, and she had known it
for several days. Her husband and several others had gone there three
days before, and I may say here that when I went to the city I found
him there as a volunteer--either that or go to prison. I next saw Mr.
Samuel Sweasey, and asked him if he understood the movement. ‘Yes, they
are going to take Toronto, rob the Bank, hang the Governor, and when
they come back they will hang _you_,’ When I asked him where his sons
were, he said he had sent them to the woods to get rid of them, as the
rebels were after them.” Between this narrator and his friends the news
was soon pretty well spread in the neighbourhood of the Landing, Bond
Head, Bradford and Newmarket as to what he had seen and heard. “Farther
on I met several men, too great cowards to turn out with the rebels,
but mean enough to give me great abuse on account of my principles.”
He and various other officers met at Newmarket, and agreed to do all
possible to raise quickly what force they could in their respective
neighbourhoods, the narrator being assisted by one of his sons, who
was a sergeant. “Two men had been sent from Newmarket to inform the
Governor that there were a number up here he could depend on. These men
were taken prisoners by Mackenzie’s party.... We felt much the want of
arms. Orders were given to search for and seize all the arms that could
be found; but we had poor success, as most of them were in the hands of
the rebels and the rest were hidden away to prevent our getting them.
About the 9th we heard that John Powell had shot Anderson,” followed by
the rest of the doings after Montgomery’s. News reached the men of the
north slowly, and for many reasons their march to the assistance of the
city was delayed. “At McLeod’s inn, on Yonge Street, a most cowardly
affair occurred. Some twenty-five or thirty of the Scotch and a few
others, on hearing that a body of men under Lount was stationed in the
Ridges, whom we might have to fight, turned tail and went home. Their
minister did all he could to dissuade them; but home they would go.
When he found persuasion useless, he mounted his horse and called for
volunteers. A few fell in with him, and he and they were with us when
we took up our march for the city.

“A certain officer had assumed the command, and was mounted on a horse
that had been taken from a Lloydtown man as he was trying to get home
after Montgomery’s. When we got down as far as Willis’s farm, at the
entrance to the Ridges, a halt was called and a council held, and, as
it was yet feared by some that there was a strong force of rebels in
the Ridges, it was decided that a few of us, about eight, and mounted,
should form an advance guard to reconnoitre. A man from the Landing had
gone into Willis’s and got a gun, which when the colonel saw he called
to the man to let him have. The other objected, whereupon the colonel
went up to him and, in the presence of us all, wrenched it out of his
hands. We were then ordered, the disarmed man one of us, to advance,
which we did. The eight of us had two guns, three swords, one club, and
this little party went through the Ridges while the colonel and his
reserve waited for about half an hour. Hearing nothing from us in the
shape of a skirmish they ventured through. When we got to Bond’s Lake
I got a pitchfork for the man from whom the colonel had taken the gun.”
At Thornhill they learned that the rebels were completely dispersed,
and many were for returning home; but it was decided to continue the
march and tender their services to the Government. “By this time we
mustered pretty strong, as several had joined us during the night and
morning, many of whom I presume would have joined the other party had
they been able to reach the city and make a stand there. We had now
some twenty-five or thirty prisoners that we had picked up as we came.
These we tied and placed in two strings, somewhat in the form of Ʌ.”
Arrived in the city the volunteers were inspected by the Governor, and
thanked by him in Her Majesty’s name for the tender of their services.
“When they came opposite to where I was sitting on my horse, Colonel
Carthew said, ‘A more loyal man does not live,’ and upon this the
Governor bowed twice and passed on.” Some ten or twelve of them did
not accept their billet upon the people, but went to a tavern and paid
their own way. “I was officer of the guard on the night that Peter
Matthews was brought into the Parliament House (used as head-quarters
and prison) a prisoner. On the next night I went with Mr. Robinson, Dr.
King and Sheriff Jarvis to the hospital, where Edgar Stiles, Kavanagh,
and Latra were lying, to take their depositions.” On the next night he
was sent “with a strong party to Sharon, where we captured some thirty
or forty and sent them to Toronto. For three or four days I was at
Newmarket attending to the guards, as we had a number of prisoners in
the Baptist meeting-house.... I was ordered to where Collingwood now
stands to look for Lount, who was said to be there at a lonely house
of one John Brasier. When we had got as far as Bradford a man was
sent after us with a report that Lount had been taken somewhere below
Toronto. When I went to Newmarket again I found that in my absence
several gentlemen who had been nowhere at the first had come in, had
got commissions and my men.... After this, some eighteen or twenty
of us about the Landing and Sharon joined and formed a company for
our mutual defence, armed with muskets. For a while we met for drill
weekly, then monthly, and soon not at all.”

Lloydtown, although the seat of disaffection, had its loyalists, too;
but as they were in the face of such odds they had to temper the
exhibition of their loyalty with discretion. One of themselves says
that when the call came for their aid they made a prompt response, but
took the precaution to leave the village in small parties.

But loyalty was a term on a sliding scale, and a Scotchman whose
vote was Reform was every whit as loyal as his Tory acquaintance who
“suspicioned” him.

“Loyal? Of course I was loyal, as every one in our neighbourhood was;
but most of us were true Reformers nevertheless, and not ashamed of
the name, in spite of Mackenzie’s goings-on. I refused to volunteer
in ’38 when the draftings began again, because all trouble in Upper
Canada was over, and I could not see that I was called upon to give up
important home duties; and besides that, the officers had nothing to
do, and thought it would be a fine thing to get a company up and have
the recompense for keeping it together. The captain only succeeded in
getting a few volunteers, not twenty, and the thing was to be completed
by ballot. That was a regular farce, and the ignorance of some of those
who drew was ridiculous. A Scotchman, holding his slip in his hand,
showed it exultantly to a friend, who did not begrudge him his luck,
saying, ‘O-o-aye, ah’ve drawed a prize.’ But I met an Irishman, soon
after, who had been sharper than the Scotchman, pretending that he knew
the peculiar twist of a paper that was intended not to be ‘drawed.’
The Irishman was rejoicing in his own exemption, and wickedly gloating
over his brother who was not up to the twisted paper trick and had
‘drawed.’ One man, now our most prominent citizen, and certainly one
of the oldest, refused either to draw or volunteer, for reasons the
same as mine; he had fought in ’37 on the loyalist side, and now in ’38
a warrant was out for him on the score of disloyalty! They tried to
arrest him, thinking he would submit quietly, but he fought the thing
on every point, and these so-called loyalists found they had no legal
ground to stand on. They dare not press the matter, so my friend was
let alone.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“Our captain was a regular autocrat in manner and appearance, and he
spoke with a thick, fast utterance of a kind better imagined than
written, when he was excited. Two others, who happened to be where
we were stationed, also had an impediment in their speech, and none
of them were remarkable for smooth temper. X. was sitting in the
tavern one day when Z. entered to get something which was lying on the
back of X.’s chair. Z. stutteringly apologized for disturbing him.
X. was annoyed at being mocked, and stutteringly told him he would
stand no such insult. Z. wondered why it was an insult to claim his
belongings on the chair, and was equally angry at being stuttered at
in response to his polite speech. Stutters were bandied until mutual
anger, recrimination and exasperation led to a mutual invitation to the
open and an appeal to the captain’s sympathy, which was stutteringly
refused, while he advised them not to be ‘such-ch f-f-fools.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

“In the beginning of the winter of ’37-38, MacNab, president of our
railroad, came with some of the directors into our office. He stood
before the fire, with his coat-tails turned up, and seemed to have
made up his mind to rival Cromwell, if not to surpass him. ‘Boys,
the Rebellion has burst out and the railway has burst up. Make out
your arrears of accounts due, get them verified and certified by the
chief engineer and keep them safe--some day you may get the money. In
the meantime we have none for you, and the banks are burst all over
the country, and if we had any to give you you could not pass it. We
have no further use for your services, unless you choose to enlist in
the volunteer corps. In that case I can promise you lots of work at
twenty-five cents a day without board, except by foraging on the enemy.
I give you quarter of an hour to get your accounts verified, and then
go. I want to lock up the office and put the key in my pocket by that
time.’

“I don’t know what the other fellows did with themselves, but I got my
$130 odd verified, and it will be just sixty years next December since
that money started ‘coming’ to me. I joined the Guelph Light Infantry,
under Captain Poore, and that afternoon we marched over awful roads
to Ancaster. When we got there we made camp-fires along the street,
and lay down in our blankets on the frozen ground. The object of our
expedition was to annihilate Duncombe.

“At about two in the morning we were kicked till we woke up, when we
were summoned to partake of the banquet the Government provided of pork
and bread. For the ensuing two weeks of our expedition we looked back
in raptures at that meal, for we got hardly another bite except an
occasional one stolen from the farmers. Once I got one hot potato from
the table while the people were at breakfast; the other fellows took
the rest, and it was all done in a moment. We got an occasional frozen
potato or turnip, but the farmers, who were nearly all rebels there,
generally left their houses empty. Lane, the commissary, was all the
time a three-days’ journey behind us.

“When we reached Brantford we were quartered in the Methodist Church,
three hundred of us, a coloured company from Toronto part of the three
hundred. Many queer things happened there, including a burlesque sermon
from the pulpit by a darkey, and the attempt to take up a collection
after it for commissariat purposes. I was sentry that night over the
so-called stores, and as I was leaving the church a kettle of boiling
fat was brought in. I had not time to wait, so I dipped my india-rubber
cup in and took a drink. I scalded my thumb and finger, burnt my
mouth and tongue, melted my cup, and then had two hours in which to
quietly meditate on the result of drinking red-hot fat in a hurry.
As I was leaving the church a strip of red flannel was handed me to
sew on my fur cap; none of us had uniforms, and the flannel was our
distinguishing mark from the enemy. While on sentry a woman crossed
the road and asked me if I had seen her husband; I said I had seen no
one, and asked her to sew the flannel on my cap. It appeared I was
keeping sentry over her husband’s bake-shop, which had been taken for
commissary purposes, and she kept me bareheaded in a snowstorm for an
hour waiting for that cap. That was our first snow, and before that
all our teaming had been by waggons. While bareheaded the commissary
came along to get into his store; I challenged him, and he said he
had not got the watchword. I would not let him pass; so he forced his
way against my bayonet. That made him go off vowing vengeance. Soon
Colonel MacNab and Colonel Mills and the commissary came up. I guessed
what they came for, and challenged them. MacNab was in the middle.
To ‘Advance, friend, and give the countersign,’ he said, ‘Don’t you
know me?’ I said I knew no one on duty. He then came up and whispered
‘Quebec,’ and I let him pass. That ended the attempt to catch me
tripping while on duty. When the woman brought me my cap I said I was
not going to thank her for sewing it, because she sympathised with
the rebellion. Suddenly I heard musket shots, and it appeared the
rebels were marching in to take Brantford without knowing we were
there waiting for them. A doctor in advance of their army had been
taken prisoner at the bridge; but he lied to MacNab, and said he was
on his way to see a sick person. This seemed probable, and he was let
go, when he rode back to warn the rebels. A shot was sent after him,
and that started the alarm I heard. All our companies were mustered in
line in a great snowstorm, and furnished with thirty-six rounds of ball
cartridge; then we began quick march to catch the enemy, who retreated
when the doctor reached them. We caught up to them at Beemersville,
when they took position and fired a volley; we charged, and they
subsided; so we ate their breakfast. During the day several hundred
Indians drew up in line in an orchard and took us for rebels; we took
them for the same. We were in line to receive them, and pails of
whiskey were dealt along. The others took it, but I refused, although
the sergeant who dealt it out said it would give me Dutch courage. I
said I wanted only English courage. Officers met each other half way
with flags of truce for a parley. It turned out we were all of the same
side, so they brought their painted faces to within ten feet opposite;
but we couldn’t speak Indian and they couldn’t speak English, so we
were not very communicative. When there was to be no fighting I wanted
my whiskey, but the sergeant would not give it.

“I went into the tavern to capture a prisoner almost in my hand. He had
fired two rifles at me, and then he ran to the tavern; my musket was
not loaded, so I could not return fire, but I threw it at him. I got
him fast in the tavern, almost transfixing him with my bayonet before
I could divert it; as it was, his long whiskers were pinned into the
wall, and to withdraw the steel I had to plant my foot against his
waistband. But when our men came pouring in several tried to kill him,
so I stood before him and we fenced with bayonets, I against three or
four. They desisted when I told them that the first blood spilt would
be theirs or mine, and I sent for a sergeant to come and take the man.
But when they went out I had to stand between my prisoner and the crowd.

“We slept three deep in straw that night. I came in late, found a
place, and used another man for a pillow; soon a comrade came in and
woke me up by sitting on my head while he pulled off his boots. I shook
him off three or four times, but he remonstrated with me for being
inconsiderate, as my head was the highest thing in the room and the
best for his purpose. He was so persistent, and I so sleepy, that I
agreed to let him stay if he would promise to get off when he got rid
of his boots. He promised, and I went to sleep; and I suppose he must
have done as he said, for I did not find him on my head in the morning.

“Near what was then Sodom-and-Gomorrah we came on seven haystacks in
a row by the fence line; the cavalry had tied their horses to the
fence and divided the stacks among them; then the teams came up, and
the stacks were melted more thoroughly than the snow. My legs were
stiff from walking, and a pock-marked Irishman’s hands were stiff from
driving; so we exchanged musket and whip, and I had a day’s relief
while driving for him. The snow had grown so deep that a team took
the lead, breaking the way for the men, who would pass by in full
procession, while the teamster drew to one side to rest his horses.
Before we left Norwich three or four hundred men gave themselves up as
prisoners, heartily sick of what they had supposed was patriotism. When
we got to Ingersoll and asked for food they said there that everything
had been bought up that was not poisonous; the grocery man had nothing
to offer me but soft soap, and he recommended that in strong terms. I
declined the inference.

“Our barracks there were in the blacksmith’s shop, without a floor, and
built over the creek on the only street in the place. I took my bayonet
out of the sheath and knocked at the kitchen door of the best looking
house I could see. A lady answered, and I asked her if there was a
gentleman in the house that I could talk to. She said no, her husband
was with the officers. I said I came to buy a loaf of bread. She could
spare me none, as she was going to give a dinner to the officers that
evening, and at any rate she did not sell bread, that was not her
business. I told her I was sorry there was no man in the house that I
could talk to, but as there was not I must tell to her that I had been
all over the village trying to buy food, and as I had not been able to
get any I had taken this bayonet out with a view to fighting for some
if I could not buy it; that I was soldiering to drive the rebels out,
and that we had no commissariat; that that sort of thing was hard for
me and the rest of the men, when officers could have banquets given
them after being too ignorant to organize a commissariat. I told her
a great many things, and apologized for having to talk to her so, and
that I was sorry there was no man to talk to. She ended by giving me
nearly a whole loaf, the price for which she said was a York sixpence.
I put a York shilling down on the table and took my loaf to the
barracks, where I cut it in as many pieces as there happened to be men
in. As soon as I had put a piece in my mouth I found myself reeling
and getting blind. They led me out and I fell into the creek, with my
head under water; they picked me out again, but my appetite was all
gone, and I gave away my bit of bread. I wandered about, and after
awhile heard that the Orangemen were having a feast. I and several
others went to the same house, and we were all in the seventh heaven
of happiness; good food, and served by a handsome hostess and two
beautiful daughters. After eating, we joined the Orangemen in the next
room, and we spent several hours drinking grog and singing. That was
our tenth day out, and that supper was my third meal. Generally our
meals consisted in sucking a corner of a blanket; we kept our mouths
moist that way, and averted faintness and reeling.

“When going to Hamilton teams were pressed from the farmers, and
we were carried seven men and a driver in each. When we got to the
mountain the angle and state of the road sent the first sleigh over
the precipice, and ours, the second, hung over at right angles; but we
managed by hugging the bank and shifting our weight. I looked over and
saw the first sleigh on a ledge about one hundred feet below, and as
the men were not visible I suppose they were buried in the snow.

“When sitting in the tavern that day I found in my pocket a small apple
I had bought near Paris. I took a bite of it and that brought the
saliva into my mouth, when, naturally, I fainted as I sat.

“As we marched into Hamilton we had to pass by my door, so I marched
out of the ranks and into it. Of my three meals in two weeks, only one
was at the expense of the Government.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“When I was going from Hamilton to Windsor I had to take to sleighing
at Chatham, and as we drove down the river, hugging the shore, many
large fields of ice floated down the open. We passed three men on one
cake, another on a second, and later a fifth, all dead and frozen
Yankees, sympathisers. At Windsor I stopped with Mr. Baby, whose house
windows were riddled with bullets, and I saw vacant lots broken up and
dotted with graves. As an encouragement for me, on my way to Detroit,
I was told that the Yankees had threatened to hang the first six
Canadians they could catch, to the lamp posts, in return for Colonel
Prince’s shooting. When I got my pass from a lieutenant to enable me to
cross the river he told me the same thing. I got over and was trying
to get my boxes examined by two men who called themselves custom house
officers, when I found I had to go off, for peace’ sake, with three
others, to report. I guessed what it was about, and made up my mind.
They took me to a low tavern filled with unwashed men, and I was left
sitting with one of my three while the other two reported on me to an
officer. Was I in the ‘war’? Yes. Which side, the patriotic? _Yes._
Where? Under General Duncombe. How did he make out? Beaten horribly.
My questioner had been at Navy Island, and said ‘the British had sent
over a ---- rocket, which they all looked at while it zigzagged round
until it fell plump on the island, where it fizzed away so long that
they went to see what was the matter with it, and while they were
looking the ----thing burst, and ---- if it didn’t kill eight; they
didn’t feel any curiosity to examine any of the rest that came.’ I
treated this fellow to a drink, unrectified and tasting like sulphuric
acid. I didn’t drink mine, so he did. Then I was conducted to the
officers’ room, about eighteen gentlemanly looking fellows, apparently
American officers, who were deputed to conduct the campaign, so as to
give better prospects of success in the conquering and annexing of
Canada. They tried to catch me tripping, but I lied manfully; I had no
scruples about treating such gentry so. I knew all about what I had
seen, and all I had to do was to reverse the position. But my stay in
Detroit was short, and I soon returned to work in Canada.

“In our scrimmage with the enemy our captain of cavalry fired his
pistol at a rebel, but his horse inopportunely pranced and the bullet
ran along the animal’s neck and out at his forehead. He fell, stunned,
crushing the captain pretty badly, one of whose hands was permanently
injured. He told the story to some one, and that person said, ‘Don’t
tell that story again; say the rebels shot your horse, and claim a
pension.’ He took his friend’s advice, but I don’t know about the
pension. At a review afterwards I saw the same captain on the same
horse, and I told the story to the man I was with; we then went up to
the captain, and asked him how he got his hand hurt, and he replied
that the rebels had shot his horse!

“After our campaign I found I could drink thirteen cups of tea at a
meal for several successive meals; but I could not sleep in a bed, or
in fact stay long in the house at night at all.” This narrator gives
some most unflattering opinions of Colonel MacNab in his generalship in
the Duncombe campaign, and many tales of the commissariat department
alone seem to bear out his statements from a private’s point of view.
He is contemptuous and satirical in describing the methods employed in
the Little Scotland affair, “but considering we were about 30 to 1 it
did not much matter.”

Another gives a summary of the few casualties at Little Scotland,
and, as a death dealer, thinks sauerkraut almost equal to bullets:
“A private from Hamilton nearly perished after eating a quart of raw
frozen sauerkraut. I was detailed to bring in some prisoners, a cold
trip in the snow, and I was fired at from behind an elevation in the
road in front of us. We found two of the prisoners covered up in an
oat bin in a tannery. Our luggage-train had such a hard time that in
one place we had to build a bridge and hold it down with hand-spikes
while the train went over. We had no rest and little to eat; no salt at
all, and our rations only frozen bread. We would gnaw at it a while and
then lay it aside to rest our jaws; but we had to be careful that the
hero of the sauerkraut would not make away with it, as he had a hungry
maw and a canvas bag. At night we slept in the open, and we wrapped
ourselves in Indian blankets--to find them frozen round us. But a fire
made of fence rails thawed us and our bread and blankets.”

Occasionally there were volunteers who were not made of the stuff which
could be comfortable in a frozen blanket or willing to face a foe.
An American, engaged in shipping lumber to Buffalo, with no love for
Canadians, had boards added in every possible way about his vessel
and covered with all available lanterns and candles. This display sent
terror, as he expected, to the hearts of the raw recruits. When ordered
to hold themselves in readiness for the advancing foe, one of them
approached the captain and declared he was not going, as he had “only
listed to stan’ guard.”



Le Grand Brule.

    “_It appears to me that there is no danger in leaving Canada in
    Sir John Colborne’s hands for the present, and that his powers
    are amply sufficient for all emergencies that may arise._”


While in Upper Canada vigilance committees had merged into military
organizations with much intended secrecy, in Lower Canada matters
went with a higher hand. In the former, “shooting matches,” where
turkeys took the place of Loyalists, were fashionable with the more
advanced Reformers; sharp-shooting practice went on, with an occasional
feu de joie in honour of Papineau when some courier brought an
enthusiasm-begetting letter from below. Mr. Bidwell, an “incurable
American in mind, manners, and utterance,” gave his legal opinion that
trials of skill such as these were not contrary to law. It was found,
too, that bayonets were much the handiest weapons in hunting deer; from
humane desire some hunters added these to their rifles, so that such
monarchs of the forest as came in their way could be speedily put out
of misery.

But in Montreal and elsewhere the rebels drilled on the military parade
grounds and complained bitterly if interfered with, and officers of the
troops would make small knots of amused audience near them. The bulk
of these patriots were boys, but they did not like to hear themselves
so called; they were tired of the times of peace, when sons bury their
fathers, and were ambitious for the times of war, when fathers bury
their sons. One of them challenged an officer, demanding satisfaction
for such a “remarque insultante,” and two more jostled a soldier on
sentry, trying to take his musket from him. His officer advised, “If
the gentlemen come near you again, you have your bayonet; use it, and
I will take the consequences.” For, withal hoping it was but an effect
of humour, which sometimes hath his hour with every man, instructions
were not to force matters by any hasty act. The only result of this
incident was another private challenge, an exchange of shots, and Sir
John Colborne’s disapproval, all part of the excitement surrounding the
Doric-Liberty riots, when the patriots were ambitious to be “fils de la
victoire” as well as “fils de la liberté.”

On his way to the famous Six Counties meeting, Papineau narrowly
escaped a thrashing from a noted pugilist who would willingly have
championed England had not a party of officers on “board the boat,
bound for a fox hunt, interfered.” The officers did not scruple to ride
at and rout with their whips the parcel of young boys, who, armed with
duck guns, met Papineau as escort at Longueuil, the lads fleeing in all
directions, while Papineau made his disappearance unostentatiously down
a byway.

In after years Longueuil was a favourite haunt for Papineau. He would
sit for hours in a small rustic arbour built upon a point of land where
he could look upon a wide and beautiful view, pondering on the things
that might have been had Sir John Colborne not been the man he was.

As early as the 14th of October matters were thought so ripe for
insurrection that the troops were kept ready in barracks for a minute’s
notice, and a loyalist meeting--a sure forerunner of disturbance--at
which Campbell Sweeny was one of the ablest speakers, was held. By
afternoon Loyalists and Canadians had come to blows, and fought, off
and on, into the night, the former thenceforth called the Axe-handle
Guards, from their weapons on that occasion. On the following day a
young officer named Lysons was sent to Toronto to ask Sir Francis Bond
Head for as many troops as he could spare. He could spare all, except
the detachment at Bytown. Garrison artillery was turned into field
artillery, with guns, harness and horses newly bought; and Sir John
Colborne, apparently the right man in the right place, was appointed
commander of the forces. Asked what Cromwell had done for his country,
an old Scotch laird once answered, “God, doctor, he gart kings ken
they had a lith in their necks.” Colborne at once set about assuring
Canadian rebels that they were made on the same anatomical principles
as kings. He was not likely to make a plaything of Revolution. This old
and tried soldier had been in New York ready to sail for home, not a
little wearied after his Upper Canadian experiences, when he received
his new command. He lost no time in repairing to Quebec to organize
and appraise his available forces. He armed the Irish colonists; what
they would do was the question, for there was much sympathy among them
for the oppressed Canadians, but Garneau sarcastically remarks that
Colborne possibly appreciated the versatility of that race.

Hitherto the military in Canada had been left unsupported by their own
authorities. Colborne felt them to be something after the pattern of
the standing army in the Isle of Champagne, which consisted of two, who
always sat down; and he proceeded to make those under him stand up.
He asked for reinforcements from home, his policy being of the kind
which dictated the display of the British fleet in Delagoa Bay but
lately--to frighten, overawe, to show the case to be hopeless, and so
save further demonstration from the disaffected. By his detractors he
has been accused of taking measures to force premature revolt, knowing
that to allow the movement to ripen it would become a grand combination
of force which he would be unable to resist. Calumny of this kind was
common and not confined to one side of politics, as witness the theory
that Mackenzie was in the pay of the British Government to stir up
rebellion.

It was a master-stroke of policy, said the cavillers, to force the
first encounter in Montreal; and thence was traced the line of disaster
which followed. Among the scuffles--“troubles sérieux”--was the
famous one between the Doric Club and the Sons of Liberty. Warrants
against the chief malcontents followed, including Papineau, Morin,
O’Callaghan and Nelson. Arrests in the rural districts were resisted
strongly. After the Governor (Gosford) had proclaimed martial law, the
clash of arms began to be heard. Lieutenant Ermatinger of the Royal
Volunteer Cavalry and some twenty men were despatched to St. John’s,
_via_ Longueuil and Chambly, to arrest Davignon and Demarais, two
noted malcontents. Ermatinger did his work quietly, put irons on their
hands and feet and ropes about their necks, and after placing them in
agonizing positions on the boards of the waggon in which they were to
be conveyed to Montreal, began his return. Their appearance of complete
defeat struck the young lieutenant as possibly a wholesome lesson to
others; so instead of returning by a direct route he took them where
the display would not be lost. Near Longueuil he was warned by a woman
that a rescue party awaited him on the road. Disregarding her, he went
on till some three hundred men, armed with the usual long guns, in a
field on their right, and protected by the high fences, proved her to
be correct. Shots were exchanged, Ermatinger himself was wounded in
face and shoulder with duck-shot, and a plucky little Surgeon-Major of
Hussars (Sharp) in the leg. Some half-dozen others of the Loyalists
were disabled, and they began to make good their retreat. Sharp, in
spite of his wounds, managed to cover it. The waggon upset prisoners
and constables, and as there was neither time nor inclination to pack
them in again, the escape was due rather to accident than to rescue.
Meantime a party of regulars awaited Ermatinger’s return at the ferry,
ready to escort the expected prisoners to gaol; the civil force was
so inadequate that he and his men had in fact been doing the work of
special constables. Shots in the distance, then the stragglers wounded
or whole, told their story, and it was deemed expedient to send a
stronger force. A detachment of Royals, Royal Artillery, and some
cavalry, comprising a few of those wounded the day before, went back
to the scene, commanded by Wetherall. Tracks of blood in the fields,
an overturned waggon and a dead horse, wayside houses and barns with
shutters and windows nailed tight but hearth-fires still burning, told
of conflict and hurried departure. Not an inmate or weapon was to be
found, but a pedestrian said he saw women and children and some armed
men farther on. The cavalry in advance gave chase to some thirty armed
horsemen, who, after leading their pursuers over very rough riding,
took to the woods, leaving behind only one solitary footman, who at
once gave himself up. The infantry then were ordered into the woods,
and the cavalry drew up along its edge, twenty or thirty shots were
exchanged, and this time they were rewarded with seven prisoners.

The miscarriage of the first attempt made the rebels ironical.
Ermatinger’s followers, called the Queen’s Braves, were portrayed
as “decamping across the fields, leaving Messieurs Davignon and
Demarais to their farmer rescuers, ... one of the gallant soldiers
first discharging his pistol, ... but his hand trembling with fear
did no other execution than graze the shoulder of M. Demarais.... The
disciplined mercenaries of tyrants were far from invulnerable when
opposed by men resolved to be free.”

St. Denis and St. Charles were seats of discontent and determined
resistance. A combined movement was therefore resolved on, one command
under Lieut.-Colonel Wetherall, one under Lieut.-Colonel Hughes, and
the whole under Colonel the Honourable Charles Gore. A magistrate’s
general address preceded this action, accompanying the order of the
Lieut.-General commanding. “Should our language be misunderstood,
should reason be slow to make itself heard, it is still our duty to
warn you that neither the military force nor the civil authorities will
be outraged with impunity, and that the vengeance of the laws will be
equally prompt and terrible. The aggressors will become the victims
of their rashness, and will owe the evils that will fall upon their
heads to their own obstinacy. It is not those who push you to excess
who are your true friends. These men have already abandoned you, and
would abandon you again at the moment of danger, while we, who call you
back to peace, think ourselves to be the most devoted servants of our
country.” D. B. Viger’s name heads the list of magistrates, a signature
which made some eyes open wide.

But, in an evil moment, the Nation Canadienne persevered in its trial
of strength; Papineau, at its head, proclaimed himself “a brilliant
leader and a constellation of moral excellence,” and his proclamation
declared that “all ties were severed with an unfeeling mother country,
that the glorious fate of disenthralling their native soil from all
authority, except that of the brave, democratic spirit residing in it,
awaited the young men of all the colonies.”

Meanwhile the Church issued its pastoral letter, never having
countenanced either Papineau or his followers. The premier Bishop
had ended his personal exhortation by proposing the health of the
Sovereign, and his brother Bishops and all the clergy had risen and
drunk the toast respectfully. His mandement was accepted with few
exceptions. At the parish church of St. Charles the greater portion of
its masculine hearers left the church cursing, and the Abbé Blanchet,
curé of the parish, was a patriot who took no trouble to hide his
sentiments.

At St. Charles the rebels had seized the château, substantial and built
on old French models, of M. Debartch, seigneur of the manor. He fled
for his life on horseback, while General Storrow Brown regaled his
followers on the seigneur’s good beef and mutton, after which they cut
down the trees and made the house into no bad imitation of a fortress.
M. L’Espérance, whom they courted as a colonel, refused to act. They
told him to leave the parish at once; he tried to do so, and then they
took him prisoner, contributing $236 of his money to their exchequer.
They loop-holed the walls, and made their barricades in the form of a
parallelogram on the acres which lay between the river Richelieu and
the hill at the foot of which the house stood. The tree trunks were
banked with earth, a tidy fortress in appearance, but a trap from which
there was no escape in case of defeat, practically of no strength
against the loyalist guns. But no outside strength of position availed
where such miserable management prevailed within. General Brown had
lost an eye in one of the late affrays in Montreal; he was now thrown
from his horse on the frozen ground and severely injured. He had but a
handful of men to resist attack, for he had sent out a number the night
before on various errands. They had not returned, and the few with him
were wretchedly armed. By the time the troops arrived he himself was
in the village, trying to beat up recruits; and when the firing began
without him he took the precaution to remove himself still farther.
The unhappy followers he had forsaken were being killed or, trying to
escape, taken; every building but the château itself was burned and the
barricades demolished. The fields were by this time covered with flying
women and children. One woman, who evidently had not time to save
herself, was found dead, after the battle, in the midst of the smoking
ruins of her dwelling.

There were two cannon within the fortress, but they were only used
twice. Wetherall posted his men on the small hill, got his guns into
place and began to play on the insurgents, who were left no egress but
by the river. They managed to gall him, one party making a sortie; the
firing was kept up for an hour but ever grew fainter, while the balls
from the field-pieces made great breaches in the rude earthworks, and
the undisciplined, unofficered defenders were deeper in confusion.
Then came the cruel advance with fixed bayonets, and all who did not
ask for quarter received none; the Richelieu was on the other side
of them, and “many leaped into the lake who were not thirsty.” “The
slaughter on the side of the rebels was great,” wrote Wetherall; “I
counted fifty-six bodies, and many more were killed in the buildings
and the bodies burnt.” The rebel record reads not at all like this, and
ends, “One hundred of these brave men took shelter in a barn filled
with hay and straw. The Royal butchers set fire to it and burned them
alive. One hundred were drowned in crossing the Richelieu. The village
of St. Charles was entirely burned by the soldiers during the attack;
those of the inhabitants who escaped the flames perished in the woods
from the effects of fright and cold.... The prisoners that fell into
their hands were inhumanly treated, and many of the wounded murdered in
cold blood.” But, as a brother officer records, “Nothing succeeds like
success. Colonel Wetherall was lauded to the skies.”

“We understand the capture of St. Charles was effected with great
ease,” says a correspondent in a tone admiring the burning and complete
destruction; “no loss of consequence to the troops.” “As soon as
possible after the action, the troops, with the greatest humanity,
began to bury the bodies of the killed, the scene truly deplorable,
wives and daughters ransacking among the bodies for those to whom they
wished to pay the last rites.” The _Montreal Courier_ said that hot
shot had been used.

In Montreal the welcome to the troops was, as might be expected,
extravagantly joyful: “It was an interesting sight to see the hundreds
who crowded on the wharf to witness it. The cavalry landed first,
two of them carrying the liberty pole and cap erected at St. Charles
at the meeting of the Six Counties, with its wooden tablet bearing
the inscription ‘À Papineau par ses citoyens reconnaissants,’ the
former fragment of the spoils looking sadly like a fool’s cap upon a
barber’s pole. The artillery followed, with the two little guns taken
at St. Olivière in addition to their proper armament. After them rode
the commanding officer, followed by the bands of the Royals and the
infantry, the first company of which followed the prisoners, thirty-two
in number.”

“The pole, it was hoped by some, would be deposited in that proud fane
of British glory, where the tattered ensigns of extinguished rebels
in Ireland and of blood-hunted Covenanters in Scotland wave over the
tombs of sleeping monarchs in melancholy conjunction with the virgin
standard of Bunkers Hill and the trophies of such days as Trafalgar,
Cape Vincent, and Waterloo!”!!

It had been intended that the other half of the force, under Colonel
Hughes, Colonel Gore accompanying it, should appear before disaffected
and mutinous St. Denis simultaneously with Wetherall’s appearance at
St. Charles. But the gods of war were not with them as with the others.
Torrents of rain, pitchy darkness, rain turning to snow, men and horses
sinking in mud, harness breaking, knee deep in water or winding along
trails did the column bound for St. Denis find itself, while a few
broken bridges were the only drawback to the victorious Wetherall.
Four miles away, they surmised their plight and slow approach had led
to a warning to their enemies and time for preparation. For eleven
hours they toiled, at the rate of a mile and a half an hour, the mud
pulling off the men’s boots and moccasins. The cavalry were kept busy
driving away parties who were destroying the bridges, all of which had
to be repaired before the gullies and streams could be crossed and the
howitzers carried over. A most useful man was Cornet Campbell Sweeny,
of the Mounted Dragoons, who prevented much damage and was alert in
securing early intelligence. They heard the church bells ring the
alarm--in rebel language usually called the _tocsin_--and they found
a welcome awaiting them from some eight hundred men armed with a scant
stock of good and bad guns, pikes, pitchforks, and cudgels.

Before Colonel Gore left he had sent on young Lieutenant Weir, in
plain clothes, to prepare for the advance. He was to meet the troops
at Sorel, but failed to do so, as they had taken a byroad known as
the Pot-au-Beurre to avoid St. Ours, a stronghold of the rebels. This
Weir did not know. He took a calèche, and insisted that the man should
drive him by the very road which it was impolitic to take. He gave up
this calèche, being urged by a Frenchman to take one driven by himself.
Weir believed the man’s assertions, engaged the calèche for the balance
of his journey, and was driven straight to Nelson’s quarters. When he
arrived there and was stopped by the rebel sentry he boldly asked where
the troops were. This was the first intimation to the others that the
troops were expected. Tied hand and foot, he was put into a cart and
removed under escort. As Weir was at once arrested he had disappeared
before his friends’ arrival. Among the preparations Nelson immediately
set his son Horace and his pupil Dansereau to make bullets.

At the outskirts another skirmishing party gave the troops a brisk
salute, and from nine in the morning till four in the afternoon the
struggle lasted. Success in resistance seemed so uncertain that Nelson
persuaded Papineau to retire and save the person most sacred to the
cause. “It is not here you are most useful,” said he; “we shall want
your presence at another time.” Papineau argued that his retirement at
such a moment might be misinterpreted, but eventually agreed that his
rôle was more that of orator than soldier--to breathe fire-eating words
rather than to stand the fire of Colonel Gore’s guns. Nelson then rode
out to reconnoitre, was afraid he would fall in with the advancing
column, and came back at a hard gallop. In the meantime Captain Markham
at the head of his men was pushing on, taking house after house, till
he reached a stockade across the road which fenced off the large stone
building, four stories high, where Nelson had ensconced himself, with
other houses so situated as to strengthen its position. The howitzer
now came into play; one of the houses was taken, and attention was
turned towards securing a large distillery near by. Captain Markham,
severely wounded in the knee and with two balls in his neck, still kept
with his men; but they, too, began to fall. The previous night’s toil,
the cold and hunger, told on them; ammunition began to run out, and the
insurgents received additions to their numbers from the neighbouring
villages. One of the defenders was Père Laflèche, who had been soldier
before priest and now combined his callings. He was telling his beads
when he first caught sight of the troops, and in a twinkling exchanged
his rosary for a musket. “Hue donc!” he cried, and a ball sped to
the death of an advance guard. Another, David Bourdages, son of a
celebrated patriot, kept two boys busy loading for him for nearly two
hours; he then tranquilly lit his pipe and began again, still smoking.
The chronicle says that nearly every shot dealt death. At that rate
of computation a simple problem in junior mathematics would show that
Bourdages alone could have comfortably despatched half the attacking
force.

Meanwhile Weir, hurried off in Nelson’s cart, complained to his captors
of the tightness of the cords which bound him. Captain Jalbert, two
men, Migneault and Lecour, with the young driver Gustin, who formed
his guard, disputed with him; he insisted, they assailed him, and he
jumped out of the cart and underneath it to escape their blows. He
was fired at twice with pistols, and had sabre cuts on his head and
hands, the latter hacked away, as, tied together, they vainly attempted
to screen the former. Dragged from beneath the cart the butchery was
finished, and the body was secured under the water of the Richelieu by
a pile of stones.

With the troops it had become a question how to manage a retreat. There
was no ambulance, there were seventeen wounded, and it was decided
to remove Captain Markham only. The circumstances demanded that they
should so be left, but their comforts were attended to as far as might
be. The rebel chronicles say that the troops deserted their wounded.

The insurgents had turned from the defensive to the offensive, and came
out to dislodge some of their enemies in rear of a barn; a galling fire
was kept up from the fortified house, and Captain Markham, in transit,
was again wounded, as was also one of his bearers. The rebel fire was
dexterous and precise; the retreating party had to cross a frozen
ploughed field, and Captain Markham was put in the only cart and sent
to the rear. Hughes needed all his cool address to conduct the rear
guard, for the inhabitants seemed to swarm from every direction. Thus
hampered they only removed themselves some three miles when, exhausted,
in a freezing atmosphere, their gun-carriage broken down and frozen
in the ground, they spiked the gun and threw its remaining ammunition
in the river. They kept on their march till daylight, by which time
the men were nearly barefoot, for their moccasins were cut by the
rough ice and frozen earth; their horses were lamed, and the lighted
villages through which they passed made them apprehensive of attack.
At daylight a halt was called, and the men, half dead through fatigue
and hunger, lay wherever they could find a place in the barns of a
deserted farmhouse. A young officer who in the plight of darkness the
night before had got a lantern, stuck it to a pole and sent it on ahead
of the men as a guiding star, now turned his attention to a search for
potatoes--which he found and boiled in sufficient quantity to allow
each man three or four before the weary march was resumed.

Nelson had had his triumph; a short-lived one, for he at once had to
follow the advice so recently given by him to Papineau, that one’s
discretions are one’s best valours. According to a manuscript letter
historically quoted, the English commander had more faith in the
dictum of a priest than in his own guns. Perhaps a submission gained
by obedience to a higher authority than military force might be of
greater service to the crown they served. Wetherall sent for the
curé of St. Denis--as soon as “il voyait qu’il n’avait pas a faire à
des enfants”--and besought him to tell his people that if they did
not succumb they would be tormented in even a worse place than Lower
Canada; that if they persisted, he would refuse them burial. The last
was a former expedient to ensure an appearance of loyalty. Many graves
were to be seen in old gardens or by the wayside along the south coast,
outside of consecrated ground, the graves of “Canadian rebels;” rebels
who, during the Revolution of 1776, had taken part with the Americans,
thinking that by so doing they would hasten the coming of “the old
folks back again.” “You smell English,” said one of them on his
death-bed, raising himself to give his curé a scowling defiance on this
his one strongest conviction, and, turning to the wall, died, outside
the Church but true to France.

After the curé’s menace, “which succeded à merveille,” the men on whom
Nelson had counted were reduced one half, a story confirmed by Colonel
Gore’s later despatch, wherein he also says, “I was accompanied by
Mons. Crenier, the parish priest, who gave me every information in his
power.” The Colonel revisited St. Denis with an increased force, but
found the place abandoned; Nelson had escaped with Papineau and others,
although there were many signs of greater defences having been made.
So the troops marched on to St. Charles with their rescued howitzer.
Montreal was now put in a state of defence; stockades surrounded it,
and only a few gates, well guarded, were left open.

There were two searches now to be made, one for the body of Weir,
another for the bodies, living or dead, of Papineau, Nelson, and
others, the heads of the first two being valued at $4,000 and $2,000
respectively. The melancholy duty of searching for Weir was given to
a lieutenant of the 32nd, Griffin, who, conducted to the place by a
young girl who had witnessed the hiding of it, found the body. Several
of the fingers were split, an axe, some said a spade, having been the
last weapon used upon him. He had taken breakfast with Nelson and
was well treated throughout by him. On leaving the house, Nelson,
in Weir’s presence and after begging him not to be refractory, had
commanded the men to treat him with all possible attention, but on no
account to allow him to escape. Their tale was that the sound of the
firing, as they travelled from the point of attack, so excited Weir
that in his struggles he loosened the binding of one of his arms, and
springing from them ran. They overtook him, and the appearance of his
body told the sequel. It was taken to Montreal for burial with military
honours, in which regulars and volunteers took an equal share. To
the patriot eye this natural action was making “a vile use” of an
“unfortunate occurrence,” to “waken the old British horror against
Frenchmen, Jacobins and blood-thirsty revolutionists.” As a set-off to
this peculiar view of a terrible act there is the following sentence
anent the second occupation of St. Denis, by a Tory paper: “We are
not sanguine enough to expect that any regular opposition will be
attempted.”

“Jock Weir, remember Jock Weir!” now became the war-cry of his incensed
comrades.

The hunt for the leaders began in earnest. Papineau, a lawyer of some
repute, was then a man of about forty-eight years, of good average
height, inclined to corpulency, certainly not the figure to imagine
under small haystacks or at full length in ditches. His face was
strongly marked with those features which proclaim a Jewish ancestor
somewhere; dark very arched eyebrows, hair nearly black, the eye dark,
quick and penetrating; an exterior of determination and force in
keeping with the well-stored mind, conversational power, cultivation
and gentlemanly address which marked the man. His eloquence had passed
into a proverb. An unusually precocious Canadian child always had said
of it, “C’est un Papineau.”

His followers had every excuse for their worship, and thought him
equal, perhaps superior, to Washington. His father, “le père des
patriotes,” who had not let his patriotism go the length of severance
from Britain, frowned on the more advanced son, still keeping to feudal
tenure and the Catholic religion as the priests taught. The Code
Papineau junior had not much feudalism in it, and politics may be said
to have been the son’s religion.

So also did Robert Nelson say that feudal nonsense was abolished
forever, and the Church of not much more account. He and his brother
Wolfred had their own interpretation of their relative’s saying that
“England expects every man to do his duty.” Mrs. Wolfred Nelson’s
grandfather, le Marquis de Fleurimont, was one of the French officers
wounded in September, 1759; afterwards he took the oath of allegiance,
and was again wounded in the repulse of Montgomery before Quebec. These
Frenchified Englishmen seem to have been born for something better
than treason, stratagem and spoils; they took none of the last and
found the first two meant prison and expatriation. Wolfred Nelson was
by far the best looking of the leaders, tall, with handsome features,
and had moreover a brave and manly disposition. His proclamations were
wonderfully worded, his Athanasian rendering declaring the Canadian
Republic to be “one and indivisible.” Colonel Gore sought to take these
prominent men, having heard that they were secreted at St. Hyacinthe.
Accordingly a young officer and a picked party were told off, their
sleighs without bells being timed to arrive after dark at the house
where the leaders were supposed to be. The guide brought the sleighs
there somewhere near midnight, and they found the usual comfortable
French quarters, solid barns with yards and outbuildings. A chain of
sentries was posted round the place and through the buildings; a knock
brought madame, a most charming old lady, to the window; they were very
welcome, and she showed them not only over the house, but she kept
them seeking in many corners they would not have found for themselves,
in cellars where stores of winter vegetables and fruit lay in rows,
cupboards full of treasures, in cavernous depths beyond rafters which
promised a reward for search, but only revealed much bacon and ham,
flitches “the manifest product of a high-caste gramnivorous pig.”
But Papineau, on the watch, had had time to get to a deep ditch which
ran back into the fields, whence he made his way to a small bush near
by. From there he escaped to the States; but Nelson was taken and
lodged in Kingston gaol. Years afterwards, at an evening party, after
his return from France, the charming, white-haired Papineau said to a
gentleman who had been the soldier so prominent in the search, “I hear
you are the officer who came to call on me at Madame ----’s, in ’37.
You little know how nearly you took me.... You did your work admirably,
for, though we were on the watch, I had only just time to run away down
that wet ditch before your sentries met.” Among the effects then seized
were many papers of value to the captors, one of them a letter from
Papineau, finishing, “Continue to push it (the rebellion) as vigorously
as you can,” and another, a schoolboy letter from Nelson’s son, a lad
of fourteen, somewhat after the manner of Tom Sawyer: “I wish that it
(the rebellion) will do well and without any noise, which I hate very
much--except with the other side. I believe that the prediction of that
man Bourgeoi will be accomplished, which is that the province will be
all covered with blood and dead bodies.” A Montreal newspaper deplores
“the fattening of Nelson for the gallows,” and considered that “death
on the scaffold was the best example such a father could give to such
a child.”

