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Title: The Story of My Life
       Being Reminiscences of Sixty Years' Public Service in Canada

Author: Egerton Ryerson

Editor: J. George Hodgins

Release Date: February 12, 2008 [EBook #24586]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Stacy Brown, Jason Isbell and the Online
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[Pg i]

Egerton Ryerson




(Being Reminiscences of Sixty Years' Public Service in Canada.)





"His life was gentle; and the elements
So mix't in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, This was a Man!"
Shakespeare. Julius Cæsar, Act v., sc. 5.
Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
Non vultus instantis tyranni
Mente quatit solida—
Horace. Odes, iii. 3.



[Pg ii]

Entered, according to the Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three, by Mary Ryerson and Charles Egerton Ryerson, in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture, Ottawa.

[Pg iii]


Preface ix
Estimate of Rev. Dr. Ryerson's Character and Labours 17
CHAPTER I.—1803-1825.
Sketch of Early Life 23
CHAPTER II.—1824-1825.
Extracts from Dr. Ryerson's Diary of 1824 and 1825 32
CHAPTER III.—1825-1826.
First Year of Ministry and First Controversy 47
CHAPTER IV.—1826-1827.
Missionary to the River Credit Indians 58
CHAPTER V.—1826-1827.
Diary of Labours among Indians 64
CHAPTER VI.—1827-1828.
Labours and Trials.—Civil Rights Controversy 80
CHAPTER VII.—1828-1829.
Ryanite Schism.—M. E. Church of Canada organized 87
CHAPTER VIII.—1829-1832.
Establishment of the Christian Guardian.—Church Claims resisted 93
CHAPTER IX.—1831-1832.
Methodist Affairs in Upper Canada.—Proposed Union with the British Conference 107
CHAPTER X.—1833.
Union between the British and Canadian Conferences 114
CHAPTER XI.—1833-1834.
"Impressions of England" and their effects 121
Events following the Union.—Division and Strife 141

[Pg iv]

CHAPTER XIII.—1834-1835.
Second Retirement from the Guardian Editorship 144
CHAPTER XIV.—1835-1836.
Second Mission to England.—Upper Canada Academy 152
CHAPTER XV.—1835-1836.
The "Grievance" Report; Its Object and Failure 155
CHAPTER XVI.—1836-1837.
Dr. Ryerson's Diary of his Second Mission to England 158
Publication of the Hume and Roebuck Letters 167
CHAPTER XVIII.—1836-1837.
Important Events transpiring in England 170
CHAPTER XIX.—1837-1839.
Return to Canada.—The Chapel Property Cases 172
The Coming Crisis.—Rebellion of 1837 175
CHAPTER XXI.—1837-1838.
Sir F. B. Head and the Upper Canada Academy 179
Victims of the Rebellion.—State of the Country 182
CHAPTER XXIII.—1795-1861.
Sketch of Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie 185
Defence of the Hon. Marshall Spring Bidwell 188
Return to the Editorship of the Guardian 199
CHAPTER XXVI.—1838-1840.
Enemies and Friends Within and Without 205
CHAPTER XXVII.—1778-1867.
The Honourable and Right Reverend Bishop Strachan 213
CHAPTER XXVIII.—1791-1836.
The Clergy Reserves and Rectories Questions 218
The Clergy Reserve Controversy Renewed 225
CHAPTER XXX.—1838-1839.
The Ruling Party and the Reserves.—"Divide et Impera." 236
Strategy in the Clergy Reserve Controversy 245

[Pg v]

Sir G. Arthur's Partizanship.—State of the Province 250
CHAPTER XXXIII.—1838-1840.
The New Era.—Lord Durham and Lord Sydenham 257
Proposal to leave Canada.—Dr. Ryerson's Visit to England 269
CHAPTER XXXV.—1840-1841.
Last Pastoral Charge.—Lord Sydenham's Death 282
Dr. Ryerson's Attitude toward the Church of England 291
CHAPTER XXXVII.—1841-1842.
Victoria College.—Hon. W. H. Draper.—Sir Charles Bagot 301
Episode in the case of Hon. Marshall S. Bidwell 308
Events preceding the Defence of Lord Metcalfe 312
Preliminary Correspondence on the Metcalfe Crisis 319
Sir Charles Metcalfe Defended against his Councillors 328
CHAPTER XLII.—1844-1845.
After the Contest.—Reaction and Reconstruction 337
CHAPTER XLIII.—1841-1844.
Dr. Ryerson appointed Superintendent of Education 342
CHAPTER XLIV.—1844-1846.
Dr. Ryerson's First Educational Tour in Europe 352
CHAPTER XLV.—1844-1857.
Episode in Dr. Ryerson's European Travels.—Pope Pius IX 365
CHAPTER XLVI.—1844-1876.
Ontario School System.—Retirement of Dr. Ryerson 368
CHAPTER XLVII.—1845-1846.
Illness and Final Retirement of Lord Metcalfe 375
CHAPTER XLVIII.—1843-1844.
Clergy Reserve Question Re-Opened.—Disappointments 378
CHAPTER XLIX.—1846-1848.
Re-Union of the British and Canadian Conferences 383
CHAPTER L.—1846-1853.
Miscellaneous Events and Incidents of 1846-1853 410

[Pg vi]

The Bible in the Ontario Public Schools 423
CHAPTER LII.—1850-1853.
The Clergy Reserve Question Transferred to Canada 433
Personal Episode in the Clergy Reserve Question 454
CHAPTER LIV.—1854-1855.
Resignation on the Class-Meeting Question.—Discussion 470
Dr. Ryerson resumes his Position in the Conference 491
CHAPTER LVI.—1855-1856.
Personal Episode in the Class-Meeting Discussion 499
CHAPTER LVII.—1855-1856.
Dr. Ryerson's Third Educational Tour in Europe 514
CHAPTER LVIII.—1859-1862.
Denominational Colleges and the University Controversy 518
CHAPTER LIX.—1861-1866.
Personal Incidents.—Dr. Ryerson's Visits to Norfolk County 534
Last Educational Visit to Europe.—Rev. Dr. Punshon 539
Dr. Ryerson's Address on the New Dominion of Canada 547
CHAPTER LXII.—1868-1869.
Correspondence with Hon. Geo. Brown—Dr. Punshon 554
CHAPTER LXIII.—1870-1875.
Miscellaneous Closing Events and Correspondence 559
CHAPTER LXIV.—1875-1876.
Correspondence with Rev. J. Ryerson, Dr. Punshon, etc. 573
CHAPTER LXV.—1877-1882.
Closing Years of Dr. Ryerson's Life Labours 585
The Funeral Ceremonies 593
Tributes to Dr. Ryerson's Memory and Estimates of his Character and Work 598

[Pg vii]


Portrait of Rev. Dr. Ryerson Frontispiece
Indian Village at River Credit, in 1837 59
John Jones' House at the Credit, where Dr. Ryerson Resided 65
Old Credit Mission, 1837 73
Old Adelaide Street Methodist Church 283
Victoria College, Cobourg 302
Ontario Educational Department and Normal School 421, 422
Educational Exhibit at Philadelphia 584, 585
Metropolitan Church 564
Dr. Ryerson's Residence in Toronto 587

[Pg viii]

[Pg ix]


Twelve months ago, I began to collect the necessary material for the completion of "The Story of My Life," which my venerated and beloved friend, Dr. Ryerson, had only left in partial outline. These materials, in the shape of letters, papers, and documents, were fortunately most abundant. The difficulty that I experienced was to select from such a miscellaneous collection a sufficient quantity of suitable matter, which I could afterwards arrange and group into appropriate chapters. This was not easily done, so as to form a connected record of the life and labours of a singularly gifted man, whose name was intimately connected with every public question which was discussed, and every prominent event which took place in Upper Canada from 1825 to 1875-78.

Public men of the present day looked upon Dr. Ryerson practically as one of their own contemporaries—noted for his zeal and energy in the successful management of a great Public Department, and as the founder of a system of Popular Education which, in his hands, became the pride and glory of Canadians, and was to those beyond the Dominion, an ideal system—the leading features of which they would gladly see incorporated in their own. In this estimate of Dr. Ryerson's labours they were quite correct. And in their appreciation of the statesmanlike qualities of mind, which devised and developed such a system in the midst of difficulties which would have appalled less resolute hearts, they were equally correct.

But, after all, how immeasurably does this partial view of his character and labours fall short of a true estimate of that character and of those labours![Pg x]

As a matter of fact, Dr. Ryerson's great struggle for the civil and religious freedom which we now enjoy, was almost over when he assumed the position of Chief Director of our Educational System. No one can read the record of his labours from 1825 to 1845, as detailed in the following pages, without being impressed with the fact that, had he done no more for his native country than that which is therein recorded, he would have accomplished a great work, and have earned the gratitude of his fellow-countrymen.

It was my good fortune to enjoy Dr. Ryerson's warm, personal friendship since 1841. It has also been my distinguished privilege to be associated with him in the accomplishment of his great educational work since 1844. I have been able, therefore, to turn my own personal knowledge of most of the events outlined in this volume to account in its preparation. In regard to what transpired before 1841, I have frequently heard many narratives in varied forms from Dr. Ryerson's lips.

My own intimate relations with Dr. Ryerson, and the character of our close personal friendship are sufficiently indicated in his private letters to me, published in various parts of the book, but especially in Chapter liii. And yet they fail to convey the depth and sincerity of his personal attachment, and the feeling of entire trust and confidence which existed between us.

I am glad to say that I was not alone in this respect. Dr. Ryerson had the faculty, so rare in official life, of attaching his assistants and subordinates of every grade to himself personally. He always had a pleasant word for them, and made them feel that their interests were safe in his hands. They therefore respected and trusted him fully, and he never failed to acknowledge their fidelity and devotion in the public service.

I had, for some time before he ceased to be the Head of the Education Department, looked forward with pain and anxiety to that inevitable event. Pain, that he and I were at length to be separated in the carrying forward of the great work of our lives, in which it had been my pride and pleasure to be his principal assistant. Anxiety at what, from my knowledge of him, I feared would be the effect of release from the work on fully accomplishing which he had so earnestly set his heart. Nor were my fears groundless. To a man of his application and[Pg xi] ardent temperament, the feeling that his work was done sensibly affected him. He lost a good deal of his elasticity, and during the last few years of his life, very perceptibly failed.

The day on which he took official leave of the Department was indeed a memorable one. As he bade farewell to each of his assistants in the office, he and they were deeply moved. He could not, however, bring himself to utter a word to me at our official parting, but as soon as he reached home he wrote to me the following tender and loving note:—

171 Victoria Street, Toronto,

Monday Evening, February 21st, 1876.

My Dear Hodgins,—I felt too deeply to-day when parting with you in the Office to be able to say a word. I was quite overcome with the thought of severing our official connection, which has existed between us for thirty-two years, during the whole of which time, without interruption, we have laboured as one mind and heart in two bodies, and I believe with a single eye to promote the best interests of our country, irrespective of religious sect or political party—to devise, develop, and mature a system of instruction which embraces and provides for every child in the land a good education; good teachers to teach; good inspectors to oversee the Schools; good maps, globes, and text-books; good books to read; and every provision whereby Municipal Councils and Trustees can provide suitable accommodation, teachers, and facilities for imparting education and knowledge to the rising generation of the land.

While I devoted the year 1845 to visiting educating countries and investigating their system of instruction, in order to devise one for our country, you devoted the same time in Dublin in mastering, under the special auspices of the Board of Education there, the several different branches of their Education Office, in administering the system of National Education in Ireland, so that in the details of our Education Office here, as well as in our general school system, we have been enabled to build up the most extensive establishment in the country, leaving nothing, as far as I know, to be devised in the completeness of its arrangements, and in the good character and efficiency of its officers. Whatever credit or satisfaction may attach to the accomplishment[Pg xii] of this work, I feel that you are entitled to share equally with myself. Could I have believed that I might have been of any service to you, or to others with whom I have laboured so cordially, or that I could have advanced the school system, I would not have voluntarily retired from office. But all circumstances considered, and entering within a few days upon my 74th year, I have felt that this was the time for me to commit to other hands the reins of the government of the public school system, and labour during the last hours of my day and life, in a more retired sphere.

But my heart is, and ever will be, with you in its sympathies and prayers, and neither you nor yours will more truly rejoice in your success and happiness, than

Your old life-long Friend

And Fellow-labourer,

E. Ryerson.

Dr. Ryerson was confessedly a man of great intellectual resources. Those who read what he has written on the question—perilous to any writer in the early days of the history of this Province—of equal civil and religious rights for the people of Upper Canada, will be impressed with the fact that he had thoroughly mastered the great principles of civil and religious liberty, and expounded them not only with courage, but with clearness and force. His papers on the clergy reserve question, and the rights of the Canadian Parliament in the matter, were statesmanlike and exhaustive.

His exposition of a proposed system of education for his native country was both philosophical and eminently practical. As a Christian Minister, he was possessed of rare gifts, both in the pulpit and on the platform; while his warm sympathies and his deep religious experience, made him not only a "son of consolation," but a beloved and welcome visitor in the homes of the sorrowing and the afflicted. Among his brethren he exercised great personal influence; and in the counsels of the Conference he occupied a trusted and foremost place.

Thus we see that Dr. Ryerson's character was a many-sided one; while his talents were remarkably versatile. He was an[Pg xiii] able writer on public affairs; a noted Wesleyan Minister, and a successful and skilful leader among his brethren. But his fame in the future will mainly rest upon the fact that he was a distinguished Canadian Educationist, and the Founder of a great system of Public Education for Upper Canada. What makes this widely conceded excellence in his case the more marked, was the fact that the soil on which he had to labour was unprepared, and the social condition of the country was unpropitious. English ideas of schools for the poor, supported by subscriptions and voluntary offerings, prevailed in Upper Canada; free schools were unknown; the very principle on which they rest—that is, that the rateable property of the country is responsible for the education of the youth of the land—was denounced as communistic, and an invasion of the rights of property; while "compulsory education"—the proper and necessary complement of free schools—was equally denounced as the essence of "Prussian despotism," and an impertinent and unjustifiable interference with "the rights of British subjects."

It was a reasonable boast at the time that only systems of popular education, based upon the principle of free schools, were possible in the republican American States, where the wide diffusion of education was regarded as a prime necessity for the stability and success of republican institutions, and, therefore, was fostered with unceasing care. It was the theme on which the popular orator loved to dilate to a people on whose sympathies with the subject he could always confidently reckon. The practical mind of Dr. Ryerson, however, at once saw that the American idea of free schools was the true one. He moreover perceived that by giving his countrymen facilities for freely discussing the question among the ratepayers once a year, they would educate themselves into the idea, without any interference from the State. These facilities were provided in 1850; and for twenty-one years the question of free-schools versus rate-bill schools (lees, &c.) was discussed every January in from 3,000 to 5,000 school sections, until free schools became voluntarily the rule, and rate-bill schools the exception. In 1871, by common consent, the free school principle was incorporated into our school system by the Legislature, and has ever since been the universal practice. In the adoption of this principle, and in the[Pg xiv] successful administration of the Education Department, Dr. Ryerson at length demonstrated that a popular (or, as it had been held in the United States, the democratic) system of public schools was admirably adapted to our monarchical institutions. In point of fact, leading American educationists have often pointed out that the Canadian system of public education was more efficient in all of its details and more practically successful in its results, than was the ordinary American school system in any one of the States of the Union. Thus it is that the fame of Dr. Ryerson as a successful founder of our educational system, rests upon a solid basis. What has been done by him will not be undone; and the ground gone over by him will not require to be traversed again. In the "Story of My Life," not much has been said upon the subject with which Dr. Ryerson's name has been most associated. It was distinctively the period of his public life, and its record will be found in the official literature of his Department. The personal reminiscences left by him are scanty, and of themselves would present an utterly inadequate picture of his educational work. Such a history may one day be written as would do it justice, but I feel that in such a work as the present it is better not to attempt a task, the proper performance of which would make demands upon the space and time at my disposal that could not be easily met.

There was one rôle in which Dr. Ryerson pre-eminently excelled—that of a controversialist. There was nothing spasmodic in his method of controversy, although there might be in the times and occasions of his indulging in it. He was a well-read man and an accurate thinker. His habit, when he meditated a descent upon a foe, was to thoroughly master the subject in dispute; to collect and arrange his materials, and then calmly and deliberately study the whole subject—especially the weak points in his adversary's case, and the strong points of his own. His habits of study in early life contributed to his after success in this matter. He was an indefatigable student; and so thoroughly did he in early life ground himself in English subjects—grammar, logic, rhetoric—and the classics, and that, too, under the most adverse circumstances, that, in his subsequent active career as a writer and controversialist, he evinced a power and readiness with his tongue and pen, that often astonished[Pg xv] those who were unacquainted with the laborious thoroughness of his previous mental preparation.

It was marvellous with what wonderful effect he used the material at hand. Like a skilful general defending a position—and his study was always to act on the defensive—he masked his batteries, and was careful not to exhaust his ammunition in the first encounter. He never offered battle without having a sufficient force in reserve to overwhelm his opponent. He never exposed a weak point, nor espoused a worthless cause. He always fought for great principles, which to him were sacred, and he defended them to the utmost of his ability, when they were attacked. In such cases, Dr. Ryerson was careful not to rush into print until he had fully mastered the subject in dispute. This statement may be questioned, and apparent examples to the contrary adduced; but the writer knows better, for he knows the facts. In most cases Dr. Ryerson scented the battle from afar. Many a skirmish was improvised, and many a battle was privately fought out before the Chief advanced to repel an attack, or to fire the first shot in defence of his position.

A word as to the character of this work. It may be objected that I have dealt largely with subjects of no practical interest now—with dead issues, and with controversies for great principles, which, although important, acrimonious, and spirited at the time, have long since lost their interest. Let such critics reflect that the "Story" of such a "Life" as that of Dr. Ryerson cannot be told without a statement of the toils and difficulties which he encountered, and the triumphs which he achieved? For this reason I have written as I have done, recounting them as briefly as the subjects would permit.

In the preparation of this work I am indebted to the co-operation of my co-trustees the Rev. Dr. Potts and Rev. Dr. Nelles, whose long and intimate acquaintance with Dr. Ryerson (quite apart from their acknowledged ability) rendered their counsels of great value.

And now my filial task is done,—imperfectly, very imperfectly I admit. While engaged in the latter part of the work a deep[Pg xvi] dark shadow fell—suddenly fell—upon my peaceful, happy home. This great sorrow has almost paralyzed my energies, and has rendered it very difficult for me to concentrate my thoughts on the loving task which twelve months ago I had so cheerfully begun. Under these circumstances, I can but crave the indulgence of the readers of these memorial pages of my revered and honoured Friend, the Rev. Dr. Ryerson—the foremost Canadian of his time.

Toronto, 17th May, 1883.

On the accompanying page, I give a fac-simile of the well-known hand-writing of Dr. Ryerson, one of the many notes which I received from him.

[This is the same note, transcribed:]

Monday Morning
Aug 3 1863

My dear Hodgins,

Your letter to the Provincial Secretary is as good as could be—better than I could write.

I have written this evening the accompanying draft of circular such as you suggested. You can alter, add to, or abridge it as you shall think best, before printing & sending it out.

I remain, as ever,
Yours most affectionately
E Ryerson

[Pg 17]


By the Rev. William Ormiston, D.D., LL.D.

New York, Oct. 6th, 1882.

My Dear Dr. Hodgins,—It affords me the sincerest pleasure, tinged with sadness, to record, at your request, the strong feelings of devoted personal affection which I long cherished for our mutual father and friend, Rev. Dr. Ryerson; and the high estimate, which, during an intimacy of nearly forty years, I had been led to form of his lofty intellectual endowments, his great moral worth, and his pervading spiritual power. He was very dear to me while he lived, and now his memory is to me a precious, peculiar treasure.

In the autumn of 1843, I went to Victoria College, doubting much whether I was prepared to matriculate as a freshman. Though my attainments in some of the subjects prescribed for examination were far in advance of the requirements, in other subjects, I knew I was sadly deficient. On the evening of my arrival, while my mind was burdened with the importance of the step I had taken, and by no means free from anxiety about the issue, Dr. Ryerson, at that time Principal of the College, visited me in my room. I shall never forget that interview. He took me by the hand; and few men could express as much by a mere hand-shake as he. It was a welcome, an encouragement, an inspiration, and an earnest of future fellowship and friendship. It lessened the timid awe I naturally felt towards one in such an elevated position,—I had never before seen a Principal of a College,—it dissipated all boyish awkwardness, and awakened filial confidence. He spoke of Scotland, my native land, and of her noble sons, distinguished in every branch of philosophy and literature; specially of the number, the diligence, the frugality, self-denial, and success of her college students. In this way, he soon led me to tell him of my parentage, past life and efforts, present hopes and aspirations. His manner was so gracious and paternal—his sympathy so quick and genuine—his counsel so ready and cheering—his assurances so grateful and inspiriting, that not only was my heart his from that hour, but my future career seemed brighter and more certain than it had ever appeared before.[Pg 18]

Many times in after years, have I been instructed, and guided, and delighted with his conversation, always replete with interest and information; but that first interview I can never forget: it is as fresh and clear to me to-day as it was on the morning after it took place. It has exerted a profound, enduring, moulding influence on my whole life. For what, under God, I am, and have been enabled to achieve, I owe more to that noble, unselfish, kind-hearted man than to any one else.

Dr. Ryerson was, at that time, in the prime of a magnificent manhood. His well-developed, finely-proportioned, firmly-knit frame; his broad, lofty brow; his keen, penetrating eye, and his genial, benignant face, all proclaimed him every inch a man. His mental powers vigorous and well-disciplined, his attainments in literature varied and extensive, his experience extended and diversified, his fame as a preacher of great pathos and power widely-spread, his claims as a doughty, dauntless champion of the rights of the people to civil and religious liberty generally acknowledged, his powers of expression marvellous in readiness, richness, and beauty, his manners affable and winning, his presence magnetic and impressive,—he stood in the eye of the youthful, ardent, aspiring student, a tower of strength, a centre of healthy, helpful influences—a man to be admired and honoured, loved and feared, imitated and followed. And I may add that frequent intercourse for nearly forty years, and close official relations for more than ten, only deepened and confirmed the impressions first made. A more familiar acquaintance with his domestic, social, and religious life, a more thorough knowledge of his mind and heart, constantly increased my appreciation of his worth, my esteem for his character, and my affection for his person.

Not a few misunderstood, undervalued, or misrepresented his public conduct, but it will be found that those who knew him best, loved him most, and that many who were constrained to differ from him, in his management of public affairs, did full justice to the purity and generosity of his motives, to the nobility, loftiness, and ultimate success of his aims, and to the disinterestedness and value of his varied and manifold labours for the country, and for the Church of Christ.

As a teacher, he was earnest and efficient, eloquent and inspiring, but he expected and exacted rather too much work from the average student. His own ready and affluent mind sympathized keenly with the apt, bright scholar, to whom his praise was warmly given, but he scarcely made sufficient allowance for the dullness or lack of previous preparation which failed to keep pace with him in his long and rapid strides; hence his censures were occasionally severe. His methods of[Pg 19] examination furnished the very best kind of mental discipline, fitted alike to cultivate the memory and to strengthen the judgment. All the students revered him, but the best of the class appreciated him most. His counsels were faithful and judicious; his admonitions paternal and discriminating; his rebukes seldom administered, but scathingly severe. No student ever left his presence, without resolving to do better, to aim higher, and to win his approval.

His acceptance of the office of Chief Superintendent of Education, while offering to him the sphere of his life's work, and giving to the country the very service it needed—the man for the place—was a severe trial to the still struggling College, and a bitter disappointment to some young, ambitious hearts.

Into this new arena he entered with a resolute determination to succeed, and he spared no pains, effort, or sacrifice to fit himself thoroughly for the onerous duties of the office to which he had been appointed. Of its nature, importance, and far-reaching results, he had a distinct, vivid perception, and clearly realized and fully felt the responsibilities it imposed. He steadfastly prosecuted his work with a firm, inflexible will, unrelaxing tenacity of purpose, an amazing fertility of expedient, an exhaustless amount of information, a most wonderful skill in adaptation, a matchless ability in unfolding and vindicating his plans, a rare adroitness in meeting and removing difficulties—great moderation in success, and indomitable perseverance under discouragement, calm patience when misapprehended, unflinching courage when opposed,—until he achieved the consummation of his wishes, the establishment of a system of public education second to none in its efficiency and adaptation to the condition and circumstances of the people. The system is a noble monument to the singleness of purpose, the unwavering devotion, the tireless energy, the eminent ability, and the administrative powers of Dr. Ryerson, and it will render his name a familiar word for many generations in Canadian schools and homes; and place him high in the list of the great men of other lands, distinguished in the same field of labour. His entire administration of the Department of Public Instruction was patient and prudent, vigorous and vigilant, sagacious and successful.

He repeatedly visited Europe, not for mere recreation or personal advantage, but for the advancement of the interests of religion and education in the Province. During these tours, there were opened to him the most extended fields of observation and enquiry, from which he gathered ample stores of information which he speedily rendered available for the perfecting, as far as practicable, the entire system of Public Instruction.[Pg 20]

A prominent figure in Canadian history for three score years, actively and ceaselessly engaged in almost every department of patriotic and philanthropic, Christian and literary, enterprise, Dr. Ryerson was a strong tower in support or defence of every good cause, and no such cause failed to secure the powerful aid of his advocacy by voice and pen. His was truly a catholic and charitable spirit. Nothing human was alien to him. A friend of all good men, he enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all, even of those whose opinions or policy on public questions he felt constrained to refute or oppose. He commanded the respect, and secured the friendship of men of every rank, and creed, and party. None could better appreciate his ability and magnanimity than those who encountered him as an opponent, or were compelled to acknowledge him as victor. His convictions were strong, his principles firm, his purposes resolute, and he could, and did maintain them, with chivalrous daring, against any and every assault.

In the heat of controversy, while repelling unworthy insinuations, his indignation was sometimes roused, and his language not unfrequently was fervid, and forcible, and scathingly severe, but seldom, if ever, personally rancorous or bitter. When violently or vilely assailed his sensitive nature keenly felt the wound, but though he earned many a scar, he bore no malice.

His intellectual powers, of a high order, admirably balanced, and invigorated by long and severe discipline, found their expression in word and work, by pulpit, press, and platform, in the achievements of self-denying, indefatigable industry, and in wise and lofty statesmanship.

His moral nature was elevated and pure. He was generous, sympathetic, benevolent, faithful, trusting, and trustworthy. He rejoiced sincerely in the weal, and deeply felt the woes of others, and his ready hand obeyed the dictates of his loving, liberal heart.

His religious life was marked by humility, consistency, and cheerfulness. The simplicity of his faith in advanced life was childlike, and sublime. His trust in God never faltered, and, at the end of his course, his hopes of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, were radiant and triumphant.

Dr. Ryerson was truly a great man, endowed with grand qualities of mind and heart, which he consecrated to high and holy aims; and though, in early life, and in his public career, beset with many difficulties, he heroically achieved for himself, among his own people, a most enviable renown. His work and his worth universally appreciated, his influence widely acknowledged, his services highly valued, his name a household word[Pg 21] throughout the Dominion, and his memory a legacy and an inspiration to future generations.

And while Canada owes more to him than any other of her sons, his fame is not confined to the land of his birth, which he loved so well, and served so faithfully, but in Britain and in the United States of America his name is well known, and is classed with their own deserving worthies.

Whatever judgment may be formed of some parts of his eventful and distinguished career as a public man, there can be but one opinion as to the eminent and valuable services he has rendered to his country, as a laborious, celebrated pioneer preacher, an able ecclesiastical leader, a valiant and veteran advocate of civil and religious liberty—as the founder and administrator of a system of public education second to that of no other land—as the President and life-long patron of Victoria University, whose oldest living alumnus will hold his memory dear to life's close, when severed friends will be reunited; and whose successive classes will revere as the first President and firm friend of their Alma Mater, as the promoter of popular education, the ally of all teachers, and an example to all young men.

I lay this simple wreath on the memorial of one, whom I found able and helpful as a teacher in my youth—wise and prudent as an adviser in after life—generous and considerate as a superior officer—tender and true as a friend. He loved me, and was beloved by me. He doubtless had his faults, but I cannot recall them; and very few, I venture to think, will ever seek to mention them. The green turf which rests on his grave covers them. His memory will live as one of the purest, kindest, best of men. A patriot, a scholar, a Christian—the servant of God, the friend of man.

"Amicum perdere est damnorum maximum."

Yours, very faithfully, in bonds of truest friendship,

W. Ormiston.

To J. George Hodgins, Esq., LL.D., Toronto

[Pg 22]

[Pg 23]




Sketch of Early Life.

I have several times been importuned to furnish a sketch of my life for books of biography of public men, published both in Canada and the United States; but I have uniformly declined, assigning as a reason a wish to have nothing of the kind published during my lifetime. Finding, however, that some circumstances connected with my early history have been misapprehended and misrepresented by adversaries, and that my friends are anxious that I should furnish some information on the subject, and being now in the seventieth year of my age, I sit down in this my Long Point Island Cottage, retired from the busy world, to give some account of my early life, on this blessed Sabbath day, indebted to the God of the Sabbath for all that I am,—morally, intellectually, and as a public man, as well as for all my hopes of a future life.

I was born on the 24th of March, 1803, in the Township of Charlotteville, near the Village of Vittoria, in the then London District, now the County of Norfolk. My Father had been an officer in the British Army during the American Revolution, being a volunteer in the Prince of Wales' Regiment of New Jersey, of which place he was a native. His forefathers were from Holland, and his more remote ancestors were from Denmark.

At the close of the American Revolutionary War, he, with many others of the same class, went to New Brunswick, where he married my Mother, whose maiden name was Stickney, a descendant of one of the early Massachusetts Puritan settlers.[Pg 24]

Near the close of the last century my Father, with his family, followed an elder brother to Canada,[1] where he drew some 2,500 acres of land from the Government, for his services in the army, besides his pension. My Father settled on 600 acres of land lying about half-way between the present Village of Vittoria and Port Ryerse, where my uncle Samuel settled, and where he built the first mill in the County of Norfolk.

On the organization of the London District in 1800, for legal purposes, my uncle was the Lieutenant of the County, issuing commissions in his own name to militia officers; he was also Chairman of the Quarter Sessions. My Father was appointed High Sheriff in 1800, but held the office only six years, when he resigned it in behalf of the late Colonel John Bostwick (then a surveyor), who subsequently married my eldest sister, and who owned what is now Port Stanley, and was at one time a Member of Parliament for the County of Middlesex.

My Father devoted himself exclusively to agriculture, and I learned to do all kinds of farm-work. The district grammar-school was then kept within half-a-mile of my Father's residence, by Mr. James Mitchell (afterwards Judge Mitchell), an excellent classical scholar; he came from Scotland with the late Rt. Rev. Dr. Strachan, first Bishop of Toronto. Mr. Mitchell married my youngest sister. He treated me with much kindness. When I recited to him my lessons in English grammar he often said that he had never studied the English grammar himself, that he wrote and spoke English by the Latin grammar. At the age of fourteen I had the opportunity of attending a course of instruction in the English language given by two professors, the one an Englishman, and the other an American, who taught nothing but English grammar. They professed in one course of instruction, by lectures, to enable a diligent pupil to parse any sentence in the English language. I was sent to attend these lectures, the only boarding abroad for school instruction I ever enjoyed. My previous knowledge of the letter of the grammar was of great service to me, and gave me an advantage over other pupils, so that before the end of the course I was generally called up to give visitors an illustration of the success of the system, which was certainly the most effective I have ever since witnessed, having charts, etc., to illustrate the agreement and government of words.

This whole course of instruction by two able men, who did[Pg 25] nothing but teach grammar from one week's end to another had to me all the attraction of a charm and a new discovery. It gratified both curiosity and ambition, and I pursued it with absorbing interest, until I had gone through Murray's two volumes of "Expositions and Exercises," Lord Kames' "Elements of Criticism," and Blair's "Lectures on Rhetoric," of which I still have the notes which I then made. The same professors obtained sufficient encouragement to give a second course of instruction and lectures at Vittoria, and one of them becoming ill, the other solicited my Father to allow me to assist him, as it would be useful to me, while it would enable him to fulfil his engagements. Thus, before I was sixteen, I was inducted as a teacher, by lecturing on my native language. This course of instruction, and exercises in English, have proved of the greatest advantage to me, not less in enabling me to study foreign languages than in using my own.

But that to which I am principally indebted for any studious habits, mental energy, or even capacity or decision of character, is religious instruction, poured into my mind in my childhood by a Mother's counsels, and infused into my heart by a Mother's prayers and tears. When very small, under six years of age, having done something naughty, my Mother took me into her bedroom, told me how bad and wicked what I had done was, and what pain it caused her, kneeled down, clasped me to her bosom, and prayed for me. Her tears, falling upon my head, seemed to penetrate to my very heart. This was my first religious impression, and was never effaced. Though thoughtless, and full of playful mischief, I never afterwards knowingly grieved my Mother, or gave her other than respectful and kind words.

At the close of the American War, in 1815, when I was twelve years of age, my three elder brothers, George, William, and John, became deeply religious, and I imbibed the same spirit. My consciousness of guilt and sinfulness was humbling, oppressive, and distressing; and my experience of relief, after lengthened fastings, watchings, and prayers, was clear, refreshing, and joyous. In the end I simply trusted in Christ, and looked to Him for a present salvation; and, as I looked up in my bed, the light appeared to my mind, and, as I thought, to my bodily eye also, in the form of One, white-robed, who approached the bedside with a smile, and with more of the expression of the countenance of Titian's Christ than of any person whom I have ever seen. I turned, rose to my knees, bowed my head, and covered my face, rejoiced with trembling, saying to a brother who was lying beside me, that the Saviour was now near us. The change within was more marked than[Pg 26] anything without and, perhaps, the inward change may have suggested what appeared an outward manifestation. I henceforth had new views, new feelings, new joys, and new strength. I truly delighted in the law of the Lord, after the inward man, and—

"Jesus, all the day long, was my joy and my song."

From that time I became a diligent student, and new quickness and strength seemed to be imparted to my understanding and memory. While working on the farm I did more than ordinary day's work, that it might show how industrious, instead of lazy, as some said, religion made a person. I studied between three and six o'clock in the morning, carried a book in my pocket during the day to improve odd moments by reading or learning, and then reviewed my studies of the day aloud while walking out in the evening.

To the Methodist way of religion my Father was, at that time, extremely opposed, and refused me every facility for acquiring knowledge while I continued to go amongst them. I did not, however, formally join them, in order to avoid his extreme displeasure. A kind friend offered to give me any book that I would commit to memory, and submit to his examination of the same. In this way I obtained my first Latin grammar, "Watts on the Mind," and "Watts' Logic."

My eldest brother, George, after the war, went to Union College, U.S., where he finished his collegiate studies. He was a fellow-student with the late Dr. Wayland, and afterwards succeeded my brother-in-law as Master of the London District Grammar School. His counsels, examinations, and ever kind assistance were a great encouragement and of immense service to me; and though he and I have since differed in religious opinions, no other than most affectionate brotherly feeling has ever existed between us to this day.[2]

When I had attained the age of eighteen, the Methodist minister in charge of the circuit which embraced our neighbourhood, thought it not compatible with the rules of the Church to allow, as had been done for several years, the privileges of a member without my becoming one. I then gave in my name for membership. Information of this was soon communicated to my Father, who, in the course of a few days, said to me: "Egerton, I understand you have joined the Methodists; you must either leave them or leave my house." He said no more, and I well knew that the decree was final; but I had formed[Pg 27] my decision in view of all possible consequences, and I had the aid of a Mother's prayers, and a Mother's tenderness, and a conscious Divine strength according to my need. The next day I left home and became usher in the London District Grammar School, applying myself to my new work with much diligence and earnestness, so that I soon succeeded in gaining the good-will of parents and pupils, and they were quite satisfied with my services,—leaving the head master to his favourite pursuits of gardening and building!

During two years I was thus teacher and student, advancing considerably in classical studies. I took great delight in "Locke on the Human Understanding," Paley's "Moral and Political Philosophy," and "Blackstone's Commentaries," especially the sections of the latter on the Prerogatives of the Crown, the Rights of the Subject, and the Province of Parliament.

As my Father complained that the Methodists had robbed him of his son, and of the fruits of that son's labours, I wished to remove that ground of complaint as far as possible by hiring an English farm-labourer, then just arrived in Canada, in my place, and paid him out of the proceeds of my own labour for two years. But although the farmer was the best hired man my Father had ever had, the result of his farm-productions during these two years did not equal those of the two years that I had been the chief labourer on the farm, and my Father came to me one day uttering the single sentence, "Egerton, you must come home," and then walked away. My first promptings would have led me to say, "Father, you have expelled me from your house for being a Methodist; I am so still. I have employed a man for you in my place for two years, during which time I have been a student and a teacher, and unaccustomed to work on a farm, I cannot now resume it." But I had left home for the honour of religion, and I thought the honour of religion would be promoted by my returning home, and showing still that the religion so much spoken against would enable me to leave the school for the plough and the harvest-field, as it had enabled me to leave home without knowing at the moment whether I should be a teacher or a farm-labourer.

I relinquished my engagement as teacher within a few days, engaging again on the farm with such determination and purpose that I ploughed every acre of ground for the season, cradled every stalk of wheat, rye, and oats, and mowed every spear of grass, pitched the whole, first on a waggon, and then from the waggon on the hay-mow or stack. While the neighbours were astonished at the possibility of one man doing so much work, I neither felt fatigue nor depression,[Pg 28] for "the joy of the Lord was my strength," both of body and mind, and I made nearly, if not quite, as much progress in my studies as I had done while teaching school. My Father then became changed in regard both to myself and the religion I professed, desiring me to remain at home; but, having been enabled to maintain a good conscience in the sight of God, and a good report before men, in regard to my filial duty during my minority, I felt that my life's work lay in another direction. I had refused, indeed, the advice of senior Methodist ministers to enter into the ministerial work, feeling myself as yet unqualified for it, and still doubting whether I should ever engage in it, or in another profession.

I felt a strong desire to pursue further my classical studies, and determined, with the kind counsel and aid of my eldest brother, to proceed to Hamilton, and place myself for a year under the tuition of a man of high reputation both as a scholar and a teacher, the late John Law, Esq., then head master of the Gore District Grammar School. I applied myself with such ardour, and prepared such an amount of work in both Latin and Greek, that Mr. Law said it was impossible for him to give the time and hear me read all that I had prepared, and that he would, therefore, examine me on the translation and construction of the more difficult passages, remarking more than once that it was impossible for any human mind to sustain long the strain that I was imposing upon mine. In the course of some six months his apprehensions were realized, as I was seized with a brain fever, and on partially recovering took cold, which resulted in inflammation of the lungs by which I was so reduced that my physician, the late Dr. James Graham, of Norfolk, pronounced my case hopeless, and my death was hourly expected.

In that extremity, while I felt even a desire to depart and be with Christ, I was oppressed with the consciousness that I should have yielded to the counsels of the chief ministers of my Church, as I could have made nearly as much progress in my classical studies, and at the same time been doing some good to the souls of men, instead of refusing to speak in public as I had done. I then and there vowed that if I should be restored to life and health, I would not follow my own counsels, but would yield to the openings and calls which might be made in the Church by its chief ministers. That very moment the cloud was removed; the light of the glory of God shone into my mind and heart with a splendour and power that I had never before experienced. My Mother, entering the room a few moments after, exclaimed: "Egerton, your countenance is changed, you are getting better!" My[Pg 29] bodily recovery was rapid; but the recovery of my mind from the shock which it had experienced was slower, and for some weeks I could not even read, much less study. While thus recovering, I exercised myself as I best could in writing down my meditations.

My Father so earnestly solicited me to return, that he offered me a deed of his farm if I would do so and live with him; but I declined acceding to his request under any circumstances, expressing my conviction that even could I do so, I thought it unwise and wrong for any parent to place himself in a position of dependence upon any of his children for support, so long as he could avoid doing so. One day, entering my room and seeing a manuscript lying on the bed, he asked me what I had been writing, and wished me to read it. I had written a meditation on part of the last verse of the 73rd Psalm: "it is good for me to draw near to God." When I read to him what I had written my Father rose with a sigh, remarking: "Egerton, I don't think you will ever return home again," and he never afterwards mooted the subject, except in a general way.

On recovering, I returned to Hamilton and resumed my studies; shortly after which I went on a Saturday to a quarterly meeting, held about twelve miles from Hamilton, at "The Fifty," a neighborhood two or three miles west of Grimsby, where I expected to meet my brother William, who was one of the ministers on the circuit, which was then called the Niagara Circuit—embracing the whole Niagara Peninsula, from five miles east of Hamilton, and across to the west of Fort Erie. But my brother did not attend, and I learned that he had been laid aside from his ministerial work by bleeding of the lungs. Between love-feast and preaching on Sunday morning, the presiding elder, the Rev. Thomas Madden, the late Hugh Willson, and the late Smith Griffin (grandfather of the Rev. W. S. Griffin), circuit stewards, called me aside and asked if I had any engagements that would prevent me from coming on the circuit to supply the place of my brother William, who might be unable to resume his work for, perhaps, a year or more.

I felt that the vows of God were upon me, and I was for some moments speechless from emotion. On recovering, I said I had no engagements beyond my own plans and purposes; but I was yet weak in body from severe illness, and I had no means for anything else than pursuing my studies, for which aid had been provided.

One of the stewards replied that he would give me a horse, and the other that he would provide me with a saddle and bridle. I then felt that I had no choice but to fulfill the vow[Pg 30] which I had made, on what was supposed to my deathbed. I returned to Hamilton, settled with my instructor and for my lodgings, and made my first attempt at preaching at or near Beamsville, on Easter Sunday, 1825, in the morning, from the 5th verse of the 126th Psalm: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy;" and in the afternoon at "The Fifty," on "The Resurrection of Christ."—Acts ii. 24.

Toronto, Nov. 11th, 1880.

Such was the sketch of my life which I wrote on Sabbath in my Long Point Island Cottage, on the 24th of March, 1873, the 70th anniversary of my birthday. I know not that I can add anything to the foregoing story of my early life that would be worth writing or reading.

[In his cottage at Long Point, on his seventy-fifth birthday, Dr. Ryerson wrote the following paper, which Dr. Potts read on the occasion of his funeral discourse. It will be read with profoundest interest, as one of the noblest of those Christian experiences which are the rich heritage of the Church.—J. G. H.]

Long Point Island Cottage, March 24th, 1878.

I am this day seventy-five years of age, and this day fifty-three years ago, after resisting many solicitations to enter the ministry, and after long and painful struggles, I decided to devote my life and all to the ministry of the Methodist Church.

