Box 13-006 THE TATLER, THE MONTREAL HERALD (WRITTEN BY [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN)
Mar 22 1902
The Montreal Herald, Saturday, March 22, 1902
The question of maritime union is again being discussed in Parliament and elsewhere. This is a matter that has long been before the public, and it must be admitted that all the arguments are in favor of it. The three Maritime Provinces have an area of about 50,000 square miles and a population of something less than 1,000,000. Their resources are similar, or, at all events, not sufficiently diverse to create any separate interests between them. Nova Scotia has extensive fisheries, profitable mines, which are rapidly increasing in value, and excellent soil for agriculture and large areas of forest available for lumber. New Brunswick has extensive fisheries, a splendid soil, immense forests and some mineral wealth. The resources of Prince Edward Island are agriculture and fisheries. Each of these three Provinces has now a separate Legislature and a separate Government, with different sets of officials. Their interests are not united because small local jealousies are often allowed to intervene. Yet there is no real substantial cause of difference between them. A legislative union would probably effect considerable economy in the matter of administration, but that would be the least of its advantages. The united provinces of Acadia would be able to speak with an authority, which no one of the Maritime Provinces now possesses. I am inclined to think that this union will be eventually forced upon the Maritime Provinces by the growing predominance of the West. When Manitoba has one million inhabitants, as it will have very soon, the Provinces by the sea will look very small unless they unite.
New Brunswick was originally a part of Nova Scotia, and their separation was not effected until the year 1784, the year after the coming of the loyalists. The separation was brought about by an agitation on the part of the loyalists who had held offices in the Thirteen Colonies. It was to give them offices and not because of any amnesty of a separation that the change was made. New Brunswick, which then had nearly 10,000 inhabitants, was erected into a separate Province with a Legislature of two houses, a Lieutenant-Governor imported from England, and a set of high-seated officials. The pretext for this change was that the loyalists were treated unjustly by Governor Parr and council, but there was no substantial ground for such an accusation. The separation was unfortunate in every way and it produced in the beginning the singular spectacle of two small Provinces erecting trade barriers against each other, although they were substantially the same people and had the same industries and interests.
The Convention of '64
Numerous attempts have been made to re-unite Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and to bring Prince Edward Island into the same union. The one that came nearest to succeeding was that made in 1864, when delegates appointed by the three Maritime Provinces actually met in convention at Charlottetown. There is no doubt that if the Charlottetown convention had been allowed to continue its work and complete it, a Maritime Union would have been effected within a few years. But unfortunately for Maritime Union, the political affairs of Canada had got into such a state of confusion, in consequence of the equality of representation and power between Upper and Lower Province, that it became impossible for any Canadian government to exist more than a few months. In this difficulty Sir John A. MacDonald and other leading Canadian public men turned to a union with the Maritime Provinces as the only possible way out of the wilderness in which they were wandering. The Charlottetown convention had hardly assembled when the steamer Victoria appeared in Charlottetown harbor with the leading member of the Government of Canada on board. Sir John A. was able to say afterwards, with Julius Caesar, 'veni, vidi, vici,' for he captured the Charlottetown convention offhand. He pointed out to it that instead of troubling themselves about a Maritime union, they should come into the larger union with Canada, and showed them the benefits of this union in such strong terms that the convention was broken up and governments represented there agreed to send delegates to Quebec to settle the details of a union with Canada. This union was effected in 1867, and since then Maritime Union has not been seriously considered, although often discussed. The time seems now to be ripe for another attempt to settle this question. The principle difficulty will probably be found to be the designation of the place, which should be the capital of the three Provinces. Halifax, Fredericton and Charlottetown have now legislative buildings, which would be valueless if a new capital for the united Province of Acadia was created, and these three cities would fight hard against any change. Neither Fredericton nor Halifax would be sufficiently central to be made the capital, but some town near the boundary between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The town most likely to be chosen is Moncton, which has already 10,000 inhabitants, and which is more easy of access to Prince Edward Island than any of the other border towns. This question of Maritime Union is one that should be kept before the public, for the more it is agitated the more its advantages will become apparent.
Drinking in the Eighteenth Century
The present agitation in favor of prohibition which prevails in Ontario, Manitoba and the Maritime Provinces has been largely the result of the efforts of Protestant clergymen, who have become so much impressed with the evils of drinking that they feel themselves bound to preach total abstinence almost as much as they do religion. This was not always so. In the eighteenth century, and the early part of the nineteenth, ministers did not regard total abstinence as a godly virtue. Indeed, if layman at the present day indulged as much in wine as did the fathers of the church in the eighteenth century, they would be regarded as topers. The book, from which I quoted, last week, the autobiography of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Carlyle, describes very minutely the manner in which the clergy of that day indulged in wine. The Rev. Dr. Robertson and Carlyle were the leading men in the Church of Scotland, and in the General Assembly, and yet they thought heavy drinking a proper part of their social duties. Total abstinence would have been scouted in those days and the clergymen who indulged in it would have speedily lost their popularity. The clergymen took their color from the times in which they lived, and it is difficult to see any great difference between them and the laymen in respect to the use of wine.