And yet Dr. O’Callaghan could write from over the border, “If you are
to blame for the movement, blame then those who plotted and continued
it, and who are to be held in history responsible for it. We, my
friends, were the victims, not the conspirators; and were I on my
deathbed I could declare before heaven that I had no more idea of a
movement of resistance when I left Montreal and went to the Richelieu
River with M. Papineau than I have now of being bishop of Quebec. And I
also know that M. Papineau and I secreted ourselves for some time in a
farmer’s house in the parish of St. Marc, lest our presence might alarm
that country and be made a pretext for rashness.... I saw as clearly as
I now see the country was not prepared.” Dr. O’Callaghan, the _fidus
Achates_ of Papineau, the editor of the _Vindicator_, was not likely to
have been as innocent as he afterwards remembered himself.

Another who managed to hide safely but nearer home, after the battle
of St. Charles, was George Cartier. With his cousin Henri he passed
the winter at the house of Antoine Larose, in his native village of
St. Antoine, and the person destined to be his father-in-law was in
hiding not far off. The future Sir George, to make sure of a quiet
resting-place, wrote, and had published in a Montreal newspaper:
“George E. Cartier, advocate, a young man of great ability and talent,
was found frozen in the woods by his father. He might have served his
Queen in the highest councils of his country had he not been brought
up in a line of politics which led to his untimely end.” He read his
self-description and epitaph, and handed it to his cousin, remarking,
“At present, my dear Henri, we can sleep tranquil.” But he reckoned,
not without his host, who was incorruptible, but without his host’s
servant-maid. The maid had an admirer, and the admirer grew jealous
of the two young men who enjoyed advantages superior to those granted
him, made a scene with his fiancée, threatened to inform on them and
to denounce M. Larose to the authorities for harbouring rebels. So the
two young men, nephews many times removed of the celebrated Jacques,
had to decamp to the less confined neighbourhood of les États Unis. In
after years, when Mackenzie with questionable taste treated the episode
of the rebellion as a comedy, he met M. Cartier, in parliamentary
obstructive debate, and twitted him that they had both been “out” on
the wrong side, and that the Government had shown its appreciation of
the comparative values of their heads. He referred to the price of a
thousand pounds set on his own, and only three hundred on that of the
young man whose sudden demise from hunger and cold in the woods of
Verchères had spoilt “une brilliante carrière.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Naturally, Montreal was now in a highly excited state, distracted at
defeat and elated at victory; openly rejoicing or inwardly chafing,
as the case might be. The specie in the Bank found its way for safe
keeping to Quebec, ammunition, arms and soldiers began to arrive,
volunteer battalions were formed; the gaol was crowded with prisoners;
the outlets of the city were barricaded, and a general hum of
expectation was in the air.

Detachments of the 1st Royals under Colonel Wetherall, of the 32nd
and 83rd under Maitland and Dundas, the Volunteer Montreal Rifle
Corps under Captain Leclerc, and a strong squadron of horse with six
pieces of artillery, fully served, under command of Major Jackson, one
sunny day defiled through the streets with colours waving and bands
playing. The field battery, rocket troop and all the transports were
on runners, for it was now the 15th of December and the snow was deep.
The Commander-in-chief, the generally popular and much-feared hero of
Waterloo and a hundred other fights, Sir John Colborne, with his richly
caparisoned staff and escorted by two hundred Dragoons, brought up the
rear of this imposing display.

They proceeded to the western extremity of the island, past the ruins
of two old forts and the smaller remains of a larger one, all telling
of former war times. At the expansion of the river, caused by its
narrow outlets, was the Lake of the Two Mountains, where one of the
hills, in summer clothed with richest verdure to the water’s edge, was
called Calvary. Within its shadow lay St. Eustache, St. Benoit, and
Ste. Scholastique; any of them might have been named Golgotha, so soon
were they to become the place of skulls. “Le Grand Brûlé” was so named
before “le vieux brûlot” was to rechristen it with fire and blood, for
a forest fire had swept it at the end of the last or the beginning
of this century; the “Petit Brûlé” was near Ste. Scholastique--names
significant to the dwellers there of a fate worse than burning by
forest fire.

St. Eustache, most picturesque of the early French settlements, was
built on a tongue of land. At that day it consisted of a square of
handsome stone houses, comfortable and well finished, in which the
wealthy but discontented owners lived; hard by were the manor-house,
the presbytère and convent, and in the centre stood the parish church,
its two towers topped by spires as glittering as the “panoply of war”
then in full sight ready for the attack. The people of this village,
between five and six hundred, were enthusiastic Liberals, disaffected
French--traitors, rebels or patriots, according to the point of view.
Sir John Colborne saw them in strong colours, and was determined on
their downfall, extermination if necessary. The defence was under
Dr. Chénier and Girod. The latter, a misguided Swiss adventurer, had
figured in several of the South American revolutionary wars, and later
was a protégé of Perrault the philanthropist; his career was one of
singular folly; he loved to appear in buccaneer style, affected the
manner and language of a dictator, and accented his doings by usually
riding a fine grey mare as his charger, which he had stolen from M.
Dumont, a loyal Canadian. The parish priest, M. Paquin, assisted by
his vicar, who read Colborne’s proclamation--a document not to be
misunderstood and not of a cheerful tenor--succeeded in persuading the
peasants to return to their homes in peace, that nothing but disaster
awaited them if they persisted, and as a result of such persuasions
but one solitary person was left to represent an insurgent garrison.
But some fifteen hundred from about the Brûlé soon replaced them,
some regularly armed, but most of them unarmed. M. Paquin now sent
for Chénier, expostulated with him and showed how his undertaking was
perilous and hopeless. Chénier was moved to tears, but he maintained
that the news of Wetherall’s victory at St. Charles was false; he
was resolved to die with arms in his hands. He and Girod turned the
ecclesiastics out of their house, making it another point of defence
and the church into a citadel. Many of the prudent were by now wending
their way towards Montreal; some arrests followed; and those who
remained and found themselves unarmed were assured by Chénier, “Be easy
about that; there will be men killed. You can take their muskets.”

A habitant from l’Isle Jésu brought word of the approach of the
troops, and soon Sir John Colborne’s two thousand men stood in the
valley which looked made but for the place of peace. The whole force,
field pieces, rocket mortar and train waggons, covered two miles of
roadway. The advance guard would have reached there with the habitant
had not the ice been unsafe, causing the men to make a detour to
Ste. Rose, thereby increasing the march by six miles. The water had
been open two days before, but to prove that it would bear, Colonel
Gugy--“a tall, majestic-looking gentleman who expressed himself in a
beautiful manner”--galloped from shore to shore. About noon all had
arrived, and as they neared the village and took up position their
numbers and character must have impressed the unhappy people with the
hopelessness of the coming conflict. The usual desertions began, until
Chénier, looking at one road full of his enemies and another full of
his retreating countrymen, addressed the few who remained with him:
“My brothers, behold advancing before you, to burn and destroy your
beautiful homes, the servile mercenaries of the despotic Government
which has enslaved your country.” And they in return cried the old
cry, “Liberty or Death.”... “We will never desert our wives and little
ones.” Officers in charge of divided squads put in a state of defence
the manor house, the presbytère, the convent and one villager’s house,
while Chénier, in person taking command of from sixty to eighty,
many of whom were still without arms, went to the church, where the
women and children had already fled. The last, for further safety,
he placed in the vaults underneath. The doors were then barricaded,
and the windows removed to convert the openings into loopholes. Thus
did they await the coming annihilation, “nor,” said a British officer
afterwards, “did they quail as our overwhelming force approached; they
raised one loud and shrill terrific cheer, and then all was still as
death till the cannonading and musketry began.” The field battery
opened fire; but there was no reply. At first it was supposed that the
place had been abandoned; but as another brigade came down the village
street a rattling fire poured from the church. It was evident they
meant to show fight. The howitzers tried to batter down the barricaded
doors, but without effect. Colonel Jackson, of the artillery, asked
for a surrender. The answer “was plucky but idiotic;” they pooh-poohed
the offer, and among other preparations took a cannon to the top of
the steeple. Then Jackson set his own gun, blew the steeple and all
that was in it down, and those below who ran out of the doors were
bayoneted. An officer who went into one of the empty houses close by
upset a stove and placed on the coals all the combustibles he could
find. In a moment the line of fire lengthened, and under cover of
the smoke Colonel Wetherall and his men came at the double down the
street; cavalry and still another regiment surrounded the village to
prevent chance of escape, with a further precaution of a corps of
volunteers spread out on the ice to pick off any unfortunate should he
get through such a double line. The envelopment of fire was completed.
The church and houses were now all ablaze. Driven by the flames the
unhappy defenders abandoned one position for another, only to find the
second worse. At the back of the church a small door leading into the
sacristy had been forced, and the soldiers, groping their way through
smoke and darkness, led by Colonel Gugy, were shot at by the few who
remained. Gugy was one of those wounded. The staircase was gone, and
another officer lighted a fire beneath the altar, got his men out,
and the cessation of shots within told the success of his work. The
simultaneous fire pouring on the French from all sides was liking
boiling water on an anthill. Men half-roasted, with bullets already
lodged in their miserable bodies, women creeping from the crypt, found
that what flame and bullet had spared the bayonet could finish. Chénier
and the few remaining, mad with despair, leaped from the windows into
the graveyard, and fought there anew with all the desperation of a
forlorn hope. A ball brought the leader down; but rallying his sinking
strength he rose, to be again shot, until, with the fourth bullet,
he rose no more--the blackened semblance of a man. He died “comme
un héros digne de la Grèce antique.” In the mêlée a few managed to
escape, but for a moment only; those who made for the ice were picked
off there, and those who fell on their knees and begged for quarter
heard “Jock Weir, remember Jock Weir.” By half-past four the work was
finished. Cannon and musketry had ceased, but the houses still burned;
the churchyard and the convent were heaped with dead, and the wounded,
burning alive, received now and then a merciful shot or a stab from a
bayonet. The village swine added yet another horror. “Pshaw,” said a
Scotch volunteer to a squeamish comrade, “it’s nothing but French hog
eating French hog.” Pathos was added to horrors, when it appeared that
the pockets of some of the youngest of the insurgents were full of
marbles--toys turned to missiles.

The air was insufferable, but in spite of it loot and pillage went on.
At Montreal, in the clear atmosphere of a Canadian December night, the
bright belt of illuminated sky told as plainly as telegraph that the
expedition had been a success. “Such a scene,” wrote a correspondent to
the press, “was never witnessed. It must prove an awful example. The
artillery opened fire at half-past one. Everything was over, except the
shooting of a few fugitives, by half-past three.”

Quite a different view of the case is found in official despatches.
Sir John Colborne writes to Lord Glenelg, 30th March, ’38: “On the
evening in which the troops took possession of St. Eustache, the loyal
inhabitants of that village and neighbourhood, anxious to return to
their homes and to protect the remainder of their property, followed
the troops; and I believe it is not denied that the houses which were
burnt, except those that were necessarily destroyed in driving the
rebels from the fortified church, were set on fire by the Loyalists of
St. Eustache and Rivière du Chêne, who had been driven from the country
in October and November.” And in a despatch from Glenelg to Lord
Durham, June 2nd, ’38, we find: “Having laid that despatch before the
Queen, Her Majesty has commanded me to desire Your Lordship to signify
to Sir J. Colborne, that while she deeply laments that any needless
severities should have been exercised by one class of Her Majesty’s
subjects against another, Her Majesty is gratified to learn, as she
fully anticipated, that her troops are in no degree responsible for any
of the excesses which unhappily attended the defeat of the insurgents
at St. Benoit and St. Charles, but that in the harassing service in
which they were engaged they maintained unimpaired their high character
for discipline and training.”

Certainly some of her officers did their best to make up for “needless
severity.” Colonel Gugy and Colonel Griffin afterwards were unwearied,
and in a measure successful, in their mediations between exasperated
nationalities. The former persuaded many at the time to return to
their houses, and priest and layman alike commended him in his rôle of
pacificator. Colborne appointed Colonel Griffin military magistrate,
with civil powers, in the County of Two Mountains, and in that office
he protected the weak, raised the fallen, and did much to assuage the
necessary horrors of civil war.

When the curé Paquin had begged the people to give in, Chénier’s wife
added her entreaties, saying there was no disgrace in surrendering
to such a superior force. But her husband had only fondly kissed
her, repeating that well-worn sentence, “La garde meurt mais ne se
rend pas,” bade her good-bye and sent her to a place of safety. One
tradition has it that a greater ordeal than farewell and death awaited
her. The usual terrors of the law were expended upon her scorched
remnant of a husband; the mutilated quarters lay tossed about in the
house of one Anderson, near the battlefield, and she was not allowed to
bury them. After a burial of some fashion she had the hardihood to seek
the remains, disinter and secrete them, and when opportunity came, in
the refuge of a friend’s garret, sew the parts together and have them
buried properly. The edge of romance is dulled when we read that there
was more of the hot head and mulish foot about Chénier than the hero;
but to the present day there is a local phrase, “Brave comme Chénier.”
The day after the battle Colborne’s chief officers declared that they
were obliged to despatch Chénier. A patriot dame standing by said none
but an English soldier was capable of killing a wounded man. The Abbé
Paquin declares that the mutilation of the body and the removal of the
heart were incidents in the _post mortem_, held by the desire of the
surgeons, to ascertain the precise wound of which he died, and the
historian De Bellefeuille corroborates his assertion. This scarcely
accounts for parading the heart about on the point of a bayonet, and
it is also pertinently asked, “Depuis quand ouvre-t-on les corps des
soldats tués sur un champ de bataille pour savoir de quoi ils sont
morts!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Terrified at the fate of St. Eustache, the inhabitants of St. Benoit
turned out to meet Sir John, a white flag displayed from every window.
At Ste. Scholastique they carried their emblems of submission in their
hands, white flags and lighted tapers, sinking on their knees in the
roadway as they presented them. At Carillon they did the same. Like the
three hundred men of Liége, “all in their white shirts and prostrate
on their knees praying for grace,” the crowd through which Colborne
passed presented the appearance of two distinct assortment of souls,
“... of the elect and of the damned.” There were but few of the elect
in this case. Arrests were made and the torch was applied, although
Christie says “He dealt with much humanity, dismissing most of them.”
Of Colborne it might be said, “Where he makes a desert, calls it
peace.” The Glengarry Highlanders met the troops at St. Benoit, and in
the succeeding burnings, according to Gore’s own words, “were in every
case, I believe, the instruments of infliction;” such irregular troops
were not to be controlled. “Many of those who served as volunteers,”
says Christie, “were persons who had been exceedingly ill-treated by
the patriots while in the ascendant.”

The ironical Bishop Lartigue now found it well to write another
pastoral. After all the carnage was over the voices of the clergy
generally were uplifted, this time thanking God that peace was
restored. “How now about the fine promises made by the seditious of the
wonderful things they would do for you?” asks this terrible bishop.
“Was it the controlling spirit of a numerical majority of the people
of this country, who, according to the insurgents, ought to have
sway in all things, that directed their military operations? Did you
find yourselves in a condition of greater freedom than before, while
exposed to all sorts of vexations, threatened with fire-raisings,
loss of goods, deprivation of life itself, if you did not submit to
the frightful despotisms of these insurgents, who by violent, not
persuasive means, caused more than a moiety of all the dupes they had
to take up arms against the victorious armies of our sovereign?”

No sooner had rebellion come to a head and French blood flowed than
France remembered where Canada was, and quickly learned much about
her. People were asking in wonderment what all the trouble could be.
The Gallican remembered his cousin-several-times-removed, and set
about helping him. One journal advised volunteers and auxiliaries,
and another made the oft-repeated comparison between Canada and
Ireland. Engraved copies of Papineau’s portrait adorned windows, and
biographical sketches of him appeared in the newspapers. _Le Journal
des Débats_ did not confine itself to printed sympathy, but suggested
that arms and ammunition should be smuggled into Canada and volunteers
enlisted to go there to help.

This sympathy spread far afield in Europe. At the Russian Emperor’s
birthday fête at New Archangel the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian
Naval Forces gave a splendid banquet, at the close of which “a
collection was made for the unfortunate patriots of Canada.” Without
exception, every one present contributed, with a result of 22,800
francs; and what is more, this sum was forwarded to its destination
by the Admiral himself. We hope he had more definite geographical
ideas than had the nearer French. Given a letter to post to Quebec,
before rebellion had brought it and its people prominently forward, a
post-office clerk in Paris gravely asked if it should go _via_ Panama
or Cape Horn.

And then France remembered that those who had returned at the time of
the Conquest said “it was very cold over there.”



Gallows Hill.

    “_Up then, brave Canadians! Get your rifles and make short work
    of it._”

    “_Canadians, rally round your Head,
    Nor to these base insurgents yield._”

    “_Sir Francis Bond Head’s entire government of Upper Canada was
    one long, earnest, undeviating opposition to the instructions of
    H. M. colonial ministers._”--BLAKE.


The winter of 1837, in England, was so severe that the mails were
conveyed in sleighs, even in the southern counties, a freak of nature
no doubt meant to put her in sympathy with the many million arpents
of snow by that time dyed in patches with good Canadian blood. In the
colony it set in stormily; but as December lengthened it became mild
and open throughout the country, until on the day of Gallows Hill that
month of storm had almost turned to the brightness and healthy beauty
of a Canadian June. The brilliant sunlight which was to burnish up the
arms of the men of Gore had power to convert the blackest landscape
into a thing of beauty--a scene peculiar to the land of shield of
crystal, golden grain and Italian sky. Straight from the Laurentian
Hills the sun turned his roses and purples on the bright tin spires of
parish churches, blazed in small squares of white-curtained habitant
windows, where weeping wives and mothers execrated the Dictator in
voluble patois, and glared on the blackened drama of Le Grand Brûlé.
The snow which made the background of that Lower Canadian picture
sparkled under the prismatic colours, and lit up the icy fragments like
the lustres of a chandelier. The mysterious bell of St. Regis sounded
its Angelus through the rosy atmosphere; the Caughnawagas, waiting but
a word to come forward in defence of their new Great Mother, grew a
deeper tint as, turned from the sunk sun, they knelt to their aves.
Farther on it touched on the cabins of Glengarry, where ninety-nine out
of every hundred men were variations of the name Macdonald, with only
a nickname--Shortnose, Longnose, Redhead or Mucklemou’--to distinguish
them; all busy furbishing up every available weapon, ready to follow
where they might be called. If one record profanes not their memory
some of them went out as infantry, to return as kilted cavalry; naught
but intervention of stern discipline prevented Jean Baptiste’s herds
being in front of the kilts on the return march; their genius as
linguists had failed when their Gaelic fell on patois-accustomed ears.

We follow the sun through the Thousand Islands, where it touched each
evergreen crest with glory to make a crown of isles for the great
pirate king, Bill Johnston, who had a trick of posing, blunderbuss in
hand, ready for attack; to the homes of the Bay of Quinte, where the
descendants of Rogers’ Rangers were ready for defence; to the winter
rainbows of the Niagara and the opaline ripples in La Traverse of the
St. Clair. It tinged the spiral columns of smoke which singly rose from
immigrant cabins and, mingling, turned to clouds of sweet-smelling
incense. It sank to rest in Huron, and the vast country over which
it had made its day’s journey lay behind it, angry, sullen, fearing,
uncertain, where, of the two dispensations, one was in throes of birth
and the other feared those of death.

Those scattered through this wide region who were in sympathy with
Lower Canada--and they were many--felt the discouragement of the
disaster of St. Charles. Yet they persevered, and read the results
there as an object lesson in the importance of military leadership. The
motto was, “The strength of the people is nothing without union, and
union nothing without confidence and discipline.” Alas, discipline they
had none; confidence was to fly as soon as the enemy appeared--what
mattered that if the enemy fled, too, no one was there to see; and as
for union, the recriminations of Rolph and Mackenzie, the coldness
of the Baldwin wing, the fighting within camp and without, all told
a tale of dissension. Sir Francis Bond Head’s own letter to Sir John
Colborne, in answer to the commander’s request for troops, shows how
completely that astute governor played into their hands had they been
but united and ready to take advantage of him. He would give up even
his sentry and orderlies, and by some political military Euclid of
his own invention “prove to the people in England that this Province
requires no troops at all, and, consequently, that it is perfectly
tranquil.... I consider it of immense importance, practically, to show
to the Canadas that loyalty produces tranquillity, and that disloyalty
not only brings troops into the Province, but also produces civil war.”
There is some key to his Euclid, all propositions not being fully
demonstrated; for he says, “I cannot, of course, explain to you all
the reasons I have for my conduct” (things equal to the same thing are
equal to anything). “I know the arrangements I have made are somewhat
irregular, but I feel confident the advantages arising from them will
be much greater than the disadvantages.”

Charles XII. was called Demirbash by the Turks--a man who fancies his
head made of iron, who may run amuck without any fear for his skull.
Sir Francis lost no opportunity to test the thickness and hardness of
his.

His troops gone, the militia disorganized and never out but for one
training day since 1815, he found his forces consisted of about three
hundred men, and the work before him was to overcome a bad, bold plot,
“which appears unequalled by any recorded in history since the great
conspiracy of Cataline for the subversion of Rome!”

“Must I stand and crouch under thy testy humour!” might have cried Sir
Francis; and quick as echo came the answer, “He’s but a mad lord, and
naught but humour sways him.”

Search through his literary contemporaries, from Galt, who calls him
the sly, downright author of the “Bubbles of the Brunnens,” to the
somewhat bilious sketches of “those dealers in opinions, journalists,”
confirms Lord Gosford’s saying that one of the essential elements of
fitness for office is to be acceptable to the great body of the people.
Sir Francis had a great reputation for literary smartness; he was on
excellent terms with himself, and there are a few other writers of his
time who have recorded things to his credit which are hard to believe
in the after-light of condensed history. But most people never tired of
either abusing or ridiculing him.

“‘Where are you from?’ asked a worthy but inquisitive landlord of
a distinguished traveller, evidently just from Downing Street, who
arrived in Canada at this solemn juncture. The testy Englishman made a
laconic reply, that he had come from a very hot place. ‘And where are
you going?’ continued Boniface. ‘To the devil,’ roared the traveller.
And then they knew he was going to dine with Sir Francis Bond Head.”

Phrenology was a popular study then, and it afforded opportunities to
those who never tired of punning in doggerel and skits on this Head.
The cranium must have presented a remarkable assemblage of bumps; for,
according to his many detractors and his few admirers, Sir Francis was
a remarkable man. Not that he required a Boswell or Anthony Hamilton to
say for him that which he was unequal to say for himself. There are no
blushes on the pages of either “Narrative” or “Emigrant.”

Friends and detractors alike agreed that he had a wonderful faculty
for sleep. According to himself, he was one of those felines who wait
for their prey, apparently soundly off, but in reality with one eye
open. When he came out it was thought the Whig ministry had let loose a
tiger upon the colony. All sorts of stories were rife about him; he was
placarded as a tried Reformer, much to his own surprise and amusement,
for he tells us himself his emotions on seeing the piece of news which
looked down on him from the posters, as he rode to Government House
on his arrival. Was he a Radical? was he really the “Galloping Head”?
had he ridden six thousand miles of the South American pampas, one
thousand of them at a stretch in eight days, and without the comfort of
galligaskins? He himself was at a loss to know why he had ever received
his appointment; but these questioners at the recital of his adventures
began to think that the post of lieutenant-governor in Upper Canada was
a prize of sufficient size to attract persons of first-rate abilities.
They required a man of statesmanlike sagacity and diplomatic shrewdness
for a position which was no sinecure, and Lord Glenelg had sent
them a rough rider. “Who _shall_ we send out as lieutenant-governor
to conciliate the discontented inhabitants of Upper Canada?” asked
the Cabinet. The Canadians wanted a governor, and they were sent a
political Puck. They thought it hard to have been given in Sir John
Colborne’s place but a Captain of Engineers. “Captains of Engineers,”
said one belonging to the same order, “are sometimes devilish clever
fellows.”

And so, in a sense, Head proved himself to be. He contrived to compress
into the two years of his Canadian life more mischief than could have
been accomplished by ten ordinary men. Rash, impetuous, inordinately
vain and self-conscious, dramatic, he was not only an actor who
took the world for his stage, but he was his own playwright, star,
support, claquer and critic; the stirring up of a rebellion was a mere
curtain-lifter to him; but, fortunately, if the vehicle of disaster
to the Province, he made his exit from it ignominiously. This was the
man who, at twelve o’clock on the night of December 4th, was awakened
and told for the third time that the enemy had really arrived and was
knocking at the door.

At one of the stopping-places of his former travels he had “felt his
patriotism gain force upon the plains of Marathon.” It now took the
persistent efforts of three messengers to oust him from a feather bed.
Colonel Moodie had lost his life trying to ride through the rebel
ranks to do this same service, and Colonel FitzGibbon lost no time
in warning all, governor and citizens alike. When Sir Francis was
inquired for at Government House at ten o’clock, Mrs. Dalrymple, his
sister-in-law, reported that the Governor was fatigued and already
asleep. FitzGibbon, restless and disturbed, feeling that he could never
sleep again, insisted; and the hero of active service in Spain, the
spectator of Waterloo and Quatre Bras, appeared in his dressing-gown,
concealed his irritation as best he might, and got back to bed as
quickly as possible. “What is all this noise about,” asked Judge Jonas
Jones, who also did not like disturbance; “who desired you to call me?
Colonel FitzGibbon? The zeal of that man is giving us a great deal of
unnecessary trouble.”

About an hour earlier, John Powell, a magistrate who had been busy
swearing in special constables, went on horseback with some other
volunteers to patrol the northern approaches to the city. At the
rise of the Blue Hill Mackenzie and two others were met, the first
armed with a large horse pistol, the others with rifles. Powell was
not only taken prisoner, but was told “they would let Bond Head know
something before long,” that “they had borne tyranny and oppression too
long, and were now determined to have a government of their own.” A
fellow-prisoner told Powell of the death of Colonel Moodie, put spurs
to his horse and managed to escape. Confident that the city’s safety
now depended on his own ability to elude his captors, Powell essayed to
do the same, but was told by one of them, Anderson, he “would drive a
ball through” him. Then followed the incident which has been described
as Anderson’s fall from his horse and picked up with neck broken, as
“an atrocious murder,” “a victim to Powell’s treachery,” and as a
self-deliverance from those whom he believed to be common assassins.
When questioned as to his arms he had replied that he had none, a
denial refuted shortly afterwards when he drew the pistols given him
by a bailiff on leaving the City Hall. Mackenzie had doubted his word,
but the statement was repeated. He replied, “Then, gentlemen, as you
are my townsmen and men of honour, I should be ashamed to show that
I question your word by ordering you to be searched.” Powell, in his
account, allows no such quixotic courtesy, and says he heard nothing
but mutterings of dissatisfaction. Then, not two feet from Anderson,
Powell suddenly reined back his horse, drew a pistol and fired. The
shot struck Anderson in the back of his neck; he fell like a sack--the
spinal cord was severed and death must have been instantaneous. To
wheel about, ride at a breakneck pace, pass Mackenzie himself, hear the
latter’s bullet whistle past him, turn in his saddle and snap a pistol
at Mackenzie’s face, dismount when he heard the clatter of following
hoofs, to hide behind a log, while the pursuer passed, to run down the
College Avenue, hugging the shadows as he went, until Government House
was reached, brought him where FitzGibbon and others, discomfited,
had failed to rouse this phenomenal sleeper. An hour before there had
been a moment’s consciousness with the ringing of the Upper Canada
College bell by the energetic hand of a youth named John Hillyard
Cameron; but on hearing that it was rung by Colonel FitzGibbon’s
command, the sleeper, like a marmot, turned over and went to sleep
again. Unceremoniously shaking majesty in its nightcap, Powell managed
to perform what Sir Francis, in his own account of the affair, calls a
sudden awakening. Months before, the Governor had said he awaited the
moment when Mackenzie should have “advanced within the short, clumsy
clutches of the law,” asking Attorney-General Hagerman to advise him of
the moment; he desired to wait until, in the name of law and justice,
he could “seize his victim.” A warrant of arrest for Mackenzie on the
charge of high treason had so far proved innocuous; now the mountain
was obliging enough to come to Mahomet, and Mahomet did not seem
inclined to hurry. Next to Bidwell, Mackenzie had most incurred his
enmity, they, with “other nameless demagogues,” being the branches of
“that plant of cancerous growth, revolution,” to which he would most
willingly apply his pruning-knife. And apply it unsparingly he did;
but for every twig lopped off he beheld a dozen hardy shoots springing
from the wound. Truly the colonial tree was a stubborn growth; no yew
or box-clipped fancy, its shaping was beyond his skill.

“Up, then, brave Canadians, get ready your rifles and make short work
of it,” had been the legend on Mackenzie’s hand-bills; and here he was
within a mile of the Governor and capital.

After a leisurely toilet, Sir Francis entrusted the care of his family
to faithful friends, who put them on board a boat lying in the bay.
Late as it was, navigation was not closed, and there was no sign of
the seals of winter upon the lake. Yet the air was intensely cold, and
the stars shone like diamonds as the Governor made his way over the
creaking, lightly snow-covered planks from Government House to the City
Hall. Every bell in the city was ringing with all its might.

    “Though cracked and crazy I have mettle still,
     And burst with anger at such treatment ill.”

The most monotonous and the shrillest note of the Carillon, in Head’s
own words, proclaimed “_... Murder, murder, murder, and much worse!_”
“What’s amiss?” “You are, and you do not know it;” or Lady Macbeth
might have been heard calling, “What’s the business, that such a
hideous trumpet calls to parley the sleeper of the house.”

The bells were distinctly heard at Gallows Hill. An occasional shot,
fired at random yet startling, pierced these impromptu chimes. The
rumours of the streets condensed at rallying points, where people told
of the rattle of Powell’s horse’s hoofs as he made his mad gallop from
Mackenzie to Head; of how hundreds, soon thousands, were at Gallows
Hill, ready to descend upon them; of how the city was defenceless, and
would the speaker and his friend enrol for its defence or not; how the
generally staid persons of the Chief-Justice and Judges Macaulay and
McLean, unusually excited, were seen with muskets on their shoulders;
how the third judge, Jonas Jones, was losing not a moment to get
some thirty volunteers to remain on guard at the toll gate on Yonge
Street for the night; how such young fellows as Henry Sherwood, James
Strachan, John Beverley Robinson, jun., were galloping about as aides,
appointed in a moment and eager in their master’s service; all were on
the alert, keeping vigil to a day of uproar and excitement.

At the market-house the Governor found assembled the force on which he
had to depend. It was not long before he was aware that one, at least,
was armed. A ball whistled through the room where he was closeted in
earnest talk with Judge Jones, and stuck in the wall close beside them.
Men, brimful of loyalty and agitation, were seen parading hurriedly in
front of the City Hall, a musket on either shoulder, hungering for an
enemy and afraid that he might come.

At sunrise Colonel FitzGibbon rode out to reconnoitre the position of
the invaders, and reported that they numbered some five hundred men, a
half-armed rabble without competent leader or discipline--a fit sequel
to that “volume of shreds and patches,” the grievance book; a set
of stragglers in an unfortified position. At eight, Sir Francis and
his comrades at the City Hall, after a nap taken on the floor, rose
to inspect and to be inspected, a group almost as sorry in military
appearance as the one reported on by FitzGibbon. The Governor had a
short double-barrelled gun in his belt and another on his shoulder;
as a kind of twin or complement to him, the Chief-Justice was armed
with thirty rounds of ball cartridge. Sir Francis made a brief but
animated address, to which the assemblage returned three cheers. A
few days before he had “requested an officer” to strengthen the fort
lying west of the city; accordingly, its earthworks were surrounded by
a double line of palisades, the barracks were loopholed, the magazine
stockaded, and a company of Toronto militia lodged there. But as “a
commander without troops,” the market-house--full of men, with its two
six-pounders “completely filled with grape shot,” furnished with four
thousand stand of arms, bayonets, belts and ball cartridge, brought
from the depot at Kingston shortly before--was more to Sir Francis’
mind than the empty fort would have been. Besides which, he states in
his own account, in the moral combat in which he was about to engage,
he would have been out of his proper element in a fort. “The truth is,”
he concludes, after disposing of many ill-natured remarks made about
him by persons unversed in even the rudiments of war, “if Mr. Mackenzie
had conducted his gang within pistol-shot of the market-house, the
whole of the surprise would have belonged to him.”

The “officer” who was “requested” to strengthen the fort was no doubt
Colonel Foster, Assistant Adjutant-General and Commander of the Forces
for some years before the Rebellion broke out. His name unaccountably
has been omitted from many of the chronicles of those times. He began
his military career in the 52nd Oxfordshire Regiment of Foot, and
during his colonial service he enjoyed the confidence of Lord Dalhousie
and Sir John Colborne. When the latter sent his celebrated request
for troops, Foster remonstrated, as it was well known to him, at any
rate, that a rebellion in Upper Canada was imminent. Foster was then
left in command “of the sentries, sick soldiers, and women and children
remaining in the fort.” A captain in the 96th at Lundy’s Lane, he was
no novice in Canadian requirements, and the letter quoted from Sir John
Colborne shows how he fulfilled his duty:

  “MONTREAL, May 18, 1838.

“MY DEAR COLONEL FOSTER,--I cannot quit Canada without bidding you
adieu and requesting that you will accept my sincere thanks for your
constant attention in the discharge of the duties of your Department
during the seven years which you passed at my military right hand in
Upper Canada. I assure you that the little trouble experienced by me in
my military command I attribute to your arrangements and punctuality.

  “With every wish for your happiness,
      “Believe me, my dear Colonel Foster,
                            “Sincerely yours,
                                      “J. COLBORNE.”

Colley Lyons Lucas Foster is described as a fine-looking man, of
commanding presence and thoroughbred manner, a true gentleman and a
thorough soldier of the Wellington type. His very cordial intercourse
with his beau ideal of a general was attested by many letters to him in
the Great Duke’s own handwriting.

But whatever Mackenzie’s wishes were, his “gang” had no notion of
getting anywhere so uncomfortably near. Yet, if there was to be
a fight, what was to be done; for it was hard indeed, after such
preparation, if the enemy would not come. “I will not fight them on
their ground,” said the Governor; “they must fight me on mine.” He
would not even allow the picket guard, withdrawn by Judge Jones at
daylight, to be replaced by Colonel FitzGibbon. “Do not send out a
man--we have not men enough to defend the city. Let us defend our
posts; and it is my positive order that you do not leave this building
yourself.” Notwithstanding which a picket of twenty-seven, under
the command of Sheriff Jarvis, was placed a short distance up Yonge
Street. Prior to taking position there, it was suggested that a flag
of truce should be sent--some accounts say from a humane desire on the
part of the Governor to prevent the shedding of blood; others say to
give time in which to allow answers to be returned to the expresses
which he promptly had sent to MacNab in Hamilton and Bonnycastle in
Kingston. In the faulty despatch sent to Glenelg relating the episode
he represents himself by that white ensign as “parentally calling
upon them to avoid the effusion of human blood,” having “the greatest
possible reluctance at the idea of entering upon a civil war;” while in
his after justification, “The Emigrant,” he says “The sun set without
our receiving succour or any intimation of its approach.” He was no
believer in “the fewer men the greater share of honour.”

The Sheriff had thought to ride out with the flag, but he had many sins
laid against him in the rebel repository of grievance, such as standing
at the polls, riding-whip in hand, to expedite the votes he approved
and discountenance others, and it was thought imprudent to allow him to
take the rôle of mediator. Mr. Robert Baldwin, not long returned from
a prolonged visit to Great Britain, at all times above suspicion as to
loyalty, a Reformer to the core, but as far removed from rebellion as
the Chief-Justice himself, together with Dr. Rolph--about whom there
were diverse opinions--were the final choice. Adjured by the Sheriff,
in the name of God, to go out to try “to stop the proceedings of these
men who are going to attack us,” the first man who was appealed to had
refused; the act would lay him open to suspicion. Rolph considered
that the Constitution was virtually suspended, and that Sir Francis
had no authority to send out the flag. As soon as it became known that
anything so novel was on the tapis excitement in the town merged into
curiosity, and all, from the smallest urchin up, crowded to see the
two start forth on their mission. A question which bids fair to remain
as unsolved as “The Lady or the Tiger” now had its beginning. We can
fancy the doctor pondering as he rode, “Am I politic? Am I subtle? Am I
a Machiavel?” Rather should he have remembered the late counsel of the
Keeper of the Great Seal, that the councillors should leave simulation
and dissimulation at the porter’s lodge. The dying testimony of Lount,
“He gave me a wink to walk on one side,” that the message should not
be heeded, the counter testimony of others that this took place at the
_second_ visit of the bearers, have furnished theme for pages, the
outcome of which is to mar or make whiter the character of one of the
most prominent, certainly the ablest, of the _dramatis personæ_ in that
_entr’acte_ of the rebellion, the Flag of Truce.

The point of the question is not, _Did_ Dr. Rolph wink, but, _When_
did he wink. If after his ambassadorial function was over, the act,
according to the rules which govern flags of truce, could not be taken
exception to. If whilst an ambassador, the case becomes one not of
ordinary manners and morals, but shows him as a double traitor.

Arrived at Gallows Hill--ominous title, a fitting one, thought the
Loyalists--the three on horseback, “_in solid_ _phalanx_” Hugh
Carmichael, the bearer, in the middle, Dr. Rolph, as spokesman, asked
what the insurgents wanted, said the Governor deprecated the effusion
of blood, and offered an amnesty if they would return to their homes.
The result of the conference which ensued was that no reliance was to
be felt in the bare word of Sir Francis; it must be in writing, that no
act of hostility would be committed in the time allowed for an answer;
that they demanded “independence and a convention to arrange details.”
Moreover, he was given until two o’clock only to decide.

The answer of these “infatuated creatures” had a curious effect. For
once Sir Francis declined to taunt with the license of ink. His nerves
were much steadied by the report of undisciplined, unarmed hundreds,
instead of thousands eager for carnage, brought back by the truce
party; and letters stating that volunteers bound for his aid were on
the way enabled him to disregard what in courtesy would be due to
his agents. He curtly told them his refusal, and they made a third
trip to report him to his enemy. Baldwin then returned to his wonted
retirement, and Rolph busied himself in preparation for the result of
his advice--“Wend your way into the city as soon as possible at my
heels”--by at once seeing the Radicals in town and instructing them to
arm themselves, as Mackenzie was on the road. “Why do you stand here
with your hands in your breeches pockets? Go, arm yourselves how you
can; Mackenzie will be in immediately!”--an event for which he did not
wait. Some time before, Judge Jonas Jones had said that Dr. Rolph had
a vile democratic heart, and ought to be sent out of the Province.
Mr. Baldwin, riding away, heard cheers, but did not know the cause.
Four weeks later, writing of the event, he says: “Whether under the
circumstances I acted judiciously in undertaking the mission, I know
not. One thing I know, that what I did I did for the best, and with the
sincerest desire of preventing as far as possible the destruction of
life and property.”

But Mackenzie was busy setting fire to Dr. Horne’s house. Its only
guard was a very large and handsome Newfoundland dog which formerly had
been patrol for Bonnycastle on the beach which skirted his isolated
cottage on the bay, a beach much frequented by smugglers and other
idlers. The brute valiantly defended his new beat, but without avail.
After a series of capers which caused some of his followers to say that
little Mac. was out of his head and unfit to be left at large, an end
was made of the dog, and the fire was lighted.

A messenger was now sent after the dilatory general by Rolph, who,
like the mother of Sisera, was sick at heart to know what hindered the
wheels of his chariot. The messenger was a young fellow named Henry
Hover Wright, one of Rolph’s students, just arrived from Niagara and
full of wonder at being met on the wharf by armed men. The only guard
he encountered on Yonge Street was one man--rebel--armed with a fusil.
Wright passed him, asking why they did not come. The answer was, “We
cannot go until General Mackenzie is ready.” The latter at that moment
was busy ordering away a new-comer, saying, “I don’t know you, and
there are too many friends,” and particularly busy in his endeavour
to get dinner and supper for the men. Mounted on a small white horse,
from which vantage he incessantly harangued his followers, he told them
he would be commander-in-chief as Colonel Van Egmond had not arrived.
Van Egmond did not arrive until the Thursday, when Mackenzie, after
breakfasting with him, threatened to shoot him.

Expostulating with those who would not advance upon the city in
daylight, and exhorting those who had equal objections to the dark,
the leader has been variously described: “Storming and swearing like a
lunatic, and many of us felt certain he was not in his right senses. He
abused and insulted several of the men without any shadow of cause, and
Lount had to go round and pacify them by telling them not to pay any
attention to him”--(the commander-in-chief)--“as he was not responsible
for his actions.” “If we had locked him up in a room at the tavern,”
says the naïve chronicler, “and could then have induced Lount to lead
us into the city, we should have overturned the government without
any fighting worth talking about.” “Once or twice,” says another, “I
thought he was going to have a fit.”

No help from outside had as yet arrived in Toronto. After refreshment
to the inner rebel had been successfully accomplished by the united
efforts of Lount and Mackenzie, the latter’s white mount was exchanged
for a big horse taken from some loyalist prisoner. At that juncture had
the movement been persevered in, with Lount prominently directing it,
there is every reason to suppose that the arms, ammunition and money
in the town would have been theirs--also that they would have captured
Sir Francis himself, “unless,” indeed, as the _London and Westminster
Review_ said, “he had run away.” “All who will reflect on the nature of
civil war,” it said, “must see the fearful odds which a day’s success
and the possession of the capital and its resources would have given
the rebels. For their not obtaining it we have no reason to thank Sir
Francis Head.”

“I told them,” (the men) says Mackenzie in his own account of his brief
harangue, “that I was certain there could be no difficulty in taking
Toronto, that both in town and country the people stood aloof from Sir
Francis, that not one hundred men and boys could be got to defend him,
that he was alarmed and had got his family on board a steamer, that six
hundred Reformers were ready waiting to join us in the city, and that
all we had to do was to be firm, and with the city would so at once go
down every vestige of foreign government of Upper Canada.”

“If your honour will but give us arms,” cried a voice from the ranks
before Sir Francis, “sure the rebels will find the legs.”

In the next hour both sides were to find they had their full complement
of these useful limbs.

“To fight and to be beaten,” says Dafoe, “is a casualty common to all
soldiers.... But to run away at the sight of an enemy, and neither
strike nor be stricken, this is the very shame of the profession.”
About sundown the rebels, between seven and eight hundred strong,
began their march, half of them armed with green cudgels, cut on the
way, the riflemen in the van followed by two hundred of the pikemen. A
score or so had old and rusty muskets and shot-guns. Most of them wore
a white badge on the sleeve. Three abreast they went, Lount at their
head, “Mackenzie here, there and everywhere.” They moved steadily and
without mishap, taking prisoner some chance wayfarers and an officer of
loyalist artillery, until the head of the column neared a garden, where
Sheriff Jarvis and his picket of twenty-seven lay in wait for them.
The sheriff gave the word to fire. This his men remained to do, then
speedily stood not upon the order of their going, but went at once in
haste, and ran into the city. The sheriff called to them to stop, but
they were beyond his voice and control; whereupon he probably thought
“I’ faith, I’ll not stay a jot longer,” and followed them.

It was a random volley, but it spread consternation. Lount ordered it
to be returned, which was done, but in such fear and trepidation that
had the others waited to receive it they might have been still safe.
Lount and the men in front fell flat on their faces to allow those
behind them an opportunity to fire. But this the latter had no mind
to do, thinking the fall due to the bullets of the picket. “We shall
all be killed,” cried the Lloydtown pikemen, throwing down their rude
weapons. In Mackenzie’s words, “They took to their heels with a speed
and steadiness of purpose that would have baffled pursuit on foot.” In
a short twenty minutes not one of either side was to be found within
range of the toll-bar or of each other. The one man killed in the
affair was a rebel, done to death from the rear by a nervous and too
willing comrade. Mackenzie implored, he coaxed and he threatened, and
in such strong language did he treat this retreat that one man from
the north, provoked beyond endurance, raised his gun to shoot the
commander-in-chief, when a third prevented him.

“I was enabled by strong pickets,” wrote Sir Francis after this,
“to prevent Mr. Mackenzie from carrying into effect his diabolical
intention to burn the city.”

It was now time to look for some support in answer to the appeals for
help sent by special messengers on the Monday evening. One messenger
went by land; while another, to make certain, took the water route.

Bonnycastle, indiscriminately dubbed captain or major, was sitting
quietly in his home in Kingston, tired after an afternoon spent at the
new fort in providing against fire or surprise, when some one, in a
state of great excitement, ran into his study to say the steamboat
_Traveller_ had arrived from Toronto with Sir Francis Head and all who
had been able to escape from that city on board; Toronto was taken by
Mackenzie and burnt. Bonnycastle says he “buckled on his armour” and
went to consult the commandant of their little garrison--eleven or
twelve artillerymen--as to what was best to be done in such a dreadful
emergency. Not two steps on his way he was met by a second breathless
messenger, followed by a crowd of eager neighbours, who took advantage
of the open hall door to come in to hear the news. This second express
was to say that the only cargo on board was a letter for Bonnycastle,
but that a serious outbreak had occurred. The letter was an order to
send stores to Toronto, to arm all loyal persons in Kingston, and to
preserve intact the depot and fortress--a work which he did so well
that it earned him his knighthood.

The bearer of the duplicate despatch by land had a more difficult
journey. He was narrowly searched and examined by the rebels en route,
but while his companion was being taken prisoner he sewed his despatch
in his sleeve, and by his activity arrived at his destination the
same night as, but later than, the _Traveller_. It was two o’clock on
the Monday when Colonel MacNab, in Hamilton, received Sir Francis’
statement, that he, with a few followers, was in the market place
of his capital, threatened by Mackenzie and his band of rebels.
MacNab lost no time in answering this appeal for help in a way quite
consistent with every other detail of that gentleman’s life given to
the public. He mounted his horse, rode to the wharf, seized the first
steamer he found lying there, put a guard on board her, sent messengers
off to the farmers and yeomen on whom he felt he could rely, and by
five o’clock was sailing with his sixty men of Gore; a thousand of
them had but lately gathered before Sir John Colborne to testify to
their sentiments on Mr. Hume’s baneful domination letter. That letter,
calculated to further excite those already discontented, was a blessing
in disguise, since it had stirred into active life half dormant
sentiments of loyalty, and made brighter those already bright.

But of the thousands then preparing for a tramp to converge at Toronto,
through dark forest and over corduroy and half frozen swale, the
market-place and Sir Francis himself were not, as his writings assert,
the objective points. Many who left wives, families and farms and who
found themselves in the loyalist ranks at Gallows Hill, had no such
loyal intention when they left home.