The predominant feeling of my heart is that of gratitude and humiliation; gratitude for God's unbounded mercy, patience, and compassion, in the bestowment of almost uninterrupted health, and innumerable personal, domestic, and social blessings for more than fifty years of a public life of great labour and many dangers; and humiliation under a deep-felt consciousness of personal unfaithfulness, of many defects, errors, and neglects in public duties. Many tell me that I have been useful to the Church and the country; but my own consciousness tells me that I have learned little, experienced little, done little in comparison of what I might and ought to have known and done. By the grace of God I am spared; by His grace I am what I am; all my trust for salvation is in the efficacy of Jesus' atoning blood. I know whom I have trusted, and "am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." I have no melancholy feelings or fears. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I feel that I am now on the bright side of seventy-five. As the evening twilight of my[Pg 31] earthly life advances, my spiritual sun shines with increased splendour. This has been my experience for the last year. With an increased sense of my own sinfulness, unworthiness, and helplessness, I have an increased sense of the blessedness of pardon, the indwelling of the Comforter, and the communion of saints.

Here, on bended knees, I give myself, and all I have and am, afresh to Him whom I have endeavoured to serve, but very imperfectly, for more than threescore years. All helpless, myself, I most humbly and devoutly pray that Divine strength may be perfected in my weakness, and that my last days on earth may be my best days—best days of implicit faith and unreserved consecration, best days of simple scriptural ministrations and public usefulness, best days of change from glory to glory, and of becoming meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, until my Lord shall dismiss me from the service of warfare and the weariness of toil to the glories of victory and the repose of rest.

E. Ryerson.


[1] My father's eldest brother Samuel was known as Samuel Ryerse, in consequence of the manner in which his name was spelled in his Army Commission which he held; but the original family name was Ryerson.

[2] This brother of Dr. Ryerson's passed quietly away on the 19th of December, 1882, aged 92. Dr. Ryerson died on the 19th of February of the same year, aged 79. Their father, Col. Ryerson, died at the age of 94.—J. G. H.

[Pg 32]



Extracts from my diary of 1824 and 1825.

The foregoing sketch of my early life may be properly followed by extracts from my diary; pourtraying my mental and spiritual exercises and labours during a few months before and after I commenced the work of an itinerant Methodist Preacher.

The extracts are as follow, and are very brief in comparison to the entire diary, which extends over eight years from 1824, to 1832, after which time I ceased to write a daily diary, and wrote in a journal the principal occurrences and doings in which I was concerned.[3]

Hamilton, August 12th, 1824.—I arrived here the day after I left home. Mr. John Law (with whom I am to study) received me with all the affection and kindness of a sincere and disinterested friend. Even, without expecting it, he told me that his library was at my service; that he did not wish me to join any class, but to read by myself, that he might pay every attention, and give me every assistance in his power. Indeed he answered my highest expectation. I am stopping with Mr. John Aikman. He is one of the most respectable men in this vicinity. I shall be altogether retired. At the Court of Assize, the Chief-Justice and the Attorney-General will stop here, which will make a very agreeable change for a few days. To pursue my studies with indefatigable industry, and ardent zeal, will be my set purpose, so that I may never have to mourn the loss of my precious time.

Aug. 16th.—This day I commenced my studies by reading Latin and Greek with Mr. Law. I began the duties of the day in imploring the assistance of God; for without Him I cannot do anything. God has been pleased to open my understanding, to enlighten my mind, and to show me the necessity and blessedness of an unreserved and habitual devotion to his heavenly will. I have heard Bishop Hedding preach, also Rev. Nathan Bangs. I am resolved to improve my time more diligently, and to give myself wholly to God. Oh, may his long-suffering mercy bear with me, his wisdom guide, his power support and defend me, and may his mercy bring me off triumphant in the dying day!

Aug. 17th.—I have been reading Virgil's Georgics. I find them very difficult,[Pg 33] and have only read seventy lines. In my spiritual concerns I have been greatly blessed; and felt more anxiously concerned for my soul's salvation, have prayed more than usual, and experienced a firmer confidence in the blessed promises of the Gospel. I have enjoyed sweet intercourse with my Saviour, my soul resting on his divine word, with a prayerful acquiescence in his dispensations. But alas! what evil have I done, how much time have I lost, how many idle words have I spoken; how should these considerations lead me to watch my thoughts, to husband my time with judgment, and govern my tongue as with a bridle! Oh, Lord bless me and prosper me in all my ways and labours, and keep me to thyself!

Aug. 18th.—The Lord has abundantly blessed me this day both in my spiritual and classical pursuits. I have been able to pursue my studies with facility, and have felt his Holy Spirit graciously enlightening my mind, showing me the necessity of separating myself from the world, and being given up entirely to his service.

Aug. 19th.—I have this day proved that, with every temptation, the Lord makes a way for my escape. I have enjoyed much peace. Oh, Lord, help me to improve my precious time, so as to overcome the assaults and escape the snares of the adversary!

Aug. 20th.—In all the vicissitudes of life, how clearly is the mysterious providence and superintending care of Jehovah manifested! how strikingly can I observe the divine interposition of my heavenly Father, and how sensibly do I realize his benevolence, kindness, and mercy in the whole moral and blessed economy of his equitable and infinitely wise government! On no object do I cast my eyes without observing an affecting instance of a benevolent and overruling power; and, while in mental contemplations my mind is absorbed, my admiration rises still higher to the exalted purposes and designs of Almighty God. I behold in the soul noble faculties, superior powers of imagination, and capacious desires, unfilled by anything terrestrial, and wishes unsatisfied by the widest grasp of human ambition. What is this but immortality? Oh, that my soul may feed on food immortal!

Another week is gone, eternally gone! What account can I give to my Almighty Judge for my conduct and opportunities? Has my improvement kept pace with the panting steeds of unretarded time? Must I give an account of every idle word, thought, and deed? Oh, merciful God! if the most righteous, devoted, and holy scarcely are saved, where stall I appear? How do my vain thoughts, and unprofitable conversation, swell heaven's register? Where is my watchfulness! Where are my humility, purity, and hatred of sin? Where is my zeal? Alas! alas! they are things unpractised, unfelt, almost unknown to me. How little do I share in the toils, the labours, or the sorrows of the righteous, and consequently how little do I participate in their confidence, their joys, their heavenly prospects? Oh, may these awful considerations drive me closer to God, and incite to a more diligent improvement of my precious time, so that I may bear the mark of a real follower of Christ!

Aug. 22nd.—Sabbath.—When I arose this morning I endeavoured to dedicate myself afresh to God in prayer, with a full determination to improve the day to his glory, and to spend it in his service. Accordingly, I spent the morning in prayer, reading, and meditation; but when I came to mingle with the worldly-minded, my devotions and meditations were dampened and distracted, my thoughts unprofitable and vain. I attended a Methodist Class-meeting where I felt myself forcibly convinced of my shortcomings. Sure I am that unless I am more vigilant, zealous, and watchful, I shall never reach the Paradise of God. I must be willing to bear reproach for Christ's sake, confess him before men, or I never can be owned by him in the presence of his Father, and the holy angels.[Pg 34]

Merciful God! forbid that I should barter away my heavenly inheritance for a transient gleam of momentary joy, and the empty round of worldly pleasure:

"Help me to watch and pray,
And on thyself rely,
Assured if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die."

Aug. 23rd.—I have been abundantly prospered in my studies to-day; and have been enabled to maintain an outward conformity in my conduct. But alas! how blind to my own interest, to deprive myself of the highest blessings and exalted honours the Almighty has to bestow. Oh, Lord! help me henceforth to be wise unto salvation. May I be sober and watch unto prayer! Amen.

Aug. 24th.—Through the mercy of God I have been enabled in a good degree to overcome my besetments, and have this day maintained more consistency in conversation and conduct. Still I feel too much deterred by the fear of man, and thirst too ardently for the honours of the world. Merciful God! give me more grace, wisdom, and strength, that I may triumphantly overcome and escape to heaven at last!

I shall finish the first book of the Georgics to-day, which is the seventh day since I commenced them. I expect to finish them in four weeks from this time. My mind improves, and I feel much encouraged. My labour is uniform and constant, from the dawn of day till near eleven at night. I have not a moment to play on the flute.

Aug. 25th.—There is nothing like implicit trust in the Almighty for assistance, protection, and assurance! His past dispensations and dealings with me leave not the least suspicion of his inviolable veracity, and his efficacious promises cheer the sadness, calm the fears of every soul that practically reposes in and seeks after him. The truth of this, blessed be God, I have in some measure experienced to-day. Help me, O Lord, with increasing grace to attain still more sublime enjoyments and triumphant prospects!

Aug. 26th.—I feel a growing indifference to worldly pleasures, and increasing love to God, to holiness, and heaven. Entire confidence in a superintending Providence heals the wounded heart of even the disconsolate widow, and gives the oil of joy for sorrow, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Aug. 27th.—This day I attended a funeral; those connected with it were very ignorant; how strikingly this showed to me the advantages of a good education. God forbid that I should idle away my golden moments. Help me to choose the better part, and honour God in all things!

Aug. 28th.—The labours of another week are ended; during it I have enjoyed much of the presence of God; surely the religion of Christ dazzles all the magnificence of human glory; were I only to regard the happiness of this life, I would embrace its doctrines, practice its laws, and exert my influence for its extension.

Aug. 29th.—Sabbath.—The blessings of the Lord have abundantly surrounded me this day, and my heart has been enlarged.

Aug. 30th.—In observing my actions and words this day, I find I have done many things that are culpable; and yet, blessed be God, his goodness to me is profuse. Help me to watch and pray that I enter not into temptation.

Aug. 31st.—How many youths around me do I see trifling away the greatest part of their time, and profaning their Maker's name? My soul magnifies His name that I have decided to be on the Lord's side; how many evils have I escaped; how many blessings obtained; what praise enjoyed, through the influence of this religion. To God be all the glory![Pg 35]

September 1st.—In no subject can we employ our thoughts more profitably than on the atonement of Christ, and justification through his merits. With wonder we gaze on the love of Deity; with profound awe we behold a God descending from heaven to earth. Unbounded love! Unmeasured grace! And while in deep silence his death wraps all nature; while his yielding breath rends the temple and shakes earth's deep foundations; may my redeemed soul in silent rapture tune her grateful song aloft; and fired by this blood-bought theme, may I mend my pace towards my heavenly inheritance!

I generally close up the labours of the day by writing a short essay or theme on some religious subject. In doing this I have two objects in view: the improvement of my mind and heart. And what could be more appropriate than to close the day by reflection upon God, and heaven, and time, and eternity? No private employment, except that of prayer, have I found more pleasing and profitable than this. Youth is the seed-time of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. Youthful piety is the germ of true honour, lawful prosperity, and everlasting blessedness. One day of humble, devotional piety in youth will add more to our happiness at the last end of life than a year of repentance and humiliation in old age. I have no intention of entering the ministry, and yet I prefer religious topics. To-day I have chosen the atonement of our Lord, and have written a few thoughts on it.

Sept. 2nd.—Implicit trust in a superintending Providence is a constant source of comfort and support to me.

Sept. 3rd.—God has blessed me to-day in my studies. I have also felt the efficacy of Divine aid. Help me still, most merciful God!

Sept. 4th.—In the course of the past week I have experienced various feelings, especially with respect to the dealings of Divine Providence with me; but in all I have had this consolation, that whatever happens, "the will of the Lord be done." It is my duty to perform and obey.

Sept. 5th.—This morning I attended church and heard a sermon on Ezekiel xviii. 27. When we consider the importance of repentance, its connection with our eternal happiness, surely every feeling heart, and ministers especially, should exhibit with burning zeal the conditions of salvation, the slavery of vice, the heinousness of sin, the vanity of human glory, and the uncertainty of life.

Sept. 6th.—When I laid aside my studies to commit my evening thoughts to paper, my mind wandered on various subjects, until much time was lost; the best antidote against this is, not to put off to the next moment what can be done in this. We should be firm and decided in all our pursuits, and whatever our minds "find to do, do it with all our might."

Sept. 7th.—The mutual dependence of men cements society, and their social intercourse communicates pleasure. If we are called to endure the pains and inconveniences of poverty, possessing this we forget all; and in the pleasant walks of wealth, it adds to every elegance a charm. Friendship associated with religion, elevates all the ties of Christian love and mutual pleasure.

Sept. 8th.—I have found myself too much mingled with the common crowd, and like others, too indifferent to the subject of all others the chief.

Sept. 9th.—We "cannot serve God and Mammon." May I be firm in my attachment to the Saviour, remembering that "godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

Sept. 12th.—I heard a practical sermon on making our "calling and election sure," which closed with these words, "He that calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I felt condemned on account of my negligence, and resolved, by God's help, to gain victory over my tendency to inconsistencies of life and conduct.[Pg 36]

Sept. 14th.—I observe men embarked on the stream of time, and carried forward with irresistible force to that universal port which shall receive the whole human family. Amongst this passing crowd, how few are there who reflect upon the design and end of their voyage; surfeited with pleasure, involved in life's busy concerns, the future, with its awful realities, is forgotten and time, not eternity, is placed in the foreground.

Sept, 15th.—In a letter to my brother George, to-day, I said:—It would be superfluous for me to tell you that the letter I received from you gave me unspeakable pleasure. Your fears with respect to my injuring my health are groundless, for I must confess I don't possess half that application and burning zeal in these all-important pursuits that I ought to have. For who can estimate the value of a liberal education? Who can sufficiently prize that in which all the powers of the human mind can expand to their utmost and astonishing extent? What industry can outstretch the worth of that knowledge, by which we can travel back to the remotest ages, and live the lives of all antiquity? Nay, who can set bounds to the value of those attainments, by which we can, as it were, fly from world to world, and gaze on all the glories of creation; by which we can glide down the stream of time, and penetrate the unorganized regions of uncreated futurity? My heart burns while I write. Although literature presents the highest objects of ambition to the most refined mind, yet I consider health, in comparison with other temporal enjoyments, the most bountiful, and highest gift of heaven.

I have read three books of the Georgics, and three odes of Horace, but this last week I have read scarcely any, as I have had a great deal of company, and there has been no school. But I commence again to-day with all my might. The Attorney-General stops at Mr. Aikman's during Court. I find him very agreeable. He conversed with me more than an hour last night, in the most sociable, open manner possible.

Sept. 16th.—There is nothing of greater importance than to commence early to form our characters and regulate our conduct. Observation daily proves that man's condition in this world is generally the result of his own conduct. When we come to maturity, we perceive there is a right and a wrong in the actions of men; many who possess the same hereditary advantages, are not equally prosperous in life; some by virtuous conduct rise to respectability, honour, and happiness; while others by mean and vicious actions, forfeit the advantages of their birth, and sink into ignominy and disgrace. How necessary that in early life useful habits should be formed, and turbulent passions restrained, so that when manhood and old age come, the mind be not enervated by the follies and vices of youth, but, supported and strengthened by the Divine Being, be enabled to say, "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and now when I am old and grey-headed, O God, thou wilt not forsake me!"

Sept. 21st.—I have just parted with an old and faithful friend, who has left for another kingdom. How often has he kindly reproved me, and how oft have we gone to the house of God together! We may never meet again on earth, but what a mercy to have a good hope of meeting in the better land!

Sept. 23rd.—When I reflect on the millions of the human family who know nothing of Christ, my soul feels intensely for their deliverance. What a vast uncultivated field in my own country for ministers to employ their whole time and talents in exalting a crucified Saviour. Has God designed this sacred task for me? If it be Thy will, may all obstacles be removed, my heart be sanctified and my hands made pure.

Sept. 26th.—I have been much oppressed with a man-fearing spirit, but what have I to fear if God be for me? Oh, Lord, enable me to become a bold witness for Jesus Christ!

Sept. 28th.—In all the various walks of life, I find obstructions and[Pg 37] labours, surrounded with foes, powerful as well as subtle; although I have all the promises of the Gospel to comfort and support me, yet find exertion on my own part absolutely necessary. When heaven proclaims victory, it is only that which succeeds labour. I consider it a divine requisition that my whole course of conduct, both in political and social life, should be governed by the infallible precepts of revelation; hypocrisy is inexcusable, even in the most trifling circumstances.

Sept. 29th.—I find difficulties to overcome in my literary pursuits, I had never anticipated; and it is only by the most indefatigable labour I can succeed. I am much oppressed by the labours of this day. I need Divine aid in this as well as in spiritual pursuits.

Sept. 30th.—I have been enabled to study with considerable facility. Prayer I find the most profitable employment, practice the best instructor, and thanksgiving the sweetest recreation. May this be my experience every day!

October, 2nd.—I am another week nearer my eternal destiny! Am I nearer heaven, and better prepared for death than at its commencement? Do I view sin with greater abhorence? Are my views of the Deity more enlarged? Is it my meat and drink to do his holy will? Oh, my God, how much otherwise!

From the 3rd to the 9th Oct.—During this period the afflicting hand of God has been upon me; thank God, when distressed with bodily pain, I have felt a firm assurance of Divine favour, so that all fear of death has been taken away. My soul is too unholy to meet a holy God, and mingle with the society of the blest. Oh, God, save me from the deceitfulness of my own heart!

Oct. 10th, Sabbath.—I am rapidly recovering health and strength. The Lord is my refuge and comfort. Surrounded by temptations, the applause of men is often too fascinating, and my treacherous heart dresses things in false colours. But, bless God, in his goodness and mercy he recalls my wandering steps, and invites me to dwell in safety under the shadow of his wing.

Oct. 11th.—No graces are of more importance than patience and perseverance. They give consistency and dignity to character. We may possess the most sparkling talents and the most interesting qualities, but without these graces, the former lose their lustre, and the latter their charms. In religion their influence is more important, as they form the character, by enabling us to surmount difficulties and remove obstacles. I am far from thinking them constitutional virtues, with a little additional cultivation, but I consider them the gift of heaven, less common than is generally imagined, though sometimes faintly counterfeited. They differ from natural or moral excellence in this being the proper and consistent exercise of those virtues.

Oct. 12th.—It is two weeks to-day since I first wrote home. A week ago I received a kind letter from my brother George, but was too ill with fever to read it, or to write in reply until to-day. I said: "I feel truly thankful to you for the tender concern and warm interest which you express in your letter. Tell my dear Mother that I share with her her afflictions, and that I am daily more forcibly convinced that every earthly comfort and advantage is transient and unsatisfactory, that this is not our home, but that our highest happiness amidst these fluctuating scenes, is to insure the favour and protection of him who alone can raise us above afflictions and calamities."

November 20th.—More than a month has elapsed since I recorded my religious feelings and enjoyments on paper. During this period, I have sometimes realized all the pleasures of health; at other times, borne down with pain and sickness, the spirit would be cast down. At such seasons of depression, religion would come in as my only comfort, and with the[Pg 38] Psalmist I would exclaim, "Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the light of my countenance, and my God." Thus I find from blessed experience, that in every state and condition, union and intercourse with God brings true peace, joy, trust, and praise. If there be any honour, here it is. If there be any wealth, this is it. "I would rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." O Lord, give me more of the mind of Christ!

Nov. 25th.—In entering on the field of life, I find my mind much perplexed with the variety of objects presented to my view. The comforts and tranquility of domestic happiness attract my attention, and excite warm desires in my heart. Am I not to taste the pleasures which two hearts reciprocally united in one, mutually communicate? or must I give up the home of domestic enjoyment to the calls of duty, and the salvation of men? Has heaven designed that I should spend my days in seeking the lost sheep of the House of Israel? May divine wisdom direct me, and suffer me not to follow the dictates of my own will!

Nov. 26th.—By taking a retrospective view of what is past, we learn to ask more wisely in the time to come. The cool dictates of reason, assisted by that inward monitor, conscience, placed within the breast of every individual, strongly condemns every deviation from propriety, justice, or morality. By mingling with society we learn human nature, and the scenes of public resort afford us a field for useful observation, yet retirement is the place to acquire the most important knowledge—the knowledge of ourselves. What would it avail us to dive into the mysteries of science, or entertain the world with new discoveries, to acquaint ourselves with the principles of morality, or learn the whole catalogue of Christian doctrines, if we are unacquainted with our own hearts, and strangers to the business of self-government?

February 12th, 1825.—During the long period since I last penned my religious meditations, my feelings, hopes, and prospects have been extremely varied. While I was promising myself health and many temporal pleasures, God saw fit to show me the uncertainty of earthly things, and the necessity and wisdom of submission to his will, by the rod of affliction. During my sickness I have derived much pleasure and profit from the visits of pious friends, so that I have felt it is good to be afflicted.[4]

Feb. 13th.—I am resolved, by God's assisting grace, to keep the following resolutions:—(1) Endeavour to fix my first waking thoughts on God; (2) By rising early to attend to my devotions, and reading the Scriptures; (3)By praying oftener each day, and maintaining a more devotional frame of mind; (4) By being more circumspect in my conduct and conversation; (5) By improving my time more diligently in reading useful books, and study; (6) By watching over my thoughts, and keeping my desires within proper bounds; (7) By examining myself more closely by the scripture rule; (8) By leaving myself and all that concerns me to God's disposal; (9) By reviewing every evening the actions of the day, and especially every Sabbath, examining wherein I have come short, or have kept God's precepts.

Feb. 16th.—I have lately been closely employed in reading Bishop Burnet's History of the Reformation. How sad to reflect on the cruelties that were then practised against the professors of true religion! What a reason for thankfulness that the sway of papal authority can no longer inflict papal obligations on the consciences of men! But after careful research into this highly authentic history, I find but few vestiges of that apostolic purity which churchmen so boastfully attribute to that memorable period of Christian[Pg 39] history. Great allowance, is, however, to be made when we consider that they were just emerging out of the superstitions of popery. That doctrines, discipline, and ceremonies, cannot be established without the royal assent, even when they are approved both by ecclesiastical and legislative authority, is a practice so different from anything that the Primitive Church authorizes, it seems to me to originate from quite a different source; that a whole nation should be bound in their religious opinions by a single individual, savours so much of popery, I think it may properly be called its offspring. Pretentions to regal supremacy in church affairs were never made till a late period, although this interference of papal authority in matters entirely spiritual, does not annul any ecclesiastical power, or prove its doctrines to be corrupt, or its ordinations illegal. It may be justly ranked among the invasions of modern corruption.

Feb. 17th.—Since I drew up, four days since, several resolutions for amendment, I bless God I have reason to believe I have made some improvement. I have applied myself more closely to study, prayed oftener, and governed my thoughts with more rigour.

Feb. 27th.—I am now emerging into life, surrounded by blessings and opportunities for usefulness and improvement; but, alas! where is my gratitude, my love to God, my zeal for his cause, and for the salvation of those who are ignorant of the great truths of the Gospel? If, O God, thou hast designed this awfully important work for me, qualify me for it; increase and enlarge my desires for the salvation of immortal souls!

March 15th.—This day I have recommenced my studies with Mr. John Law, at Hamilton. How necessary that I should be very careful in my conduct for the credit of religion and Methodism!

March 24th.—I have this day finished twenty-two years of my life. I have decided this day to travel in the Methodist Connexion and preach Jesus to the lost sons of men. Oh, the awful importance of this work! How utterly unfit I am for the undertaking! How little wisdom, experience, and, above all, grace do I possess for the labours of the ministry! Blessed Jesus, fountain of wisdom, God of power, I give myself to thee, and to the Church, to do with me according to thy will. Instruct and sanctify me, that whether I live, it may be to the Lord, and when I die it may be to the Lord!

April 3rd.—Easter Sunday.—I this day commenced my ministerial labours. Bless the Lord, he has given me a heart to feel. He hears my prayer. Oh, my soul, hang all thy hopes upon the Lord! Forbid I should seek the praise of men, but may I seek their good and God's glory.

In the morning I endeavoured to speak from Ps. cxxvi. 5, and in the evening from Acts ii. 24—a subject suitable for the day; bless the Lord, I felt something of the power of my Saviour's resurrection resting on my soul.

April 8th.—The Lord being my helper, my little knowledge and feeble talents shall be unreservedly devoted to his service. I do not yet regret giving up my worldly pursuits for the welfare of souls. I want Christ to be all in all.

April 10th.—Sabbath.—I endeavoured this morning to show the abundant provisions, the efficacy, and the triumphs of the Gospel from Isaiah xxv. 6, 7, 8, and in the afternoon I described the righteous man and his end from Prov. xiv. 32. I felt much of the presence of the Lord, and I do bless the Lord he has converted one soul in this place to-day. I feel encouraged to go on.

April 13th.—I have been depressed in spirit on account of having no abode for domestic retirement, and becoming exposed to all the besetments of public life.

April 15th.—So bowed down with temptation to-day, I almost resolved to[Pg 40] return to my native place. But, in God's strength, I will try to do my best during the time I have engaged to supply my brother William's place.

April 16th.—In reading Rollin's account of the conquest of Babylon, I conceive more exalted ideas of the truth of the Word of God, whose predictions were so exactly fulfilled in the destruction of that city.

April 17th.—Sabbath.—My labours this day have been excessive, having delivered three discourses. In the morning my mind was dull and heavy, in the afternoon warm and pathetic, in the evening clear and fertile. I feel encouraged to continue on.

April 23rd.—I feel nothing but condemnation in reviewing the actions of the past week. Would it not be better for me to return home until I gain better government over myself. Oh, Lord, I throw myself upon thy mercy! "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me! Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation!"

April 25th and 26th.—And thus I go on, depressed and refreshed; almost discouraged because of the way, and then cheered by the kind and fatherly conversation of Rev. Thomas Madden.

April 29th.—In travelling to-day a tree fell across the road four or five rods before me, and another not far behind, but I escaped unhurt. My heart glowed with gratitude; I felt that the Lord was indeed my protector. But whilst so narrowly escaping myself, two persons, a woman and her son, who were travelling a short distance behind me, were suddenly killed by the falling of a tree, and thus in an instant hurried into eternity.

May 4th.—I watched to-day a large concourse of people assembled to witness horse-racing. I stood at a distance that I might observe an illustration of human nature. Curiosity and excitement were depicted in every countenance. What is to become of this thoughtless multitude? Is there no mercy for them? Surely there is. Why will they not be saved? Because they will not come to Him.

May 5th.—During the day I preached once, to a listening but wicked assembly. In the afternoon I heard my brother William. I was affected by the force of his reasoning, and the power of his eloquence. I hope the Lord will help me to imitate his piety and zeal.

May 7th.—A camp-meeting was commenced this afternoon on Yonge Street, near the town of York. Rev. Thomas Madden preached from, "Lord help me!" Every countenance indicated interest, and every heart appeared willing to receive the word. In the evening a pious, aged man spoke (Mr. D. Y.) His discourse was full of God. Several were converted and made very happy.

May 8th.—The people rose at 5 a.m. After prayers and breakfast, there was a prayer meeting, daring which God was especially present. At 8 a.m. I preached from Hosea xiii. 3. This was followed by two exhortations; then Rev. Rowley Heyland preached from, "Buy the truth, and sell it not." About two o'clock the people were again assembled to hear the Rev. James Richardson (formerly a lieutenant in the British Navy) from the words, "Be ye reconciled to God." His style was plain but unadorned, his reasoning clear, and his arguments forcible. The services concluded with the celebration of the Lord's Supper. About three hundred communicated, sixty-two professed to have obtained the pardon of their sins, and forty-two gave their names as desirous of becoming members of the Methodist Society. After this, a concluding address was delivered by the Rev. Wm. Ryerson, in which he gave particular directions to the Methodists as subjects under the civil constitution, as members of the Church of Christ, as parents, as children, as individuals. He animadverted on the groundless and disingenuous aspersions that had been thrown out through the press against Methodism, on account of the suspected loyalty of its constitutional principles. He warmly[Pg 41] insisted on a vigorous observance, support, and respect for the Civil Government, both from the beneficence of its laws and the equity of its administration, as well as from the authority of God. The concluding ceremony was the most affecting I ever witnessed, especially in the affection which the people showed for their ministers.

May 12th.—I have this day ridden nearly thirty miles, preached three times, and met two classes. I felt very much fatigued, yet the Lord has given me "strength equal to my day."

May 19th.—I have been much blessed in the society of pious friends. A part of the week I felt very sick, but was greatly comforted by the conversation and affectionate treatment of my kindest friend, Mrs. Smith. Since I commenced labouring for my Master I have found fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, all ready to supply my every want.

May 24th.—A Camp-meeting commenced at Mount Pleasant. The presence of both Mississauga and Mohawk Indians added greatly to the interest of the meeting. Peter Jones addressed his people in their own tongue; although I did not understand, I was much affected by his fervency and pathos. He spoke in English in a manner that astonished all present.

Another Indian Chief addressed his brethren in the Mohawk tongue. I could not understand a word of it, but was carried away with his pathos and energy. These Indians thanked the white people for sending them the Gospel. He said that upwards of sixty Indians had been converted, and could testify that God had power to forgive sin. He, i.e., a young Chippewa said that the most earnest desire and prayer of the Christian Indians was that God would drive the horrid whiskey from their nation. It was truly affecting to see this young man arise and testify in the presence of God and this large assembly, that "he had the witness in his own soul, that God for Christ's sake had forgiven all his sins." The congregation was much moved, and prayers and praises were heard in every part of the assembly. At the close of the exercises, on the following day, the Mohawk Chief said, "They considered that they belonged to the Methodist Church, as they had done all for them."

May 29th.—For many days I have been cast down by a weight of care. My Father is exceedingly anxious that I should return home, and remain with him during his lifetime. A position in the Church of England has presented itself, and other advantageous attractions with regard to this world, offer themselves.[5] It makes my heart bleed to see the anxiety of my parents. But is it duty? If they were in want I would return to them without hesitation, but when I consider they have everything necessary, can it be my duty to gratify them at the expense of the cause of God? Surely if a man may leave father and mother to join himself to a wife, how much more reasonable to leave all to join himself to the Christian ministry. My parents are dear to me, but my duty to God is dearer still. One thing do I desire, that I may live in the House of the Lord for ever!

And shall I leave a Church through whose faithful instructions I have been brought to know God, for any advantages that the entrance to another might afford me? No, far be it from me; as I received the Lord Jesus, so I will walk in him. Earthly distinctions will be but short; but the favour of God will last forever. Besides, is it a sacrifice to do my duty? Is it not rather a cause of gratitude that I know my duty, and am allowed to perform it? My heart is united with the Methodists, my soul is one with theirs; my labours are acceptable, and they are anxious that I should continue with them. I believe in their Articles, I approve of their Constitution, and I believe them to be of the Church of Christ.

[Pg 42]

Saltfleet, May 30th.—[Amongst Dr. Ryerson's papers I find the two following letters. The first addressed from Saltfleet, on this day, to his brother George; the second to his Mother on the following day.—J. G. H.]

[To his brother, Rev. George Ryerson, he said: I suppose your first inquiry is to know my spiritual condition and prospects. As to my religious enjoyments, I think that I have reason to believe I am daily blessed with the divine presence to enlighten, to instruct, and to assist me in my researches and meditations, and in the other arduous duties I have to discharge. Never did I so sensibly feel the importance of the work in which I am now engaged, as I have these few days past. I feel that I am altogether inadequate to it; but God has in a very special manner, at different times, been my wisdom and strength. I do not feel sorry that I have commenced travelling as a preacher. I think I feel more deeply the worth of souls at heart. I feel willing to spend my all, and be spent in the cause of God, if I may become the unworthy instrument in doing some good to the souls of men. The greatest assistance I receive in my public labours, is that which results from a firm dependence on God for light, life, and power. When I forget this I am visited with that barrenness of mind, and hardness of heart which are always the companions of those who live at a distance from God. In discharging every public duty, my prayer to God is, to renew my commission afresh, and give me wisdom and energy, and I do not find him slack concerning his promise. I am striving to pursue my studies with unabating ardour. My general practice is to retire at ten o'clock, or before, and rise at five. When I am travelling, I strive to converse no more than is necessary and useful, endeavouring at all times to keep in mind the remark of Dr. Clarke, that a preacher's whole business is to save souls, and that that preacher is the most useful who is the most in his closet. On my leisure days I read from ten to twenty verses of Greek a day, besides reading history, the Scriptures, and the best works on practical divinity, among which Chalmers' has decidedly the preference in my mind, both for piety and depth of thought. These two last studies employ the greatest part of my time. My preaching is altogether original. I endeavour to collect as many ideas from every source as I can; but I do not copy the expression of any one. For I do detest seeing blooming flowers in dead men's hands. I think it my duty, and I try to get a general knowledge, and view of any subject that I discuss before-hand; but not unfrequently I have tried to preach with only a few minutes previous reflection. Remember me to my dear Mother, and give her this letter to read, and tell her that I will write soon.][Pg 43]

Saltfleet, May 31st.—[To his Mother he writes: My dear Mother, I am thankful to say that I am well, and am trying in a weak way to serve the Lord, and persuading as many others to do so as I can. I feel that I am almost destitute of every necessary qualification for so important a work. The Lord has blessed me in a very special manner at many different times. Our prospects are very favourable in some places. Our congregations are generally large, and still increasing. We have twenty-four appointments in four weeks. I have formed some very useful and pious acquaintances since I left home. The Lord seems to be with me, and renders my feeble efforts acceptable in general. My acquaintance seems to be sought by all classes, and I try to improve such advantages in spreading, by my example and conversation, the blessed religion of Christ among all ranks. I have many temptations to contend with, and many trials to weigh me down at times. Some of these arise from a sense of the injustice which I have done to important subjects, on account of my ignorance, which drives me to a throne of grace, and a closer application to my studies. My situation is truly a state of trial, and none but God could support and direct me. And I do feel the comforting and refreshing influence of his divine power at times very sensibly. I am determined, by his assistance, never to rest contented until he not only becomes my wisdom, but my sanctification, and my full redemption. And blessed be the Lord, my dear Mother, I do feel a hope, and a confidence that the same divine power and goodness which supports and comforts you in your ill state of health, and which gives you victory over your trials, and consolation in your distress, will conduct me, too, through this stormy maze, and we shall yet have the blessedness of meeting at our Father's table in Heaven. And God being my helper, my dear Mother, when you have gone home to rest with God, I am determined to pursue the same path, which you have strewn with prayers, with tears, and living faith, until I reach the same blessed port. I hope that you will pray that the Lord would help and save me forever! If I had no other inducement to serve God, and walk in the path of religion, but your comfort, I would try and devote my life to it while I live; but when Heaven's transcendant glory beams forth in prospective view, my soul burns to possess the kingdom, and my heart is enlarged for the salvation of others. I wish you would get George to write immediately, and let me know the state of your mind, and your opinion about my returning home, also his own opinion on that subject.—J. G. H.]

July 2nd.—This week has been a season of trial. I have left my Father's house once more, and arrived on my Circuit.[Pg 44]

July 3rd.—Sabbath.—I have preached twice to-day in Niagara for the first time; felt very embarrassed, but my trust was in God, and my prayer to Him for assistance.

July 4th.—This evening I have been distressed in mind on account of leaving my parents. My heart melts within me when I think of my Father's faltering voice, when lying on his bed he said, "Good-bye, Egerton," and reached forth his trembling hand, saying by his countenance that he never expected to see his son a resident in his house again. He laid himself back in his bed in apparent despair, no more to enjoy the society of the child he loved. Oh, my God! is it not too much for humanity? Nature sinks beneath the weight. It is only God that can sustain. May I endure manfully to the end!

July 6th and 7th.—I have been much interested in reading Dr. Coke's discourses, also Wesley's sermons on "The Kingdom of God."

July 9th.—I have crossed the river to the United States to-day for the first time. The manners of the people are not pleasant to me.

July 10th—Sabbath.—The Lord has greatly blessed me this day. I have preached three times. My heart overflowed with love for immortal souls. Many wept, and God's people seemed stirred up to engage afresh in His service. In the evening, I preached to very a wicked congregation, from Matt. xvi. 24. My mind was clear, particularly in argument, but they seemed to be unaffected.

July 14th.—I have been afflicted with illness, but the Lord has comforted me. Again had to mourn over light conversation, still I think I have gained some victory. I am determined to watch and pray until I obtain a triumph over this trying besetment.

July 17th.—I felt so ill this morning that I could not attend my appointment, but recovered so as to preach feebly in the afternoon. The Word seemed to rest with power on the people.

July 21st.—For several days I have been much interested in reading Fletcher's "Portrait of St. Paul." When I compare my actions and feelings with the standard there laid down, I blush on account of my ignorance in the duties and labours connected with my calling. Did the ministers of the Gospel obtain and possess a deeper communion with God? Did they cultivate primitive piety in their lives, and Gospel simplicity in their preaching, surely the power of darkness could not stand before them! How many learned discourses are entirely lost in the wisdom of words, whereas plain and simple sermons, delivered with power and demonstration of the Spirit, have been attended with astonishing success.

July 27th.—I have been considerably agitated in my mind for the last two days, having lost my horse. The fatigue in searching for her has been considerable. Thank God she is found!

July 31st—Sabbath.—Greatly blessed in attending a Quarterly meeting in Hamilton; also in hearing an interesting account of the Indians receiving their presents at York. Peter Jones had written to Col. Givens to enquire just what time they must be there, stating that as many of them had become Christianized and industrious, they did not want to lose time. The Colonel was surprised at the news, and replied, giving the necessary information. Peter Jones' letter was shown to Rev. Dr. Strachan and His Excellency the Governor. It excited great curiosity. When the Indians arrived, the Colonel had, as usual, brought liquor to treat them, but as Peter Jones informed him the Christian Indians would not drink, he very wisely said "the others should not have it either," and sent it back. How the Lord honours those who honour Him. Rev. Dr. Strachan and several ladies and gentlemen assembled to see the distribution of presents. The Christian Indians were requested to separate from the others, that they[Pg 45] might read and sing. The company was much pleased, and Dr. Strachan prayed with them. On the following Sabbath, the Dr. visited the Credit settlement, and attended one of the meetings which was addressed by Peter Jones. Dr. Strachan proposed their coming under the superintendence of the Church of England; but after holding a council, they declined, deciding to remain under the direction of the Methodists. May the Lord greatly prosper his work amongst them, preserve them from every delusive snare, and may their happy souls be kept blameless unto the day of Jesus Christ!

August 1st.—This day I have been admitted into the Methodist Connexion, licensed as a Local Preacher, and recommended tn the Annual Conference to be received on trial. How awful the responsibility! How dreadful my condition if I violate my charge or deal deceitfully with souls! Oh, God, assist me to declare Thy whole counsel! and help me to instruct by example as well as precept. How swiftly am I gliding down time's rapid stream! I am daily reminded of the uncertainty and shortness of life. I went to-day to visit a friend, and (as usual) smilingly came to the door, when behold! all was mourning and sorrow! An infant son had just taken its everlasting flight to the arms of Jesus. He was a fine boy, active and promising, but he had suddenly gone to return no more! The father's philosophy forsakes him now; parental feeling has uncontrolled sway. I recommended religion as the only sufficient support and comfort. I touched on the mysterious government of God; that truly "Clouds and darkness are round about him." yet "righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." I pointed out the happiness of the beloved babe, which should lead us to devote our all to His service, that we might eventually share in the unspeakable blessedness to which the lovely infant is now raised.

Aug. 10th.—My soul rejoices at the news I have heard from home, that my eldest brother (George) has resolved to join the Methodists, and become a missionary among the Indians. How encouraging and comforting the thought that four of us are now united in the same Church, and pursue the same glorious calling. My Father has become reconciled, and my Mother is willing to part with her sons for the sake of the Church of Christ.

Aug. 14th—Sabbath.—Never did I feel my pride more mortified in the discharge of public duty. I was desirous of delivering a discourse, in Niagara, which would meet the approbation of all, after carefully adjusting the subject, by the assistance of a variety of authors; but through fatigue (having rode twelve miles), and embarrassment, I was scarcely able to finish. My heart felt hard and my mind barren, conscience reproached me that I had not acted with a single eye to the glory of God. In the afternoon, I threw myself on the mercy of God; my tongue was loosened and my heart warmed. Surely, "They that trust in the Lord shall not be confounded."

Aug. 17th.—This morning a lady died with whom I had considerable conversation on the subject of Methodism, and on the propriety of her daughters joining the society contrary to her wish. She appeared to be satisfied with my account of the principles and nature of Methodism, but did not like to acknowledge the propriety of her daughters' proceedings, although her judgment seemed convinced as I adverted to the principles of her own church. I am informed that yesterday she said, "The girls are right and I am wrong." How comforting this must be to her daughters, who have entirely overcome her opposition by their kindness, affection, and gospel simplicity.

Aug. 22nd.—Yesterday I delivered a discourse on the subject of Missions, for the purpose of forming a Missionary Society in this place (Niagara).

September 3rd, 1825.—I took tea this afternoon at Youngstown, U.S., for the first time.

Sept. 6th.—Had the pleasure of meeting my brother to-day, whom I have not seen for a year. How comforting to meet with those who are not only[Pg 46] near by the ties of nature, but much more by the changing power of divine grace.

Sept. 9th.—Have been greatly benefitted to-day by hearing Bishop Hedding preach from Rev. iii. 5.

Sept. 16th.—I bless God for what mine eyes hath seen, and mine ears have heard to-day, being the first anniversary of the Canadian Missionary Society. The Hon. John Willson, M.P.P., was requested to take the chair. Several Indians, who had been brought to a knowledge of the truth, through the efforts of this Society, were present and spoke. How delightful to see the warlike Mohawk, and the degraded Mississauga, exchanging the heathen war-whoop for the sublime praise of the God of love! This is the commencement of greater things which the Lord will do for the aboriginies of Canada.

Sept. 23rd.—I have this day received my appointment for York and Yonge street. Never did I feel more sensibly the necessity of Divine help. Help me, O God, to go forth in Thy strength, and contend manfully under the banner of Christ! Amen.


[3] These voluminous diaries and journals are full of detail, chiefly of Dr. Ryerson's religious experience. They are rich in illustration of the severe mental and spiritual disciplinary process—self-imposed—through which he passed during these eventful years of his earlier life. They are singularly severe in their personal reflections upon his religious shortcomings, and want of watchfulness. They are tinged with an asceticism which largely characterized the religious experience of many of the early Methodist preachers of Mr. Wesley's time—an asceticism which strongly marked the Methodist biography and writings, which were almost the only religious reading accessible to the devoted Methodist pioneers of this country,—J. G. H.

[4] In a previous and subsequent chapter Dr. Ryerson refers more particularly to this illness (pp. 28, 39, and elsewhere). It was a turning point in his life, and decided him to enter the ministry on his twenty-second birthday.—J. G. H.

[5] Dr. Ryerson refers in another chapter to the overtures which were made to him at this time to enter the ministry of the Church of England.—J. G. H.

[Pg 47]



First Year of my Ministry and First Controversy.

