Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

bond. Of the whites at the South he would party, though reduced in numbers, is homomake a pretty clean sweep if their vote were genous and compact. He has throughout free ; and he will carry the great majority of the Union a vast army of office-holders them as it is. The blacks will probably whose official lives are bound up with his, adhere to the Carpet-baggers and Grant, and who will fight for him with the unity of notwithstanding the siren strains of Mr. perfect discipline and with the energy of Sumner, which indeed are counteracted by despair. His means of corruption and cothe utterances of other leading friends of ercion, especially at the South, are immense, the negro, who also differed from Mr. Sum- and probably have already triumphed in ner on the question of St. Domingo. In the the North Carolina election. As the campress Greeley is decidedly stronger than his paign goes on, and the Republican and rival ; and it is singular, and rather ominous Democratic banners are again seen facing for Grant, that his principal organ is one con- each other in the field, many Republican ducted by a British Bohemian, formerly the deserters will probably straggle back to their correspondent of the London Times and an old camp. Wall Street, the influence of which assailant of American institutions. On the in politics has greatly increased of late, will other hand it is not easy to believe that a be apt to shrink from an unsettlement, especoalition, so suddenly formed and so hetero- cially an unsettlement which would launch geneous—a coalition of ultra-Republicans the ship on an unknown sea with Horace and ultra-Democrats, of ex-slave-owners and Greeley for commander. This feeling will Negrophilists, of Free Traders and Protec- probably be enhanced by the political manitionists, of Civil Service Reformers and Irish acs of all kinds, who seem disposed to take legionaries of the New York Ring--a coali- the stump for Greeley and the "beneficent retion of men whose hands were but yesterday volution.” On the other hand some, as little on each other's throats, the echoes of whose addicted as Wall Street either to beneficence mutual vituperation have hardly died away, or revolutions, will seriously reflect on the the ink of whose mutual libels is scarcely danger of driving the South to extremity by dry—can stand the strain of a three months' the re-election of its hated oppressor. Mr. campaign in face of an enemy assiduously Gratz Brown was deemed a strong candilabouring to break it up, and under the fatal date for the Vice-Presidency; but it seems necessity of carrying on a constant discus- that he has been damaging the ticket by an sion, by which all its divergences and con- offence against public manners. We trarieties will be kept constantly in view. advise our readers not to bet on the PresiThe candidate himself is not exactly the dential election ; but if they do, we advise man to ride four horses at a time: his pub- them to bet on Grant. lic life hitherto has been a series of escapades, and his managers can scarcely guard In any event let no false moral be drawn against a continuance of the series by any from this exhibition. It is not elective precautionary measure less stringent than government that is in fault. If Mr. Adams, that of keeping him locked up during the or any man equally worthy of national campaign. His organ, too, to maintain respect and confidence, could at this moits circulation and his income, must go ment be presented to the suffrages of the on writing in a Republican sense and American people, he would infallibly be estranging Democratic allies; nor will his elected. What prevents Mr. Adams, or any formal retirement from connection with it man like him, from being presented to the pending the election do much to relieve him American people, is the machinery of party, practically from this inconvenience. Grant's i which always has been, is, and always will be, in the hands of men whose interests are So again with regard to the issuing of widely different from those of the nation. the writs and the appointment of the election

days. It was quite safe to leave all this in In the meantime we, in Canada, have had the hands of a King who had no object in what nearly corresponds in our case to the playing tricks. But it is not so safe to leave Presidential election, being virtually the it in the hands of a party leader, who has an election of our Prime Minister, and entails object in playing tricks, and who does it no small measure of the same evils. Man with a vengeance. The appointment of paints himself as the creature of reason, and election days ought not to be left to the arthe lower animals as the creatures of habit. bitrary discretion of an electioneering govPerhaps, if the lower animals were the artists, ernment: it ought to be regulated by law. the picture might not be so favourable to It would be well if, at the same time, the man. In the Middle Ages, when the King, redivision of election districts could be connot the Prime Minister or the Parliament, trolled by some general enactment or was the real ruler and lawgiver of the nation, committed to some neutral tribunal, instead a King of England summoned deputies of being "gerrymandered" as it is by the from all the counties and boroughs of his party leader and the party majority of the dominion at once, by a general election, to day. grant him supplies and confer with him No national character, however strong, about the affairs of the nation. He might can withstand the maddening and degrading do so with impunity, since the govern- influences of these great faction fights. In ment remained all the time undisturbed in election amenities, we may flatter ourselves his own person. But because he did so we, that we have faithfully reprcduced the Eatwhen all is changed, when the Prime Minis- answills of our father-land. Language has ter and the Parliament have become the real been bandied on all sides which, if we had rulers, stick to the custom of general elec- read it in Dickens, would have seemed too tions, instead of elections by instalments, broad a caricature; and the most infamous and put up the government of the country charges against personal character have been periodically as the prize of a grand faction mingled with the utmost fury of political fight, inflicting on the community, by the invective. We might easily cull, in proof of process, a considerable portion of the moral our statement, a whole bouquet of these evils of a civil war.