A Pair of Topers
Robertson and Carlyle visited the Isle of Bute in the year 1766 and stayed, while there, at the residence of a wealthy gentleman who had a remarkably fine cellar of wine. The following, from Carlyle, in the account of his visit, is worth quoting: - "Our conversation at table was liberal and lively, as might be expected were there were so many sensible men; for, besides our company, there were other able men, particularly a Mr. Dunlop, a son of the Greek Professor's at Glasgow, who was remarkably knowing and good-humored. The wine was excellent and flowed freely. There was the best Cyprus I ever saw, which had lain there since Lord Bute had left the Island in 1745. The claret was of the same age, and excellent. After we had been four days there, Robertson took me into a window before dinner, and, with some solemnity, proposed to make a motion to shorten the drinking, If I would second him, 'Because,' added he, 'although you and I may go through it, I am averse to it on James Stuart's account.' I answered that I would willingly second whatever measure of that kind he should propose, but added that I was afraid that it would not do, as our toast-master was very despotic, and might throw ridicule upon us, as we were to leave the island the day after the next, and that we had not proposed an abridgement to the repast till the old claret was all done, the last of which we had drunk yesterday. 'Well, well,' replied the Doctor, 'be it so, then, and let us end as we began.'
This was pretty warm work for the fathers of church to be engaged in, and it must be admitted that the modern total abstinence parson, whether right or wrong with regard to prohibition, is a more pleasant object to contemplate than the wine-drinking ecclesiastic of a century and a half ago. A clergyman who drinks himself full of claret or port and goes to bad tipsy every night may be filled with the Christian virtues, but he is setting a bad example to others. There is something very funny in the Rev. Dr. Robertson proposing to lessen the wine drinking on James Stuart's account. This person was a young gentleman who was residing in Dr. Robertson's house and attending the college of Edinburgh. No doubt he had been placed in Dr. Robertson's house to guard him from the temptations which beset young me, and it was very creditable to that father of the church that he felt some compunctions of conscience at the bad example he was showing his pupil and boarder.
The Earl of Bute
The wine which these gentlemen drank so freely on that occasion belonged to the Earl of Bute, who was at one time Prime Minister and a great favorite of the Princess of Wales, mother of George III. There is a very good account of this nobleman in Walpole's memoirs, a book which every one should read who desire to understand the manner in which England was governed during the second half of the eighteenth century. Walpole is full of prejudice, and a very severe critic, especially to those who took part in the downfall of his father, Sir Robert Walpole, who was so long Premier under George II. But the memoir-writer had access to the best sources of information and was able to relate many things with authority which, without his assistance, could only have been conjectured. A very curious part of his narrative is an account of that very mysterious person, Fredrick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. Frederick and his father, George II., hated each other, but that was a fashion in the House of Hanover, where the reigning monarch and his eldest son were always at war with each other. George II. and his father, George I., were always bad friends, the former sympathized with his mother, Sophia of Zell, who was imprisoned by her husband for so many years. George III. and his son, the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., were on the worst possible terms, and while it is difficult to excuse the conduct of the latter, it must be admitted that both his father and mother treated him badly. Frederick, Prince of Wales, was certainly a better man than George, Prince of Wales, but he was destitute of ability, and also, it would seem, of natural affection. George II. appears in a more respectable light in Walpole's memoirs than he does almost anywhere else. George I. was undoubtedly the best of the Georges, while, as a King, George III. was the worst.
Walpole on George II
The character of George II, as given by Walpole, is worth quoting: - "his faults were more the blemishes of a private man than of a King. The affection and tenderness he invariably showed to a people over whom he had unbounded rule, forbid our wondering that he used circumscribed power with moderation. Often situated in humiliating circumstances, his resentments seldom operated when the power of revenge returned. He bore the ascendant of his Ministers, who seldom were his favorites, with more patience than he suffered any encroachment on his will from his mistresses. Content to bargain for the gratification of his two predominant passions - Hanover and money - he was almost indifferent to the rest of his royal authority, provided exterior observance was not wanting; for he comforted himself if he did not perceive the diminution of majesty, though it was notorious to all the rest of the world. Yet he was not so totally careless of the affection and interests of his country as his father had been. George I possessed a sounder understanding and a better temper; yet George II gained more being compared with his eldest son than he lost if paralleled with his father. His treatment of his second son, to whose valor he was indebted for the preservation of his crown, and to the silence and tenderness of whose duty he owed the preservation of his honor was punished by the ingratitude of the Princess of Wales."
George II had no taste for literature and his principle passion was fondness for money. He amassed a large amount during his reign, but most of his saving of thirty years amounting to about 2,500,000 pounds, had all been expended prior to the year 1758 in the defence of Hanover, of which he was also King. It was not the least of the difficulties of that monarch that he was King of a country which could be overrun by France or Prussia so easily, and which it was so difficult to defend. The policy of Great Britain for many years was so profoundly affected by the connection with Hanover. England could never speak out boldly in the councils of Europe while she was responsible in some measure for the defence of a continental nation over which she had no control and which was merely a possession of her King. When, by the death of William IV, in 1837, and the operation of the Sallo law, Hanover, went to the next son of George II., England was liberated from connection with a country which had hung like a dead weight around her neck for more than a century. While the first William Pitt was defeating the French army in India and America he was hampered and embarrassed by the problem of how to defend Hanover. George I greatly preferred Hanover to England, and stayed in the latter country as little as possible. George II was not so much devoted to Hanover, but he visited it every two years. George III called himself an Englishman, and gave but little attention to Hanover. It would have been better for England if he had gone to Hanover more frequently and stayed there long, for most the difficulties which now embarrass the British Empire can be traced to his unfortunate reign. He no doubt would have been a very good King for a country like Hanover, which was willing to be ruled by despotic methods, but as an English King he was successful only in creating difficulties and misfortunes for the nation over which he ruled over.