Sir Francis, sitting forlorn enough in his market-place, was with his
admirers discussing the situation by the light of a tallow candle,--a
Rembrandt picture, from the shadows of which stand forth many familiar
faces, when, as with Bonnycastle and King Richard III., two or three
breathless messengers burst in upon them to announce the men of Gore.
Steamers and schooners--containing not only the young and venturesome,
but the advanced in years, as the Honourable William Dickson, then in
his sixty-eighth year--now began to arrive, and the city, in spite of
the motley appearance of some cargoes, seemed transformed at a stroke
from an excited and frightened community into a vast barrack or camp.
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, there was no longer need
into a thousand parts to divide one man and make imaginary puissance,
for by that time they were so increased that it became imperative to
make an attack. Their number embarrassed those in command, and it was
difficult to find accommodation for them. At midnight Sir Francis put
MacNab in charge; by the following sunset more than twelve hundred
armed men were at his service. A council was held at Archdeacon
Strachan’s, at which it was resolved to attack the rebels on Thursday
morning. Evidently with changed circumstances and advisers Sir Francis
had changed his mind; he was no longer averse to seeking his enemy on
the latter’s ground. Four days before this, Attorney-General Hagerman
had declared his belief that not fifty men in the province would attack
the Government; now he announced that everything depended on the
Government’s power of attack.

But the council was not held without its own storm. FitzGibbon, much
MacNab’s superior in military knowledge and experience, his senior in
every way, heard, for the first time, of the other gentleman’s midnight
promotion, and advanced his own superior claims with no uncertain
voice. MacNab wanted to make the attack at three in the morning;
FitzGibbon contended it was impossible “to organize the confused mass
of human beings then congregated in the city during night-time,” that
such an attempt would ruin them, for the “many rebels then in the city
(were) only waiting the turn of affairs to declare themselves.” The
meeting over, another and semi-secret conclave arranged that MacNab
should be relieved and that FitzGibbon should take his place. “It was
now broad daylight, and I had to commence an organization of the most
difficult nature I had ever known. I had to ride to the Town Hall and
to the garrison and back again, repeatedly; I found few of the officers
present who were wanted for the attack. Vast numbers of volunteers were
constantly coming in from the country without arms or appointments of
any kind, who were crowding in all directions in my way. My mind was
burning with indignation at the idea of Colonel MacNab, or any other
militia officer, being thought of by his Excellency for the command,
after all I had hitherto done for him. My difficulties multiplied upon
me. Time, of all things the most precious, was wasting for want of
officers, and for the want of most of my men from the Town Hall, whose
commander was yet absent, till at length the organization appeared
impossible. I became overwhelmed with the intensity and contrariety
of my feelings. I walked to and fro without object until I found the
eyes of many fixed upon me, when I fled to my room and locked my door,
exclaiming audibly that the province was lost and that I was ruined,
fallen. For let it not be forgotten that it was admitted at the
conference at the Archdeacon’s the evening before that if the attack
of the next day should fail the province would be lost. This, however,
was not then my opinion, but I thought of my present failure after the
efforts I had made to obtain the command, and the evil consequences
likely to flow from that failure; and I did then despair. In this
extremity I fell upon my knees and earnestly and vehemently prayed to
the Almighty for strength to sustain me through the trial before me. I
arose and hurried to the multitude, and finding one company formed, as
I then thought providentially, I ordered it to be marched to the road
in front of the Archdeacon’s house, where I had previously intended to
arrange the force to be employed. Having once begun, I sent company
after company, and gun after gun, until the whole stood in order.”

The Governor moved his headquarters from the market-place to the
Parliament buildings, and issued his orders from there. Colonel MacNab,
in recompense for his withdrawal, was given command of the main body.

The force, drawn up “in order of battle” on the street and esplanade
by the Archdeacon’s house, only numbered some eleven hundred men,
and those whom they were about to attack were considerably less.
But the interests at stake, the results involved, their historical
significance, remove from the affair that ludicrous view attached to it
by unthinking persons as a kind of mimic battle, in keeping with “the
mimic king,” the Governor, and “the mimic Privy Council,” the Executive.

About eleven o’clock, his Excellency, surrounded by his staff, galloped
up, and was received with three hearty British cheers. Immovable in his
saddle, he looked with pride, not unmixed with relief, at the picture
before him, wondering why, now they were so well got together, they did
not proceed, when an officer galloped up and said it was the wish of
the militia that the Governor himself should give the word of command.
He did so, and in the bright summer-like sunshine, not a cloud in the
blue sky above them, the two bands playing, arms and accoutrements
flashing unpleasant signals to those awaiting them on Gallows Hills,
people in windows and on housetops cheering them and waving small flags
and those not in sympathy remaining discreetly silent, they went off at
his bidding.

“This,” says Colonel FitzGibbon, “was the only command he (Sir Francis)
gave till the action was over.”

By now the name rebel was almost as odious as some others, very high
in dignity, had recently been. There is not a doubt that much of the
cheering came from that ignorance of the point at issue which made
Solicitor-General Blake in after years say, “I confess I have no
sympathy with the would-be loyalty ... which, while it at all times
affects peculiar zeal for the prerogative of the Crown, is ever ready
to sacrifice the liberty of the subject. That is not British loyalty.
It is the spurious loyalty which at all periods of the world’s history
has lashed humanity into rebellion.”

The curious, and those who were anxious to see the result of the fight
as the turning point to decide which side of their coat of two colours
should be displayed, followed, like the tail of a comet, the vanishing
point of splendour. One militia colonel came prepared to contribute
two fat oxen to the rebel cause; they made equally good beef for the
loyalists. Another colonel presented the patriots with a sword, pistol
and ammunition--a much worse kind of soldier than the man who wears a
uniform and will not fight. There were the actively loyal, the actively
rebellious, and the connecting link of such as were passively either or
both.

All went merry as a marriage bell, and indeed the chronicle says one
might fancy they were all bound for a wedding. To what Sir Francis
calls “this universal grin” was added the solemn face of many a
minister of religion, headed by the Archdeacon himself, a man as well
fitted by nature to wear the sword as the mitre.

“Our men are with thee,” said the Reverend Egerton Ryerson; “the
prayers of our women attend thee.” The clergymen withdrew at the first
exchange of shots. “They would willingly have continued their course,
but with becoming dignity they deemed it their duty to refrain.”

This was all very real, very serious to us. Yet a Scottish paper said
that Canada was still more wonderful than the Roman state; that the
latter was saved by the cackling of a flock of geese, the former by the
cackling of one. Who that one was it were unkind to say. The anger of
the Scotch editor is divided between Head, MacNab and FitzGibbon. “Men
eaten up of vanity are they all,” he finishes.

At the rebel camp the morning had been frittered away like the
preceding day--desertions, hopes of reinforcements disappointed,
Mackenzie’s plans called stark madness by Van Egmond, Van Egmond
threatened to be shot by Mackenzie, the Tories reported by friends from
town as ensconced behind feather beds from behind which they would fire
and make terrible slaughter if the Reformers once got into the streets,
new officers appointed--one of whom was to leave his post the moment he
caught sight of the enemy--false alarms brought in by scouts, until at
last Silas Fletcher rushed up to say that the cry of “wolf” had ceased,
and the wolf had arrived.

“Seize your arms, men! The enemy’s coming, and no mistake! No false
alarm this time!” Van Egmond and Mackenzie mounted their chargers, and
soon saw what seemed an overwhelming force passing the brow of Gallows
Hill. The strains of “Rule Britannia” and “The British Grenadiers” came
wafted in unpleasant bursts of melody.

The bell had rung and the curtain was about to go up.

The most formidable part of the army consisted of the two cannon in
charge of Major Carfrae of the militia artillery. At St. Eustache the
French had thought “Le bon Dieu est toujours pour les gros bataillons;”
here, also, the God of battles, to whose care “the bold diocesan”
commended them, was on the side of those who had most artillery.
The day before, a party of rebels on warfare bent had encountered a
stranded load of firewood, which imagination and the uncertain light
turned into a gun loaded to the muzzle with grape or canister. The
sight of it caused them to skip fences, like squirrels, to right
and left, a dispersion which no effort of their officers could
withstand. Now the real thing began to play, and the woods rang to its
reverberations. The fringe of pine trees on the western side of the
road suffered if nothing else did; huge splinters were torn from them
and hurled here and there, as destructive as any missile. The hidden
men were protected by bushes and brush heaps, but the rushing of balls
and crashing of trees made enough uproar to cause death by fright. The
cannon were then moved farther up the roadway, their muzzles directed
to the inn; two round shot, and like bees from a hive the rebels
came pouring out, “flying in all directions into the deep, welcome
recesses of the forest.” Their prisoners, until then kept in the inn,
fortunately had been conducted out by the back door some moments before
and given their liberty. It now became a question to preserve their own.

The right wing of the loyalist force, under command of Colonel S. P.
Jarvis, had meanwhile been moving by by-ways and fields half a mile
eastward, the left, under Colonel Chisholm, Judge McLean and Colonel
O’Hara, moving westward to converge at Montgomery’s.

Young Captain Clarke Gamble, of the latter wing, felt sure his
directions “to proceed until beyond the tavern, wheel to the right
and take it while the column attacked in front,” had been complied
with; he did so turn, and felt his way through several clearings,
examining every building and shelter himself. He reached a grove of
second-growth pine and other wood when the sound of the first gun,
trained on the doomed tavern, greeted him. The company had now reached
the high rail fence which bounded Montgomery’s property on that side,
fencing a field full of stumps, one of them very large. The young
captain climbed the dividing line, calling on his men to follow. They
were in time to see rebels in front and right and left of them running
from the house just struck, some of them stopping to discharge their
rifles at the men so singularly well displayed for their benefit
upon the fence. From three or four between the rails the fire was
returned, but the shots on each side fell harmless. A man then ran
from Yonge Street, and as he passed the large stump, squatted behind
it, took what seemed to be a very deliberate aim at Captain Gamble,
his eyes and a line of forehead all that could be seen between the
stump and the top of his cap. One of Gamble’s company, a coloured man
named Boosie, sprang forward, saying, “Shall I shoot him, captain!”
Without waiting for a reply he did so, reloaded, and called out to a
fellow-soldier, young Gowan, a student-at-law, to bear him out that he
“had shot that rebel.” Judge McLean, hearing shots from his position
nearer the tavern, came up with another company at the double quick,
his heightened colour, flashing eye and cool, erect bearing becoming
him better in his soldier dress than even in his robes of office. “Oh,
Gamble, that’s you, is it? All right,” was all he permitted himself,
and disappeared. Between the time of looking into the barrel of the
rifle pointed at him from behind the stump, and the crack of Boosie’s
musket, which told of a life taken on his account, the seconds seemed
long to the captain. He reformed his company, and on passing the dead
man, Ludwig Wideman, the thrifty Boosie said, “Can I take his rifle,
captain?” took it, and continued his victorious march to the inn with
a gun on each shoulder, the proudest and happiest man, white or black,
in the force--“not even exceeded by Sir Francis himself.” In the centre
of the dead man’s forehead was a pink record of Boosie’s good aim. To
the captain’s surprise he recognized in Wideman a client who had but
lately been in his office and from whom he had parted with a firm shake
of the hand. It is more than likely that when Wideman was taking his
aim he had recognized Captain Gamble, and in the hesitation following
had given the minute which lost him his own life and saved his legal
adviser’s. The proud negro constituted himself his captain’s body-guard
for the rest of that day. “I believe we must leave the killing out when
all is done;” and this, according to Dent, was the “death roll” of
Montgomery’s or Gallows Hill battle.

The full force was too much for the insurgents. The whole affair was
of not more than a half hour’s duration, and after some perfunctory
firing, a number of the “embattled farmers” standing about inactively
and wishing themselves anywhere but at Thermopylæ, the outcome was
confusion to the one side and a well followed-up victory on the other.
The wounded were tenderly picked up and carried off in carts to the
hospital; and Sir Francis, followed by the flower of his army, went in
pursuit of his flying subjects, to give his second word of command.
Before he could do so, Judge Jones, by now as full of “over-zeal” as
FitzGibbon himself, with a comrade who was noted as a splendid officer
and was known as handsome Charlie Heath, was trying to ride in at the
open door of the tavern. MacNab, thinking Jones was some prominent
rebel, promptly gave the word to “shoot me that man.” But some one in
the ranks, not so zealous, cried, “Don’t fire, it’s Judge Jones,” and
so saved the Judge’s life.

Two prisoners were now brought before his Excellency, who sat upon his
horse by the raised platform at the inn door. By his account, they were
arrantly frightened and gazed at the adjacent trees wondering which
ones they might be sent to decorate. But the dramatic Sir Francis was
fond of strong contrasts, he was a masterhand at light and shade.
These two were all that remained of Mackenzie’s army. So, after a
little homily, he pardoned them “in their sovereign’s name.” The
unhappy men nearly fainted, unable at once to take advantage of their
freedom.

The Governor next deemed it expedient to mark by some stern “act of
vengeance the important victory which had been achieved.” He forthwith
took a leaf out of his enemy’s book of tactics, and burned what his
detractors call the “houses of private citizens,” what he calls the
place “long the rendezvous of the disaffected;” the floors of one
“stained with the blood of Colonel Moodie,” “the fortress” from which
Her Majesty’s subjects had been fired upon.

He gave the order to fire the premises. “The heaps of dirty straw on
which he (Mackenzie) and his gang had been sleeping” acted as good
kindling; the furniture of the house, piled with it, soon set fire
to the great structure of timber and planks. The deep black smoke
poured from the windows, and the “long red tongues sometimes darted
horizontally, as if revengefully to consume those who had created
them, then flared high above the roof.” The heat was intense, but
to those “gallant spirits that immediately surrounded it,” seated
on their horses, was a “subject of joy and triumph, and ... a lurid
telegraph which intimated to many an aching heart in Toronto the joyful
intelligence that the yeomen and farmers of Upper Canada had triumphed
over their perfidious enemy ‘responsible government.’” But it was only
scotched.

Sir Francis, by way of balancing aching hearts in Toronto with a few in
the country, now carried the fire-brand farther afield. He commanded
a detachment of forty men to ride up Yonge Street to fire the house
of a farmer who was most objectionable to him. On the way they met
Colonel FitzGibbon, Captain Halkett and others, returning after a
fruitless pursuit of Mackenzie. The order did not please FitzGibbon,
but he was forced to let them pass. Presently, Captain Strachan,
eldest son of the Archdeacon, came in headlong haste to countermand
the order; Sir Francis had had a qualm. It passed; and reining in his
horse, the Governor sent for the Colonel himself, and reissued his
directions. “Already,” writes the latter, “I had seen with displeasure
the smoke arising from the burning of Montgomery’s house, which had
been set on fire after I had advanced in pursuit of Mackenzie, and I
desired to expostulate with his Excellency, but he quickly placed his
right hand on my bridle arm, and said, ‘Hear me. Let Gibson’s house
be burned immediately, and let the militia be kept here until it is
done,’ exactly repeating his order; and then he set spurs to his
horse, and galloped towards town.” “It was now late in the afternoon,”
continues FitzGibbon, “and the house was nearly four miles distant. I
then commanded Lieut.-Colonel Duggan to take command of a party which
I wheeled out of the column and countermarched, and see the house
burned; when he entreated me not to insist on his doing so, for that
he had to pass along Yonge Street almost daily, and he probably would
on some future day be shot from behind a fence. I said, ‘If you will
not obey orders you had better go home, sir.’ Again he spoke, and I
then ordered him to go home; but he continued to express his reasons
for objecting, and I said, ‘Well, I will see the duty done myself,’ and
I did so, for I had no other officer of high rank near me to whom I
could safely entrust the performance of that duty; and with the party
I advanced and had the house and barns burned at sunset.” Mrs. Gibson,
the farmer’s wife, and her four young children, found shelter in the
house of a neighbour, and from there she beheld the soldiers riding
about with her precious poultry and porkers slung across their saddle
bows, the walls of her happy home going up in smoke and flame to the
rosy sunset sky above them, not knowing where her husband was. She was
destined not to see him until she joined him in Rochester, to which
town he, with so many others, escaped.

In his despatch which related his heroism Sir Francis tempered his own
acts with words likely to cast odium, where any might arise, on the
militia. “The militia advanced in pursuit of the rebels about four
miles, till they reached the house of one of the principal ringleaders,
Mr. Gibson; which residence it would have been impossible to save, and
it was consequently burned to the ground.”

Sir Francis would have done better to stand by his acts or to have
had the prudence to recall and destroy all his former writings before
transcribing anew, since by his writings is he most condemned.

Meanwhile, more prisoners had been taken, and he was in time to see and
exhort them, and also to see that proper care was taken of the wounded,
insurgent as well as his own followers. They were placed in carts and
taken to the hospital, and the body of Wideman given to his cousin for
interment. Some of the Loyalists were galloping about, seated behind
the living decorations of their saddle bows, and others bore the flags
taken out of Montgomery’s burning house. One of these, a large red
one, had on one side, “Victoria 1st and Reform,” and on the other,
“Bidwell and the Glorious Minority, 1837 and a Good Beginning.”[3] It
was supposed that this had been intended to take the place of the flag
flying from Government House staff, which was not always the same one,
for the latter was thriftily managed to reverse the proverb and temper
the flag to the wind; large, when it hung motionless in the burning
heat of summer, or was a flag poudré by drifting snows, and reduced to
a British Jack no larger than a lady’s pockethandkerchief when there
was a high blow. There were several others in the rebel group; one
decorated with stars, another with stripes, and yet another of plain
white, which was useless, since Sir Francis had supplied that article
of signal.

Among the men admonished were some as loyal as the soldiers who
arrested them, but the advance guard had assumed that all they met
were rebels, and deprived them of liberty accordingly. One was a youth
named William Macdougall, who, after the manner of boys, left his
uncle’s farm-house, where he happened to be making a visit, so that he
might see whatever was going on. The uncle tried to break through Sir
Francis’ exordium with explanations, but that flow, like Iser running
rapidly, was not easily stopped. Sir Francis was sorry to see such a
respectable youth in such company, and directed uncle and nephew to
return to their allegiance. This drew forth a spirited reply, and the
Governor rode away.

Sir Francis tells of a woman whose screams came from the direction
of the militia, where he quickly sought her. His intended kindness
only hastened the catastrophe. “For some reason or other, probably,
poor thing, because her husband, or brother, or son had just fled with
the rebels, she was in a state of violent excitement, and she was
addressing herself to me, and I was looking her straight in the face
and listening to her with the utmost desire to understand, if possible,
what she was very incoherently complaining of, when all of a sudden she
gave a piercing scream. I saw her mind break, her reason burst, and no
sooner were they thus relieved from the high pressure which had been
giving them such excruciating pain than her countenance relaxed; then,
beaming with frantic delight, her uplifted arms flew round her head,
her feet jumped with joy, and she thus remained dancing before me--a
raving maniac.” He had this sight, and the sinister blessing invoked on
his head by Mrs. Gibson, to further cheer him.

He fought his battle, came home, and by four o’clock published his
proclamation wherein, after giving much information on the definition
of traitor and loyalist and bidding them leave punishment to the law,
he offered a reward of £1000 to anyone who would apprehend and deliver
William Lyon Mackenzie up to justice, and £500 each for Lount, Gibson,
Jesse Lloyd and Silas Fletcher, with a free pardon to the one who
should so deliver his man, provided he had not been guilty of murder or
arson.

If the last should be punished by law, Sir Francis became outlaw by his
own proclamation.

But Mackenzie, leaving behind him his carpet-bag of papers--calculated
to assist in the hanging of many persons--was by that time seeking
safety in flight. The “rolls of revolt,” and certain criminatory
documents found with them, gave the address of every insurgent and
incriminated many persons hitherto unsuspected.

“So unwilling was Mackenzie,” says one eye-witness, “to leave the
field of battle, and so hot the chase after him, that he distanced the
enemy’s horsemen only thirty or forty yards by his superior knowledge
of the country, and reached Colonel Lount and his friends on the
retreat just in time to save his neck.” He not only saved his own
neck, but left behind him a directory in that padlocked carpet-bag to
expedite the search for those whom he had deserted. Small wonder that
many women cursed him as the cause of all their domestic unhappiness.

Standing by the belt of wood occupied by his own men, he heard the
word pass that the day was lost. He ran across a ploughed field,
encountering by the way a friend who inquired how things were going,
and Mackenzie’s blanched face gave a direct denial to his hurried “all
right.” At the side-line where young Macdougall happened to be when
on his way to the seat of war, his footsteps hastened by the sound of
cannonading, a horse stood saddled and bridled, evidently left there
as a precaution for someone. Women and children, terrified enough at
what they saw, more so at what they feared, were hurrying northward,
filling the air with their cries. While Macdougall was trying to
explain away their fears he saw a little man rush down a lane, mount
and ride swiftly away. There was blood on the man’s hand, doubtless
his own from a wound he had given himself on the Friday night, when
trying to extract one of Sheriff Jarvis’ pistol bullets from the toe of
a comrade. He had been so nervous that his shaking hand made him gash
himself, and the cutting out had to be done by Judah Lundy. Probably
the wound in the hand had reopened when he was scrambling over the
intervening fences and bushes.

    “Oh, God of my country! they turn now to fly--
     Hark, the eagle of Liberty screams in the sky,”

says Mackenzie’s muse in one place, and before this,

    “Yes, onward they come, like the mountain’s wild flood,
     And the lion’s dark talons are dappled in blood.”

Again he says, “I am proud of my descent from a rebel race, who held
borrowed chieftains, a scrip nobility, rag money and national debt in
abomination.”

He himself was now the one flying, and the lion’s talons left off
dappling in blood to try to get him within their clutches, while
he showed the truth of the third quotation by returning to first
principles and displaying another Highland indication--petticoats.
Earlier in the day a lady on her way through Toronto to Cornwall
had been in the stage when he stopped it to intercept the news of
Duncombe’s rising, and to seize the general contents of the mail-bags.
With a pistol at her head he had possessed himself of her portmanteau,
and in the contents was enabled later to disguise himself. He was
described in Sir Francis’ reward for his apprehension as a “short man,
wears a sandy-coloured wig, has small twinkling eyes that can look no
man in the face....” At the Golden Lion, about ten miles above the
city, he overtook Colonel Anthony Van Egmond, and they agreed to make
at once for the Niagara frontier. But the colonel was taken and only
Mackenzie escaped. In those mail bags he had been made a sorry dupe by
Mr. Isaac Buchanan, who anticipated that they would be so robbed. The
mail contained two decoy letters from him, representing matters in the
beleaguered city in a most flourishing condition, letters which were
read by Mackenzie and no doubt helped to bring about the desired result.

The encouraging terms of the proclamation made many scour the country
at breakneck speed, and it is a marvel that any escape should have
taken place; Mackenzie’s own recital of it sounds like the tale of the
magic ring. The word was given to save themselves, and in a twinkling
the woods were full of the flying and the hiding; the beacon, intended
for loyalist eyes in Toronto as one of victory, told all was lost to
the rebels. The hunting parties did not return empty handed. Many
respectable yeomen, some Reformers but not rebels, others neither of
these, were unceremoniously taken from their farms and work. These
rebels by coercion, and those who had been fugitives, were bound to a
strong central rope and paraded along the highway amid the hootings
and jeerings of the loyal, in all to the number of sixty. To keep them
company there was a party, equally mixed, who arrived in Toronto the
same day from the north, with the five hundred men who reached there
too late for battle. The latter were reinforced by one hundred Indians,
all in paint and native splendour, but burning with as much zeal as any
Briton.

The records of the whole affair show that the disaffected were always
of one colour, while the African and the native were unhesitatingly and
to a man for the Queen.

The last-mentioned party, in their march, could see the flames from
Montgomery’s and thought the city was on fire. They were met by many
flying northward from there, who in a twinkling changed their politics
and their route and returned to town among the guards over those
unhappy ones who had been made look like a string of trout. Powder was
taken from stores; cake-baking and bacon-frying were made the business
of every house passed; they carried the usual medley of gun, pike and
rusty sword; and each man, to distinguish him from his fellow-man who
was prisoner, wore a pink ribbon on his arm.

Naturally, there was renewed sensation when the guards and prisoners
marched to the gaol; sensation greater still when Dr. Morrison and
three others, who were exceptionally important, were added, their
march preceded by a loaded cannon pointed towards them. A concourse
of citizens, anxious to see the whole event, followed. Happily a
farmer, detained in town by the impressment of his horses and waggon
in Government service, and who knew the city well, left the crowd and
reached the northern gate of the market in time to perceive a gunner,
with a lighted portfire in his hand, standing by a cannon which was
loaded with grape. Thinking the approaching crowd was a body of rebels
the gunner was about to apply his light, when the farmer, with great
presence of mind, stopped him. Had the piece been fired more lives
would have been thus sacrificed than were lost during the whole winter.

One of the prisoners was now lying in hospital at the point of death
from a grape-shot wound, and a small detachment under Captain Gamble
was detailed to take a party of other prisoners from the gaol, to be
led before him for recognition. Among them was Colonel Van Egmond. The
dying man lay on his bed propped up with pillows, his mangled shoulder
and arm slightly covered, his ghastly face telling his moments were
numbered. It was night-time, and lights were held at the head and foot
of the bed as his fellows were slowly marched before him. Some he knew,
replied to questions, and mentioned them by name. When Van Egmond’s
turn came, he must have intentionally touched the man’s foot for when
the usual question was put, he said: “Why do you push my foot, Colonel
Van Egmond? I am a dying man; I cannot die with a lie in my mouth. You
were with us, and were to have commanded us at Montgomery’s tavern, but
you did not arrive in time.”

It was a weird scene. The man died that night, and was followed by
the Colonel himself, whose years could not endure the dampness and
many other horrors of his cell, where the temperature was arctic.
Inflammatory rheumatism and a complication of maladies brought him to a
cot in the same hospital, where, with some of his unhappy companions,
he closed his life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The farce of rebellion, so far as Toronto was concerned, had been
played; but the tragedy was to follow. Of the two men who had pitted
themselves against each other, and who have left page upon page of
their mutual opinions--let there be gall enough in the ink, though
thou write with a goose pen, no matter--one was completely victorious,
one completely vanquished. The progress of the first was attended with
enthusiastic cheers; that of the other by hunger, cold, fatigue, and
by much sympathy, which meant death to those showing it. Christmas Day
of ’37, the year “of one thousand eight hundred and freeze-to-death,”
saw the apostles of the “sacred dogma of equality” of either province,
fugitive; and even Sir Francis himself recorded of the season, “I
cannot deny that the winter of the past year was politically as well
as physically severer than I expected.” “Several times,” he says,
“while my mind was warmly occupied in writing my despatches, I found
my pen full of a lump of stuff that appeared to be honey, but which
proved to be frozen ink.” Sir Francis flatters the Canadian climate.
Beautiful, vivifying, transforming as it is, it had no power to turn
the gall in that compound to honey. He looked upon himself as the
eminent man who makes enemies of all the bad men whose schemes he
would not countenance; others looked upon him as having done more to
alienate those whom he was sent to govern than any other person or set
of persons. “If the people felt as I feel, there is never a Grant or
Glenelg who crossed the Tay and Tweed to exchange high-bred Highland
poverty for substantial Lowland wealth who would dare insult Upper
Canada with the official presence, as its ruler, of such an equivocal
character as this Mr. What-do-they-call-him Francis Bond Head.”

When Sir Francis first arrived he was informed that his chief duty
was to sit very still in a large scarlet chair and keep his hat on.
The first was easy, but the second was repugnant to his feelings; and
thinking the dignity of the head would lose nothing by being divided
from the hat, he meditated holding the latter between his white gloved
hands. His English attendants agreed with him in this idea of courtesy.
But he quailed beneath the reproof of a wordless stare from a Canadian
who thought this a bid to democracy; “What,” said the look, “what! to
purchase five minutes’ loathsome popularity will you barter one of the
few remaining prerogatives of the British crown?” And so he wore his
hat.

Of deceptive stature, the governor’s presence did not tally with his
militia register. He owed much to a wonderful personal magnetism; old
and young alike loved him--when they did not hate him. Seated in that
chair he is described by an eye-witness on his first appearance in it:
“Although too small to fill it, his shoulders and the poise of his head
did much to counterbalance the lack of nether proportions; his feet,
unable to reach the floor, were not allowed to dangle, but were thrust
out stiffly in front and kept in that position, apparently without
effort, during the opening. One of two Americans, in the space near him
reserved for visitors, plucked his friend’s sleeve. ‘That,’ said he,
‘is a man of determination, and will gain his point.’

“‘Why do you say so,’ said the other. ‘Because no other kind of man
could or would hold his feet like that.’”

The Governor’s opinion of the unaccredited grievance-monger was more
elaborate than the one he gravely records in his “Narrative” as given
of himself--“proclaimed the d--dst liar and the d--dst rascal in the
province.” Condensed, his opinions amount to a never-ending diatribe
against that book bound in boards of five hundred and fifty-three
closely-printed pages, in which it was calculated there were three
times as many falsehoods as pages, penned by one who had been “an
insignificant peddler-lad.” “Afraid to look me in the face, he sat with
his feet not reaching the ground and with his face averted from me at
an angle of about seventy degrees; while with the eccentricity, the
volubility, and indeed the appearance of a madman, the tiny creature
raved in all directions ... but nothing that I could say would induce
the peddler to face his own report.”

Perhaps, after all, there was something in the management of legs which
would not reach the floor.

Yet the aphorism that “Next to victor it is best to be victim” never
had better exemplification.



Autocrats All.

“_It is in me and shall out._”


At about this period of her history Canada threatened to become
that against which Washington had warned his countrymen, a slave to
inveterate antipathies. The mass of the people were violently for
or against each person, cause or abstract question, in turn; and
naturally, the times being critical, weak men went to the wall and
those who were by nature autocrats came to the front, and in their way
did the best of work. Sir John Colborne, St. Eustache notwithstanding,
was the right man in the right place; his severe acts were not
committed either thoughtlessly or wantonly. Each was useful in his
own way as circumstances and a narrow orbit permitted. After Sir John
came Prince, MacNab and Drew. None of them hated in a small, toothy
way; there was nothing of the schemer about any one of them. It was
a word and a blow. And although at one time it seemed as if the most
prominent of them, Prince and MacNab, had given force to the saying
that the man who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy, the
two events in which they figured--as criminals or heroes according
to prejudice--and which nearly caused a great war, were the means of
putting down the rebellion. The _Caroline_, and the prisoners who were
“shot accordingly,” showed that the iron heel could stamp, that the
iron hand was better without the glove.

Following closely upon Gallows Hill came the occupation of Navy Island
and the burning of the _Caroline_.

“What,” asked Canada, “is meant by Neutrality?” and Jonathan, smoothing
the rough edges of his meaning in poesie, replied:

    “Excite fresh men t’invade that monarch’s shore,
     And fill a loyal country with alarms,
     And give them men, with warlike stores and arms,
     Encourage brigands and all aid supply;
     I guess that’s _strict, downright Neutral-i-ty_!”

At the foot of the terrible three hundred and thirty-four feet of
water-leaps taken in the last thirty-six miles of the river-bed of the
Niagara, lay Navy Island, only a mile and a half above the cauldron,
and within three-quarters of a mile of the worst of the mysterious
strugglings and throes of the rapids. This, with several other small
islands, forms a strait and two channels, and lies within a half-mile
row of the Canadian shore. The Canadian boatman, intrepid as he is,
knows the meaning of that sound, which is ocean at its maddest--a
rolling sea heralding a coming storm that is born in the countless
million tons of clear, deep green water and milk-white bubble, bubble,
toil and trouble, which leap into the appalling confusion below.

Here, on December 13th, was run up the patriot flag, with its twin
stars supposed to represent “the Canadas--two pretty provinces, like
two pretty daughters kept in durance vile by an old and surly father;
they will either soon elope, or be carried off _nolens volens_.”

The Provisional Government, set up on this Juan Fernandez, where
Mackenzie hoped soon to be monarch of all he surveyed, had also its
seal, which showed, besides the twin stars, a new moon breaking through
the surrounding darkness--the Egyptian night of Canadian thraldom--with
the legend, “Liberty--Equality.” Luckily, the third word from their
French model was missing, for they did fall out and scratch and fight
in a way to serve any local Watts with themes. At Gallows Hill nothing
would satisfy Mackenzie but the Governor’s head. So now there was an
issue of money, and a proclamation, the latter offering five hundred
pounds for the apprehension of Sir Francis Bond Head, “so that he may
be dealt with as appertains to justice.” “Would you as it were dethrone
him and bring him to the block,” had queried Rolph some time before,
in his well-known and clever serio-comic supposititious trial of that
dignitary. The commissions issued were embellished with an eagle and
other insignia of patriotism, the eagle lifting a lion in his claws and
evidently about to fly away with him, the legend “Liberty or Death.”

It looked as if the would-be Cromwell, after he had

    “Come in with a rout, kicked Parliament out,
     Would finish by wearing the Crown.”

His coadjutor from the United States was Rensselaer van Rensselaer.
Together, they were dubbed Tom Thumb and Jack-the-Giant-Killer. Van
Rensselaer, a naturally handsome man, under thirty, looked much older
from dissipation, “A lean and bloated dram-drinker, a spectacle his
nose,” called by his countrymen Rip van Winkle the Second, who spent
his time on Navy Island in the double occupation of drinking brandy,
of which he always had a bottle under his head at night, and writing
love-letters. By his own account he spent his days plodding “four
weary miles through mud and water” round their little republic to
dispose of recruits and to erect defences; was prostrate, haggard and
careworn, and, when about to partake of a much-needed meal, would be
called away to receive a boat-load of visitors and leave it untouched.
By the account of others, he bade fair, like Lord Holland in his
epitaph, to be drowned sitting in his elbow-chair, or properly speaking
camp-stool, for furnishings were meagre on Navy Island. The New York
_Courier and Enquirer_ had the honesty, in the recapitulatory articles
which all border events called out, to say, “It is idle in this matter
to affect concealment of the fact that the present Canadian rebellion
receives its chief impulse and encouragement from the United States.”
No wonder then that a Canadian sheet should say: “Marshals, governors
and generals were on the look-out for patriots; but one such in charge
met a number of the last en route to Navy Island hauling a piece of
ordnance. ‘Where are you bound for?’ said the gentle general. ‘Oh, we
are only going to shoot ducks,’ said they, and they were allowed to
proceed.”

The Attorney-General said that the wording of Marcy’s and other
messages deprecated the invasion of Canada in an “Oh-now-don’t” kind
of appeal, which, read between the lines, meant “Go on like good
fellows--do just as you like.”

“The doors were opened,” writes a patriot, “and the patriots told to
help themselves.” Ten pieces of State artillery were given up on the
strength of the following note, a fine compliment to General Winfield
Scott’s literary reputation--than whom no finer military man in any
service ever stepped:

  “BUFFALO HEAD QR., Jan. 18, 1838.

“COL. H. B. RANSOM, Commander-in-chief, Tonawanda.

“Pleas sen on those pieces of Canon which are at your place; let the
same teams come on with them.

  “Your in hase,

  “W SCOTT Commander in Chief on the
  “Frontier of Niagara.”

There was no forgery, for the patriot guard was W. Scott, afterwards,
by the way, a candidate for presidential honours.

New York papers could not see any similarity between the Rebellion and
the Revolution; and as to comparing leaders, “why, it was likening barn
door fowls to soaring eagles.” But in case of the pother ending in war,
a correspondent of the _Toronto Palladium_ says, “There would not be a
house left to smoke, nor a cock to crow day, within ten miles of the
shore on the banks of navigable rivers--and a finger-post might be set
up, ‘Here the United States was.’”

As for volunteers, they were as plentiful as United States arms, and
comprised all sorts and conditions of man and boy. Two thirty-six
pounders, one eighteen-pounder, two thousand stand of arms, one hundred
cannon balls, five hundred musket cartridges, is the enumeration of one
contribution; and only the state of the roads prevents one contributor
setting out with a six-pound brass cannon. An old gun is actually sent
with the message, “If you want cannon we are ready to cast them for
you.” An ex-member of the New York Legislature, with two certified
captains, goes with a letter to Van Rensselaer, to talk over what
measures sentries, presumably of an arsenal, might take to furnish
material without infringing the law; and D. M’Leod writes, “Arms in
abundance can be had for the asking.” Another friend sends blankets
and arms; one old man, a follower of Murat, asks a cavalry commission
for his son, a lad of nineteen, adding pathetically, “I am now old and
poor, but if you will grant my request I will send you my son, the last
descendant of a noble line of warlike commanders of France.”

A blacksmith in Buffalo had an order for nine hundred creepers, other
artisans were busy at daggers and bowie knives, and a Mr. Wilkinson
furnished five hundred pounds of boiler cuttings as a substitute for
grape-shot. Canadians were used to this kind of ammunition. Away back
in 1758 the Highlanders wounded at Carillon had died of cankered wounds
from the broken glass and jagged metal used instead of “honest shot.”

“An empty hand, a stout heart, and a fair knowledge of military
tactics,” blankets, boots and shoes, one hundred and seventeen loaves
of bread, eight tons of grape-shot, two loads of beef, pork, and bread,
together with “some gentlemen well equipped for fight,” one hundred
muskets, four loads of volunteers, swell the original twenty-six men
who accompanied Mackenzie and Van Rensselaer at first, when the frame
of a cannon, upon which Mackenzie had sunk inert and spirit-broken
till aroused by some false alarm, is the only defence mentioned. But,
undaunted, “Push off!” had been the cry of this handful. A proclamation
was issued, drawing attention to the country in front which was
languishing under the blighting influence of military despots,
strangers from Europe; an end forever was promised to the wearisome
prayers, supplications and mockeries attendant upon our connection
with the lordlings of the Colonial office, Downing Street, London; the
time was favourable, owing to the absence of the “hired” red-coats of
Europe; and ten millions of acres of fair and fertile lands were at the
disposal of the Provisional Government, to be divided into portions of
three hundred acres, which, added to one hundred dollars in silver,
would be the reward of those who would bring this glorious struggle to
a conclusion.

    “And though slavery’s cloud o’er thy morning hath hung,
     The full tide of freedom shall beam round thee yet.”

Besides Van Rensselaer, the aid was announced of Colonel Sutherland
and Colonel Van Egmond. Alas, the latter, a good and true man, who
was worthy of a better fate than the one he earned by meddling in
misunderstood politics of a foreign country, was by then suffering
agonies in Toronto gaol; and Sutherland--as true-bred coward as ever
turned back--was destined for the tender touch of Colonel Prince
a little later. When proposal was subsequently made to exchange
Sutherland for Mackenzie, it drew the following query from an American
paper, “What should they do with him if they had him, and why not
give up Mackenzie to the Canadians in payment for the custody of
Sutherland?” Clearly the possession of Sutherland was a poor boast; he
was a mark for his countrymen’s contempt from the time he paraded the
streets of Buffalo, preceded by a fife and drum, enlisting volunteers,
until he disappears from the scene. The _Buffalonian_, when giving
a detailed account of thefts committed by the patriots, from cannon
to cabbages, says: “The patriot army have also robbed an uncommon
quantity of hen-roosts. In these exploits Brigadier-General Sutherland
is chiefly conspicuous for his gallantry in the attack and skill and
expedition in retreating.”

Robert Gourlay, then at Cleveland, Ohio, wrote his opinion of the
fatuity of this course direct to Van Rensselaer. Several of his letters
are condensed into, “Never was hallucination more blinding than yours.
At a moment of profound peace, putting on armour, and led by the
little editor of a blackguard newspaper, entering the lists of civil
broil, and erecting your standard on Navy Island to defy the armies
of Britain! David before Goliath seemed little, but God was with him.
What are you in the limbo of vanity, with no stay but the devil? Mr.
Hume is a little man, and you less.” He adds, alluding to the famous
letter, “That his four years of residence in the United States had let
him see things far worse than European domination. You call yourself
a patriot, and fly from home to enlist scoundrels for the conquest of
your country. This is patriotism with a vengeance.”

Mackenzie, like Gourlay, had a great aptitude in calculating the
difficulties they were powerful enough to create. But neither of them,
in his own case, counted on possible consequences.

At the finish of his proclamation Mackenzie has a prophecy: “We were
also among the deliverers of our country.” But he further says,
“Militiamen of 1812, will ye rally round the standard of our tyrants?
I can scarce believe it possible.”

Already that standard was floating before his eyes from one of the
tallest pines, and around it were gathered MacNab, Drew, and a host of
others whose own arms or their fathers’ had been borne in 1812,--two
thousand five hundred Canadian farmers, most of them delaying, when
called, for nothing but the clothing in which they now stood. Bayonets
glittered in the sun, and, on horseback as usual, Sir Francis trotted
up and down, reviewing with pardonable pride the troops, white, red,
and black, which had rallied round that flag.

    “Canadians, rally round your Head,
     Nor to these base insurgents yield,”

had been the cry of a Tory paper.

    “I wonder how that rebel crew
     Could clap their wings and craw, man,”

says another. But Sir Francis had one discomforting answer to his
appeal for aid against Navy Island. Mr. Absalom Shade, of Galt, replied
that not a few there declined to enter into any such frontier service;
while many in the Paisley Block, though not allying themselves with
Mackenzie, would have seen “Governor and Governor’s party drowned in
the depths of the sea and not a solitary cry of regret for them.”

But Sir Francis had his friends. (_Toast_): Sir Francis Bond Head--the
noble champion of our rights--distinguished alike for every virtue
which constitutes the gentleman and the scholar, whose name adorns a
bright page in the History of Upper Canada. (_Tune_: “Britons Strike
Home”).

       *       *       *       *       *

Gallows Hill over, the Canadian muse took her lyre in hand and sang,
with a Scotch accent forbye:

    “Oh, did ye hear the news of late,
     Which through the Province rang, man,
     And warned our men to try the game
     They played at Waterloo, man.
     All destitute of dread or fears,
     Militia men and volunteers
     Like lightning flew, for to subdue
     The rebel loons and crack their croons,
     And pook their lugs and a’, man.
         Lang life to Queen Victoria,
         Our Governor and a’, man!
         We’ll rally round Britannia’s flag,
             And fecht like Britons a’, man.”

Sir Francis, in the account he has given us, seems to have been
so taken up with the moral lesson of the panorama before him,
making a book out of the running brook of Niagara and a moral out
of everything, showing his chemical analysis of the comparative
advantages of monarchical and republican institutions, speculating on
the mutating effect of hard shot on the latter and the thickness of
the hide of the American conscience and the thinness of skin which
covered American vanity, that he forgot to fight. “Waiting calmly
on the defensive,” he called it, emulating a commander at Fontenoy,
nicknamed The Confectioner, who, when asked why he did not move to
the front, replied, “I am preserving my men.” The usually alert and
active Canadian volunteer was occasionally balanced by one more likely
to damage himself or his comrades than the enemy. A young clergyman,
newly ordained, arrived in Canada about the time of the Rebellion. As
he had as yet no charge he thought it only proper to take part in the
fray, of course on the loyalist side. A musket was placed in his hands,
but he had to apply to someone wiser than himself to know what should
go in first. He was stationed on the Niagara frontier in mid-winter,
where the beauties of nature made him forgetful of all else. Instead of
keeping “eyes front” he used them in star-gazing, fell into the hands
of the rebels, and narrowly escaped being shot as a spy. He escaped by
the intervention of a person who happened to know him.

A central blockhouse, several batteries, and most imposing earthworks
could be seen through the telescope; but as the island was for the
most part covered with wood it was hard to approximate its strength.
The main camp of huts was on the other side and on Grand Island--a
large island some ten miles long, belonging to the United States, and
on which a certain Major Noah, of New York, years before had laid the
foundations of the city of Ararat, intending to raise there an altar.
Across the channel was a portion of the army of sympathisers and the
general hospital, the latter transformed into an ark of refuge. From
this island, United States property, the loyalist reconnoitering
parties sent out in small boats were fired upon, as minutely recorded
by Lieutenant Elmsley, who also states, “On our coming abreast of Fort
Schlosser I distinctly saw two discharges of heavy ordnance from a
point on the main shore on the American side, not far from that fort.
As soon as our boats had passed the firing ceased.” The two vantage
points of the lesser island and Canadian mainland were near enough for
threat or challenge to be thrown across, and from the Battle Ground
Inn, just opposite Navy Island, such encouraging sentences as “We’ll
be over at you one of these days,” were wafted over. An idle threat
so far. Chases after the balls of the enemy as they bounded along,
laughter and cheers, made the place more like a playground than a
battle-field, a state of inaction which continued for a fortnight.

Part of Sir Francis’ “moral” inward conflict was through the very
evident desire on the part of his black militia, many of them scarred
and mutilated from their slave-life, to be up and doing on the land
from which they had made their escape. They were a formidable looking
set of men, powerful, athletic; and as they stood about him, yellow
eyes, red gums and clenched ivory teeth making a fine combination of
colour, terrible possibilities seem to have crossed his mind. So also
with the Indian contingent. They did not like the Long Knives across
the water--a name not originally Kentuckian, but straight from the
time of good King Arthur. But there was what Sir Francis calls an
unwholesome opinion in Downing Street that it would be barbarous to
use them as allies against American citizens. It had been said that
Canadians were only a trifle less handy at scalping than the allies
were, and there were still tales extant of scalping scenes at the time
of the Conquest, and later. He managed to satisfy the Indians, however.
The honest red countenances glowed, the feathers on their heads gently
waved, as they communed among themselves, and presently a disconcerting
warwhoop arose, at first like the single yelp of a wolf, but gathering
in volume until every scalp upon the island must have quivered.

The following extracts from letters sent from Chippewa by Captain
Battersby to his home show how slowly matters progressed:

“Pavilion Hotel, 26th December, 1837.--MacNab arrived yesterday with a
large accession of force. Boats have been brought up from Niagara and
preparations are making for an attack, which if made at all will, I
think, take place in a day or two....

“Chippewa, 28th December.--No attack has yet been made, but the
preparations are going on. We are procuring boats from Dunnville, St.
Catharines and Niagara, forty or fifty seamen have arrived, and there
are two captains in the navy and four lieutenants, ... so that you
see our means are augmenting fast. We are most deficient in artillery,
but I believe some heavy guns are on their way. There was some firing
yesterday from the island, but no effect except wounding a horse. It is
said that the Governor has sent up orders not to attack the island by
boats, but to dislodge the enemy by artillery and bombardment. At any
rate I am glad to see that our leaders are going on cautiously and do
not intend making an attack until they have sufficient force. A part of
the 24th Regiment is said to be on its way here, and I shall be very
glad to see them--they will be invaluable as a support and rallying
point to our raw militia.... I will write again when I can, but such is
the hurry and confusion that it is difficult to find time and place.