flowers of electioneering rhetoric, if their Not only so, but because in past ages, beauty and fragrance would not be too overwhen accuracy in taking the votes was of powering. And let us say that, in looking for little consequence, elections were held after them we should not go to the country press, a rough fashion by show of hands in the in which they are commonly supposed most shire or borough court, we religiously retain, to abound. It is comforting to see that the in addition to the modern polling, this old country press of Canada maintains a tone form of election, under the name of a nomi- on the whole at least as high as that of its nation, to the great encouragement of row.city rivals. If it can also maintain its indedyism and the great detriment of public pendence of party tyranny, and its loyalty to manners. Ingenious defences are always those great interests of the community, which invented for every time-honoured absurdity; are the last things considered by party and in England it used to be said that the leaders and their devoted organs, it may show of hands on the nomination day was prove itself, in the times that are coming, the consolation of the unenfranchised masses; the political sheet anchor of the country. but we have no unenfranchised masses here. A few months ago a new daily journal of

[graphic]
[graphic]

first class character made its appearance, sectional animosities are inflamed, the love with professions of a less narrow partisan- of our common country is impaired, sneaks ship and a higher tone. In point of literary and ruffians are encouraged, men of honour ability and general management, this journal are deterred from going into public life. has proved a great accession to our press. The parting address of Mr. Harrison, of But in point of partisanship it runs in the course, afforded a butt for the arrows of small old groove. It was folly to expect any thing wit. Yet amidst the torrent of electioneerelse. Largeness of mind, comprehensive- ing trash it was perhaps the one thing ness of view, justice and courtesy to oppo- worthy of a moment's remembrance. We nents, would be treason to the party. And shall find that it is necessary to make public yet, even for the purposes of party, calmness life tolerable to sense and self-respect, or and sobriety of language are more effective to pay for their exclusion. than unmeasured denunciation.

It would hardly be fair to set down the Unfortunately we did not confine our- lamentable occurrences at Quebec among selves to a wordy war. Other things occur- the normal effects of a general election. They red which made people cry out " what will were an effect of the antagonism of race. they say of us in England ?" It would be But general elections stir up and bring to a better perhaps, if we thought less of British head all the vicious humours of the body opinion, which is not very intelligent so far politic, of whatever kind they may be. as our affairs are concerned, and more of our The recklessness of the public good, comown self respect. No nation can be dis- mon to all party leaders at the moment of a graced by the acts of individuals, unless it party conflict, was displayed in a feature chooses to accept the disgrace. Nor was it of this contest, which was noticed by a necessary, in seeking precedents for that writer in these columns before, and which which no precedent could defend, to cross assumed an aggravated form as the contest the Atlantic and ransack the archives of went on-the attempt to make political capBritish history. There are treasures of that ital out of an industrial war between emkind in abundance nearer home. “Political ployers and workmen. The unpatriotic chardiscussions at Springfield,” says an American acter of the proceeding was specially markbiographer, “were apt to run into heated, ed by the fact that the industrial war in this and sometimes unseemly, personal contro- instance had been set on foot by an emissary versies. When Douglas and Stuart were from a foreign country, with whom the trustcandidates for Congress in 1838, they fought ed guardians of Canadian interests found like tigers in Hovendon's grocery, over a themselves virtually combining. An amendfloor that was drenched with slops, and gave ment of the Law respecting Strikes was very up the struggle only when both were ex- necessary; but the electioneering policy to hausted. Then, as a further entertainment which we advert was quite a different thing to the populace, Mr. Stuart ordered out a from an amendment of the law. Workingbarrel of whiskey."

men are terribly mistaken if they fancy that It is commonly said, that as soon as the the great cause of justice to labour can be contest is over, public feeling calms down advanced by connecting it with the manæuand all the bad effects pass away. This, vres of electioneering factions. The result unfortunately, is very far from being the case. is that they make one party their sincere and Mean and malignant passions can no more lasting enemies, and the other their hollow be excited with impunity in the case of a and transient friends. When they have nation than in that of a man. National served the turn of the wire-puller they are character is lowered, public life is degraded, contemptuously thrown aside.

[graphic]
[graphic]

Independently of the allegations of bribery aristocracy and the working men. Even which parties always hurl at each other, there “ Conservative " seems to be too reactionseems real reason to fear that, under cover ary for the new world, unless qualified by of the unreformed Election Law, a good deal the deodorizing prefix "Liberal." A "LIof money has been spent, and that constitu- beral Conservative” who could realize the encies have been corrupted which were pure idea conveyed by his name, might boast that before. In truth, the effects of bribery at he was dancing on the very tightest and slenelections upon the character of our people, derest rope ever occupied by any political even upon that of very respectable classes, acrobat in history. The title finally adopbecomes a cause for serious alarm.