My first appointment after my admission on trial was to the (what was then called the York and Yonge Street Circuit), which then embraced the Town of York (now the City of Toronto) Weston, the Townships of Vaughan, King, West Gwillimbury, North Gwillimbury, East Gwillimbury, Whitchurch, Markham, Pickering, Scarboro', and York, over which we travelled, and preached from twenty-five to thirty-five sermons in four weeks, preaching generally three times on Sabbath and attending three class meetings, besides preaching and attending class meetings on week days. The roads were (if in any place they could be called roads) bad beyond description; could only be travelled on horse-back, and on foot; the labours hard, and the accommodations of the most primitive kind; but we were received as angels of God by the people, our ministrations being almost the only supply of religious instruction to them; and nothing they valued more than to have the preacher partake of their humble and best hospitality.

It was during the latter part of this the first year of my itinerant ministry (April and May, 1826) that I was drawn and forced into the controversy on the Clergy Reserves and equal civil and religious rights and privileges among all religious persuasions in Upper Canada.[6] There had been some controversy between the leaders of the Churches of England and Scotland on their comparative standing as established churches in Upper Canada. In my earliest years, I had read and studied Blackstone's Commentaries on the laws of England, especially the rights of the Crown, and Parliament and Subject, Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy; and when I read and observed the character of the policy, and state of things in Canada, I felt that it was not according to the principles of British liberty, or of the British Constitution; but I had not the slightest idea of writing anything on the subject.

At this juncture, (April, 1826,) a publication appeared, entitled "Sermon Preached and Published by the Venerable Archdeacon of York, in May, 1826, on the Death of the Late Bishop of[Pg 48] Quebec," containing a sketch of the rise and progress of the Church of England in these provinces, and an appeal on behalf of that Church to the British Government and Parliament. In stating the obstacles which impeded the progress of the Church of England in Upper Canada, the memorable Author of the able discourse attacked the character of the religious persuasions not connected with the Church of England, especially the Methodists, whose ministers were represented as American in their origin and feelings, ignorant, forsaking their proper employments to preach what they did not understand, and which, from their pride, they disdained to learn; and were spreading disaffection to the civil and religious institutions of Great Britain. In this sermon, not only was the status of the Church of England claimed as the Established Church of the Empire, and exclusively entitled to the Clergy Reserves, or one seventh of the lands of Upper Canada, but an appeal was made to the Imperial Government and Parliament for a grant of £300,000 per annum, to enable the Church of England in Upper Canada, to maintain the loyalty of Upper Canada to England. And these statements and appeals were made ten years after the close of the war of 1812-1815, by the United States against Britain, with the express view of conquering Canada and annexing it to the United States; and during which war both Methodist preachers and people were conspicuous for their loyalty and zeal in defence of the country.

The Methodists in York (now Toronto) at that time (1826) numbered about fifty persons, young and old; the two preachers arranged to meet once in four weeks on their return from their country tours, when a social meeting of the leading members of the society was held for conversation, consultation, and prayer. One of the members of this company obtained and brought to the meeting a copy of the Archdeacon's sermon, and read the parts of it which related to the attacks upon the Methodists, and the proposed method of exterminating them. The reading of those extracts produced a thrilling sensation of indignation and alarm, and all agreed that something must be written and done to defend the character and rights of Methodists and others assailed, against such attacks and such a policy. The voice of the meeting pointed to me to undertake this work. I was then designated as "The Boy Preacher," from my youthful appearance, and as the youngest minister in the Church. I objected on account of my youth and incompetence; but my objections were overruled, when I proposed as a compromise, that during our next country tour the Superintendent of the Circuit (Rev. James Richardson), and myself should each write on the subject, and from what we should both write, something[Pg 49] might be compiled to meet the case. This was agreed to, and at our next social monthly meeting in the town, inquiry was made as to what had been written in defence of the Methodists and others, against the attacks and policy of the Archdeacon of York. It was found that the Superintendent of the Circuit had written nothing; and on my being questioned, I said I had endeavoured to obey the instructions of my senior brethren. It was then insisted that I must read what I had written. I at length yielded, and read my answer to the attacks made on us. The reading of my paper was attended with alternate laughter and tears on the part of those present, all of whom insisted that it should be printed, I objecting that I had never written anything for the press, and was not competent to such a task, and advanced to throw my manuscript into the fire, when one of the elder members caught me by the arms, and another wrenched the manuscript out of my hands, saying he would take it to the printer. Finding my efforts vain to recover it, I said if it were restored I would not destroy it but rewrite it and return it to the brethren to do what they pleased with it. I did so. Two of the senior brethren took the manuscript to the printer, and its publication produced a sensation scarcely less violent and general than a Fenian invasion. It is said that before every house in Toronto might be seen groups reading and discussing the paper on the evening of its publication in June; and the excitement spread throughout the country. It was the first defiant defence of the Methodists, and of the equal and civil rights of all religious persuasions; the first protest and argument on legal and British constitutional grounds, against the erection of a dominant church establishment supported by the state in Upper Canada.

It was the Loyalists of America, and their descendants, in Upper Canada who first lifted up the voice of remonstrance against ecclesiastical despotism in the province, and unfurled the flag of equal religious rights and liberty for all religious persuasions.

The sermon of the Archdeacon of York was the third formal attack made by the Church of England clergy upon the characters of their unoffending Methodist brethren and those of other religious persuasions; but no defence of the assailed parties had as yet been written. In a subsequent discussion on another topic, referring to this matter, I said:

"Up to this time not a word had been written respecting the clergy of the Church of England, or the Clergy Reserve question, by any minister or member of the Methodist Church. At that time the Methodists had no law to secure a foot of land, on which to build parsonages, Chapels, and in which to bury their dead; their ministers were not allowed to solemnize matrimony;[Pg 50] and some of them had been the objects of cruel and illegal persecution on the part of magistrates and others in authority. And now they were the butt of unprovoked and unfounded aspersions from two heads of Episcopal Clergy, while pursuing the 'noiseless tenor of their way,' through trackless forests and bridgeless rivers and streams, to preach among the scattered inhabitants the unsearchable riches of Christ."[7]

The Review, in defence of the Methodists and others against such gratuitous and unjust imputations, consisted of about thirty octavo pages, appeared over the signature of "A Methodist Preacher;" it was commenced near Newmarket, in a cottage owned by the late Mr. Elias Smith, whose wife was a sister of the Lounts—a woman of great excellence. It was written piecemeal in the humble residences of the early settlers, in the course of eight days, during which time I rode on horseback nearly a hundred miles and preached seven sermons. On its publication I pursued my country tour of preaching, &c., little conscious of the storm that was brewing; but on my return to town, at the end of two weeks, I received newspapers containing four replies to my Review—three of them written by clergymen, and one by a scholarly layman of the Church of England. In those replies to the then unknown author of the Review, I was assailed by all sorts of contemptuous and criminating epithets—all denying that the author of such a publication could be "a Methodist Preacher,"—but was "an American," "a rebel," "a traitor,"—and that the Review was the "prodigious effort of a party."

My agitation was extreme; finding myself, against my own intention and will, in the very tempest of a discussion for which I felt myself poorly prepared, I had little appetite or sleep. At length roused to a sense of my position, I felt that I must either flee or fight. I decided upon the latter, strengthened by the consciousness that my principles were those of the British Constitution and in defence of British rights. I devoted a day to fasting and prayer, and then went at my adversaries in good earnest. In less than four years after the commencement of this controversy, laws were passed authorising the different religious denominations to hold land for churches, parsonages, and burying grounds, and their Ministers to solemnize matrimony; while the Legislative Assembly passed, by large majorities, resolutions, and addresses to the Crown against the exclusive pretensions of the Church of England to the Clergy Reserves and being the exclusive established Church of Upper Canada, though the Clergy Reserve question itself continued to be discussed, and was not finally settled until more than ten years afterwards.[Pg 51]

Several months after the commencement of this controversy I paid my first annual visit to my parents, and for the first two days the burden of my Father's conversation was this controversy which was agitating the country. At length, while walking in the orchard, my Father turned short, and in a stern tone, said, "Egerton, they say that you are the author of these papers which are convulsing the whole country. I want to know whether you are or not?" I was compelled to acknowledge that I was the writer of these papers, when my Father lifted up his hands, in an agony of feeling, and exclaimed, "My God! we are all ruined!"

The state of my own mind and the character of my labours during this first year of my ministry, may be inferred from the following brief extracts from my diary:—

October 4th,—I have this evening arrived on my Circuit at York. I feel the change to be awfully important, and entirely inadequate to give proper instruction to so intelligent a people. The Lord give me his assisting grace. I am resolved to devote my time, my heart, my all, to God without reserve. I do feel determined, by God's assistance, to rise early, spend no more time than is absolutely necessary, pray oftener, and more fervently, to be modest and solemn in the discharge of my public duties—to improve every leisure moment by reading or meditation, and to depend upon the assistance of Almighty God for the performance of every duty. Oh, Lord, assist an ignorant youth to declare thy great salvation!

Oct. 9th.—Commenced my labours this day. In the morning, the Lord was very near to help me, giving me a tongue to speak, and a heart to feel. But in the evening, after I got through my introduction, recollection failed and my mind was entirely blank. For nearly five minutes I could scarcely speak a word; after this my thoughts returned. This seemed to be the hand of God, to show me my entire weakness.

Oct. 16th—Sabbath.—Oh, God, water the efforts of this day with thy grace! If I am the means of persuading only one soul to embrace the Lord Jesus, I shall be amply rewarded. "Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." I Cor. iii. 6.

Oct. 20th.—Once more, my Saviour, I renew my covenant and give myself away; 'tis all that I can do.

Oct. 27th.—For several days past the Lord has been very gracious to my soul, and has greatly helped me in declaring His glorious counsels. But to-day, my heart felt very hard while preaching to a company of graceless sinners. It was in a tavern, and I doubt the propriety of preaching in such places.

Oct. 31st.—I am one month nearer my end; am I so much nearer God and heaven? There are many precious hours I can give no favourable account of. Had I been more faithful, I might have led some poor wanderer into the way of truth. Oh, God, enter not into judgment with me! Spare the barren fig-tree a little longer.

November 4th—Friday (Fast Day.)—One reason why my labours are not more blessed, is because I feel and know so little of spiritual things myself. There is too much of self about me.

"When, gracious Lord, when shall it be,
That I shall find my all in Thee;
The fulness of Thy promise prove,
The seal of Thine eternal love."
[Pg 52]

Nov. 6th.—I felt greatly blessed while addressing a large Sabbath-school of more than a hundred scholars.

Nov. 7th.—[On this day, the following letter was written from York by Dr. Ryerson to his Father. He said: On leaving the old home lately, I promised to write to you, my dear Father, and let you know how I am getting on. I arrived here a few days after I left home. I have received a letter from brother William, who told me that his prospects are encouraging. I received a letter also from brother John. He reached Perth about a fortnight after he left home, and was cordially received by all classes. He preached the Sabbath after he got there to large and respectable congregations. He was very much pleased with his appointment, and his prospects are very favourable. On the first evening of his preaching, one professed to experience justification by faith, and several were deeply convicted. He thinks, from several circumstances, that his appointment is of God. I am very well pleased with my appointment. I travel with a person who is deeply pious, a true and disinterested friend, and a very respectable preacher. I travel about two hundred miles in four weeks, and preach twenty-five times, besides funerals. I spend two Sabbaths in York, and two in the country. Our prospects on the circuit are encouraging. In York we have most flattering prospects. We have some increase almost every week. Our morning congregations fill the chapel, which was never the case before; and in the evening the chapel will not contain but little more than three-quarters of the people. Last evening several members of Parliament were present. I never addressed so large an audience before, and I never was so assisted from heaven in preaching as at this place. I have spent the last two Sabbaths in York, and I go to-day into the country. I was requested yesterday to address the Union Sunday-school, which contains about 150 or 200 children. It was a public examination of the School. I never heard children recite so correctly, and so perfectly before, as they did. There was quite a large congregation present, as it was designed to make a contribution for the support of the School. I first addressed a short discourse to the children, and then addressed the assembly. It was the most precious season that I ever experienced. It is, my dear Father, the most delightful employment I ever engaged in, to proclaim the name of Jesus to lost sinners. I feel more firmly attached to the cause than ever. The Lord has comforted, blessed, and prospered me beyond my expectations. I am resolved to devote all that I have and am, to his service. Get George to write shortly all the news of the day. Remember me to my dear Mother.—H.][Pg 53]

[After writing to his Father, he wrote on the same day to his brother George, as follows:—

I have just heard the Governor's Speech to the two Houses of the Legislature. In the latter part of his address he hinted at a certain communication, which, by the permission of His Majesty, he would make by Message, to remove apprehensions that affected the civil rights of a very considerable part of the community. As to my religious enjoyments, I think that Christ has been more precious to me than ever. When I came into this Circuit, I began to fast and pray more than ever I had done before, and the Lord has greatly blessed me. I have scarcely had a barren time in preaching. I feel more strongly attached to the cause than ever. While the Lord will help, I am resolved to go forward. Rev. James Richardson is a man of good sense, and deep piety, and a very acceptable and useful preacher.—H.]

Nov. 10th.—Travelled twenty-two miles and preached twice. My views of Scripture of late have been obscure; I can recall the truths to my mind, but they don't make that impression they have hitherto done. Is this change of feeling inherent, or the effect of neglect of duty, and want of watchfulness? I will examine this point more fully. I know it is my privilege to enjoy peace with God, but whether it be my privilege at all times to possess equal feeling, I am not certain.

Nov. 23rd.—I think Mr. Wesley's advice indispensably necessary, "to rise as soon as we wake." I am resolved to be more punctual in rising for the time to come.

Nov. 29th.—How painful does my experience prove the truth of the Apostle, that "when I would do good evil is present with me." I have thought sometimes it would be impossible to forget God, or to be lukewarm in His cause; but alas I am prone to evil continually.

December 14th.—The Lord has greatly delivered my soul from the burden of guilt and fear with which I have been so painfully bowed down for several days past; and, blessed be the name of the Lord, He begins to revive His work on the circuit. Five more have been added to the Church this week. Glory to God for His mercy and love!

Dec. 30th.—A part of the day I spent in the Legislature. The first three months of last year I was in bad health, confined to my bed part of the time. The last nine months I have spent in trying to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

York, January 1st, 1826.—How faithful is the Saviour to that promise, "Lo, I am with thee, even to the end of the world." Though weak in body I have had to preach three times a day, and travel many miles. Jesus has been very precious to my soul.

February 3rd.—I have travelled to-day in an Irish settlement, and preached twice to them. My life is a scene of toil and pain, I am far from well, and far from parents and relatives. While others enjoy all the advantages of domestic life, I am doomed to deny myself. Oh, my soul, behold the example the Saviour has set. "He had not where to lay his head." Is the servant above his Lord?

Feb. 11th.—For several days I have been visiting my friends. I think they are improving in religious knowledge. What an unspeakable blessing[Pg 54] to see them showing a desire to walk in the narrow way that leads to life eternal.

Feb. 18th.—I have just returned to my Circuit. This is the first time I ever dropped appointments for the gratification of seeing my friends. It has taught me the lesson, that labouring in the vineyard of the Lord is more blessed than any personal gratification.

Feb. 28th.—This month presents the most mournful portrait I have ever beheld in retrospect of my past time since I began to travel. Since I visited my friends everything has gone against me. The season of recreation was not improved as it ought to have been; I lost the unction of the Holy One, and returned to my Circuit depressed in mind. Shall I sink down in despair? No, I will return unto the Lord. He has smitten, He will heal. I will go to the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. I will renew my covenant, and offer my poor all to him once more.

March 23rd.—This day closes my twenty-third year and the first of my ministry. How mysterious was the providence which induced me to enter the itinerant ministry. It was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in my eyes. Since I have devoted myself to Him in a perpetual covenant, how great has been His paternal care over me. I have felt the rod of affliction, but, He has sanctified it. I have been assailed by temptation, but He has delivered me. I have been caressed and flattered, but the Lord, in great mercy, has saved me from the dangerous rocks of vanity and pride. My soul has at times been overspread with clouds and darkness, but the "Sun of Righteousness has again risen" with brightness on his wings. I have oft been cast down, but blessed be the Lord who has given me the "oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." My mind at times has been filled with doubts and fears, and I have been tempted to say, "I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency," but the Lord has saved my feet from slipping, and established my goings upon a firm foundation. He has put a new song into my mouth, and enabled me to say, "What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee."

April 17th.—This day, for the first time, I have declared to the aborigines of the country that "Jesus is precious to those who believe." My heart rejoiced in God, who is claiming the heathen for His inheritance.

April 19th.—[On this day Dr. Ryerson wrote from Saltfleet to his Mother. He said:—

As you, my dear Mother, were always anxious about my health, I write to-day to assure you that since I left home it has been extremely good. I think I am making some small progress in those attainments which are only acquired by prayer, and holy devotedness to God. I find the work I have undertaken is an all-important one. I have many things to learn, and many things to unlearn. I have had some severe trials, and some mortifying scenes. At other times I have been unspeakably blessed, and I have been greatly encouraged at some favourable prospects. Several times my views have been greatly enlarged, and my mind enlightened, while, with a warm and full heart, I have been trying to address a large and much affected congregation. It is not my endeavour to shine, or to please, but to speak to the heart and the conscience. And with a view to this, I have aimed at the root of injurious prejudices, and notions that I have found prevalent in different places. I[Pg 55] find, by experience, that a firm reliance on the power and grace of Christ is everything. I hope that you, my dear Mother, will pray for me that the Lord will give me grace, power, and wisdom to do my whole duty.

I am very sorry to hear of your ill-health. I hope and pray that the Father of all mercies will continue to support, comfort, and deliver you, in the midst of your afflictions and sorrows. Blessed be the Lord, dear Mother, the day is not far distant when you can rest your weary spirit in the arms of Jesus; and should I survive you, while you are pursuing the blessed, triumphant theme of redeeming love, in strains the most exalted, I will endeavour in my feeble way to follow you to the same blessed kingdom.

Brother William received a letter from John last week. His health is very bad. His excessive labour has overcome him. He has forty appointments in four weeks. He is now stationed in Kingston.—H.]

April 25th.—For several days past I have been altogether engaged in writing a controversial pamphlet, and have attended little to the duty of self-examination.

April 28th.—I have been much blessed in reading the Journal of John Nelson. When I compare the unwearied labours, and severe sufferings of that brave soldier of the Cross, with my little efforts and sufferings, I blush for my lukewarmness, and am ashamed of my fearfulness.

May 10th.—[In these early days, the Methodist ministers had but little time for study before commencing their ministerial labours, and, as Dr. Ryerson often told me, they had to resort to many expedients to secure the necessary time for reading and study. This had often to be done on horseback. Dr. Ryerson's eldest brother, George, who had attended Union College, N.Y., turned his advantages in this respect to a good account. He sought to stimulate his younger brothers to devote every spare moment to suitable preparation for their work. In reply to a letter on this subject, from Rev. George Ryerson to his brother William, he said:—

I thank you for your kind advice respecting composition, and shall endeavour to follow it, although my necessary duties leave but very little time for literary improvement. Since I saw you, I have been principally engaged in Biblical studies which I find both profitable and interesting. I am now engaged in reading the Bible through in course with Dr. Adam Clarke's notes, also Paley's books. I received a letter from brother John a few days since. He had received a number into the Society, and there were a number more who appeared to be seriously awakened. Elder Madden, who was at York last week, says that Egerton is well, and that the cause of religion is prospering in York, and on the Yonge Street Circuit. We have had but very little increase in Niagara since I saw you, although our congregation is very large and attentive.—H.]

[Pg 56]

May 18th.—[In writing to-day to his brother George, Dr. Ryerson mentioned that he and Elder Case had visited the Credit Indians. Elder Case, he said, had come up to get Mrs. Wm. Kerr (née Brant) to correct the translation of one of the Gospels, and some hymns, in order to have them printed. He also wished Peter Jones to go down and preach to the Indians on the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga). It was there, he said, that the work of religion had begun to spread among them. About twelve had experienced religion, and others are under awakening. They do not, he said, understand enough English to receive religious instruction in that language; and, therefore, he wished Peter Jones to go down for two or three weeks.

In this letter Dr. Ryerson said: I think the cause of religion is prospering in different parts of the Circuit. Upwards of thirty have been added to us in this town (York) since Conference, and our present prospects are equally encouraging. My colleague is a man who is wholly devoted to the work of saving souls. I hope that God will give us an abundant harvest.

I am employing all my leisure time in the prosecution of my studies. I also practice composition. I am reading Rollin's Ancient History, Greek, and miscellaneous works. Are Father, and Mother, and all the family well? How are their minds disposed towards God and heaven?

We have formed a Missionary Society in this place. I think we shall collect $40 or $50. I hope that period is not remote when the whole colony will be brought into a state of salvation!—H.]

June 7th.—My mind has been much afflicted with care and anxiety, for some days, on account of the controversy in which I am engaged. I feel it to be the cause of God; and I am resolved to follow truth and the Holy Scriptures in whatever channel they will lead me. Oh, Lord, I commend my feeble efforts to thy blessings! Grant me wisdom from above; and take the cause into thy own hands, for thy name's sake!

June 25th.—I have spent some days in visiting my friends, and also attending a Camp-meeting. The weather has been very unfavourable; but the showers that watered the earth are now past, and showers of Divine blessing are descending. The song of praise is ascending, and sinners are crying for mercy. Oh, Lord, carry on the glorious work!

July 7th.—The enemy gained victory over me to-day, by tempting me to neglect Class for other employments. But I was defeated. Company coming in, I was hindered from doing what I desired. Conscience condemned, and darkness and distress followed. Oh, Lord, henceforth help me to do my duty!

July 9th.—Sabbath.—I was called this evening to a drunken, dying man. He was entirely ignorant both of his bodily and spiritual danger. What a scene! An immortal soul just plunging into hell, and yet hoping for heaven! How awful is the state of one whom God gives over to believe a lie! His life is ended, his family destitute, and his soul lost!

July 19th.—Surely nothing can afford more pleasure to an enquiring mind[Pg 57] bent on historical researches, than the perusal of documents relating to the ancient chosen people of God. That a people who could, according to their legitimate records, number more than eight hundred thousand fighting men, should slip from the records of men, hide themselves from human observation, and inhabit limits beyond geographical research, is a phenomenon unprecedented in the world's history; and that they should remain in this state more than two thousand years, among the vast discoveries which travellers have made, is still more surprising. Such is the wonderful government of Him whose ways are past finding out. I trust the day is not far distant when the lost will be found, and the dead be alive!

July 26th.—For several days I have been holding meetings and conferences with the Indians. Their hearts are open to receive instruction, and their hands extended to receive the bread of life. If the Lord will open the way, I will try to acquire a knowledge of their language. My soul longs to bring them to the Word of Truth.

July 30th.—A day or two since I had the pleasure of seeing a brother whose ecclesiastical duties have separated us for nearly a year. How many tender recollections of God's care and merciful dealings, since our last meeting rushed upon our minds. But while enabled to rejoice together, we were called upon to mourn the loss of one brother, taken away to the world of spirits.

August 17th.—Scarcely a day passes without beholding new openings to extend my ministerial labours. To-day, in an affecting manner, I witnessed the hands of suffering humanity stretched forth to receive the word of life. More than five hundred aborigines of the country were assembled in one place. In a moral point of view, they may be said to be "sitting in the valley of the shadow of death." "The day star from on high" has not yet dawned upon them. Alas! are they to perish for lack of knowledge? Can not the dry bones live? Oh, thou who art able to raise up children unto Abraham! speak the word, devise the means, and these long lost prodigals shall return to their father's house! I noticed activity, both in body and mind, superior skill in curious workmanship; genius flashed in their countenances; and yet shall these noble powers be bound fast in the cruel chains of ignorance, and these immortal spirits go from a rayless night to midnight tomb? Oh, Thou Light of the World, shine upon them! One of their nation whom God has plucked as a brand from the burning, attempted to explain the Christian religion to them. They listened and bowed assent, saying "ha, ha." Oh, Lord, if Thou wilt qualify me and send me to dispense to them the Bread of Life, I will throw myself upon Thy mercy, and submit to Thy will.

August 20th.—Amongst all the authors with whom I am acquainted, who treat on Church Government, the Rev. Dr. Campbell is the most clear and satisfactory. With a great deal of talent, penetration, and research, he exhibits the Church in all her various forms, till her power made empires tremble, and her riches bid defiance to poverty. His excellent lectures have enlarged my mind on the subject of ecclesiastical polity, and rendered my feelings more liberal. I am convinced that form of government is best which most secures order and union in society.

August 20th—Sabbath.—To-day closes my ministerial labours at York, where I have been stationed for two years. Many precious seasons have I enjoyed; and, blessed be the Lord, He has set His seal to my labours, and I think I can call God to witness that I have not failed in my feeble way to declare the whole counsel of God. Oh, Lord, seal it with Thy Spirit's power!


[6] A fuller reference to this subject will be found in Chapters vi. and viii.—H.

[7] Letters to the Hon. W. H. Draper on "The Clergy Reserve Question; as a Matter of History, a Question of Law, and a Subject of Legislation." Toronto, 1839, pp. 11, 12.

[Pg 58]



Missionary to the River Credit Indians.

At the Conference of 1826, I was appointed Missionary to the Indians at the Credit, but was required to continue the second year as preacher, two Sundays out of four, in the Town of York, of which my elder brother, William, was superintendent, including in his charge several other townships. He was aided by a colleague, who preached in the country, but not in the town.

The Chippewa tribe of Indians had a tract of land on the Credit River, on which the Government proposed to build a village of some twenty or thirty cottages, with the intention of building a church for them and inducing them to join the Church of England, upon the pretext that the Methodist preachers were Yankees. As my Father had been a British officer, and fought seven years during the American Rebellion for the unity of the Empire, was the first High Sheriff in the London District (having been appointed in 1808); and had, with his sons, fought in defence of the country in the war of the United States with Great Britain, in 1812-1815, and my father's elder brother having been the organizer of the Militia and Courts of the London District, the name Ryerson became a sort of synonym for loyalist throughout the official circles of the province; and my appointment, therefore, as the first stationed Missionary among the Indians, and from thence to other tribes, was a veritable and standing proof that the imputation of disloyalty against the Methodist Missionaries was groundless.

When I commenced my labours among these poor Credit Indians (about two hundred in number) they had not entered into the cottages which the Government had built for them on the high ground, but still lived in their bark-covered wigwams on the flats beside the bank of the River Credit. One of them, made larger than the others, was used for a place of worship. In one of these bark-covered and brush-enclosed wigwams, I ate and slept for some weeks; my bed consisting of a plank, a[Pg 59] mat, and a blanket, and a blanket also for my covering; yet I was never more comfortable and happy:—God, the Lord, was the strength of my heart, and—

"Jesus, all the day long, was my joy and my song."

Maintaining my dignity as a minister, I showed the Indians that I could work and live as they worked and lived.

Indian Village at the River Credit in 1827—Winter.

Having learned that it was intended by the advisers of the Lieutenant-Governor, on the completion of the cottages, to erect an Episcopal Church of England for the absorption of the Indian converts from the Methodists into that Church, I resolved to be before them, and called the Indians together on the Monday morning after the first Sunday's worship with them, and using the head of a barrel for a desk, commenced a subscription among them to build a house for the double purpose of the worship of God and the teaching of their children. Never did the Israelites, when assembled and called upon by King David, (as recorded in the 29th chapter of the first book of Chronicles) to subscribe for the erection of the Temple, respond with more cordiality and liberality, in proportion to their means, than did these converted children of the forest come forward and present their humble offerings for the erection of a house in which to worship God, and teach their children. The squaws[Pg 60] came forward to subscribe from shillings to dollars, the proceeds of what they might earn and sell in baskets, mats, moccasins, &c., and the men subscribed with corresponding heartiness and liberality of the salmon that they should catch—which were then abundant in the river, and which, I think, sold for about twelve and a half cents each.

On the same day, a plan of the house was prepared, and I engaged on my own individual responsibility, a carpenter-mason, by the name of Priestman (who had been employed by the Government to build the Indian cottages), to build and finish the house for the double purpose of worship and school, and then mounted my horse and visited my old friends in York, on Yonge Street, Hamilton, and Niagara Circuits, and begged money to pay for all, and at the end of six weeks the house was built and paid for, while our "swell" friends of the Government and of the Church of England were consulting and talking about the matter. It was thus that the Church-standing of these Indian converts was maintained, and they were enabled to walk in the Lord Jesus as they had found Him.

My labours this season were very varied and severe. I had to travel to York (eighteen miles) on horseback, often through very bad roads, and preach two Sundays out of four (my second year in town). After having collected the means necessary to build the house of worship and school-house, I showed the Indians how to enclose and make gates for their gardens, having some knowledge and skill in mechanics.[8]

Between daylight and sunrise, I called out four of the Indians in succession, and showed them how, and worked with them, to clear and fence in, and plow and plant their first wheat and corn fields. In the afternoon, I called out the school-boys to go with me, and cut and pile, and burn the underbrush in and around the village. The little fellows worked with great glee, as long as I worked with them, but soon began to play when I left them.

In addition to my other work, I had to maintain a heavy[Pg 61] controversy with several clergymen of the Church of England on Apostolic Ordination and Succession, and the equal civil rights and privileges of different religious denominations.[9]

A few months after my appointment to the Credit Indian Mission, the Government made the annual distribution of presents to the Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe Indians—all of whom were assembled at the Holland Landing, on the banks of the Holland River, at the southwest extremity of Lake Simcoe. They consisted chiefly of the Snake tribe, the Yellowhead tribe (Yellowhead was the head Chief), and the John Aissance tribe. Peter Jones and I, with John Sunday, had visited this tribe at Newmarket, the year before, and preached to them and held meetings with them, when they embraced the Christian religion, and remained true and faithful. Peter Jones and myself attended the great annual meeting of the Indians, and opened the Gospel Mission among them. In my first address, which was interpreted by Peter Jones, I explained to the assembled Indians the cause of their poverty, misery, and wretchedness, as resulting from their having offended the Great Being who created them, but who still loved them so much as to send His Son to save them, and to give them new hearts, that they might forsake their bad ways, be sober and industrious; not quarrel, but love one another, &c. I contrasted the superiority of the religion we brought to them over that of those who used images. This gave great offence to the French Roman Catholic Indian traders, who said they would kill me, and beat Peter Jones. On hearing this, Col. Givens, the Chief Indian Superintendent, called them together and told them that the Missionary Ryerson's father was a good man for the King, and had fought for him in two wars—in the last of which his sons had fought with him—and that if they hurt one of these sons, they would offend their great father the King; that Peter Jones' father had surveyed Government lands on which many of the Indians lived. This representative of the Government, a man of noble feelings and generous impulses, threw over us the shield of Royal protection.

After the issuing of the goods to the Indians, Peter Jones remained with the Huron and Georgian Bay Indians, and preached to them with great power; while I went on board a schooner, with the Yellowhead Indians, for the Narrows, on the northern shore of Lake Simcoe, near Orillia, where the Indians owned Yellowhead (now Chief) Island, and which I examined with a view of selecting a place for worship, and for establishing a school. A Mission-school was established on this island. It was afterwards removed by Rev. S. (now Dr.) Rose and others[Pg 62] to the mainland at Orillia, and was faithfully taught by the late William Law (1827) and by the Rev. S. Rose (1831).

An amusing incident occurred during this little voyage on the schooner, which was managed by the French traders who had threatened my life two days before. The wind was light, and the sailors amused themselves with music—one of them playing on a fife. He was attempting to play a tune which he had not properly learned. I was walking the deck, and told him to give me the fife, when I played the tune. The Frenchmen gathered around my feet, and looked with astonishment and delight. From that hour they were my warm friends, and offered to paddle me in their canoes among the islands and along the shore wherever I wished to go.

By the advice of some of my brethren, I called on the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Peregrine Maitland, after I arrived in Toronto, for the purpose of giving him a general account of the progress of the Christian religion amongst the Indian tribes I said to him:—

"The object I have in view is the amelioration of the condition of the Indians in this Province. The importance of this, both to the happiness of the Indian tribes, and the honour of the government under which they live, has been deeply felt by the parent state, so forcibly that a church was built and the Protestant religion introduced amongst the Six-Nations at the Grand River, about the beginning of the century. This effort of Christian benevolence has been so far successful as to induce some hundreds of them to receive the ordinances of the Christian religion. But the Chippewa tribes have hitherto been overlooked, till about four years ago, when the Methodists introduced the Christian religion amongst them.

In a short time about one hundred embraced the religion of Christ, exhibiting every mark of a sound conversion. Their number soon increased, and a whole tribe of Mississaugas renounced their former superstitions and vices, and became sober, quiet Christians. They then felt anxious to become domesticated; their desire being favourably regarded, a village was established at the Credit, and houses built for them.

They have this season planted about forty acres of corn and potatoes, which promise an abundant harvest. About forty children attend the common school, nearly twenty can write intelligibly, and read the Holy Scriptures and the English Reader.

At Belleville a change especially interesting has been effected. The work was commenced there about two years ago, and now in their whole tribe, numbering about two hundred, there is not one drunkard! They are also becoming domesticated and are building a village on one of their islands in the Bay of Quinte, which they had squandered away in their drunken revels, but which is now repurchased for them by some benevolent individuals. A Day and Sunday School are established in which upwards of fifty children are taught.

From the Belleville Indians the Gospel spread to the tribes which inhabit the country adjacent to Rice Lake. Here also may be seen a wonderful display of the "power of God unto Salvation to every one that believeth." In less than a year, the whole of this body, whose census is 300, renounced their idolatrous ceremonies and destructive habits, for the principles, laws and blessings of that kingdom which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the[Pg 63] Holy Ghost. They are all, save a few, converted and changed in their hearts and lives, and earnestly desire a settled life.

The uniform language of all, so soon as they embrace the Christian religion is, "Let us have houses, that we may live together in one place, learn to till the ground, hear the word of the Great Spirit, and have our children taught to read the good book." Another field of Christian labour is already ripe amongst the Lake Simcoe Indians, who number about 600 souls. About two months ago an opportunity opened for introducing the Christian religion to them, and such was their readiness to hear and believe the words of salvation, that more than 100 have already professed the Christian faith, and are entirely reformed. A school is established in which forty are taught by a young man named William Law, lately from England.

This extensive reformation, has been effected and continued, by means, which, to all human appearance, are altogether inadequate to the accomplishment of such a work. A school at the Grand River containing thirty scholars, one at the Credit forty, another at Belleville upwards of thirty, and one lately established at Lake Simcoe containing forty, and the missionaries who have been employed amongst the Indians, together with the boarding of a number of Indian boys, have only amounted to a little more than £150 per annum. It is of the last importance to perpetuate and extend the impressions which have already been made on the minds of these Indians. The schools and religious instruction must be continued; and the Gospel must be sent to tribes still in a heathen state. But in doing this our energies are weakened, and the progress of Christian labour much impeded by serious difficulties which it is in the power of the government to remove. These obstacles are principally confined to the Lake Simcoe Indians, the most serious of which is occasioned by the traders, who are Roman Catholic Frenchmen, employed to accompany the Indians in their hunting for the purpose of procuring their furs, and who are violently opposed to the reformation of the Indians. These traders are about eighty in number, and have long been accustomed to defraud and abuse the Indians in the most inhuman manner; they have even laid violent hands on some of the converted Indians, and tried to pour whiskey down their throats; but, thank God, have failed, the Indians successfully resisted them. To shake the faith of some, and deter others from reforming, they have threatened to strip them naked in the winter, when they were at a distance of 100 miles from the white settlement, and there leave them to freeze to death.

Col. Givens, when he was up issuing their presents about a month ago, threatened the traders severely if they disturbed the Indians in their devotions, or did any violence to their teachers. He also suggested the idea of your Excellency issuing a proclamation to prevent any further abuses. Sir Peregrine replied:

"When the Legislature meets, I shall see if something can be done to relieve them more effectively, but I do not think that I can do anything by the way of proclamation. If, upon deliberation, I find that I can do something for them, I shall certainly do it." I observed: The civil authority would be an ample security, while the Indians are among the white inhabitants; but these abuses are practised when they are one or two hundred miles from the white settlements. The traders follow them to their hunting grounds, get them intoxicated, and then get their furs for one fourth of their value, nay, sometimes take them by force. These Frenchmen are able-bodied men, and have abused the Indians so much they are afraid of them; and, therefore, have not courage, if they had strength to defend themselves. Under these circumstances your Excellency will perceive the Indians have no means of obtaining justice, and from their remote situation the power of civil authority is merely nominal in regard to them. His Excellency observed, "I am very much obliged to you for this information; I shall do all in my power for them."


[8] When about fourteen years of age, an abridged "Life of Benjamin Franklin" fell into my hands, and I read it with great eagerness. I was especially attracted by the account of his mechanical education and of its uses to him in after years, during and after the American Revolution, when he became Statesman, Ambassador, and Philosopher. My father was then building a new house, and I prevailed on him to let me work with the carpenter for six months. I did so, agreeing to pay the old carpenter a York shilling a day for teaching me. During that time, I learned to plane boards, shingle, and clapboard the house, make window frames and log floors. The little knowledge and skill I then acquired, was of great service when I was labouring among the Indians, as well as my early training as a farmer. I became head carpenter, head farmer, as well as missionary, among these interesting people, during the first year of their civilized life.

[9] See note on p. 85; also Chapters vi. and viii.—H.

[Pg 64]



Diary of my Labours Among the Indians.

The following extracts from my diary contain a detailed account of my mental and spiritual exercises and labours at this time, as well as many interesting particulars respecting the Indians, not mentioned in the foregoing chapter:—

Credit, September 16th, 1826.—I have now arrived at my charge among the Indians. I feel an inexpressible joy in taking up my abode amongst them. I must now acquire a new language, to teach a new people.

Sept. 17th.—This day I commenced my labours amongst my Indian brethren. My heart feels one with them, as they seemed to be tenderly alive to their eternal interests. May I possess every necessary gift to suffer labour, and teach the truth as it is in Jesus.

Sept. 23rd.—Greatly distressed to-night on account of a sad circumstance. Three or four of the Indians have been intoxicated; and one of them, in a fit of anguish, shot himself! This was caused by a wicked white man, who persuaded them to drink cider in which he mixed whiskey. [See letter below.]

Sept. 24th.—Sabbath.—I tried to improve the mournful circumstance that occurred yesterday, as the Indians seemed much affected on account of the awful death of their brother.

Sept. 25th.—We have resolved upon building a house, which is to answer the double purpose of a school-house, and a place for divine worship. In less than an hour these poor Indians subscribed one hundred dollars, forty of which was paid at once. What a contrast, a short time ago they would sell the last thing they had for whiskey; now they economize to save something to build a Temple for the true God!

Sept. 26th.—To-day I buried two Indians, one the man who committed suicide, the other a new-born babe.

Oct. 8th.—For many days I have been employed in an unpleasant controversy, for our civil and religious rights, which has taken much of my time and attention.

Oct. 9th.—One of my brethren has been suddenly called from his labours, to his eternal home. Alas! my beloved Edward Hyland is no more. He entered the field after me, but he has gone before me!

Oct. 14th.—I have been employed the whole week in raising subscriptions for the Indian Church; we have now enough subscribed.

Oct. 19th.—[In a letter, to-day, to his brother George, who wished to hear something about the Indian work, Dr. Ryerson[Pg 65] said: I have to attend to various things previous to settling myself permanently at the Credit. I preached there to the Indians the two succeeding Sabbaths after I left home, and have been employed since that time in building a chapel for them at the Credit. The Indians in general, appear to be steadfast in their religious profession. They are faithful in their religious duties, and exemplary in their lives. One unhappy circumstance occurred there. [See entry in Diary of 23rd September.] I preached a solemn discourse on the subject of guarding against temptation and intemperance the same day, illustrating it throughout by this lamentable example. The Indians appeared to be much affected; and, I think, through the mercy of God, it has, and will prove a salutary warning to them. The Indians were very spirited in building their chapel. They made up more than a hundred dollars towards it, and are willing to do more, if necessary. By going in different parts of the country, I have got about enough subscribed and paid to finish it. I have now permanently resided at the Credit Mission not quite a fortnight. I board with John Jones; have a bed-room, but no fire-place, except what is used by the family. I can speak a little Mississauga, and understand it pretty well. As to my enjoyments in religion, I have lately had the severest conflicts I ever experienced; but at times the rich consolations of religion have[Pg 66] flowed sweetly to my heart and God has abundantly blessed me, especially in my pulpit ministrations. It is the language of my heart to my blessed Saviour, Thy will, not mine, be done. Our prospects in little York are favourable. The chapel is enlarged, and the congregation greatly increased, some having lately joined.—H.]

Nov. 9th.—This evening in visiting a sick Indian man, I endeavoured, through an interpreter, to explain to him the causes of our afflictions, the sympathy of Jesus, and the use of them to Christians. We afterwards had prayer, many flocked into the room. The sick man was filled with peace in believing, insomuch that he clapped his hands for joy.

John Jones' House at the Credit, where Dr. Ryerson resided.

Nov. 26th.—Sabbath.—This has been an important day. We opened our Indian Chapel by holding a love-feast, and celebrating the Lord's supper. The Indians with much solemnity and feeling expressed what God had done for them. Rev. Wm. Case addressed them. In the evening he gave them most important instruction, as to domestic economy and Christian duties. After this a short time was spent in teaching them the Ten Commandments, the Indian speaker repeating them audibly sentence by sentence, which was responded to by the whole congregation. At the close, eight persons, seven adults and one infant were baptized. Three years ago they were without suitable clothes, home, morality, or God. Now they are decently clothed, sheltered from the storm by comfortable dwellings, and many of them rejoicing in the hope of a glorious immortality.

Nov. 29th.—Last evening, in addressing a few of the Indians, who were collected on account of the death of one of them, (John Muskrat) I felt a degree of light spring up in my mind. This Indian was converted about a year ago, and has ever since maintained a godly walk and holy conversation. Thus missionary labour has not been in vain. This is the third that has left an encouraging testimony behind of a glorious resurrection.

Nov. 30th.—I have this day divided the Indian society into classes, selected a leader for each, from the most pious and intelligent. I meet these leaders once a week separately, to instruct them in their duty.

Dec. 7th.—I have been often quite unwell, owing to change of living, being out at night; my fare, as to food is very plain, but wholesome, and I generally lie on boards with one or two blankets intervening.[10]

Dec. 8th.—I am feeling encouraged in the prosecution of the Indian language, and in the spirit of my mission. There is a tenderness in the disposition of many of the Indians, especially of the women, which endears them to the admirers of natural excellence. One of them kindly presented me with a handsome basket, which is designed to keep my books in. This afternoon I collected about a dozen of the boys, to go with me to the woods, in order to cut and carry wood for the chapel. Their exertions and activity were astonishing.

Dec. 16th.—I have this week been trying to procure for the Indians the exclusive right of their salmon fishery, which I trust will be granted by the Legislature.[11] I have attended one of their Councils, when everything was conducted in the most orderly manner. After all the business was adjusted, they wished to give me an Indian name. The old Chief arose, and approached the table where I was sitting, and in his own tongue addressed me in the following manner: "Brother, as we are brothers, we will give you a name.[Pg 67] My departed brother was named Cheehock; thou shalt be called Cheehock."[12] I returned him thanks in his own tongue, and so became initiated among them.