“30th December, 9 p.m.--You will hear before this reaches you of the
burning of the steamboat on the American side of the river. It took
place about midnight, and was a very gallant enterprise, as those who
achieved it were mostly young, inexperienced lads, gentlemen volunteers
from the militia; very few of them could even row decently, and many
of the small boats employed had not even rudders.... I was in one of
the boats, but owing to not having men who could row, and the boat
being heavy, I lost sight of the others in the dark ... and obliged to
return. I have no doubt that this affair will make a great noise in the
United States; in fact I know it already has at Buffalo.... I don’t
think that an immediate attack is contemplated, though we are going
on with our preparations and shall have boats enough fitted and ready
in two or three days. One company of the 24th Regiment came in on the
morning of the day I last wrote you.... To give you an idea of the way
we go on, yesterday night when the boats were manning for the attack
a whole squad of people I knew nothing about came down armed to the
teeth, and I really thought at first they would have attempted to take
possession of my boat by force that they might go themselves.

“January 4, 1838.--The Lieut.-Governor is here and preparations are
still going on for the attack. I have now, however, no fear for the
result, as several heavy guns have been brought up, two mortars and a
large quantity of Congreve rockets. Our boat force is also increasing
rapidly and will soon be equal to whatever is required.... I believe
two or three companies of the 32nd will take part in the attack
whenever it is made. We are going to move to-night with the boats two
or three miles above the island, for the purpose of dropping down with
the current when the attack is made.

“January 8th.--The time of attack is as doubtful as ever. We are going
on still with our preparations, but owing to the paucity of materials
and the terrible state of confusion in which we are, our progress
is very slow. There has been a constant thaw here and some rain for
the last fourteen days, and the roads are in a state absolutely
indescribable. I can safely say that I am floundering in six inches
of mud and water from morning till night. I cannot ask for leave of
absence for a day, for numbers of the seamen are already discontented
and would willingly seize such a pretext for leaving us. We are living
in the utmost filth and discomfort.

“January 11th.--Here we are still in the same degree of uncertainty
as when I last wrote.... More artillery and troops are expected.... I
think myself that no attack will take place for two or three weeks, but
it is very likely that we shall endeavour to check their communications
with the United States, by means of armed boats, in which case my
services would be as necessary as if the island were attacked.... It
is now more than a fortnight since I have had my clothes off, night or
day. More or less firing takes place between our batteries and those of
the enemy every day, and though there are always crowds of gazers on
our side, yet to my astonishment only two men have as yet been hurt,
although the shot fall a good quarter of a mile past our batteries.
I think the commanding officer very much to blame for allowing such
crowds to put themselves in danger merely to gratify an idle curiosity.
The Buffalo papers state the loss on the island to have been eleven men
since the batteries first opened. Great numbers of the militia have
left and are leaving this place, at which I am not sorry, as they are
entirely undisciplined and many of them disorderly.”

But Sir John Colborne to the rescue. His artillery, officers, guns,
mortars, Congreve rockets and stores arrived, and a great stir went
through the dissatisfied lines.

The guard standing at Black Creek bridge had a very bad toothache
the night of December 29th, so bad that he thankfully retired to the
barracks at Chippewa, an old, evacuated tavern, whose big cavernous
fire-place, well filled with blazing logs, gave much comfort to his
aching jaw. The men were lying about on straw, two and two under a
blanket, when in came Nick Thorne to ask if any one of them would help
him load up wood from the barrack yard. Some great doings were on hand;
he had the countersign; the wood loads were to be used for a beacon
light. Reed, whose father, a U. E. Loyalist of 1796, had followed Brock
at Queenston, forgot his toothache.

The _Caroline_ was a copper-bottomed craft, originally constructed by
the man known afterwards as Commodore Vanderbilt, was intended to sail
in the waters off South Carolina, and her timbers were of live oak from
that State. She was converted into a steamer and brought up the canals
to Lake Ontario, had been used as a ferry at Ogdensburg, and was then
taken through the Welland Canal for similar ferry purposes at Buffalo.
She was hired by the patriots on Navy Island to convey stores to them
from Fort Schlosser, an old military position of French times, where
neither fort nor village remained; there was nothing but a tavern,
which was the rendezvous of the “pirate force” in coming and going.
“Where are you going?” queried someone similar to the gentle general.

“To Dunkirk,” answered the _Caroline’s_ master, Appleby.

“You mean eastward to Navy Island?” But this skipper answered never a
word, and a scornful laugh laughed he.

The three lake schooners, each fitted with a gun and intended to carry
troops to the island when the long deferred attack should be made, were
still inactive. A loyalist reconnoitering party was sent out to report
upon what proved to be the _Caroline’s_ last trip. She had landed a
cannon and several armed men, and had dropped her anchor east of the
island. Expecting to find her still there it was decided to “cut her
out” that night. The process technically known as cutting out is a
naval one, conducted with great secrecy and muffled oars, men and
cutlasses, pistols and boarding pikes, black night and plenty of blood,
after the manner of Marryat; always a dangerous business, but in these
circumstances, where their chart reported irresistible currents and not
half a mile above the Falls, a most perilous enterprise. Luckily there
was the right kind of material at hand and to spare for it. They had
but a few small boats of about twelve feet in length, each pulling four
oars; it would be necessary to keep uncomfortably close to the rapids
in order to avoid observation from Navy Island; the difficulties, did
the men once quail, were so great that the shortest way was to put them
out of mind. At four o’clock that afternoon Colonel MacNab and Capt.
Drew, R.N., stood on the lookout discussing the situation. They saw the
_Caroline_ performing her duty of conveyance, the telescope revealing
the field-pieces and men.

“This won’t do,” said MacNab. “I say, Drew, do you think you can cut
that vessel out!”

“Oh, yes,” was the ready answer; “nothing easier. But it must be done
at night.”

“Well, then,” was the laconic order, “go and do it.” That order “nearly
fired the continent as well as the _Caroline_.”

To quote the patriot chronicle, it was now that “an insult, the
most reckless, cowardly, and unwarranted that was ever offered to a
sovereign people, was given.”

Captain Drew was a commander on half pay, “elderly, shortish, and
stout,” who had settled in Woodstock in 1834 upon a beautiful farm,
where he fondly hoped to end his days in peaceful occupations of
wheat-growing and tree-planting. The Duke of Northumberland, who
visited him there, thought it the prettiest place he had seen in
Canada; and indeed Captain Drew and Major James Barwick may be termed
the pioneers of those--the Vansittarts, Lights, De Blaquières, Deedes
and others--who formed the far-known aristocratic settlement of
Oxford. The midlands of England held nothing lovelier than these homes
scattered along the Thames, farms separated by beautiful ravines,
studded and fringed with elms and noble maples, well built picturesque
houses, wherein the owners entertained after the manner of their class
and kind and spent much money. The stress of war in very few years was
to wipe out this community of blood, manners and culture; but Captain
Drew’s tenure, owing to the cutting out of the _Caroline_, was to be
shorter still.

The first thing to be done was to call for volunteers. “Here we are,
sir,” cried a hundred voices, “what are we to do?” some of them from
the contingent in the Methodist chapel at Chippewa. “Follow me,” was
the only answer, for it was of first importance that no word could
possibly be conveyed to the island, and Drew says the men did not know
their errand until seated in the boats and off from shore, taking their
way _via_ the little canal just above the rapids. Rumours of any kind
were quickly transmitted to either side; one of the most ludicrous
which had recently come to the ears of the troops was that Mackenzie’s
people said the Tories of Toronto had managed to smuggle a black cook
into the patriot stronghold opposite, and that presently all patriots
would therefore die of poison.

Each man of the boats’ crews had to be able to pull a good oar, a
condition not strictly carried out, as we see from Captain Battersby’s
letters, but there were some experts, such as young Mewburn, who writes
that he was doubly manning a bow oar. Each man was furnished with a
cutlass and pistol. Most of them were young fellows, some from that
corps organized in King Street in Hamilton by MacNab and called by
him his “Elegant Extracts.” One, young Woods, a curly-headed laddie,
U.E.L. to the heart’s core, good-naturedly gave up his seat to a
friend, Dr. Askin, and then found himself likely to be left on shore.
He appealed to his chief. “Why, you d--d young scamp, if you want to
be shot give my compliments to Captain Beer and tell him to take you
in.” More easily said than done; but through influence, and by being
able to hide under a seat, he got into a boat and lay on a pile of wet
sand, with knees up to his chin, palpitating with excitement, until
the final moment of departure. For time dragged tediously; they had to
give the _Caroline_ an hour or two to settle herself for the night,
and they heartily wished that the moon would do the same. “Hadn’t you
better give me another,” said our curly-headed laddie, referring to his
pistol. “When you have used that, you will find that you won’t want
another,” said his officer.

MacNab wished the _Caroline_ to be brought to Chippewa; Drew wanted her
burnt and done for. By half after eleven they had started, sent off
with three hearty cheers from those left behind, Thorne, Reed and the
others ready to light the fire which was to answer to the blaze they
intended to make, and, unnecessary precaution, which would also serve
as beacon to guide them back. Once out, the men were told the service
they were bent on and offered the chance to return, the danger not
being burked. But no one took advantage of the offer. Some, however,
nearly had their course altered in spite of themselves: “Robert
Sullivan, one of the crew, called out, ‘Stop rowing, boys, for God’s
sake--do you see where we are--we are going straight over the Falls!’
‘Silence!’ responded Lieutenant Graham, ‘or I will blow your brains
out. It is for me, not you, to give orders.’ ‘Oh, very well,’ replied
Sullivan, drawing his oar into the boat, ‘if I am to go over the Falls,
I may as well go without brains as with them.’ Here we all joined in,
and after hurriedly representing to Graham the danger of our position
we began to pull up stream. A little longer and it would have been
too late.” The roar of the mighty cataract, which awed and somewhat
terrified them, had been previously described by a patriot writer as
the peal of the funeral dirge of royalty in Canada.

Shots from Navy Island made the heart beat; and do their best they were
forced to cross the river diagonally. “We are going astern, sir; we
shall be over the Falls;” but reassured by the light from the doomed
steamer, by which they could determine the drop down stream, they at
length all got together. The moon was yet too bright, and they rested
on their oars, dipping them enough to stem the current. At last it was
dark enough, and they were alongside. “Boat, ahoy! boat, ahoy!--give
us the countersign!” “Silence!” said Drew, in a confidential tone,
“silence! don’t make a noise, and we’ll give you the countersign when
we get on board.” Once on deck, he drew his sword, saying to the three
men who were lounging on the starboard gangway, “I want this vessel,
and you must go ashore at once.” Thinking he was alone they took up
their arms and fired at him, not a yard off. A swing and a cut of the
sword, and one patriot dropped at the captain’s feet. Another trigger
was pulled, the only result a flash in the pan; there was a sabre-cut
dealt on the inside of the man’s arm, and the pistol fell. The captain
confesses to expediting this man and another over the boat’s side with
an inch of the point of his weapon.

Meantime, three of the boats had boarded forward, and a good deal
of firing followed, the latter checked at once by the captain, as
he feared that in the dark friend might be mistaken for foe, a fear
soon realized. Returning, he thought it wise to reconnoitre about
the gangway between the bulwark and the raised cabin. Here he was
met by a man who aimed at him a slashing cut, which he parried and
successfully pinned the cutlass against the cabin bulk-head. “Holloa,
Zealand,” said he, recognizing one of his own men, a fine specimen of
an old British tar, “what are you about?” “Oh, I beg pardon, sir, I
didn’t know it was you!” said the zealous sailor, who, released, went
to seek legitimate prey. There was a good deal of cursing, clashing
of swords and shouting, and (it is said) a cry of “Show the rebels no
quarter.” On the contrary, as the men fussed over the lamp, the window
sashes and the forgotten “carcass,” trying to coax a fire, one American
heard them say of himself, “What shall we do with this fellow?” “Kill
him!” suggested one; “No, take him prisoner!” said a third; but their
officer’s decision was that they did not want prisoners, and the man
was to be put ashore. And the only person killed in the whole affair,
Durfee, lay on the dock, shot by a bullet which came from the land
side. Wells, the owner of the vessel, finding himself on solid ground,
made some good running, in spite of his assertion that he was almost
cut to pieces.

One tale of the day has it that another life was lost; a volunteer was
fired at by a patriot, and in retaliation beat his assailant’s brains
out; his own condition and that of the butt of his pistol corroborated
his story on his return to the Canadian side. The matter for the
extraordinarily sensational accounts given by the American press was
chiefly furnished by Mackenzie.

Lieutenant Elmsley officered a guard on shore while the vessel was cut
from her moorings--not an easy thing to accomplish, as she was made
fast by chains frozen in the ice; but a young fellow named Sullivan
seized an axe, cleared the chains, and set her free. This, Commander
Drew’s own story, is denied by a survivor, one of his lieutenants. A
lamp was placed in a basket used for carrying Indian corn, cross-bars
from the windows were torn off and added to it, and the vessel was set
alight in four different places. The material especially brought for
this purpose, and known as a carcass, was at first quite forgotten.
Care had been taken to rouse all sleepers, had any been able to sleep
through such a scene; the invaders were ordered to their boats; the
flames shot out fore and aft; and by this time Captain Drew found his
stand on the paddle-box too uncomfortable, as those driven ashore had
recovered from their surprise and the discharge of their muskets was
disagreeably close. It was equally uncomfortably hot, and his gallant
wish to be the last on board nearly left him there as she drifted down
the current. He found a companion in a man emerging from below who
declared it too hot to live in there, and together they got into the
boat sent back for them, Drew’s shouts fortunately having risen above
the din. So far there was no need for the beacon from the opposite
shore; the _Caroline_ herself, like a great torch, glided beside them,
or rather they kept in the wake of her gold-dust covered ripples, a
fine target for the island guns; but the days of bull’s-eyes were not
yet. In spite of wounds the men rose superior to fear of shot, content
with the result of their mission, and anxious to rejoin the cheering
multitude that waited for them on the Canadian shore. The illumination
made by burning vessel and beacon light threw every pebble on the
shore-line into bright relief. Drew’s account states that no human
ingenuity could have accomplished what the _Caroline_ so easily did for
herself. When free from the wharf at Fort Schlosser her natural course
would have been to follow the stream, which would have taken her along
the American shore and over the American Fall; but she behaved as if
aware she had changed owners and navigated herself across the river,
clearing the rapids above Goat Island; she went fairly over the British
Fall of Niagara.[4]

An extract from one of the songs sung by the Canadian volunteers will
give an idea of the sentiments of the singers:

    “A party left the British shore,
       Led on by gallant Drew, sir,
     Who set the Yankee boat on fire
       And beat their pirate crew, sir.

     The Yankees said they did invent
       The steamboat first of all, sir,
     But Britain taught the Yankee boat
       To navigate the Fall, sir.”

The Lewiston _Telegraph_ on Saturday set this in type at 6 a.m.:

  “HORRIBLE! MOST HORRIBLE!!

“We stop the press to announce the following horrible intelligence
which has just been communicated by two gentlemen direct from the
bloody scene:

“The steamer _Caroline_, which was lying at the landing at Porter’s
storehouse, was boarded this morning between the hours of twelve and
one by about eighty men, who came in boats from the Canada side. The
_Caroline_ had on board from fifteen to twenty of our sleeping and
defenceless citizens, who had lodgings on board. They are believed to
have been mostly citizens of Buffalo, who came as lookers-on, with the
expectation of witnessing the attack upon the island. Every individual
was butchered except four, and three of these severely wounded. The
engineer, who was thrust through and put on shore, says that after the
bloody work was executed a small boy was found in a closet, who begged
for mercy but found none. The _Caroline_ was then towed out into the
stream and sent over Niagara Falls. Three cheers were given, and at the
same time beacon lights were raised at Chippewa. Our informant saw the
lifeless body of one person who was shot upon the shore.”

For five years the question hung upon a thread whether England and the
United States should go to war or not. It is always fair to give two
sides of a question, but in the one given by Clio and Melpomene it will
be seen their poetic license degenerates into something more than the
flowery taradiddle of the average verse-maker:

    “Oh, what were the dreams, as they sunk to rest,
       Of that devoted band,
     Who lay, as a babe on its mother’s breast,
       On the shores of their native land?
     Breathed they of fire, or of streaming blood,
     Or the thundering cataract’s whelming flood?

     Strong manhood’s godlike form was there,
       With his bold and open brow,
     And age, with his wearied look of care,
       And his floating locks of snow;
     And the agile form of the stripling boy,
     With his throbbing pulse of hope and joy.

     They dreamed of the happy hours of home,
       Of a blessed mother’s prayer,
     Of the cherished wife in that sacred dome,
       Of the lisping prattlers there;
     And the stripling dreamed of his young love’s smile
     When he left her bound for the fatal isle.

     Oh, what was that dim, ominous sound,
       That struck on the sleeper’s ear,
     Yet roused him not from his rest profound
       Till the unsheathed blade was near?
     And it seemed as the air and the rocks were riven
     By the slogan of death and the wild shriek given.

     Oh, vain was the strife of the struggling few
       With a well-armed murderous band;
     For the gallant barque, with her blood-drenched crew,
       Is floating from the strand,
     And the young boy’s _quarter cry_ it bore
     To the purple wave, with his own heart’s gore.

     On, wildly onward, sped the craft,
       As she swiftly neared the verge;
     And the demon guards of the black gulf laughed,
       And chanted a hellish dirge;
     And the booming waters roared anew
     A wail for the dead and dying crew.

     As over the shelving rocks she broke
       And plunged in her turbulent grave,
     The slumbering Genius of Freedom woke,
       Baptized in Niagara’s wave,
     And sounded her warning tocsin far
     From Atlantic’s shore to polar star.”

A careful computation from pages of prose, almost as flowery as
the foregoing lines and oftentimes breaking into rhyme from a very
luxuriousness of idea and rhythm, puts the lives aboard the _Caroline_
at about ninety-nine in number. Thirty-three were killed and missing;
thirty-three were towed into the middle of the stream when the boat
was fired, and with her went over the ledge; there were also thrilling
cries from “the living souls” on board, plus “wails of the dying,”
presumably thirty-three cries and thirty-three wails, all gliding
down the resistless rapids to perish by “the double horror of a fate
inevitable.”

On the day following the cutting out five hundred men were told off to
complete the work by driving the filibusters off the island, the three
schooners, with boats and barges, being sufficient transport. “But
what shall we do if a shot strikes our boat--we must either drown or
go over the Falls,” was a query which sent Captain Drew off on another
hazard. He pulled up stream in a four-oared gig, within pistol shot of
the island, to see if the enemy’s field-piece was equal to hitting a
boat which moved fast through the water. So far the casualties from the
red-hot shot sent skipping along the Canadian shore were the death of
young Smith of Hamilton, who, lying in a barn on some hay, had part of
his thigh carried away and some ribs broken, and an old sailor named
Millar who served Captain Luard’s guns, and had his leg taken off.
Millar asked to see his leg, gave three cheers for the Queen, and died.

A twenty-four pounder, mounted on a scow, battered the point where the
guns of Van Rensselaer were most active. Drew’s expedition brought
upon themselves both musketry and field-pieces, at first innocent of
all aim, but suddenly so improved that one shot made ducks and drakes
on the water, just clearing the gunwale, and passing between Drew and
his strokesman. This was from no amateur, but owed its precision to
the hand of a young West Pointer--possibly of the “empty hand, stout
heart, of fair military tactics” letter. Van Rensselaer has left it
on record that the only moments of excitement to him in this episode
were when the first gun was fired from the island, and when this boat’s
crew, at early dawn, made its way in safety round them; so that Drew’s
temerity was not without reward. These patriots had “kissed their rusty
muskets” and vowed they would never lay them down until “the redemption
of Canada was accomplished.” A “sympathetic” account tells us that the
men so determined to do or die, in order to protect themselves from
temptation had taken the pins out of the screws of the scows and burned
their oars, resolved,

    “If sons of Liberty can keep
       resting-place but this,
     Then here we’ll stand--or madly leap
       Into the dark abyss.”

The outcome was a hurried departure by night after they heard of the
arrival of the 24th Regiment. The brisk cannonade of about four hundred
rounds from heavy guns and mortars, and the armed schooners which
effectually kept them within their breastworks, were almost enough
without the rumour of the 24th.

When the Canadian force landed not a soul was to be seen, and what had
appeared formidable defence dwindled. Apparently a second Gibraltar, it
was found in military parlance to be a bug-bear than which a greater
never existed, a conglomeration of batteries and hovels masked with
wood, a sickening spectacle of “looped and windowed” wretchedness. The
vaunted blockhouse citadel, the barracks and the batteries, were but
huts of trees and sods and ill-constructed embankments; the only reward
for industry was an abattis of brushwood to prevent boat invasion.

A man concealed in the woods now came out, white flag in hand, and from
him and two women found in a hut did the Canadians get an account of
life on “the fatal isle” during the biting storms and pitiless rain
of December, ’37, and January, ’38. “Peas and beans dank as a dog,”
varied by feasts, the bones of which lay about with remains of bread
and barrels of beans yet untouched, had been their food; the bushes
about were eloquent, with bits of rag sticking to them, of the quality
of clothing; these patriots, herded together like swine and sheep,
left behind them evidences of some stores, boots and shoes, plenty
of reading matter of the most virulent kind, all mixed up with burst
shells, splintered wood and dirty straw. Some boots had the legs cut
open, apparently to strip wounded limbs, some were stained with blood;
and “a huge pile of unpicked bones, ... on a rough board used as a
table,” and the remains of beds made of pine branches, gave further
evidence.

Sir Francis paid the site a visit on the 17th, a wild and boisterous
day. He had the body of one man exhumed--shot by a rifle, but his arms
were pinioned. He had been suspected as a spy. The susceptible Sir
Francis, light as his heart generally was, saddened at the sight of him.

Songs abounded for every part of the event, dates sometimes making way
for rhyme:

    “They say he murdered one Durfee,
       In December, ’39, sir;
     And stole some candles and old boots,
       And burnt the _Caroline_, sir.”

On the night of evacuation the _soi-disant_ patriot army surrendered
their arms to the United States authorities and disbanded their forces.
The cannon belonging to the State were returned in a scow to Fort
Schlosser, and in transit with the men on board came near following
the fate of the _Caroline_. The scow had fallen far down the current
and the men had given up their case as hopeless, when a gale from the
north-west sprang up, and, aided by their blankets extemporized into
sails, they were wafted ashore.

A month before, when they had received these ill-gotten guns, they
slaughtered the oxen which drew them, and paid for the beef and work by
a due-bill on the future Canadian Republic.

“No sooner was the _Caroline_ in flames than a sudden excitement
prevailed; but it was the excitement of _fear_. The women fled from
the villages on the coast, people who had fancied themselves bedridden
decamped, and the citizens of Buffalo evinced the greatest possible
consternation for the safety of their town.”

Captain Drew almost distanced Sir Francis in unpopularity in certain
quarters; but like him, among his own was at once a hero. At St.
George’s Day dinner in Toronto, Captain Marryat, an old comrade of
Drew’s, gave the toast: “Captain Drew and his brave comrades who
cut out the _Caroline_.” The day after the cutting-out, Drew, with
MacNab, was burnt in effigy on the ice at Detroit, and he saw himself
advertised for in a Buffalo newspaper at a reward of $500. He was
hanged in effigy--a compliment kept up on the anniversary for several
years; active attempts were made to assassinate him, of so determined
a nature that in the end the pleasant Woodstock home was forsaken, and
heroism was forgotten when, forced to leave the country to preserve
life to wife and family, he found himself in England, where the
preservation of Canada was of interest on a large scale but the reward
of her preservers a matter of no moment. Captain Marryat’s toast
brought upon him, too, attentions similar to those bestowed upon the
subject of it. He was burned in effigy in every town in the United
States through which his journey took him; his writings were made into
a bonfire in Lewiston, and in St. Louis his effigy was decorated with
a halter round the neck. Cincinnati was the first place which dared to
assert a difference. The captain, whose mother was an American, had so
far looked on at his own cremation and at that of his child-literary
with calmness, smoking a cigar the while; but in Cincinnati, at the
dinner tendered him, he spoke out like a man, a gentleman, and a person
of force and humour, giving his reasons for his opinions and actions
and ashamed of neither. He said that his motive in refusing private
hospitality was that he might leave himself freedom of speech; and he
finishes his deliverance, “If we are to burn all those who differ with
us in opinion, consider, gentlemen, what a glorious bonfire would be
made of the whole United States.”

What touched him most deeply was part of his mail matter,--five hundred
anonymous letters which cost him on an average fifty cents each to
redeem from the post, and of which he makes bitter though humorous
complaint in a long, published letter, supposed to answer his five
hundred correspondents in one _coup-de-main_ and also his well-wishers,
whose missives followed him so persistently from place to place, that
he began to think it a combined attack upon his purse from Van Buren
and the Postmaster-General.

       *       *       *       *       *

The destruction of the _Caroline_ surprised everyone, Americans,
Canadians, even the chief actors; it let loose the tongues of ministers
and diplomats, and it gave a great impulse to the outside movement of
sympathisers or patriots. The success of Drew’s action made the last
wary; but the howl of indignation, which for a time was allowed to have
some show of reason, served as a cloak under which to add retaliation
to what before had been dubbed patriotism alone. Sugar Island, Bois
Blanc, and the schooner _Anne_ followed in quick succession; but
the most direct outrage as result of it was that against the _Sir
Robert Peel_ under the management of an autocrat on the other side of
the warfare, handsome and distinguished looking as MacNab himself,
determined as Drew, uncompromising as Prince, with an air and halo
of romance over all his actions arising partly from his personality,
partly from the romantic beauty of his surroundings--the redoubtable
Bill Johnston, king of the Thousand Islands.

General Van Rensselaer, in sash and epaulets, with his encampment on
Navy Island, backed by two or three hundred vagabonds, making war
upon Great Britain, was a ridiculous person. But Bill Johnston, the
buccaneer, armed to the teeth, actuated by revenge for real injuries,
carrying out his threat to be a thorn in Great Britain’s side, flying
from island to island, a price set upon his head, determined to sell
his life at desperate cost, devoted to his daughter and adored by
his children, has a touch of poetry about him which almost justified
what he devoutly believed himself--that it was a glorious thing to
be a pirate king. It is a come-down to have to admit that one of
his occupations was robbing the Canadian mails, when he would take
the clothes off the occupants of the coach and beat whoever refused
him, tie the coachman to a tree--as he did between Gananoque and
Kingston--and leave the man there. He once captured a dragoon carrying
despatches, took the man and his horse to the lake shore, shot the
horse, put the despatch-bag in his boat, and let the man find his way
on foot to report himself to his captain.

This was the personage concerning whom Silas Fletcher, one of the
refugees from Gallows Hill, wrote from Watertown to Navy Island, that
he was a man in whom it was perfectly safe to confide, “a gentleman
of intelligence, equal to fifty ordinary men,” recommended for a
commission because he could “greatly annoy the Kingstonians,” his
influence so great that he could raise two hundred as bold volunteers
as ever drew trigger. Some of the sympathizers had a faculty for
arousing admiration; for about this time a lady in Rochester, who kept
a private school where some Toronto girls were sent, allowed her pupils
to work a silken flag to be presented to the pirate force.

Johnston and his followers had many disguises. In their attacks on
isolated farm-houses it was their pleasure to adopt the dress of
ordinary sailors, and in their expedition to the island of Tanti--a
Canadian possession of Lord Mountcashel, from which they took much
plunder, and where they left one farmer with three fingers and part
of a hand shot off--the whole _mise-en-scène_ is absurdly like “H.
M. S. _Pinafore_.” From island to island, from rock to the hidden
fastness, keeping in the narrower channels where inclined planes
were cleverly constructed by which to draw up their fast boats, the
only clue to their haunts was a surprise shot from some ambush or
the expiring embers of a lately deserted bivouac fire, or perhaps a
couple of barrels moored in the narrowest part of Fiddler’s Elbow,
innocent-looking infernal machines left ready for the unwary.

French Creek--_A-ten-ha-ra-kweh-ta-re_, the place where the wall
fell down--Abel’s Island and some other points, were his favourites;
but Fort Wallace, a small islet at the head of Wells’ Island, was
his fastness, where, with a dozen men, he boasted he could withstand
two hundred. The number of boats scattered up and down the islands
was popularly supposed to be one hundred, and the population of this
world of islets some thousand souls, all under the sway of Johnston.
Rinaldo, Robert Kidd and Robert le Diable seemed centred in him. He
could land at Queenston unarmed and get the guard tipsy, and with a
few companions take off seventy stand of arms. But his experience as
smuggler and trader, and his exploits when in the employment of the
American Government during the war of 1812, when he roamed all the
lakes and rivers, intercepting despatches, and when, his boat driven in
by a gale on the Canadian shore and his crew captured, he could cross
Ontario--at that point thirty-six miles wide--in a bark canoe after
a fortnight’s dodging of British vessels, made such affairs as came
to his hand in ’37 seem bagatelles. In the early days he had at his
command a six-oared barge; now he and his four sons, the latter all
partaking of his own nature, powers and daring, did their work in four
row-boats of extraordinary speed, each boat with a crew of eight or ten
men and all armed to the teeth. The boat used by Johnston himself was
twelve-oared, the swiftest of the fleet, twenty-eight feet by four and
a half, clinker-built and gay with paint. Black bottom, white above,
with a yellow streak six inches wide below the gunwale, inside red, so
light in weight that two men could carry her with ease, but capable of
accommodating twenty armed men, this gay-looking craft flew his own
colours.

But for special use in deceiving British vessels a Stars and Stripes
lay ready to hand. Not that he was under the protection of the latter;
he was harried equally by United States authorities and Canadian, his
capture being finally made by the former. The most interesting member
of his domestic group was his daughter, whom his ambition was to make
Queen of the Thousand Isles, a handsome girl of nineteen, possessed of
courage enough to manage her boat alone, armed like her brothers, and
skilful enough to keep her father supplied with provisions on those
exciting occasions when he had to hide.

Bill Johnston and his followers were of more consequence than all the
men, Provisional Government, generals and staff, on Navy Island; in the
words of an American newspaper, “This chap seems now to be conducting
war on his own hook.” Wells’ Island was the scene of his reprisal for
the burning of the _Caroline_; for all his own grievance, such as the
confiscation of his property on the British side in 1812, he felt
himself more than avenged. The island, part of Jefferson county, had
not more than an acre of cleared land upon it, with a wharf used for
wooding the vessels which called there for fuel; the sole building was
one log shanty. When the _Sir Robert Peel_ drew in on the evening so
important to her, May 29th, 1838, the woodman warned the captain that
suspicious-looking characters were inland. But the warning was made
light of, and the usual fueling programme followed. All on board went
to bed, and about ten o’clock thirteen of the erstwhile sailors of
the island of Tanti appeared in their new scene as Indians, looking
the part to perfection in black, red and yellow paint. Their number
had been twenty-eight, but they had dropped down the river from their
camp on Abel’s Island, on the opposite side to the wood station, and
in crossing fifteen of the band had been temporarily lost in a swamp.
The debate whether this left too small a number for the attack led to
delay, but Johnston decided that a baker’s dozen was a lucky number,
and that if this opportunity were lost another as favourable might
not offer itself. So the warwhoop, as good an imitation as their
painted semi-nudeness, was raised. One discrepancy was the absence of
tomahawks, replaced by guns, and bayonets. The woods re-echoed to their
howls, and it was not long until captain, crew and passengers were on
deck.

Colonel Fraser, Mr. Holditch of Port Robinson, and several others, had
enjoyed their evening; they took wine together, and then went to bed,
their berths in a row. Soon they heard a noise which they imagined to
be a scuffle among the crew; but in a twinkling five men stood by the
berths where they still lay, four armed with bayonets and muskets and
the fifth with a sword. At the command to get up at once Mr. Holditch
laid his hand upon Colonel Fraser’s military coat, and the ruffian with
the sword, seeing the colour, called out, “He is a British officer--run
him through!” A general disowning of Her Majesty’s uniform ensued, but
a lively fight took place for possession of the pocket-book, which
contained a large sum of money. After much kicking and knocking down
most of the men were forced into a small cabin, lighted by a skylight
through which muskets were pointed at them, keeping them quiet until
a panel was broken out of the door and one by one they were allowed
to leave. The women were all driven on deck in their night-clothes;
their cries were distressing, but Captain Bullock, formerly of the _St.
George_, and the stewardess, contrived to mitigate circumstances for
them. The dramatic Sea-King was not going to allow such an opportunity
for the tragic to escape him. As he knocked at the ladies’ cabin door a
courageous female tried to stop his further entrance, begging time to
dress. “Come with me,” said Bombastes, “come with me and I will save
you--THE NATIONS ARE AT WAR.”

It was a most inclement night, and they took refuge in the shanty.
There one of the brigands remarked that the occupants of the _Peel_
had got their deserts, whereupon Captain Bullock knocked him down
and dragged him out by the throat. The amount of booty was not
inconsiderable, and as soon as the vessel was rifled of it she was set
on fire and allowed to drift. The mate must have been a sound sleeper,
as he knew none of the happenings until rescue was nearly past. His
shrieks for help came after the pirates had departed and the passengers
dispersed, but some of the latter managed to reach him in a skiff. They
were barely in time, for he had to jump into the water so badly burned
that he had to be tended by the half-dressed passengers all night.

It was supposed to be the intention to thus serve all British steamers,
so that Johnston’s whaleboats should have no interference in St.
Lawrence waters thereabouts in piracy and invasion. In this particular
instance, one of the passengers, an Irishman, vigorously protested from
the island:

“The divil saze the likes of ye, ye’re worse than the Connaught
Rangers, wid yer injun naygur faces.”

“Remember the _Caroline_, Pat,” retorted a pirate.

“Is it Caroline Mahoney, ye mane?--sure it’s not at the likes of you
she’d be after lookin’.”

They essayed to get Pat on board, telling him to “come and get his
duds.” “Do ye think I’ll go aboard and see myself kilt?” he asked. They
then tried to get near him, but with “Bad luck to ye, there’s two can
play at that, me darlin’,” he sped into the woods. One of the party was
a prisoner from Abel’s Island, and he was left to look after Scanlan,
one of the crew, who had been badly wounded in the scuffle. By sunrise,
while the _Robert Peel_ still burned, the pirates were back at Abel’s
Island, washed and clothed. The passengers were taken off Wells’ Island
by the U. S. steamer _Oneida_ and left at Kingston. After this the
pirate boats were mounted with two and three-pounders, while Johnston
and his followers played hide-and-seek with his pursuers, managing to
elude two steamboats, one schooner and a number of gunboats which were
doubling and cross-cutting in his wake.

When Governor Marcy, of New York, received information of this act,
which Johnston himself allowed to be piracy, he went to the frontier
and took active measures to guard his own border from the retaliation
which he dreaded, and also to combine with the Canadians in offering a
reward for Johnston’s arrest. Such banditti, like the cowboys of the
Revolution, argued that it mattered not who was plundered, provided
there was booty to be found. In the grandiloquent words of their own
chronicle, the _Sir Robert Peel_ was “a burnt-offering to the shades
of the _Caroline_.” As to Canadian reprisals, there was much talk of
firing upon United States vessels wherever found, an unjust opinion
existing that they were at one with “Admiral” Johnston’s crafts.
But better sense prevailed, and as one newspaper says, “Let their
steamboats depart from our shores in peace.” Such a _Nunc Dimittis_,
opening with an exhortation to high-mindedness, “Men of Chatham! the
eyes of Europe are upon you!” was penned at Chatham, where the burning
of an American vessel was insisted upon as retaliation for a local act
of outrage.

The action taken by Sir George Arthur concerning the indictment of
similar outlaws elsewhere after they were caught, treating them as
prisoners of war, exasperated the Loyalists; they claimed it was
establishing a precedent for all the Bill Johnstons and marauders,
who were either rebels in their own country or filibusters from
the one opposite: “This is, in fact, a bounty upon invasion, and
taken in connection with Mackenzie’s reward of 300 acres of land,
made it easy for a man to hedge with tolerable assurance of not
coming to grief either way.” “These be indeed Liberal times.” What
Bill Johnston thought of it all may be seen from his proclamation,
issued immediately, after he had first openly paraded the streets of
Ogdensburg with his belt stuck full of pistols, dirks and bowie knives:

“_To all whom it may concern_:

“I, William Johnston, a native-born citizen of Upper Canada, certify
that I hold a commission in the Patriot service of Upper Canada as
commander-in-chief of the naval forces and flotilla. I commanded
the expedition that captured and destroyed the steamer _Sir Robert
Peel_. The men under my command in that expedition were nearly all
natural-born English subjects; the exceptions were volunteers for the
expedition. My head-quarters was on an island in the St. Lawrence,
without the jurisdiction of the United States, at a place named by me
Fort Wallace. I am well acquainted with the boundary line, and know
which of the islands do and do not belong to the United States; and in
the selection of the island I wished to be positive, and not locate
within the jurisdiction of the United States, and had reference to the
decision of the Commissioners under the sixth article of the Treaty
of Ghent, done at Utica, in the State of New York, 13th June, 1822. I
know the number of the island, and by that decision it was British
territory. I yet hold possession of that station, and we also occupy a
station some twenty or more miles from the boundary line of the United
States, in what was Her Majesty’s dominions until it was occupied by
us. I act under orders. The object of my movement is the independence
of Canada. I am not at war with the commerce or property of the people
of the United States.

“Signed, this tenth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and thirty-eight.

  “WILLIAM JOHNSTON.”

The result of the proclamation, which was published in the American
newspapers, was a reward offered by Governor Marcy of $500 for the
author’s arrest, $250 each for that of D. M’Leod and two others, and
$100 each for the rest. The Canadian Government offered £1000 for the
conviction of any of them.

But it is a long lane that has no turning. The defeat at Prescott once
more sent the Johnstons and their followers to the same retreats of the
river intricacies. An old soldier of the 79th was given the hazardous
mission to search them out; but the only result was a shot or two from
an unseen and vanishing enemy, and a specimen of the finest tourmalin
to add to his geological cabinet. Bonnycastle put some of his staff
with a band on board a small steamer, ostensibly to visit the militia
garrisons of Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott, returning by night in
the hope that Johnston would attack them. With excellent steering they
escaped the infernal machines moored for them, but saw naught of the
enemy.

Sir John Colborne, with his one notion of government, had a large body
of sailors and marines forwarded from Quebec harbour, then full of
men-of-war, steamboats and merchantmen drawn there by the arrival of
Lord Durham. A company of the 1st Frontenac Militia went to the island
of Tanti, and the border-town garrisons were strongly reinforced with
picked men. But Johnston only laughed at them all, and scudded along
in his mysterious boat. About eight feet of the after-part of this
craft was decked, and on this he sat while he steered with an oar,
a red carpet-bag for his cushion seat. In the sight of one party of
pursuers from the steamboat _Oswego_ they openly pulled for the wreck
of the _Sir Robert Peel_; when the pursuers were within fifteen rods a
white handkerchief was waved and Johnston majestically rose from his
carpet-bag, drew from it the colours of the _Sir Robert Peel_, which he
let wave in the breeze and then gravely returned to the bag. Another
craft, evidently one of the fleet, darted up a bay; the dark blue boat
was made fast, and in a moment the crew could be seen walking through
the bushes, Indian file, each with a large pistol in his right hand.
In an interview held at a few boat’s lengths with a deputation of two,
who were old acquaintances of his, Johnston said there was one thing
of which they might rest assured--he would never be taken alive; that
he was a fair mark to shoot at, but not to dangle in the air. He might
have quoted,

    “To die for treason is a common evil,
     But to be hanged for nonsense is the devil.”

He announced that at that moment he had two other boats well manned
and armed within signal view; that he sat upon the colours of the _Sir
Robert Peel_, and that he meant to continue sitting on them “till they
rotted.” The interviewers could see for themselves that his boat was
well stored with muskets and small arms. When told that his son’s
wharf at French Creek was then patronized for wood by one of the
steamers, “he seemed much affected,” replying, “I am glad to hear of
it, or of anything else that can benefit my family.”

At this time Johnston appeared a robust, athletic man, absolutely
fearless, about sixty years of age, a gray-headed, hardy veteran,
“a good friend and a terror to his enemies.” He stated that whoever
attacked him must bring his own coffin, as he himself had no leisure
for cabinet-making.

A simultaneous movement was made on him by a party of British soldiers,
and some of the 1st Regiment of American Infantry under Captain Gwynn
of the American army. The men were conveyed in two steamboats, the
_Experiment_ and the _Telegraph_, and in a gunboat under Lieutenant
Leary, R.N., the _Bullfrog_. They found two of the bandits fast asleep
in the cave, but on account of the roughness of the surrounding country
the attack was not well concerted, and the rest of the band, including
Johnston, escaped. A quantity of arms and ammunition was found in the
cave, but a thorough search by the soldiers, eighty in number and
cutlasses in hand, revealed no trace of them.

At another time, General MacNab with some fifty United States soldiers,
cruising about in search of this will-o’-the-wisp, found the home but
its occupant gone. It proved to be a spacious cavern, into which they
penetrated about thirty feet, part natural cavity, part excavated by
labour, fit for dwelling-place for a large body of men, and in the
several rooms which it contained there were signs of recent occupation.

Mr. James, an artillery officer of Ogdensburg, had met with the loss
of a brass six-pounder, pressed into the patriot service during the
excitement of the battle of the Windmill. At the end of that affair,
so disastrous to the sympathisers, Bill Johnston suddenly disappeared
from the streets of Ogdensburg. Not long after this Mr. James’ wife
was doing her marketing as usual, being one of the few ladies who were
not intimidated by the scare at the waterfront. While chatting with
friends whom she met in the course of her morning’s walk, one said, “If
you knew where your husband is you would not be so full of laughter.”
Word had been brought into town that Bill Johnston was in hiding in
the woods near by, and two parties, hurriedly got together, had gone
off in search. One party was composed of Charles T. Burwell and James,
on horseback, the other of United States soldiers who were to meet the
first at a given rendezvous. On arriving at the place the two horsemen
found young Johnston sitting by the shore waiting for his father. After
some resistance young Johnston was taken, his boat seized and the oars
hidden. The capture of the father was not so easy. When he caught sight
of the three he rushed to where he expected to find the boat, warning
the townsmen to keep off. Had he thought of it in time it would have
been like him to exclaim, “A boat! a boat! my kingdom for a boat!” He
had a pistol in each hand, but demurred to use them, as his pursuers
were “fellow-Americans.” After considerable parley, when he realized
that the second party, momentarily expected by boat, would put him
beyond hope, he surrendered. But he stipulated that his son should
receive his arms, he himself to retain _only_ four small pistols and
his bowie knife; he then quietly fell in with James and Burwell for the
return to Ogdensburg. A very short walk brought them to the other party
just arrived, United States soldiers, a sheriff and deputy marshall, to
whom Bill Johnston was delivered. In spite of the large sums offered
as reward for his capture, the testimony is that James’ share no more
than reimbursed the latter for the loss of the brass six-pounder, for
the safe custody of which he had been responsible. They placed Johnston
on a steamboat in government employ under Colonel Worth, and so he
disappears.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was an epoch in the history of the peninsula of Essex and Kent when
Mr. Prince arrived in Canada. Formerly these counties, “together with
as much of this province as is not included within any other district,”
extended northward to the boundary line of Hudson Bay. Neighbourhoods
were not then congested. Prince was the first man of fortune who came
to the district, which he did in ’33, accompanied by wife, family and
servants. A man of fine presence and most genial manners, an eloquent
speaker, a sportsman and lover of agriculture, he took to farming like
the average Englishman, full of good intentions and enthusiasm. He
imported thoroughbred stock and kept the finest of dogs. Although much
opposed to the stringent game laws of England he introduced a bill for
the preservation of game; it passed, but came back amended, one of the
additions being that at no time should any animal be killed on the
Lord’s Day. Later, alluding to the discussions induced by his summary
proceedings with rebels and the hot debates on the battle of Windsor,
he never doubted but that the shooting of such rancorous animals as
wolves and Yankee pirates on the Lord’s Day could be justified; whereat
there was laughter. For Sabbath-keeping in those exciting times was
more after the manner of Gwirzi, whose allowance was a male and female
daily, but who on Saturday night killed two of each so that he might
not profane the Sabbath.

Prince had the true patriarchal spirit; was born to be a leader of
men, if withal, like Bottom, he could say, “My chief humour is for a
tyrant.” It was a time when a tyrant or two did not come amiss on the
Canadian border, however unworthily at the metropolis th’ oppressor
ruled tyrannic when he durst. Prince came not long after the time when
the Western District gave sentence for manslaughter, “to be burned
in the hand and accordingly put in execution before the court.” If
this was justice in times of peace there was not much room for the
animadversions with which he was covered--but not overwhelmed--when,
the Constitution suspended, revolutionary crimes could scarce be put
down save by revolutionary methods. “MacNab and Drew, Arthur, Prince,
Hagerman and Robinson, are still alive,” said the press; each one of
them agreed with Blackstone that obedience is an empty word if every
man may decide how far he shall obey. There is no doubt that the
Sandwich-Windsor locality was in ’37-38 a seething caldron of unrest,
distrust and dissatisfaction; but above it all rides this overpowering
personality:

    “For the brave Prince still lives, and so do his men,
     Who triumphed before and can do it again.”

“(_Toast_) ‘That brave, intrepid officer whose promptitude of action
turned the revelry of Yankee pirates in the western frontier into a
_post mortem_ examination. May the sad lesson prove a caution to the
followers of Blue Beard.’ (_Tune_--‘The Brave Old English Gentleman’).”

“Of politics,” said he himself in one of the hundreds of speeches
which did much towards making his fame, “of politics I shall say
but little here. Mine have been before you and the people of Upper
Canada for the last five sessions. I am in the true sense of the word
a Constitutional Reformer.” How far Brougham and others of his old
country critics agreed with him shall be seen hereafter. His record in
the Canadian House shows that he was never amenable to party discipline
himself, was classed as “doubtful” by both parties, had hot fits of
Liberalism and Conservatism by turns; like a stiff old Englishman, said
he was prepared, as the barons at Runnymede, to maintain his rights
at all risks; with John Henry Boulton came out as Independent, was a
veritable Thorough in his opposition to the Rebellion Losses Bill, and
capped the climax of his many-sided character by printing a petition
signed by “many respectable Canadians” to move an address to Her
Majesty praying that Canada might be relieved from her “dependent state
and allowed to become an independent sovereignty.” By the time the last
transpired it behooved Robert Baldwin to stigmatize the petition borne
by the hero of ’37 as “_quasi treasonable_.”

In the neighbourhood of his home, the Park Farm, lay, for some thirty
or forty miles, the French village form of settlement--the decent
church, the pious priest, the civil habitant; the French windmill,
where habitant and U. E. Loyalist took their grist in amity, still
stood; the river road had on its fringed border the pear trees of the
Jesuit fathers, standing like sentinels, to remind of Hennepin and La
Salle, and to keep alive the first explorer’s saying, “Those who in
the future will have the good fortune to own this lovely and fruitful
strait will feel very thankful to those who have shown them the way.”

