Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

And does he not know that I am poor, while he is wealthy?

I have no desire, however, to add one word on the merely personal question. That was introduced simply in order to explain the curious isolation of Dr. Smith in the country for which he undertakes to speak. If he stood alone, because of strenuous attachment to a high spiritual truth, he would be worthy of all admiration. Then it would be a case of Athanasius against the world. But his isolation is on the complex political question of whether Canada should go over to the United States or continue in the grander unity of the British Empire. On that question, the native-born Canadian is quite competent to judge, and he has more right to speak than any one else, all the more so, it may be said, if his forefathers have suffered for the country: May I not add that the choice of American connection is singularly urhappy at present. Dr. Smith might well admit that time has shown Canada to have been wiser than himself. But Snowdon's Knight, confronted with a host of armed men was not more resolute. He still holds that duty calls on us to abandon cherished ideals and to become engulphed in a less liberal, less moral and less comprehensive education than we now have, in the vain hope that we may be able to turn the tide of feeling which sways millions of average Americans, inflamed from their youth up with unnatural cries of vengeance, as well as with external or false notions of their own place in civilization.

Space is not available here to deal fully with this fundamental question, but 1 shall take it up again before long. In comparison with it, any man's personality or fate is of small consequence. My int rpretation of Dr. Sunith's character may be inadequate or mistaken, and I regret if I was betrayed into vivacities of expression which gave him pain. Or dinary readers, however, will not deem it unparliamentary language to say

[ocr errors]

that a man is cynical or to hint that even an Oxford education has limitations. I spoke with ample acknowledgment that Dr. Smith meant well, even when industriously sowing tares, because I spoke in sorrow rather than in anger, and only after hoping against hope that, in accordance with his own repeated declarations, he was retiring from the position of our unauthorised Ambassador to do work for which he is better suited. Here was my summary :

&6

His aims are good, but as he insists that they shall be carried out in his and in no other way, he is all the time defeating instead of furthering them. He loves his native country, yet misrepresents its action. He sees that the best hopes of civilization lie in the direction of the unification of the English speaking race, yet different members. He believes that the he excites evil suspicions between its saving elements in the Canadian people the healing of bitter waters in the States, are so strong that they could do much for yet he belittles us and mocks at our continuous and resolute struggle to become a nation."

If there are faults here or else

where, they are, I submit, in the manner of expression, and because of my interest in a great subject, rather than the outcome of a desire to misjudge or of acrimony of temper, of which, indeed, I am not conscious. But might it not be well for Dr. Smith to corsider that others may see him better than he sees himself, and that the outlines of a crowded career, extending over a long period, may come out most clearly, like those of mountain ranges, at a distance? Looked at from this point of view, almost every one will tell him that since he left his own country his general attitude has been anti-British, and has not been representative of Canadian sentiment supposes, to use the ironical language of our great humorist, Haliburton, "That a tree would be much more vigorous if the branches were all lopped off, and that the stem would be larger, stronger and

He

better without such useless or expensive appendages." He knows that the fate of Canada will ultimately determine that of all the Colonies, as well as that of the whole Empire with its pronise of a future as glorious as its past. But British connection he distrusts and even seems to dislike; while to us it is the effectual guarantee that we shall continue to maintain our independence, build on our own foundations, develop our institutions, and contribute some share, 'off our own bat,' to the higher life of the continent and the race.

This, I repeat, is the fundamental question between us. Dr. Smith is influenced or dominated mainly by the idea of continuous territory, and by what he considers the hopelessly insoluble character of French-speaking Canadians. These seem to me external considerations, while his tone concerning them is unduly pessimis tic; but, I tried to estimate them fairly. In proof, let me conclude this brief rejoinder with as long a quotation as space will permit of what was said in the article regarding the difficulties with which we are struggling, and the price which we, like every other people, must be willing to pay for national life:

"The Dominion consists of four great sections, each of which is said to be naturally more allied to a portion of the United States than to the other sections. There is a certain amount of truth in this, but the point of view which makes it an insuperable difficulty is wholly external. When we are told that it is impossible to fight successfully against geography, a little reflection assures us that all history teaches the opposite, and that each new triumph of science is simply another victory of man over nature. Besides, this difficulty is on the surface, and has been seen and discounted by us at every stage in our history. It has no more terrors for us than the Alle ghanies and the Rocky Mountains had for the people of the States, or than the Atlantic and the 'long wish of Australas'an seas' had for our forefathers. Instinc

tively, at every crisis, we have realized that a nation must be ready to pay a price for its freedom, must be willing to 'transcend and even laugh at difficulties in order to realize itself and secure a distinctive and worthy future. We have, therefore, said with Nehemiah, 'Let us

rise up

and build.' We have established tion from the Straits of Belle Isle into an unequalled system of internal navigathe heart of the continent, and we have added to that an unparalleled railway system, along lines where Indian guides and old-fashioned engineers and scientific officers had declared that railways could not be built. We were told that the traffic would not pay for greasing the wheels of the locomotives. It has paid those who put their money in the road better than any other trans-continental railway. In today's paper I see that Union at 7, Central at 14, and Canadian Northern Pacific is quoted at 5 per cent., Pacific at 64. And, now, when the exterual difficulties have been overcome, when every part of our great Northern Confederacy has been linked together by steel as well as sentiment, when drydocks have been built at Halifax, Quebec, Kingston, and Esquimault, when our coasts, rivers and lakes have been lighted with hundreds of lighthouses; now, when, through the faith and toil of a handful of people scattered over half a continent, we have built our nation's house, and are able to reach out one hand to Great Britain and the other to Australia, a philosopher assures us that manifest destiny was all the time forbidding, and that our house was built only to be smashed! Destiny, if you like, but certainly it was not and is not manifest.

[ocr errors]

"Another dominating conception of Dr. Smith arises from the superficial view that he takes of Quebec Province. According to him, French Canada before the conquest, owing to the exclusion of the Huguenots, fell into the hands of the Catholic reaction and of its incarnation and apostle, the Jesuit,' and so became 'a Jesuit mission grafted on a station of the fur trade.' This is epigram, but not history. It is doubtful if history can be written epigrammatically. The truth is that-as might have been expected by anyone who knows the character and development of the French people

there was a vigorous Gallicanism in Quebec down to the conquest. The Canadian peasant, under the nominal feudalism of the New World, was never a serf or villein Proudly he called himself the 'habitant,' or dweller in the land. In the same spirit, though a devout member of the Hoy, Catholic, Apostolical, Roman Church, he always stoutly asserted his own religious rights. Nor was he without constitutional protection of a kind. Just as Louis XIV., though under priestly influence, did not shrink from putting bishops in their place and holding his own against the Pope, so a strong governor in Quebec, the representative of the King and the head of the State, did not shrink from bullying the bishop and protecting the rights of the laity. This Gallican spirit, as might also have been expected, died out after the conquest. The reasons will easily be divined by anyone who knows the history of Ireland from within. It has revived, however, since the Confederation of 1867; it is a factor of ever-increasing significance in the development of French-speaking Canadians; to ignore which may be pardonable in the average politician, but not in the historian or statesman.

"The difference of language and race is another of the bogeys that forbid the banns between French and Englishspeaking Canadians. Dr. Smith's only hope lies in submerging the former in the vast mass of English speech to the south. That mass will have its influence, no matter what the political arrangements may be; but the supposition that national unity requires uniformity of language and race is an abstract conception scarcely worth refuting It is a remnant of the individualist view of society which prevailed in the eighteenth century, but which is now universally discarded. The highest form of national life does not depend on identity, but rather on differences that are transcended by common political interests and sentiments; and it is most interesting to trace the growth of these in Canada, especially since 1867. The result is before the face of all men, in a fact which is half a continent in size. The fact was there before, but it could be seen only by the penetrating eye. Now, the blind may see, unless blinded by preconceptions. Under the constitution