Dec. 22nd.—My brother John, writing from Grimsby, thus acknowledges the kind advice of brother George: I thank you for your kind advice, and I can assure you I have felt of late, more than ever, the importance of preaching Christ, and Christ alone. It is my aim and constant prayer to live in that way, so that I can always adopt the language of the Apostle, Romans xiv. 7, 8. I wish you to write as often as convenient. Any advice or instruction that you may have at any time to give, will be thankfully received.

January 4th, 1827.—After the absence of more than a week, I again return to my Indians, who welcome me with the tenderest marks of kindness. Watch-night on New Year's Eve was a season of great rejoicing among them. About 12 o'clock, while their speaker was addressing them, the glory of the Lord filled the house, and about twenty fell to the floor. They all expressed a determination to commence the New Year with fresh zeal. My soul was abundantly blessed at the commencement of the year, while speaking at the close of the Watchnight services in York.

My engagement in controversial writing savours too much of dry historical criticism to be spiritual, and often causes leanness of soul; but it seems to be necessary in the present state of matters in this Colony, and it is the opinion of my most judicious friends, that I should continue it till it comes to a successful termination.

Jan. 10th.—[Having received a letter of enquiry from his brother George, Dr. Ryerson replied at this date, and said:—

I have been unwell for nearly two months with a continuance of violent colds, occasioned by frequent changes from a cold house and a thinly-clad bed at the Credit, to warm rooms in York. My indisposition of body has generally induced a depression of spirits, which has often unfitted me for a proper discharge of duties, or proficiency in study. However, in the midst of bodily indisposition, the blessings of the Holy Spirit have been at times abundantly poured into my soul, insomuch that I could glory in tribulation, and rejoice that I am counted worthy to labour and suffer among the most unprofitable and worthless of the labourers in my Saviour's vineyard. The Indians are firm in their Christian profession, and some of them are making considerable improvement in the knowledge of doctrine and duties of religion, and of things in general. They are affectionate and tractable.

I am very unpleasantly situated at the Credit, during the cold weather, as there are nearly a dozen in the family, and only one fire-place. I have lived at different houses among the Indians, and thereby learned some of their wants, and the[Pg 68] proper remedies for them. Having no place for retirement, and living in the midst of bustle and noise, I have forgotten a good deal of my Greek and Latin, and have made but little progress in other things. My desire and aim is, to live solely for the glory of God and the good of men.

By the advice of Mr. M. S. Bidwell and others, I am induced to continue the Strachan controversy, till it is brought to a favourable termination. I shall be heartily glad when it is concluded.—H.]

Jan. 16th.—One of the Indians (Wm. Sunegoo) has been tempted to drink. I visited him as soon as he returned to the village. I entreated him to tell me the whole truth, which he did. After showing him his sin and ingratitude to God and his friends, he wept aloud, almost despairing of mercy. I pointed him to the Saviour of penitent sinners. He fell on his knees, and we spent some time in prayer. After evening service he confessed his sin publicly, asked forgiveness of his brethren, and promised in the strength of God to be more watchful. Thus have we restored our brother in the spirit of meekness.

Jan. 26th.—Last Sunday we held our quarterly meeting at York. About thirty of the Indian brethren were present; their cleanliness, modesty, and devout piety were the subject of general admiration.

Feb. 4th.—To-day I preached to the Indians. Peter Jacobs, an intelligent youth of 18, interpreted, and afterwards spake with all the simplicity and eloquence of nature.

A scene never to be forgotten was witnessed by me in visiting an Indian woman this evening; after months of severe suffering, she sweetly yielded up the ghost in the triumphs of faith. She embraced the Christian religion about eight months ago, and was baptized by Rev. T. Madden. Notwithstanding her many infirmities, she went to the house of God as long as her emaciated frame, with the assistance of friends, could be supported. A few days previous to her decease, she gave (to use her own words) "her whole heart into the hands of Jesus, and felt no more sorry now, but wanted to be with Jesus." While addressing a number assembled in her room, who were weeping around her bed, her happy spirit took its triumphant flight to the arms of the Saviour she loved so much.

How would the hearts of a Wesley and Fletcher burst forth in rapture, could they have seen their spiritual posterity gathering the wandering tribes of the American forest into the fold of Christ, and heard the wigwam of the dying Indian resound with the praises of Jehovah!

Feb. 10th.—A blessed quarterly meeting—Elder Case preached in the morning, and my brother George in the evening. The singing was delightful, and the white people present were extremely interested. At the close a collection of $26.75 was taken up, principally from the Indians! Peter Jacobs was one of the speakers.

Feb. 16th.—The importance of fostering our school among the Indians, and of encouraging the teacher in this discouraging and very difficult task, cannot be overestimated. Rev. Wm. Case, thinking that I had some aptitude for teaching, wrote me a day or two ago, as follows:—

Do you think the multitude of care, and burden of the school does sometimes mar the patience of the teacher? If so, you would do well to kindly offer to assist him occasionally, when he is present, and so by example, as well as by occasional kind remarks, help him to correct any inadvertencies of taste. I know the burden of a teacher in a large school, and a perpetual sameness in the same employment, especially in this business, is a tiresome[Pg 69] task. I consider this school of vast importance, on several accounts, and especially considering the hopes to be entertained of several interesting youths there.

Feb. 27th.—I have written from fifteen to sixteen hours to-day in vindicating the cause of dissenters against the anathemas of high churchmen.

March 5th, 1827.—To-day I am on my way to see my parents. My Father is becoming serious, and my younger brother Edwy has joined the Methodist Society. I thank God for this blessed change.

York, March 8th.—[As an interesting bit of personal history, descriptive of Dr. Ryerson's manner of life among the Credit Indians, I give the following extract from a letter written by Rev. William to Rev. George Ryerson. William says:—

I visited Egerton's Mission at the Credit last week, and was highly delighted to see the improvement they are making both in religious knowledge and industry. I preached to them while there, and had a large meeting and an interesting time. The next morning we visited their schools. They have about forty pupils on the list, but there were only thirty present. The rest were absent, making sugar. I am very certain I never saw the same order and attention to study in any school before. Their progress in spelling, reading, and writing is astonishing, but especially in writing, which certainly exceeds anything I ever saw. They are getting quite forward with their work. When I was there they were fencing the lots in the village in a very neat, substantial manner. On my arrival at the Mission I found Egerton, about half a mile from the village, stripped to the shirt and pantaloons, clearing land with between twelve and twenty of the little Indian boys, who were all engaged in chopping and picking up the brush. It was an interesting sight. Indeed he told me that he spent an hour or more every morning and evening in this way, for the benefit of his own health, and the improvement of the Indian children. He is almost worshipped by his people, and I believe, under God, will be a great blessing to them.—H.]

March 14th.—After several pleasant days absence I return again to my Indian brethren. Have been much profited by reading the lives of Cranmer, Latimer, Burnet, Watts, Doddridge, and especially that of Philip Skelton, an Irish Prelate. The piety, knowledge, love, zeal, and unbounded charity, are almost beyond credit; except on the principle that he that is spiritual, can do all things.

March 19th.—An Indian who has lately come to this place, and has embraced the religion of Christ, came to Peter Jones, and asked him, what he should do with his implements of witchcraft, whether throw them in the fire, or river, as he did not want anything more to do with them. What a proof of his sincerity! Nothing but Christianity can make them renounce witchcraft, and many of them are afraid of it long after their conversion.

March 20th.—Busy to-day selecting suitable places for planting, and employed the school boys in clearing some land for pasture.

March 24th.—I am this day twenty-four years old. During the past year[Pg 70] my principal attention has been called to controversial labours. If the Lord will, may this cup pass by in my future life.

March 25th—Sabbath.—This day is the second anniversary of my ministerial labours. My soul has been refreshed, my tongue loosened, and my heart warmed.

April 1st, 1827—Sabbath.—In speaking to my Indian brethren, the word seemed deeply to affect their hearts.

April 2nd.—In meeting Class this evening, I spoke for the first time in Indian. My mind was much affected. The Indians broke forth in exclamations of joy to hear a white man talk about God and religion in their own tongue.

April 6th.—My dear brother William and Dr. T. D. Morrison have spent a night here, and greatly refreshed me by their converse.

April 9th.—Another lesson of mortality in the death of Brother John Jones' only child. I have been trying to comfort the parents, who seem to bear their trial with Christian fortitude.

York, April 15th.—[In a letter to his brother George at this date, Dr. Ryerson thus speaks of the work under his care:—

We are all well, and are blessed in our labours at this place, and at the Credit. I think the Indians are growing in knowledge and in grace. They are getting on pretty well with their spring work. But in some respects they are Indians, though they have become Christians.

I came from Long Point with a full determination to live wholly for God and His Church. Through the blessing of God I have received greater manifestations of grace than I had felt before during the year. I have lately read "Law's Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life," which has been very beneficial to me. My greatest grief of late is, that my love to God and His people is not more humble, more fervent, and more importunate. O could I feel as Jesus felt when he said, "My meat and drink is to do the will of him that sent me." How much more happy and useful I would be! I pray that I may.

John and Peter Jones seem to thirst after holiness, and are growing in grace. The Society in this place (York) appears to be increasing in grace and in number. I was abundantly assisted by heavenly aid to-day, while preaching. The congregation seemed to be deeply affected this evening. I hope the word has not gone forth in vain. The Sunday-schools are prospering in this place. I proposed the new method of increasing the Sunday-schools, by giving a reward ticket to every scholar who would procure another that had not attended any other school. In two Sabbaths between twenty and thirty new scholars were procured in one school.—H.]

April 16th.—The last part of last week I was powerfully assailed by the devil, and became greatly dejected. Alas! I fear I was more disturbed on account of my own reputation than for the cause of Jesus. While preaching on Sabbath evening, heavenly light broke in on my soul, and all was peace.

I am now among the dear objects of my care. My heart leaped for joy as[Pg 71] I came in sight of the village, and received such a hearty welcome. Much refreshed with meeting them in Class, and particularly in private conversation with Peter Jones, about the dispensations of God towards us in the increase of our graces and gifts. We had about thirty boys out at work this evening clearing land. They are very apt in learning to work.

April 18th.—I was impressed to-day with the fact that the untutored Indian can display all the noble feelings of gratitude, love, and benevolence. An Indian, who has lately come to this place and embraced the Christian religion, has ever since shown great attachment to me. He has, without my knowledge, watered, fed, and taken care of my horse, saying he lived closer to the stable than I did. Yesterday I got out of hay, and could not get any till this afternoon. When I came to the stable I found grass in the manger; the Indian was there, and had just fed him. I said I was very glad, for he must be very hungry, but the Indian replied, "No, he not very hungry. I took him down where grass grow, and let him eat plenty." Oh, God, thought I, do such principles dwell in the people whom the white man despises? Is not this as noble and pure as it is simple? Though the circumstance is small in itself, it involves a moral principle to which many mighty men are strangers. He gave the widow's mite. Enfeebled by sickness, he exposed himself; touched by compassion, he relieved the sufferer. A few weeks ago, a heathen from the forest, he now performs an act that might make many Christians blush. How many professing Christians consider it a condescension to attend upon the servant of Christ and his beast, but this wild man of the woods esteems it a privilege to wash His disciple's feet. "Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."

April 25th.—Last Sunday, four Indians came from Lake Simcoe, over fifty miles, to hear the words of eternal life, while many professors will scarcely go a mile. Does not this fulfil prophecy, "Many shall come from the east, and the west, and sit down in the kingdom of God, while the children of the kingdom are thrust out?" Last summer they heard Peter Jones, at Lake Simcoe, tell the story of the Saviour's love. They then determined to renounce ardent spirits, and pray to the Great Spirit. With this little preparation, they had been enabled to totter along in the path of morality from that time till now. The old man (Wm. Snake) seems under deep convictions, weeps much, and expresses much sorrow for his former bad doings. They have gone back, determined to get as many of their tribe as possible to return by the first of June. Surely this is "hungering and thirsting after righteousness."

April 29th—Sabbath.—In our Class-meetings, one of the Indian Leaders expressed himself thus:—"I am happy to-day. It is not with my life alone I love Jesus, but I love Him right here (pressing his hand upon his heart.) If I did not serve Him, what would I tell Him when He came? Would I tell Him a lie? No, my brothers, I will tell Him no story. I will serve Him with my whole heart. When I hear any of my brothers or my sisters praying in the daytime alone,[13] it makes my heart feel so glad. The tears run out of my two eyes, I feel so happy. I love Jesus more and more. Pray for me, that I may hold on to the end; and when Jesus comes, I may go with Him and all of you up to heaven." Another one said, "Three of us have been two or three days in the bush, but we prayed, three poor souls of us, three times a day, and Jesus did make our souls so happy."

April 30th.—According to announcement, we assembled in the Chapel to examine into the cases of several who had acted disorderly. We were compelled to expel two from the Society. Many were deeply affected, and groans, and sighs might be heard in the different parts of the house. After a long[Pg 72] and wise address from the old Chief, Joseph Sawyer, I said, "We must turn them out of the Society. What do you think about sending them away from the village? Tell us." Several spoke, and it was at last decided, by holding up the right hand, that they must go. I then said, "I am sorry to hear one or two have been drinking." I asked one if this was true. He confessed that he drank some beer, being coaxed by a white man. He felt very sorry, as he wished to be a good Christian. I then reproved with considerable severity, and showed him it was as bad to get drunk on cider or beer as whiskey. The devil often cheats us in this way, but we are exhorted not to "touch, taste, or handle" the accursed thing. This talk was explained to them in Indian by Peter Jones, and their opinions requested. Several spoke, but Brother William Herkimer, with a pathos that affected us all, said, "Brothers, the white man can't pour it down your throat, if you will not drink. When white man ask me to drink, I tell him, 'I am a Christian, I love Jesus,' and they go right away and look ashamed." He then concluded with a most pathetic prayer: "Oh, Jesus, let us poor, weak creatures be faithful, and serve Thee as long as we live." Having adjusted these matters, I next observed, "Our God has given us another commandment which was, 'To keep holy the Sabbath day.' Now, brothers, if a man gave you six dollars, and kept only one for himself, would you not think it very bad to rob him of that one? Oh, yes, you will say. Well the Lord has done more for us. He has given us our lives, our clothes, our health, nay, everything we have, and six days too, to do all our work in; but He has kept out one day for Himself. Let us not rob God of this day, but let us keep it holy. I am sorry to hear that one of you went to York on Sunday." I turned to the guilty Indian, and told him I wanted him to tell us why he had done so. He stated he had got out of provisions, and he was afraid the wind would rise on Monday, and unthinkingly he started on Sunday afternoon. He promised to do so no more. I then spoke a few words from Gal. vi. 1, and Peter Jones closed with an affecting exhortation and prayer.

May 2nd.—Yesterday I was almost in despair, and I was really devising means to relinquish my present work; when in the height of agitation I took down a package of tracts, and providentially (surely not by chance) cast my eyes upon one entitled, "Disobedience Punished, Repented of, and Pardoned." This was no other than the history of Jonah; and was made the means of reviving my expiring faith, and showing me how God alone could give me victory over myself. I cried to Him like Jonah, and He delivered me out of my distress.

School and Council House. Church. Peter Jones' Study.
OLD CREDIT MISSION. (From a sketch by Mrs. E. Carey.)

May 3rd.—To-day I have felt peace with God and good will towards men. Several Indian women have arrived from Scugog Lake. They report that the Indians there have all stood firm, daily meeting for prayer to the Great Spirit, and that there has only been one case of intoxication since Peter Jones was there last autumn. This unhappy circumstance was caused by one (Carr) an old Methodist back-slider (a fit emissary of the devil), who took his barrel of whiskey, in order to trade with the Indians. He tried in vain to persuade them to taste, till at length he made some of the whiskey into bitters, which he called medicine, and prevailed on one unwary man to take for his health. This he repeated several times, till at length the poor fellow got to relish it, and becoming overpowered he fell into the water! The Indians immediately assembled for prayer, and through the mercy of God, he is now restored to his former steadfastness. They then ordered Carr to take his whiskey away, or they would destroy it. He took it on the ice, on the lake, no doubt hoping that it would tempt some of them to drink. But in this the devil was disappointed, the ice thawed, and the barrel floated on the water. What an instance of human depravity, does this man's conduct exhibit, and what a picture of the power of Divine grace is seen in the[Pg 73] inflexible firmness of the Indians! May we not sing in the language of Paradise Regained—

"The tempter foiled
In all his wiles, defeated, and repuls'd,
And Eden raised in the waste wilderness."

The Indian woman who related the above, gave another proof of the amiable and benevolent character of her race, especially when sanctified by grace. In token of their esteem for Peter Jones, who had been the means of opening their eyes to immortality and eternal life, they brought him several pounds of maple sugar, which one of them presented in a wooden bowl. No doubt this sugar, which they had carried sixty miles, was nearly their all. Is not this a feeling of gratitude and love to the disciple for the master's sake? Oh! that I may learn lessons of simplicity and contentment from these children of the forest, for they are taught of God only. Oh! that I may have Mary's lot in time and in eternity.

May 6th—Sunday.—A number of white people being present this morning I addressed them on the subject of the barren fig-tree. In the evening we had a precious time; the Indians were enraptured, and we all, as it were, with one heart, dedicated ourselves afresh to God. In the class meeting we all wept tears of joy and holy triumph. Several of them said, "Jesus is the best master I ever served." "I love Jesus better than anything else."

May 8th.—I witnessed an affecting instance of how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, in the departure of two Indians who had paid us a few days' visit from Belleville. Nearly the whole village, according to Apostolic custom, collected to bid them farewell in John Crane's house, when an Indian arose (in the absence of the chief) inviting any of the Belleville Indians who might like to come and settle amongst them. Others rose and spoke on Christian love, pointing them forward to that period when they should meet to part no more. How does the spirit of primitive Christianity lead to the adoption of the same customs which were practised by the first followers of our Lord, when the multitudes of them that believed were of one heart and soul. We then sang a few verses and all knelt down, commending our dear brothers to the care of Him who never leaves nor forsakes his children. After this one of the Indians from Belleville delivered a pathetic parting address; they then all shook hands, exhorting one another to cleave to Jesus. This Indian appeared to me to be one of the most heavenly minded men I ever saw, not an able speaker but with a peculiar nervousness in his words, spoken with energy and pathos that deeply affected us all.

May 13th—Sunday.—I spent the last week in assisting the Indians in their agricultural pursuits. They are teachable, willing, and apt to learn. This constant change of employment debars me from literary and theological improvement, and leaves me less qualified to expound Scripture to refined assemblies. Thus I am perplexed to know what is best for me to do. The Lord direct me in this momentous matter!

May 14th.—The temporal and spiritual interests of the Indians bring upon me much care, and weigh me down. I experienced some comfort in the class meeting. Spoke in Indian, and for the first time repeated the Lord's prayer in Chippewa. Many of my dear brethren praised the Lord.

June 9th—Sabbath.—This day we held quarterly meeting at York—about twenty Indians present. I am informed that some of the Indians on Lake Simcoe are hungering for the bread of life, and that twelve of them were at worship at Newmarket, and expressed a desire to become Christians. Sixteen Indian children attend a Sabbath-school established there whose parents encamp near, for that purpose. Several of these children learnt the alphabet in four hours. This awakening arose through four of the Rice Lake Indians[Pg 74] influenced by the divine love, traversing in their canoe the back lakes to tell their benighted brethren about Jesus, and exhorting them to become Christians.

June 7th.—The first quarterly conference ever held amongst Indians in British America was held to-day. After deliberating on several subjects, that of sending some of their pious and experienced men on a missionary tour to Lake Simcoe, and the Thames was proposed for consideration. Four of them soon volunteered their services. Their hearts seemed fired at the thought of carrying the news of salvation to their benighted brethren. At their own suggestion $12 was soon taken up to help pay expenses.

June 10th.-About fifty converted Indians from Rice Lake, Scugog Lake, Mud Lake, and the Credit, assembled in York to-day for the purpose of worshipping God. The Rice Lake Indians have come to see the Governor about building them a village, and deduct the money due them from the lands their fathers have ceded to the British Government, and likewise for getting boundaries of their hunting-grounds established. The other Indians have come for the purpose of attending the approaching camp-meeting, as they have never had but three days' instruction from Peter Jones last autumn. As soon as any of them experience the love of Jesus in their own souls, they begin to feel for others, and, like the ancient Christians, go wherever they can preaching the Lord Jesus. Here is a whole tribe converted to God, with the external aid of only three days' instruction, except what they communicate to one another, and who for six months have proved the reality of their Christian experience by blameless and holy lives. Surely "this is the Lord's doing, and marvellous in our eyes."

Elder Case told me that on his way from Cobourg to York, he saw an Indian sitting by the road-side, he asked him where his brothers and sisters were, he replied, encamped in the woods. Elder Case told him to call them, as he wanted to talk some good words to them. They soon came together to hear the me-ko-to-wik, or black coat man. They pitched a little Bethel of logs, about breast high, over-topped with bushes, for the purpose of worshipping Keshamunedo (God.) After kneeling down to implore God's blessing, they took their seats. As soon as Elder Case commenced to speak, their hearts seemed to melt like wax. So much for the Scugog and Mud Lake Indians. The Rice Lake Indians appear to be more intelligent, and are the handsomest company of men I have seen. Potash, their chief, is very majestic in appearance, possesses a commanding voice, and speaks with great animation.

June 12th.—My brother William, who came from Newmarket yesterday, informs me that he preached to more than fifty of these bewildered enquirers after truth on Sunday—none of them could interpret, but some could understand English, and they told others what the good man said. An Indian woman came to a little white boy, holding out her book (as most of them have bought books) and said, "boy, boy," showing great anxiety that the boy would teach her, but the little fellow was afraid, and slipped off. Then a little Indian boy about his age, held out his book that he might teach him, the white boy complied, and by the time he had showed him three or four letters, he was unable to contain his grateful feelings, clasped the white boy round his neck, and began to hug and kiss him.

June 15th.—A camp-meeting commenced this afternoon on Yonge street, about twelve miles from York. A large number of white people have assembled, and about seventy-five Indians. About a dozen of these embraced Christianity about six months ago, the rest are heathens from the forest. How interesting a sight that they should travel forty miles to hear about the Great Spirit, and what he would have them do. As soon as they arrived they commenced building their tents. Our Saviour said to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world, &c." but we here see heathens coming to the[Pg 75] disciples of Jesus and asking for the Gospel. The services were commenced by Rev. James Richardson, followed by the Rev. Thaddeus Osgood, who is a great lover of Sunday-schools, Peter Jones interpreted, when they were directed to Jesus, who came to save the Indian as well as the white man, they were melted to tears.

June 16th.—Rev. D. Yeomans preached this morning, also the Rev. Thaddeus Osgood, first to the children, then to the Indians, which was interpreted by Peter Jones. A lame boy, fourteen years old, seemed to have his whole soul broken under the hammer of the word. The Ten Commandments were recited in their own tongue, and they repeated them sentence by sentence. It was a very impressive exercise, giving great solemnity to the sacred decalogue.

June 17th, Sunday.—The first sermon this morning was delivered by Rev. John Ryerson, on the sufferings of Christ, followed by Rev. James Richardson. By this time the concourse of people was immense—when the Rev. William Ryerson preached from Gen. vii. 1, a most able and affecting discourse, interpreted by Peter Jones, who afterwards addressed the white people, telling of the former degradation of his people, their present happy condition, the feeble instruments God had made use of to accomplish this glorious work; he thanked the white people for their kindness, and earnestly entreated them to pray on, that the good work might go on and prosper—he concluded by saying, "My dear brethren, if you go forward the work will prosper, till the missionary from the western tribes, shall meet with the missionary from the east, and both will shake hands together."

June 18th.—About mid-day the Camp-meeting was brought to a close, it was very solemn and refreshing, three hundred and thirteen whites partook of the Communion, and about forty Indians. Thirty-five Indians, men, women, and children were baptized; with others it was deferred till further instructed.

July 3rd.—Peter Jones has just returned from Lake Simcoe, bringing a glorious account of the steadfastness and exceeding joy of the Indians there. Thirty more are added to their number; a school is established, taught by Bro. Wm. Law, in a temporary building, put up by themselves. The traders are showing great opposition, threatening to beat the Indians and burn their camps if they will attend the meetings; their craft is in danger. They that trust in the Lord need not fear.

July 5th.—Rev. Wm. Ryerson, under this date, writes from Lake Simcoe: If Yellowhead, the Head Chief, embraces religion, his influence will counteract the opposition of the traders, which is very strong. I think if Peter Jones can come and remain with them awhile, as soon as possible, they will embrace Christianity.

July 15th.—Peter Jones and I arrived at Lake Simcoe this evening, for the purpose of being present during the distribution of Indian goods. The change in their appearance since a year ago is most striking. The traders are still very hostile.

July 16th.—In the morning I gave the Indians a long talk. I showed them the superiority of the Christian religion over that of those who worshipped images. At this remark, the French traders present looked very angry, muttering, but making no disturbance. Peter Jones then spoke at length, answering and correcting statements the traders had made. Colonel Givens soon arrived and the meeting closed.

July 17th.—Collected the Indians again, and preached from Matt. xi. 28. Peter Jones expounded the Lord's Prayer. The Frenchmen were much displeased at his remarks on the subject of forgiving sins. They afterwards tried to force some of the Christians to drink, but failed. The Lord have mercy on these wicked men, and open their eyes before it is too late! When the presents were to be given out, the men were seated by themselves, and[Pg 76] also the women; the boys and girls according to their ages. The chiefs then requested all who were Christians, or wished to be, to sit together, and about 150 rose and did so. The difference in their countenances, as well as their appearance and manners, was most marked. They looked healthy, clean, and happy, whereas many of the others were almost naked; some with bruised heads, and black faces, and almost burnt up with liquor. When the distribution of presents ended, an Indian Council was held at Phelps' Inn, at which I was invited to be present. Chief Yellowhead spoke first, saying "The desire of his heart was that their Great Father would grant them a place where they might all settle down together. His people wished to throw away their bad ways, and worship the Great Spirit." Many others spoke, particularly requesting the Indian Agent to do what he could to quiet the rage of the French traders. We have reason to thank God for the kind friendly influence the Indian agents exert, especially in closing the mouths of the traders. Oh, Lord, I will praise Thee!

July 20th.—I left the Holland Landing this morning for the purpose of visiting the islands north-east of Lake Simcoe, to ascertain their desirability for a settlement. I find the situation very pleasant. The chief has a comfortable house containing four rooms, with everything decent and convenient. This island contains about four hundred acres of beautiful basswood, beech, and maple. The chief told me that the Mohawks once had a village there, probably a century ago; as there is a navigable creek running to the mouth of the river, there was every attraction for a convenient settlement. The chief also offers any one who will come and teach the children, two rooms in his house for that purpose, and the Indians will support him. Such is the field of philanthropic and Christian labour in this place, and which demand most vigorous cultivation.

July 22nd.—I assembled the Indians this morning, and gave them my parting advice; after which the Chief (Wahwahsinno) spoke with great power. He is the most interesting, intelligent Indian I ever saw. He warned them to beware of the evil spirit which was lurking around them on every side; to be honest and cheat nobody; not to get drunk, but buy food and clothing for their children. You know, he said, how our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers have been killed by liquor—now, don't do as they have done. We are thankful to our Great Father, over the waters, for the clothes he has given us, and to our good brother for the good things he has taught us. We then embraced each other and bade farewell.

July 23rd.—Arrived again at the Narrows, and found the Indians firmly established in the faith. I have now spent eight days among these long-neglected and injured people, and happy are my eyes that have seen these glorious things.

[The missionary efforts of these times were in Upper Canada chiefly directed toward the Indians. Of this abundant evidence is given in the preceding pages. That these efforts were also put forth by the Church of England, may be gathered from the fact that at a public meeting held in York, on the 29th of October, 1830, a Society was formed, under the presidency of the Bishop of Quebec, "for the converting and civilizing of the Indians of Upper Canada." In his address, on that occasion, the Bishop stated that the Rev. G. Archbold, with true missionary zeal, had resided among the Indians on the north side of Lake Huron during the greater part of the summer, and at his departure had left them in care of Mr. James W. Cameron. Mr. Cameron was,[Pg 77] in 1832 succeeded by Mr. (now Archdeacon) McMurray at Sault Ste. Marie. Funds for the support of this Indian Mission were collected in England, by the Bishop in 1831, and also by Rev. A. N. (subsequently Bishop) Bethune. The scope of this Society was soon enlarged to "Propagating the Gospel among Destitute Settlers." The missionaries employed in 1831 were Rev. J. O'Brian (St. Clair), Rev. Salteen Givens (Bay of Quinte), and Mr. James W. Cameron (La Cloche, Saulte Ste. Marie, etc.)

That this interest was not confined to spiritual matters is evident from many letters and other references to the domestic and material improvement in the condition of the Indians, which I find in Dr. Ryerson's papers. I select the following, which touch upon many different matters relating to the temporal and spiritual interests of the Indians:—

In a letter written by Rev. William Case, from Hallowell, to Dr. Ryerson, he thus speaks of the success of a school established by the Conference among the Indians. He says:

Last evening (10th March) was exhibited the improvement of the Indian School, at Grape Island, one boy, whose time at school amounted to but about six months, read well in the Testament. Several new tunes were well sung and had a fine effect. The whole performance was excellent. More than twenty names were given in to furnish provisions for the children of the school. These exhibitions have a good effect. It animates the children and the teachers, and affords a most gratifying opportunity to the friends of the Missions to witness that their benevolence is not in vain.—H.]

[Shortly after this letter was written, Elder Case went to New York, to solicit aid on behalf of the Indian Schools. He was accompanied by John Sunday and one or two other Indians. Writing from there, on the 19th April, to Dr. Ryerson, then at Cobourg, he says:

We have attended meetings frequently, and visited a great number of schools and other institutions, both literary and religious. This has a fine effect on our Indian brethren. The aid we are obtaining will assist us for the improvement of our Indian Schools. We have an especial view to the Indians of Rice Lake. Please look well to the school there, and to the comfort of the teacher. The Indians should be encouraged to cultivate their islands. The most that we can do is to keep them at school, &c., and instruct them in their worldly concerns.

The managers of the Missionary Society in New York, as well as in Philadelphia, are very friendly. In case we shall be set off as a Conference, they will continue to afford us assistance in the Mission cause. You will judge something of the feeling of the people here, when I inform you that a niece of the unfortunate Miss McCrae, who was killed by the Indians in the revolutionary war, has given us $10 towards the Indian schools, and two sets of very fine diaper cloths for the communion table. We shall bring with us an Indian book, containing the decalogue, the creed, hymns, and our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. This will stimulate our schools, as well as afford instruction to the Indian converts. I wish you to encourage the Indian sisters to make a quantity of fancy trinkets, we could sell them to advantage here. They should be well made. We have been introduced to Mr. Francis[Pg 78] Hall, of the New York Spectator, and about forty ladies, who are engaged in preparing bedding, clothing, &c., for our missions and schools. We gave them a short address on the happy effects of the gospel on the mind and condition of Indian female converts. John Sunday's address to them in Indian was responded to with sobs through the room. Brother Bangs addressed those present on behalf of the Indians exhorting them to diligence and faithfulness. He said that we would always find in the Christian females true encouragement and aid.—H.]

[Elder Case was anxious to re-open the school for Indian girls at Grape Island. In writing from the Credit, he says:

"When we gave up the female school it was designed to revive it, and we had in view to employ one of the Miss Rolphs. If she can be obtained we shall be much gratified. We wish everything done that can be done to bring forward the children in every necessary improvement, especially at the most important stations, and the Credit is one of the most important. Can you afford any assistance to Peter Jacobs? We are very solicitous to see some talent in composition among some of our most promising scholars.

We are authorised by the Dorcas Society, of New York, to draw for $20 to purchase a cow for the use of the mission family at the Credit, and you are at liberty to get one now, or defer it till the Spring. As probably the $20 will purchase a cow, and pay for her keeping through the winter.

Our way this far has been prosperous. I never saw the pulse of Missionary ardour beat higher. Tickets of admission at the anniversaries might be sold by hundreds for a dollar each. But they were distributed gratis. The collection at the female anniversary was $217, and a handful of gold rings (about 20). The superintendent is truly missionary; rejoicing in the plan of our aiding them in the conversion of the Indians on this side of the lines. Bros. Doxtadors and Hess' visit is well received, and a good work commenced at the Oneida."—H.]

[In a letter written to Dr. Ryerson, by the Rev. James Richardson, on the 2nd Oct., 1829, referring to the privilege granted to the Indians of taking salmon (as mentioned on p. 66), he said:

As I came home, I stopped at James Gages', and found that he was much displeased with the Indians for holding their fish so high. He says his son could obtain them for less than 1/3d. currency (25c.). Some of them were not worth half that. He remarked that Wm. Kerr and others expressed great dissatisfaction with the Indians for taking advantage of the privilege granted to them, and also for haughtiness in their manner of dealing with their old friends. I am afraid that unless they be moderate and civil, a prejudice will be excited against them, which may prove detrimental to the missionary cause. The respectable part of the inhabitants would be pleased to have the Indians supported in this privilege, if they could purchase fish of them at a moderate price.—H.]

[Elder Case, who was greatly interested in the success of the Indian Schools, and who—with a view to demonstrate the usefulness of the schools—proposed to take two of the Credit Indian boys to the Missionary Meetings in January, 1830, says:—

I should be glad to have something interesting at the York Anniversary. Perhaps we may have a couple of promising boys from this Station. Henry Steinheur will accompany me to Lake Simcoe, and perhaps Allen Salt[14] will come up as far as York. They are both fine boys, and excellent singers.]

[Pg 79]

[A providential opening having occurred for getting the Scriptures translated into the Indian language, Rev. Wm. Ryerson, in a letter to Dr. Ryerson, dated York, 24th February, 1830, says:—

I lately received a letter from the Rev. Mr. West, one of the agents for the British and Foreign Bible Society, expressing the anxiety he felt that the Scriptures should be translated into the Chippewa language. He said that if proper application were made, he would take great pleasure in laying it before the Committee of the Parent Society, and use his influence to obtain any assistance that might be wanted. Viewing this as a providential opening, I think that steps should be taken to have the translation made. From your residence among the Indians, and knowledge of their manners and customs, and your acquaintance with those natives that are the best advanced in religious knowledge and experience, do you not think that the Joneses are the best qualified to translate the Scriptures?—H.]

Note.—[The reply was in the affirmative, and Peter Jones was entrusted by the U. C. Bible Society with the work.[15]—H.]

April 7th, 1829.—[Writing to Dr. Ryerson, from Philadelphia, at this date, Elder Case says:

There is a fine feeling here in favour of the Canada Church and the Mission cause. Peter Jones and J. Hess are in New York overlooking the printing of the gospels, etc. We hope to bring back with us the Gospel of Mark, with other portions contained in the Book of Common Prayer, the Spelling-book and a Hymn book in Mohawk, and a Hymn-book in Chippewa. They are all in the press, and will be ready by 5th May, when we leave to return.—H.]


[10] My home was mostly at John Jones', brother of Peter Jones; sometimes at Wm. Herkimer's, a noble Indian convert, with a noble little wife.

[11] See page 78.

[12] Cheehock, "A bird on the wing," referring to my going about constantly among them.

[13] They often retire to the woods for private prayer, and sometimes their souls are so blessed, they praise God aloud, and can be heard at a considerable distance.

[14] These Indian boys subsequently became noted for their piety and missionary zeal on behalf of their red brethren.—H.

[15] An unexpected delay occurred in getting the translation made by Rev. Peter Jones printed, as explained in a letter from Rev. George Ryerson to Dr. Ryerson, dated Bristol, August 6th, 1831. He says:—

Peter Jones, after his return from London, experienced several weeks' delay in getting his translation prepared for the press, in consequence of a letter from the Committee on the Translations of the U. C. Bible Society—Drs. Harris, Baldwin, and Wenham—stating that the translation was imperfect. He had, in consequence, to go over the whole translation with Mr. Greenfield, the Editor of the Bible Society Translations. Mr. Greenfield is a very clever man, and has an extensive knowledge of languages. He very soon acquired the idiom of the Chippewa language so that he became better able to judge of the faithfulness of the translation. Mr. Greenfield went cheerfully through every sentence with Mr. Jones, and made some unimportant alterations, expressed himself much pleased with the translation, and thinks it the most literal of any published by the Bible Society. It is now passing through the press, and will soon be sent to Canada.

[Pg 80]



Labours and Trials—Civil Rights Controversy.

At the Conference of 1827 I was appointed to the Cobourg Circuit, extending from Bowmanville village to the Trent, including Port Hope, Cobourg, Haldimand, Colborne, Brighton, and the whole country south of Rice Lake, with the townships of Seymour and Murray. On this extensive and labourious Circuit I am not aware that I missed a single appointment, notwithstanding my controversial engagements[16] and visits to the Indians of Rice Lake and Mud Lake. I largely composed on horseback sermons and replies to my ecclesiastical adversaries. My diary of those days gives the following particulars:—

Hope, Newcastle District, Sept. 23rd, 1827.—I have now commenced my ministerial labours amongst strangers. Religion is at a low ebb among the people; but there are some who still hold fast their integrity, and are "asking the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards." I have preached twice to-day and been greatly assisted from above.

Sept. 25th.—I have laboured with much heaviness to-day. I spent part of the day in visiting the Rice Lake Indians. They seem very healthy, and are happy in the Lord. We have selected a place for building a school house. With gratitude and joy they offer to assist in the building.

Sept. 30th.—Another month gone! I review the past with mingled feelings of gratitude and regret.

October 2nd.—Yesterday and to-day I have laboured under severe affliction of mind. I am as one tempest driven, without pilot, chart, or compass.

Oct. 4th.—This evening at the prayer-meeting, how delightful was it to hear two children pour out their melting supplications at the throne of grace. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise."

Oct. 9th.—I began my labours last Sunday, weak and sick, but my strength increased with my labour, and I was stronger in body and happier in soul at night than in the morning.

Oct. 10th.—I have now finished my first journey round the circuit. My health has not been good. Two persons have joined the society to-night, and several more in class expressed a determination never to rest till they found peace with God through Jesus Christ.

Oct. 17th.—I have been employed in controversial writing, and sorely tempted to desist from preaching.

Oct. 20th.—I have been greatly interested and strengthened in reading the "Life of Dr. Coke." The trials with which he was assailed, and the spirit in which he encountered them, afforded encouragement to me. His meeting[Pg 81] with the venerable Asbury, in the Church built in the vast forest, is one of the most affecting scenes I ever read.

Oct. 21st.—To-day we held our first quarterly meeting on the circuit, and, bless the Lord, it was a reviving time.

Oct. 27th.—[Archdeacon's Strachan's Ecclesiastical Chart had so excited the righteous indignation of Elder Case, that he wrote to Dr. Ryerson, at this date, from Cobourg, in regard to it. I insert his letter, as it expresses (though in strong language) the general feeling of those outside of the Church of England in regard to this Chart.[17] He said:—

Notice the providence which has brought to light the mis-statements of the Ecclesiastical Chart. This is one instance out of many in which false representations have gone Home in regard to the character of the people and the state of religion.

As such a spirit of intolerance is altogether averse to the mild spirit of the gospel, so it is also a most dangerous and daring assumption of power over the rights of conscience. Against this high-handed and domineering spirit, God himself has ever set his face. Let the Doctor be reminded of the case of Haman and the despised dissenting Jew, who refused to bow down to the courtiers of the king. The Doctor's wrath is kindled against those whom he calls "dissenters," and who refuse to submit to his Church rule. We have said, "whom the Doctor calls 'dissenters.'" I aver that the term is not at all applicable to the religious denominations in this country. From what Church have they dissented? Indeed most of the first inhabitants of this country never belonged to the Church of England at all. They were from the first attached to the denominations. Some to the Presbyterian, some to the Baptist, some to the Methodist, and only a small portion to the Church of England. Nor had they any apprehensions, while supporting the rights of the Crown, that an ecclesiastical establishment of ministers of whom they have never heard, was to be imposed, upon them, as a reward for their loyalty! Indeed, they had the faith of the Government pledged, that they should enjoy the rights of conscience. And in view of this was the charter of the Province formed, to secure liberty of conscience and freedom of thought. The blow at a loyal portion of Her Majesty's subjects was aimed at them in the dark, 4,000 miles away, and without an opportunity of defending themselves. An act so ungenerous, and in a manner so impious too, cannot be endured. We must defend ourselves against the unjust slanders of the Doctor.—H.][Pg 82]

Nov. 19th.—I have been blessed with more comfort this evening in preaching from Matt. xxii. 11-13, to a congregation composed principally of drunkards and swearers. My heart was warmed, my tongue loosened, and my understanding enlarged.

Nov. 20th.—I have been to the Rice Lake Mission: found them still growing in grace. The children are clean—many of them handsome. The school teacher is happy in his work.

Dec. 12th.—My mind has been greatly afflicted this evening in settling a difference between two brethren.

Dec. 25th.—Last night we had a service in this place (Presque Isle) to celebrate the incarnation of our blessed Saviour. Seven souls professed to experience the pardoning love of Christ. Many who came mourning went home rejoicing.

January 1st, 1828.—I am now brought to the close of another year, and the commencement of a new era of existence. The first part of the year I spent principally amongst the Indians, and have reason to believe the Lord blest my labours amongst those needy and loving people, but my own soul was oft in heaviness. The latter part of the year I have been on a Circuit, and have found my enjoyments and improvement increased. The Societies are growing in piety, my bodily wants have been all supplied, and I have experienced the fulfilment of the promise, If ye forsake father and mother, the Lord will take thee up. May I ever rest on it!

Jan. 2nd.—[The following letter was written at this date to Dr. Ryerson by his Mother. She says:—

My not writing to you, I understand from your letter to Father, has given you much uneasiness; but I can assure you I have felt much concerned about it myself, for fear that you should entertain the thought of its proceeding from unkindness or neglect: but let the feelings of affection of a Mother suffice and answer it all. Be convinced that her happiness depends upon your welfare, and that her daily prayers will ever be offered up to the throne of grace in yours and the rest of her children's behalf. O that the Lord may keep you humble and faithful, looking unto him for grace and strength to enable you to work in His blessed cause, to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation through a dear Redeemer to lost and perishing souls! This is a great comfort to me, and more than I deserve. None other compensates for all my trials and afflictions here, as that God, of His goodness, should have inclined the hearts of many of my dear children to seek His face and to testify to the ways of God being the ways of pleasantness and peace. At so much goodness my soul doth bless and praise my God and Redeemer. My dear boy, you must not forget to pray for your poor unworthy Mother, that she may be daily renewed in the inner man, and so kept by the grace of God, as to be able to endure unto the end, and at last to be received among those that are made perfect, to praise Him that hath redeemed us for ever and ever. Your kind and anxious enquiries about home, I shall endeavour to answer. Your dear Father has returned, and is[Pg 83] as well as usual, but still suffers much at times. Your heavenly Father has been pleased to lay His hand of affliction once more upon your sister, Mrs. Mitchell, by taking away her youngest boy in November last. Edwy, I am happy to say, appears to persevere in serving God, which, with the blessing of God, may he continue to do. Your brother George has left for England. He desires that all your letters be sent to him in England, which contain anything interesting about the Indians, or of the work of religion. The state of religion in this part, I think, is rather on the rise, that is to say, they attend better to public worship, and receive their preacher in a more friendly manner than before. Write as often as you can to let us know how you are, and how the work of religion is progressing.—H.]