Every one knows how a carpenter, with foot each side of a log, brings
his adze down, first on one side with an emphatic “Hah!” then on the
other, with a second emphasis, each stroke on alternate sides getting
the same syllabic ejaculation. In Lower Canada, tight in a box, most
precious of relics, some of the habitants--it is said--had this most
emphemeral of saintly leavings. Whether the habitant of the Detroit
and St. Clair brought with him from the St. Lawrence the Hah of St.
Joseph we do not know; but he did bring with him most of the attributes
which make him the pleasant, interesting fellow he is, on each river;
good Catholic, good friend; true to his title, for he came “habiter
le pays,” no transient dweller he. Nor does the spirit of “noblesse
oblige” ever die. Long after ’37 a court dignitary found himself in a
remote St. Clair neighbourhood where tavern accommodation was not; his
host for the night was advised of the arrival, and the dignitary drew
up at the door of an unpretending house whose owner was apparently a
small farmer of simple habit. The hall-door, opened wide in welcome,
disclosed an old man in antique jacket, small clothes and buckles,
whose fine white hair, lying on his collar, was stirred by the night
breeze. The dark hall-way made a fading background for the old man and
his ancient silver candlesticks, as, with a light in either hand, he
bowed profoundly, walking backwards as his guest entered. The latter
remonstrated at the attention so shown him, but the courteously spoken
answer, in refined French, was, “Sir, I but follow the custom of my
fathers.”

Can the people in any part of Canada object to those who remind them
that this country has a history. Mr. Prince was one of those who
thanked Providence the land was large enough for both. Almost without
exception the St. Clair French were Loyalist, and as sign of their
good faith were upholders of him. “What will the Government think of
us,” says Baptiste, in a skit issued during an election contest, when
Prince, an English Protestant, was opposed by a Canadian Catholic,
“when it will be known in Toronto that we preferred any to Prince!!!
We shall all be looked upon as asses, who have selected one of their
own species in preference to any other.” When he voted for Cuvillier
as Speaker of the House, Prince trusted the members of Lower Canada to
hold out the hand of friendship; and in perusing the records of many
years’ proceedings one finds continually that he seconds or is seconded
by the French members. He had a firm hold on the affections of the
people, the pleasant voice, smooth accent and manly, handsome presence
of more weight as an opponent than any uniqueness in principle; his
speeches owed as much to their melody as to their matter.

He was a law unto himself when he came to be a constitutional Reformer
in military tactics--not unlike a Lower Canadian legal contemporary
who, told by the presiding judge to refer to Pigéon, returned, “I do
not need to refer to Pigéon, Perrault” (himself) “is worth Pigéon any
day.” Perhaps, to take even higher comparisons, Prince had a touch of
Durham, and more than a touch of Colborne, in him.

In the little town of Sandwich, since fitly named by a local Rip Van
Winkle the “City of the Dead,” an oldest inhabitant will point out
an unpretentious flat stone raised from the ground by a few bricks.
Underneath it lie the mangled remains of the man over whose death and
the avenging of it a stir only second to the _Caroline_ was made.

“Sacred to the memory,” says the stone, “of Jno. James Hume, Esq.,
staff assistant surgeon, who was inhumanly murdered and his body
afterwards brutally mangled by a gang of armed ruffians from the United
States, styling themselves PATRIOTS, who committed this cowardly and
shameful outrage on the morning of the 4th December, 1838, having
intercepted the deceased while proceeding to render professional
assistance to Her Majesty’s gallant militia engaged at Windsor, U.C.,
in repelling the invasions of this rebel crew more properly styled
PIRATES.”

During the first year of the rebellion the dwellers on the St. Clair
frontier felt themselves aggrieved, as not of sufficient interest
at military headquarters. They were particularly open to attacks
from those who were called pirates, brigands, outlaws and robbers,
from across the border, while singularly free from “rebels” among
themselves. They were so convinced that the punishments meted out
to offenders were not heavy or frequent enough that they emphasized
the opinion in meetings called for the purpose of recording them, en
passant displaying a rich sense of their own heavy sufferings “both by
day and night, which can scarcely be described and perhaps never be
surpassed,” and they were incensed at the respite accorded Theller and
Sutherland, the two aggressors at whose hands they had suffered most.
They were not to be conciliated by Sir George Arthur’s answer, giving
legal reasons for the kind of justice dealt to such prisoners. That
Lord Glenelg cautioned that every precaution should be taken against
any semblance of retaliation upon the people who by their deeds were
brought within the operation of martial law; that in courts-martial
regular and not militia officers should preside; and that great
circumspection be exercised in regard to capital punishment, had no
weight with them. They deemed their own “the circumstances of peculiar
and pressing urgency” which alone justified extreme measures, in Lord
Glenelg’s opinion, and differed from him heartily in “the extent of
punishment to which it may be necessary to subject them, will be more
safely estimated at a distance from the scene of action.” They did
entirely concur with him in that “it was impossible for him at that
distance to give specific instructions.” Nor could they agree with Sir
George Arthur, that in spite of prearranged plunder, and spontaneous
outrages committed, the rebellion had political motives only for its
raison d’être. Those who had been the plundered and were victims of
outrage were for shooting first and trying after; and at a public
meeting called to denounce past action of the patriots and lay down
rules for the future it was decided that all invaders--ruffians who
had not even the alleged right of being Canadians who were rebelling
for what seemed to them good reason, but who came to murder, pillage
and burn, under pretence of “liberating” a country unwilling to be
liberated--should be treated as pirates; no quarter should be given,
and any commander who found himself in such a position would be more
than justified in acting on the publicly expressed opinion of that
meeting. When occasion occurred and the right man for such work was on
the spot a certain portion of those who previously represented public
opinion found they could not endorse their own words. Attorney-General
Hagerman approved; but then Lord Brougham said that although he might
be a good soldier the Attorney-General could not have been much of a
lawyer, or he never would have dared to say so.

The truly patriotic citizens of Windsor and Sandwich recognized that
God helps those who help themselves. When Sir Francis sent all the
forces out of the country they began a good local militia organization,
in which Col. Prince took the lead. No portion of country could have
been more self-helpful and more patriotic than this section found
itself throughout. At the first meeting of magistrates called, Mr.
William Anderton, Collector of Customs, was appointed commissary, and
to James Dougall was assigned the supervision of ferries. For arms and
stores there were no public moneys, but Mr. Dougall providentially had
a large sum put by in the Bank of Michigan to make English purchase
of goods for his next year’s trade. This he freely placed at the
public disposal, and flour and pork, and all the arms available from
Detroit friends, were brought across, as secretly as might be, but the
transport was discovered just in time to allow Theller and one hundred
followers to see the boats move off. Cordwood sticks were the only
weapons available, and these were thrown freely after the boats, which,
however, they failed to strike.

By December 3rd, ’38, the people on the Canadian side had been for
many nights in constant fear of another invasion; horses were kept
harnessed and saddled, arms lay conveniently near those who dared go
to bed, and some prepared to turn night into day and made it their
most watchful time. The attitude of the whole place was that of a
modern fire-station, alert, ready, apprehensive. The place was full
of the usual internecine squabbles and jealousies, only kept down by
sense of a common danger; Colonel Airey had been applied to for a
company of regulars, Major Reid of the 32nd had been sent to London,
and Colonel Prince in command, while on the alert himself, thought
that too many applications for assistance savoured of cowardice, and
contented himself with night patrols and sentinels. The watch-fires of
the patriots could be seen at the bivouacs on the farms below Detroit;
friends, two of whom were to be among the killed, came across to warn
them, and watchfulness was redoubled.

That night was cold and dark, no moon, the very time for the enemy’s
purpose, and word was passed from tavern to tavern on the American
side to rendezvous at the wharf--with arms and ammunition, “but to
take no heed to provisions.” They expected to find food in plenty.
The captain and crew of the _Champlain_ did not care to violate the
neutrality laws, and kept out of the way; so a crew selected from the
patriots took the vessel across the river, through many patches of
drift ice, to a point about four miles above Windsor. The command on
landing was that no noise should be made, the farmers were not to be
wakened, and to make for the barracks, which were guarded by only a
small force. Patriotic Mr. Dougall, bank manager as well as trader,
writes that he was roused from his not too sound sleep by the sound
of shots, saw the flames of already burning barracks, hurried his
wife and family to a place of safety, and made his way to the safe,
where $20,000 was locked up. The old-fashioned receptacle bristled
with knobs, three of which had to be shoved aside before the keyhole
could be uncovered. He shoved every knob on its entire surface and the
keyhole was lost; but eventually he got the money, secured it about
him, seized his gun, and went off towards Sandwich. Those who were
the dupes among the invaders believed that once the protection of
their presence was announced the people would rise up to meet their
deliverers half-way in the effort to overthrow an obnoxious form of
government. The first man they saw in the early morning light was
hastening towards the barracks, evidently someone from Detroit who
had rowed over to give the alarm. They fired and he fell, but the
shot alarmed the sleeping town, and there was an end to the intended
surprise. After that the old nine-pounder in the barrack square,
opposite St. John’s Church, gave a resounding alarm, and as usual
shattered the glass in the church and Court House windows. In a short
time a gallant resistance had been made, and ammunition had given
out; burning brands were thrust inside the torn siding of the wooden
barracks by the brigands, who served themselves materially by getting
under the eaves of the building and so out of range from the guns at
the loopholes. Many within made escape by a door at the back unknown
to the invaders, and those whom the heat forced to the other entrance
sold their lives dearly; some, shot or wounded, were thrust back into
the fire--in all a work of carnage and atrocity. Four brigands were
told off to take burning brands from the barracks to set fire to the
steamboat _Thames_, which lay at the wharf. They did so, to the slogan
of “Remember the _Caroline_.” Never was there so much trouble in
lighting a fire. She was more obstinate than the _Caroline_ herself,
but from bow to stern the flames shot up, and the four incendiaries ran
back to the barracks to take their stand in the line, which prepared
to place itself in an orchard hard by, under Captains Putnam and
Harvell. Putnam, six feet four and hailing from Middlesex, was said to
be a grandson of the old general, Israel Putnam; Harvell was known as
the Big Kentuckian, a man six feet two in height, weighing over two
hundred pounds, and with hair long on his collar; he was a remarkable
figure as he bore an enormous flag adorned with “a large white star in
a blue field--the lone star of Canada.” The “lone star” is evidently
poetic license; the flag bore the ordinary two stars and crescent, as
described by those of each side. Those who had chief honour in routing
this band were Captain Sparkes and his company, who, uniformed in
scarlet, were little inferior to regulars. The patriots aimed at the
bits of bright colour, but in their trepidation fired too high, and
the balls went whistling overhead; in a moment their own ranks were
broken, and the hundred under the pear trees dispersed in disorder, as
Captain Sparkes and his men came over an intervening fence to let them
taste the bayonet. The huge figure of the lone star standard-bearer
made surprising time considering his own weight and the cumbersome
colours, which trailed behind him on the ground. “A hundred dollars to
whoever shoots the standard-bearer,” shouted Mr. Jimmy Dougall in great
excitement, and more than one bullet tried for the reward.

Nothing but the gift of second sight can let one account for the
difference between the patriots’ tale of the Windsor affair and the
somewhat less hysterical loyalist one. The latter chronicle says
Harvell died at once, as indeed he had every right to do; the former,
which credits him with being a veritable Davy Crockett, brave,
honest, impulsive and kind-hearted--very probably all true--says
that he dropped on one knee and fired at his pursuers; that the fire
was not returned, as no doubt they were anxious to secure alive so
handsome and formidable a foe. When his ammunition was exhausted he
drew a bowie knife, “or more properly speaking, tremendous butcher
cleaver,” from his collar, which he brandished menacingly. This act
brought the order to fire; he was far too formidable in appearance to
be allowed to live, and he fell retaining his hold on his staff. The
enemy approached, says the patriot historian, and demanded surrender.
“Never!” said this modern Fitz-James; “I have sworn never to fly mine
enemy, and never to surrender my neck to be broke upon the scaffold.
Come on--come one, come all!” At any rate, to Ensign Rankin belonged
the honour of capturing the flag; that seems the one point upon which
there is unanimity of opinion. Many of the actors in this tragicomedy
of invasion and war shed their stage properties as they fled, parting
company with arms, accoutrements, ammunition, even clothing.

Colonel Prince, who had been on the watch at the Park Farm, passing an
anxious night with a terrified and ailing wife, had by now got word of
what was happening. He made his appearance in fustian shooting-jacket
and wolf-skin cap, no bad dress for the work before him, as he had not
time to assume his ordinary uniform. He at once ordered the pursuit
discontinued, upon which one shamming dead man got up and ran into the
woods. Some stragglers in the militia fired at and killed him, and one
of them, a negro of a thrifty turn like the Scotchman in Galt, pulled
off the brigand’s boots and slung them over his gun; the negro, in
his turn, was to be taken by straggling pirates, and again rescued.
The retreat did not stop until the place where the _Champlain_ had
been left was reached; she had disappeared, and the heroes of the
orchard were constrained to drift about in canoes without paddles like
so many Mrs. Aleshines. They used the stocks of their guns to sweep
themselves ashore on Hog Island. But the river was full of drifting
ice, and Lieutenant Airey and Captain Broderick, who had arrived from
Amherstburg with some of the 34th, a field-piece and twenty mounted
Indians from the Reserve, soon had the gun trained on the canoes. Airey
himself took aim; the first ball plunged at the stern of a canoe,
the second took off a man’s arm, and the arm could be seen spinning
over the water. One patriot was killed outright; his comrades threw
themselves flat, with the exception of the steersman, who, bending as
low as he could, poled the unlucky canoe to shore. They imagined that
the third shot shattered the last canoe, but its load was destined to
illustrate the value of a neutrality law. The men in it were captured
by the Brady Guards; were hailed, fired at and surrounded, in due
order; dropped their guns overboard and were found unarmed; were taken
on board the Guards’ vessel, dried themselves, and were questioned
by the officer as to what they did in Canada, who set fire to the
_Thames_--questions easily evaded; went through the farce of a second
interrogation, were threatened with confinement, were called some hard
names, answered boldly, were cheered by the onlookers; in a stern tone
were ordered ashore, where they were met by “amazingly cordial” shouts;
were escorted to public places of refreshment by an ex-Senator, and,
in a word, received the freedom of the city of Detroit. Happy men to
be there; for there was a terrible retribution going on while their
exciting canoe race and triumphant entry were transpiring.

On the evening before this 3rd of December, a Dr. Hume, assistant
staff-surgeon--only child of Dr. John Hume, of Almada Hill, Lanark,
Scotland, in whose family the medical profession was hereditary, the
father being in Egypt under Abercrombie, and a cousin-german surgeon
to the Duke of Wellington--dined at the house of a friend in Sandwich.
He wore his undress uniform, and during the evening went to the Park
Farm, partly to see the Colonel, as times were exciting; partly to give
professional advice for Mrs. Prince, who was ill to distraction from
nervous fever; partly to prescribe for the Colonel himself, who “was
extremely ill and worn out by fatigue both night and day;” and chiefly
to see the third ill person in this afflicted family, Miss Rudyard.
Hume was a fair-complexioned fellow, of easy and gentlemanly manner,
with a look and countenance peculiarly mild; altogether a pleasing
personality, handsome and distinguished-looking. On the morning of
the attack, he and Commissary Morse directed their steps from the Park
Tavern to where the sounds of firing came, the former to tender his
professional services. They rode, the staff-surgeon still in uniform,
and the horse in its usual military trappings. Someone suggested that
to be in plain clothes might be safer, but he laughingly replied that
no one would touch a doctor. As the incendiaries returned from burning
the _Thames_ they met the two. Hume mistook them for Loyalists. A woman
came out from her house and warned him that they were a detachment
of patriots, but she was too late. The patriot account is that their
captain demanded Hume’s surrender. To his question, “To whom shall
I surrender?” came the answer, “To the Patriots.” He then quickly
dismounted, with the uncomplimentary rejoinder, “Never, to a ---- set
of rebels!” Then a dozen bullets pierced him. “Only part of our force
fired--the rest, among whom I was one, thinking it quite unnecessary
to go to extremes with so brave a man.” The surgeon’s body told a
different story. Colonel Prince’s official despatch says that, not
content with firing several balls into him, the savages stabbed him in
many places with their bowie knives and mangled his body with an axe.
Another Loyalist appears to have been near enough to call out, “Don’t
shoot that man--he is the doctor!” This interruption and their absurd
query, “Then why does he not surrender?” enabled him to slip past the
corner of a house under cover of which he tried to reach a friend’s.
The first man who fired must have been satisfied with his aim, for he
turned to a companion and said, “You may go and take the sword, he
won’t run farther.” At any rate, he retreated, pistol in hand, facing
his enemies. The legends of the time say he was barbarously mutilated,
dismembered, and his heart cut out, and preparations made to skin
him, with a view to drumheads. It was said that these barbarities
were committed under the impression that he was the dreaded Prince
himself; this is now contradicted by many, as are also some of the
details of the atrocities. There are those still alive who say they
saw his quarters hung on the fence pickets by these human shrikes, and
yet others who saw his body intact, as it lay in Mrs. Hawkins’ store.
Hume’s companion fared better; he was shot at, but the balls passed
through his hair.

Again to quote from the despatch: “Of the brigands and pirates, 21 were
killed, besides 4 who were brought in just at the close and immediately
after the engagement, all of whom I ordered to be shot upon the spot,
and which was done accordingly.” Over the last thirteen words were
innumerable articles written, controversies begun which nearly ended
in bloodshed; they led to twelve challenges to the duello from Colonel
Prince to his detractors; to debates in the Houses of Commons and
Lords, where Pakington, Labouchere, Brougham, the Duke of Wellington,
Melbourne and Normanby were to fight over again the famous battle of
Windsor; a reward was offered on the other side of the river, for
Prince’s body $800, for him alive $1,000; the much beset Colonel had
notices displayed on his farm that none should venture there after
dark, as he had spring-guns and man-traps set to protect himself; and
lastly there was the court-martial.

Naturally such a story, horrible at first, grew as it travelled and
as time progressed. “John Bishop of St. Albans, in a fit of jealousy,
shot his wife and then himself,” once wrote a French newspaper. “Jean,
évêque de St. Albans, dans un accès de jalousie a tué sa femme,” said
the first exchange; the next editor supposed that a married bishop must
be an Episcopalian--and next “The Protestant bishop of St. Albans has
killed his wife and then himself.” In like manner ran the prisoner
stories. One unfortunate was commanded by an onlooker to run for his
life, the order to shoot having been already given. He did so, with
results that are sickening in detail. Before long the four prisoners
had developed into nine, who were represented as running the gauntlet,
Indian fashion, with additions of further horror.

A prisoner of war is one captured in the course of acknowledged and
honourable warfare, and the legality or illegality of the contest makes
him a hero or a ruffian. Previous to the fourth of December, ’38, in
connection with recent affairs a subject of frequent debate in the
Sandwich-Windsor neighbourhood was the hanging on the spot, without
the slightest form of trial, of a gang of pirates, by Sir Thomas
Maitland, in the island of Malta. However, this summary proceeding on
the marooners took place a couple of days after the battle with them,
and what was sought for by the Canadians was a precedent for shooting
on the field without allowing time for justice to mellow.

As the “Curiæ Canadenses” tells us, formerly

    “These legal seats of divers ranks
     Have limit to St. Laurent’s banks;”

by ’37,

    “... all beyond, down to Detroit,
     Becomes new ground for fresh exploit.”

The exploit of which these debaters, and Colonel Prince in particular,
complained was the decision made under the “discouraging shade cast by
Whig conciliation;” for at the last court held in Sandwich, when he was
prepared to prosecute nine prisoners for murder, he found they, through
some point of law which he never could be brought to understand, had
become dignified as prisoners of war. As to American citizenship and
neutrality laws, it was asked “What avail the speeches, messages,
proclamations and paper measures of the President, when unprovoked
aggressions of his people remain unpunished.” It was small satisfaction
to hear their friends in the neighbouring Republic term the invaders
but the roughscuffs of their people; people--they had no people, they
were the repudiated of either shore. To term them prisoners of war
legalized the cause of the marauders and added hundreds to their ranks.
The Tories upheld Prince in his action anent the Pelee Island prisoners
“who escaped their just deserts under the nickname of prisoners of
war.” Never had he appeared to better advantage than in his address to
the court as he declaimed, “I deny also the right of any person of the
Executive Council, the right of the Lieutenant-Governor, the right of
even Majesty itself, to step between the accuser and those accused of
murder, and to prevent the incipient proceeding of an inquiry into the
matter by the grand inquest of the country.” But a few hours before his
eyes had been filled with the horror of Hume’s body the young surgeon
had been in his house, in full possession of youth, health, strength
and intelligence; he turned over in the barracks the smoking remains
of what he believed to be his fellow-townsmen; he saw the murdered
negro; he was distracted with thoughts of one very dear to him whose
reason he feared would be unhinged; arson and murder, rifle and torch,
the bowie-knife and axe of those whom he considered barbarians, “a
cowardly and scampering set of pirates,” merited but one reward. He
was in command, and he set about putting his ideas into effect. The
details of the “shooting” are so shocking that it is better to omit
them here; and shocking or entirely justifiable, the tale as told by
historian or eye-witness differs throughout. If more brutality than
the case demanded was exercised, it was rebuked by the mounted Indians
who soon afterwards brought in seven prisoners from the woods where an
escape had been attempted. The first cry was, “Bayonet them!” “No,”
said Martin, the Indian leader, “we are Christians, we will not murder
them--we will deliver them to our officers to be treated as they think
proper.” When Prince saw them he ordered the waggon in which they sat
to be wheeled off the road, and as soon as it reached an open spot in
rear of the barracks, which still smoked, he ordered that the prisoners
should be shot. “For God’s sake, don’t let a white man murder what an
Indian has spared!” was the entreaty, and Colonel Prince yielded to it.

Head, once controverting the British idea that Indian warfare was
inadmissible in Canada, gave a supposititious reply: “Our Indians
never scalp us, never scalp each other; and they have only scalped
you because, in defiance of the laws of nations, you invaded their
territory to rob them of their lands. If you think their habits of
war barbarous, learn in future to leave them in the placid enjoyment
of peace.” But the Indians were wiser than Sir Francis in his rounded
periods. The Hurons of Detroit had seen the ships of Jacques Cartier,
and reported great dark animals with broad white wings spitting out
fire and uttering thunder--their first experience of cannon. The cross
planted at Gaspé had sent its lesson far inland by 1837, and the
warrior in feathers and wampum could teach the controllers of gunpowder
by example.

Harvell, the tall Kentuckian, and twelve others were buried in one
grave in the lower corner of Colonel Baby’s orchard; the body of
General Putnam found a grave until his wife and daughter came, had it
exhumed, and took it away.

Of the survivors who scattered themselves in the woods some were
discovered frozen, sitting at the roots of trees and evidently famished
ere they froze; some were found round the miserable remains of a
camp-fire, remnants of potatoes, their only food, scattered about. Many
had been wounded, suffering tortures beyond hunger and cold. Of those
taken alive most were sent to Van Diemen’s Land, among them a farmer
who had joined the expedition haphazard at the last moment when he
was both drunk and reckless. His wife and family could not trace what
became of him; but after the lapse of twenty years he made his escape
to the South Sea Islands, whence he returned to his former home, to
find his wife again married, his children grown up, and his estate in
due course of law divided among them. Hardship and old age had so told
on him there was small fear of recognition; he obtained some small
appointment, never troubled his family, and worked an Enoch Arden end
to an existence spoiled by the sad freak of having been a pirate for a
day.

Some found shelter with the Irish and French peasants, for although
on the whole Loyalist both these nationalities had quickly-moved
sympathies. One of the escaping “officers” threw himself on the
protection of a big Irish woman. “Are yez a Patriarch?” He told her
he was a Patriot. “Thin it’s yourself is safe enough; just hide in
the cellar and kape aisy.” It is said her husband was in Prince’s
employ to deliver all such up; “but bad luck to me if ivvir he sets
his eye on wan o’ thim.” This peasant is said to have kept four such
refugees for six weeks, so well cared for that when they arrived in
Detroit they were “hale, fat and hearty as porkers.” “Now, my lads,”
he remarked to his guests, “you have a taste of how the English use
us poor Irish.” “Bad luck to thim,” chimed in his wife; “my own dear
fader was twelve years hid in a rock for the fear av thim after the
battle of Vinegar Hill, and it’s meself carried his vittles till he
died.” As for Baptiste, his fine address was equal to the occasion. One
hunted creature, some troopers in hot pursuit, burst into a neat little
cabin where the Frenchman had risen but madame had not. Taking in the
situation at a glance, he clapped a night-cap on the patriot’s head,
popped him into bed beside the astonished wife, and when the soldiers
entered, with elbows well in and palms extended he shrugged his
ignorance of any rebels--no one but his two women-kind, _les voilà!_ He
gave the searchers directions towards the bush, and in a short time had
his patriot in a canoe, well out in the river, bound for Detroit.

Next morning a large concourse of people, the officers of the militia,
Captain Sparkes’ company and a division of Captain Bell’s under Ensign
Powell, all in full uniform and with arms reversed, preceded the corpse
of the murdered Hume to the churchyard. The Grenadier company of the
34th, drawn up before the Court House, presented arms, so remaining
until the procession had passed. The moaning of the wind, the naked
branches of the trees above the open grave, the falling snow, were
in unison with the sadness of the onlookers; “Suffer us not for any
pain of death to fall away from Thee” came with a new meaning to
the hearers’ hearts; the words of the ever beautiful ritual for the
burial of the dead rose and fell from the rector’s lips on the wintry
atmosphere; “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” a volley of musketry, and
the family name of Hume was extinct. His fortune of some £20,000,
derived from his mother, passed to distant relatives.

The uproar which ensued after this series of tragedies was not by any
means all Loyalist-Rebel, nor yet pure righteous indignation; party
feeling, private spleen, and the complexity of motives good and bad
which enter into any similar demonstration where the actors are human,
all had place. A man of extraordinary popularity is generally a mark
for jealousy. Across the river hatred of him culminated in the action
of “the waddling, twaddling Theller,” who announced that he was coming
over at the head of two thousand men and would wash his hands in the
blood of John Prince. The patriots who had been saved in the canoes
told crowds of “Detroit’s most intelligent citizens” the details of
their truly thrilling escape, not only by canoe, but from “the Indian
and negro volunteers in the Royal service, or from the more brutal
Orangemen.” After he was taken prisoner on the _Anne_, this Theller
had experienced the weight of Colonel Prince’s foot and knew the
measure of his speech. In the middle of what he terms a refreshing
and invigorating sleep he was waked by a kick from “an individual of
the name of John Prince, who had run away from London, England, with
plenty of golden means to secure himself a retreat in the western wilds
of Canada,” where he strove to “imitate the manners of the artificial
nobility of his native land.” This individual Prince “was thirsting
for knighthood,” was dark, mysterious, cruel, vindictive, plausible
but to deceive, and--herein lay his greatest crime and was the only
item of truth in Theller’s impeachment--spared no time, money, act, to
crush the hopes of the friends of Canadian rebellion. “His friendly
salute aroused me,” writes Theller; “he was armed to the teeth. A brace
of pistols and a tomahawk graced his girdle; on his back was slung
a double-barrelled gun; a long cavalry sword dangled at his side,
a wide-mouthed blunderbuss in his right hand. His whole appearance
betokened malignity and determined vengeance.”

Under these circumstances Colonel Prince must be excused for using his
foot; clearly it was the only free part of his anatomy. Some months
before this trying pedal performance, Theller on the dock at Windsor
had taken upon himself to lecture the Colonel, his “blessed privilege
as an American citizen” so to do, after Prince had been similarly
engaged with a French-Canadian whom he suspected of disaffection.
Theller knew, “by the restless brilliancy of his eye, dastardly
flashing like the electricity of an approaching thunderstorm,” what he
had to expect. He quietly enough stepped on the ferry ready to leave
for Detroit, concluding, “Thus was I rescued for the first time from
the cherished revenge of this man!”

Between their last meeting and the battle of Windsor Theller had made
his wonderful leap for life from the citadel at Quebec and was back in
Detroit, ready to inaugurate more mischief just when the attack was the
theme of every tongue there.

Perhaps the unkindest mention of the battle was the report given,
as the events progressed, by the Detroit _Morning Post_, fresh from
the wonderful spy-glass of the reporter: “The infantry are evidently
citizens and, as near as we can judge by means of a spy-glass, are like
men employed in an unwilling service. They move at the rate of two
miles an hour, and have several times stopped, as though irresolute
about proceeding.”

In his own country Colonel Prince was more of a hero than ever. His
journeys were ovations. Hamilton, Oakville, Chatham, and London
testified to a general appreciation. In Chatham “the incorporated
companies saluted him not only with arms, but with hearty cheers;” at
London the Union Jack was run up on his hotel, and fire balls were
thrown about to make the night brilliant; the volunteers, under Colonel
Burwell, came out to do him honour, drawing from him a short, pithy
address in which he announced that should a similar opportunity occur
a similar result would follow, and his only regret was he had given
the much-talked-of prisoners a soldier’s death; addresses, signed by
hundreds of the District’s best residents, testified to approval and
continued respect; and by the time he reached the House of Assembly he
was greeted with a burst of enthusiasm which was supposed to and did
represent the feelings of the majority of constituents as well as of
members.

“Let the journalists who can in their consciences vindicate the conduct
of Colonel Prince ... come out boldly and say so,” was the challenge of
those who did not approve. It was taken up. The approval became more
emphatic, the friendly sheets were only sorry that he had not shot
“every single miscreant of the batch,” and it was proposed to raise £50
to present him with a sword. The Park Farm had a New Year visitation
from Captain Leslie and the officers of the Colonel’s battalion, Mr.
Ross carrying the ensign; healths were drunk, and Prince’s came second
only to Her Majesty in fervour, and continued three times three. In
his response the Colonel told them that the disposition of those who
were against him was resolving itself into a conspiracy upon his fame,
but he meant to treat them as Sir Francis Bond Head had treated the
rebels--allow them to go the whole length of their vain, inglorious and
ungrateful measures, and “_then he would destroy them_.”

Prince promised not a whit more than it turned out he was able to
perform.

About this time his Excellency Sir George Arthur took the Erie border
towns in one of his tours. Prior to his arrival in Sandwich it was said
that he was one of those who disapproved of Prince. To fire the first
shot, the Colonel drew up the address which it was proposed to present,
and, assuming the possibility of fresh trouble, foreshadowed results:
“_Certain, instant and inevitable death at our hands will be their
fate, without any recognition of them as prisoners of war, or as any
other sort of prisoners._” Some delay occurred in the time of arrival,
and the address was sent to Toronto. When the Governor did arrive,
another, expressing very different sentiments, was presented--which he
demurred at receiving. The people found he had nothing prepossessing in
appearance, “indeed, he is as indifferent a looking person as can be
imagined,” and all waited to see the result of the interview with their
beloved Colonel.

Immediately afterwards there appeared in Detroit papers, and in large,
closely printed hand-bills, an anonymous and detailed narrative called
“The Battle of Windsor,” written on this side and printed across the
river. A copy signed by a militia colonel and twelve others was sent
to the Governor in Toronto, accompanied by affidavits vouching for the
truth of the charges therein contained. At once a court-martial or
court of inquiry was instituted, composed of Lieutenant-Colonel Airey,
Major French of the 85th, and Major Deedes, of the 34th. Never did
people more speedily occupy a pit which they had digged for others. The
militia colonel had been proud to preside at the meeting where summary
measures and no quarter were proposed and ratified; he was now proved
to have made bad feeling in the service by his literary composition;
to have exaggerated, and thereby lowered the character of the service;
to have aggravated the feelings of hostility already rampant on either
border--and he was relieved of his commission. A meeting at once took
place between Prince and one of his late libellers, at

    “A gentlemanly distance, but not too near,
     If you have got your former friend for foe;”

shots were exchanged, the Colonel’s bullet lodged in his adversary’s
cheek, the latter’s weapon was discharged in the air; and some dozen
other challenges ensued. There was also the duello by correspondence,
when sharp things were penned. Prince shook off his quondam friends,
and one of them smartly replied, “You are at perfect liberty to cast
off your quondam friends, as it may save them the unpleasant trouble of
doing the same by you.”

The huzzas of the triumphant after all this may be easily imagined.
His former townsmen in England set about getting up a testimonial; he
was dined in Toronto, and made his usual triumphal progress home. The
85th were ready to draw him to the Park Farm, substituting themselves
for his horses, and immediate preparation was made to dine and wine
him in Sandwich. A carriage with the Dinner Committee was despatched
to the Park Farm, preceded by another carriage containing a band of
music, all under escort of the brave and loyal 2nd Essex Cavalry. The
“flag of our country” and the green and gold colours of the Windsor
volunteers floated over them; and on their return with the guest the
carriage was brought up by a peremptory “Halt!” the cheering 85th set
the horses free, and in the midst of the shouting populace, and to the
inspiriting sounds of “See the Conquering Hero Comes,” took him to the
officers’ quarters. Here “God Save the Queen” was struck up; and from
the officers’ quarters the way was led to the dinner, set in an arbour
of oak boughs.

Then--the Queen, God bless her, nine times nine; the Queen Dowager,
Lord Hill of the army, and Lord Minto of the navy, all lesser fry
who had to be content with three times three. The President called
upon a hundred guests “to fill to the very brim--_which was done
accordingly_;” John Prince, may long life and prosperity attend
him--nineteen times nine, and one cheer more.

So far so good; from Halifax to Amherstburg every newspaper exploited
him, every mail recorded fresh triumphs; he had only to show himself
to be cheered to the echo. But he had yet to pass through the hands of
Lord Brougham.

The ex-Chancellor was ready to fight any number of duels, rhetorical
or conversational, of black-letter law or black-mouthed insinuation,
upon any conceivable occasion. He now pounced upon the word outlaw and
twisted it through all the maze of meaning. The “mealy-mouthed” Sir
George Arthur’s opinion and the exculpation by court-martial availed
not; nothing but insanity could excuse Colonel Prince. In his opinion
he, Prince, was guilty of murder; he had made assurance doubly sure
by anticipation of legal proceedings and results. That there was
great support given Colonel Prince throughout Canada, advanced as a
mitigating circumstance by Lord Ellenborough, seemed but to justify
the ex-Chancellor in his sweeping condemnation. The Duke of Wellington
drew attention to the fact that it was not Colonel Prince’s commission
that was involved, or even his life alone, but the conduct of the Upper
Canadian government; that if all alleged were true, another gallant
friend of his, Sir John Colbome, whose duty it was to have brought
Colonel Prince at once to court-martial and punish him, would have been
remiss, and (evidently) warming to his subject, his Grace predicted
that a system of retaliation would be followed, that if Her Majesty had
not the power to protect her Canadian subjects the colony ought to be
abandoned. “Is there a single spot,” he asks, “except that on which a
soldier stands, in which Her Majesty’s authority is enforced?”

Brougham’s reputation when travelling was that at Inverness he was
Conservative, but, changing his opinions as often as his horses, he
was downright revolutionary by the time he reached Dundee; there at
the full, at Edinburgh he waned. By the time the Duke of Wellington
had finished Brougham’s sympathies were modified, and he ends with an
opinion that if the Government of the United States had not power to
repress such warfare they could hardly be called a civilized nation.

Upheld by the Duke, with the approval of the Imperial Parliament,
rewarded by a commission in the 71st for his son--a gift straight from
the hand of the great man himself--Colonel Prince held his head high
for the rest of his life, took good care to keep out of Detroit, fought
his remaining enemies to the last, and might well have said, “Honour
and policy, like unsevered friends, i’ the war do grow together.”
Always manly, he was ready to meet his former vilifiers half-way in a
reconciliation in which Sir Allen MacNab, the Rector of Sandwich, Major
Lachlan and John Hillyard Cameron undertook the rôle of mediators.
All reflections contained in the skit upon the colonel’s valour were
withdrawn, and on his side he expressed, in writing, his regret for his
many hasty expressions. It was, in fact, a true amnesty, in which each
party had to pay its own costs, for more than one bit of litigation had
begun.

Well might a temperate New York newspaper say, “With all our hearts
we wish those who feel themselves oppressed in Canada might have the
liberty they seek, if they could get it without resorting to measures
endangering the peace of the whole Anglo-Saxon race.”

    “Come, Mighty Must!
       Inevitable Shall!
     In Thee I trust;
       Time weaves my coronal.”



Huron’s Age Heroic.

    “Huron, distinguished by its lake,
     Where Manitoulin’s spirits wake,”


before ’37 had but one central point, which, to use a Paddyism, was
on the very confines of the still primeval forest. The mysterious
wilderness had a few spots between Goderich and the other limit of
the Canada Company, Guelph, in which woodmen, thinking solely of the
grain and roots to be grown in the cleared spaces, were unconsciously
ameliorating the climate of their continent by the patches of sunlight
their axes were letting in through the green gothic above.

At the one end Galt, “churning an inarticulate melody,” with shoulders
straight and upright, caught his foot in a tree root. Pryor, his
right-hand man, said, “Look after your feet, man, and keep your head
out of the stars.” In a moment Pryor hit his head against a branch.
“Man, keep your eyes frae your feet,” rejoined Galt, “or else you’ll
damage all the brains you’ve got.”

They jested; but they made the way of the pioneer. And the pioneer
is the Canadian man of destiny. He is in a thousand valleys and on a
thousand hillsides, sometimes cold and hungry, but he swims on the
crest of the wave, and sees the beginning of a new thing. The spirit
of adventure which bore Columbus, Cabot, Cartier, and Champlain into
untrodden paths, sustains him and makes him brother to them, even if
his scope is but the patch cleared by his own axe.

The British distinction between Whig and Tory, like the London fog,
was supposed not to cross the ocean with these pioneers. But in the
wilderness of Huron they throve by ’37 with a vigour derived from
transplanting. After the Gourlay affair men learned to put bridles on
their tongues; but if, as in Governor Maitland’s opinion, all Reformers
were deluded, unprincipled and designing, there were men in Dumfries,
Guelph, and from the Wilmot Line westward, who could differ from that
opinion and yet sing,

    “Far from our Fatherland,
     Nobly we’ll fall or stand,
           For England’s Queen.
     In town and forest free,
     Britons unconquered, we
     Sing with true loyalty,
           God save the Queen.”

Dumfries and all about Galt was largely settled by shepherds from the
neighbourhood of the Ettrick Shepherd, Galashiels, Abbotsford, and
thereabouts. If any of the good Tory sentiments recorded at Ambrose’s
are to be believed, the Ettrick Shepherd would have been dismayed had
he known what manner of opinion some of his fellow-shepherds held in
Canada. Walter Cowan, bailiff to Sir Walter, told his master he wanted
to emigrate. “Well, Walter, if you think it best to go,” said his
genial employer, “I’ll assist you; but if you ever need to give it up,
let me know, and I’ll help bring you back to Scotland.”

But did any ever wish to return? “I have never been home again,” says
one, “although I have often wished to see the place, and I don’t think
my sons or other Canadians appreciate it half enough; but I never
heard of any emigrant wanting to go back to _live_. If you have thriven
here, you are too high to have aught to do with them you left; and
those above you, no matter how you have thriven, are too high to have
aught to do with you.”

“I was born at Yarrow,” continues a mellow old Radical, bedridden,
but bright as the proverbial shilling, “and I was naught but a poor
shepherd lad; now, at ninety-three, I am one of the most fortunate men
alive. I am sinking down to the grave, bedridden, but I have all my
faculties, and I do not use spectacles by day or night. I came out in
’34, and that journey across the Atlantic was my wedding jaunt, for I
was married on my way to the ship, sixty-three years ago the 26th of
May it was; and there at the foot of my bed they have put the picture
of my good lady, where I can see it all day long. In ’35 I felt I must
have books, so I said, ‘Is there anyone in this place will help me get
some together?’ Then three men, all cobblers, came forward, and among
us we started what is now the Mechanics’ Institute--three cobblers and
a former shepherd lad; and that was the first public work I put my hand
to here. When I was naught but a callant at home I mind how my heart
nearly broke because there were no shillings to buy the books I longed
for, and when Mr. Chambers brought out that journal for the people and
we could buy it for three baubees, I thocht he was the noblest man that
ever lived. On the way out there was a lady who listened to our talk,
and I said I should never be content without a volume of Pollok, on
which I had set all my desires. So when we came through Rochester she
bought the book for a shilling, and made me a present of what I had
so long wanted; and I thought this must be a fine country where books
could be got for a shilling!”

After the arrival of Sir Francis, Judge Jones and Colonel FitzGibbon
had their conversation about the bags of pikes and pike-handles and
signs of their immediate use. Said the Judge, “You do not mean to
say these people are going to rebel?” The Colonel was no Thomas; he
firmly did believe. “Pooh-pooh,” said Jones, turning to Sir Francis,
who wearied for his pillow. So Sir Francis, humane man, addressed by
what he called “the industrious classes,” expressed himself in “plain
and homely language,” with as much care as if intended for “either
branches of the Legislature:” “The grievances of this Province _must_
be corrected; impartial justice _must_ be administered. The people have
asked for it; their Sovereign has ordained it; I am here to execute
his gracious commands.” Nor did these industrious classes, one time
shepherd laddies and the like, feel more than the Governor himself
allowed.

“I was a Scotch Radical, and would have helped Mackenzie all I
could--until he drew the sword. That proved to me he was not
constitutional, and I wouldna any such doings. I do know that if by
my own puny arm, young and without influence as I was, I could have
got rid of the Family Compact, I would have done it right willingly. A
few days before the outbreak a neighbour told me of the great doings
likely to be in Toronto, and I joked wi’ him. But he said, ‘Mind, man,
it’s no joking matter, and it’s sure ye’ll see Mackenzie’s men through
this way;’ and as I was a Scotch Radical he seemed to think it would
be short whiles before I was in gaol. So I laughed, and said, ‘Well,
if Mackenzie comes this way I’ll treat him well, for I have eight hogs
hung in a row, and he shall have the best.’ I would have fed him and
his people, for I would have rid the country of the Family Compact; but
he didna mend matters to draw the sword.” Even such meritorious work
must not be done in opposition to the Queen and country.

“I count only the hours that are serene,” is the motto on an old
Venetian sun-dial. All the Canadian clocks must have stopped and
the sun hasted not for a space of years in these exciting days when
Canadians, but one remove in complexion from aborigines, allowed not
toil, heat, sun, nor isolation to abate the vigour, ingenuity and
resolution born of circumstances.

“William Lyon Mackenzie, hot-tempered and impulsive,” says another
old Reformer, “had a keen eye for detection of a flaw in an argument;
he lived by complaining, and had no thought beyond formulating and
promoting grievances. So many years of such a tone of mind totally
unfitted him for political life. When a practical question was put
before him for a practical answer, the man was utterly at sea; his
faculty of constructiveness was obliterated.”

Evidently, he who cannot live happily anywhere will live happily
nowhere, and Mackenzie, “yellow and somewhat dwarfish,” bore out the
supposed likeness to the _Yellow Dwarf_, a violent weekly journal
published in London by an ultra Radical in 1819 and afterwards. Its
editor, Wooler, set it up without copy, mind and composing-stick
working together.

The _Colonial Advocate_ and Mackenzie’s pamphlets did their work in
the country side. Lords Brougham, Melbourne and Glenelg were gibbeted
in Toronto and afterwards burnt on the night of October 22nd, ’37,
and the _Advocate_ informed them of it. It also kept up excitement
about the “Kentish drillmaster,” corporals MacNab and Robinson, and
the general system of rack rent; it stated that a pound loaf was at
a shilling Halifax; that woe and wailing, pauperism and crime, were
rife in a land never meant for the first three; that many in the new
settlements seldom tasted a morsel of bread, and were glad to gnaw
the bark off the trees. “But why are want and misery come among us?
Ah, ye rebels to Christianity, ye detest the truth, ye shut your ears
against that which is right. Your country is taxed, priest-ridden, sold
to strangers and ruined ... Like the Iazzaroni of Italy, ye delight
in cruelty and distress, and lamentation and woe.” He apostrophized
the ruling Pact as false Canadians, Tories, pensioners, profligates,
Orangemen, church-men, spies, informers, brokers, gamblers, parasites,
knaves of every caste and description. It would be wonderful if each
man’s grievance could not find an outlet with such a number and
variety of scapegoats. “Never was a vagabond race more prosperous,” he
writes, “never did successful villainy rejoice in brighter visions of
the future. Ye may plunder, rob with impunity, your feet are on the
people’s necks, they are transformed into tame, crouching slaves, ready
to be trampled on. Erect your Juggernaut--the people are ready to be
sacrificed under the wheel of the idol.” It is strange that he did not
quote Culpepper: “They dip in our dish, they sit by our fire; we find
them in the dye-fat, the wash-bowls and the powdering tub. They share
with the cutler in his box; they have marked and sealed us from head to
foot.”

When Mackenzie made his appearance in Galt in ’33 a very partial local
critic calls him _somewhat_ of a political firebrand; he certainly
was full of what in Lower Canada just then was called “fusées de la
rhétorique.” He spoke from the south window of the village inn, with
the usual results. One

    “Whose rhetoric could rouse the Olympian host,
     And scare into fits poor Demosthenes’ ghost,”

was no commonplace figure. Set on steel springs, the hands opening
and shutting, the light-blue eyes sending keen and piercing glances
through the ranks of “these people” before him, who were already in
the best of training from the local agitator Mr. Bennett, the master
of Liberty Cottage, “this fellow” spoke in a way direct and easy to
understand. His writing was sometimes verbose, unequal and amateurish;
but in speech “the superlative littleness of the man” was lightened
by gleams of humour, facial expression and gesture which would not
commit themselves to paper, nor did they hinder the deadly earnestness
that carried conviction to any wavering mind. Now as he spoke a great
clatter arose from an incoming crowd which bore a blackened, bedizened
and hideous effigy of himself; the likeness was so good that the sight
of it provoked a smile from the original. He paused in his speech
and looked on in silent and grim amusement. Had he but known it, the
lay figure held almost an allegory of the real. It was stuffed with
gunpowder and other combustibles, and, as its original was destined
to do, went off prematurely; it knocked down a man or two, but did no
great harm. The figure wore a pair of very good boots, which someone
in the crowd, not so well furnished, begrudged. The man worked his way
through, seized the burnt brogues, and made off with them as fast as
his legs could carry him.