ed, however, was “ The Party of Union and And this barbarous and senseless party Progress.” Union and Progress are com war, with all its demoralizing consequences, prehensive terms. Who are the parties to is, we are told, the only mode in which pol- the union, and what are their ends? Is the itical questions can ever be solved, or polit- progress over a surveyed or over an unsurical progress carried on. It is destined to en- veyed route ? Sir James Brooke, in colondure for ever, in spite of the growing influ- izing Borneo, encountered a piratical fleet ence of reason in human affairs generally, manned by native Dyaks, and commanded and the increasing ascendency of the scien- by Malays. The Dyaks were simple, relitific spirit, not only among the highly edu- gious people, who collected heads as offer cated, but among all who are in any way ings to their gods; the Malays were astute reached by the ideas of the times. You must adventurers, who collected booty for thembe a “doctrinaire" if you think otherwise. selves. Union and progress of a certain In England the other day, in a wrangle about kind were the result. the site of a barrack, all other terms of abuse, On the side of the Opposition the theory even "parallelepiped,” having been exhaust- was promulgated, on the highest authorily, ed, one of the combatants called the other that the political world is eternally divided “a doctrinaire.” Is it doctrinairism to say between two antagonistic principles, that of that the proof of the pudding lies in the eat- Reform and that of Anti-Reform, like the ing? Can the party system be final perfec- two mundane principles of light and darkness tion when, according to the very writers and in the Manichean philosophy, and that our speakers who most vehemently support it, it political existence depends on the everlasthas saddled the country with a government ing struggle of these principles for place. of jobbery and corruption ?

An almost Athanasian subtlety of intellect It has been interesting to watch the ef- is required to discern this essential duality forts of each party to decide what its princi- beneath the apparent unity of the Macdonples were, and embody them in an attractive ald-Brown administration of 1864, espe

On the Government side this was cially as the leading Reformer in thai rather superfluous. The Ins always have a administration advocated the appointment principle which everybody can understand, of a nominative Senate. We are the vio and which is sure to fexcite the enthusiasm tims of the idols of our cave, and regard as of their friends. A name, however, may necessary and universal a stale of things still be, if not necessary, at least convenient which here is but the unreflecting imitation “Tory” is discarded as unsavoury here, of the habits of the mother country, and in at the moment when, curiously enough, it is the mother country herself is of comparabeing revived by the party in the mother tively recent date, and the mere offspring of country, and put forward as the symbol of historical accident. It is not more certain a highly strategical alliance between the that tomorrow's night will give place to the succeeding day, than it is that, with the Railway Contract, more clearly on its banners, growth of popular intelligence, the party talking less about general party creeds and principle will give place to the national party histories, and if it had not given the principle in government.

contest so much the air of a personal and But the party system exists, and while it vindictive conflict with the Prime Minister exists it will be absolutely essential to the -an error of which he knows well how to purity of government and the preservation take advantage in his appeal to the sympaof real liberty that we should have a strong thies of the people. But it has gained, and Opposition. In the last Dominion Parlia- the Government will no longer be unconment the Opposition was so weak, especi- trolled in the exercise of power. ally after its great defeat on the Treaty, that Those who look solely to the broad interit was incompetent to perform its constitu- ests of the country will also rejoice at the tional functions, and the Ministers were left election of some half dozen members belong. practically without a check. They might ing more or less to the class "Independent." have legislated the hat off your head if they Of course these members will not be able to had chosen, and they did choose to do some act as if they were in a political vacuum ; very objectionable, or at least some very they will be obliged to fall more or less into questionable, things. That they intend to party associations. But if they can preserve make any bad use of the powers which they their independence of mind, and keep coun voted themselves in regard to the Pacific try above party in their allegiance, they may, Railway Contract, it would be unjust to in- in certain cases, render services which would sinuate, or even to suspect, before anything entitle them to the gratitude of the country. wrong has been done ; but it may safely be Nor would they or any patriotic members of said that a Government which has obtained the legislature lack popular support in conpossession of such powers needs to be tending against the vices of government. watched and controlled in its proceedings, The great advantage which we have over the if ever a government did. Seldom, perhaps, people of the United States lies not so much has a more serious peril threatened the in- in the superior purity of our Government as dependence of any legislature, or the poli- in the superior power of resistance to corrupt cal character of

any
nation.

influences among the people. A Hampden The creation of votes for the unpeopled is now scarcely possible in the United States, lands of Manitoba and Columbia, the refusal but a Hampden is still possible here. What of the constitutional guarantees against the we may think with regard to the special issues abuse of the secret service money and reten- of the late election, we must own that the tion of the unreformed election law, were independent yeomanry of Canada have also undeniably questions of the most serious shown themselves worthy representatives of character, both in themselves and as indica- those old English yeomen who in former tions of the tendency of the Government. days were the sinews of British freedom ;

Looking at the matter from a national and we may feel assured that the cause of point of view, therefore, we must rejoice that constitutional liberty here has a body of the Opposition has gained strength. It defenders who will not quail before any might have gained more if it had inscribed government, however great may be the definite issues, such as that of the Pacific I means influence in its hands.

« ForrigeFortsett »