Jan. 3rd.—I have this day visited the Indians at Rice Lake: all prosperity here. I have been much refreshed this evening in meeting my beloved brother and fellow-labourer in the Gospel, Peter Jones. These pleasing interviews bring to mind many refreshing seasons we have enjoyed together, when seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This year thus far, has been attended with peculiar trials; my health has not been good; I have had conflicts without, and fears within.

Jan. 30th.—Visited a poor woman to-day in the last stage of consumption, she gives evidence that her peace is made with God. I find it a heavy cross to visit the sick. Help me, Lord, to search out the mourner, bind up broken hearts, and comfort the sorrowful.

February 22nd—[A Central Committee at York having, of behalf of the various non-Episcopal denominations, deputed Rev. George Ryerson to proceed to England to present petitions to the Imperial Parliament against the claims of the Church of England in this Province,[18] the Rev. William Ryerson was requested to write to his brother George on the subject. In his letter he gave the following explanation of the sources of information from which Archdeacon Strachan's Ecclesiastical Chart was compiled. He said:—

It may be proper to apprise you that the Church of England has been making an enquiry into the religious state of the Province, the result of which they have sent home to the Imperial Parliament. And in order to swell their numbers as much as possible, they have sent persons through almost every part of the Province, who, when they come into a house, enquire of the head of the family as to what Church he belongs. If he says, to the Methodist, or any other body of dissenters, they next enquire if their children belong to the same Church. If they say no, they set the children as members of the Church of England! If they say that neither themselves nor their children belong to any particular Church, they set them all down as[Pg 84] members of the Church of England! So that should they make a parade of their numbers you can tell how they got them.

The Report of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, for 1821, gives the number of communicants in the Church of England here as between 4,000 and 5,000. In the Chart, the Methodist communicants only have been returned, which is about 9,000. The number of those who call themselves Methodists, is, at least, four times that number, or 36,000. This is the way in which almost all the other bodies estimate their numbers, the Baptists excepted.

Cobourg, Feb. 27th.—Dr. Ryerson's youngest brother, Edwy, who remained at home, wrote from there on the 20th, in regard to his Father's health and religious life. He says:—

I think there is no doubt but that he will, in a short time be able, with the care and the mercy of Almighty God, to enjoy himself again at the family altar. He says that, by the grace of God, the remainder of his days shall be devoted to the service of God. He feels that he has acceptance with God; that God condescends to receive him—blessed be God! My dear Egerton, although we have had great difficulties and many trials to contend with, yet the Lord has stood by us, and by His goodness and mercy He has kept us from sinking under them, by pointing out ways and means for our escape, and He has brought our aged Father to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Oh, my dear brother, let us praise the name of God forever, who hath dealt so bountifully with us. Mother is much better than when you were here. Father and Mother send their love to you. May the Lord give you good speed, and crown your labours with success in the saving of souls.

April 3rd.—With a view to throw an incidental light upon the personal influence which prompted Dr. Ryerson to controvert certain statements made by Archdeacon Strachan,[19] I quote a letter which Dr. Ryerson's brother William wrote to him from York, on the 1st, as follows:—

I send you a pamphlet containing Dr. Strachan's defence before the Legislative Council. If I had time I would write a[Pg 85] reply, at least to a part of it. I think you had better write a full answer to it. You will perceive that the Doctor's defence consists in telling what he told certain gentlemen in England and what they told him. The misstatements and contradictions with which he has been charged, he has not noticed. Such as that "the Church is rapidly increasing, and spreading over the whole country, and that the tendency of the population is towards the Church of England, and that the instructions of dissenters are rendering people hostile to our institutions, civil and religious." He says: "It is said I have offended the Methodists." Who told him so? I presume it must have been his own conscience. If you write a full answer would it not be better to do it in the form of letters, addressed to the doctor, and signed by your real name? Write in a candid, mild, and kindly style, and it will have a much more powerful effect upon the mind of the public. Do not cramp yourself, but write fully, seriously, and effectually.

Dr. Ryerson's reflections upon the peculiar difficulties of his itinerant life at this time are recorded in his diary, under date of April 13th, as follows:—

No situation of life is without its inconveniences; but, perhaps, the Methodist itinerant Preacher is more exposed to privations than most others. His home is everywhere, and amongst persons of every description; and if he needs retirement or books, where can he find a retreat to hide himself, or a secret place where he can, like Jacob, wrestle till the dawn of day? He is a target to be shot at by every one; his weaknesses and failings tried every way; and, after his youth, his health, his life, his all are spent, he too often dies an enfeebled and impoverished man. But, bless the Lord, all does not end here. We have "a building of God, eternal in the heavens;" and we have a home "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

Dr. Ryerson resumes his diary on the 9th of May. He says:

My time has of late been much taken up with provincial affairs. I have felt a hardness towards those who I think are injuring the interests of the country, and with whom it has fallen to my lot to be much engaged in controversy. Necessity seems at present to be laid upon me, from which I cannot free myself.

May 10th—Sunday.—To-day I delivered a discourse on Missions. I had intended much, this being a favourite topic with me, but I made out nothing, and I felt truly humbled.

Aug. 1st.—For months past I have been greatly tried. My controversial labours have occupied too much of my time and attention. I thank God, the day of deliverance seems to be dawning. The invisible hand of the infinitely wise Being is clearly at work, and I have no doubt the result will be to His glory.

Dr. Ryerson then continues the narrative of his life. He says:—

A change in my domestic and public life now commenced,[Pg 86] which involved my marriage, and my appointment to the Hamilton and Ancaster Circuits. In my diary I say:—

Aug. 24th.—I soon expect to alter my situation in life. What an important step! How much depends upon it in respect to my comfort, my literary and religious improvement, and my usefulness in the Church? I have kept up a correspondence with a lady since and before I was an itinerant preacher; but postponed marriage since I became a minister, thinking that I should be more useful as a single man. My ministerial friends all advise me now to marry, as every obstacle seems moved out of the way and I have now travelled three years.

Ancaster, Oct. 31st.—I have passed through a variety of scenes since I last noted the dealings of the Lord with me. On the 10th of September, 1828, I entered into the married state with Miss Hannah Aikman, of Hamilton. Through the tender mercy of God, I have got a companion who, I believe, will be truly a help-meet to me, in spiritual as well as temporal things.[20]

The Hamilton and Ancaster Circuit reached from Stoney Creek, east of Hamilton, to within five miles of Brantford, including the township of Glandford; thence including the Jersey settlement, Dundas Street, and Nelson, to ten miles north of Dundas Street, embracing Trafalgar, the mountain beyond the town of Milton, Credit, and back to Stoney Creek.

The death of the Rev. Wm. Slater, my colleague and Superintendent, about the middle of the year, was a great loss and affliction to me, as I had to take his place. Brother Slater had been the colleague of my brother John for two years, and he was now mine for the second year. He was a true Englishman, a true friend, and a faithful and cheerful minister.

About the middle of this year (1828) were held the Ryan Conventions at Copetown, in West Flamboro', and Picton, Prince Edward District, of which I have given an account in "The Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 247-269.


[16] The first of these controversial engagements extended from the spring of 1826 until the spring of 1827; the second from the spring of 1828 until near midsummer of the same year.—H.

[17] The nature and purpose of this Chart are fully explained and discussed by Dr. Ryerson in his "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 165-220.

[18] See "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," p. 222.

[19] "Letters from the Reverend Egerton Ryerson to the Honourable and Reverend Dr. Strachan. Published originally in the Upper Canada Herald, Kingston, U.C., 1828. Pp. 42—In his "advertisement" or preface, Dr. Ryerson illustrates the pressing nature of his engagements at the time when he was engaged in the controversy with Archdeacon Strachan. He also referred to the unusual difficulties with which he had to contend in writing these "Letters" to the Archdeacon. Of many important and most forcible arguments against establishments, especially those derived from the Holy Scriptures, the author has not availed himself, nor has he referred to so many historical authorities as might have been adduced, * * * as he has had to travel nearly two hundred miles, and preach from twenty to thirty sermons a month." See note on p. 80 and also Chapter viii.—H.

[20] This union was of comparatively short duration. Mrs. Ryerson died on the 31st of January, 1832, at the early age of 28. (See the latter part of Chapter ix.)

[Pg 87]



Ryanite Schism—M. E. Church of Canada Organized.

There is a break in Dr. Ryerson's "Story" at this point; no record of any of the events of his life, from August, 1828, to September, 1829, was found among the MSS. left by him. The Editor, therefore, avails himself of the numerous letters preserved by the venerable author, from which he is enabled to continue a narrative, at least in part, of the principal events in his then active life.—H.

Hamilton, 6th Nov.—Writing at this date, from Cobourg, to Dr. Ryerson, on the expediency of petitioning the Legislature to give the Methodist Ministry the right to perform the marriage ceremony amongst their own people, Elder Case, says:—

Should not the petition include all "dissenters," and the prayer be for authority to perform the marriage rite for members of our congregations? I would rather not have any law in our favour, but that which gives the privilege to the Calvinists. If the Church of England is not the established religion of this province (and who believes it is?) "dissenters" at least, have an equal right with the Church. If numbers and priority are to determine the right, the "dissenters" have a superior right, for they were first here, and they are more numerous. We cannot but feel a pious indignation at the idea, that all should not enjoy the same privilege, in regard to marriage; and can this be the fact when one denomination, in any sense whatever, has a control over the marriage ceremony of another denomination?

The Ryanite Schism, which commenced in 1824, is fully described by Dr. Ryerson in his "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 247-269. In a letter from his brother John, dated River Thames, January 28th, 1824, the strife caused by this schism is thus referred to. Mr. Ryerson also describes the state of the Societies in the London District during this crisis. He said:—

I am happy to hear that Mr. Ryan's plans are defeated, and that the measures you have adopted to frustrate his machinations against Elder Case, have proved successful. I hope you will continue to assist and support Elder Case, especially in this[Pg 88] affair, and on many other accounts he is deserving of much esteem; his disinterested exertions in behalf of the Missionary interest in Canada, are deserving of the highest praise.

The work is prospering in the different parts of this District. Niagara and Ancaster Circuits are rising. There is a good work in Oxford, on the Long Point Circuit, as also on the London and Westminster Circuits. The Indian Mission, on the Grand River, is progressing finely. At the Salt Springs, about thirty have been added to the Society, among whom are some of the most respectable chiefs of the Mohawk and Tuscarora nations. Visiting them, from wigwam to wigwam, they in general appear to be thankful.—H.]

The Ryanite controversy turned chiefly on the refusal at first of the American General Conference to separate the Canada work from its jurisdiction. Rev. John Ryerson, in a letter from Pittsburg, Pa., dated May, 1828, gave Dr. Ryerson the particulars of the reversal of that decision. He says:—

A Committee of five persons has been appointed on the Canada Question. Dr. Bangs is the chairman. The Committee reported last Thursday pointedly against the separation; declaring it, in their opinion, to be unconstitutional. Dr. Bangs brought the report before the Conference, and made a long speech against the separation. William and myself replied to him pointedly, and at length, and were supported by the Rev. Drs. Fisk and Luckey. Dr. Bangs was supported by Rev. Messrs. Henings, Lindsey, and others. The matter was debated with astonishing ability and deep-felt interest on both sides, for two days, when the question being put, there were 105 in favour of the separation, and 43 against—a majority on our side of 62. Our kind friends were much delighted, and highly gratified at our singular and remarkable triumph; and those who opposed us, met us with a great deal of respect and affection. You will, doubtless, be surprised on hearing of Dr. Bangs' opposing us as he has done, but you are not more surprised and astonished than we were; and we had no knowledge of his opposition to the separation until the morning of the debate, when he got up and commenced his speech in Conference. But, blessed be God for ever, amidst the painful and trying scenes through which we have passed in the Conference business, the God of David has stood by us, and has given us a decided victory.

Nov. 22nd.—Elder Case, in a letter from Cobourg, gives a detailed account of the efforts put forth by Rev. Henry Ryan to foment discord among the societies. He says:

As in the west so in the east, Elder Ryan had induced several members to attend as delegates at his convention[Pg 89] in Hallowell. At Matilda, George Brouse; at Kingston, Bro. Burchel and Henry Benson have been elected to go. Mr. Case then urges that a circular be issued to the societies setting forth "that the Conference, so far as they have had evidence, has laboured in every instance to do justice to Mr. Ryan, and even to afford him greater lenity, on account of former standing, than, perhaps the discipline of the Church would justify."

In a subsequent letter, dated Prescott, 27th November, Elder Case thus describes the proceedings of Mr. Ryan. He says:

On my way down, I spent a few hours at Kingston, one day at Brockville, and one here. I have learned all the circumstances of Mr. Ryan's proceedings. At one place he would declare in the most positive manner that he would "head no division," that he "would even be the first to oppose any such work," he "would esteem it the happiest day in his life if, by their assistance, he could regain his standing in the Church," and that "the measures which he was now professing would prevent a division." But when he thought he had gained the confidence of his listeners, and they had entered fully into his views, he would throw off his disguise, and openly declare, as he did at Matilda, "Now, we will pull down the tyrannical spirit of the Conference. There will, there must be a split," &c. Brother, there is one very material obstacle in the way of effecting a "split," in our societies, and raising a "fog" of any considerable duration, i.e., the authors of this work may, by their strong and positive statements, make a people mad for a "division." But, when there is a sense of religion in the mind, they will become good natured—they can't be kept mad long. Our people in these parts are becoming quite good natured, and now perceive their arch friend has made a fool of them.

To show how deeply the Ryanite schism had affected the Societies, and how widely the agitation had spread, we give a few extracts from a letter written from London (U.C.), to Dr. Ryerson, by his brother John, dated 2nd January. He says:—

The day I left you I rode to Oxford (52 miles), and after preaching, I gave an explanation of Ryan's case, an hour and a half long. My dear brother, this is a desperate struggle. I am using every possible exertion to defeat Ryan. I go from house to house to see the friends I don't see at the meetings. Could you not go to Burford and see Mr. Matthews, as he has a great deal of influence in Burford and the Governor's Road? Egerton, by all means, try and go, even if you have to neglect appointments. Though I know it is hard for you, I am sure the approbation of your conscience, and the approbation of the Church, will afford you an ample reward. It will also be necessary for you to keep a look out about Ancaster. Write to[Pg 90] Rev. James Richardson, and tell him to look out, and also write to Rev. S. Belton, and Rev. A. Green. Don't fail to go to Burford and, if you can, to Long Point also, and hold public meetings on the subject.[21]

Nov. 26th.—At the Conference held this year (1828), at Switzer's Chapel, Ernestown, Bishop Hedding presiding, resolutions were adopted organizing the Canada Conference into an "independent Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada." Subsequently, Rev. Wilbur Fisk, A.M., Principal of the Wilbraham Academy, U.S., was elected General Superintendent, or Bishop, of the newly organized Church. Dr. Ryerson was deputed to convey the announcement of this election to Mr. Fisk, which he did on this day, as follows:—

The Canada Conference of the M.E. Church have taken the liberty of nominating you for our General Superintendent, agreeably to the resolutions of the General Conference. I take the liberty, and have the pleasure of observing that the nomination was warm and unanimous; and I hope and pray, that while our wants excite your compassion, our measures, in this respect, will meet your cordial approbation and receive your pious compliance. Although writing to a person whom I have never seen, yet the pleasure and profit I have derived in perusing your successful apologies in favour of the pure Gospel of Christ against the invasions of modern libertinism, remind me that I am not writing to an entire stranger; and your able and affectionate appeal to the late General Conference in behalf of Canada—of which my brothers gave a most interesting account—emboldens me to speak to you "as a man speaketh with his friend." Rev. Dr. Fisk's reply to this letter is as follows:—

The deep solicitude I have felt, to weigh the subject well, to watch the openings of divine providence, and decide in the best light, have induced me to deliberate until this time [April]. All my deliberations upon this subject have resulted in a confirmation of my earliest impressions in relation to it—that it will not be prudent for me to accept of the affectionate and flattering invitation of the Canada Conference. I feel, however, the influence of contrary emotions. My high sense of the honour you have done me, is enhanced by the consideration that "the nomination was unanimous and warm." I highly appreciate, and cordially reciprocate those warm and concurrent expressions of confidence and affection. The information I have of the character of the Conference, joined with my personal acquaintance with some of its members, convinces me, that whoever[Pg 91] superintends the Canada Church, will have a charge that will cheer his heart, and hold up his hands in his official labours. Equally encouraging and inviting, are the growing prospects of your country and your Church, and especially of your missionary stations. These to a man of missionary enterprise, who loves to bear the banner of the cross, and push its victories more and more upon the territories of darkness and sin, are motives of high and almost irresistible influence. And they have so affected my mind, that although my local attachments to the land of my fathers, and for that branch of the Church where I was, and have been nurtured, are strong; although my aged parents lean upon me to support their trembling steps, as they descend to the tomb; although I might justly fear the influence of your climate upon an infirm constitution; yet these considerations, strengthened as they are by a consciousness of my own inability, and by the almost unanimous dissuasives of my friends, would hardly of themselves have induced me to decline your invitation, were it not that I am connected with a literary institution that promises much advantage to the Church and to the public, but which, as yet, will require close and unremitting attention and care on my part for some time to come, to give it that direction and permanency which will secure its usefulness.[22]

Nov. 28th, 1828.—Mr. H. C. Thompson, of Kingston, who had charge of the re-printing in pamphlet form of Dr. Ryerson's recent letters on Archdeacon Strachan's sermon, writes to him to say:—It lingers in the press, merely for the want of workmen, who cannot be procured in this place.[23] He adds:—The[Pg 92] changes which have recently taken place in the two provinces cannot fail to gratify every lover of his country, though the party in power will no doubt hang their heads in sullen silence. I am highly pleased with the Methodist Ministers' Address to the Governor, and the reply thereto,—Strachanism must seek a more congenial climate.

March 19th, 1829.—Dr. Ryerson had, at this time, met with an accident, but his life was providentially spared. Elder Case, writing from New York, at this date, speaking of it, says:

Thank the Lord that your life was preserved. The enemies of our Zion would have triumphed in your death. May God preserve you to see the opponents of religious liberty, and the abettors of faction frustrated in all their selfish designs and hair-brained hopes!

I have seen a letter from the Rev. Richard Reece, dated London, 19th January, to Mr. Francis Hall, of the New York Commercial Advertiser and the Spectator, in which he says:

I am of opinion that the English Conference can do very little good in Upper Canada. Had our preachers been continued they might have raised the standard of primitive English Methodism, which would have had extensive and beneficial influence upon the work in that province, but having ceded by convention the whole of it to your Church, I hope we shall not interfere to disturb the people. They must, as you say, struggle for a while, and your bishops must visit them, and ordain their ministers, till they can do without them. He speaks of being highly gratified at the conversion of the Indians in Canada.


[21] Rev. Henry Ryan was born 1776 entered the ministry in 1800, and died at his residence, in Gainsborough, on the 2nd September, 1833, aged 57 years.—H.

[22] The post-office endorsement on this letter was as follows:—Paid to Lewistown, N.Y., 25c. postage; ferryage to Niagara, 2d.; from Niagara to Hamilton, 4-1/2d.; total, 36 cents postage, for what in 1882 costs only one-twelfth of that amount.—H.

[23] The title of this pamphlet (in possession of the Editor) is: Claims of Churchmen and Dissenters of Upper Canada brought to the test in a Controversy between several Members of the Church of England and a Methodist Preacher. Kingston, 1828. pp. 232. (See note on page 80, and also Chapter viii.)

Rev. Dr. Green, in his Life and Times, thus speaks of the effect of the publication of these letters upon Rev. Franklin Metcalf and himself:—The sermon was ably reviewed in the columns of the Colonial Advocate, in a communication over the signature of "A Methodist Preacher." Mr. Metcalf and I took the paper into a field, where we sat down on the grass to read. As we read, we admired; and as we admired, we rejoiced; then thanked God, and speculated as to its author, little suspecting that it was a young man who had been received on trial at the late Conference (1825). We read again, and then devoutly thanked God for having put it into the heart of some one to defend the Church publicly against such mischievous statements, and give the world the benefit of the facts of the case. The "Reviewer" proved to be Mr. Egerton Ryerson, then on the Yonge Street Circuit. This was the commencement of the war for religious liberty, pp. 83, 84. (See also page 143 of Dr. Ryerson's "Epochs of Canadian Methodism.")—H.

For specimens of Dr. Ryerson's controversial style in this his first encounter, see the extracts which he has given from the pamphlet itself on pages 146—149, etc., of "Epochs of Canadian Methodism."—H.

[Pg 93]



Establishment of the "Christian Guardian"—Church claims resisted.

Dr. Ryerson takes up the Story of his Life at the period of the Conference of 1829. He says that;—

At this Conference it was determined to establish the Christian Guardian newspaper. The Conference elected me as Editor, with instructions to go to New York to procure the types and apparatus necessary for its establishment.[24] In this I was greatly assisted by the late Rev. Dr. Bangs, and the Rev. Mr. Collard, of the New York Methodist Book Concern.

The hardships and difficulties of establishing and conducting the Christian Guardian for the first year, without a clerk, in the midst of our poverty, can hardly be realized and need not be detailed. The first number was issued on the 22nd November, 1829. The list of subscribers at the commencement was less than 500. Three years afterwards (in 1832), when the first Editor was appointed as the representative of the Canadian Conference to England, the subscription list was reported as nearly 3,000.

The characteristics of the Christian Guardian during these three eventful years (it being then regarded as the leading newspaper of Upper Canada) were defence of Methodist institutions and character, civil rights, temperance principles, educational progress, and missionary operations. It was during this period that the Methodist and other denominations obtained the right to hold land for places of worship, and for the burial[Pg 94] of their dead, and the right of their ministers to solemnize matrimony, as also their rights to equal civil and religious liberty, against a dominant church establishment in Upper Canada, as I have detailed in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 129-246.

The foregoing is the only reference to this period of his life which Dr. Ryerson has left. I have, therefore, availed myself of his letters and papers to continue the narrative.

June—August, 1830.—With a view to correct the misstatements made in regard to the Methodists in Canada, and to set forth their just rights, Dr. Ryerson devoted a considerable space in the Christian Guardian of the 26th June; and 3rd, 10th, 24th, and 31st July, and 14th August, 1830, to a concise history of that body in this country, in which he maintained its right to the privileges proposed to be granted to it under the Religious Societies Relief Bill of that time.[25] He pointed out, as he expressed it, that—

His Majesty's Royal assent would have been given to that bill had it not unfortunately fallen in company with some ruthless vagrant (in the shape of a secret communication from our enemies in Canada) who had slandered, abused, and tomahawked it at the foot of the throne.

Oct. 11th.—Being desirous of availing himself of his brother George's educational advantages and ability in his editorial labours, Dr. Ryerson, under this date, wrote to him in his new charge at the Grand River. He said:—

I am glad to hear that you enjoy peace of mind, and feel an increasing attachment to your charge. It is more than I do as Editor. I am scarcely free from interruption long enough to settle my mind on any one thing, and sometimes I am almost distracted. On questions of right, and liberty, as well as on other subjects, I am resolved to pursue a most decided course. Your retired situation will afford you a good opportunity for writing useful articles on various subjects. I hope you will write often and freely.

Nov. 1st.—Another reason, which apparently prompted Dr. Ryerson to appeal to his brother George for editorial help, was the fear that the increasing efforts of the influential leaders of the Church of England to secure a recognition of her claims to be an established church in Upper Canada might be crowned with success. He, therefore, at this date wrote to him again on the subject, and said.—

The posture of affairs in England appears, upon the whole,[Pg 95] more favourable to reform than in Upper Canada. We are resolved to double our diligence; to have general petitions in favour of the abolition of every kind of religious domination, circulated throughout the Province, addressed to the Provincial and Imperial Parliaments, and take up the whole question—decidedly, fully, and warmly. We must be up and doing while it is called to-day. It is the right time. There is a new and Whig Parliament in England, and I am sure our own House of Assembly dare not deny the petitions of the people on this subject.

Nature of the Struggle for Religious Equality.

During this and many succeeding years the chief efforts of Dr. Ryerson and those who acted with him were directed, as intimated before, against the efforts put forth to establish a "dominant church" in Upper Canada. A brief resumé of the question will put the reader in possession of the facts of the case:—

The late Bishop Strachan, in his speech delivered in the Legislative Council, March 6th, 1828, devoted several pages of that speech (as printed) to prove that "the Church of England is by law the Established Church of this Province." This statement in some form he put forth in every discussion on the subject.

The grounds upon which this claim was founded were also fully stated by Rev. Wm Betteridge, B.D. (of Woodstock), who was sent to England to represent the claims of the Church of England in this controversy. These claims he put forward in his "Brief History of the Church in Upper Canada," published in England in 1838. He rests those claims upon what he considers to have been the intention of the Imperial Parliament in passing the Clergy Reserve sections of the Act (31 Geo III., c. 31) in 1791, and also on the "King's Instructions" to the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1818. He further contended that the "Extinction of the Tithes Act," passed by the Upper Canada Legislature in 1823, inferentially recognized the dominancy of the Church of England in Canada as a Church of the Empire. Beyond this alleged inferential right to be an Established Church in Upper Canada, none in reality existed. It was, therefore, to prevent this inference,—which was insisted upon as perfectly clear and irresistible,—from receiving Imperial or Provincial recognition as an admitted or legal fact, that the persistent efforts of Dr. Ryerson and others were unceasingly directed during all of those years.

Few in the present day can realize the magnitude of the task thus undertaken. Nor do we sufficiently estimate the significance of the issues involved in that contest—a contest waged[Pg 96] for the recognition of equal denominational rights and the supremacy of religious liberty. All of these questions are now happily settled "upon the best and surest foundation." But it might have been far otherwise had not such men as Dr. Ryerson stepped into the breach at a critical time in our early history; and if the battle had not been fought and won before the distasteful yoke of an "establishment" had been imposed upon this young country, and burdensome vested interests been thereby created, which it would have taken years of serious and protracted strife to extinguish.

As the fruits of that protracted struggle for religious equality have been long quietly enjoyed in this province, there is a disposition in many quarters to undervalue the importance of the contest itself, and even to question the propriety of reviving the recollection of such early conflicts. In so far as we may adopt such views we must necessarily fail to do justice to the heroism and self-sacrifice of those who, like Dr. Ryerson, encountered the prolonged and determined opposition, as well as the contemptuous scorn of the dominant party while battling for the rights which he and others ultimately secured for us. Those amongst us who would seek to depreciate the importance of that struggle for civil and religious freedom, must fail also to realize the importance of the real issues of that contest.

To those who have given any attention to this subject, it is well known that the maintenance of the views put forth by Dr. Ryerson in this controversy involved personal odium and the certainty of social ostracism. It also involved, what is often more fatal to a man's courage and constancy, the sneer and the personal animosity, as well as ridicule, of a powerful party whose right to supremacy is questioned, and whose monopoly of what is common property is in danger of being destroyed. Although Dr. Ryerson was a gentleman by birth, and the son of a British officer and U. E. Loyalist, yet the fact that, as one of the "despised sect" of Methodists, he dared to question the right of "the Church" to superiority over the "Sectaries," subjected him to a system of petty and bitter persecution which few men of less nerve and fortitude could have borne. As it was, there were times when the tender sensibilities of his noble nature were so deeply wounded by this injustice, and the scorn and contumely of his opponents, that were it not that his intrepid courage was of the finest type, and without the alloy of rancour or bravado in it, it would have failed him. But he never flinched. And when the odds seemed to be most against him, he would, with humble dependence upon Divine help, put forth even greater effort; and, with his courage thus reanimated, would unexpectedly turn the flank of his enemy; or, by concentrating all his forces on the[Pg 97] vulnerable points of his adversary's case, completely neutralize the force of his attack.

It must not be understood from this that Dr. Ryerson cherished any personal animosity to the Church of England as a Divine and Spiritual power in the land. Far from it. In his first "campaign" against the Venerable Archdeacon of York (Dr. Strachan), he took care to point out the difference between the principles maintained by the aggressors in that contest and the principles of the Church itself. He said:—

Whatever remarks the Doctor's discourse may require me to make, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I mean no reflection on the doctrines, liturgy, or discipline of the Church of which he has the honour to be a minister. Be assured I mean no such thing. I firmly believe in her doctrines, I admire her liturgy, and I heartily rejoice in the success of those principles which are therein continued, and it is for the prosperity of the truths which they unfold that I shall ever pray and contend. And, with respect to Church government, I heartily adopt the sentiments of the pious and the learned Bishop Burnet, that "that form of Church government is the best which is most suitable to the customs and circumstances of the people among whom it is established."[26]

Such was Dr. Ryerson's tribute to the Church of England in, 1826. His disclaimer of personal hostility to that Church (near the close of the protracted denominational contest in regard to the Clergy Reserves), will be found in an interesting personal correspondence, in a subsequent part of this book, with John Kent, Esq., Editor of The Church newspaper in 1841-2.

With a view to enable Canadians of the present day more clearly to understand the pressing nature of the difficulties with which Dr. Ryerson had to contend, almost single-handed, fifty years ago, I shall briefly enumerate the principal ones:—

1. The whole of the official community of those days, which had grown up as a united and powerful class, were bound together by more than official ties, and hence, as a "family compact," they were enabled to act together as one man. This class, with few exceptions, were members of the Church of England. They regarded her—apart from her inimitable liturgy and scriptural standards of faith—with the respect and love which her historical prestige and assured status naturally inspired them. They maintained, without question, the traditional right of the Church of England to supremacy everywhere in the Empire. They, therefore, instinctively repelled all attempts to deprive that Church of what they believed to be her inalienable right to dominancy in this Province.

2. Those who had the courage, and who ventured to oppose the Church claims put forth by the clerical and other leaders of[Pg 98] the dominant party of that time, were sure to be singled out for personal attack. They were also made to feel the chilling effects of social exclusiveness. The cry against them was that of ignorance, irreverence, irreligion, republicanism, disloyalty, etc. These charges were repeated in every form; and that, too, by a section both of the official and religious press, a portion of which was edited with singular ability; a press which prided itself on its intelligence, its unquestioned churchmanship and exalted respect for sacred things, its firm devotion to the principle of "Church and State"—the maintenance of which was held to be the only safeguard for society, if not its invincible bulwark. An illustration of the profession of this exclusive loyalty is given by Dr. Ryerson in these pages. He mentions the fact that the plea to the British Government put forth by the leaders of the dominant party, as a reason why the Church of England in this Province should be made supreme and be subsidized, was that she might then be enabled "to preserve the principles of loyalty to England from being overwhelmed and destroyed" by the "Yankee Methodists," as represented by the Ryersons and their friends!

3. The two branches of the Legislature were divided on this subject. The House of Assembly represented the popular side, as advocated by Dr. Ryerson and other denominational leaders. The Legislative Council (of which the Ven. Archdeacon Strachan was an influential member,) maintained the clerical views so ably put forth by this reverend leader on the other side.

4. Except by personal visits to England—where grievances could alone be fully redressed in those days—little hope was entertained by the non-Episcopal party that their side of the question would (if stated through official channels), be fairly or fully represented. Even were their case presented through these channels they were not sure but that (as strikingly and quaintly put by Dr. Ryerson, on page 94).

In company with some ruthless vagrant—in the shape of a secret communication from enemies in Canada—it would be slandered, abused, and tomahawked at the foot of the throne.

As an illustration also of the spirit of the Chief Executive in Upper Canada in dealing with the questions in dispute, I quote the following extract from the reply of Sir John Colborne to an address from the Methodist Conference in 1831.[27] He said:

Your dislike to any church establishment, or to the particular form of Christianity which is denominated the Church, of England, may be the[Pg 99] natural consequence of the constant success of your own efficacious and organized system. The small number of our Church[28] is to be regretted, as well as that the organization of its ministry is not adapted to supply the present wants of the dispersed population in this new country; but you will readily admit that the sober-minded of the province are disgusted with the accounts of the disgraceful dissensions of the Episcopal Methodist Church and its separatists, recriminating memorials, and the warfare of one Church with another. The utility of an Establishment depends entirely on the piety, assiduity, and devoted zeal of its ministers, and on their abstaining from a secular interference which may involve them in political disputes.

The labours of the clergy of established churches in defence of moral and religious truth will always be remembered by you, who have access to their writings, and benefit by them in common with other Christian Societies. You will allow, I have no doubt, on reflection that it would indeed be imprudent to admit the right of societies to dictate, on account of their present numerical strength, in what way the lands set apart as a provision for the clergy shall be disposed of.

The system of [University] Education which has produced the best and ablest men in the United Kingdom will not be abandoned here to suit the limited views of the leaders of Societies who, perhaps, have neither experience nor judgment to appreciate the value or advantages of a liberal education....

Such was the spirit in which the Governor in those days replied to the respectful address of a large and influential body of Christians. He even went further in another part of his reply, and referred to "the absurd advice offered by your missionaries to the Indians, and their officious interference."[29] Such language[Pg 100] from the lips of Her Majesty's Representative, if at all possible in these days, would provoke a burst of indignation from those to whom it might be addressed, but it had to be endured fifty years ago, when to question the prerogative of the Crown, or the policy of the Executive, was taken as prima facie evidence of disloyalty, and republicanism.

5. Into the discussion of the claims of the Church of England in Upper Canada, two questions entered, which were important factors in the case. Both sides thoroughly understood the significance of either question as an issue in the discussion; and both sides were, therefore, equally on the alert—the one to maintain the affirmative, and the other the negative, side of these questions. The first was the claim that it was the inherent right of the Church of England to be an established church in every part of the empire, and, therefore, in Upper Canada. Both sides knew that the admission of such a claim, would be to admit the exclusive right of that Church to the Clergy Reserves as her heritage. It was argued, as an unquestionable fact, that the exclusive right of the Church of England in Upper Canada to such reserves must have been uppermost in the mind of the royal donor of these lands, when the grant was first made. The second point was, that the admission of this inherent right of the Church of England to be an established church in Upper Canada, would extinguish the right of each one of the nonconformist bodies to the status of a Church. It can well be understood that in a contest which involved vital questions like these (that is, of the exclusive endowment of one Church, and its consequent superior status as a dominant Church), the struggle would be a protracted and bitter one. And so it proved to be. But justice and right at length prevailed. A portion of the Reserves was impartially distributed, on a common basis among the denominations which desired to share in them, and the long-contested claims of the Church of England to the exclusive status of an established church were at length emphatically repudiated by the Legislature; and, in 1854, the last semblance of a union between Church and State vanished from our Statute Book.[30]—J. G. H.[Pg 101]

Dec. 18th, 1830.—In the Guardian of this day, Dr. Ryerson published a petition to the Imperial Parliament, prepared by a large Committee, of which he was a member, and of which Dr. W. W. Baldwin was Chairman. In that petition the writer referred to the historical fact, that, had the inhabitants of this Province been dependent upon the Church of England or of Scotland for religious instruction, they would have remained destitute of it for some years, and also that the pioneer non-Episcopal ministers were not dissenters, because of the priority of their existence and labours in Upper Canada. The petition, having pointed out that there were only five Episcopal clergy in Canada during the war of 1812, and that only one Presbyterian minister was settled in the Province in 1818, declared that:

The ministers of several other denominations accompanied the first influx of emigration into Upper Canada, (1783-1790,) and have shared the hardships, privations, and sufferings incident to missionaries in a new country. And it is through their unwearied labours, that the mass of the population have been mainly supplied with religious instruction. They, therefore, do not stand in the relation, of Dissenters from either the Church of England or of Scotland, but are the ministers of distinct and independent Churches, who had numerous congregations in various parts of the Province, before the ministerial labours of any ecclesiastical establishment were, to any considerable extent, known or felt.

Jan. 20th, 1831.—As an evidence that the views put forth by Dr. Ryerson, in the Guardian, against an established Church in Upper Canada, were acceptable outside of his own denomination, I give the following letter, addressed to him at this date from Perth, by the Rev. Wm. Bell, Presbyterian:

Though differing from you in many particulars, yet in some we agree. Your endeavours to advance the cause of civil and religious liberty have generally met my approbation. Some of your writings that I have seen discover both good sense and Christian feeling. The liberality, too, you have discovered, both in regard to myself and in regard of my brethren, has not escaped my observation. Be not discouraged by the malice of the enemies of religion. Your Guardian I have seldom seen, but from this time I intend to take it regularly. Consider me one of your "constant readers." The matters in which we differ are nothing in comparison of those in which we agree.

Feb. 9th.—Some members of the Church of England in the Province evinced a good deal of hostility to the Methodists of this period, chiefly from the fact that they had been connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, and that the Canada Conference had formed one of the Annual Conferences of that Church, presided over by an American Bishop.[Pg 102] As an evidence of this hostility, Dr. Ryerson stated in the Guardian of this date, that Donald Bethune, Esq., and others, of Kingston, had petitioned the House of Assembly:—

To prohibit any exercise of the functions of a priest, or exhorter, or elder of any denomination in the Province except by British subjects; 2nd, to prevent any religious society connected with any foreign religious body to assemble in Conference; 3rd, to prevent the raising of money by any religious person or body for objects which are not strictly British, etc.

The Legislature appointed a Committee on the subject, and Dr. Ryerson, as representing the Methodists, Rev. Mr Harris the Presbyterians, and Rev. Mr. Stewart the Baptists, were summoned to attend this Committee with a view to give evidence on the subject. This Dr. Ryerson did at length, (as did also these gentlemen). Dr. Ryerson traced the history of the Methodist body in Canada, and showed that, three years before this time, the Canada Conference had taken steps to sever its connection with the American General Conference, and had done so in a friendly manner.[31]

The petition was aimed at the Methodists, as they alone answered the description of the parties referred to by the petitioners. The petition was also a covert re-statement of the often disproved charge of disloyalty, etc., on the part of the Methodists. The House very properly came to the conclusion—

"That it was inconsistent with the benign and tolerant principles of the British Constitution to restrain by penal enactment any denomination of Christians, whether subjects or foreigners," etc.

This, however, was a sample of the favourite mode of attack, and the system of persecution to which the early Methodists were exposed in this Province. At the same session of Parliament in 1831, the Marriage Bill, which had been before the House each year for six successive years, was finally passed. This Bill gave to the Methodists and to other non-Episcopal ministers the right for the first time to solemnize matrimony in Upper Canada.

Feb. 19th.—Sir John Colborne, the Lieutenant-Governor, having nominated an Episcopal chaplain to the House of Assembly, the question, "Is the Church of England an established church in Upper Canada?" was again debated in the House of Assembly and discussed in the newspapers. With a view to a calm, dispassionate, and historical refutation of the claims set up by the Episcopal Church on the subject, Dr. Ryerson reprinted in the Guardian of this day, the sixth of a series of letters which he had addressed from Cobourg to Archdeacon Strachan, in May and June, 1828. It covered the whole ground in dispute.[32][Pg 103]

Nov. 6th, 1832.—Archdeacon Strachan, in his sermon, preached at the visitation of the Bishop of Quebec at York, on the 5th of September, speaking of the Methodists, said that he would—

Speak of them with praise, notwithstanding their departure from the Apostolic ordinance, and the hostility long manifested against us by some of their leading members.

In reply to this statement, Dr. Ryerson wrote from St. Catharines to the Editor of the Guardian. He pointed out that:—

It was not until after Archdeacon Strachan's sermon on the death of the former Bishop of Quebec was published, in 1826, that a single word was written, and then to refute his slanders. In that sermon, when accounting for the few who attend the Church of England, the Archdeacon said that their attendance discouraged the minister, and that—

His influence is frequently broken or injured by numbers of uneducated, itinerant preachers, who, leaving their steady employment, betake themselves to preaching the Gospel from idleness, or a zeal without knowledge ... and to teach what they do not know, and which from their pride they disdain to learn.[33]

Again, in May, 1827, Archdeacon Strachan sent an "Ecclesiastical Chart" to the Colonial Office, and in the letter accompanying it stated that:—

The Methodist teachers are subject to the orders of the United States of America, and it is manifest that the Colonial Government neither has, nor can have any other control over them, or prevent them from gradually rendering a large portion of the population, by their influence and instructions, hostile to our institutions, civil and religious, than by increasing the number of the Established Clergy.

Who then [Dr. Ryerson asked] was the author of contention? Who was the aggressor? Who provoked hostilities? The slanders in the Chart were published in Canada, and in England, by Dr. Strachan before a single effort was made by a member of any denomination to counteract his hostile measures, or a single word was said on the subject.

Nov. 19th, 1834.—In connection with this subject I insert here the following reply (containing several historical facts) to a singularly pretentious letter which Dr. Ryerson had inserted in the Guardian of this date, denouncing the opposition of a certain "sect called Methodists" to the claims of the Church of England as an established church in the Colony. The reply was inserted in order to afford strangers and new settlers in[Pg 104] Upper Canada correct information on the subject, and to disprove the statement of the writer of the letter, Dr. Ryerson mentioned the following facts:—

The pretensions of the Episcopal clergy began to be disputed by the clergy of the Church of Scotland as soon as it was known that the former had got themselves erected into a corporation. This was, I believe, in 1820.[34] The subject was brought before the House of Assembly in 1824, and the House in 1824, '25, '26, '27, passed resolutions remonstrating against the exclusive claims of the Episcopal clergy. From 1822 to 1827 several pamphlets were published on both sides of the question, and much was said in the House of Assembly; but during this period not one word was written by any minister or member of the Methodist Church, nor did the Methodists take any part in it, though their ministers were not even allowed to solemnize matrimony—a privilege then enjoyed by Calvinistic ministers—and though individual ministers had been most maliciously and cruelly persecuted, under the sanction of judicial authority.... But in the statements drawn up for the Imperial Government by the Episcopal clergy during the years mentioned, the extirpation of the Methodists was made one principal ground of appeal by the Episcopal clergy for the exclusive countenance and patronage of His Majesty's Government. Some of these documents at length came before the Canadian public; and in 1827 a defence of the Methodists and other religious denominations was put forth by the writer of these remarks in the form of a "Review of a Sermon preached by the Archdeacon of York." Up to this time not one word was said on "the church question" by the Methodists. But it was so warmly agitated by others, that in the early part of 1827 Archdeacon Strachan, an executive and legislative councillor, was sent to London to support the claims of the Episcopal clergy at the Colonial Office. His ecclesiastical chart and other communications were printed by order of the Government, and soon found their way into the provincial newspapers, and gave rise to such a discussion, and excited such a feeling throughout the Province as was never before witnessed. The shameful attack upon the character of the Methodist ministry, whose unparalleled labours and sufferings, usefulness, and unimpeachable loyalty were known and appreciated in the[Pg 105] Province, and the appeal to the King's Government to aid in exterminating them from the country excited strong feelings of indignation and sympathy in the public mind. The House of Assembly investigated the whole affair, examined fifty-two witnesses, adopted an elaborate report, and sent home an address to the King condemning the statements of the agent of the Episcopal clergy, and remonstrating against the establishment of a dominant church in the Province.[35] The determination to uproot the Methodists was carried so far in those by-gone days of civil and ecclesiastical despotism, that the Indians were told by executive sanction that unless they would become members of the Church of England, the Government would do nothing for them! In further support of my statement, I quoted four Episcopal addresses and sermons, sufficient to show who were the first and real aggressors in this matter—certainly not the Methodists.