It is marvellous the bandit was not arrested as a suspect; it took
very small evidence to make a case. One Irish Loyalist, John McCrea,
was sent a summons to join the company then forming in Guelph for the
front; he considered his farm and home duties of more importance, and
was at once reported as “disaffected.” Shortly afterwards he went
to the general store kept by Captain Lamphrey, a retired English
officer, and was asked, as was the usual custom, into the parlour
for a glass of wine. To his surprise he there found three others, a
bench of magistrates, who without further ado began to try him. Why
had he not responded to the command to join the corps? Because he had
private and important domestic concerns on hand. He asked for the
name of his accuser and the specific accusation, but in reply was
told he must give a bond for his good behaviour. This was surely the
Star Chamber, Scroggs and Jeffreys, the secret-service principle of
Mackenzie’s written and spoken diatribes, and Mr. McCrea’s justified
Irish obstinacy rose as a wall against the combination. One of the
trio offered to become the bondsman, but the accused contended its
acceptance would be an admission of guilt. Mr. McCrea insisted upon
knowing their authority; they could not furnish it, and there was an
end of the matter.

Captain Lamphrey’s treats were full of unexpected results. One of
the loyal, who carried despatches to Hamilton, went to him one early
morning with signs of too many glasses already apparent and asked for
more. The captain could not refuse, knew the despatch must go, and saw
its safety was already endangered. He took H. M.’s special messenger
to the cellar and drew a glass of vinegar. “Drink it, man; down with
it! down with it!” which was done, and the lately demoralized special
messenger was “as sober as a clock.”

It was a joke to the Wellington neighbourhood that one company should
be headed by a Captain Poore and another by a Captain Rich. A brusque
Yorkshireman, William Day, volunteered in Poore’s company. The roads
were very bad, food was scarce, and as Day got hungry his loyalty
waned. At last he demanded something to eat. This was flat rebellion;
Poore called it insubordination, and said that instead of comforts Day
should have night guard, and stand upon his feet until the small hours
lengthened.

“So you won’t give me anything to eat?”

“No.”

“Then I know where I can get it, and that’s at Guelph. And I’d like to
see the man that’d stand between me and that door.”

No one offered to do so, and he walked back twenty-six miles, “got his
victuals,” and so ended his active military service.

Captain Poore had been endeavouring for two or three years to form a
volunteer rifle company. There was little time, and less inclination,
to play at soldiering; but by ’35, when agitation among the progressive
begot anxiety in the less progressive, he succeeded in forming a
company sixty strong, which drilled every Saturday in a corner of his
own farm. Many of the settlers were not gushing in their loyalty to the
powers that were, and, while not allying themselves with Mackenzie,
“had the governing party been drowned in the depths of the sea not a
solitary cry would have gone up for them.” Even the schoolboys were
keen politicians, and regarded those who dwelt in the shadow of the
Pact as very poor types of humanity. Those who were of the required age
and ordered to meet for drill every two weeks at the cross-roads, but
who had not sufficient courage of their convictions to refuse service,
performed it in a half-hearted manner. The most regular attendants were
the schoolboys. They snowballed the men and snowballed the captain,
made game of the execution of the various military movements and of
Mr. Hiscock. The latter was the drill-instructor, an old soldier,
who dressed partly in military uniform and carried a cane. Pompously
he walked back and forth, contemptuous of the roll-call. One little
Englishman, when going through the required answers, was asked,
“Married or single?” “Single, sir, but under promise,” was the reply.

Great, then, was the excitement when the news came that “_Toronto had
fallen_.” On the day of the engagement at Montgomery’s Captain Poore
and his men left Guelph, and Lamphrey, by now a colonel, with Colonel
Young was left in charge of the portion which was to protect Guelph.
The knowledge that Galt and Eramosa were strongly disaffected did not
tend to reassure the home-guard. It was feared that Guelph, too, might
“fall.” For days men busied themselves running bullets, and it was
soothing to know that a quantity of powder lay in the octagon house
should they keep possession of it--such stores, no doubt, would be
seized by the rebelliously inclined once they were in action. In the
town of Guelph itself it was proudly claimed that only one man was
disloyal, and that he, poor fellow, was only driven so by too long
and silent study of grievances, “an honest, decent man otherwise.” As
the chief evidence against him was that he went through Preston and
other outlying hamlets to buy up all the lead he could find, it seems
rather hard that when this was reported he should be apprehended, taken
to Hamilton, and lie there in gaol for six or eight months without
trial. Mr. James Peters, maliciously termed Captain Peters and said
to be at the head of fifty men who were on their way to burn Guelph,
was awakened before daylight on the morning of December 13th by the
entry of sixteen armed men; the leader drew his glittering sword by Mr.
Peters’ bedside and ordered him to get at once into one of the sleighs
waiting at the door. After leaving the Peters’ farm these valiant
special constables stopped at the house of a farmer magistrate, who
not only bade them welcome, put up their horses, and gave the entire
party a good breakfast, but delivered an encouraging homily to the
magistrate in charge--an officiously zealous Irishman--saying he was
glad to see the latter perform his duty so faithfully. When they were
well refreshed and ready for the balance of the journey they took their
departure, after arresting the host’s son. After that this farmer was
not quite so loyal, nor had he such exalted views of a magistrate’s
duty; moreover, he wished that he had saved that breakfast. The
document upon which the arrests were founded set forth: “That (those
enumerated) not having the fear of God in their hearts, but being moved
and seduced by the instigation of the devil, and entirely withdrawing
the love, and true and due obedience, which every subject of our said
lady the Queen should, and of right ought to, bear towards our said
present lady the Queen, and wickedly devising and intending to disturb
the peace and public tranquillity of this Province ... on divers other
days and times, with force and arms at the township of Eramosa, in the
said district, unlawfully, maliciously and traitorously, did compass,
imagine, and intend to bring and put our said lady the Queen to death.”
In spite of efforts of judge and Crown, a jury took eight minutes to
return a verdict of “Not guilty.” But in the meantime the building
in which the prisoners were confined at Hamilton had been used by
Government to store fifty kegs of gunpowder, protected by sand. Early
in the morning the seven men, asleep in their two narrow cells, were
roused to the fact that the tinder-wood building was on fire. They
shouted until they were hoarse, pounded with all their strength, but
failed to wake the sleeping guards. Exhausted, they threw themselves
on the floor to await the horrible fate which seemed inevitable. But
an alarm from without at last roused the guards, who at once set about
saving the gunpowder, and gave no thought to the anxiety and terror of
those within the cells. For long there was a popular idea that the fire
was malicious incendiarism, but there appears to be no definite ground
for such a belief.

To ensure safety, a night-watch was set on the Eramosa bridge, as
well as at one other point. One night a son of the too well-fed Irish
magistrate was on duty. It so happened that at the witching hour a
Scotch miller came across the bridge with a wee drap in his ’ee--a
strong, muscular fellow, and muscular in his language. His answer to
whither was he going and what his errand, was, without preliminary
words, to seize the guard by his coat collar and a convenient handful
of his trousers, remove him from his path, and, with some oaths,
declare that if interfered with he would pitch him into the river.

It did not take much to frighten either guard or pedestrian at such
times. Not far from the Galt bridge an old Highlander, who was a bit of
a character, successfully tried for a few “treats” from the regulars
whom he saw one night in the cosy brightness of the village inn. He
also made away with a regular’s red coat. Some of the home corps were
on guard that night, and as in the clear atmosphere they saw him coming
toward the bridge they guessed his double sin. They demanded his
business and the countersign, and fired into the air. He fell flat,
vowing he was killed, and never afterwards had he peace in the streets
of Galt.

There are some ludicrous magistrate stories in all districts. As in the
first days of Franco-Anglo-Canada it had not been thought requisite
that officials should know both languages, so in these early provincial
days it was not a _sine qua non_ that magistrates should read and
write. A “dockyment” was brought before one, a blacksmith by trade. He
sat down on his anvil to “execute,” looking ineffably wise while he
held the paper head down. “But, your worship, the document is upside
down,” said the humble bailiff. “By the virtue of my office, I hold
it whichever way I d--- please,” said his worship, stamping his foot,
and convinced he was as well in his wits as any man in Middlesex. On
the other hand, one western bailiff never lost a chance to display his
knowledge of whatever language, dead or living, he might opportunely
happen to think. When questioned by his magistrate as to the
non-appearance of an expected prisoner, the bailiff proudly replied,
“Non est comeatibus, c’est in an awful mess, parceque cum swampibus.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In Huron proper, while the people were devising means to secure
recognition of what they deemed their rights locally, not one man
rebel to his country was to be found; indeed, no one who knew his
circumstances will apply that term even to the unfortunate Van Egmond.
“Blame Van Egmond? I blame the Family Compact a devilish sight more
than I blame him,” says one. Sir Francis Bond Head ought to be
considered an authority, and he affirms the Queen to be the head of
this Family. “And what are we going to fight for?” asked one western
man, with his draft-slip in his hand. “Against Mackenzie? Never!--the
only man who dared to speak for us--never!” These true reformers
considered that they were most loyal to their Queen when loyal to her
and themselves too, and the remembrance of the day which called them to
arms carries with it a regretful thought for Van Egmond.

In Goderich the arms consisted mainly of pitchforks, scythes and pikes,
the latter made for the occasion by George Vivian, of that place. Each
had a cruel crosspiece, with all points sharpened, to be used either as
bayonet or battle-axe. A few lucky warriors had flintlocks.

One great source of complaint was the class of firearms supplied. Some
relics of one lot of “useless lumber” sent up under the charge of the
present Mr. Justice Robertson’s father are still about the Goderich
gaol, and the specimens extant show the complaint to have been a just
one.

There was also “a plentiful crop of captains and colonels.” Drill was
held in the large room at Read’s hotel, and the boys who looked on
were much edified by such display of valour and clanking of metal.
This regiment has been handed down to local fame as “The Invincibles,”
“Huron’s True Blues,” “The Huron Braves” and “The Bloody Useless.” When
the call to arms came all turned out with good-will, and the fact that
lone fishermen, pigs and ponies proved to be their only visible enemies
can cast no discredit on the valour of their intention. Their hardships
were many, and the complaints heard few.

Somewhere on the lake border, where the juniper and tamarack made the
best undergrowth, wandered Ryan, a fugitive from Gallows Hill, the man
made famous by the death of Colonel Moodie. Many miseries were his
until the opening of navigation, and by the time he was taken off by a
friendly American schooner he was reduced to a skeleton.

It was on Christmas Day, in the rain, that Captain Hyndman and his
followers set out for Walpole Island, a journey which meant the extreme
of roughing it. Captain Gooding and his Rifles left on the 7th of
January, and were fortunate in being able to return all together when
their service was over; but those who were with Captain Luard at Navy
Island had to get back just as their strength would allow. Captain
Lizars and Lieutenant Bescoby took their men to Rattenbury’s Corners,
where they spent most of the winter, thus being saved many hardships
suffered by their townsmen. Edouard Van Egmond was a most unwilling
volunteer, for his ill-advised father, brave soldier and good pioneer
as he had been proved, was by that time with Mackenzie in Toronto.
Edouard resisted the press; but his horses were pressed into service,
and their young owner said that wherever they were he must follow.
The Invincibles were evidently at liberty to display individual taste
in uniform, and Major Pryor took his way to the frontier picturesque
in blanket-coat, sugar-loaf toque and sword; nor was the line drawn
at the combination of blanket-coat, epaulets and spurs. The regulars
among them did not disdain to be gorgeous, too, and one tall, handsome
Irishman looked particularly magnificent in a uniform specially
procured from England. He was a truly warlike and awe-inspiring sight,
and having served through the Spanish campaign, and at Waterloo,
had the usual regular’s contempt for militia. His charge was the
commissariat from Niagara to Hamilton and London, and on one occasion,
at a certain point on the Governor’s Road, was challenged by a guard,
Private McFadden. His Magnificence merely vouchsafed, “Get out of my
way, you young whippersnapper!” disgust and indignation making a strong
brogue stronger. McFadden lifted his musket and was just about to fire,
when a mutual acquaintance opportunely arrived to save the regular from
the volunteer.

Some of the distressing events which centred in the Windsor
neighbourhood had a direct or indirect connection with Huron names.
Peter Green, of Goderich, the garrison tailor, who lived in a house
almost adjoining the barracks, with his family was shut up in it by
the patriots, who intended to roast them to death. Green, a staunch
Mason, but who nevertheless had given up his Goderich lodge through
his distaste towards a brother Mason (Thomas Mercer Jones, the Huron
exponent of the Family Compact), put his trust in Providence, and
thrusting out his hand made a Masonic sign. He was understood by one
of the enemy and allowed to leave his burning house. As he went he was
carrying his youngest child; in spite of masonry a stab was made at
his burden, which Green warded off at the expense of his own hand. Bad
as matters were, his membership saved him and his from death. Ronald
MacGregor and his family, who had moved from Goderich to Windsor in
’36, were burned out at the same time, escaping in their night-clothes.

When the Bloody Useless were at the front they saw no active service;
but their sufferings were not inconsiderable. Some of them had
quarters in a church, where the narrowness of the pews and benches and
the scantiness of the blankets led to much discomfort. But the real
hardship fell to those whose lot took them to some deserted Indian
shanties where filth of all kinds and melted snow on a clay floor were
poor inducements to rest. The snow shovelled out to the depth of a foot
still left enough behind to be melted by the warmth of the wearied
bodies, which, stretched side by side, were by morning held fast by
the snow-water again frozen. The hearty, cheery spirit of Dunlop, who
doubled the rations, was better than medicine, or even than his liberal
allowance of grog. When they moped he would order them out for a march,
leading them in his homespun checkered dress and Tam o’ Shanter,
closely followed by the Fords (“the sons of Anak,” because they were
all six feet six), the Youngs, the Annands, and other stalwart township
pioneers, not forgetting some sailors who had been pressed into the
service, each man shouldering a pike ten feet in length. “Ah me, what
perils do environ the man that meddles with cold iron,” quoted the
Doctor; “in the British army it was understood that the only use of a
musket was supposed to be that it could carry a bayonet at the end of
it.” But his own armament was chiefly that supplied by George Vivian.
The Doctor’s hardy frame knew nothing of the sufferings of his men.
On one occasion when he took a company of sixty from Bayfield, he
expected to make Brewster’s Mills easily; but the men were half tired,
and he appropriated for their rest two shanties by the way. Next day
they went on to the Sable, but the men were completely done by the
time Kettle Point (Ipperwash) was reached. Get on they must, as many
as might; so the Doctor proposed, “All of you as are fit, come with
me.” Of the sixty, twenty-six went on with him, and one survivor tells
that that march was the hardest work he ever did; “but the Doctor stood
it finely.” About the same time Dunlop and his men found themselves
dependent for shelter on two women who had no comforts to offer such a
company. Some of the men grumbled, but the Doctor asked for whiskey.
The women showed him a barrel newly opened; whereupon he put a man in
charge, and ordered horns all round. The hostesses were anxious to give
a bed to the Doctor, but he would have nothing that his men had not.
Calling to Jim Young to bring him a beech log, he disposed himself
in his blanket on the floor; when the log came he put one end of his
blanket over it for a pillow and slept soundly until morning. “Our
fathers ... have lain full oft ... with a good round under their heads
instead of a pillow. Pillows, said they, were thought meet only for
women.”

The hopes and the fears, the occasional feasts and many involuntary
fasts, hardened all consciences when a search for supplies was on hand.
In these times even the future first sheriff of Huron did not consider
house-breaking criminal nor a raid upon a potato-pit larceny. Once
Colonel Hyndman and some others had three-weeks’ leave and started on
their homeward trip by the lake-shore, some seventy-five miles at the
least, and unnecessarily added to by a false calculation which caused
them to retrace their steps and increase their already long walk by
ten miles. Sergeant Healy was twice nearly lost on the way; first by
falling in a creek, and afterwards through exposure to cold--for their
tramp led them through a country covered with two feet of snow. Healy
begged them to leave him to his fate, saying that although he was an
old soldier, and had served his sovereign in all parts of the world
for twenty-one years, he had never suffered as he was suffering then.
Needless to say they did not desert him, and they got him to Goderich
as best they could; but he served no more on the Canadian frontier.

The men were much interested in the droves of half-wild cattle and
horses to be seen on both sides of the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers.
The horses were so numerous that it is said strings of them could be
seen each way as far as the eye could reach, and as late as ’46 fifty
dollars would buy a good one. In various “Legends of the Detroit” many
interesting stories are told of these hardy, clever little animals,
the direct descendants of one of the most celebrated of the stock
of 1665--the French horses called by the Indians the Moose Deer of
Europe. The French river settlers cut their fodder in the summer,
stacked it, and turned it over to the ponies in the winter for them to
feed from at will. Water-holes in the ice were made for the wise little
animals, and beyond these two items they received little attention from
their owners. One of the Invincibles thus describes a raid on our men
by the enemy:

“Skimmings, of Goderich, was on guard, and reported that he heard the
rebels galloping through the bush. Young told him that that was an
impossibility, as they would have to come from the opposite direction.
Skimmings was sure he heard the tread and gallop, and was loaded to the
muzzle to receive them. Presently a drove of ponies appeared, making
for their water-holes--and there was another scare over, and Skimmings
never heard the last of it.”

At Colonel Hyndman’s quarters on Walpole Island a challenge was given
to three of these inoffensive Indian ponies, by a sentry who had an
infirmity of stuttering. Fearing that he had not been understood, he
repeated his challenge; and still once again, unwilling that any should
perish through his poor speech. Determined to be merciful in spite of
this contemptuous silence he called out the guard, who were some time
in arriving at a knowledge of the matter, for between the sentry’s
fright and his stutter he was unintelligible. The lanterns of the
guard revealed the homeless trio, supplementing their scanty supper by
picking up stray bits of fodder which lay about the camp.

Of the practical jokes most of them were played on officers, either
by their subordinates or brother officers. Major Pryor was at Sarnia
with Colonel Hyndman, and the latter was very anxious indeed to break
the monotony of the times. His chance came one evening when there was
exchange of sentries, and Pryor had gone off to spend a convivial hour.
Hyndman gave very strict orders as to the enforcing of the password,
and then waited results. Major Pryor staggered back to the line, very
drunk indeed. When challenged he stuttered that he was the f-f-fellow’s
major.

“I don’t care who you are--what’s the password?”

“Don’t know, b-b-but I’m your Major!”

“Into the guardhouse with you then, if you don’t know the pass,” and
the major was ignominiously hurried off. When he got there he was clear
enough to see that the men knew him.

“Very well, then,” said one; “if you give us an order on the Commissary
for a gallon of grog we’ll let you go.”

“Give me a p-p-pen then,” said Pryor, “and you can have your g-g-grog.”

He duly wrote the order, which one of the men altered from one to two
gallons, and was thereupon set at liberty.

There was little ceremony spent on the furnishing of the commissariat.
When a beast was noticed by an officer it was decided that that animal
must at once be annexed; but as far as can be learned now there was
always a fair remuneration made to the owner. It was claimed by the
rival messes that equal fairness was not observed in the distribution
of a suddenly acquired dainty. Dunlop had become possessed of a sheep,
and great was the rage of Pryor when it was found that the former
had requisitioned for the whole animal, for they had all been living
on pork for weeks. The Doctor could not resist such opportunity for
jokes, and mutton _versus_ pork caused Pryor many an irritation.
Nicknames, too, grew from the work and doings of ’37 as easily as they
were coined by Dunlop at other times. “Toddy Tam” was the head of the
Commissariat, and Robert Young, of Glasgow, who was butcher to the
Huron militia, was in consequence called Killit-and-Curit. Thereafter
he was best known as Killie Young.

A grand dinner had been the cause of Major Pryor’s guard-house
experience. A baker and a butcher had been sent to ransack the
countryside for provisions for it, and extraordinary success had
crowned their efforts. Colonel Hyndman asked “Toddy Tam” not to serve
the major with any of the new-gotten delicacies until he, Hyndman,
had entertained his fellow-officers at a dinner. And such a dinner,
to men who had been half starved! Mutton and turkey boiled and roast,
fowls, and pastry of all sorts and descriptions. “Good God, Hyndman!”
exclaimed Pryor, “where did you get all that?”

Hyndman gravely replied that these were his rations. Toddy Tam arrived
at the head of the stairway just in time to hear Pryor heaping abuse
upon him, saying that “that d---- fellow, the Commissary, had served
_him_ with nothing but salt pork ever since he came to Sarnia.” The
irate major just then caught sight of the offender, and would have
thrown him down the stairway but for the interference of Captains
Gooding and Lizars. Careful management and pre-arrangement on the
part of his tormentors lodged the gallant and stuttering major in
guard-house.

On another occasion, when Hyndman was in advance of Pryor by a day’s
march, the former halted his men for rest at Mrs. Westlake’s, where
comforts and food were in plenty. Reckoning on the major’s usual
blustering manner to bear him out, Colonel Hyndman advised Mrs.
Westlake that Major Pryor would arrive next day, and that she had best
be on her guard. When Pryor and his men arrived he at once ordered this
and shouted for that, desiring the household to bring him every thing
at once. To his amazement in marched Mrs. Westlake, a huge pistol in
her hand, who without more ado began the work of converting a bully
into the most civil and astonished of officers. But with all his faults
of manner Pryor had his good points, and only two days previous to this
had sent home his man-servant and horses, determined to march with his
men and share their hardships.

Doctor Dunlop, “who commanded six hundred and fifty fine fellows at
the front,” was much distressed at the lack of money to pay his men.
He was advised that a line of express horses had been established
between London and Sarnia, and he accordingly detailed Captain Kydd
as messenger with a despatch to Colonel John Askin. Captain Kydd
tried to evade the commission, as his regimentals were in no trim
for appearance at headquarters. His brown moleskin shooting-jacket
had seen three sousings in the Maitland, besides much other hard
usage as pillow or blanket on mud floors; his Black Hawk cap was too
small and sat awkwardly on his head, and the rest of his attire was
in keeping. However, he went. After many adventures he reached a
station where a retired naval officer and his young and pretty wife
were domiciled in a log hut some eight feet high, which was roofed
with bass-wood troughs and contained but one room. The kitchen was a
bark shanty, a few feet away. There were no signs of cattle about,
but the frequent ringing of a cow-bell gave the impression that one
must be stabled in the kitchen. Not so, however. A rope connected
the “parlour” with the second building, the bell in use being an old
cow-bell, the ringing of which was the work of the pretty young wife,
who in her own apartment tried, poor soul, to forget her surroundings
by keeping up what semblance she could of her former state. The bush
in those days was full of such anomalies. When the express equine was
brought to the door he had neither saddle nor bridle, a hair halter,
perhaps provided by his own tail, his only garnishing. Nothing but the
bell-rope could be found to assist in improvising a harness. Captain
Kydd had not the heart to deprive the lady of that, and he continued
his journey caparisoned with hair halter alone. His tale of danger and
discomfort, through what seemed an interminable swamp, can well be
believed,--wet, cold and hungry, without sight of another soul until
he reached the next station, where he was received and kindly treated
by the women relatives of our own Edward Blake. These ladies looked
at the half-drowned horse and mud-bespattered man; and full of pity
for a supposed backwoodsman in dire distress, were ready to offer him
their best hospitality. When he put into their hands his passport as
“Captain Kydd of the First Hurons, abroad on special service,” they did
not attempt to disguise their amusement, but laughed long and heartily.
After a rest of an hour or two, a bath, a rubbing down which deprived
him of his coat of mud, and a hearty appreciation from himself and
his beast of the good fare set before them, he was ready to pursue
his journey. At length London was reached, and the precious despatch
put into Colonel Askin’s hands--but with no result, for there was
neither official money nor credit. Instead of coin, Colonel Askin gave
the messenger a packet addressed to Captain James Strachan, Military
Secretary at Government House, Toronto. In vain did Kydd bring forward
his coat and Black Hawk cap as sufficient reason for not undertaking
a further trip; nor yet were his sufferings from hunger and fatigue
on his recent journey allowed to stand in the way of his undergoing
fresh distress. The best mode of conveyance obtainable was a common
farm-waggon, in which he made his way at a foot pace. He met many
people en route, most of them as shabby as himself, and all talking
war to the knife. He arrived in Toronto late at night on the third
day, but waited until morning to present his despatches at Government
House. There the much befogged Secretary not unreasonably looked with
disdain at the coat and cap of the special messenger; the despatch was
taken within for Sir Francis’ perusal, with the result that another
packet, of large size and said to contain the necessary money, was
put into Captain Kydd’s hands, and an order given him to return to
London by express. Express meant a dirty farm-sleigh with a torn canvas
cover. His only travelling companion was a Brant Indian returning to
the Reserve, an intelligent, well-educated man and a most pleasant
companion. Together they were upset from the sleigh, and together they
righted it and its sail-like cover, to resume the weary journey. Upon
presentation to Colonel Askin, the important-looking packet was found
to be worthless, for the document bore no signature. Captain Kydd was
given his original Rosinante, with the same hair halter, and sent back
to Sarnia, while another special messenger was despatched to Toronto
for the necessary signatures.

The despatch and its bearer had variations. When Black Willie Wallace,
of Dunlop’s Scouts, was sent with one from Clinton to Goderich it took
nine days to travel the twelve miles and pass the various taverns on
the way. The importance of the despatch entered even the childish mind,
and one small daughter, whose father was a bearer, cried out as the
latter rode up to the gate in full regimentals, “Here’s father with
another dampatch.” Always warlike and politicians, these small babes
sometimes dealt unpleasant truths to the untrue. One Tory atom when
questioned “Where’s your father?” replied, “Father gone to fight the
dirty rebels, and brother Dan’el gone to fight the dirty rebels, too.”

Colonel Dunlop swore not a little when Kydd reported himself
empty-handed, but tried to keep up his own hopes as well as those of
his men. Weeks and months went by, and no money came; privations were
great, and the mental trial was added of the knowledge of farms at home
going to ruin, families unprovided for, and no prospect for the future.
In March the order for return came; but there was no word of any money.
The companies were told off for the homeward trip, one day apart, and
the record is of a terrible journey in the broken March weather, with
roads at their very worst. Dunlop remained behind with others of the
officers, for, as he wrote Government in terms not to be mistaken,
he had become personally liable to the local stores for clothing and
necessaries, and would not leave the place with such indebtedness
unpaid.

“Glory is not a very productive appanage, it is true, but in the
absence of everything else it is better than nothing”--but these
impoverished lads had little or no glory, and they returned without
having seen what was technically known as active service. Dunlop’s
illustration of the _ne plus ultra_ of bad pay was Waterloo, where
each private there performed the hardest day’s work ever done for a
shilling. Now he thought the brave Hurons in a still worse plight. By
the time pay day did arrive they were not few who expressed the opinion
that the Canadian rebellion was due to the machinations of a “parcel
of poor rogues and a few, a very few, rich fools, one party deserving
accommodation in the penitentiary and the other lodgings in bedlam.”
Dunlop did not allow himself such free speech in regard to the policy
of the Colonial Office, which let numbers be brought to the scaffold or
to the foot of it; but he used no circumspection in words when he dealt
with local mismanagement.

    “As syllabubs without a head,
    As jokes not laughed at when they’re said,
    As needles used without a thread,
              Such are Bachelors,”

says an old song. Now Tiger Dunlop might have said, “And when I fell
into some fits of love I was soon cured.” But bachelor as he was, the
well-springs of fraternal love were not dried up in him; nor were
his syllabubs wont to be without a head, nor his jokes unlaughed at.
When he spoke others listened, and his dissatisfaction ended in his
resignation, upon which he addressed the following letter to his brave
Hurons:

“COMRADES,--When I resigned the command of the St. Clair frontier in
March last I endeavoured to express to you in my farewell Order my
gratitude for the generous confidence you had reposed in me, and my
thanks for the steady soldier-like conduct with which you had borne
every privation and met every difficulty. I have now to explain to you
the reason why I voluntarily abandoned a situation in every respect
gratifying to my feelings as the honourable command I then held.

“From the day that I resigned the command to the present hour I have,
at great expense and total neglect of my own personal affairs, been
travelling from one commissariat station to another in order to get
something like justice done you. To the superior military officers my
best thanks are due--Sir John Colborne, Sir F. B. Head, and latterly
Sir G. Arthur, Colonel Foster, and our immediate commanding officer,
the Hon. Colonel Maitland, have treated me with the greatest kindness
and you with the greatest consideration. From men of their rank we
might possibly have submitted to a little hauteur; on the contrary we
have met with the most courteous condescension. The Commissariat, on
the other hand, men infinitely inferior to many of us in birth, rank,
and education, have treated us with the most overweening arrogance and
the most cruel neglect. They have never personally insulted me, for I
am six feet high and proportionately broad across the shoulders; but
the poor farmers have to a man complained to me of their treatment by
these

    _Very magnificent three-tailed Bashaws_

of Beef and Biscuit. I grudge none of the labour I have spent, nor
any of the pecuniary sacrifices I have made in your service. My life
and my property are my country’s, and I am willing cheerfully to lay
either or both down when my Sovereign may require them, but my honour
is unalienably my own, and I cannot submit to be made, as I lately
unwittingly have been, the instrument of the most cruel and grinding
oppression, to snatch, without remuneration, his pittance from the
peasant or the bread from his children’s mouths. I have therefore
submitted my resignation, but with no intention of leaving you; I shall
stand with you in all danger, shoulder to shoulder, but it shall be in
the ranks.

“I have to warn you not to judge of a government by the meanest of
its servants, nor let the upstart insolence of a body so contemptible
alienate your affections from your Queen and country; the people
of England are both liberal and just, and were your case fairly
represented to them there is not the slightest doubt immediate steps
would be taken to redress your grievances. The Queen, like other
people, has dirty work to do, and must have dirty fellows do it. The
royal chimney-sweepers who exercise their professional functions in
Buckingham Palace and St. James’s may be very pleasant fellows in their
way, but I doubt much if they are the kind of people that either you or
I would borrow money to drink with, as Shakespeare’s fat Knight says.

“Some little excuse must be had for the poor fellows after all.
That the Commissariat are ‘saucy dogs’ we all must allow, have felt
it; but that they are not too saucy to eat dirty puddings we know,
for cursed dirty puddings they are obliged to bolt, without even
daring to make a wry face at them. Witness the correspondence which
the House of Assembly last winter elicited between the arrogant,
insolent, empty-headed coxcomb at the head of that department and the
Commissaries at Toronto and Penetanguishene. To this the poor devils
are obliged to submit for their piece of silver or morsel of bread.
It is natural, therefore, that the people who have studied so long
in the school of arrogant ill-breeding should be anxious to exhibit
the proficiency they have attained when their turn comes; and it
is possible they may suppose that a Canadian yeoman, who is afraid
of losing all that has been taken from him by offending their High
Mightinesses, may for a time submit to it.

“A broken head or two might remove this delusion and convince them that
_a man is still a man_ though clad in a homespun coat, and that to get
rid of their redundant bile safely they must make it go as hereditary
property does by law, downwards, and alight on the heads of clerks and
issuers, who, living in the hope of one day having it in their power to
abuse their inferiors, will probably submit with more equanimity.

“In applying to the British Parliament for redress, I give you warning
that the Commissariat is the most powerful body you can well attack.
The Duke of Wellington and Lord Grey, Lord Brougham and Lord Lyndhurst,
Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Daniel O’Connell may talk, and all, when in
their turn of power, have provided for the sons of faithful butlers
and respectable valets in the Commissariat--a department particularly
favourable for the offspring of the lower orders (the pay being good
and the work little or nothing), the attainments necessary for its
duties being easily acquired in any parish school, they being comprised
in writing a legible hand and a tolerable acquaintance with the first
four rules of arithmetic. The experiment, however, is well worth
trying, and I trust will be successful.

“With best wishes for your prosperity and hope that you may
henceforward, under the protecting arm of a just Government,
cultivate your fields in peace, I subscribe myself, my comrades and
fellow-soldiers,

  “W. DUNLOP,

  “_Your late Colonel,
  “Commanding the St. Clair Frontier_.”

This letter found its way into all the provincial journals, and made
no little talk. The Kingston _Whig_ says, “Among many other endearing
epithets he calls Mr. Commissary-General Routh an empty-headed,
arrogant, insolent coxcomb. Now the gallant ex-Colonel, according to
his own confession, stands six feet high and is proportionately broad
across the shoulders, and Mr. Commissary is an aged and feeble man,
altogether past the prime of life; would a duel therefore be fair
between the parties? We think not; and yet according to the absurd
notions of modern honour what else can Mr. Commissary do than fight,
unless, indeed, one of his younger and subordinate officers equally
insulted by the gallant ex-Colonel takes up the cudgels in his own and
his chief’s behalf.” But there was no duel. Dunlop had a sovereign
contempt for what he called a lobster-coated puppy, and took his
grievances straight to Colonel Maitland, Commandant at London. There
are always wheels within wheels. The Doctor’s requisitions for food
and drink had been on a generous scale; an assistant commissary had
peremptorily brought things under different conditions, with an amount
of unnecessary red tape which aggravated the Doctor beyond endurance.
A stop was put to the whiskey _in toto_, not on temperance but on
military principles, and that he could not thole. He reached London
at night. Next morning, instead of reporting himself in an ordinary
way, he arrived at morning parade of the 32nd, and there accosted the
Colonel on horseback. Dressed in his usual homespun shepherd’s plaid
and blue bonnet, the Doctor is reported to have delivered himself thus:

“Good-mornin’ to ye, Maitland. Hoo air ye this mornin’?’

“Why, Dunlop, is this you?”

“Yes, ’tis I myself. I’ve just come over from Port Sarnia to lay a
wee mather before ye. I was in command of the volunteers from my own
neighbourhood, farmers and farmers’ sons, who are in the habit of being
well fed and well found in their ain hames, and I generally supplied
them in all they needed at Sarnia, and tried to make things comfortable
for them by givin’ them plenty to eat and plenty to drink; when a
Commissary fellow by the name of Robinson came there, took the mather
in hand, cut off pairt o’ the supplies and disregarded my orders when
I gave requisitions. Now, Maitland, I am here an old army officer,
and I know what it is to feed men, and I’ve come to lay this mather
before you that you may set it right, because I’ve never been in the
habit, and I never will be subjected, to take my orders from a dom
pork-barrel.” Upon which the Colonel nearly fell off his horse. He knew
the Doctor, and enjoyed the originality of the whole complaint.

Why should the good Tiger’s memory be too heavily assailed for his
fondness and capacity for liquids. Maréchal Saxe, in his hale youth,
could toss off a gallon of wine at a draught; and when Wolfe’s men
reached the crest of the hill he had grog served out to them, while he
spoke kind and encouraging words after their terrible climb. Why should
not Goderich and the Tiger appear in these tales oscillating between
history and myth? It was called a Goderich custom to conceal the glass
in the hand while the liquid was poured in; but Whiskey Read, teamster
and trader, earned his sobriquet because his load to Goderich was so
many barrels of the terrible liquid.

In time Dunlop was advised that ten thousand dollars lay to his credit
at the Bank of Upper Canada in Amherstburg. Thus were unnecessary miles
added to a journey already delayed and cruelly long. Doctor and aides
made their way there--that place renowned for loyalty, rattle-snakes
and turkeys--astonishing all Windsor on his way through it by the
display of a half-crown piece which had turned out from some forgotten
pocket corner. So much specie had not been seen there for a long
time; they knew no money but the wild cat shin-plaster. From Windsor
they proceeded by water; and after further adventures, immersions and
escapes, there was the final discovery of Jamie Dougall in a little
low-ceilinged shop, manager of the Bank of Upper Canada. But there was
no money yet for Huron, and they must wait some days for its possible
arrival. So, with as much patience as might be, they established
themselves at Bullock’s Hotel, and after five days’ waiting the money
did arrive. The Doctor in the meantime had intended to divert an hour
by calling upon the officers at Fort Malden; but the dress suit of
claret-coloured cloth, the coat tails lined with pink silk, with which
he had provided himself, was now all too small, and when arrayed in it
he looked and felt so much like the letter T, that he called lustily,
“Kydd, Kydd, come and let me out.” In his dirty homespun and Tam the
visit had to be made, and the straight-jacket was never seen again.

On leaving the village with their precious load a sudden panic took
the person to whose special keeping the sum had been given, and at
the moment of departure he could nowhere be found. The Doctor could
only suppose that both man and money had been kidnapped, and, as
consolation, had recourse to horns with every friend he met. And the
Doctor’s friends were many, and the horns were potent. At length
Doctor, money and aides were all got together and a start was made for
Sarnia. Then followed further adventures, impassable roads, frequent
halts and scanty fare. Just as they were watching the manœuvres of the
migrating fish, and admiring the dexterous way in which they helped
their passage by hugging the shore, they came upon an old walnut
dug-out, abandoned on account of a crack in its side. The bullion
convoy was at this time enjoying the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs.
Sutherland, from whom they procured rags instead of oakum, and with
pitch made a good job of the canoe. Mrs. Sutherland provided them
with what she called a week’s supply of provisions, and following the
example of the fish they began their coasting journey. The provisions
turned out to be ample for double the time, fortunately for them, for
it took them all of that to reach the brave Huron First, by then all at
home and anxiously awaiting the pay so dearly earned on the frontier.
At Sarnia the convoy debarked to pay outstanding dues. At Point
Edward there was a further delay, where the rapids proved a barrier.
Ben Young was left in the boat to fend it from the shore, while the
Doctor, Captain Kydd and James Young, pulling on a stout rope, did tow
work. No sooner were the rapids safely passed than an accumulation
of half-rotten ice stopped the way, honeycombed and soft in the
centre--“for all the world,” as the Doctor said, “like a woman’s baking
of tea-tarts, with a spoonful of jelly in the middle.” They beached the
boat as best they could, and soon had a roaring fire of drift-wood, the
warmth of which made them forget many discomforts. This last delay was
too much for the Doctor’s patience, and by morning it was found that
he had struck off on his way home alone--no doubt feeling independent
when on his feet in these pathless woods, even in the winter. James
Young was sent after him, and the other three, with the money in their
keeping, stuck by the canoe. Fresh accumulations of ice, storms, a
rescue by a party of five or six men off Kettle Point, were next in
the list of adventure, until, the water journey becoming impossible,
they camped on shore and turned inland for help, the man with the
money being left with the unhappy canoe and its load of their united
belongings. A poor enough kit it was--dirty blankets and underwear. Mr.
Sayers and his two sons entertained them with their best, and helped
shoulder the load as far as Bayfield. There another stop was made; and
the weary five, with their ten thousand dollars’ worth of pay money,
reached Goderich the following night. The Companies’ pay-lists were
then compared, checked off, and approved by the Commanding Officer, and
many hearts were made glad after another fortnight had been spent in
settling all matters of detail.

Such delays and martyrdoms to red-tapeism read not unlike the record
of the Crimean campaign. It is not unnatural that Captain Strachan,
the Military Secretary, should be spoken of with severity by such as
remember those days and hand down the tale, as he was the middleman
through whom much was suffered.

Meantime, although Goderich had been written of “as more completely
out of the world than any spot which it has been attempted to settle,”
it found it incompatible with dignity and safety to be without a Home
Guard. In the townships there was another class of home guard; for the
old men and the lame, or lads under sixteen, were left in charge to cut
the wood, water cattle and attend to the women’s chores. This help,
such as it was, had to be spread over a large area, one man, lame or
not, having to attend to several farms.

The remembrance of the Home Guard’s duty is that it was a peaceful
performance, a sinecure as far as aggression or resistance went.
Although Goderich was credited by several governors and military
commanders as being a capital natural vantage for defence, the
fortification of the Baron’s Hill never went on, for it was estimated
the point was too far removed from the rest of the world ever to be
attacked.

A Detroit newspaper of June 30th, ’38, tells how “on the night of
Tuesday last some thirty of these heroes (patriots) stole a sloop
and cruised to Goderich, in Canada. There they plundered the stores
of everything valuable and came off. The steamboat _Patriot_ was
immediately manned and sent in pursuit of them, and after a long chase
found them in our waters. The persons on board the sloop were all
armed, but being--as they are--a miserable lot of cowards, they ran
the sloop on to the land, and everyone on board, with the exception of
one man, made their escape. The sloop was captured and brought down in
tow to this place.” Luckily, by July 12th the Detroit paper can say
further, “The steamboat _Governor Marcy_, under command of Captain
Jephson, has succeeded in capturing eight of the pirates who robbed
the storehouses at Goderich, U. C. They were brought down from the St.
Clair a week since, and on their arrival were taken before the U. S.
judge. Four were discharged for want of sufficient evidence...; two
were held to bail.... Since that time three others have been brought
down ... and convicted. From the present appearance in this quarter,
I am now of the opinion that the enlightened portion of the citizens
of this section of the country have seen the error of their ways, and
are now determined to set their faces against the Patriots. They find
that the ‘Patriots’ are an unspeakable set of vagabonds, and that no
dependence can be placed in them--a very wise conclusion, for I assure
you that a more miserable set of beings never existed in any country.
The commander-in-chief of the force in this section of the frontier
I have been shown; and met him in a public bar-room. He stands five
feet four inches in his shoes--that is, when he is fortunate enough
to have a pair that can be so called--not lacking in impudence by any
means, and a miserable, drunken vagabond, as his appearance plainly
indicates.” This was Vreeland, who bore the unsavoury reputation of
being “a Judas and a traitor.” He was found guilty of violation of
the neutrality laws, and was sentenced by Judge Wilkins to one year’s
imprisonment and a fine of $1,000.

Of his companion, Dr. McKinley, an unflattering silhouette is given by
the Detroit editor, “The complete wreck of all that once constituted a
man.” Also, “The Patriot force does not amount to anything like that
number (one thousand), besides which they have not courage enough to
cross the line.” The Indians took not a little pleasure in keeping
these marauders on their own shore, and one of the former gives a
spirited account of how “the savages drove the unfortunate fellows over
again” from the St. Clair mission; he said they had to watch all night
and sleep all day, wear feathers and tomahawks, “and if the pirates
do not soon mend their ways the red-men will have to dress themselves
so that the invaders will fall dead with fright, even before hearing
the war-whoop and yells. We are in fear we shall get as savage as our
fathers were in all the wars under the British flag.” Changed times
these from those of the Indian proverb, “We will try the hatchet of our
forefathers on the English, to see if it cuts well.”



Deborahs of ’37.


“_Although our last toast, gentlemen,--Place aux dames, ‘The hand that
rocks the cradle guides the State.’_”

“‘_Madame! Madame Cornelia, you are not worthy of the name you bear._’

“‘_Sir, we do not live in the times of the Gracchi; I am not a Roman
matron._’

“_In truth, the poor lady was nothing more nor less than a good,
tender mother and excellent wife, not very interesting, perhaps, to
philosophers, but very acceptable in the eyes of heaven._”


During the Seven Years’ War the only tillers to be seen in the
Prussian fields were women. Likewise, in 1812, it was a common sight
in Upper Canada to see women at the plough in place of absent husbands
and brothers. Small wonder, then, that the mothers of 1812, and the
daughters to whom they gave birth under such circumstances, were what
they were in ’37.

Small wonder, too, that their neighbours across the line, who were kin
and should have been friends, continued obnoxious to them when the
representatives of the Stars and Stripes were such men as Theller and
Sutherland. Yet, allowing for all provocation, the period of first
dentition in the Canadian Infant was unusually squally; full of whims,
shy fits, small fisticuffs and wailings.

Like that pattern of all good housewives described by the prudent
mother of King Lemuel, it could be said of the immigrant’s wife,
“She layeth her hand to the spindle and her hands hold the distaff;
she seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands; she
looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of
idleness.” And when Madame de Léry was presented at the Court of George
III. her beauty forced the monarch to say, “If such are all my new
Canadian subjects I have indeed made a conquest.”

The women of ’37 combined all these virtues with a few heroic ones.
From the dark days of civil dissensions, when Canadians, like their
sisters of Deborah’s time, saw their husbands obliged to travel by the
by-paths because the high roads seemed to each to be occupied by his
foes,

    “A company of ghosts steal out
     And join their voiceless sobs and cries.”

And there is laughter, too; for when she forgot for a moment to
cry--her tears dropping into her teacup--Deborah did not disdain to
see the humorous side of affairs. If the survivor be the fittest, then
Place aux dames of the Tory stripe.

    “Nay, we would in the title glory,
     For every honest man’s a Tory,”

is the burden of their song. It is a song which loses half its thrill
without the pointed reply, the little electric sparkles which run
through it. Those who have furnished the bulk of the following pages
shall tell their own stories:

“I am just that kind of Tory that the only time I went to the United
States I put Canadian earth in my shoes, so that I might not walk on
Yankee soil.

“I do indeed remember ’37 and Mackenzie, and how angry we all were
that he escaped in a woman’s clothes. ‘He need not have cheated the
authorities by putting on _our_ clothing,’ we said; it was hard to
forgive him that.

“My father had a logic of his own. ‘Show me a Reformer,’ he used to
say, ‘and I’ll show you a Radical; show me a Radical, and I’ll show
you a rebel; show me a rebel, and I’ll show you a traitor to his
country and his Queen; and a man who is untrue to his Queen is untrue
to his God.’ He always declared he could smell a Radical in the next
concession. A sword on one side of his bed and a gun on the other,
and it was death to anyone who touched either. He always called my
mother madame. ‘Madame, do you remember so and so?’ ‘Madame, is dinner
ready?’ He was a volunteer in 1812, and, like many other loyal-hearted
men, had to leave wife and family to look after themselves as best
they might. He took part in all the chief battles then, and often was
away for a month at a time. It was during one of these absences that
McArthur’s freebooters, infamous marauders, plundered the country,
pretending they were a branch of the United States army. When they
got to our house they first of all removed a baking of bread, taking
off the oven doors to do so; then they emptied the feather-beds on
the brush-heap, and filled the ticks with cornstalks for fodder; they
took our best blankets to cover their horses, and stole the silverware
and valuables. They then destroyed what they could not carry away;
one, more infamous than the rest, hurled a tomahawk through a large
and valuable mirror. Some time afterwards, a Loyalist, when passing
Colonel Talbot’s, saw a little copper tea-kettle hanging in a tree and
a silver spoon with it, and Colonel Talbot recognized the crest on the
spoon--a lamb encircled with a wreath--and the things were returned.
My mother had buried what she could--her own clothes and whatever she
could manage to secrete--and put brush over the place, and anything not
lucky enough to be buried was taken. My father’s sister was alone when
the marauders reached her house, so she called as loudly as she could,
‘John, Joe, Dick, all of you, make haste down--here they are!’ as if
she was just waiting for them. She was a very resolute woman. Then she
took down an old musket that always hung on two wooden hooks, rested
it on the window-sill and fired at random; but random happened to be a
good mark. The leader of the gang was at that moment riding towards the
window, and the charge nearly carried off his horse’s leg; the animal
fell, and remained there till it died. Then the whole party of these
moss-troopers, who were alarmed as much by her shouts as by the shot,
thought they had to encounter a number of men in the house, and made
off as fast as they could. This was the time that Colonel Burwell’s
place was burned and that Colonel Talbot made such a narrow escape from
the same party. Colonel Burwell was ill with fever and ague; they took
him prisoner and sent him to Chilicothe, where they left for him some
time. They burnt his house, but his wife, after sending a message to
Colonel Talbot to advise him of their coming, made her escape on her
Indian pony. The marauders were all masked. She had recognized the
leader, an American from across the border at Fort Erie, where she was
born. She kept him interested while her messenger was on his way to
Colonel Talbot--no new kind of work for Mrs. Burwell; in her old home
she had had a similar experience, during which a small brother had
improved the opportunity of the soldiers’ absence, while they ransacked
the house, to make a visit to their stacked muskets, take a dipper
and fill up every muzzle with water. When Mrs. Burwell arrived at our
house, my mother dug up some of her wardrobe, and as the visitor often
said afterwards, ‘Whatever should I have done if you had not given me
something to wear!’ She remained with us till the next day, and Colonel
Talbot in the meantime was lucky enough to look like a shepherd or
labourer in his homespun smock. He was about to milk his cows, and
would have made a queer figure to grace a triumph. The marauders had
among them some Indians and scouts who figured at Tecumseh’s last
battle, and an Indian was the first to enter on the scene. ‘You an
officer?’ he said to Captain Patterson, Talbot’s friend and neighbor.
‘Oh, yes, big officer--captain.’ But this answer did not divert
suspicion, and looking towards the ravine to which Colonel Talbot was
directing his steps, the Indian continued, ‘Who that yonder--he big
officer, too?’ ‘No, no,’ said Captain Patterson, ‘he is only the man
who tends the sheep.’ Notwithstanding this assurance and the appearance
which bore it out, two guns were levelled at the retreating figure.
Twice they tried to cover him, but each time were diverted by the
assurance repeated. The Colonel dropped into the ravine, and their
chance was gone. They burned the mill, they plundered Castle Malahide,
in the booty took some valuable horses, and they drove off the cattle;
but two quart pots of gold and the plate, snug under the front wing of
the house, escaped.

