Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

LIBRARY

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

effective work in bringing Sir Wilfrid Laurier into power. He was awarded a portfolio and reached high rank in party councils. In justice to Sir Hector's memory it should be said that no act of corruption was brought home to him, but there was maladministration in his department by his subordinates. He was

more sinned against than sinning

Sir John Macdonald did not long survive the great party victory. Less than four months later, before the Langevin investigation had begun, he was stricken with paralysis, and died at Ottawa early in June, 1891. That his death was hastened by dissensions among his French-Canadian followers is regarded as highly probable.

It was while I was acting as a delegate at an International Postal Congress in Vienna that I received a cable advising me of the sad news of his fatal illness. We had dined with the Emperor at the Hofburg Palace and were afterwards to have attended with the Royal Party at the theatre, but on receipt of a cable from my son announcing Sir John's hopeless condition I was able to refuse the invitation.

The political situation in Ottawa after the Premier's demise was tense. The Liberals looked to see the Government driven from power before the end of the session, as a result of the impending inquiry into the Tarte charges. On the part of the Conservatives prompt action in choosing Sir John's successor was regarded as imperative. The exigencies of the hour required it. Sir John Abbott, leader of the Government in the Senate, was invited by the Governor-General, Lord Stanley of

It was

Preston, to form a new administration. well understood at the time that this was only to be a temporary arrangement. He did so, and his successors during the next four years were Sir John Thompson and Sir Mackenzie Bowell.

The day after Sir John's death I received a cablegram from the Conservatives at Kingston, his old constituency, offering me the nomination, and assuring me of a large majority. My son, Charles Hibbert, also cabled me that a certain number of Government supporters in the House favoured the selection of Sir John Thompson for the office of Prime Minister. The moment I got this intelligence I sent a reply telling him that nothing in the world would induce me to accept the honour if tendered me, and that I would not stand in Thompson's way, as I had been responsible for getting Thompson to leave the bench to join the Government. To my friends in Kingston I also cabled declining the nomination with thanks.

On December 12th, 1894, I received an invitation from Her Majesty the Queen to dine and sleep at Windsor Castle, but was shocked to hear at 5 P.M. that Sir John Thompson had died at the Castle. The dinner, of course, was postponed, but the Queen requested me to proceed to Windsor at once, and the next morning had a long interview with me and desired that I would so arrange that the body should not be moved until 11 o'clock, as she wished to lay a wreath on the coffin.

The body was subsequently taken to Canada on H.M.S. Blenheim, and but for the interposition of my doctor, who peremptorily forbade it, I should have made the voyage across with it.

CHAPTER XI

THE FAST STEAMER SERVICE AND PACIFIC CABLE

CRUSADE

THREE other important matters in which I took active interest were the establishment of the present Empress Line steamship service between Vancouver and the Orient, the securing of a fast Atlantic service, and the attempt to arrange for an all-British” Pacific cable.

Shortly after the completion of the C.P.R. I went to Lord Goschen, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and told him that Canada had built the C.P.R. without the assistance of the British Government, and that under the circumstances I felt that we were entitled to an Imperial subsidy for a mail service across the Pacific. I asked him for an annual subsidy of £45,000, pointing out that Canada had agreed to contribute £15,000 a year for the same object.

The matter remained in abeyance during my first visit to Canada, and I entrusted the negotiations in my absence to Sir John Rose. He was unsuccessful, and on returning to England I again took up the matter.

“ You have convinced me, but it would be impossible to get the House of Commons to make the grant,” was the reply of Lord Goschen to my appeal. He was mistaken, however, for the C.P.R.

obtained the mail subsidy, and in the debate the only objections raised were, that the grant was too small, and that a more frequent service should have been provided for.

Years afterward, I took up, with Mr. Chamberlain, the question of the establishment of a fast Atlantic steamship service, also expressing my views thereon at an address before the Royal Colonial Institute, with Lord Lorne in the chair. I induced Mr. Chamberlain to agree to an annual subsidy of £75,000 a year for a period of ten years.

The following correspondence will show the difficulties that cropped up during these negotiations for the Atlantic service and the Pacific cable :

Victoria Chambers,
17 Victoria Street, London, S.W.,

31st July, 1895. SIR,—As you suggested at the interview which you were good enough to grant me yesterday, I now place in writing the representations I then ventured to make personally, in regard to the proposed fast steam service between Canada and the United Kingdom.

1. As you are aware, the Canadian Parliament, as long ago as 1889. passed an Act granting a subsidy of £100,000 per annum for a period of years, to assist in the establishment of a fast Atlantic service. The Government subsequently agreed, subject to legislative sanction, to increase the subsidy to £150,000 per annum; but their efforts up to last year were not attended with any

« ForrigeFortsett »