As a sample of Dr. Ryerson's controversial style in 1826, when he wrote the Review of Archdeacon Strachan's sermon (to which he refers above) I quote a paragraph from it. In replying to the Archdeacon's "remarks on the qualifications, motives, and conduct of the Methodist itinerant preachers," which Dr. Ryerson considered "ungenerous and unfounded," he proceeded:—

The Methodist preachers do not value themselves upon the wealth, virtues, or grandeur, of their ancestry; nor do they consider their former occupation an argument against their present employment or usefulness. They have learned that the Apostles were once fishermen; that a Milner could once throw the shuttle; that a Newton once watched his mother's flock.... They are likewise charged with "preaching the Gospel out of idleness." Does the Archdeacon claim the attribute of omniscience? Does he know what is in man? How does he know that they preach "the Gospel out of idleness?" ... What does he call idleness?—the reading of one or two dry discourses every Sabbath ... to one congregation, with an annual income of £200 or £300?... No; this is hard labour; this is indefatigable industry!... Who are they then that preach the Gospel out of idleness?—those indolent, covetous men who travel from two to three hundred miles, and preach from twenty-five to forty times every month?—who, in addition to this, visit from house to house, and teach young and old repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ?—those who continue this labour year after year ... at the enormous salary of £25 or £50 per annum?—these are the men who "preach the[Pg 106] Gospel out of idleness!" O bigotry! thou parent of persecution; O envy! thou fountain of slander; O covetousness! thou god of injustice! would to heaven ye were banished from the earth![36]

Jan. 22nd, 1831.—In the Guardian of this day Dr. Ryerson publishes a letter from the Rev. Richard Watson to the trustees of the Wesleyan University, in Connecticut, declining the appointment of Professor of Belles Lettres and Moral Philosophy. He says:—

To Belles Lettres I have no pretensions; Moral Philosophy I have studied, and think it a most important department, when kept upon its true principles, both theological and philosophic. Being, however, fifty years old, and having a feeble constitution, I do not think it would be prudent in me to accept.

During this year (1831) Dr. Ryerson engaged in a friendly controversy with Vicar-General Macdonnell, Editor of the Catholic, published in Kingston. This controversy included six letters from Dr. Ryerson, and five from the Vicar-General, published in the Christian Guardian. It touched upon the leading questions at issue between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The correspondence was broken off by the Vicar-General.


[24] The following is a copy of the document under the authority of which Dr. Ryerson was deputed to go to New York to procure presses and types for the proposed Christian Guardian newspaper:—

This is to certify that the Bearer, Rev. Egerton Ryerson, is appointed agent for procuring a printing establishment for the Canada Conference, and is hereby commended to the Christian confidence of all on whom he may have occasion to call for advice and assistance for the above purpose.

(Signed) William Case, Superintendent.
James Richardson, Secretary.

Ancaster, Upper Canada,}
Sept. 4th, 1829. }

[25] These seven papers, taken together, were the first attempt to put into a connected form the history of the Methodist Church in Canada down to 1830.—H.

[26] "Claims of Churchmen and Dissenters," &c., 1826, p. 27. (See p. 80.)

[27] For various reasons (apparently prudential at the time) this reply was never published in the Christian Guardian, as were other replies of the Governor.—H.

[28] This expression, "our Church," illustrates the fact which I have indicated in first paragraph on page 97.

[29] This charge, preferred by such high authority, was taken up boldly by the Methodist authorities. Rev. James (afterwards Bishop) Richardson, Presiding Elder, was commissioned to inquire into its truthfulness. He made an exhaustive report, proving the entire incorrectness of the statement, and that the whole difficulty arose from the persistent efforts of a Mr. Alley (an employé of the Indian Department) to promote his own interest at the expense of that of the Indians, and to remove out of the way the only obstacle to the accomplishment of his purpose—the Methodist Missionary. Dr. Ryerson having pointed out these facts in the Guardian, Capt. Anderson, Superintendent of Indian affairs at Coldwater, questioned his conclusion "that the advice given to the Indians was both prudent and loudly called for, and perfectly respectful to His Excellency." Dr. Ryerson then examined the whole of the evidence in the Case, and (See Guardian, vol. iii., p. 76) came to the following conclusion:—1. That sometimes the local agents of the Indian Department are men who have availed themselves of the most public occasions to procure ardent spirits, and entice the Indians to drunkenness, and other acts of immorality; being apparently aware that with the introduction of virtue and knowledge among these people will be the departure of gain which arises from abuse, fraud, and debauchery. 2. That these agents are not always men who respect the Sabbath. 3. That the Missionary's "absurd advice" was in effect that the Indians should apply to their Great Father to remove such agents from among them. 4. That their "craft being endangered," the agents and parties concerned, "with studied design, sought to injure the missionary in the estimation of His Excellency, and to destroy all harmony in their operations, in order, if possible, to compel the Missionary to abandon the Mission Station." The effect of this controversy was very salutary. His Excellency, having reconsidered the Case, "gave merited reproof and suitable instructions to the officers of the Indian Department in regard to their treatment of the Methodist Missionary." Dr. Ryerson adds:—We had no trouble thereafter on the subject.

[30] Another disturbing element entered subsequently into this controversy. And this was especially embarrassing to Dr. Ryerson, as it proceeded from ministers in the same ecclesiastical fold as himself. I refer to the adverse views on church establishments, put forth by members of the British Conference in this country and especially in England (to which reference is made subsequently in this book). Dr. Ryerson was, as a matter of course, taunted with maintaining opinions which had been expressly repudiated by his Methodist "superiors" in England. He had, therefore, to wage a double warfare. He was assailed from within as well as from without. Besides, he had to bear the charge of putting forth heretical views in church politics, even from a Methodist standpoint. He, however, triumphed over both parties—those within as well as those without. And his victory over the former was the more easily won, as the views of the "British Methodists," on this question were almost unanimously repudiated by the Methodists of Canada. See "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 330-353.—H.

[31] See pages 63, 64 of the Christian Guardian for 1831; also page 90, ante.

[32] See Christian Guardian of Feb. 19th, 1831, and also the pamphlet containing the whole of this series of eight letters, entitled: "Letters from the Reverend Egerton Ryerson to the Honourable and Reverend Doctor Strachan, published originally in the Upper Canada Herald; Kingston, 1828," pp. 42, double columns. See page 80.—H.

[33] For reply to this statement see extract from Review given on p. 105.—H.

[34] In "a Pastoral Letter from the Clergy of the Church of Scotland in the Canadas to their Presbyterian Brethren" issued in 1828, they say:—"We did, in the year 1820, petition His Majesty's Government for protection and support to our Church, and claimed, by what we believe to be our constitutional rights, a participation in the Clergy Reserves." Montreal, 1828, p. 2. This Pastoral Letter gave rise to a protracted discussion for and against the Presbyterian side of the question.—H.

[35] The Report was adopted by a vote of 22 to 8. It stated:—The ministry and instructions [of the Methodist Clergymen] have been conducive—in a degree which cannot be easily estimated—to the reformation of their hearers, and to the diffusion of correct morals—the foundation of all sound loyalty and social order.... No one doubts that the Methodists are as loyal as any other of His Majesty's subjects, etc. Full particulars of this controversy will be found in Dr. Ryerson's "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pp. 165-218.—H.

[36] In "An Apology for the Church of England in Canada, by a Protestant of the Established Church of England," the writer thus refers to this controversy:—"Our Methodist brethren have disturbed the peace of their maternal Church by the clamour of enthusiasm and the madness of resentment; but they are the wayward children of passion, and we hope that yet the chastening hand of reason will sober down the wildness of that ferment," etc. Kingston, U.C., 1826, p. 3.—H.

[Pg 107]



Methodist Affairs in Upper Canada—Proposed Union with the British Conference.

Of the events transpiring in Upper Canada during 1831 and 1832, in which Dr. Ryerson was an actor, he has left no record in his "Story." His letters and papers, however, show that during this period he retired from the editorship of the Christian Guardian, and that plans were discussed and matured which led to his going to England, in 1833, to negotiate a union between the British and Upper Canadian Conferences. His brother George had gone on a second visit to England in March, 1831. This second visit was for a twofold purpose, viz., to collect money with the Rev. Peter Jones, for the Indian Missions, and also to present petitions to the Imperial Parliament on behalf of the non-episcopalians of the Province. I give extracts from his letters to Dr. Ryerson, relating his experiences of, and reflections on, Wesleyan matters in England at that period. Writing from Bristol, on the 6th of August, 1831, Rev. George Ryerson said:—

In my address to the Wesleyan Conference here I stated that we stood in precisely the same relation to our brethren of the Methodist Conference in the United States as we do to our brethren of the Wesleyan Conference in England—independent of either—agreeing in faith, in religious discipline, in name and doctrine, and the unity of spirit,—but differing in some ecclesiastical arrangements, rendered necessary from local circumstances. I also expressed my firm conviction that the situation in which we stand is decidedly the best calculated to spread Methodism and vital religion in Canada. This statement did not, I think, give so much satisfaction to the Conference as the others, for what Pope said of Churchmen:

"Is he a Churchman? then he's fond of power,"

may also be literally applied to Wesleyan ministers, and, I may add, to Englishmen generally. I have reason to know that they would gladly govern us. I was, therefore, very pointed and explicit on this subject. I rejoice that our country lies beyond the Atlantic, and is surrounded by an atmosphere of freedom. A few months' residence in this country would lead you to value this circumstance in a degree that you can scarcely conceive of; and you would, with unknown energy, address this exhortation to the Methodists and to the people of Canada: "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith God's providence hath made you free, and in this abound[Pg 108] more and more." I also assured them of our respect and love for them as our fathers and elder brethren, and mentioned my reasons for giving this information to prevent future collision and misunderstanding.

The Conference or Missionary Society have, however, not given up their intention of establishing an Indian Mission in Upper Canada, but, in consequence of my remonstrances, have delayed it. Brother James Richardson's letter to the Missionary Committee, which I submitted, and was told by Rev. Dr. Townley, one of the Secretaries, that they would by no means withdraw their missionary at Kingston, as it was still their intention to establish a mission to the Indians in Upper Canada, and this station would be very necessary to them. I see that they are a little vexed that emigrants from their Societies should augment our membership.

The whole morning service of the Church of England is now read in most of the Wesleyan Chapels, and with as much formality as in the Church. Many of the members, when they become wealthy and rise in the world, join the Church, and their wealth and influence are lost to the Society. Organs are also introduced into many of their Chapels.

In a letter dated London, Feb. 6th, 1832, Rev. Geo. Ryerson writes again to Dr. Ryerson, and says that he and Peter Jones:

By request, met the Rev. Richard Watson, and some others of the Missionary Committee. They wished to consult us respecting the resolutions forwarded to them from your Missionary Committee. They profess that they will not occupy any station where there is a mission, as Grand River, Penetanguishene, etc., except St. Clair. But they declare that as it regards the white population, the agreement with the American Conference ceased when we became a separate connexion. I opposed their views, as I have invariably done, in very strong and plain terms, and explained to them the character and object of the persons who were alluring them to commence this schism. They proposed that we should give up the missions to them. I told them we could no more do so, than they give up theirs. They finally acquiesced, and voted the £300 as Rev. Dr. Townley wrote. At the Conference, at Bristol, I explained that a union of the two Conferences would be inexpedient and unprofitable, any further than a union of brotherly love and friendship.

In another letter to Dr. Ryerson from his brother George, dated London, April 6th, 1832, he says:—

I have been detained so long on expenses, and continually advancing money for the Central Committee at York, that I hope it will be repaid to Peter Jones. I was a long time attending to the business of my mission to bring it to the only practicable arrangement, that is, having it submitted to the Legislature of Upper Canada, with such recommendations and instructions as would give satisfaction to the country by consulting the wishes and interests of all parties. I have never before in my life been shut up to walk in all things by simple faith more than I have for some months past; yet I was never kept in greater steadfastness and peace of mind, nor had such openings of the Spirit and life of Jesus in my soul. The judgments of God are spreading apace—the cholera is more deadly in London, and it has now broken out in Ireland, and in the centre of Paris, where it is said to be very destructive. You need no other evidence of its being a work of God, than to be informed that it is made the public mock of the infidel population of this city; a state of feeling and conduct in regard to this pestilence that never, perhaps, was witnessed from any country, and that would make a heathen or Mahommedan ashamed. I have seen gangs of men traversing the streets[Pg 109] and singing songs in ridicule of the cholera, and have seen caricatures of it in the windows.

August 29th, 1832.—To-day, in a valedictory editorial, Dr. Ryerson took leave of the readers of the Christian Guardian, having been its first editor for nearly three years. In that valedictory Dr. Ryerson said (p. 116):—

I first appeared before the public as a writer, at the age of two and twenty years. My first feeble effort was a vindication of the Methodists, and several other Christian denominations against the uncalled-for attack made upon their principles and character. It also contained a remonstrance against the introduction into this country of an endowed political Church, as alike opposed to the statute law of the Province, political and religious expedience, public rights and liberties. I believe this was the first article of the kind ever published in Upper Canada, and, while from that time to this a powerful combination of talent, learning, indignation, and interest has been arrayed in the vain attempt to support by the weapons of reason, Scripture, and argument, a union between the Church and the world—between earth and heaven; talents, truth, reason, and justice have alike been arrayed in the defence of insulted and infringed rights, and the maintenance of a system of public, religious, and educational instruction, accordant with public rights and interests, the principles of sound policy, the economy of Providence, and the institutions and usages of the New Testament.

Dr. Ryerson also published in this number of the Guardian the general outline of the arrangements proposed at Hallowell (Picton) on behalf of the Canada Conference to the English Conference, and designed to form the basis of articles for the proposed union between the two bodies. Rev. Robert Alder was present at the Conference, and was a consenting party to the basis of union.

December 7th, 1832.—The prospects of Union with the British Conference were not encouraging in various parts of the Connexion, and chiefly for the reasons mentioned by Rev. George Ryerson in his letters from England (see pp. 107, 8). Rev. John Ryerson, writing to Dr. Ryerson from Cobourg, also says:—

The subject of the Union appears to be less and less palatable to our friends in these parts, so much so, that I think it will not be safe for you to come to any permanent arrangements with the British Conference, even should they accede to our proposals. I am of the opinion that, except we give ourselves entirely into their hands in some way or another, no Union will take place. I tell the preachers, and they and I tell the people, that, Union or no Union, it is very important that you should go home; that you will endeavour, in every way you can, to convince the British Conference of the manifest injustice and wickedness of sending missionaries to this country.

[Pg 110]

November 21st, 1832.—The proposed union with the British Conference excited a good deal of discussion at this time in various parts of Upper Canada. Dr. Ryerson, therefore, addressed a note on the subject to Rev. Robert Alder, the English Conference representative. I make a few extracts:—

At the Hallowell Conference (1832) the question of the union was principally sustained by my brothers, and was concurred in by the vote of a large majority of the Conference.... But in some parts of the country, where Presidential visits have been made, certain local preachers have found out that the Societies ought to have been consulted; that they have been sold ("by the Ryersons,") without consent; that no Canadian will henceforth be admitted into the Conference; that our whole economy will be changed by arbitrary power, and all revivals of religion will be stopped, etc. The first of the objections is the most popular, but they have all failed to produce the intended effect, to an extent desired by the disaffected few. The object contemplated is, to produce an excitement that will prevent me going to England, and induce the Conference to retrace its steps. The merit or demerit of the measure has been mainly ascribed to me; and on its result, should I cross the Atlantic, my standing, in a great measure, depends. If our proposals should meet with a conciliatory reception, and your Committee would recommend measures, rather than require concessions, in the future proceedings of our Conference, everything can be accomplished without difficulty or embarrassment. You know that I am willing, as an individual, to adopt your whole British economy, ex animo. You also know that my brothers are of the same mind, and that a majority of the Conference will readily concur. May the Lord direct aright!

Dr. Alder's reply to Dr. Ryerson in February, 1833, was that:

You must look at the great principles and results involved in this most important affair, and not shrink from the duties imposed on you, to avoid a few present unpleasant consequences. It is not for me to prescribe rules of conduct to be observed by you, but I must say, that I am surprised that any circumstance should cause you to waver for a moment in reference to your visit to Europe. If you were to decline coming, would not the many on the other side, who are strictly watching your movements, at once say that the whole arrangements are deceptive, and merely designed to make an impression on me for a certain purpose. You know they would. Of course you will act as you please. I neither advise nor persuade, but say: Be not too soon nor too much alarmed. There are no jealousies, no evil surmisings, no ambitious designs in the matter, but a sincere desire to promote the interests of Methodism and the cause of religion in Upper Canada; and nothing will be desired from, or recommended to, you, but for this purpose.

It is a noble object that we have in view. Rev. Richard Watson takes a statesmanlike view of the whole case, and will, I am persuaded, as will all concerned here, meet you with the utmost ingenuousness and liberality, and, if they be met in a similar manner, all will end well. If you can agree to[Pg 111] the following recommendation, I think everything else will easily be settled, viz., to constitute two or three districts, to meet annually, as District Conferences, and to hold a Triennial Conference, to be composed of all the preachers in the Provinces, under a President, to be appointed in the way mentioned in the plan of agreement proposed by your last Conference. Several of your preachers wish it; Bro. Green, the presiding Elder, is in favour of it.

January 10th, 1833.—It being necessary to collect funds to defray Dr. Ryerson's expenses to England, his brother, William, wrote to him from Brockville at this date, giving an account of his success there as a collector. He said:—

After the holidays I commenced operations, and having besieged the doors of several of our gentry, most of whom contributed without much resistance, on most honourable terms, of course, such as paying from $3 to $6, with a great many wishes, and hearty ones too, for your success. More than two-thirds of the sum collected are given by the gentlemen of the village, most of whom expressed and appeared to feel a pleasure in giving, and who have never been known to give anything to the Methodists before on any occasion whatever. Our congregation has greatly increased, so that we now have about five hundred, some say more, in the evening. A majority of the first families in the village attend our chapel. Among many others, Mr. Jonas Jones, and several of the families in the same connection; Mr. Sherwood, the High Sheriff, and several others, most of whom have never been known to attend a Methodist meeting before. You will be surprised to hear that Mrs. James Sherwood has become my warm friend, treating me with the greatest attention and kindness; and also on various occasions speaking most kindly and respectfully of me and all our family, especially yourself.

January 31st, 1833.—Under this date, Dr. Ryerson has recorded in his diary the following tribute to his first wife:—

A year ago this morning, at half-past five o'clock, the wife of my youth fell asleep in Jesus, leaving a son and daughter (John and Lucilla Hannah), the former two years and a half old, and the latter fourteen days. Hannah Aikman (her maiden name) was the daughter of John and Hannah Aikman, and was the youngest of eleven children. Hannah was born in Barton, Gore District, on the 4th of August, 1804. Her natural disposition was most amiable, and her education was better than is usually afforded to farmer's daughters in this country. At the age of sixteen she was awakened, converted, and joined the Methodist Church, of which she remained an exemplary member until her death. I became intimately acquainted with her in 1824, when she was twenty years of age, and after taking the advice of an elder brother, who had travelled the circuit on which they lived, at the strong solicitation of my parents, and the impulse of my own inclinations, I made her proposals of marriage, which were accepted. This was before I had any intention of becoming a preacher in the Methodist Church, either travelling or local.

About this time the Lord laid his afflicting hand upon me;[37] I was brought to the gate of death, and in that state became convinced by evidence as satisfactory as that of my existence, that in disregarding the dictates of my own conscience, and the important advice of many members of the Church, both[Pg 112] preachers and lay, in regard to labouring in the itinerant field, I had resisted the Spirit of God; and on that sick, and in the estimation of my family, dying bed, I vowed to the Lord my God, that if He should see fit to raise me up and open the way, I would no more disobey the voice of His Providence and servants. From that hour I began visibly to recover, and, though the exercises of my mind were unknown to any but myself and the Searcher of hearts, before I had sufficiently recovered to walk two miles, I was called upon by the Presiding Elder, and several official members, and solicited to go on the Niagara Circuit, which was then partly destitute through the failure in health of one of the preachers. I could not but view this unexpected call us the voice of God, and, after a few days' deliberation and preparation, I obeyed, on the 24th of March, 1825, the day on which I was twenty-two years of age.

This unanticipated change in the course of my life, while it involved the sacrifice of pecuniary interests and some very flattering offers and promises, presented my contemplated marriage in a somewhat different light; though the possibility of such a change was mentioned as a condition in my proposals and our engagement. And I will here record it to the honour of the dead that she who afterwards became my wife, wrote to me a short time after I commenced travelling, that if a union between us was in any respect opposed to my views of duty, or if I thought it would militate against my usefulness, I was perfectly exonerated by her from all obligations to such a union; that, whatever her own feelings might be, she begged that they would not influence me,—that God would give her grace to subdue them,—that she shuddered at the thought of standing in the way of my duty and usefulness.

Knowing, as I did, that her fondness for me was extravagant, I could not wound the heart which was the seat of such elevated feelings, or help appreciating more highly than ever the principles of mind which could give rise to such noble sentiments, and such martyr-like disinterestedness of soul. In subsequent interviews, we mutually agreed—should Providence permit—and (at her suggestion) should neither of us change our minds, we would get married in three or four years. During this interval, I had at times agitations of mind as to the advantages of such a step, in regard to my ministerial labours, but determined to rely on the Divine promise, "Blessed is the man that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." This promise has been abundantly fulfilled in me. We were married on the 10th of September, 1828. A more affectionate and prudent wife never lived. She was beloved and respected by all that knew her. I never saw her angry, nor do I recollect that an angry or unkind word ever passed between us. Her disposition was sweet, her spirit uniformly kind and cheerful, sociable, and meek. Her professions were never high, nor her joys rapturous. But in everything she was invariably faithful, and ready for every good word and work. In her confidence, peace, and conduct, as far as I could discover, without intermission, the poet's words were clearly illustrated:—

"Her soul was ever bright as noon, and calm as summer evenings be."

Though her piety for years excited my respect, and in many instances my admiration, it was nevertheless greatly quickened and deepened about six months before her death, during the Conference held at York. From that time I believe she enjoyed the perfect love of God. At least, as far as I can judge, the fruits of it were manifest in her whole life.

Several days previous to her death, when her illness assumed a mortal aspect, and she became sensible that her earthly pilgrimage was closing, her usual unruffled confidence rose to the riches of the full assurance of understanding, faith and hope, and she expressed herself with a boldness of language, a rapture of hope, and triumph of faith that I never before[Pg 113] witnessed. Passages of Scripture, and verses of hymns, expressive of the dying Christian's victories, triumphs, and hopes, were repeated by her with a joy and energetic fervency that deeply affected all present. Her deathbed conversations and dying counsels were a rich repast and a valuable lesson of instruction to many of her Christian friends. The night before she took her departure, she called me to her and consulted me about disposing of the family and all her own things, with as much coolness and judgment as if she had been in perfect health, and was about leaving home on a few days' visit to her friends. A little before midnight she requested the babe to be brought to her—kissed it—blessed it, and returned it. She then called for the little boy (John), and, embracing and kissing him, bequeathed to him also the legacy of a pious mother's dying prayer and blessing. Afterwards she embraced me, and said, "My dear Egerton, preach the Word; be instant in season and out of season, and God will take care of you, and give you the victory." She then bid an affectionate farewell individually to all. She continued in the perfect possession of her reason, triumphing in the Rock of her salvation, until the messenger arrived and her spirit took its departure with the words, "Come, Lord Jesus," lingering upon her lips. Thus lived and died one of the excellent of the earth,—a woman of good, plain sense, a guileless heart, and a sanctified spirit and life. Such is the testimony respecting her, of one who knew her best.

In his deep sorrow and affliction, at that time, Dr. Ryerson received many sympathizing letters. I give an extract of one from his brother George, dated London, Eng., 29th March, 1832. He says:—

I deeply sympathize with you in your affliction. I know how to feel for you, and you as yet know but a very small part of your trials. Years will not heal the wound. I am, even now, often quite overwhelmed when I allow myself to dwell upon the past. I need not suggest to you the commonplace topics of comfort and resignation, but I have no doubt you will see the hand of God so manifestly in it, that you will say "It was well done." I will further add that the saying of St. Paul was at no time so applicable as at the present (1 Cor. vii. 29, etc.).

The years 1830-1832 were noted in the history of the Methodist Church in Upper Canada for two things: 1st. The establishment of the Upper Canada Academy—the radiating centre of intellectual life in the Connexion. 2nd. The erection of the Adelaide St. Chapel, which for many years was the seat and source of Church life in the Societies. At the Conference of 1830 it was agreed to establish the Upper Canada Academy. In the Guardian of the 23rd of April, 1831, Dr. Ryerson gave an account of the new institution and made a strong appeal in its favour. On the 7th June, 1832, the foundation stone of the Academy was laid at Cobourg. On the 16th June, 1833, the new brick church on Newgate (Adelaide) St. was opened for Divine Service. In the Guardian of June 19th, Dr. Ryerson says: "For its size—being 75 by 55 feet—it is judged to be inferior to very few Methodist Chapels in America." P. 126.


[37] See note on page 86 and page 28.

[Pg 114]



Union between the British and Canadian Conferences.

I undertook the mission to England to negotiate a Union between the British and Canadian Conferences with great reluctance. I determined in the course of the year, from various circumstances, to abandon it; but was persuaded by letters from Rev. Robert Alder, the London Missionary Secretary (one of which is given on page 110), and the advice of my brother John, to resume it.

The account of my voyage and proceedings in England are given in the following extracts from my journals:—

March 4th, 1833.—This morning at 6 a.m. I left York via Cobourg, Kingston, and New York, on my first important mission to England, an undertaking for which I feel myself utterly incompetent; and in prosecution of which I rely wholly on the guidance of heavenly wisdom, imploring the special blessing of the Most High.

Kingston, March 11th.—I find that considerable excitement, and in some instances, strong dissatisfaction, exists on the question of Union, by misrepresentation of the proceedings and intentions of our Conference respecting it. Full explanations have in every instance restored confidence, and acquiescence. A correction of these misrepresentations, and the reply of the Wesleyan Missionary Committee to the proposals of our Conference have given universal satisfaction, and elicited a general and strong desire for the accomplishment of this all-important measure. My interviews with my brothers (William and John) have been interesting and profitable to me.

Watertown, N.Y., March 12.—Came from Kingston here to-day, twenty-eight miles. This Black River country is very level, and appears to be fertile, but the people generally do not seem to be thriving.

Utica, March 13th.—This is a flourishing town of about 10,000 inhabitants, beautifully situated on the south side of the Mohawk river. I travelled through a settlement and village called Renson, consisting principally of Welsh, where the Welsh language is universally spoken; there is a Whitefield Methodist chapel, but I was told they retained more of the name, than of the genuine spirit of their founder. "Because of swearing the land mourneth."

Hartford, March 16th.—The southern part of Massachusetts and the northern part of this State, are mountainous and rocky and barren. The inhabitants are supported by manufactures, grazing and dairies. They appear to be rather poor but intelligent. In my conversation to-day with a professed infidel I felt sensibly the importance of being skilled in wielding any weapon with which theology, history, science, so abundantly furnishes the believer in the Christian revelation; and never before did I see and feel[Pg 115] the lofty superiority of the foundation on which natural and revealed truth is established, over the cob-web and ill-shaped edifice of infidelity.

Hartford, March 17th.—I have attended service three times to-day, and preached twice. Religion seems to be at a low ebb. Yet I have not heard religion spoken of, or any body of religious people referred to, in any other way than that of respect.

New York, March 20th.—I am now about to embark for England, the reason of my long journey from Canada to New York is the slow travel by stage, before any railroads, and the Hudson river not navigable so early.

New York, March 21st.—[Just on the eve of sailing for England, Dr. Ryerson wrote from New York to his brother John, at Hallowell. He said:—

I stayed with the Rev. Dr. Fisk all night and part of two days. I was much gratified and benefited, and have received from him many valuable suggestions respecting my mission to England and agency for the Upper Canada Academy. He was unreserved in his communications, and is in favour of my Mission, as were Brother Waugh, Drs. Bangs, Durbin[38] and others. They all seem to approve fully of the proceedings of our Conference in the affair.—H.]

New York, March 22nd.—[On the day on which Dr. Ryerson sailed for England, Mr. Francis Hall, of the New York Commercial Advertiser, sent him a note in which he said:—

I have just received from a friend in Montreal the following information which I wish you would give to the Rev. Richard Reece, of London:—The Lord has blessed us abundantly in Montreal. Upwards of four hundred conversions have taken place in our chapel since last summer. It is now necessary for us to have a chapel in the St. Lawrence suburbs, and another in the Quebec suburbs immediately. This (said Mr. Hall) for those who know Montreal, is great news indeed. It is equal to an increase of as many thousands in the city of New York; the whole population being only a little more than thirty thousand, a great portion of which are Roman Catholics.—H.]

Dr. Ryerson's journal then proceeds:—

At Sea, April 10th.—On the 22nd ult., I embarked on the sailing ship "York," Capt. Uree, New York. I was sick for fourteen days, ate nothing, thought little, and enjoyed nothing. Feeling better, I was able to read a little.

April 12th.—After twenty days' sail we landed at Portsmouth. Thanks be to the God of heaven, earth, and sea for His protection, blessing, and prosperity! I was greatly struck with the extensive fortifications, and vast dockyards, together with the wonderful machinery in this place; such indications of national wealth, and specimens of human genius and industry.[Pg 116]

April 13th.—This morning I arrived in London, and was cordially received by the Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and kindly invited to take up my lodgings at the Mission House.

April 14th—Sabbath.—Heard the Rev. G. Marsden preach. In the afternoon this holy man addressed about four hundred Sunday-school children, after which I spoke a few words to them. We then attended a prayer-meeting, where many found peace with God. In the evening I heard the Rev. Theophilus Lessey preach a superior sermon, and I felt blessed.

April 16th.—This evening I preached my first sermon in England, in City Road Chapel, from John iii. 8. This is called Mr. Wesley's Chapel, having been built by him, and left under peculiar regulations. Alongside is Mr. Wesley's dwelling-house, and in the rear of it rest his bones, also those of Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke and Rev. Richard Watson; three of the greatest men the world ever saw. In the front of this chapel, on the opposite side of the street, are the celebrated Bunhill Field's burying ground, among whose memorable dead rests the dust of the venerable Isaac Watts, John Wesley's mother, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, etc.

April 21st—Sunday.—To-day I went to hear the celebrated Edward Irving. His preaching, for the most part, I considered commonplace; his manner, eccentric; his pretensions to revelations, authority, and prophetic indications, overweening. I was disappointed in his talents, and surprised at the apparent want of feeling manifested throughout his whole discourse.

April 20th.—This morning I attended the funeral of the great and eminently pious Rev. Rowland Hill, who died in the 89th year of his age. Lord Hill, his nephew, was chief mourner. There was a large attendance of ministers of all denominations, and a great concourse of people. Rev. Wm. Jay, of Bath, preached an admirable sermon from Zech. ii. 2. "Howl fir tree, for the cedar hath fallen." The venerable remains were interred beneath the pulpit.

April 26th.—To-day I heard Rev. Richard Winter Hamilton, of Leeds, an Independent, preach a missionary sermon for the Wesleyan Society. His text was Col. i. 16. It was the most splendid sermon I ever heard.

April 28th.—Heard the Rev. Robert Newton in the morning. In the afternoon I preached a missionary sermon in Westminster Chapel, and in the evening another at Chelsea.

April 29th.—This day was held the Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, in Exeter Hall, Lord Morpeth in the chair. He is a young man, serious and dignified in his manners. The speeches generally were able and to the point. Collection was £231.

May 1st.—The Annual Meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society was held in Exeter Hall. Lord Bexley presided. The Bishops of Winchester and Chester, brothers, addressed the meeting. They are eloquent speakers, but the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel was the speaker of the day.

May 3rd.—This morning I attended the Annual Breakfast Meeting of the preachers' children, at the City Road Morning Chapel; nearly 200 preachers and their families were present. Rev. Joseph Entwistle spoke, as did Mr. James Wood, of Bristol, myself and one or two others.

May 5th., Exeter.—Left London at 5 a.m. and arrived here at 10 p.m., within a minute of the time specified by the coachman. We passed over the scene of that inimitable tract, "The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain." We were shown the tree under which the shepherd was sheltered.

May 6th.—Rev. Wm. Naylor preached this morning in Exeter, and I preached in the evening.

Taunton, May 7th.—At a Missionary Tea Meeting to-day, deep interest was excited in the cause of the British North American Missions. Taunton is a very ancient town. It existed in the time of the Romans. It was in this town that King Ina held the first Legislative Assembly or Parliament ever[Pg 117] held in Britain. It consisted of ecclesiastics and noblemen and enacted certain laws for the better government of the Heptarchy. It was near this town King Alfred concealed himself, and was discovered in the capacity of a cook. Here also stands the Church of St. Mary, a most splendid and ancient gothic building, where that venerable and holy man of God, Joseph Alleine, author of the "Alarm to the Unconverted," preached.

In a letter to a friend in Upper Canada, Dr. Ryerson at this date writes:—

Nottingham, May 29th.—I this morning called upon Mrs. Watson, mother of the late distinguished Richard Watson. She is nearly eighty years of age, and in rather humble circumstances. She is in the possession of a naturally strong and unimpaired intellect, and has apparently not the least vanity on account of the unrivalled talents, high attainments, and great popularity of her son. In conversation she stated the following particulars: That her husband was a saddler, that he formerly lived and followed his business in Boston-on-the-Humber in Lincolnshire, where Richard was born; that her husband was the only Methodist in the town, and was the means of introducing Methodism into that town; that his business was taken from him, and he was obliged to leave and remove to another place on account of it; that Richard was very weakly, and so poorly that she carried him when a child on a pillow in her arms; that when he began to talk and run about he was unusually stupid and sleepy, would drop asleep anywhere; that he was very tall of his age, and made such advancement in learning, that he read the Latin Testament at five years of age, and had read a considerable part of it before his parents knew that he had been put to the study of Latin; the clergyman, his tutor, thought him older, from his size and mind, or, as he said, he would not have put him to Latin so young; that Richard had a very great taste for reading; when he was a very small boy, he read the History of England (when not eight years of age), and recollected and related with the utmost correctness all its leading facts; that he would frequently remain at school after school hours, doing difficult questions in arithmetic for older boys; that he was bound out, according to his request, to the trade of a house-joiner; that he was most diligent and faithful at his work, and made such rapid advancement in learning the trade, that at the end of two years, his master told his father that he had already learned as much as he could teach him, and that he was willing to give him up if he desired—the best hand in his shop; that Richard began to go out and exhort when he was fourteen years of age, and that he preached when he was fifteen, and was received on trial by the Conference as a travelling preacher about a month after he was sixteen; that he was frequently pelted with eggs, and even trodden under foot; that his own uncle on one occasion encouraged it, saying, "My kinsman does it pretty well, give him a few more eggs, lad" (addressing one of the mob), and that Richard came home frequently with his clothes completely besmeared with eggs and dirt.

I attended the Wesleyan Missionary meeting here and spoke at it. The meeting was highly interesting. It was addressed by Rev. Mr. Edwards, (Baptist) and by the Messrs. Bunting, Atherton, and Bakewell. In this town the noted Kilham made his first Methodist division, and here suddenly ended his life. Here Bramwell got the ground for a chapel in answer to prayer. Near the town runs the River Trent. From Nottingham I went fourteen miles to Mansfield and attended a missionary meeting. I was in the house which was the birth-place of the great Chesterfield, and passed through Mansfield forest, the scene of Robin Hood's predatory exploits.

In his journal Dr. Ryerson says:—

London, June 24th.—I had an interview with Rt. Hon. Edward Ellice,[Pg 118] on Canadian affairs; a man of noble spirit, liberal mind, and benevolent heart. He condemned Dr. Strachan's measures, and manifested an earnest, desire to promote the welfare of Upper Canada. I gave him an account of the political and religious affairs in Upper Canada with which he expressed himself pleased, and gave me £50 for the Upper Canada Academy.

June 16th.—This day was dedicated, by Rev. Wm. Ryerson, the new brick chapel on Newgate (Adelaide) Street, Toronto. (See subsequent chapter.)

June 24th.—Writing to-day to a valued friend in Upper Canada in regard to his mission in London, Dr. Ryerson told him that he had no doubt of its advantageous results in promoting harmony and peace. He then said:—

I apprehend that Mr. Stanley's appointment to the Secretaryship of the Colonies will not be very beneficial to us. The reason of Lord Goderich and Lord Howick (Earl Grey's son) retiring from that office was that they would not bring any other Bill on slavery into Parliament, but one for its immediate and entire abolition. I understand that Lords Goderich and Howick are sadly annoyed at Mr. Stanley's course.

It will only be for the friends of good government to pray for the re-appointment of Lord Goderich, or insist upon a change in the Colonial policy towards Upper Canada. This part, however, belongs to political men. But I am afraid it may have an unfavourable bearing upon our religious rights and interests.

In Rev. J. Richardson's letter to me, he mentions that the petitions were sent in the care of Mr. Joseph Hume. He is not the person to present a petition to His Majesty on religious liberty in the Colonies, and especially after the part he has taken in opposing the Bill for emancipating the slaves in the West Indies. It has incensed the religious part of the nation against him. He is connected with the West India interest by his wife, and his abandoning all his principles of liberty in such a heart-stirring question, destroys confidence in the disinterestedness of his general conduct, and his sincere regard for the great interests of religion. I leave London this afternoon for Ireland. My return here depends upon whether I can do anything in this petition business.[39]

It is difficult to get a moment for retirement, excepting very early in the morning, or after twelve at night. It is not the way for me to live I had, however, a very profitable and good day yesterday. I preached, and superintended a love-feast in City Road Chapel last evening. It was a very good one, only the people were a little bashful in speaking at first, like some of our York friends who are always so very timid, such as Dr. Morrison, Mr. Howard, and others.

In his journal Dr. Ryerson says:—

June 26th.—According to appointment, I called upon the Earl of Ripon, and was most kindly received. I wished to enquire about the medal promised by His Majesty, William IV., to Peter Jones, and to solicit a donation towards our Academy at Cobourg. His Lordship gave me £5. He expressed his disapprobation of Sir John Colborne's reply to the Methodist Conference in 1831, (see page 98). He stated that he was anxious for the Union between the British and Canadian Conferences, and[Pg 119] was gratified at the prospect of its success.[40] His Lordship stated that, while in the Colonial Department, he had only received Mr. W. L. Mackenzie as a private individual, and had done no more than justice to him.

June 28th.—I called at the Colonial office, and laid before Mr. Stanley statements and documents relative to the Clergy Reserve Question. Mr. Stanley was very courteous, but equally cautious. I stated that the House of Assembly of Upper Canada had nearly every year since 1825, by very large majorities, decided against the erection of any Church Establishment in that Province, and in favour of the appropriation of the Clergy Reserves to the purposes of General Education; that this might be taken to be the fair and deliberate sense of the people of Upper Canada; that this question was distinct from any question or questions of political reform; that parties and parliaments who differed on other questions of public policy, agreed nearly unanimously in this. He expressed his opinion that the Colonial Legislature had a right to legislate on it, and asked me why our House of Assembly had not done it. I told him it had, but the Legislative Council had rejected the Bill passed by the Assembly on the subject.

July 13th.—In a letter at this date to a friend in Upper Canada, Dr. Ryerson further refers to this and a subsequent interview as follows:—

I have had two interviews with Mr. Secretary Stanley, on the subject of the House of Assembly's Address on the Clergy Reserves, and have drawn up a statement of the grounds on which the House of Assembly and the great body of the people in Upper Canada resist the pretensions and claims of the Episcopal clergy. Mr. Solicitor-General Hagerman has been directed to do the same on behalf of the Episcopal clergy. I confess that I was a little surprised to find that the Colonial Secretary was fully impressed at first that Methodist preachers in Canada were generally Americans (Yankees);—that the cause of the great prosperity of Methodism there was the ample support it received from the United States;—that the missionaries in Upper Canada were actually under the United States Conference, and at its disposal. The Colonial Secretary manifested a little surprise also, when I turned to the Journals of the Upper Canada House of Assembly, and produced proof of[Pg 120] the reverse, which he pronounced "perfectly conclusive and satisfactory."

August 8th.—Dr. Ryerson received a touching note at this date from Mrs. Marsden, with explanation of her reluctance to let Rev. Geo. Marsden, her husband, go to Canada as President of the Conference. She says:—

At length my rebellious heart is subdued by reason and by grace. I am made willing to give up my excellent husband to what is supposed to be a great work. I am led to hope that, as a new class of feelings are brought into exercise, perhaps some new graces may be elicited in my own character, as well as that of my dear husband; at any rate it is a sacrifice to God, which I trust will be accepted, and, both in a private and a public view, be overruled for the glory of God. I am sure, notwithstanding some repeated attempts to reconcile me to this affair, I must have appeared very unamiable to you; but the fact was simply this, I could not see you or converse with you, without so much emotion as quite unnerved me, therefore I studiously avoided you; but did you know the happiness which dear Mr. Marsden and I have enjoyed in each other's society for so many years, you would not be surprised that I should be unwilling to give up so many months as will be required for this service; but to God and His Church I bow in submission.

This estimable lady did not long survive. She died in six months—just after her husband had returned from America. In a letter from Rev. E. Grindrod, dated March, 1834, he says, Mrs. Marsden died, after a short illness, on 22nd February. She was one of the most amiable and pious of women. Her lite was a bright pattern of every Christian virtue. Her end was delightfully triumphant.

The following is an extract from Dr. Ryerson's diary of this year:—

After many earnest prayers, mature deliberation, and the advice of an elder brother, I have decided within the last few months to enter again into the married state. The lady I have selected, and who has consented to become my second wife, is one whom I have every reason to believe possesses all the natural and Christian excellencies of my late wife. She is the eldest daughter of a pious and wealthy merchant, Mr. James Rogers Armstrong. For her my late wife also entertained a very particular esteem and affection, and, from her good sense, sound judgment, humble piety, and affectionate disposition, I doubt not but that she will make me a most interesting and valuable companion, a judicious house-wife, and an affectionate mother to my two children. Truly I love her with a pure heart fervently I receive her, and hope ever to treat and value her as the special token of my Heavenly Father's kindness after a season of His chastisement. If thou, Lord, see fit to spare us, may our union promote Thy glory and the salvation of sinners!