“The daughters of Joris Janson Rappelje went through much the same
kind of thing. The father, a descendant of a Huguenot, had come here
in 1810 with a detailed account of the family farming life, how the
Dutch Governor of the New Netherlands had given a silver spoon to Sarah
Rappelje, the first white child born in the colony--1635--and many
other items of family interest, closely written in a fat manuscript
volume. His American experiences had been stirring ones; at Lundy’s
Lane it was no figure of speech to say they waded ankle deep in blood,
and yet everybody said that the worst scourge of all was the raid of
this band of McArthur’s marauders. They were one thousand strong,
mounted, and unfortunately the camp was pitched at the Rappelje farm,
where St. Andrew’s Market in St. Thomas now is. By night-time the
place was in a glow of light from the fence-rails burning in heaps,
the shadows of the overtopping trees making gloom above and beyond.
By morning Rappelje’s sheep were all slaughtered, crops destroyed and
the crib emptied of the corn. When Colonel Talbot tried to hide his
valuables he gave Mrs. Rappelje a specially precious box, which was to
be guarded at all hazards. It had so far been underneath a bed, a safe
enough hiding in ordinary times, but she now took it out and put it
between the beehives, sure that her lady bees would make good guards.
Her young daughter Aletta would have fought the raiders herself had she
been allowed, but she had to content herself by telling the commander
that he was a thief and a scoundrel.[5]

“When the news of the uprising of ’37 reached us my father was off
again, and my brothers too. One of the boys took down the big poker
from the fireplace, the only weapon he could find, and I cried out to
him by way of encouragement, ‘Mind you don’t get shot in the _back_!’ I
and another girl, Margaret Caughill, sat up all night running bullets,
and we had an apronful in the morning. I turned the grindstone, too,
for one of the officers to sharpen his sword.

“It so happened that Dr. John Rolph was at my father’s place for three
months. He poisoned the minds of a great many.”

In the house of a high Tory, who could smell a Radical in the next
concession, the seditious doctor seemed to enjoy himself and showed a
particular fondness for the blood-thirsty little Tory maid. “Come here,
my fair child,” he would say, and when wanted and not to be found her
mother would remark, “Oh, I suppose she is on Dr. Rolph’s knee.” She
got at his quicksilver once, divided it with her finger to make it run,
investigated the mysteries of his big watch, and helped him eat the
johnnycake which he insisted her mother should bake in the ashes. The
flaxen-haired, blue-eyed damsel was danced up and down by the light of
the big fire--

    “Send them back to Yankeeland
       To hoeing of their corn,
     And we will eat a johnnycake
       While it is good and warm,”

is the song associated with the man of whom his best biographer records
there was no such thing as self-abandonment, never giving himself
to frolicsomeness or fun. It is almost a relief to find him in this
out-of-the-way corner of the wilderness in such homely and off-guard
actions. “What do you think this little one wants--she wants my
money-bags,” and up she was on his knee again to examine the leather
money-belt where he kept his guineas.

“He once came to us for flour and lost his way after he left, got into
a brush-heap where he had to remain all night, and was so tormented by
mosquitoes that in a frenzy, to protect himself, he emptied the flour
and drew the sack over his head. He presented himself at the breakfast
table next morning--and my father said he never saw such a show as the
man was when he reached the house,”--“covered, if not with glory, yet
with meal.”

Another visitor, of very different calibre, was the famous
Tiger Dunlop, who would ride the saucy child upon his massive
shoulder--which, she said, ought to have a saddle. He pronounced his
admiration of egg-nog as made under her father’s supervision, “Ah, your
coo gives good milk!” There was the usual greed in this neighbourhood
for the liquid which made the egg-nog so uncommonly good, and the
expedients to get the desired article were sometimes ingenious. One
toper, impecunious and resourceful, provided himself with a keg
partitioned down the centre, each side seemingly tight; one contained
water only. He would arrive at the general store with the water side
half-full, get the whiskey side filled, and then say payment would be
made on his next visit. If prompt payment were demanded he would wax
indignant; “Well, if you won’t trust me, take your old whiskey.” Out
would come the water cork and the water would gurgle into the whiskey
barrel; the owner, showing outraged virtue, would then march home with
the whiskey side comfortably full.

As to the oft-repeated slander that Methodist preachers were the root
of disaffection, scattering the seed of gospel and rebellion together,
these ultra-loyal ladies are dubious. One says, “It is seldom you find
one of them a _real_ staunch Tory and a good man”--a remark, by the
way, which admits of two meanings. Three loyal dames, one of them a
foreigner, once upon a time attended a revival; no doubt the three
minds were prejudiced as to the politics of the preacher. The latter
finally came down the aisle, addressing his questions right and left:
“And now, my good woman,” to the foreigner, “what has the Lord done for
_you_?” “By Job alive,” said the lady, “I do not tell my family affairs
to everybody!”

It is hard, even yet, to convince these dames of fixed feeling
that good could come out of certain quarters. “They call them
Reformers,--but what were they else? He” (a person above general
suspicion) “may not have carried two heads in one hat, but he was not
the _true thing_.”

“I would rather be killed by a good Tory bullet than be singed by
rebel gunpowder,” said this fire-eating slip of a girl to a crying
friend. “What are you crying for--because you have no more brothers to
send?” “No, I’m afraid they’ll be brought back dead.” “_I_ don’t care,
provided mine are not shot in the _back_.”

Of the said brothers, one was in a troop of cavalry and another met his
death, as many did, through the sudden change from home comforts to
campaigning. “Getting up out of a down bed and sleeping under waggons
or on frozen ground with a carpet-bag for a pillow was a great change,
and he died before he could be got home.”

But another brother seems to have kept his health and spirits in a
marked degree. The absences of the husband and father were now as long
and trying as they had been in 1812, and the mother, whose name was
the good old-fashioned Betsy, gave voluble tokens of her grief. This
boy imitated his father’s handwriting and wrote a long and sympathetic
letter, ending, “Do the best you can, Betsy, I don’t expect to be back
till spring.” She threw down the letter,--“If you don’t come back till
then, you need not come home at all.” The boys were delighted, but the
mother discovered the forgery, and the scribe suffered severely. It
was a custom with the father to give his daughter a birthday present
of a roast of beef, every added year marked by an added pound of meat.
In those days spinsterhood was not as fashionable a state of life as
nowadays, and the father waxed annoyed: “Now, my dear,” he said, when
the roast tipped considerably more than twenty pounds, “if you are not
gone off within the year I shall have to drive in the whole beast.”

Arnold somewhere says that according as the New or Old Testament takes
hold of a nation, so do what he terms the religious humours in it
differ. It would be hard to determine from the data procurable just
what the influence in this case was. Some had anxious thoughts as to
how things had “sped” and the division of spoil which old and new
dispensations always allow as lawful. One old lady sent off her son
with a blessing to join his corps, but called him back again to give
him a large shawl. “Now, Willie, take this with you, and when you get
to Toronto be sure to get it filled with the best Young Hyson tea.
Don’t forget now, and bring the best. By the time you get there you’ll
find plenty of it for the taking.”

An old farmer ascribed the degeneracy of the times not to influences
broad as Arnold’s, but to the “flattery” understood in the difference
of manner toward farmers’ wives. “When ’twere dame and porridge, it
were rale good times; when ’twere mistress and broth, ’twere worser a
great deal; but when it comes to be ma’am and soup, it be werry bad
indeed,” and no wonder the country went to the dogs. He preferred the
days when U. E. Loyalist ladies speared salmon with pitchforks. If
dress had aught to do with it, the change there was great indeed. In
the early days to which he alluded many a U. E. Loyalist belle had only
one garment to her name, a deerskin slip, and men’s buckskin trousers
sometimes brought a dollar and a half after twelve years’ wear; by ’37
the following is a description of an evening dress, thought worthy to
be sent to Canada--“Gros royale black ground with flowing pattern,
wide flounces and short tight sleeves, long gloves of _peau rosée_,
English lace cap with pompous (?) roses, English lace handkerchief,
black satin shoes, and one bracelet.” During the good old days so
bemoaned by the farmer, one U. E. Loyalist girl unfortunately made
a neighbourly visit where she saw the mysteries of the laundry for
the first time. The lesson sank deep in her mind, and at the first
opportunity after her return home, when the rest of the family had left
her in undisturbed possession of the house, she made her maiden attempt
as blanchiseuse on her own deerskin garment. But as this adaptation
from Godiva laboured, the garment grew less and less. Any woman who has
attempted to wash a glove wrung into a wisp can appreciate her horror.
There was no Peeping Tom, but the sounds of the returning family
precipitated her into the generous shadow of the potato-hole, whence
she interviewed them--if, indeed, the attenuated bit of chamois was
not the more eloquent of the two. I’ll find a thousand shifts to get
away, has been written; alas, she could find not one. She was packed in
a barrel and conveyed upon an ox-sled to a neighbour’s where clothes
were more common, and the distressed and shiftless maiden could truly
have said she was in her right mind when again clothed. The last of the
English and the first of the Canadians were in some points uncommonly
alike.

       *       *       *       *       *

“In our house in my childhood everything was dated by 1812--things had
importance only as they were affected by that year and whether they
were ‘before’ or ‘after’. My father was through the whole of ’12 and
was with Brock at the taking of Detroit; Brock gave him a horse and all
trappings for it and himself, and I very well remember the bearskin
holsters and the pistols--enormous pistols that we often shot off when
we were little.

“General Hull came through our district when he was on his way
to Detroit, and every house was searched for arms of any kind or
description that could be made use of by the Americans. My father was
away from home with our own troops, and my mother received the American
officer who came to search our house. He staid an unconscionable
time, and mentioned that my father was fighting his own best friends,
the friends who came to offer us liberty. ‘Liberty,’ said my mother;
‘liberty indeed--we want no more than we have; we are happy and have
good laws, but _your_ country is one of lawlessness.’ My little
brother, who was very small and who thought that when Yankees were
spoken of wild beast and fairy-book creatures were meant, quietly
sidled up to the officer and felt his legs. ‘Why, mother, mother! The
Yankees wear trousers just like papa!’

“All children had nightmarish notions about the Americans, but they
rather enjoyed it all; saw the excitement and fuss, revelled in the
occasional strange circumstances, and knew none of the dangers. Once
there was a great scare about the Indians, they were coming to kill us
and burn our goods, and many precautions were taken. A big hole was
made in the ground in the woods and all our valuables were put in it,
and to the same woods we children were taken to be left hidden there;
we had some chairs and a few comforts, and we thought it great fun--a
little disappointed when during the night it was decided there was no
more cause for alarm, and we were taken home again.

“A Mrs. Perry, to whom I went to school, had two sons away fighting.
One day some Indians arrived, several of them wearing extra long
scalp-belts, and one had in his belt a scalp with long yellow hair.
Mrs. Perry said she knew that was her son’s hair; and anyway the son
was never heard of again, as far as I know.

“On the occasion that the officer came to search for arms his troop
evidently thought he was staying a good while, for sometimes they would
try to approach the house a little nearer, when he would go to the door
and wave them back. On their tour through the country they burned every
grist-mill, so that the people would be starved out, and then of course
we had to pound our grain as best we could. My uncle had a grist-mill
and a saw-mill. He also had a daughter of sixteen, a lovely girl. When
they had demolished the grist-mill they turned their attention to the
other, but the girl was determined to save it, and as fast as a man
would set it alight in one place she would pour water on it, until at
last they admired her courage and bravery so much that the officer in
charge ordered a man to help her destroy everything which would mean
the least danger from fire and that the saw-mill was to be let alone.

“My father was also all through ’37, and when the first troubles came
and our streets were full of shouting mounted rebels he waited for no
orders but got supplies on his own account, trusting that some day the
authorities would repay him, and his regiment was equipped and sent
off without delay; he was colonel of the 4th Middlesex. If I had had
anything to do with those times there would have been no question of
making prisoners--shoot the dogs and be done with it. What business
had they coming over here to stir up peaceable people, first in 1812
and then in 1837. Father saw no real fighting in ’37, except that in
connection with the taking of Theller and the _Anne_, but he was in
Windsor at the time of the Hume tragedy. Hume was skinned, and they
said they were going to make drumheads out of the skin. When the
brigands left his body hanging on the posts they went to Prince’s
place, cut the trees, destroyed the fences, and frightened Mrs. Prince
out of her senses.

“I saw Sutherland and Theller when they passed through St. Thomas on
their way to Toronto for trial. My father as Colonel was president
of the court-martial, and at that time he received many threatening
letters, scores of them, saying that if any American lives were taken
he and all his race would be killed. He laughed at this, saying that
they evidently knew very little about a court-martial, for as president
he had really less to say than the youngest officer in the room.

“At the beginning of the troubles in St. Thomas the Loyalists one day
took refuge in an upper room of a big building, thinking they were
going to be surrounded by rebels below; they were surrounded, but I
don’t remember that anything hostile was intended. One of those in
the upper room threw an axe out of the window and it fell on a man’s
head, splitting his face open, and he was carried home on a stretcher,
covered with a white cloth. I suppose he died afterwards. My husband
was away with the militia, and I was terrified at being left alone
with a maid-servant and a servant boy. One day a lot of them came in
front of the house, and furiously began to pull the palings of the
fence down, one of them shouting, ‘A Tory lives here; we’ll not leave
a stick for him to see! We’ll burn the house, too!’ A magistrate came
along just then and caught the fellow by the throat, calling him a
rebel, had him arrested, and the rest of them left my premises. I was
afraid they would return to carry out their threat, and got a man to
come and watch all night, but they did not reappear. A party of the
rebels were somewhere near, and our men wanted to catch them, but we
were poorly supplied with ammunition. I was in a shop and heard the
proprietor of it talking to another man, lamenting the lack of bullets,
so I said, ‘Give me the moulds, and give me all the lead you have, and
to-morrow you shall have all the bullets you can carry.’ So they did,
and I and my woman-servant sat up the whole of that night melting lead
and running bullets, and when the men came for them next day there was
nothing too much for them to say, and they went away cheering me. The
thing got into the American papers, which said that even the Canadian
ladies were so earnest in the war that they sat up all night running
bullets. When my servant and I were making them we had two moulds, one
cooling while we filled the other. After the bullets were emptied into
the cold water of course they were not smooth, and we each had a knife
to cut off the part adhering; so there we sat in silence that whole
night, filling and cutting, the silly maid weeping steadily. She was a
young Scotch girl just out, and she cried all through the night as she
worked. I gave the men their balls, saying, ‘Every bullet should find
a billet,’ but they did not catch their party of rebels.

“Talbot’s likeness to William IV. was specially commented on when
someone in the neighbourhood received an English paper with William’s
picture in it. Talbot might have sat for the portrait. His usual
dinner was soup, always soup, a plain joint, usually leg of mutton,
vegetables, pancakes--I never saw anything but pancakes by way of a
course to follow the meats at any of the many times I was there--and
the best port wine that ever was brought into Canada. He imported it
for himself direct from the manufacturers, and often half of it was
abstracted on the way. He was not the boor he was painted, but it is
certain he could be fascinating. I dined there often, and he was a
perfect host, always choosing after-dinner topics which he thought
would be suited to the interests of his guests. For instance, one
evening he told me much about his mother and sister, and many of the
strange and interesting things his sister’s continental life opened to
her. He also explained that same evening how ladies of fashion hire
court dresses made in Paris, great news to us Canadians. From another
man I heard that this sister, who had taken vows of celibacy, Colonel
Talbot said, but not vows to relinquish the world, was a political spy
in the pay of the French Government and the Spanish Government. The
story accounted for her regular six months’ residence in Paris and the
same in Madrid; but she must have been clever to be able to serve two
such governments, the antagonist this six months of the one she had
been spying for in the previous six.

“Once when I was dining there he talked of his mother and her life at
Malahide Castle, and how she managed the servants. There were plenty
of cows and many servants, but no butter. She asked why, and was told
that the cows were bewitched, and that the butter would not come. The
lady was equal to the emergency, and said that she gave them just one
week to get the cows unbewitched, and if there was not plenty of the
best butter forthcoming by that time the whole troop of servants would
be replaced by others. The butter soon came and was of the best.

“The mother was Roman Catholic and the father a Protestant, the family
to be divided in the way of the sons following the father and the
daughters the mother. Colonel Talbot was nothing in particular, but
when he was away visiting he would go to whatever church his hosts went
to. I think it was in Toronto once he was at the Roman Catholic, when
the priest spoke to him after the service and said he was glad to see
him returning to the true faith.

“Another time he was at church, somewhere in the country, with Sir
Peregrine Maitland’s party, and was wearing the celebrated sheepskin
coat which had for a hood the head of the beast, to be worn in bad
weather, the wearer’s face covered and the eyes looking through the
eyeholes. On this occasion the head was turned over the back of the
collar part, in its usual place in fine weather or under cover. The
text was that in which we were told to beware of a wolf in sheep’s
clothing, and as the words were said Talbot got up, gravely shook
himself, turned round so that the sheep’s head was in full view, and
equally gravely sat down again.

“His household furniture could not be called furniture at all; enough
wooden chairs to sit on, and a table made of a couple of planks nailed
to ‘sawhorses’ made the dining-room equipment when I knew him; but when
the dinner was served the boards were covered with the finest damask, a
white dinner service, good glass and silver. Geoffrey was as peculiar
as his master, and once I heard Colonel Talbot ask him a question as he
waited at table, and Geoffrey went to the cupboard, got what he wanted,
put it on the table, went to the kitchen and returned again before
answering his master’s question.

“His nephew, Julius Airey, was disgusted with the place and his
anomalous position in it, brought there as the heir and no definite
understanding arrived at, and he was kicking his heels in idleness and
uncertainty between nineteen and twenty-four. In one of his letters
home he drew a picture, a dreadful caricature of the colonel, which
afterwards in some inexplicable manner found its way back to Talbot and
decided him _not_ to make Julius his heir; it showed the dining-room
in its bareness, a wooden hook on the wall bearing a bridle, and his
uncle in a chair by the fire, choosing the moment to depict him just
after a coal had hopped into his uncle’s big gaping pocket and set it
afire. Colonel Talbot was very unfair to Julius, inasmuch as he kept
him there all those years and never told him that he had better look
for his own way in the world, as he was not to be the heir after all.

“My husband dined with Colonel Talbot once in every three weeks, and
he never saw a badly served or badly cooked dinner, and only once did
he see salt meat on the table, and that was put on on purpose. Sheriff
Parkins, of London, famous for his championship of Queen Caroline, came
as he said two thousand miles to visit Talbot, but Talbot could not
be bothered with him, hence the salt meat. At dinner Parkins began to
abuse Sir George Arthur; ‘Sir George is a friend of mine,’ said Talbot,
but Parkins paid no attention to that--went on. ‘Sir George is a friend
of mine,’ again said Talbot, and Parkins desisted for a while, but
soon returned to the charge. ‘Sir George is a friend of mine,’ said
Talbot for the third time, ‘and I will not have him so spoken of at
my table.’ ‘Call it a _table_?’ said Parkins as he lifted the damask.
‘In my house, then,’ said Talbot. ‘Call it a house? It is nothing but
a dog-kennel, and as for your _table_, I have seen nothing but salt
junk.’ ‘Geoffrey,’ said Talbot, ‘this gentleman is ready to go, bring
him his horse,’ and Parkins went off in a rage, such a rage that when
he reached the inn he kicked a panel of his bedroom door through with
one blow from his heavily booted foot. The sheriff had time to tell
one good story, that Caroline was so fond of Sydney Smith, who also
befriended her, that she had a large portrait of him hung on her walls;
when he next came to see her, her broken English announced that she had
put him among her ‘household dogs.’

“Geoffrey was a great character, but he and his master understood each
other thoroughly. They came together in a characteristic way. One day
when Talbot was visiting somewhere in the Old Country the host found
fault with the footman for bringing in cold plates; next day the plates
were so red hot that the host first jumped, then swore, and then
dismissed the man. ‘That’s the man for me,’ said Colonel Talbot, ‘I
like him for that hot plate business,’ and he engaged Geoffrey on the
spot. Whatever eccentricity his master chose to perpetrate Geoffrey
would second it, and they made a formidable pair. Talbot hated the
Scotch, and once when he saw someone approach who turned out to be a
friend, he excused his first coldness by saying, ‘Oh, I thought you
were one of those abominable Scotch.’ Although Irish himself, he had
no trace of any nationality but English. He was English in speech and
prejudice. How he got on so well with Dunlop was hard to understand,
unless it was on the score of mutual eccentricity. And Dunlop was
desperately rude. Once in Toronto a member of Parliament invited my
husband and me to dine at the members’ mess, and it happened that in
that big roomful of men I was the only woman. I sat near one end, at
the right hand of our host, and Dr. Dunlop was at the extreme end of
the table, too far off to speak to. He began to talk at the top of his
voice, so that the whole long table could hear him, and he stated that
he had been in the Talbot settlement, where there was not such a thing
as a gate; when you came to a fence you had to straddle it, and that’s
what they all did, men and women alike. Now was not that rude, with me
at the table! If I had been near him I would have given him some of my
mind, I assure you. And besides, it was a great falsehood.”

One story told in extenuation of Talbot’s business methods is that a
local Deborah undertook to overcome the great colonel of whom everyone
else was afraid. He went to her homestead to adjust some land dispute;
their words waxed high, until she, unable to dispose of him in any
other way, knocked him down, made shafts of the legs of this descendant
of the Kings of Connaught, and dragged him to the roadside while his
back performed the part of a Canadian summer sled. In his own words,
this lady was a true Scotch virago. One day as he sat at dinner her
counterpart entered the dining-room, Geoffrey as usual serving. She
announced that she had come for a horse, to get provisions from the
blockhouse. The latter had been built in the early days at a point
midway between Port Talbot and Long Point, the two extremes of the
infant settlement, where flour, pork, and other provisions might be
imported by boat and then distributed according to the Czar’s judgment.
She was told she might have Bob, a quiet, strong horse; but she had set
her heart on Jane, the beast kept for the Colonel’s own use and ridden
by none else. Most emphatically she was told she should not have Jane.
She seized the carving-fork and threatened “to run it through him;” so,
in his own words as he told the story to a friend, “I had to holloa to
Geoffrey to give the Scotch devil the mare.”

To protect himself as much as possible from intrusion he had a window
adjusted on the primeval post-office system, the pane arranged so that
it would open and shut from within. During the audiences Geoffrey
stood behind him to hand down the maps, and the intending purchaser
was left on the path outside. The inevitable query was, “Well, what
do you want?” The trembling applicant made an answer, the land was
given or refused as the case might be, and to speed the parting
guest the equally inevitable concluding remark, “Geoffrey, turn on
the dogs,” followed. It was destined that his third downfall should
be accomplished by a Highlander. The latter had several glasses of
brandy at the inn near by, and when the landlord demurred at giving
more, “You must let me have it,” said the other, “for I am going to
see that old Irish devil, Colonel Talbot, who took my land from me,
and if he will not give it back I’ll give him the soundest thrashing
a man ever got, for I will smash every bone in his body.” He was
given the desired extra glass, and somewhat exhilarated reached the
historic pane, through which justice, land, curses and kindness were
dispensed according to the humour of the hour. An Englishman is always
supposed to be in his best mood after dinner; with the Colonel time
after that function was sacred, and all business had to be transacted
before it. Up came the truculent Highlander this day, and out came
the usual “Well, and what do you want?” The grievance was explained;
he wanted his land back again. The refusal was prompt, and as prompt
the blow that was aimed in return. That ended the affair for the day;
but on the next, as the Colonel walked down his avenue, he saw the
Highlander waiting for him. Shaking his fist at him, he cried, “Clear
yourself off, you----Heeland rascal--did you not yesterday threaten to
break every bone in my skin!” But pupil of the Duke of York, comrade
of Arthur Wellesley as he was, the Colonel thought it wise to seek
the seclusion of his own room. A week from that time his closest
friend smilingly said, “Our friend the Port Talbot Chief has at last
met his match in the person of this Scotchman.” The ladies were not
counted. Instead of taking himself off as commanded, the Highlander
had gone into the kitchen and sat himself down with the Colonel’s men
at dinner. He did the same at supper, and following the men to their
long bedroom, jumped into bed. The next morning he was the first at
breakfast, the same at dinner and supper. This went on for two days.
Geoffrey complained, the Highlander was ordered to the window, and the
Colonel demanded what he meant by such behaviour. “I mean to live and
die with you, you old devil, if you do not give me back my land.” He
was in return commanded to take his land, and commended to a climate
less arctic than the one of their mutual choice. “Never let me see your
face again” was the final adjuration from the window. Two Amazons and
a Highlander had conquered the Lion of Port Talbot.

It is certain that one of the Deborahs of ’37 was Anna Jameson the
_Ennuyée_, for if her husband was not quite like the cypher Lapidoth
her memory somewhat overshadows his. If we accept her opinions of
Toronto as qualified by the unfortunate circumstances and mishaps
attending her arrival, we still have no wish to alter her descriptions
and impressions elsewhere in Canada. She was one of the many
distinguished visitors to Port Talbot, and she has left us her view of
its master and by inference his view of her. But those who knew him
better contend that he did not like or admire her. In the first place
she committed the unpardonable sin of borrowing money, which was not
replaced. During her visit he was not too polite to her, and he did not
hesitate to express his opinion after she had gone.

Of course, a dozen love stories clung round the Colonel’s early
days; there were speculations as to what could have induced such a
self-burial, but they were all of the hearsay order. One was that he
was jilted at the altar, set sail, and we know the rest. Another,
that in the sylvan court of George III. the young princesses, aides,
equerries and courtiers made hay together, and, in spite of the Royal
Marriage Act, also fell in love. One of the princesses--the name does
not transpire--it was said cared for the dapper little lieutenant.
Among the never-ending romances, heartbreaks and silent partings which
haunt the walls of royal palaces and the pathways of royal parks, may
be the love story which resulted in the determination--“Here, General
Simcoe, will I rest and will soon make the forest tremble under the
wings of the flock which I shall invite by my warblings around me.”

However, “I never saw but one woman I ever really cared anything
about,” was his own admission, “and she wouldn’t have me; and, to use
an old joke, those who would have me, the devil wouldn’t have them.”
The one lady was no princess, but owned to the name of Johnstone.
Whatever his ideal had been, Mrs. Jameson, wandering about the country
without a maid and in a lumber-waggon, as he called it, was not to
his taste. She on her part was very proud of her contrivances, and
unstrapped her mattress to show him how comfortable she could be at all
times when beds were not forthcoming; but he gruffly turned his back
and muttered something he would not say aloud.

Mrs. Jameson’s observations on Canadian society, as it was then, are by
no means bad, and it is easy to believe them; but when she allows such
distaste or her own painful position to overshadow her cheerfulness and
express nothing but regret at seeing Niagara--she would have preferred
it a Yarrow unvisited--she need not be taken altogether at her own
valuation as a prophetess. We can sympathise with her “By the end of
the year I hope, by God’s mercy, to be in England,” but no further.
But, generally speaking, she must have been a fascinating woman; plain
at first sight, her mind, manners and accomplishments obliterated
the impression, and the charm was heightened by beautiful hands, a
sweet voice, and fair hair of a reddish tinge. The voice she used with
great effect in singing, but the hair she allowed to be seen in curl
papers when she received her callers in the new Canadian London in the
year ’37, when en route from the Colonel’s to the omega of her “wild
journey,” Mackinaw.

Perhaps at no one spot in Canada could there be found a larger
gathering of Deborahs, than at what was called the Talbot anniversary,
a yearly fête instituted by John Rolph in honour of the day when his
friend, the Honourable Thomas Talbot, landed his canoe for good at the
scene of his future life. On each 21st May the backwoodsman left his
toil, the spinning wheels were silent, and arm-in-arm the settlers,
men and wives, came in to enjoy themselves and see the faces which,
as a rule, they had no other chance to see. The first fête was held
at Yarmouth Heights, in the grounds and under the superintendence of
Captain Rappelje. The tables were laid in a bower of cedar and other
sweet woods, and the hepatica, anemone and violet were the decorations.
The two hundred people who sat down to dinner had come long distances,
some from Long Point and London. The board groaned under venison, wild
turkey and many toothsome edibles, and when these were disposed of
“The King,” “The day and all who honour it,” called forth shouts from
lungs strong as the arms that raised the glasses high. Then the storm
subsided, and the Colonel, still fair but “short, stout, and showing
his hardships and years, rose and made a speech, short, neat and
explicit, ending with ‘And may God bless you all.’” The upper story of
the Rappelje house was in one large room, and here the ball was held
when the pleasures of the dinner were concluded. Above the musicians’
seat was a large transparency, “Talbot Anniversary,” a tree with an
axe laid at the root as an emblem. The “squirrel” was the Colonel’s
favourite figure in the dance, and this night he “led off” Macdonell’s
Reel with the mother of the fair-haired miss who had spoken up so
boldly as to his woman-hating. He certainly now made good his rejoinder
that he liked a pretty girl as well as anybody, for in the succeeding
dances he managed to secure, not only the prettiest girls there, but
the prettiest in the settlement. The room was of course lighted with
tallow candles, but it needed no modern power of electricity to show
the delight of the assembled youth in their version of the Spanish
fandango.

In 1830 the anniversary was held in the St. Thomas Hotel, when “the
prettiest girl in the district” led off with the Colonel. She was
dressed “in a sky-blue poplin stripe”--a blue satin and a white stripe
alternating--“embossed, trimmed with white satin and white blonde,”
white flowers and white gloves; her shoes she made herself, getting
Hyndman, the bootmaker, to add fine dancing soles to them. Any one to
whom the Colonel paid his rare attentions at once became an object
of interest and perhaps envy. His complexion won for him several
inelegant comparisons, and the pretty girl was twitted about “that old
turkey-cock,” and “folks said she would not leave till his health was
drunk for the last time.” In the succeeding years, as ’37 troubles
loomed and burned and settled into quiet again, the character of this
entertainment changed. The regiment stationed in London and St. Thomas
contributed to the gathering, and the red-coats only too successfully
did by the home-spun as they had done previously by the “black-coated
laity.” They even supplanted the original toast with “Here’s to red
wine, red coats, _red face_ and right royal memories.” The red face of
the Colonel was the only relic of former times left. The peasant and
lord of the manor element in the feast changed; the very celebration of
it was removed from St. Thomas to London, where it soon died a natural
death, the old zest gone, the raison d’être of its being destroyed.

       *       *       *       *       *

For warlike times, these western Deborahs had an easy billet. Farther
east and on the Niagara frontier the women knew more of what war really
meant. There were short periods of anxiety, as in Galt, when the order
came to muster, and great was the consternation among the wives. They
met in congregation, all crying over the husbands they might see no
more. But the husbands were returned to them that same night, whole and
sound, and the rejoicing was proportionate. One company told off to
make arrests at different points came across an Atalanta, who this time
used her powers to save a husband. In the house of one of the suspects
an assemblage was found talking over rebellion matters with great zest
and with no marked admiration of the loyalist side of it. A private
was sent to the barn where it was hoped the host might be found, and
another was directed to hold this said wife while others should go over
the fields to arrest her husband, who would be unprepared for them.
She dodged the volunteer and took to flight, the man in pursuit, down
the path-way, over scrub, through fields, through bush, through briar,
over park, over pale--and the advantage lay in the fences. She, with
skilful management of dress, vaulted the accustomed “snake” like a
bird; he came to grief in a mixture of rail, ditchwater and mud. This
gave her such a start that by the time he picked himself up she had
reached her goal, and man and wife were so safely hidden that no sign
of them could be seen. Of all the party then taken only one suffered.
He was sentenced to be hanged, but that sentence was commuted to penal
servitude, under which he died.

The isolated farm-houses in the eastern part of Upper Canada and in
Lower Canada suffered severely from the wanton attacks of rebels and
sympathisers; and as for the terrors, the woes, the tears of the Lower
Canadian women and children at the hands of the military, what pen can
tell, what tongue describe them. On the island of Tanti a band of Bill
Johnston’s marauders attacked the lonely farm occupied by a family
named Preston. The mother, of truly heroic mould, regardless of numbers
and the sentinels at her doors, contrived to get abroad to alarm her
few neighbours. All her worldly goods, money, provisions, arms, were
taken, one son died of his wounds, and the husband barely escaped with
his life. What could such islanders do? Hickory Island had as its
tenant one lone widow.

On a night early in November, ’38, a rising took place in Lower Canada
at Beauharnois and La Tortu. La Tortu was a small village near La
Prairie; the chief sufferers were two farmers, Vitry and Walker. The
outlying situations of the farms gave the marauders ample chance to
have their own way, and one “_voluntary_” contribution to the patriot
cause, at Pointe à la Mule, was made at the instance of a party of
masked men who emptied the farmer’s savings-box, and comforted him
by saying that he had helped on the Cause. Vitry and Walker were
murdered. The wife of the latter arrived with her child in Montreal on
the following Sunday, the day of the great illumination and the issue
of Sir John’s proclamation, in which he announced his intention to
destroy every town where rebels were gathered or where they might be
taking shelter. The proclamation added that he would deal with cases of
conspiracy or rebellion according to martial law, “either by death or
otherwise, as to me shall seem right and expedient.” Like the dreaded
Duke of Burgundy, the motto “I have undertaken it” might be seen in
his eyes. Even the peaceable Lord Durham had just said, deprecating a
renewal of the rebellion, that to those who should succeed in producing
lamentable results like to the scenes of ’37 would the responsibility
belong. The sight of Mrs. Walker, literally covered with her husband’s
blood, and her description of what was evidently her heroic resistance,
did not tend to allay the excitement.

Montreal had now a strong picket guard surrounding it, two thousand men
besides the militia were under arms, and the times, instead of having
a depressing effect, tended to exhilaration as well as illumination.
Agreeably to orders, the inhabitants placed two lights in every window
to assist the troops in case of attack. It is hard to credit that the
soldiery then in Canada was close upon the number of the pith of the
allied forces at Waterloo.

The rising at Beauharnois has an added interest through the seigneur,
Mr. Ellice, Lord Durham’s brother-in-law, who reigned after the manner
of Talbot and Dunlop, but not in such dictatorial fashion. He was a man
in affluent circumstances, and while in Canada as one of Lord Durham’s
suite had begun new roads, built bridges and made other improvements on
his estate, using therefor several years’ back rents and the benefits
which would be accruing for years to come. With his wife and son he
arrived to receive the affectionate homage of his dependants, with whom
he imagined an intercourse full of confidence was established. The
family had been received with the customary respect, and were naturally
surprised when, at dead of night, they recognized in the mob a good
many of their tenants. A volley was poured in, the house invaded, one
lady wounded, and the rest of the party carried off to be shut up with
thirty prisoners from the _Henry Brougham_. From the tale recently told
by an old rebel, himself but half willing, it appears that many of
these tenants were brutally coerced into rising by the patriot body.
Ellice’s house had been despoiled of fourteen guns and other arms,
and eleven barrels of cartridges, but not before one servant at least
had made a spirited resistance; he succeeded in tying up some of the
rebels, for which he was treated severely later on.

The _Brougham_ had been burnt at the wharf, and the passengers
captured; but the despatches, the things on board most coveted,
escaped. A lady passenger proved equal to the question as to where they
and a large sum in bank bills which the captain had contrived to keep
possession of but could not hide, should be concealed. “_Honi soit qui
mal y pense_”--she rolled them into a bundle and converted herself into
a Bustle-Queen-at-Arms.

That the whole party was not killed was probably owing to the
dispersion of the main body of rebels at Napierville, another point of
simultaneous attack. The household of a large landowner named Brown,
who in himself and his circumstances was much like Ellice, was treated
in the same way. Some of the Ellice servants escaped, fled to Montreal,
and there told a tale of how the family was confined in a cellar,
with other particulars not calculated to allay popular alarm. Ellice,
Brown, and some others were now separated from the rest and taken to
Chateauguay, where they were put in a room from which daylight was
carefully excluded, but which was afterwards lighted by candles. In
it they were well treated by the curé, M. Quintal, and nuns, who sent
them such comforts from their larders and cellars as compel disbelief
in a double Lent. The prisoners could also send to the village for
whatever they wished to buy, but they were not allowed to send any
letters unread by the rebels. Presently they were packed into carts to
be conveyed to Napierville, no doubt with many memories of Jock Weir
to discompose them; but by the time the seigniory of St. George was
reached their escort heard that the patriots had not only evacuated
Napierville, but in their haste had thrown away their arms and were
now pursued by cavalry. The escort fled and the prisoners continued on
their way, even advised by passing rebel habitants as to the best means
to extricate themselves, and eventually reached Montreal, where their
plight created a fresh sensation. But they retained warm memories of
the curé’s kindness, and later presented him with a piece of plate with
thanks for his hospitality.

Meantime an old Deborah, in the guise of a squaw, who hunted a lost cow
in the woods at Caughnawaga, came into the church where the Indians
were at their prayers with the alarming news that the woods were full
of rebels and that a party was then surrounding the church. The braves
turned out, and the chief’s flexible glottis turned from the plaintive
melody of Indian hymns to a warwhoop, an example which was promptly
followed by the rest. The nearest rebel was seized and disarmed, a
panic took the patriot band, sixty-four were made prisoners, and they
were taken into Montreal that same Sunday of great excitements. The
lack of a cowbell, warwhoops and daring, had paralyzed a fair-sized,
fairly armed force. The Indian appears no more, but one hopes he got
what all Indians so dearly prize, a medal.

After this, fires were seen to break out almost simultaneously from the
houses of the absent rebels, and soon Mr. Ellice’s flourishing little
settlement was in ashes. For nights the atmosphere of Chateauguay
district was red with reflected light from the “vast sheet of livid
flame.” Portraits of Washington, Jefferson, and other republican
heroes, were found in Dr. Côte’s house, and it is said they were
committed by Sir John’s orders to a specially hot corner, with the
customary “so perish all traitors.” The regulars, who had arrived
to avenge the Beauharnois and other disturbances, came in the _John
Bull_--an ominous name for the peace of poor Jean. This part of the
expedition was under command of Sir James McDonell, a very different
person from the next McDonell quoted. But after they had watched the
lights on the enemy’s fast-deserted outposts die, they made a grand
haul of curious literature, patriot documents describing a plan of
Canada’s future government, with the names of ministers and heads
of all departments told off--many details interesting to those who,
doubtless, under the new régime would decorate gallows and occupy cells.

Colonel Angus McDonell of the Glengarries writes distressedly from
Beauharnois: “We proceeded towards Beauharnois by a forced march,
burning and laying waste the country as we went along, and it was a
most distressing and heart-rending scene to see this fine settlement
so completely destroyed, the houses burned and laid in ashes, and I
understand the whole country to St. Charles experienced the same fate.
The wailing and lamentation of the women and children on beholding
their homes in flames and their property destroyed, their husbands,
fathers, sons and relations, dragged along prisoners--women perishing
in the snow, and children frozen stiff by their side or scattered
in black spots upon the snow--half-grown children running frantic
in the woods, frightened at the sight of friend or foe--and such of
the habitants as did not appear, their houses were consigned to the
flames, as they were supposed to be rebels.” One of the last had
gone the day before to Montreal on business, and returned to find
the above condition of things, his home in ashes, his wife and child
missing. Passion and grief overcame fear; in a frenzy he rushed to an
officer--“Ah, you burn my house, kill my wife--my dear wife--my little
child--me always good subject--no rebel--_sacre_ British--where _ma
femme_--where _mon enfant_--oh, _Jesu Marie_--” and dropped senseless.
He was sent to Montreal, where in a few days he died in prison, still
calling on wife and child. When the former, who had taken refuge with
a relative, heard he was a prisoner, she went on foot to Montreal, her
child in her arms; she reached the prison the night before his death,
but was refused admittance, and a few days’ further agony ended her
troubles also.

It is popularly supposed that the humble habitant wife was the one
who suffered most; but degree did not save a woman from gross insult
and spoliation, nor was the gentlewoman lacking in ingenuity. On the
morning of the battle of St. Denis brave Madame Pagé of that place made
her husband a novel armour, a cuirass of a quire of paper. It saved his
life, for in the mêlée a ball otherwise intended for his destruction
got no farther than the fourth fold. Mesdames Dumouchel, Lemaire,
Girouard and Masson were not exempt when the loyal, the volunteer and
the regular arrived at their doors. The regulars forbade the habitants
to succour any in distress, and when these women were left almost nude
outside their desolated homes they showed wonderful nerve in surviving
the vengeance of ce vieux brûlot and his followers. But Mdlles.
Lemaire and Masson could not sustain the shock to mind and body, and
one young two-days’ mother died from fright. Madame Mongrain barely
escaped with life and children, and her handsome home was quickly a
wreck under the hands of “ces sauvages,” who gambolled and skipped
in the light of its blaze, to the playing of their own trumpets and
uttering “les cries feroces.” Madame Masson, when adjuring her son, Dr.
Hyacinth Masson, on the eve of his exile to Bermuda, to be brave in the
future as in the past, delivered herself of Spartan sentiments worthy
of any historic setting, concluding her address, “Sois courageux jusqu’
à la fin. Je suis fière de toi. Je me consolerai dans ton absence en
pensant que Dieu m’ a donné des enfants aussi bon patriotes _et dignes
de moi_.” No wonder men were staunch when their mothers exerted an
influence which after the lapse of sixty odd years draws forth from a
former Son of Liberty-Chasseur: “I was vigorous and strong in those
days, and from my mother inherited an ardent love for the country in
which I was born. Her letters so magnetized me with patriotism that I
could willingly lay down my life for the cause.”

Sir John was no novice in dealing with the French after his
governorship in the island of Guernsey. He made us a link between old
and new by bestowing the name of Sarnia on the St. Clair border, a name
written of as the old classical one of that moiety of England’s sole
relic of the Dukedom of Normandy. There the language of debate and of
the Legislature was French, and the patois of the islander as perverted
a language as the Canadian’s.

At the present day there are probably not many Glengarries left to tell
the tale of their share in that terrible week. One, an Englishman
moreover, who became a Highlander through stress of circumstances,
remembers very distinctly the work which he confesses he did faithfully
but with many heartbreaks for the women and children. It is unnecessary
to say that he is devoted still to the memory of Sir John Colborne.
“We were at the Prescott windmill, but had only been at work there one
day and one night when we were ordered to Beauharnois, five hundred
of us. Sir John was there before us. There was a mistake in the time
of the arrival of the troops he expected--trouble about a boat and
difficulties with the current. We walked all the way to Beauharnois,
and hadn’t bite or sup except half a snack at Cornwall, and the men
were all worn out with excitement and work at Prescott. Sir John, on
a little black pony, met us just by a small bay at the Cedar Rapids.
‘Now, boys,’ says he, ‘I’ll ride my pony on before you--where I go
you can. Come on!’ So we broke step and spread, for fear of the ice
breaking, and followed him in safety. When he saw us five hundred, and
thinking of his disappointment about the regulars, he says, ‘We can
face ‘em with _that_.’ Some of those nearest him objected that the
Glengarries had no band, and a band would be indispensable in a fight.
So a big strapping Highlander steps up and says, ‘We’ll make a band
of our own.’ ‘Never mind a band,’ says Sir John. ‘But I’m a piper,
and there are a lot more of us, and we can be a band,’ says the man.
‘All right,’ says Sir John, ‘but anyway those Glengarries would face
anything.’ Then they got their pipes together and made their band, and
the big fellow says, ‘What’ll we play, Governor?’ and Sir John says,
‘Play what you like, play what you like.’ So they did play,--‘The
Campbells are comin’, ha--hah--ha--_hah_, and of course the Frenchmen
couldn’t stand _that_. Losh, how the people did run!”

This informant’s tale was something after the fashion of that told of
the piper who fell out of the retreating ranks at Corunna--where Major
Colborne’s advancement had been included in Sir John Moore’s dying
wishes--and sat on a log to rest. A bear came on the scene just as the
Highlander was eating the remainder of his rations. He recognized the
bear from its picture, and on the policy of conciliation so soon to
become national propitiated him with bite about. The bread disappeared
all too soon, and the Highlander cautiously reached for his pipes. At
the first squeal the bear was astonished, at the full blast he fled.
“Oh, ho,” said the piper, “if she’d known you liked music so well she
would haf played pefore dinner.”

On the present occasion it was the ordinary Highland music before
dinner, for the Glengarries were empty.