of 1791, which gave only the irritating shadow of political liberty without the substance, the French-Canadians fought splendidly against the armies of the States, though these came as practical allies of the Corsican, who at the time was the idol of every Frenchman. Subsequently, when the union of the two Canadas, in 1841, ended in a deadlock, statesmen never dreamed of the formation of the two provinces into two distinct nationalities as the solution. They saw that the deadlock had come, because the Act of Union had an inherent defect. It had attempted to combine the federal principle with uni of action in local matters. Hence the clumsy expedients of dual majorities and dual leaders, which could not possibly be permanent. The solution of the difficulty was sought for in a wider union, and though that made Quebec one province of four, now one of seven, and—a few years hence-to be one of twelve, instead of one of two, Cartier assented to it as loyally as George Brown. The Confederation of 1867 cured the defect of the Union of 1841, by assigning local questions to provincial legislatures, and it laid the basis for a Dominion which soon extended from ocean to ocean.

"Of course we have had our difficulties since, but they are simply growing pains. Dr. Smith identifies the extreme Ultramontanes, or the Nationalist section, in Quebec, with the province, as they, for their own ends, identify the 'Orangistes' of Ontario with English-speaking Canada. But the tailors of Tooley Street are not the people of England, nor are he and his handful of Commercial Unionists the Canadian people. In forming a nation which, while including all sections of the British people, plus Germans, Icelanders, Belgians, Hungarians and Indians, is mainly composed of the two great historic races that have taken root in the land, we are making a most interesting experiment, and one that has had already a large measure of success. The French-Cana dian sees that he must teach his children English, if they are not to be handicapped for life in America; and the BritishCanadian, finding that the man who is master of two languages is often preferred to him, resolves that if he cannot speak French his children shall. For this and other reasons, actual fusion of speech is

going on slowly but surely. But unity of national life is independent of the fusion."

In a word, no matter what our speech, we are all, as Cartier said, above everything else Canadians. We are still "Canada First," that is of the party, the first planks in whose platform declared for Canada and British connection. So, too, whether English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Canadian, Afrikander, Australian, Tasmanian, or New Zealander, we are all one Empire, under one Flag, governed by the same stable, yet elastic Parliamentary institutions, and faithful to the traditions of the race which has carried to the ends of the earth the practice of freedom within the bounds of law, the principle of justice explained by precedent, and the defence of

the oppressed up to the full extent of our power, irrespective of continentalism. In realizing this unity, and so fulfilling what appears to us to be our highest destiny, we have no quarrel with our neighbours. Far from it. We honour that great sisterhood of States for what they are and for what they have accomplished; we know that our prosperity is largely bound up with theirs; and we hope that the time may soon come-for they are a people of infinite humour, apart from their national conceits-when they shall understand that if a "bloody shirt" thirty years old is obsolete, it is preposterous to be continually waving one which is four or five times as ancient.

George M. Grant.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

And oh the task, and oh! the stern demand;
And oh the guilty feeling in his breast.
Is there no champion who for him will stand,
To silence wrath with Chivalry's behest?

"A lazy lout!" he hears his father say.

He slew a dragon, fought a host and-won,
Preserved a maiden scathless through a fray,
And yet is asked: "Why is the task not done?"

Without excuse, he meekly bears the cuff,

Then slinks, crestfallen, to his truckle-bed, A vanquished hero, who was bold enough Where plows were lances and where fields were red.

He cannot tell why he should be remiss,
Or why some things a vision will inspire;
He knows but one vague feeling, and 'tis this:
The poet's wild, unutterable desire.

Let others plow, and others plant the corn;
Let others moil in servitude's degree;
But he must dream, though waking brings him scorn
When each enchantment ends in misery.

He sees with envy youth engage itself

In tedious toil or boisterous merriment; Yet while one book, unread, is on the shelf, He keeps his vigils as a saint keeps Lent.

Foregoing pleasure, little else he craves.

Than toleration of his solitude

And choice in spending all the cash he saves,
With some respect for each eccentric mood.

And granted these, he reigns a king supreme,
His vassals numerous as he can create.
Would he a palace? He has but to dream,
And lo he enters by the golden gate.

Ask him not why, nor what it is that burns
Within his breast like a consuming fire;
He only feels that he for something yearns
With that intense, unutterable desire.

WILLIAM T. JAMES.

« PředchozíPokračovat »