Dr. Ryerson's marriage with Miss Mary Armstrong, took place at Toronto, on the 8th of November 1833.


[38] While in England, Dr. Ryerson received the following note from Rev. Dr. J. P. Durbin, in which he said: After I parted with you at my house, I felt a strong inclination to engage your correspondence for our paper, at least once a week, if possible, for the benefit of our people and country, through the Church. Can you not write us by every packet? Information in regard to English Methodism will be particularly interesting, especially their financial arrangements. Do inquire diligently of them, and write us minutely for the good of our Zion.—H.

[39] In Epochs of Canadian Methodism, Dr. Ryerson says:—When the writer of these Essays was appointed a representative of the Canadian Conference to negotiate a union between the two Conferences in 1833, he carried a Petition to the King, signed by upwards of 20,000 inhabitants, against the Clergy Reserve Monopoly and the Establishment of a Dominant Church in Upper Canada. This petition was presented through Lord Stanley, the Colonial Secretary. Page 221.—H.

[40] Dr. Ryerson has left no record in his "Story" of the negotiations for this Union. His report, however, on the subject will be found on pages 193, 194, Vol. iv. of the Guardian for October 16th, 1833, from which I take the following extracts: On the 5th June, Rev. Messrs. Bunting, Beecham, Alder, and myself, examined the whole question in detail, and prepared an outline of the resolutions to be submitted to the British Conference, and recommended that a grant of £1,000 be appropriated the first year to the promotion of Canadian Missions. On the 2nd August these resolutions were introduced by Rev. John Beecham (Missionary Secretary). They were supported by Rev. Jabez Bunting, Rev. Jas. Wood (now in his 83rd year), and Rev. Robert Newton. A Committee was appointed to consider and report on the whole matter consisting of the President, Secretary, and seven ex-Presidents, the Irish representatives (Messrs. Waugh, Stewart, and Doolittle), and fifteen other ministers. This Committee considered and reported these resolutions, which were adopted and forms the basis of the Articles of Union. Hereafter, the name of our Church will be changed from "The Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada," to "The Wesleyan Methodist Church in British North America."—H.

[Pg 121]



"Impressions" of England and their Effects.

On my return to Canada, after having negotiated the Union of 1833 with the English Conference, accompanied by Rev. George Marsden, as first President of the Canadian Conference, I was re-elected editor of the Christian Guardian, and continued as such until 1835, when I refused re-election, and was appointed to Kingston; but in November of the same year, the President of the Conference appointed from England (Rev. William Lord) insisted upon my going to England to arrange pecuniary difficulties, which had arisen between him and the London Wesleyan Missionary Committee.

Except the foregoing paragraph, Dr. Ryerson has left no particulars of the events which transpired in his history from the period of his return to Canada in September, 1833, until some time in 1835. I have, therefore, selected what follows in this chapter, from his letters and papers, to illustrate this busy and eventful portion of his active life.

The principal circumstance which occurred at this time was the publication of his somewhat famous "Impressions" of public men and parties in England. This event marked an important epoch in his life, if not in the history of the country.

The publication of these "Impressions" during this year created quite a sensation. Dr. Ryerson was immediately assailed with a storm of invective by the chief leaders of the ultra section of politicians with whom he had generally acted. By the more moderate section and by the public generally he was hailed as the champion, if not the deliverer, of those who were really alarmed at the rapid strides towards disloyalty and revolution, to which these extreme men were impelling the people. This feature of the unlooked for and bitter controversy, which followed the publication of these "impressions," will be developed further on.

October 2d, 1833.—On this day the Upper Canada Conference ratified the articles of union between it and the British Conference, which were agreed upon at the Manchester Conference[Pg 122] on the 7th of August. (See note on page 119.)[41] At the Conference held this year in York (Toronto), Dr. Ryerson was again elected editor of the Guardian. He entered on the duties of that office on the 16th October.

October 30th.—In reply to the many questions put to Dr. Ryerson on his return to Canada, such as: "What do you think of England?" "What is your opinion of her public men, her institutions?" etc., etc., he published in the Guardian of this day the first part of "Impressions made by my late visit to England," in regard to public men, religious bodies, and the general state of the nation. He said:—

There are three great political parties in England—Tories, Whigs, and Radicals, and two descriptions of characters constituting each party. Of the first, there is the moderate and the ultra tory. An English ultra tory is what we believe has usually been meant and understood in Canada by the unqualified term tory; that is, a lordling in power, a tyrant in politics, and a bigot in religion. This description of partizans, we believe, is headed by the Duke of Cumberland, and is followed not "afar off" by that powerful party, which presents such a formidable array of numbers, rank, wealth, talent, science, and literature, headed by the hero of Waterloo. This shade of the tory party appears to be headed in the House of Commons by Sir Robert Inglis, member for the Oxford University, and is supported, on most questions, by that most subtle and ingenious politician and fascinating speaker, Sir Robert Peel, with his numerous train of followers and admirers. Among those who support the distinguishing measures of this party are men of the highest Christian virtue and piety; and, our decided impression is, that it embraces the major part of the talent, and wealth, and learning of the British Nation. The acknowledged and leading organs of this party are Blackwood's Magazine and the London Quarterly Review.

The other branch of this great political party is what is called the moderate tory. In political theory he agrees with his high-toned neighbour; but he acts from religious principle, and this governs his private as well as his public life. To this class belongs a considerable portion of the Evangelical Clergy, and, we think, a majority of the Wesleyan Methodists. It evidently includes the great body of the piety, Christian enterprise, and[Pg 123] sterling virtue of the nation. It is, in time of party excitement, alike hated and denounced by the ultra Tory, the crabbed Whig, and the Radical leveller. Such was our impression of the true character of what, by the periodical press in England, is termed a moderate Tory. From his theories we in some respects dissent; but his integrity, his honesty, his consistency, his genuine liberality, and religious beneficence, claim respect and imitation.

The second great political and now ruling party in England are the Whigs—a term synonymous with whey, applied, it is said, to this political school, from the sour and peevish temper manifested by its first disciples—though it is now rather popular than otherwise in England. The Whig appears to differ in theory from the Tory in this, that he interprets the constitution, obedience to it, and all measures in regard to its administration, upon the principles of expediency; and is, therefore, always pliant in his professions, and is even ready to suit his measures to "the times"; an indefinite term, that also designates the most extensively circulated daily paper in England, or in the world, which is the leading organ of the Whig party, backed by the formidable power and lofty periods of the Edinburgh Review. The leaders of this party in the House of Lords are Earl Grey and the Lord Chancellor Brougham; at the head of the list in the House of Commons stands the names of Mr. Stanley, Lord Althorp, Lord John Russell, and Mr. T. B. Macaulay. In this class are also included many of the most learned and popular ministers of Dissenting congregations.

The third political sect is called Radicals, apparently headed by Messrs. Joseph Hume and Thomas Attwood; the former of whom, though acute, indefatigable, persevering, popular on financial questions, and always to the point, and heard with respect and attention in the House of Commons, has no influence as a religious man; has never been known to promote any religious measure or object as such, and has opposed every measure for the better observance of the Sabbath, and even introduced a motion to defeat the bill for the abolition of colonial slavery; and Mr. Attwood, the head of the celebrated Birmingham political Union, is a conceited, boisterous, hollow-headed declaimer.

Radicalism in England appeared to me to be but another word for Republicanism, with the name of King instead of President. The notorious infidel character of the majority of the political leaders and periodical publications of their party, deterred the virtuous part of the nation from associating with them, though some of the brightest ornaments of the English pulpit and nation have leaned to their leading doctrines in theory. It is not a little remarkable that that very description of the public[Pg 124] press, which in England advocates the lowest radicalism, is the foremost in opposing and slandering the Methodists in this Province. Hence the fact that some of these editors have been amongst the lowest of the English radicals previous to their egress from the mother country.

Upon the whole, our impressions of the religious and moral character, and influence, of the several political parties into which the British nation is unhappily divided, were materially different in some respects, from personal observation, from what they had been by hear-say and reading.

On the very evening of the day in which the foregoing appeared, Mr. W. L. Mackenzie (in the Colonial Advocate of Oct. 30th), denounced the writer of these "Impressions" in no measured terms. His denunciation proved that he clearly perceived what would be the effect on the public mind of Dr. Ryerson's candid and outspoken criticisms on men and things in England—especially his adverse opinion of the English idols of (what subsequently proved to be) the disloyal section of the public men of the day in Upper Canada and their followers.

Mr. Mackenzie's vehement attack upon the writer of these "Impressions" had its effect at the time. In some minds a belief in the truth of that attack lingered long afterwards—but not in the minds of those who could distinguish between honest conviction, based upon actual knowledge, and pre-conceived opinions, based upon hearsay and a superficial acquaintance with men and things.

As the troubled period of 1837 approached, hundreds had reason to be thankful to Dr. Ryerson that the publication of his "Impressions" had, without design on his part, led to the disruption of a party which was being hurried to the brink of a precipice, over which so many well meaning, but misguided, men fell in the winter of 1837, never to rise again.

It was a proud boast of Dr. Ryerson (as he states in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," page 385), that in these disastrous times not a single member of the Methodist Church was implicated in the disloyal rebellion of 1837-8. He attributed this gratifying state of things to the fact that he had uttered the notes of warning in sufficient time to enable the readers of the Guardian to pause and think; and that, with a just appreciation of their danger, members of the Society had separated themselves from all connection with projects and opinions which logically would have placed them in a position of defiant hostility to the Queen and constitution.

But, to return. The outburst of Mr. Mackenzie's wrath, which immediately followed (on the evening of the same day) the publication of Dr. Ryerson's "Impressions," was as follows:[Pg 125]

The Christian Guardian, under the management of Egerton Ryerson, has gone over to the enemy,—press, types, and all,—and hoisted the colours of a cruel, vindictive, Tory priesthood.... The contents of the Guardian of to-night tells us in language too plain, too intelligible to be misunderstood, that a deadly blow has been struck in England at the liberties of the people of Upper Canada, by as subtle and ungrateful an adversary, in the guise of an old and familiar friend, as ever crossed the Atlantic.

In his "Almanac," issued on the same day, Mr. Mackenzie also used similar language. He said:—

The arch-apostate Egerton, alias Arnold, Ryerson, and the Christian Guardian goes over to Strachan and the Tories.

Nov. 6th.—In the Guardian of this day Dr. Ryerson inserted an extended reply to Mr. Mackenzie, and, in calm and dignified language, gave the reasons which induced him to publish his "Impressions." He said:—

We did so,—1st, As a subject of useful information; 2nd, To correct an erroneous impression that had been industriously created, that we were identified in our feelings and purposes with some one political party; 3rd, To furnish an instructive moral to the Christian reader, not to be a passive or active tool, or the blind, thorough-going follower of any political party as such. We considered this called for at the present time on both religious and patriotic grounds. We designed this expression of our sentiments, and this means of removing groundless prejudice and hostility in the least objectionable and offensive way, and without coming in contact with any political party in Canada, or giving offence to any, except those who had shown an inveterate and unprincipled hostility to Methodism. We therefore associated the Canadian ultra tory with the English radical, because we were convinced of their identity in moral essence, and that the only essential difference between them is, that the one is top and the other bottom. We therefore said, "that very description of the public press which in England advocates the lowest radicalism, is the foremost in opposing and slandering the Methodists in this Province."

That our Christian brethren throughout the Province, and every sincere friend to Methodism, do not wish us to be an organized political party, we are fully assured—that it is inconsistent with our profession and duty to become such. Out of scores of expressions to the same effect we might quote quite abundantly from the Guardian, but our readers are aware of them.

That the decided part we have felt it our duty to take in obtaining and securing our rights in regard of the Clergy Reserve Question, has had a remote or indirect tendency to promote Mr. Mackenzie's political measures, we readily admit; but that we have ever supported a measure, or given publicity[Pg 126] to any documents from Mr. Mackenzie, or any other political man in Canada, on any other grounds than this, we totally deny.

Mr. Mackenzie's attack rests on four grounds: 1. That our language was so explicit as to remove every doubt and hope of our encouraging a "thick and thin" partizanship with him, or any man or set of men in Canada; or, 2. That we did not speak in opprobrious, but rather favourable terms, of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor; or, 3. That we expressed our approbation of the principles and colonial policy of Lord Goderich (now Earl Ripon), and those who agree with him; or 4. That we alluded to Mr. Hume in terms not sufficiently complimentary. If Mr. Mackenzie's wishes are crossed and his wrath inflamed, because we have not entered our protest against His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, we could not do so after we had learned the views of His Majesty's Government, in a reply of His Excellency to an address of our Conference about two years ago,[42] when every unfavourable impression had been removed, and when good-will was expressed towards the Methodists as a people; we have not so learned to forgive injuries—we have not so learned to "honour and obey magistrates,"—we have not so learned our duty as a minister, and as a Christian. We, as a religious body, and as the organ of a religious body, have only to do with Sir John Colborne's administration, as far as it concerns our character and rights as British subjects; His Excellency's measures and administration in merely secular matters lie within the peculiar province of the political journalists and politicians of the day. If our offering a tribute of grateful respect to Lord Goderich, who had declared in his despatches to Canada his earnest desire to remove every bishop and priest from our Legislature, to secure the right of petitioning the King to the meanest subject in the realm, to extend the blessings of full religious liberty and the advantages of education to every class of British subjects in Canada, without distinction or partiality, and in every way to advance the interests of the Province;—if honouring such men and such principles be "hoisting the colours (as Mr. Mackenzie says), of a cruel, vindictive, Tory priesthood," then has Mr. Mackenzie the merit of a new discovery of vindictive cruelty, and with his own definition of liberty, and his own example of liberality, will he adopt his own honourable means to attain it, and breathe out death and destruction against all who do not incorporate themselves into a strait-jacket battalion under his political sword, and vow allegiance and responsibility to everything done by his "press, types, and all?"[Pg 127]

Mr. Mackenzie did not reply to Dr. Ryerson in the spirit of his rejoinder. He was a master of personal invective, and he indulged in it in this instance, rather than discuss the questions raised on their merits. He, therefore, turned on Dr. Ryerson, and, over his shoulders, struck a blow at his venerable Father and his eldest Brother. He said:—

The Father of the Editor of the Guardian lifted his sword against the throats of his own countrymen struggling for freedom from established churches, stamp acts, military domination, Scotch governors, and Irish government; and his brother George figured on the frontier in the war of 1812, and got wounded and pensioned for fighting to preserve crown and clergy reserves, and all the other strongholds of corruption, in the hands of the locusts who infest and disturb this Province.

Dr. Ryerson's simple rejoinder to this attack on his Father and Brother was as follows:—

The man who could hold up the brave defenders of our homes and firesides to the scorn and contempt of their countrymen, must be lost to all patriotic and loyal feelings of humanity for those who took their lives in their hands in perilous times.

Nov. 14th.—As to the effect of the "impressions" upon the country generally, the following letter from Hallowell (Picton) written to Dr. Ryerson by his brother John, may be safely taken as an example of the feeling which they at first evoked. It is characterized by strong and vigorous language, indicative of the state of public opinion at the time. It is valuable from the fact that while it is outspoken in its criticism of Dr. Ryerson's views, it touches upon the point to which I have already referred, viz: the separation into two sections of the powerful party which was then noted as the champion of popular rights. Mr. Ryerson says:—

Your article on the Political Parties of England has created much excitement throughout these parts. The only good that can result from it is, the breaking up of the union which has hitherto existed between us and the radicals. Were it not for this, I should much regret its appearance. But we had got so closely linked with those extreme men, in one way or another, that we cannot expect to get rid of them without feeling the shock, and, perhaps, it may as well come now as anytime. It is our duty and interest to support the Government. Although there may be some abuses which have crept in, yet, I believe that we enjoy as many political and religious advantages as any people. Our public affairs are as well managed as in any other country. As it respects the Reformers, so called, take Baldwin, Bidwell, Rolph, and such men from their ranks, and there is scarcely one man of character or honour among them. I am sorry to say it, but it is so. The best way for the present is for us to have nothing to say about politics, but treat the Government with respect. Radcliffe, of the Cobourg Reformer, and Dr. Barker, of the Kingston Whig, have come out in their true character. Radcliffe is preparing a heavy charge against you. But let them come; fear them not! I hope they will show themselves now. I thought that you, in your reply to W. L. Mackenzie, did not speak in a sufficiently decided manner. You say you have[Pg 128] not changed your views; but I hope you have in some respects. Although you never were a Radical, yet have not we all leaned too much towards them, and will we not now smart for it a little? But, the sooner it comes on, the sooner it will be over.

Rev. John Ryerson then gives the first intimation of the existence of that germ of hostility to the recently consummated Union on the part of the British Wesleyan Missionaries in this country—a hostility which became at length so deep and widespread as to destroy the Union itself—a union which was not fully restored until 1847. Mr. Ryerson points out the political animus of the movement, and proceeds:—

You see that the Missionaries are making great efforts to have Kingston and York made exceptions to the general arrangements. Should the English Committee listen to them, confidence will be entirely destroyed. Their object is to make the British Conference believe that we have supported Radical politics to an unlimited extent, and that, therefore, the people will not submit to the Union with such people; they (the Missionaries) are, however, the authors of the whole trouble. Rev. Mr. Hetherington told me that they were getting the back numbers of the Guardian to prove that we had been political intimidators! They say that Mr. Marsden, the President, told the members at Kingston that it they could make it appear that we had done this, they should be exempted from the Union, and be supplied with Missionaries from home.

In a subsequent letter from Rev. John Ryerson, he discusses his brother's "Impressions of Public Men in England," and utters a word of warning to the Methodist people who have allied themselves too closely with the disloyal party. He says:

What will be the result of your remarks in the Guardian on Political Parties in England, I cannot say. They will occasion much speculation, some jealousy, and bad feeling. I have sometimes thought you had better not have written them, particularly at this time, yet I have long been of the opinion (both with regard to measures and men) that we leaned too much towards Radicalism, and that it would be absolutely necessary to disengage ourselves from them entirely. You can see plainly that it is not Reform, but Revolution they are after. We should fare sumptuously, should we not, with W. L. Mackenzie, of Toronto, and Radcliffe, of Cobourg, for our rulers! I have also felt very unpleasant in noticing the endeavours of these men (aided by some of our members) to introduce their republican leaven into our Ecclesiastical polity. Is it not a little remarkable that not one of our members, who have entered into their politics, but has become a furious leveller in matters of Church Government, and these very men are the most regardless of our reputation, and the most ready to impugn our motives, and defame our character, when we, in any way, cross their path. There are some things in your remarks I don't like; but, on the whole, I am glad of their appearance, and I hope, whenever you have occasion to speak of the Government, you will do it in terms of respect. I am anxious that we should obtain the confidence of the Government, and entirely disconnect ourselves from that tribe of levellers, with whom we have been too intimate, and who are, at any time, ready to turn around and sell us when we fail to please them.

Nov. 20th.—In another letter to Dr. Ryerson from his brother John, at this date, he says:[Pg 129]

I deeply feel for you in the present state of agitation and trial. My own heart aches and sickens within me at times; I have no doubt, however much of a philosopher you may be, that you at times participate in the same feelings; but, pursuing a conscientious course, I hope you will at times be able to say:

"Courage, my soul! thou need'st not fear,
Thy great Provider still is near."

The following sympathetic letter from Dr. Ryerson's friend, Mr. E. C. Griffin, of Waterdown, written at the same time, gives another proof of the unreasoning prejudice of those whose knowledge of the outer world was circumscribed and superficial. In England, Dr. Ryerson saw things as they were. He was, therefore, not prepared for the burst of wrath that followed the plain recital of his "impressions" of men and things in England. Mr. Griffin writes:—

The respect I have for you and yours should at all times deter me from bearing evil tidings, yet the same consideration would make it a duty under peculiar circumstances. You have already learned that the public mind has been much agitated in consequence of your remarks in the Guardian on Mr. Joseph Hume, M.P., and Mr. Thomas Attwood, M.P. (see page 123). On this Circuit it is truly alarming—some of our most respectable Methodists are threatening to leave the Church. The general impression has obtained (however unjustly) that you have "turned downright Tory," which, in this country, whether moderate or ultra, seems to have but one meaning among the bulk of Reformers, and that is, as being an enemy to all reform and the correction of acknowledged abuses. This general impression among the people has created a feverish discontent among the Methodists. The excitement is so high that your subsequent explanation has seemed to be without its desired effect. I should be glad if you would state distinctly in the Guardian what you meant in your correspondence with the Colonial Secretary, when you said you had no desire to interfere with the present emoluments of the Church clergy (or words to that effect); and also of the term "equal protection to the different denominations." You are, doubtless, aware of the use made of these expressions by some of the journals, and, I am sorry to say, with too much effect. These remarks, taken in connection with those against Mr. Hume, is the pivot on which everything is turned against you, against the Guardian, and against the Methodists.

A few days later Dr. Ryerson received another letter from Mr. Griffin, in which he truthfully says:—

Perhaps there have not been many instances in which sophistry has been applied more effectually to injure an individual, or a body of Christians, as in the present instance. Whigs, tories, and radicals have all united to crush, I may say at a blow, the Methodists, and none have tried to do so more effectually than Mr. W. L. Mackenzie. He persisted in it so as to make his friends generally believe that the cause of reform was ruined by you. His abuse of you and your friends, and the Methodists, is more than I can stand. He has certainly manifested a great want of discernment, or he has acted from design. I see that the Hamilton Free Press has called in the aid of Mr. F. Collins, of the Canadian Freeman, to assist in abusing you and your whole family.

From Augusta, Rev. Anson Green wrote about the same time, and in a similar strain, but not so sympathetically. He says:[Pg 130]

I fear your impressions are bad ones. Our people are all in an uproar about them.

Nov. 22nd.—Rev. William Ryerson writing from Kingston at this time, reports the state of feeling there. He says:—

As to the Guardian, I am sorry to inform you that it is becoming less popular than formerly. If your English "impressions" are not more acceptable and useful in other parts than they are here, it will add little to your credit, or to the usefulness of your paper to publish any more of them. I know that you have been shamefully abused, and treated in a most base manner, and by no one so much so as by Mr. Radcliffe of the Cobourg Reformer. I hope you will expose the statements and figures of the Reformer to our friends. It is rather unfortunate that if you did intend, as is said, to conciliate the Tory party in this country, you should have expressed yourself in such a way as to be so much misunderstood.

Nov. 23rd.—Rev. Alvah A. Adams, writing from Prescott, says:—

There are a few disturbances in our Zion. Some are bent on making mischief. You need not be surprised that the Grenville Gazette speaks so contemptuously of you and the cause in which you have been, and are still, engaged. There are reasons why you need not marvel at the great torrent of scurrilous invectives with which his useless columns have of late abounded.

Nov. 23rd.—Although not so intended by Dr. Ryerson, yet the publication of his "impressions," had the effect of developing the plans of Mr. W. L. Mackenzie, and those who acted with him, much more rapidly and fully than they could have anticipated. In the second supplement to his Colonial Advocate, published November 23rd, Mr. Mackenzie used this unmistakeable language:—

The local authorities have no means to protect themselves against an injured people, if they persist in their unconstitutional career.... There are not military enough to uphold a bad government for an hour, if the Rubicon has been passed; and well does Sir John Colborne know that although he may hire regiments of priests here, he may expect no more red-coats from Europe in those days of economy.... He also knows that if we are to take examples from the Mother Country, the arbitrary proceedings of the officers of his government are such as would warrant the people to an open and armed resistance.

Dec. 6th.—Dr. Ryerson having received a protest from five of his ministerial brethren in the Niagara District,[43] against his[Pg 131] "impressions" he wrote a remonstrance to each of them, but this did not appease them. Rev. David Wright said:—

As an individual I am not at all satisfied either with the course you have taken or the explanation given. Could you witness the confused state of our Church on Stamford Circuit; the insults we receive, both from many of our members and others of good standing, you would at once see the propriety of the steps we have taken for our defence. Hardly a tea-party or meeting of any kind, but the Guardian is the topic of conversation, and the conversion of its editor and all the preachers to Toryism. The Ranters and the Ryanites are very busy, and are doing us much harm. I am more and more convinced of the imprudence of the course you have taken, especially at this trying time in our Church. In Queenston, Drummondville, Chippewa, Erie, St. Davids, the Lane, and Lyons' Creek the preachers are hooted at as they ride by. This is rather trying. I assure you.

Rev. James Evans said:—

You request me not to solicit any to continue the Guardian who are dissatisfied, and who wish to discontinue. This is worse than all beside. And do you suppose that, in opposition to the wish of the Conference, and interest of the Church, I shall pay attention to your request? No, my brother, I cannot; I will not. It shall be my endeavour to obtain and continue subscribers by allaying as far as practicable, their fears, rather than by telling them that they may discontinue and you will abide the consequences. I am astonished! I can only account for your strange and, I am sure, un-Ryersonian conduct and advice on one principle—that there is something ahead which you, through your superior political spyglass, have discovered and thus shape your course, while we land-lubbers, short-sighted as we are, have not even heard of it.

Dr. Ryerson, therefore, challenged these five ministers to proceed against him as provided by the Discipline of the Church. In his reply to them, he lays down some important principles in regard to the rights of an editor, and the duty of his ministerial accusers. He said:—

I beg to say that I cannot publish the criminating declaration of which you speak. You will therefore act your pleasure in publishing it elsewhere. The charges against me are either true or false. If they are true, are you proceeding in the disciplinary way against me? Though I am editor for the Conference, yet I have individual rights as well as you; and the increased responsibility of my situation should, under those rights, if possible, be still more sacred. And if our Conference will place a watchman upon the wall of our Zion, and then allow its members to plunge their swords into him whenever they think he has departed from his duty, without even giving him a court-martial trial, then they are a different description of men from what I think they are. If, as you say, I have been guilty of imprudent conduct, or even "misrepresented my brethren," make your complaint to my Presiding Elder, according to discipline, and then may the decision of the Committee be published in the Guardian, or anywhere else that they may[Pg 132] say. So much for the disciplinary course. Again, if "the clamour," as you call it, against the Guardian be well founded, are you helping the Guardian by corroborating the statement of that clamour? Can Brother James Evans consistently or conscientiously ask an individual to take, or continue to take the Guardian, when he or you publish to the world the belief that its principles are changed? Will this quiet the "clamour?" Will this reconcile the members? Will this unite the preachers? Will this promote the harmony of the Church? Will it not be a fire-brand rather than the "seeds of commotion?" One or two others here got a meeting of the male members of the York Society, and proposed resolutions similar in substance to yours, which were opposed and reprobated by brother Richardson, on the very disciplinary and prudential ground of which I speak, and rejected by the Society. In your declaration you say (not on account of "clamour," or accusations of editors or others, but on account of editorial remarks in the Guardian), "you express your sentiments to save your character from aspersion." In this you imply that the editor of the Guardian has misrepresented your sentiments, and aspersed your character; and, if so, has he not changed his principles? And, if he has changed his principles, is he not guilty of falsehood, since he has positively declared to the reverse? You therefore virtually charge him with inconsistency, misrepresentation, and deliberate falsehood. Is this the fruit of brotherly love? Again, you say that "our political sentiments are the same as before the visit of the editor of the Guardian to England." Is not this equal to asserting that the editor's sentiments are not the same? You therefore say that you love me; that you desire the peace of the Church, and the interests of the Guardian, yet you propose a course which will confirm the slanders of my enemies—to implicate me with inconsistency and falsehood—to injure the Guardian, and deprive yourselves of the power, as men of honour and truth, to recommend it—to kindle and sanction dissatisfaction among our Church members—to arm preacher against preacher—and to criminate a brother before the public, without a disciplinary trial. You say "our friends are looking out for it." Is this the way, my brother, that you have quieted their minds, by telling them that you also were going to criminate the editor? If this be so, I am not surprised that there is dissatisfaction on your circuit. Brother Evans said that nothing but a denial of having changed my opinions, and an explicit statement of them, would satisfy our friends. I did so, and did so plainly and conscientiously. Yet you do not even allude to this expression of my sentiments, but still insist upon doing what is far more than taking my life—stabbing my[Pg 133] principles and integrity. I ask if this is my reward for endangering my life and enduring unparalleled labours, to save the Societies heretofore from being rent to the very centre, and enduring ceaseless storms of slander and persecution for years past in defending the abused character of my brethren? Are they the first to lift up their heel against me? Will they join in the hue and cry against me, rather than endure a "hoot," when I am unjustly treated and basely slandered? I hope I have not fallen into such hands.

Dr. Ryerson received at this time a candid and kindly characteristic letter from his youngest brother, Edwy, at Stamford, which indicated that a reaction was taking place in regard to the much discussed "impressions." He says:—

The present agitated state of the Societies, partly from the Union, and, in a greater degree, from your "impressions" (which would have been a blessing to our Societies, had they never been published) make it very unpleasant to ask even for subscriptions to the Guardian. We are here in a state of commotion; politics run high, and religion low. "The Guardian has turned Tory," is the hue and cry, and many appear to be under greater concern about it, than they ever were about the salvation of their souls. Many again, have got wonderfully wise, and pretend to reveal (as a friend, but in reality as an enemy) the secrets of your policy. Under these unpleasant circumstances, the Ranters have availed themselves of the opportunity of planting themselves at nearly all our posts, and sowing tares in our Societies.

You have received a protest, signed by several preachers, and my name among them. Those were my impressions at the time. Therefore I thought it my duty, in connection with my brethren, to make my protest. I have, however (since seeing the Guardian), been led to believe you had not changed from what you were. Many of the preachers are rejoiced that you were put in the editorial chair, and feel strongly disposed to exert their influence that you may not be displaced.

Dec. 2nd.—On this day Dr. Ryerson received a kind word of encouragement from Mr. Alex. Davidson, a literary friend in Port Hope, afterwards of Niagara. He said:—

I have had an opportunity of seeing most of the provincial papers. They exhibit a miserable picture of the state of the press. The conduct of the editors ought, I think, to be exposed. I have been afraid that from such unmerited abuse, you would quit the Guardian in disgust, and I am glad to see that, though your mind may be as sensitive as that of any other person, you remain firm.

Another indication of the reaction in regard to the "impressions" is mentioned in a note received from Rev. Ephraim Evans, Trafalgar. He says:—

Mr. Thos. Cartwright, of Streetsville, who had given up the Guardian, has ordered it to be sent to him again so that he may not seem to countenance the clamour that has been raised against you. Mr. Evans adds: "I am happy to find that the agitation produced by the unwarrantable conduct of the press generally, is rapidly subsiding; and, I trust, nay, am certain, that the late avowal of your sentiments, will be perfectly satisfactory to every sensible and ingenuous mind. I am, upon the whole, led to believe that Methodism will weather out this storm also, and lose not a spar."

[Pg 134]

Dec. 6th.—Among the many letters of sympathy received by Dr. Ryerson at this time, was one from his Father, in which he says:—

I perceive by the papers that you have met with tempestuous weather. I devoutly hope that the Great Pilot will conduct you safely through the rocks and quicksands on either side.

Jan. 6th, 1834.—In a letter from Rev. Anson Green, at Augusta, it was apparent that the tide of popular opinion against Dr. Ryerson had turned. He said:—

I have been very much pleased indeed with the Guardian during the last few months. There is a very great improvement in it. In this opinion I am not alone. Your remarks on the Clergy Reserve question were very timely and highly satisfactory. A number of our brethren have wished me to express to you the pleasure they feel in the course which you have pursued as editor. There has been very great prejudice against you in these parts, among preachers and people, but I think they are dying out and will, I trust, shortly entirely disappear. I hope we shall soon see "eye to eye."

March 5th.—In the Guardian of this day, Dr. Ryerson intimated that:—

Among many schemes resorted to by the abbettors of Mr. Mackenzie to injure me, was the circulation of all kinds of rumours against my character and standing as a minister. For proof, it was represented that I was denied access to the Wesleyan pulpit in this town. When these statements were made early in the year, the stewards and leaders of the York Society met on the 11th of last January, and passed a resolution to the effect

That being anxious, lest, under exciting circumstances, you might be tempted to withhold your ministrations from the York congregation, they desire their Secretary to inform you that it is their wish, and they believe it a duty you owe to the Church of Christ, to favour it with your views on His unsearchable riches as often as an opportunity may present itself.

As these rumours have now been revived, I published this resolution in the Guardian of to-day.

The capital offence charged against Dr. Ryerson in publishing his "impressions" was his exposure of Joseph Hume, M.P., the friend and patron of Mr. Mackenzie. (See pages 118 and 123.) In the Guardian of December 11th, Dr. Ryerson fully met that charge. Among other things he pointed out:—

1st. That, having voted for a Church establishment in India, Mr. Hume was the last man who should have been entrusted with petitions from Upper Canada, against a Church establishment in Upper Canada. 2nd. That Methodists emigrating to this country, when they learn that Mr. Hume is regarded as a sort of representative of the principles of the Methodists in Upper Canada, immediately imbibe strong prejudices against them, refusing to unite with them, and even strongly opposing them,[Pg 135] saying that such Methodists are Radicals—a term which, in England, conveys precisely the same idea that the term Republican does in this Province. Thus the prejudices which exist between a portion of the Canadian and British Methodists here, are heightened, and the breach widened. 3rd. That even adherents of the Church of England here who were Reformers in England join the ranks of those opposed to us when they know that Mr. Hume is a chosen representative of our views in England; for the personal animosity between the Whigs and Reformers and Radicals in England is more bitter, if possible, than between the Radicals and Tories, and far more rancorous than between the Whigs and Tories. There is just as much difference between an English Reformer and an avowed English Radical as there is between a Canadian Reformer and an avowed Canadian Republican. In the interests of the Methodists, therefore, religiously and politically, the allusion to Mr. Hume was justifiable and necessary. Dr. Ryerson continues:—

I may mention that so strongly impressed was I with these views, that in an interview which I had with Mr. Secretary Stanley, a few days before the Clergy Reserve petitions were presented by Mr. Hume, I remarked that the people of Upper Canada, not being acquainted with public men in England, had sent them to the care of a gentleman of influence in the financial affairs of Great Britain, but that I was apprehensive that he was not the best qualified to advocate a purely legal and religious question. Mr. Secretary Stanley smilingly interrupted me by asking "Is it Hume?" I replied, "It is, but I hope this circumstance will not have the least influence upon your mind, Mr. Secretary Stanley, in giving the subject that important and full consideration which its great importance demands." Mr. Stanley replied: "No, Mr. Ryerson, be assured that the subject will not be in the least prejudiced in my mind by any circumstance of that kind; but I shall give it the most important and grave consideration."

May 24th.—Within three months after Dr. Ryerson had stated these facts in regard to Mr. Hume, overwhelming evidence of the correctness of his statement that Mr. Hume was unfit to act as a representative, in the British Parliament, of the people of Upper Canada, was given by Mr. Hume himself in a letter addressed to Mr. W. L. Mackenzie, dated 29th March, 1834. In that letter Mr. Hume stated that Mr. Mackenzie's

Election to, and subsequent ejection from the Legislature, must hasten that crisis which is fast approaching in the affairs of the Canadas, and which will terminate in independence and freedom from the baneful domination of the mother country.

[Pg 136]

He also advised that

The proceedings between 1772 and 1782 in America ought not to be forgotten; and to the honour of the Americans, for the interests of the civilized world, let their conduct and the result be ever in view.

Dr. Ryerson added: There is no mistaking the revolutionary and treasonable character of this advice given to Canadians through Mr. W. L. Mackenzie. Yet I have been denounced for exposing the designs of such revolutionary advisers!

The following is an extract from Mr. W. L. Mackenzie's remarks in the Colonial Advocate on Mr. Hume's letter:—

The indignant feeling of the honest old Reformer (Hume), when he became acquainted with the heartless slanders of the unprincipled ingrate Ryerson, may be easily conceived from the tone of his letter.... Mr. Mackenzie will be prepared to hand the original letter to the Methodist Conference.

June 4th.—In the Guardian of this date, Dr. Ryerson replied at length to Mr. Hume's letter, pointing out how utterly and totally false were Mr. Hume's statements in regard to himself. He, in June, 1832, expressed his opinion of Mr. Hume (pages 118 and 123). He then said:—

That was my opinion of Mr. Hume, even before I advocated the Clergy Reserve petition in England,—such it was after I conversed with him personally, and witnessed his proceedings,—such it is now,—and such must be the opinion of every British subject, after reading Mr. Hume's revolutionary letter, in which he rejoices in the approach of a crisis in the affairs of the Canadas, "which will terminate in independence and freedom from the baneful domination of the mother country!" I stated to Mr. Mackenzie more than once, when he called upon me in London, that I could not associate myself with his political measures. But notwithstanding all my caution, I, in fact, got into bad company, for which I have now paid a pretty fair price.... I cannot but regard it as a blessing and happiness to the Methodist connexion at large, that they also, by the admission of all parties, stand so completely distinct from Messrs. Hume and Mackenzie, as to be involved in no responsibility and disgrace, by this premature announcement of their revolutionary purposes.

Oct. 25th.—As to the final result of the agitation in regard to the "Impressions," Rev. John Ryerson, writing from Hallowell (Picton), at this date, says:—

The work of schism has been pretty extensive in some parts of this District. There have as the result of it left, or have been expelled, on the Waterloo Circuit, 150; on the Bay of Quinte, 40; in Belleville, 47; Sidney, 50; Cobourg, 32; making in all 320. There have been received on these circuits since Conference 170, which leaves a balance against us of 150.

[Pg 137]

Remarks on the Result of the "Impressions."

The result (on the membership of the Societies) of this politico-religious agitation was more or less the same in other parts of the Connexion. The publication of the "impressions" was (to those who had for years been in a state of chronic war with the powers that be) like the falling of the thunderbolt of Jove out of a cloudless sky. It unexpectedly precipitated a crisis in provincial affairs. It brought men face to face with a new issue. An issue too which they had not thought of; or, if it had presented itself to their minds, was regarded as a remote, if possible, contingency. Their experience of the working of "British institutions" (as the parody on them in Upper Canada was called), had so excited their hostility and embittered their feelings, that when they at first heard Dr. Ryerson speak in terms of eulogy of the working of these institutions in the mother country, they could not, or would not, distinguish between such institutions in England and their professed counterpart in Upper Canada. Nor could they believe that the great champion of their cause, who in the past had exposed the pernicious and oppressive workings of the so-called British institutions in Upper Canada, was sincere in his exposition of the principles and the promulgation of doctrines in regard to men and things in Britain, which were now declared by Mr. W. L. Mackenzie to be heretical as well as entirely opposed to views and opinions which he (Dr. Ryerson) had hitherto held on these important questions. The novelty of the "impressions" themselves, and the bitterness with which they were at once assailed, confused the public mind and embarrassed many of Dr. Ryerson's friends.

In these days of ocean telegraphy and almost daily intercourse by steam with Britain, we can scarcely realize how far separated Canada was from England fifty years ago. Besides this, the channels through which that intercourse was carried on were few, and often of a partizan character. "Downing Street [Colonial Office] influence," and "Downing Street interference with Canadian rights," were popular and favourite topics of declamation and appeal with the leaders of a large section of the community. Not that there did not exist, in many instances, serious grounds for the accusations against the Colonial Office; but they, in most cases, arose in that office from ignorance rather than from design. However the causes of complaint were often greatly exaggerated, and very often designedly so by interested parties on both sides of the Atlantic.

This, Dr. Ryerson soon discovered on his first visit to England, in 1833, and in his personal intercourse with the Colonial[Pg 138] Secretaries and other public men in London. The manly generosity of his nature recoiled from being a party to the misrepresentation and injustice which was current in Canada, when he had satisfied himself of the true state of the case. He, therefore, on his return to the Province, gave the public the benefit of his observation and experience in England.

In the light of to-day what he wrote appears fair and reasonable. It was the natural expression of pleased surprise that men and things in England were not so bad as had been represented; and that there was no just cause for either alarm or ill feeling. His comparisons of parties in England and in Canada were by extreme political leaders in Canada considered odious. Hence the storm of invective which his observations raised.

He showed incidentally that the real enemies to Canada were not those who ruled at Downing Street, but those who set themselves up—within the walls of Parliament in England and their prompters in Canada—as the exponents of the views and feelings of the Canadian people.

The result of such a proceeding on Dr. Ryerson's part can easily be imagined. Mr. Hume in England, and Mr. W. L. Mackenzie in Canada, took the alarm. They very properly reasoned that if Dr. Ryerson's views prevailed, their occupation as agitators and fomenters of discontent would be gone. Hence the extraordinary vehemence which characterized their denunciations of the writer who had so clearly exposed (as he did more fully at a later period of the controversy), the disloyalty of their aims, and the revolutionary character of their schemes.

This assault on Dr. Ryerson was entirely disproportionate to the cause of offence. Were it not that the moral effect of what he wrote—more than what he actually said—was feared, because addressed to a people who had always listened to his words with deep attention and great respect, it is likely that his words would have passed unchallenged and unheeded.

I have given more than usual prominence to this period of Dr. Ryerson's history—although he has left no record of it in the "Story" which he had written. But I have done so in justice to himself, and from the fact that it marked an important epoch in his life and in the history of the Province. It was an event in which the native nobility of his character asserted itself. The generous impulse which moved him to defend Mr. Bidwell, when maligned and misrepresented, and Sir Charles Metcalfe, whom he looked upon as unjustly treated and as a martyr, prompted him to do full justice to English institutions,[Pg 139] and to parties and leaders there, even at the expense of his own pre-conceived notions on the subject.

By doing so he refused to be of those who would perpetuate an imposition upon the credulity of his countrymen, and especially of those who had trusted him and had looked up to him as a leader of men, and as an exponent of sound principles of government and public policy. And he refused the more when that imposition was practised for the benefit of those in whom he had no confidence, and to the injury of those for whose welfare he had laboured for years.

Dr. Ryerson preferred to risk the odium of interested partisans, rather than fail to tell his countrymen truly and frankly the real state of the case—who and what were the men and parties with whom they had to do in England—either as persons in official life, or as members of Parliament, or writers for the press. He felt it to be his duty to warn those who would heed his warning of the danger which they incurred in following the unchallenged leadership of men whose aim he felt to be revolution, and whose spirit was disloyalty itself, if not a thinly disguised treason.

After the storm of reproach and calumny had passed away, there were thousands in Upper Canada who had reason to cherish with respect and love the name of one who, at a critical time, had so faithfully warned them of impending danger, and saved them from political and social ruin. Such gratitude was Dr. Ryerson's sole reward.