“Sir John now told us to lose no time in attending to fourteen small
cannon that were looking down at us from the top of the incline where
the priest’s house stood. Losh! if they’d fired their one wooden
cannon it would have smothered the half of us. Yes, a wooden cannon
it was, hooped in iron, and if you’d seen the stuff we took out of it
afterwards at Montreal--for Sir John was bound to keep it and send it
to England--horse-shoes, smoothing irons, nails, balls, and every kind
of rubbish. It was a twelve-pounder, easily handled, and some of the
men drew it to Montreal. Then we were told to feed ourselves. And we
did. We stole right and left, and there wasn’t a chicken left alive;
it was a turkey here and a duck there; hens, anything we could catch;
fence-rails were piled and a camp-fire made. We covered the geese and
fowls with clay, thrust them into the fire, and when the clay cracked
they were ready, for feathers and skin came off with it. Some would
snatch a wing, others a leg; and man, there was some could stand a
whole bird, inside and out. But hungry as I was, I couldn’t stomach
it. Three others and I went to a little store near by, where we got
some brown bread and some cheese on the counter; we found a cupboard
in the cellar, and in it a nice ham, a box of bottled ale turned up,
and we took a bottle apiece. Then we went and sat behind the house, and
had a good English supper of it; and it had to last us till we got to
Montreal.

“‘Now, then,’ said Sir John, when we were all through, ‘set fire and
burn it.’ And we did. He was still thirsting to revenge Jock Weir.
It was Jock Weir here and Jock Weir there, but he told us to spare
the priest’s house--which we did. We were young, and it was a kind
of a frolic to us; but oh, those women and children! I wake in the
night and think I hear them yet. Losh! I’ll never forget it--a woman
with a child under each arm, others tugging at her skirts. But we
did them no harm; we only burnt everything up. The Colonel told them
they needn’t be afraid; but what was the good of stopping when their
homes were to be burnt! They went off to the woods, and, man! it was
terrible--terrible. We got to Beauharnois at two in the morning, and
we had it afire by six; left at eight, and were in Montreal by noon.
Here we had our barracks in the emigrant sheds. Sir John took a great
notion to us. ‘_I’ll_ drill you, you Glengarry men!’ And he _did_. We
were devoted to him, and obeyed almost before he spoke--when there was
anything to do. So he drilled us that day for about two hours on the
ice, and you should have seen some of those poor kiltie regulars! You
know, Sir John was a _good_ man, but he was a rough ’un, and he wanted
everything just as _he_ said. But losh, man, it was a shame to drill
them for two hours on the ice. The poor rogues threatened they would
go home--the 93rd they were, afterwards in Toronto. They wore kilts,
but we had trousers, blue with red stripe; we did have red coats, too,
but it’s all true about the way we came home on horseback, and with
plug hats, too, and in fact with anything we could lay our hands on.
There was a great deal of talk about it, I believe; but Sir John made
us return the things afterwards. One big fellow, at Beauharnois, saw a
beautiful sofa going into the fire, so he seized it and said he would
have it. He heaved it out, but losh, man, when the orders came to march
on to Montreal he didn’t know what to do with it, and had to chuck it
into the river. We were two weeks in Montreal, and we stood guard at
the executions. It was a dreadful sight to see men hung up in a row,
all dropped at once. Yes, there was a ‘movable gallows,’ and a very
tidy thing it was. It was put up in an hour, and when the execution was
over, the Colonel said, ‘Go drill those men;’ when we came back, in an
hour, there was no sign of it left. An attempt at rescue was feared,
and they said Papineau himself was there to see--a tall, middling stout
man, a regular Frenchman, and they _said_ it was Papineau. We were well
treated, fed whenever there was anything to eat, and properly paid at
the end. So Sir John came to the barracks one morning, and says he,
‘You Glengarries can go now, for all the good you are!’ And that was
just what we wanted.”

    “The ghost of a goose is a curious sight,
     A strange enough phantom at best,”

but when it is that of a military goose, and history records not
whether goose or gander, biography becomes delicate writing. In ’37,
not only were men warlike and women sympathetic, but the very geese
flew to arms. “Confoun’ a’ questions o’ dates,” says the _Noctes_;
confoun’ a’ questions o’ sex--the goose of the Coldstream Guards must
not be forgotten; the black-coated laity thought they possessed many
such. This lineal descendant of the fabulous Roman bird was born and
brought up in the citadel at Quebec, which may be the reason that
it despised the estate of _oie des moissons_ and aspired to that of
_anser ruficollis_ upon a battlefield. One day, in its morning walk
on that historic ground, it left the flock forever, stepped up to the
sentry, paced back and forth with him on his beat, gravely ducking at
every arch, and when rain came on and he turned into the sentry-box
goosie got in too, poked out her head, and kept at attention until
the corporal came with the relief. The ensuing ceremony met with
her approbation, as did the new guard; she gave one last look at
the retreating figure, and began her walk up and down with the new.
Thereafter, the sentry order always finished, “In case of fire alarm
the guard, _and take care of the goose_.”

’Twould offend against taste in ordinary cases

    “To tell how poor goosie was put out of pain
     (And the plucking and basting we need not explain);”

and how this innovation on Follow-the-Drum in after years made the
voyage home with her regiment and continued her duties in Portman
Street barracks, till a military funeral finished her course, belongs
to the history of Her Majesty’s forces. That she was a goose is proved
by record of her characteristics; _anser canadensis_ is a clamorous
bird, and armed humans underneath his flight are made aware of his
presence by his noisy gabble--if silent he would never be discovered.
It is said the prudent fair ones of the flock keep a chucky-stone
in the mouth during travel, in order to guard against temptation.
Therefore, as the Great Grey Goose of the West was a gander and
gabbler, the silent sentry, the goose militant of the Coldstream
Guards, must have been a goose, and is a Deborah.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we come to the details of Mackenzie’s life, his attitude towards
wife and bairns and mother and theirs towards him would disarm even
his political critic. There is the meeting of the two old schoolmates,
Isabel Baxter and Mackenzie, without recognition, the brief courtship,
and a life of mutual devotion. There is baby Joseph Hume, whose early
death saddened the father’s life; and there is the pathetic entry in
his diary, after his rebellion had entailed banishment: “My daughter
Janet’s birthday, aged thirteen. When I came home in the evening we had
no bread; took a cup of tea without it, and Helen, to comfort me, said
it was no better on the evening of my own birthday.”

They drank the cup of poverty together, father, mother, grandmother and
children. For twenty-four hours at a stretch there was no food, fire
or light; and after such a fast the father would go forth shivering to
collect a small due or meet a friend willing to share a sixpence. The
younger children never ceased to cry for food; the others suffered in
silence. We read of the servant, one of the true-hearted Irish, and
she is content to starve with the rest. Despite poverty, the father
continued to wear a watch, once the property of his eldest daughter,
whom he sincerely mourned for twelve years with an almost superstitious
veneration. We find him telling his son to cheer up, not to despond;
that there are green spots in the desert of life; that after darkness
comes light. And even in this dreadful plight there are moments when
the tragic becomes serio-comic. There is a night when the plaintive
sounds from the darkness about him urge him to make one more assault
upon the cupboard that he knows is empty--no, not quite empty; there
is a book, and by the embers of their dying fire he reads the title,
“The Dark Ages,” and he and all indulge in a hearty laugh, and then go
supperless--nay, breakfastless and dinnerless--to bed.

The family did not follow him into exile immediately, but his devoted
wife reached Navy Island a few hours before the dramatic moment when
Drew arrived and the _Caroline_ became a torch. Like Deborah, she,
too, might have said, “I will surely go with thee, notwithstanding the
journey shall not be for thine honour.” The general belief is that,
though loyal to him and a staunch Reformer, she by no means sympathised
in his ultra opinions and combustive action. She remained for two weeks
in that dreadful place, made flannel cartridge-bags, slept in a rough
log shanty on a shelf covered with straw, where the walls were poor
protection from wet and cold and but a thin partition from the unholy
clamour of the desperate crowd about her, and tried to inspire her
husband and his followers by an example of courage and freedom from
fear. Then ill-health obliged her to leave, and when accompanying her
to the house of a friend in Buffalo Mackenzie was arrested for breach
of the neutrality laws. Scylla and Charybdis, the devil and the deep
sea, a dilemma with the orthodox number of horns, lose all strength as
similes at this point of the small hero’s career.

The devotion of Mackenzie’s mother, like that of most mothers, begins
at the date of his birth. She was her husband’s senior by nineteen
years and old for a first experience of motherhood. The husband’s
death followed soon after, and then came the vows which her Church
prescribed for the orphaned infant’s baptism, a struggle with
misfortune, and a determination to keep a roof over their two heads.
Strange to say, both grandparents were Mackenzies,--one Black Colin, or
Colin Dhu--and both Loyalists who fought for the Stuarts.

In 1801 there was a grievous famine, and one of the earliest memories
of “the bright boy with yellow hair--wearing a blue short coat with
yellow buttons,” is that of his mother taking the chief treasure of
her kist, a plaid of her own clan tartan and spun with her own hands
when a girl, to sell for bread. As he lay in his bed and watched her
take it out--not with tears we may be sure, Mrs. Mackenzie was no
crying woman--did this earnest of future days of want and care shadow
the equally heroic spirit of the child. The priest-grey coat of his
father had to follow. “Well may I love the poor, greatly may I esteem
the humble and the lowly, for poverty and adversity were my nurses, and
in my youth were want and misery my familiar friends,” he wrote later.
Divine worship was held in that family of two, and it was a daily
prayer that the rightful monarch might be set upon the throne, with the
saving clause--prophetic glimpses of a Family Compact--that he might
have able and wise counsellers, added.

Flesh and blood had revolted at the long tasks of memorizing Scripture,
Westminster Catechism, Psalms and “Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted,”
set him by his parent. The leader of men was first a leader of boys,
and the rebel of after years began that career by rebelling against
his mother at the ripe age of ten years, leaving home and setting up
on his own account in the Grampians as a hermit. An old castle perched
somewhere near where the clouds seemed to touch the crags was to have
been the hermitage, but a most carnal need of bread and butter and a
fear of fairies induced a return. Though longing to be a hermit, young
Willie had no taste for the study of polemics; but he would read till
midnight, and his mother feared that “the laddie would read himself out
o’ his judgment.” The first school to which he went was held in an old
Roman Catholic chapel, where the former Holy Water basin was made the
seat of punishment. This very small boy was early a good arithmetician
and made satisfactory general progress, but he managed to find time to
decorate the backs of his fellows with caricatures in chalk, and to
pin papers to their coat-tails. One day he went into that sanctum, the
master’s closet, put on the fool’s cap, tied himself up with the taws,
and with the birch for sceptre took his seat in the holy cup. There was
the usual denouement of discovery, a master boiling with rage, the taws
and birch in active use, and a sorrowful small boy.

The mother was extremely small in stature, brunette, and with dark
brown hair which, when it turned white, remained as long and abundant
as ever; her eyes were sharp and piercing, generally quiet in
expression but under excitement flashed ominously. The cheek bones
were high, and the small features unmistakably Celtic, the thin-lipped
mouth telling of an unconquerable will which she bequeathed to her only
child. The face under the broad high forehead was seldom allowed to
relax into perfect placidity, the surface always showing more or less
of the inward volcano; any repose there was due to religious feeling.
In the son we have but a replica of the mother. She spoke Gaelic, but
seldom used it; she did not reckon fairies among abolished myths, and
she believed firmly in the Mackenzie death-warning which was always
given by an invisible messenger. The strongest affection existed
between mother and son, who lived together for the last seventeen years
of the former’s life.

It was but little to the credit of one of his powerful enemies that,
in an effort to equal the _Advocate_, jeering remarks upon Mackenzie’s
aged mother were made in the public press. But so it was; and he was
advised to mend his ways as an editor, if he expected to continue to
support his mother and family. The inference, as his biographer gives
it, is that it was not praiseworthy to support an aged mother. It drew
from the son the boast that if he could keep his old mother, his wife
and his family, and avoid debt, he cared not for wealth.

Speaking in his paper of the spirit of the “faction” towards the
press, Mackenzie indulged in a prophecy of an event at which the same
aged mother was a pained witness. In connection with the trials of
a Canadian editor of a different political stripe, he says: “By the
implied consent of King, Lords and Commons, he is doomed to speedy
shipwreck, unless a merciful Providence should open his eyes in time,
and his good genius prompt him to hurl press and types to the bottom
of Lake Ontario.” Mackenzie lived quite close to the lake, and his
evil wishers must have taken the hint. Every one knows the story of
how _noblesse oblige_ was construed into the necessity for an invasion
of the printing office, at an hour when no man would be there; how the
raiders, in age from thirty-four years downwards, were the flower of
that “Canadian nobility” against which the editor never wearied hurling
his radical sayings; and how Mrs. Mackenzie, then in her seventy-eighth
year, stood trembling in a corner of the office--for the building was
home as well--while she witnessed, with fear and indignation, the
destruction of her son’s property and the means of her own livelihood.
As if the tale could be improved upon, some romancers, telling of the
rise of Canada from barbarism to civilization, have adorned it with
gross maltreatment of the aged lady by these gentlemen who, with her
only to stay them, were naturally _sans peur_. They should also be
without this one reproach, for they were too intent upon pi-ing type
and throwing the contents of the office into the bay to trouble about
her.

Someone says that a good and true woman is like a Cremona violin;
age but increases the worth and sweetens the tone. In the words of
Disraeli, this woman’s love had illumined the dark woof of poverty;
fate had it in store that that love should “lighten the fetters of the
slave” before she died.

The way in which Canadian rebels were treated in prison is to the
reader of their experiences a continual reproach to the powers which
made them thus suffer. But the American Bastille, according to the
records left by Mackenzie, out-did the Canadian. A steep staircase, a
ladder and a trap-door fastened by bar and lock, led to a room wherein
were the dangling rope and hideous apparatus of death ready waiting for
the next unfortunate; beyond the room was Mackenzie’s cell. It was only
through this passage-way that mother, children, wife or friends could
reach him, where they had to run the gauntlet of coarse jests from
brutalized men and the worse than brutal remarks of such women as were
prisoners there. The gaoler in this place deserved to be immortalized
by Dickens. Of low stature, with an exaggerated hook nose, fleshless
and fallen-in cheeks on which nature had begrudged a sufficient skin
covering; round, sunken, peering eyes, feline from long watching;
nails filthy, like claws forever in the dirt--such was the gaoler.
“You felt in regarding him that if cast into the sea he would have
more power to pollute it than it would have to purify him.” A fee of
thirty-six dollars for three months procured from him the occasional
admittance of friends, although the iron doors were freely opened to
those who wished to see a real live Canadian rebel. Close confinement
and miasma broke Mackenzie’s health in a short time; he could no longer
eat the food which his children carried him--it was feared he might be
poisoned by the gaol fare--his wife was in delicate health, his mother
had reached ninety years, and his mind was torn with anxiety over
the illness of a beloved daughter. The other prisoners were allowed
occasional days of freedom to visit taverns and roam the town, but no
such liberty came to him. “My dear little girl grew worse and worse,
she was wasted to a skeleton.... I had followed four of her sisters and
a brother to the churchyard, but I might not look upon her. One fine
day she was carried ... to the prison, and her mother and I watched her
for forty-eight hours, but the gaoler vexed us so that she had to be
taken home again, where she was soon in the utmost danger, and when her
poor little sister comes to tell me how she is at dusk ... the gaoler
will tell her to wait in the public place in the gaol, perhaps for an
hour or more, till supper comes, as he can’t be put to the trouble of
opening my cage twice.”

Then the poor old mother sickens, and he knows her time has come. He
makes every effort to be allowed to see her, and when he has given up
hope writes her a truly beautiful letter of farewell. In it he thanks
her for all she had done for him, all she has been to him, and that if
the wealth of the world were his he would give it to be at her side.
“But wealth I have none, and of justice there is but little here.” He
tells her of his hopes to put, with his coming liberty, the rest in
comfort, but “sorrow fills my heart when I am told that you will not
have your aged eyes comforted by the sight.” The majesty of the law,
for offence against which he was suffering, was invoked to get him
freedom for the desired interview. Under the shadow of a writ of Habeas
Corpus _ad respondendum_, a court at which he was required to appear as
a witness was held in his house, and accompanied by his gaoler he was
allowed to attend. The magistrate was late in arriving, conveniently
cold when he did come, and protracted his sitting so that the desired
interview between the dying mother and distressed son might have no
interruption, while the sheriff and gaoler waited in the room adjoining
the bedroom. The mother summoned all her fortitude, pronounced her
last farewell, bade him trust in God and fear not. She never spoke
afterwards, and from the windows of the gaol the political prisoner, in
an agony which any can understand, with which all can sympathize, saw
her funeral pass.

Mackenzie’s consideration towards women did not extend beyond the
members of his own family. But an alert providence arranged that he
should usually be well met. Some hours after Anderson had been shot,
a rebel named Pool called at the house of Mr. James Scott Howard, in
Yonge Street, to inquire the whereabouts of the body. Immediately
after he left, the first detachment of the rebel army, about fifteen
or twenty men, drew up on the lawn in front of the house, wheeled at
the word of command, and went away in search of the dead man. The next
to be seen were three or four Loyalists hurrying down the road, who
said there were five hundred rebels behind them, and as the morning
wore on more men were seen and the sound of firing was heard. At eleven
o’clock, or thereabouts, another detachment of rebels appeared, headed
by the afterwards well-known figure stuffed out with extra coats to
be bullet-proof, on a small white horse. To enable the pony to enter
the lawn the men wrenched off fence-boards, after which the stuffed
man, Mackenzie, entered the house without knocking, took possession of
the sitting-room, and ordered dinner for fifty. Mrs. Howard said she
could not comply with such an order. Mackenzie took advantage of Mr.
Howard’s absence in town to indulge in much abuse of the latter, saying
it was high time someone else held the postmastership. Mrs. Howard at
length referred him to the servant in the kitchen, and Mackenzie went
to see about dinner himself. He and his men appropriated a sheep in
process of cooking in a large sugar-kettle, a barrel of beef and a
baking of bread. The tool house was made free use of to sharpen their
weapons, which consisted of chisels and gouges on pole-ends, hatchets,
knives and guns of all descriptions. At two o’clock the rebels took a
disorderly departure, leaving a young West Highlander on guard. Mrs.
Howard said she was sorry to see so fine a Scotchman turn against his
Queen, to which the reply was, “Country first, Queen next.” The fifty
rebels had evidently left on account of the flag of truce proceedings,
and at half-past three they all returned, headed by Mackenzie. He
demanded of Mrs. Howard “where the dinner was,” and her coolness of
demeanour and temper exasperated him. He pulled her from her chair
to the window, shook his whip over her, and told her to be thankful
her house was not in the state in which she saw Dr. Horne’s. Lount
privately told Mrs. Howard not to mind Mackenzie, as he was quite
beside himself. After they had eaten the much-ordered dinner, the men
had some barrels of whiskey on the lawn and their behaviour during the
night naturally alarmed the family. The one man-servant had made his
escape, saying he feared being taken prisoner by the rebels. The party
remained there until Wednesday; the true defence of the place lay in
Mrs. Howard’s intrepidity. Her troubles did not end with the departure
of the rabble, for her husband, a true Loyalist of the best type,
suffered much at the hands of either party. Such grinding between the
upper and the nether millstone as he thereafter experienced is a matter
of history.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nathaniel Pearson, a Quaker, one of the most refined and gentle of the
gentlest sect, an intelligent farmer and keenly interested in politics,
lived in the Aurora district. Some of his Quaker principles were
sacrificed to those of Reform, and he rode off to join the insurgents
on their way south. He missed them, and to his Quaker mind there was
but one honourable thing to do, and that was to give himself up to the
Government. During his absence his wife, possessed of as many gifts and
attractions as her husband, had to go to Aurora on business, with the
result that she was marched to the guard-house between two Loyalist
soldiers. She appealed for help to a man who was their neighbour,
and who often had been kept in the necessities of life by the Quaker
family; but he turned a deaf ear, even when she pleaded on the score
of her young baby at home. Her case reached the ears of a man named
King, from Orillia, who at once interested himself in her behalf. “Do
you tell me you have a young baby at home needing you? Gad, if they had
taken my wife that way, they wouldn’t know that the devil had ever been
born before!” His interest resulted in her release, and on reaching
home she found that Quaker principles were to be forfeited once more.
The Loyalists were about, searching for food and arms, and the faithful
maid, Betty, determined they should have neither at her employers’
expense. The one gun in the house was hidden in a brush-heap behind
the barn, and Betty had barely straightened her back after doing so
when she saw a Loyalist on the fence, watching her. A party entered the
house, demanding food, and were on their way to the cellar, where a
large stock of freshly-cooked provisions was stored, when the faithful
Betty once more forswore her sect, declared the cellar empty, and saved
her master’s property.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Captain P. De Grasse left his home on that ever eventful night
in December to join the Loyalists in the city he was accompanied by
his two daughters, Charlotte and Cornelia, who wished to see him to
the borders of the town, so that they could report his safety to their
mother. The way lay through uncleared bush, and the time was late at
night. They fell in with Matthews and his party, who were on their
way to destroy the Don bridge, when Charlotte with great presence of
mind suddenly wheeled to the left, made her pony stamp noisily through
the mud, and thereby averted Matthew’s notice from her father and her
sister. They all succeeded in reaching the city about one o’clock, an
exciting ride for two girls under fifteen years of age. In spite of the
commotion and signs of fear all about, the girls determined to go back
to their mother. The first half of the return journey was in bright
moon-light, but the second half contained all the terrors of darkness
in a section infested by rebels. They reached their mother at four in
the morning, and that same day returned to town with information of
the proceedings of the rebels at the Don. Again, on the Wednesday,
they crossed the bush to seek their father at the turnpike on Yonge
Street; he was not there, and when Cornelia saw the general terror,
consequent upon the report that the rebels were five thousand strong
at Montgomery’s Tavern, she resolved to proceed there alone and find
out the truth. As she passed the rebel lines all seemed amazed to see
a little girl on a fiery pony come fearlessly among them, and she
could hear them inquire of one another who she was. She reached the
wheelwright’s by Montgomery’s without molestation, inquired in a casual
manner as to the price of a sled of particular dimensions, promised
to give him an answer the next day, turned her horse’s head towards
town, when suddenly several men seized the bridle and said, “You are
our prisoner.” They kept her nearly an hour while they waited for
Mackenzie, who when he did come, amidst general huzzaing, announced
“Glorious news! We have taken the Western Mail!” In the booty he had
the historical feminine impedimenta which afterwards disguised him for
escape, so capturing little girls was quite in the order of things.
While the rebels congratulated him and crowded round the coachman
and passengers, the doughty Cornelia saw her opportunity, whipped up
her pony and made her escape, although fired at several times. After
ridding herself of this party she was fired at from Watson’s and
summoned to surrender. This but strengthened her nerve, and in time she
reached the city, to give a true account of the robbery of the mail and
the number and arms of the rebels.

Meantime the Loyalists were making use of Charlotte as a despatch
bearer on the Kingston Road. She returned with the answer and then set
out for her home. Near a corner of the bush she was fired at by a large
party of rebels; both she and her pony were wounded, and the frightened
beast jumped the fence; one of the rebels, not to be outwitted, ran
across the angle of the bush, got in front of her and fired in her
face.

The next day Cornelia, once more bent on seeing her father, reached
the city in time to follow the troops up Yonge Street on their way
to Gallows Hill. This daughter of the regiment was urged by the
Chief-Justice to collect for him all the particulars of the engagement,
which, cool and undaunted--oblivious of thundering of cannon--she
undertook to do, and did.

Her adventures were not yet over, for on her way home she discovered
that Matthews had by this time set the Don bridge on fire, and she
at once returned to the city to give the alarm. While she was thus
occupied another heroine, sometime cook to Sir Francis Bond Head, was
engaged in putting the fire out, a work which she did not accomplish
before receiving a bullet in her knee. As by this time the bridge was
useless, Cornelia left her pony in town and set out on foot on her
homeward way at eleven o’clock at night through a district filled with
dispersed rebels. The story does not relate the final reunion of this
mutually devoted family, but it is to be presumed Charlotte went on
calmly cutting bread and butter and Cornelia continued worthy of the
great name she bore.

       *       *       *       *       *

One Deborah, who did not pose as such, tells a modest story of what
she saw and omits much of what she did. “I remember that Monday before
Montgomery’s. I had been in town for some days, and on that Monday
there was great excitement--no one knew exactly what about. At first
I thought I would go to the Mackenzies’ for safety, even if it was
a long time since I had been there; but when I got half-way to the
house it struck me that as my father and brothers had turned against
him, since he had come back from England and was all for bloodshed, I
had better leave the Mackenzies alone. So I went to a friend farther
east, and found her half crazy with fright, swinging her baby above her
head, and saying we would take a boat and row over to the island, as
the rebels wouldn’t touch us there. But I thought if there was going
to be trouble I had better be with my own people; so I started to walk
up Yonge Street towards home. I met no one, but every now and then
a horseman would rush past, or two or three armed men would be seen
together, and by and by I saw a few farmers going in to offer their
services to the Government. At Bloor Street I was tired and went into
the Red Lion parlour to rest; everything was in great confusion, but
nobody spoke to me. In a little while I went on; and at the toll-gate
above the Davenport Road I saw the rebels coming over Blueberry Hill
opposite. The toll-keeper swung the gates to and ran off to the woods,
and I turned up Davenport Road a little way and watched the rebels;
they were my friends and neighbours, and it was dreadful to see them.
It is said that when they reached the house that Mackenzie set fire to
it was deserted, but I know that it looked very ordinary when I passed
it, smoke coming out of the chimney, no sign of disturbance. I was
frightened and went on, but I heard that when Mackenzie set to work to
build a fire in the cupboard of that house some of his supporters were
angry, and said they did not come out to burn houses but to fight for
their rights, and one, when he saw he was not listened to, threw down
his gun and took himself and his sons off to the States.

“When I got home I found father had gone to offer himself to the
Government, and everyone was busy preparing food and baking bread.
We had once been supporters of Mackenzie, and everybody knew we had
turned against him after he came back from England. Some people were,
therefore, very bitter against us, and we thought it wise to fill the
house with food, leave the place open, barn, grain, everything, so
that they could get it all easily, and take the chance of the house
therefore not being burned down. So we left everything ready for them,
and went to stay at a relative’s farther back in the country.

“There are plenty to say that Moodie was not shot at all. Some declared
that he was alive when taken to the tavern and that he would not give
in, and it ended in his being trampled to death in the tavern.

“Sheriff Jarvis took the news of the rising coolly. When father was
going down Yonge Street to offer himself he met the sheriff, who said,
‘Well, John, what’s the news with you to-day?’ And when father said,
‘There’s great news--Toronto will be taken and burnt, if you don’t stop
it,’ the sheriff said, ‘You don’t say so!’ and only half believed him.

“For a long time before the rising I did not go very often to the
Mackenzies, for they thought I would spy on them, and father thought
I had better leave them alone anyway. We had supported Mackenzie
strongly, like the rest of the farmers, before he went to England, and
my father and his friends took their turn in watching him for fear the
Compact people would spirit him away; but that was when he was all for
reform and agitating for our rights. Whatever it was happened to him
in England turned everything into fighting, and father wasn’t going to
fight against his country. That Mackenzie was the craziest man you ever
did see. He wore a wig, and when he got excited--he was always excited,
for the matter of that--he would throw it on the floor, or throw it at
you if he felt extra pleasant. You’ve heard of the time he was brought
home with cheering and torches and great doings, and given the gold
chain?[6] A fine chain it was, long and thick, and he was very pleased
and worked up. He saw me standing by, laughing--for I was excited,
too--and he cried at me, ‘Ah, Mary!’ and quick as lightning threw the
chain at me and the wig on the floor, and then he flung his arms round
his mother’s neck and kissed her.

“Every market day, when business was all done, and before the farmers
went home, there would be a crowd round him as he talked from the top
of a waggon. He made great speeches, I can tell you. I happened to
be there once through a friend of his, who was staying in his house
and wanted to hear him, and would not go alone. We turned down by
the church, and waited at the market corner below King Street, where
Mackenzie was standing in a waggon, talking, and you should have seen
how the people listened. Perhaps you know that the Compact had a lot of
hangers-on who would do anything they were told for the soup, clothes,
and stuff that was given them, and we used to call them ‘soupets,’
like the bits of bread you put in soup to sop it up. As Mackenzie was
talking, suddenly the vestry door was thrown open, and out rushed a
crowd of soupets, caught hold of the tongue of Mackenzie’s waggon,
and ran off with him towards the bay. He just stood there, waiting,
I suppose, till the farmers got over their surprise. But the soupets
nearly had him ducked in the bay before the farmers came to their
senses.”

However, there were some whose principles were not changed by
Mackenzie’s bloodthirstiness; we have one (Mrs. Dew, then Miss Betty
Duffield) who is still proud to tell the tale of how she pinned on
the white badges. “I was staying with the Leonard Watsons, who lived
near Montgomery’s tavern, when the troubles came to a head, and
with my own hands I tied on the badges of white cotton worn by some
of our fighting men. On that Wednesday morning I saw Mackenzie ride
from the direction of the tavern just as the sound of music was heard
coming from the city. Mackenzie halted near our house and exclaimed,
‘Are these our friends?’ meaning those whom he expected from the
other districts; but he was soon convinced that the music belonged to
the loyalist militia coming up Yonge Street. I am sorry to say that
while Mackenzie never could be accused of cowardice in so far as his
tongue was concerned, his fighting qualities were not so assured, for
I myself saw him fling off his cloak and gallop away.[7] Mr. Leonard
Watson found it necessary to try to make his escape. Mrs. Watson and
the daughters went to a neighbour’s, carrying some of their valuables
with them, as they were afraid the militia would burn the house down.
Peter Watson eventually reached the United States. But I stood by the
house, and when the militia came up they riddled it with bullets;
they ransacked everything, upset anything they touched, and broke
nearly all the furniture. But part of this damage was probably done
by ruffians who had taken the opportunity to follow the militia for
the sake of plunder. Watson’s horses were appropriated, a tall dark
man taking one, and a short red-headed man another. Someone proposed
burning the house down, and very likely this would have been done had
I not happened to notice an officer riding up. I accosted him, and he
turned out to be one of the Governor’s aides. He drew the attention
of his superior, who kindly asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted
protection to the property. He immediately told me to get him paper,
which I did, and handed to him as he sat in his saddle. He wrote, “Do
no further injury to this house,” signed his name, and told me to show
it to anyone offering further molestation. A few days afterwards I went
to Darlington in behalf of the Watson family, carrying money for Peter
Watson to enable him to reach the States from there. I had to walk
part of the way, and I remember when passing a large block of woods a
man came out and timidly inquired if I had seen anyone on the road. He
looked the picture of misery and nearly starved. The woods were being
scoured on each side of the road by men on horseback, and I suppose
that poor fellow was captured.

“While those taken were in prison they amused themselves by carving
various articles in wood, and I have yet in my possession a small maple
box, beautifully made and finished, presented to me by Leonard Watson.
On the cover is my name, some verses are on the sides, and on the
bottom ‘April 12th, 1838, alas for Lount and Matthews.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

“When Sir John’s order came for all the troops to be sent east, Colonel
Foster remonstrated; but the troops had to go, and he was left in
command of the sentries, sick soldiers, women and children at the Fort.
Under these circumstances the militia came to the front, did their
best, fired anywhere, and we were more afraid of them than of the
enemy. We were retiring for the night when a loud noise attracted my
attention, and I looked out of the window to see Colonel FitzGibbon on
horseback half-way up our steps.” FitzGibbon omitted no chance to warn
and thus save life and property. “He called out, ‘The rebels are upon
us, and this is one of the houses marked for burning,’ and clattered
off again. My husband and his son were soon on their way to the Fort.
Our household was left undisturbed, but I had orders to answer the
door myself should the rioters come; the servants were not to show
themselves, and as I was young and fearless then I rather enjoyed the
prospect of excitement. In fact, I was distinctly disappointed that
nobody did come. For the next week my husband took what rest he could
get on a gun-carriage at the Fort, and I was never in bed regularly
myself during that period. He came to see us once, and I recall my
amusement at watching him hungrily devour the leg of a goose, an
utterly absurd sight when one remembers the style of man he was, and
the many courses of his ordinary dinners. I was thankful we even had
that leg to give him, as every bit of meat we could get might be seized
for the hungry militia.

“I do not see why unpleasant remarks should have been made on the
score of a boat having been provided for the safety of the Governor’s
family. Lady Head seems to be mentioned very little in the history of
her husband’s administration, no doubt owing to the quietness of the
life she led. But she was extremely pleasant, and much liked by those
who knew her.

“Mrs. Draper and I and some others declined to go on board the boat in
the bay on which a good many families were hurried for safety. Another
boat had been provided for some citizens’ families, but in the middle
of the night despatches came down from Colonel Foster to be sent by
boat to Sir John Colborne, and immediately everything was haste and
dismay. The people and their boxes were unceremoniously bundled on the
wharf, and all was confusion, while the boat went off on its errand.
But those on the Government boat did not omit to make public the
unpleasant predicament of their guard on board. The distinguished duty
of protecting so many wives and families of officials was given to one
gentleman. Some one on board was not too frightened to have spirit left
to play a practical joke. The poor man’s clothes were removed after he
had gone to bed, and then the alarm was sounded--you may imagine his
discomfort of mind and body.”

Articles of apparel were frequently pressed into active and public
service then and later, and Mrs. Ogle Gowan, notable as a true Deborah,
conspicuously contributed her share in connection with the Rebellion
Losses’ Bill; her enthusiasm had not grown cold in years. Lord Elgin,
equally misunderstood with Durham and Sydenham, made a futile attempt
to land at Brockville; a black flag, bearing the inscription in white
letters, “Down with Elgin and his rebel-paying ministry,” was hoisted
on the dock, a banner known then and ever since as Mrs. Gowan’s
petticoat, but it is likely that it merely earned its name because
designed and made by her. The lady was unconsciously making a link in
the much-discussed history of the jacques, and illustrated one meaning
of her husband’s paper, _The Antidote_. It is said the paper had as
motto, “The _Antidote_ is set afloat to cure poisonous treason.”
Ogle R. Gowan, staunch Irish-Orange Tory as he was, was a herald of
Responsible Government--and suffered for it--a prophet as to ’37, chief
promoter in the first movement which resulted in Canadian volunteers,
father and founder of Orangeism here, and although a strong supporter
of Colborne was antagonistic to the methods of Francis Bond Head; in
his military career he was chiefly conspicuous at Prescott, and carried
the buckshot and bayonet record of that engagement to his grave. To
such a man Mrs. Gowan, a womanly woman of great culture and heroic
spirit, was a true helpmeet.

The heroic spirit was patent in many ways. A colonel prominent in
the Canadian service received the following: “Mrs. M. wishes to be
remembered to you, and prays that the day may come when your hands will
place the British standard on the top of the citadel of Washington, the
capital of the democratic mob.”

Early in the century a handsome stranger was an honoured guest at
Quebec mess dinners, so fraternally fond of the military and military
life that the inference is if fighting were on the cards he too would
be ready. But at one of the dinners the gentleman was convicted of
being a lady in disguise. The heroines of Upper Canada in ’37 satisfied
their warlike propensities by running their tea-chest lead into
bullets, making a Canadian question de joupons, or firing a feu de joie
at home. When one pretty girl did the last, on the return of father and
brothers, Brown Bess unhandsomely kicked her flat and she found herself
prone on that Sol Canadien, terre chérie, which she so dearly loved.
Mothers in Israel! Could they have foreseen a certain date in ’97, the
year next prominent to ’37 in the Canadian horoscope, they and Brown
Besses in conjunction might have furnished material for a legend of the
female Brutus. For a certain Tory child of those days who has since
developed into a renowned statesman has said, “My earliest memory in
life is of the women of my family casting bullets in the Upper Canadian
Rebellion of 1837, I am afraid on the wrong side.”

Mixed politics in one family often led to strained relations: “When I
went to my brother John’s to ask him to turn out he was not at home,
and his wife said she did not intend him to be at home, and that he
would not and should not go. I then asked her for his arms, for we
were in great need of them, but Mrs. John said she knew nothing about
arms. I went into another room for his rifle, which I could not find,
but I saw his sword hanging by the head of his bed. I took it down,
but as I did so my sister-in-law caught hold of the hilt and jerked it
partly away. To save myself from being stabbed I was obliged to pull
her close to me, moving towards the door; I wished myself clear of her
and the sword, but dared not let go until we got out the door, when
I gave her a push and seized the hilt. I walked off with the sword,
but instead of following me she ran into the house, calling for the
rifle, the children after her. It was a truly ridiculous sight, to see
one of Her Britannic Majesty’s officers, armed, running away from his
sister-in-law. But run I did, and she told me afterwards that the only
reason she did not fire was that I was in motion and she was so greatly
excited she was afraid she might not kill me!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Canada Museum_ was a journal much quoted in its day by domestic
and American newspapers; its editorials were considered, by editors
of both sides of politics, to be temperate, patriotic and logical.
Published in Berlin, chiefly in German, partly in English, it naturally
was an important influence in Canada West, and its editor, Mr. H.
W. Peterson, had an acknowledged and deservedly high standing. He
was heartily in love with the Union Jack, as heartily opposed to the
Stars and Stripes in Canadian connection, was a Conservative in the
true sense of the word, and abominated Toronto rule as utterly as
any so-called rebel. But it appears that the guiding hand of this
influential paper belonged to a wife and mother, one who had made
herself mistress of colonial politics and was eminently qualified
to express herself. One to whom Mrs. Peterson was best known says:
“She possessed literary abilities of a fine order, with the soundest
judgment in every matter. Mr. Peterson, a discreet editor, temperately
supported the Government of the day, conceiving that wrongs should be
constitutionally redressed by the people through their representatives,
without force of arms. Mrs. Peterson concurred in all his views; but
while she deprecated bloodshed and the resort to force, she had a
woman’s heart added to the courage of her convictions. Her natural
benevolence induced her to state, when discussing the question of
Mackenzie’s flight and the reward offered for him, that if his journey
took him through Waterloo and he called on her for aid and comfort she
would undoubtedly give it, and not disclose the fact of his presence
until he had had time to move on farther. Woman first, politician
afterward, such action would have done no violence to her Conservative
principles; but it would have been entirely on her own responsibility,
as her husband was a magistrate and could countenance no charity of
that kind.”

A much used saying is not necessarily trite. The gentle hand which
rocked the cradle could guide the pen when danger threatened the state.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Canadian Deborah of ’12 or ’37 was not learned in history, nor
was she conscious of her part as tenon in that _arc de triomphe_ in
the history of nations, that mortised arch of Frank and Saxon whereof
the pillars are Hastings and Quebec. She knew but little, perhaps
never heard, of those countless hordes who swarmed over Apennines and
Pyrenees, nor yet of Clovis, nor of Cedric. She was no seer and could
not foretell the many who were destined, after conquest of forest,
to crowd the valley of the Peace, make homes on the slopes of our
statesman’s “sea of mountains,” and be lost, an equally countless
host, who can tell, in the as yet hidden recesses of the untamed
remnant of a continent.

    “Mine all the past, and all the future mine.”

Canadian women, like their famous sisters of Liége, held, and hold,
their distaff and their God; but, with few exceptions, unlike the
wise ones there, they made no grand bakings of bread in order to be
ready for the earliest comer, friend or foe, in the times when shadows
spoiled the beauty of the Canadian day. No women of Saragossa they; but
each has for record, “She hath done what she could.”



ERRATUM.


On page 171, 8th line from foot of page, for “Colonel Foster,
Adjutant-General,” _read_ “Colonel Foster, Assistant Adjutant-General.”



In the Days of the Canada Company

_The Story of the Settlement of the Huron Tract, and a View of the
Social Life of the Period._

By Robina and Kathleen Macfarlane Lizars

With an Introduction by REV. PRINCIPAL GRANT, D.D., LL.D. In one
volume, 494 pages, freely illustrated, price =$2.00=.

[Illustration]

CONTENTS:--Spirit of the Times--The Father of the Company--Canada
as the Company Found It--The Face of the Land--From Champlain
to Gooding--The Kings of the Canada Company--The Colborne
Clique--Gairbraid--Lunderston--Meadowlands--The Canada Company vs. The
People--The People vs. The Canada Company--A Social Pot-Pourri--The
Heart of Huron--The Bonnie Easthopes--The Cairn.

[Illustration]


OPINIONS OF THE PRESS

“Strong lights and shadows fill these pictures of the early settlers’
day, and the Misses Lizars, in handling large masses of material, have
maintained the balance of their picture so well that it is something
more than the most forcible and striking piece of word-painting in
Canadian literature. The scenes portrayed in this book might be
compared with some cinematographe views lately seen in the city, for
not only are these flowery-waistcoated, or red-shirted, ancestors,
as the case may be, vivid pieces of brush-work; they seem almost
possessed of the miracle of movement. We fancy we hear them speak to
us, and when Tiger Dunlop strides across the stage in his extraordinary
regimentals--roomy grey homespun, with a large check, the big Scotch
features surmounted by a shock of red hair, and guarded by the
broadest of bonnets, one can almost hear his friendly roar.”--_London
Advertiser._

“No more entertaining book has ever been written about early life in
British North America than ‘In the Days of the Canada Company,’ by
Robina and Kathleen M. Lizars. No attempt, the authors tell us, has
been made at historical writing; their work is certainly not a history
book, but it most assuredly is history of a far more rare and precious
kind than the chronological record of events which usually goes by
that name. There will be many histories, and good histories too, given
to the world before another series of such vivid pictures of the very
lives of men and women who made history in a formative period of a
country is presented.”--_Montreal Daily Witness._

[Illustration]

  WILLIAM BRIGGS, - Publisher, - TORONTO, ONT.
  Montreal: C. W. COATES.      Halifax: S. F. HUESTIS.



Canadian Historical Literature.

(PUBLISHED IN 1896-97.)


That the impulse of recent years to gather together and publish the
historical records of the various localities has borne fruit, is amply
attested in the following list of publications, all from our own
presses. We commend to Public Libraries and to all intelligent readers
the placing on their shelves of as many as possible of these valuable
works:--

  =Canadian Savage Folk.= The Native Tribes of Canada.
  By John Maclean, Ph.D. Cloth, 641 pages, illustrated           $2 50

  =The Cabot Calendar of Canadian History, 1497-1897.=
  Compiled by Sara Mickle and Mary Agnes FitzGibbon.
  Illustrated                                                     0 50

  =In the Days of the Canada Company.= By Robina
  and Kathleen M. Lizars. Cloth, 494 pages, illustrated           2 00

  =Overland to Cariboo.= The narrative of an eventful
  journey of Canadian pioneers to the gold-fields of British
  Columbia in 1862. By Margaret McNaughton. Illustrated           1 00

  =Legislation and History of Separate Schools in
  Upper Canada.= From 1841 to the close of Dr. Ryerson’s
  administration in 1876. By J. George Hodgins,
  LL.D. Paper, $1.00; cloth                                       1 25

  =Manitoba Memories.= Leaves from my Life in the
  Prairie Province. By Rev. George Young, D.D. Illustrated        1 00

  =Review of Historical Publications Relating to
  Canada (1895-96).= Edited by Prof. George M.
  Wrong, M.A. Paper, $1.00; cloth                                 1 25

  =The Forge in the Forest.= An historical romance of
  Acadia. By Chas. G. D. Roberts. Paper, 60c.; cloth,
  illustrated                                                     1 25

  =The Lion and the Lilies.= A Tale of the Conquest, in
  six cantos, and Other Poems. By Charles Edwin Jakeway.
  Cloth                                                           1 00

  =John Saint John and Anna Grey.= A Romance of
  Old New Brunswick, told in verse. By Margaret Gill
  Currie                                                          1 00

  =The History of the Dominion of Canada.= For
  Schools and Colleges. By W. H. P. Clement, B.A.,
  LL.B. With numerous maps, portraits and illustrations           0 50

  =History of the County of Annapolis.= Including
  Old Port Royal and Acadia. With biographical and
  genealogical sketches. By the late W. A. Calnek.
  Completed and edited by Judge Savary. Cloth, 660
  pages, with portraits and illustrations                         3 25

  =The Story of the Union Jack.= How it grew and
  what it is, particularly in its connection with the History
  of Canada. With nine colored lithograph plates and
  numerous engravings                                             1 50

  =The Selkirk Settlers in Real Life.= By Rev. R. G.
  MacBeth, M.A.                                                   0 75

  =Humours of ’37=: Grave, Gay and Grim. Rebellion
  Times in the Canadas. By Robina and Kathleen M.
  Lizars. Cloth, with map                                         1 25

  =History and Historiettes of the United Empire
  Loyalists.= By Edward Harris. Paper                             0 10

  =Historic Days Of Canada.= A Calendar for 1898.
  Compiled by Sara Mickle and Mary Agnes FitzGibbon.
  Drawings by J. D. and Percy Kelly. Lithographed in
  gold and colors. Twelve cards, enclosed in box                  0 75

  =Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement.=
  Norfolk’s Foundation-Builders and their Family Genealogies.
  By E. A. Owen. With portraits. Cloth, 500
  pages. (In press)                                               2 00

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by
the publisher.


  WILLIAM BRIGGS,

  Richmond St. West, Toronto.

  Montreal: C. W. COATES.       Halifax: S. F. HUESTIS.

[Illustration]



FOOTNOTES:

[1] “Among French as well as among English military men, swearing on
every trivial occasion was formerly so common that it was considered
as quite the proper thing. A witty French author asserted that ‘God
Damn était le fonds de la langue anglaise’--the root of the English
language! whilst the Vicomte de Parny, an elegant writer, composed a
poem in four cantos bearing that profane title. Long before and after
the British soldiers ‘swore so dreadfully in Flanders;’ long before
and after Cambronne uttered his malodorous ‘juron’ on the field of
Waterloo--though it must be confessed in extenuation the incidents
of that day were ugly enough to make any of Napoleon’s _vieilles
moustaches_ swear most emphatically--swearing was indulged in all over
Europe.”--J. M. LEMOINE.

[2] _Curiæ Canadenses._

[3] This banner, a remnant of an old election, with date changed, was
taken possession of by Sir Francis and carried to England as a personal
trophy. His grandson, Sir Robert Head, ignorant of the flag’s true
history, exhibited it, as apropos, on the occasion of the lunch given
by the National Liberal Club to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, K.C.M.G., July 9,
1897. The Canadian statesman followed the spirit of Lord Sydenham’s
life and utterances in the comment that “in 1837 Canadians were
fighting for constitutional rights, not against the British Crown.”
Query: By what right was the banner left in the possession of Sir
Francis?

[4] In opposition to this account see Dent’s “History of the Canadian
Rebellion.”

[5] McArthur raided the neighbourhood twice. After such a lapse of
time, narrators doubtless are more interested in incident than in date.

[6] Presentation of medal and chain, January 2, 1832.

[7] This cloak was returned to Mackenzie anonymously when he was in
Monroe County prison.


[Transcriber’s Note:

The corrections listed in the Erratum have been incorporated into the original.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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