It would be impossible, within the compass of this "Story," to include any details of the speeches, editorials, or other writings of Dr. Ryerson during the many years of contest for civil and religious rights in Upper Canada. The Guardian, the newspaper press (chiefly that opposed to Dr. Ryerson), and the records of the House of Assembly contain ample proof of the severity of the protracted struggle which finally issued in the establishment on a secure foundation of the religious and denominational privileges and freedom which we now enjoy. To the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, etc., who joined heartily with the Methodist leaders in the prolonged struggle, the gratitude of the country must always be due.—J. G. H.

March 7th.—In the midst of his perplexing duties as editor, and the storm of personal attack which his "impressions" had evoked, Dr. Ryerson received a letter from his Mother. It must have been to him like "good news from a far country." Full[Pg 140] of love and gratitude to God, it would be to him like waters of refreshment to a weary soul. His Mother said:—

With emotions of gratitude to God, I now write to you, to let you know that the state of my health is as good as usual. Surely the Lord is good, and doeth good, and His tender mercies are over me as a part of the work of His hands. I find that my affections are daily deadening to the things of earth, and my desires for any earthly good decreasing. I have an increase of my desire for holiness of heart, and conformity to all the will of God. I can say with the poet,

"Come life, come death, or come what will,
His footsteps I will follow still."

I long to say, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Besiege the throne of grace, dear Egerton, in my behalf. Pray that the Lord would finish his work, and cut it short in righteousness, and make my heart a fit temple for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. Oh, my son, be continually on your guard. You have need to believe firmly, to pray fervently, to work abundantly. Live a holy life, die daily; watch your heart; guide your senses; redeem your time; love Christ, and long for glory. Give my love to your wife, and to all whom who may enquire for me, and accept a share yourself, from your affection-mother,

Mehetabel Ryerson.
Charlotteville, March 4th, 1834.

After his return from England, Dr. Ryerson received a letter from Rev. Wm. Lord, dated Manchester, 25th March, 1834, in which he referred to an incident of Dr. Ryerson's visit to his house while in England. He says:—

Your company, I am thankful to say, was very useful to several members of my family. The last time you prayed with us, an influence was received by one or two, the effects of which have remained to this day. I now allude more particularly to ——, who, more than twenty times since, has met me at the door, saying, "Have you a letter from Mr. Ryerson?"


[41] As an example of the manner in which the Union was hailed in some parts of the Province, a gentleman, writing from Merrickville on the 11th December, mentions a gratifying incident in regard to it. He says:—At one Quarterly Conference Love Feast, when the presiding Elder told the assembled multitude that they were for the first time about to partake of bread and water as a token of love under the name of British Wesleyan Methodists, a general burst of approbation proceeded from preachers, leaders, and members, and such a feeling seemed to pervade the whole assembly, as it would be difficult to describe.—H.

[42] See page 98.

[43] Rev. Messrs. David Wright, James Evans, William Griffis, jun., Henry Wilkinson and Edwy Ryerson. The protest was as follows: We, the undersigned ministers of the W. M. Church, desirous to avert the evils which may probably result to our Zion from "impressions" made by certain political remarks in the editorial department of the Guardian, take this opportunity of expressing our sentiments for your satisfaction, and to save our characters from aspersion. First. We have considered, and are still of the same opinion, that the clergy of the Episcopal Church ought to be deprived of every emolument derived from Governmental aid, and what are called the Clergy Reserves. Secondly. That our political views are decidedly the same which they were previous to the visit of the editor of the Guardian to England, and we believe that the views of our brethren in the ministry are unchanged.

[Pg 141]



Events following the Union.—Division and Strife.

Dr. Ryerson has left nothing in his "Story" to illustrate this period of his personal history, nor the strife and division which followed the consummation of the union of the British and Canadian Conferences. These untoward events are, however, fully described in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pages 247-311: They arose chiefly out of the differences which disturbed the British and Canadian Methodist Societies in Kingston and other places, and the separation in the Societies generally, caused by the establishment of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1834.

I have already given, in chapter xi., page 128, an extract of a letter to Dr. Ryerson, from his brother John, indicating the causes of strife between the British and Canadian Societies. I give the following letter, also from the same gentleman, written from Hallowell early in November, 1833, in which he said:—

Brother William and I called on the Rev. Mr. Hetherington at Kingston. He said:—That there could be no union; that we were Radicals; that they would not be united with us; that the District Meetings of Lower Canada, Halifax, etc., intended to make common cause with them; especially they intended to remonstrate against giving up York and Kingston. They also intended to appeal to the British Conference, and if they were not heard by it they would appeal to the British people. If the British Conference will allow its members to throw firebrands, arrows, and death around in this way, and reciprocate their proceedings after this manner with impunity, they are very different men from what I have taken them to be.

Nov. 20th.—In a subsequent letter to Dr. Ryerson, his brother John says:—

I fear much for the Union from the English Missionary party. Should they, from any consideration, undertake to retain Kingston and York, our cause there will be ruined. In case of such an event, I will retire immediately, and bid farewell to the strife and toil in which we have been engaged ever since we have been travelling preachers. Let me know who have thrown up the Guardian. You will have seen the Cobourg Reformer's attacks. It is of much more importance for you to expose Mr. Radcliffe, the editor, than any one else, and point out that, in his present enmity to Methodist principles, this is not the first time he has endeavoured to break the Methodist ranks, and to sow the seeds of discord among her friends.[Pg 142] I would take good care not to lean a hairsbreadth towards radicalism. One reason of their making this onslaught is to scare you, and induce you to say something which will excite the jealousy of the Government, and the disapprobation of our British brethren, and thereby destroy us with them as they seek to do with other parties.

Nov. 22nd.—What is thus stated by his brother John was corroborated by his brother William, who was stationed at Kingston, and who, in a letter to Dr. Ryerson, said:—

I need not say what my feelings were when I arrived at this place, and found that arrangements had been made by Mr. Marsden, in violation of the understanding with the Conference, and in defiance of the opinions and wishes of every one of our friends in the town and country, whose feelings have not only been wounded and grieved, but have rendered the prospects of a union in this place more than ever entirely hopeless. I have not been considered fit (probably for want of ability) to act as Superintendent of such an important station; I have no authority to receive or expel a member, or even to preside in a meeting of Stewards and Leaders; while my Superintendent is in Montreal or Quebec; whether or not he will so stoop as to visit us at all, we cannot say. Besides being shut out of the British Wesleyan Chapel, every possible means is being used to prevent a single individual of their Society from attending our Chapel; and my field of labour is not only greatly circumscribed, but the prospect of usefulness is nearly destroyed. What my feelings must be, under such circumstances, you can easily judge. I can only say that as soon as I can see a way opened, and can do so consistently, I will not labour as a travelling preacher one day longer.

January 8th, 1834.—His brother John, in another letter to Dr. Ryerson from Hallowell, said:—

Whoever may be the agents in making alterations in our economy, I will not be one. With "improvements," alterations, unions, and disunions, we have been agitated long enough. I am done with such business, henceforth and forever. At our last Conference it was understood, and expressly stated that no alterations would hereafter be attempted; and so we have assured the people. But behold, before they receive that assurance, some alterations are mooted. Do away with the Presiding Elders, lessen the Districts, etc., and a dozen other things which will necessarily follow. The reason urged for these changes is worse than the things themselves—namely: If we don't, the British Missionaries will write to the Superintendents and raise such a storm in England, etc., etc. If this is the way we are to be governed, and if this is the state of the Connexion at home, the Resolutions on Union, on parchment or paper, are a miserable farce. The more I think on this subject, the worse I like it.

In a letter from Kingston to Dr. Ryerson on this subject, Rev. Joseph Stinson says:—

I have done my utmost to promote the union of the two Societies in this town. If things are carried with too high a hand, we shall lose our Kingston Chapel and congregation altogether; and, should the Kingston people shut their Chapel against us, it will be impossible to keep things quiet in Lower Canada. I do not think it necessary to sacrifice the Union to Kingston, nor is it necessary to sacrifice Kingston, because a number of disaffected radicals in the Bay of Quinte like to make the state of things here an excuse for their anti-methodistical proceedings. If there were no Kingston in existence, these men would never cordially love the Union.

[Pg 143]

April, 1834.—Dr. Ryerson received a letter from the new President of the Canada Conference (Rev. Edmund Grindrod) dated London, England, in which the latter said:—

One object of my visit will be to allay the hostility of our Societies in the Lower Province to their union with us.

Mr. Alder (said Mr. Grindrod) was to have accompanied him, but at Mr. Bunting's suggestion this plan was abandoned in the hope that—

The friends in Lower Canada, when they have had time to reflect, would return to better views and feelings.

Dec. 3rd.—Writing to Dr. Ryerson from Kingston, at this date, Rev. John C. Davidson[44] says:—

I have been told by the most influential members of the Leaders' Meeting here that pledges to the following effect have been most solemnly given to them by Mr. Alder and Mr. Grindrod, viz:—That the members of the British Society here did not, and were never to make a part of the Societies governed by the Canada Conference; that they were to remain as they always were; that their numbers were to be returned to the home Conference; that our Society was to be merged in theirs; and Kingston become the head of the Missionary establishment in Canada,—always to be the residence of the Superintendent, who was to control and regulate the Kingston Societies; and that the Presiding Elder was to have nothing to do with the town; that a large chapel was to be forthwith built,—to be deeded to the British Conference; and that the minister in charge of Kingston was always to be an Englishman.

Towards the close of this year, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada was organized. Full details of this division are given by Dr. Ryerson in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pages 270-288. Happily this separated branch of the great Methodist family is being re-united to the parent stock in 1883. Further reference to the subject is, therefore, unnecessary in this "Story." Nevertheless it should be remembered that in the discussion and controversy which for years followed this event, Dr. Ryerson occupied a foremost place as the champion on the Wesleyan Methodist side.


[44] This gentleman entered the Methodist Church in 1827, joined the Church of England in 1854, and was for many years a minister of a congregation in the Province of Quebec. He died in 1881.

[Pg 144]



Second Retirement from the "Guardian" Editorship.

As already intimated in Chapter xi., the publication of Dr. Ryerson's "Impressions" of England, etc., in the Guardian of 1833, excited quite a political and social sensation. Public men of all shades of opinion had their feelings at once enlisted for or against the Editor of that paper, and condemned or commended his course accordingly.

Such a result did not cause much immediate concern to Dr. Ryerson. He, as Editor, claimed from the first, and his opponents outside of the Connexion admitted, that in battling for religious equality and denominational rights, he should be left untrammelled. In other words, that as Editor of a leading paper like the Guardian, he should be left free to counsel, to advise and warn, and, if necessary, to take strong ground on all questions involving purely civil rights, and the constitutional exercise of the prerogative on the part of the Executive. This was the more necessary, as civil and religious freedom were largely identical in those days of undefined prerogative, irresponsible government, and inchoate institutions.

All parties, therefore, tacitly conceded what the Editor of the Guardian claimed—a wide latitude and a reasonable discretion in discussing questions of the day which involved either civil rights or religious freedom. This wise discretion was the more necessary from the fact that the Guardian was unquestionably the leading newspaper during these years, and was edited with more than ordinary ability and power.[45][Pg 145]

Besides, there were many thoughtful men who took little part in politics, and yet who looked with alarm on the claims and encroachments of the Family Compact,—a powerful and influential party, and dominant alike in church and state. Many of the able public men of the day, who were moderate in their views, were nevertheless the champions of popular rights. These men were Messrs. Bidwell, Baldwin, Dunn, and others. Their influence was strongly felt in the House of Assembly, and was sustained by their great moral worth and high social position. To such men the powerful aid of the Guardian, in advocating the principles of equal justice to all parties alike, was indispensable; and from its support they derived much strength, and were greatly aided in maintaining their position in the House and in the country.

It was under these circumstances, and amid the peculiar exigencies of the times, that the Christian Guardian became the great organ of public opinion on the liberal side in Upper Canada. It can, therefore, be well understood how at such a time, when the supremacy of party was the question of the hour, the publication of Dr. Ryerson's "impressions"—candid and moderate as they were—fell like a bombshell amongst those in Canada who had set up as political idols such men as Hume and Roebuck in England. To dethrone such idols was of itself bad enough; but that was not the head and front of Dr. Ryerson's offending. What gave such mortal offence was that Dr. Ryerson saw any good whatever in the moderate English Conservative (though he saw none in the English Tory). And worse still, that he saw many undesirable things in the English Whigs, and nothing good in the English Radicals. To give special point to these criticisms and comparisons Dr. Ryerson stated that:—

Radicalism in England appeared to me to be another word for Republicanism, with the name of King instead of President ... and that the very description of the public press, which in England advocates the lowest Radicalism, is the foremost in opposing and slandering the Methodists in this Province. Hence the fact that some of these editors have been amongst the lowest of the English Radicals, previous to their egress from the mother country.

The point of this criticism struck home; and, on the very day on which it appeared, the cap was fitted upon the head of the leading radical of the province. In fact, he placed it there himself, and thenceforth proclaimed war to the knife against the Editor of the Guardian. (See page 125.)

With singular ability and zeal did Mr. W. L. Mackenzie carry on this warfare. He at once saw what would be the effect of the new departure. And so promptly and energetically did he denounce the "arch-apostate Egerton, alias Arnold, Ryerson"[Pg 146] as a deserter, that he secured with little difficulty an impromptu verdict from the public against him. This he the more readily accomplished, by the aid of at least half a dozen editors of newspapers in various parts of the province, while Dr. Ryerson was single-handed. Not only did these editors join with great vigour in the hue and cry against Dr. Ryerson (for they had many scores of their own to settle with their powerful rival), but many of Dr. Ryerson's own brethren were carried away by the sudden outburst of passion against him. Hundreds of the supporters of the Guardian turned from him, as a deserter, and many gave up the paper.

It is true that the tide soon turned; and those who had refused at first to heed, or even to listen to, the words of warning uttered by Dr. Ryerson in this crisis, were afterwards glad to profit by them, and thus saved themselves in time from the direful consequences which followed during the sad events of 1837-38.

The effect, however, of that severe and unexpected encounter with irrational prejudice (joined to the hostility of those whose plans were prematurely disclosed and frustrated) was too much for one who, as a Christian minister and a lover of his country, was filled with higher aims than those of a mere politician.

In the course of the discussion which followed, Dr. Ryerson came into contact with some of the more unreasoning of his brethren. (See pages 130-133.) The question was raised as to how far the Guardian should be involved in conflicts like the present, which from their very nature introduced an apple of discord into the Connexion, as they partook more of a political than of a religious character. This question was pressed upon members of the Conference by the British Missionaries, whose national prejudices and political sensibilities were, as they alleged, wounded by the adverse strictures of the Editor of the Guardian on Church Establishments, the Clergy Reserve question, and kindred topics.

Knowing the impossibility of reconciling views so opposite as those expressed by the British Missionaries and those of the great majority of Canadian Methodists (as represented by the Guardian), Dr. Ryerson resolved to retire from the editorship. This, by a vote of his brethren in the Conference of 1834, he was not permitted to do. But, like a wise and prudent counsellor amongst men of differing views, he determined to take the initiative in settling, on a satisfactory basis, the future course of the Guardian as to the discussion of political and social questions. At that Conference, therefore, he prepared and submitted a series of resolutions to the following effect:[Pg 147]

1. That the Christian Guardian, as the organ of the Conference, shall be properly and truly a religious and literary journal, to explain our doctrines and institutions, and, in the spirit of meekness, defend them when necessary; to vindicate our character, if expedient, when misrepresented; to maintain our religious privileges, etc. 2. To publish general news, etc. 3. That the Christian Guardian shall not be the medium of discussing political questions, nor the merits of political parties; as it is injurious to the interests of religion, and derogatory to our character as a religious body, to have our Church amalgamated or identified with any political party.

These resolutions were cordially adopted by the Conference.

October 4th, 1834.—In a letter received by Dr. Ryerson from Rev. G. Marsden, Liverpool, the latter referred to this subject and said:—

Your continuance in office, as editor, is of very high importance; indeed, in some respects it is essential to the consolidation of the Union. Loyalty to our Sovereign, and firm attachment to the British Constitution will be supported by it. You will also be able to defend, and to support sound Wesleyan Methodism; and the foundation being now laid, you will be able to guard it well.

Rev. E. Grindrod, also writing from England, said:—

From the Christian Guardian, I perceive that you have had a hard battle to fight, but you have proved victorious; and at a future day, I have no doubt, you will rejoice that the Lord counted you worthy to suffer in the achievement of an object which will probably result in immense benefit to a whole Province for generations to come.

January 28th, 1835.—About this time Dr. Ryerson received a remonstrance on the subject from his brother John, who said:—

The more I think of your leaving the office, the more unfavourably I think of it. There is a tremendous opposition to it in these parts (Hallowell), among both preachers and people. I think it will do the paper a great wrong; you had better remain undisturbed until next Conference.

Feby. 20th.—Rev. William Ryerson, in a kind letter from St. Catharines, said:—

The spirit and feeling displayed in your most interesting letter has made the deepest impression on my mind. I know that you have your own difficulties and troubles, yet they do not appear to prevent the outflow of your sympathy for others. How sincerely do I pray that the God of mercy and truth may graciously support you under all your trials and difficulties, and in His good time bring you out of them, purified as gold. I am exceedingly fearful that we shall have more, and great difficulties, at our next Conference. Every article and word in the Guardian is criticised and noted, and made the subject of a large and constant correspondence, especially with the local preachers, in different parts of the Province. We shall be much embarrassed about the editorship of the Guardian. Perhaps Providence will point out some suitable person should you retire.

May 27th.—In the Guardian of this date, Dr. Ryerson again gave expression to his long-cherished desire to retire from the editorial management of that paper. He did so for reasons already given—

Besides (he said) it was the understanding entered into with the Conference of 1834, when I consented to undertake the duty of editor for one year. It[Pg 148] is gratifying to notice that the vituperation of party interest and malevolence are nearly, if not quite, spent. I have, in this and the last two numbers of the Guardian, endeavoured to leave nothing for my successor to settle on that score. My editorial career in the past has been during an eventful and agitated period of our Provincial history. I have steadily endeavoured to keep one object in view—the promotion of Christianity and the prosperity of the country. In severing my connection with a large portion of the reading public, I am moved with feelings not easily expressed. My interest in the cause which I have advocated, and in the general welfare of my native Province (which has been intense for years past), will not be less so in any future fields of labour.

When it was found that Dr. Ryerson had finally decided to retire from the editorship of the Guardian, various suggestions were made to him as to his future field of labour. The Connexion in Lower Canada were anxious to secure him as a minister there. The question came up at an official meeting in Quebec, and Rev. William Lord, who presided, wrote to Dr. Ryerson on the subject, in May, 1835, as follows:—

Respecting your future appointment to this Province, I may mention that several of the brethren objected to your leaving the Upper Province, lest it should be thought you were sent away in disgrace. I think, however, that I can obtain a station that will be deemed honourable to yourself, and, I think, quite agreeable, affording a fine field of usefulness. I am now sitting in the Quarterly Meeting, and when the question of preachers for the next year came on, I mentioned that I had conversed with you respecting taking a circuit, in this Province. They unanimously requested that Brother Wm. Squire and Brother Egerton Ryerson might be appointed to them next year. I shall soon be in York, when I will endeavour to obtain the consent of the friends there, and I think you will be pleased with the place.

As an indication amongst others of the appreciation in which Dr. Ryerson's services were held, Rev. R. Heyland, in a letter to him from Adolphustown, said:—

The people in these parts are very desirous of seeing and hearing the champion who has written so much in defence of Methodism, and rescued the character of our Church from the odium which its unprincipled enemies have been endeavouring to heap upon it for years past. Be so good as to gratify them this once, and come and dedicate our new chapel here.

June 17th.—On this day, for the second time, Dr. Ryerson took leave of the readers of the Guardian—having been relieved by the Conference of the duties of Editor, at his own request. He said:—

I was, however, elected Secretary of the Conference, and was stationed at Kingston. In addition, I was appointed, with Rev. William Lord, President of our Conference, a delegate to the American General Conference.

In his valedictory he said:—

In relinquishing my present position my thoughts are spontaneously led back to the period—ten years since—when I first commenced public life. At that time the Methodists were an obscure, a despised, an ill-treated people; nor had their church[Pg 149] the security of law for a single chapel, parsonage, or acre of land.... Now the political condition and relations of the Methodist connexion are pleasingly changed. Ten years ago there were 41 ministers and 6,875 church members; now there are 93 ministers and 15,106 church members. We may well thank God, therefore, and take courage.

I have no ill-will towards any human being. I freely and heartily forgive the many false and wicked things said of me, publicly and privately. I have written what I thought best for the cause of religion, the cause of Methodism, and the civil interests of the country. I have never received one acre of land, nor one farthing from Government, nor of any public money. I have never written one line at the request of any person connected with the Government. I count it to be the highest honour to which I can aspire to be a Methodist preacher; and in this relation to the Church and to the world I shall count it my highest joy to finish my earthly course.

Dr. Ryerson's wish having been fully gratified, and the Conference of 1835 having relieved him of the editorship, he was stationed at Kingston. This place, of all others, had been the scene of strife and division between the British and Canadian branches of the Church, and was the key to the position held by the British Missionaries in Upper Canada. (See pages 128 and 141). Dr. Ryerson's arrival there and his reception by the people at Kingston are described in a letter which he wrote to his friend, Mr. S. S. Junkin, of the Guardian office, dated July 15th:

We have just arrived, and are for the present staying at the house of Mr. Cassidy, the lawyer, where we receive every possible kindness and attention. (See Chapter xxiii.)

I have been very kindly received by the members here. Strong prejudices have existed in the minds of individuals against me. But they are not only broken down, but in the principal cases are turned into warm friendship already. Some who were as bitter as gall, and croaking from day to day that "the glory has departed," are now like new-born babes in Christ; are happy in their own souls, praying for sinners, and doing all they can to build up the cause. I can scarcely account for it. I never felt more deeply humbled than since I came here. I have indeed resolved to give my whole soul, body and spirit, to God and to His Church anew, but I have had scarcely a tolerable time in preaching. Yet the Divine blessing has specially accompanied the Word. On Wednesday night last the fallow ground of the hearts of professors seemed to be completely broken up. On Thursday night I was in the country, but was told the prayer-meeting was the largest that had been held for[Pg 150] two years. On Sunday evening we had prayer-meeting after preaching. Several came to the altar, two or three of whom found peace. I closed it at nine o'clock, but some stayed and others came in, and it was kept up until near one o'clock in the morning. On Monday night the altar was surrounded with penitents, and the meeting, I was told (for I was not there), was better than any former one, and was kept up until after midnight. At our preachers and leaders' meeting last night there was a good time. We have preaching and prayer-meeting again to-night. We have formed the leaders' meeting of both chapels into one, to the satisfaction of the brethren on both sides. I now begin to hope for better times. My soul was bowed down like a bulrush for some days after I came here. But I thank God I have a hold upon the salvation of Christ that I had not felt for a long time before; and I do believe the Lord our God will help us and bless us. I have preached at Waterloo twice since I came down. The last time, several penitents came to the altar; two professed to find peace, but it was upon the whole a dry time to me. They are hard cases there. I attended a very blessed quarterly meeting on the Isle of Tanti, on Thursday last. It was the best day to my own soul that I have experienced for years.

I feel like a man liberated from prison; but I have reason to believe that the people are in general amazingly disappointed in my pulpit exercises. They expected great things—things gaudy, stately, and speculative,—and I gave them the simplest and most practical things I can find in the Bible, and that in the plainest way. You would be amused at the sayings of some of the plain Methodist people; they think that it is the "real pure Gospel, but they did not expect it so, from that quarter." I am told that Dr. Barker has said in his Whig, that my "pulpit talents are nothing." I am very glad to have this impression go abroad; it will relieve me from distressing embarrassments, and enable me to do much more good in a plain way; for I know the utmost I can attain in the pulpit is to make things plain, and sometimes forcible.

We had a very blessed prayer-meeting last night, after preaching. A considerable number of penitents came to the altar, and some found peace. The work seems to be deepening among the Society. I think we shall have a comfortable and prosperous year.

September 24th. In a subsequent letter to Mr. Junkin, Dr. Ryerson speaks of a sudden and severe bereavement which had overtaken him. He said:—

My poor little son John[46] has been removed to the other and better[Pg 151] country. He continued to walk about until within ten minutes before his death, on the 22nd inst. After attempting to take a spoonful of milk, he leaned back his head and expired in my arms, without the slightest visible struggle. He has suffered much, but expressed a desire that he might live, so that he could see his little sister. He told me a few days before he died, that he hoped to go to Heaven, because Jesus had died for him, and loved him. I feel as a broken vessel in this bereavement of the subject of so many anxious cares and fond hopes. But this I do know, that I love God, and supremely desire to advance His glory, and that He does all things for the best. I will therefore magnify His name when clouds and darkness envelope His ways, as well as when the smiles of His providence gladden the heart of man. O may He make me and mine more entirely and exclusively His, than ever!

In a letter to Mr. Junkin, dated November 14th, Dr. Ryerson says:—

We all go into one chapel to-morrow, which will complete the Union. Thank the Lord for it! Every one of our members of the "American" Society (so called heretofore) has already taken sittings in the newly enlarged chapel, and all things appear to be harmonious and encouraging. Every pew in the body of the chapel has already been taken by our brethren and intimate friends; and, notwithstanding the new chapel will hold more than both the old ones, we are not likely to have enough sittings to meet the applications that are likely to be made, when it is known out of the Society, though the whole chapel above and below (except one tier around the gallery) is pewed.

I have learned that I shall have to take another trip to England. We had just got comfortably settled here in Kingston; had become acquainted with the people on all sides, and are happy in our souls, and in our work. Nothing but the alternative, as Rev. William Lord deeply feels, of the sinking or success of the Upper Canada Academy, could have induced me this year to have undertaken such a task. But my motto is—"the cause of God, not private considerations."


[45] The amount of postage paid by newspapers would be a fair indication of their circulation. For instance, in 1830-1, the postage on the Christian Guardian was £228 sterling ($1,140), which exceeded by £6 the aggregate postage paid by the thirteen following newspapers in Upper Canada at that time, viz.:—Mackenzie's Colonial Advocate, £57; The Courier, £45; Watchman, £24; Brockville Recorder, £16; Brockville Gazette, £6; Niagara Gleaner and Herald, £17; Hamilton Free Press, £11; Kingston Herald, £11; Kingston Chronicle, £10; Perth Examiner, £10; Patriot, £6, St. Catharines Journal, £6; York Observer, £3. Total £222, as against £228 paid by the Guardian alone.—H.

[46] John William, aged six years, one month, and eleven days. (See pages 111 and 113.)—H.

[Pg 152]



Second Mission to England.Upper Canada Academy.

Scarcely had Dr. Ryerson been settled at Kingston in the enjoyment of the freedom and pleasure of his new life as a pastor, than the exigencies of the Upper Canada Academy called him a second time to England. The causes of this sudden call upon his time and energies, on behalf of the Academy, were many and pressing. They were caused chiefly by the miscalculations, if not indiscreet zeal, of Rev. William Lord, who, as President of the Conference and Chairman of the Trustee Board of the Academy, had, by inconsiderate expenditure, plunged the Board into hopeless embarrassment. (See page 166.)

Mr. Lord was sanguine that what he did in Canada, on behalf of the Academy, would, if properly represented, be cordially endorsed by the brethren and friends in England. He, felt that although he himself might not be able to realize these hopes by a personal appeal, yet he was certain that the presence in England of Dr. Ryerson on such a mission would be highly successful. He, therefore, as President of the Canada Conference, called upon him to undertake this task. He furnished Dr. Ryerson with such letters and appeals to influential friends as he hoped would ensure success. Dr. Ryerson, acting on his motto, that "the cause of God, not private considerations," should influence him, obeyed the call, and set out for England on this difficult, and, as it proved, arduous and protracted mission, on the 20th November, 1835.

The nature and extent of the embarrassments of the Academy are stated in the letters written to Dr. Ryerson after he had left for England. His brother John said:—

While you are travelling in England making collections for the Academy, there are, I can assure you, a great many heartfelt prayers and fervent supplications being offered in this country for your success. The whole concern is in an extremely embarrassed state. If Rev. William Lord had not urged us to expenditure, it would have been at least £1,000 better for us, although what he did at the time, he doubtless did for the best. Mr. Lord was the[Pg 153] means of inducing the building committee to make an unnecessarily expensive fence, out-houses, furniture, &c., saying at the time that money would be forthcoming, and that John Bull never failed to respond to such calls. We have applied to the Legislature for assistance, but I think with but little prospect of success. Should we not get anything there, and you raise no more than £2,000, we must go down, and the concern be sold. It will require £4,000 or £5,000 to get us out of debt. If you should collect no more than £2,000 before you return home, don't fail to make some arrangements for borrowing two or three thousand more.

Rev. Mr. Lord, writing to Dr. Ryerson, said:—

By the delay in finishing the buildings, and the excitement caused by the falsehood of the ultra-Radicals, confidence was gone, money could not be raised, either by begging or borrowing; and if something had not been done, the consequence would have been ruinous. I expect that you will have me greatly blamed for not considering before I drew bills on England for the debt, but there was no time. The mischief would have been done before we could have heard. The man would have been arrested immediately,—our character ruined,—societies divided,—and subscriptions would have been withheld. Our difficulties are great, and we must make a desperate effort to extricate ourselves. Everything depends upon your making a good case, which you can do.

In another letter to Dr. Ryerson, from Canada, Mr. Lord said:—

Let me urge you to lose no time in obtaining a Charter and grant from Government. I expect our Radical friends will be using their influence through their friends to prevent your success. Be diligent in procuring subscriptions. You possess great advantages now, by the introductions with which you have been favoured. Mr. Alder tells me that my bills will be dishonoured. If so, in addition to the loss of character, there will be a waste of property in fines, &c. We are all distressed, our drafts are coming due and the Banks have ceased to discount, in consequence of the stagnation of trade, through "stopping the supplies." We have agreed upon a temporary mode of relief, by drawing upon you for about £500. It has given me great surprise and sorrow to ascertain that upwards of £5,000 are wanted to relieve us from our difficulties. What an unfathomable depth this building has reached. You must stay in England until the money is got. Use every effort, harden your face to flint, and give eloquence to your tongue. This is your calling. Excel in it! Be not discouraged with a dozen of refusals in succession. The money must be had, and it must be begged. My dear Brother, work for your life, and I pray God to give you success. Do not borrow, if possible. Beg, beg, beg it all. It must be done!

Such were the circumstances under which this important mission was undertaken by Dr. Ryerson. As a set off to these disheartening letters, Dr. Ryerson received the following from some of his brethren in Canada. Rev. Ephraim Evans said:—

I have become a consenting party to your being solicited, at considerable sacrifice of feeling, to undertake a tedious journey at the most untoward season of the year, for the good of the common cause, and I sincerely tender, in common with my Brother James, my best thanks for your kind compliance, and my hearty wishes for your complete success. Indeed I feel most deeply that upon your success depends, under God, the prosperity or downfall of the Upper Canada Academy. Be assured that my most fervent prayers will be[Pg 154] daily offered up for your health and safety, for a happy issue to attend your generous endeavours again to promote the interests of the Church of our mutual affection.

I entertain not the slightest hope of being able to procure such a Charter as we would be justifiable in accepting, or any support to the institution from our own Legislature.

Rev. John Ryerson, writing from Hallowell, said:—

Your friends in Kingston (and all the Methodists there seem to be such) spoke much about you and your successful labours there. Brothers Counter, Jenkins, and others, say they are resolved to have you for their preacher next year, on your return from England. I hope and pray that good luck will attend your efforts. Everything depends on the issue of your mission. May the Lord give you favour in the eyes of the people, and good success in your vastly important work.

Rev. Joseph Stinson, writing from Kingston, said:—

We all feel very strange now that you are gone, but be of good cheer; we follow you with our sympathy and prayers. We doubt not but God—that God in whose cause you are making this additional sacrifice, will succeed your labour, and cause all things to work together for your good.

In a letter from London, England, Dr. Ryerson says:—

Mr. Lunn and other friends have arrived from Quebec, and have given me Canadian news, among other items the stations of various ministers: Rev. James Richardson and Rev. J. S. Atwood withdraw from the Conference, and Rev. Mr. Irvine goes to the States. The President and I remain at Kingston. I have been appointed, by a unanimous vote, the representative to the British Conference, and I am to present to Lord Glenelg an Address from the Conference to the King. On the 18th of June, 1836, the Upper Canada Academy was opened, and the Principal (Rev. M. Richey) inaugurated.

Dr. Ryerson added:—

I am to stay in Birmingham, at the house of a worthy and wealthy Quaker, by the name of Joseph Sturge.

At the general meeting of the Missionary Committee, held recently the resolutions of the Committee relative to the withdrawal of the Government grant for the work in Upper Canada were read. Dr. Bunting rose and mentioned its restoration, and kindly and cordially mentioned me as the means of getting it restored. He gave a flattering account of my proceedings in the affair. I thanked him afterwards for his great kindness in the matter.

The labours and result of this, Dr. Ryerson's second mission to England, are given in Chapter xvi., pages 158-166.

[Pg 155]



The "Grievance" Report; its Object and Failure.

Amongst the Committees of the House of Assembly at this time was a useful one called the "Committee on Grievances." To this Committee was referred all complaints made to the House, and all projects of reform, etc. At the close of the Session of 1835, Mr. W. L. Mackenzie, as Chairman, brought in an elaborate Report which, without being read, was ordered to be printed. In that Report, Mr. Mackenzie endeavoured to create a diversion in his favour by showing that while Dr. Ryerson professed to be opposed to Government grants to religious bodies, yet he was willing to receive one for the Wesleyan Conference. The Report stated that:—

The "British Wesleyan Methodist Conference," formerly the M.E. Church, received £1,000 in 1833, and £611 in 1834, to be applied ... "to the erection, or repairing of chapels and school-houses, and defraying the general expenses of the various missions."

This appropriation to the Methodists, as an Ecclesiastical Establishment, is very singular. In the year 1826 ... Dr. Strachan informed the Colonial Minister that the Methodist ministers acquired their education and formed their principles in the United States.... They appealed to the House of Assembly, which inquired into and reported on the matter in 1828.

Upon another occasion they received a rebuke from Sir John Colborne ... in answer to the Address of the Conference requesting him to transmit to His Majesty their Address on the Clergy Reserves. Since, however, a share of public money has been extended to and received by them, there seems to have been established a mutual good understanding.

To this Report, Dr. Ryerson replied to the effect—

That the grant was made to the British Conference in England (over which we had no control) and not to the Canada Conference; that the grant in question was made by Lord Goderich, as part of a general scheme agreed upon in 1832, to aid Missionaries in the West Indies, Western, and Southern Africa, New South Wales, and Canada, "to erect chapels and school-houses in the needy and destitute settlements;" that the Rev. R. Alder had come from England, in 1833, to establish separate and distinct missions from those under the Canada Conference with a view to absorb this grant; that when the Union was formed, in 1833, the missions in charge of the Canada Conference became the missions of the British Conference, and[Pg 156] were managed by their own Superintendent; that the Canadian Missionary Society from that time became a mere auxiliary to the parent Society in England; that the Canada Conference assumed no responsibility in regard to the funds necessary to support these missions; and that, in point of fact, they had cost the British Methodists thousands of dollars over and above any grant received from Lord Goderich as part of the general scheme for the support of missionaries in the extended British Colonies.

Dr. Ryerson, in concluding these explanations, adds:—

We trust that every reader clearly perceives the unparalleled parliamentary imposition that has been practised upon the public by the "Grievance Committee," and their gross insinuations and slanders against the Methodist ministers.

In 1836, the Report of the Grievance Committee came up in the House again. On this subject Rev. John Ryerson wrote in March, 1836, to Dr. Ryerson, in London, as follows:—

The altercations and quarrels which have taken place in the Assembly this session on the part of Peter Perry and W. L. Mackenzie, especially about the "Grievance Report," have raised you much in the estimation of the people. The correctness of your views and statements are now universally acknowledged, and your defamers deserted by all candid men. Political things are looking very favourable at the present time. The extremer of the Radical party are going down headlong. May a gracious Providence speed them on their journey!

To Mr. Perry, Dr. Ryerson replied fully and explicitly. He said:

Mr. Perry has charged me with departing from my former ground in regard to an ecclesiastical establishment in Upper Canada. My editorials and correspondence with Her Majesty's Government will be considered conclusive evidence of the falsity of the charge, and will again defeat the attempts of the enemies of Methodism to destroy me and overthrow the Conference. Another cause of attack by Mr. Perry is, that amongst several other suggestions which I took the liberty to offer to Lord Glenelg, Colonial Secretary, was the appointment of a certain gentleman of known popularity to the Executive Council. Mr. Perry seemed to consider himself as a sort of king in Lennox and Addington, and appears to regard it as an infringement upon his sovereign prerogatives that I should be stationed so near the borders of his empire as Kingston. But many of his constituents can bear record whether the object of my ministry was to dethrone Peter Perry, or to break down the power and influence of a much more formidable and important personage—the power of him that ruleth in the hearts of the children of disobedience.[47]

March 30th, London.—During his stay in England, Dr. Ryerson had been able to look upon public affairs in Upper Canada with more calmness, and more impartiality, than when he was there in the midst of them as an actor. In that spirit he, at this date, addressed a letter to the Guardian on what he regarded as an approaching crisis of the highest importance to the Province. He said:[Pg 157]

It is not a mere ephemeral strife of partizanship; it is a deliberate and bold attempt to change the leading features of the Constitution—a Constitution to which allegiance has been sworn, and to which firm attachment has been over and over again expressed in addresses to the Governor up to 1834. Such being the case, it becomes every man who fears God and loves his country to pause, to think, to decide. I have told the Colonial Secretary, that whilst the Methodist Church asked for nothing but "equal and impartial protection," yet I believed the attachment to the Constitution of the country and to the British Crown, expressed in petitions and addresses from the Methodist Conference and people of Canada, to be sincere, and that they would prove to be so in their future conduct. They had been falsely charged as being Republicans, but they had always repudiated this charge as a calumny. Nor would they be found among those who, like Messrs. Peter Perry and W. L. Mackenzie, had recently avowed their intention to establish republican elective institutions in the Province.

As to the charges of the "Grievance Committee" party, I can truly say that I have never received one farthing of public money from any quarter, and my humble support to my King and country is unsought, unsolicited, and spontaneous.

May 21st—London.—At this date Dr. Ryerson wrote:—

During my exile here in England I have more and more longed for news from Canada, and cooling water to the panting hart could not be more refreshing than late intelligence from my dear native land has been to me. I can now listen with an interest and sympathy that I never did before, to the patriotic effusions of the warm-hearted and eloquent Irishmen, whom I have recently heard, respecting "the first flower of the earth, the first gem of the sea."

The news from Canada presents to my mind strange contrasts. A few years ago efforts were made to prove that the Methodist ministers were the "salaried hirelings" of a foreign republican power. Now efforts are being made to persuade the Canadian public that the same ministers are the salaried hirelings of British power, because they refuse to be identified with men and measures which are revolutionary in their tendencies. Our motto is "fear God and honour the King," and "meddle not with them that are given to change." Many who were influenced to take part in the former crusade have long since given proof of a better spirit; so it will be, I trust, with those who have now been hurried on into the present shameless and malignant opposition, against a cause which has confessedly been of the highest spiritual and eternal advantage to thousands in Upper Canada. I venture to predict that not a few of our partizan adversaries will ere long lament their madness of political idolatry and religious hostility. In the former case, Methodism survived, triumphed, and prospered; in the present case, if we are true to our principles and faithful to our God, He will again "Cause the wrath of man to praise Him, and restrain the remainder of that wrath."


[47] Dr. Ryerson's reply to Mr. Perry was afterwards reprinted as an election flysheet, headed "Peter Perry Picked to Pieces by Egerton Ryerson," and circulated broadcast in the counties. It resulted in Mr. Perry being rejected as M.P.P. for Lennox and Addington in the elections of 1836. (See Chapter xxiii.)

[Pg 158]



Dr. Ryerson's Diary of his Second Mission to England

The following is from Dr. Ryerson's diary (which is incomplete) giving the result of his experiences and labours in England, during his second mission there.

London, January 1st, 1836.—I am again in the great metropolis of the Christian world. My wife and I left our native land, and affectionate pastoral charge, on the 20th of November, 1835, and arrived here the 30th of December, after a voyage of tempest and sea-sickness. But to the Ruler of the winds, and the Father of our spirits, we present our grateful acknowledgments for the preservation of our lives. To our Heavenly Father have I, with my dear wife, presented ourselves at the commencement of this new year. O, may we through grace keep our vows, and henceforth abound in every Christian grace and comfort, every good word and work!

We have been most kindly received by the Missionary Secretaries and other brethren; the prospects appear encouraging for the success of our mission: another ground of thankfulness, increased zeal, and faithfulness.

Jan. 2nd.—Called at the Colonial Office to present my note of introduction from Sir John Colborne to Lord Glenelg. We were admitted to an interview with Mr. (afterwards Sir James) Stephen, Assistant Colonial Secretary, who promised to present Sir John Colborne's letter to Lord Glenelg, and inform me when he would receive me. To-day I received a call from my kind and excellent friend, Rev. John Hannah, a thorough scholar, a profound divine, an affectionate, able, and popular preacher. He heartily welcomed us to the country.

Jan. 3rd—Sabbath.—It being the first Sabbath in the year, I attended that most solemn and important service—the renewal of the covenant. It was conducted by Rev. Dr. Bunting, in a manner the most impressive and affecting I ever witnessed. There were but few dry eyes in the chapel. He spoke of the primary design of Methodism as not to oppose anything but sin—not to subvert existing forms of faith, but to infuse the vital spirit of primitive Christianity into them. Dr. Bunting said that the renewal of the covenant was a service peculiar to Methodism, and expatiated on the importance of its being entered upon advisedly, and in humble dependence upon Divine grace. After singing, the whole congregation knelt down, remaining some time in silent prayer. After Dr. Bunting, as their mouthpiece, read the covenant, all then rose and sang "The covenant we this moment make," etc. The Lord's Supper was administered to several hundred persons, and the services concluded with singing and prayer.

Jan. 4th.—I spent the evening at Rev. Mr. Alder's, in company with Dr. Bunting, Rev. John Bowers, and Rev. P. L. Turner. In conversation, the religious and general interests of the Methodist Connexion were introduced. I was no less edified than delighted with the remarks of Dr. Bunting,[Pg 159] especially those which related to the former distinction between, and the present confounding of, supernumerary and superannuated preachers, and the desirableness of restoring the ancient distinction. He spoke of the experience requisite to, and evils of general legislation in, Church affairs—introducing matters of legislation into Quarterly Meetings, etc. Dr. Bunting's prayer at parting was deeply spiritual.

Jan. 5th.—Spent the day in writing an article for the Watchman, on the present state of the Canadas; and in drawing up some papers on the Upper Canada Academy. Had a pleasant visit from Rev. John Beecham, one of the Missionary Secretaries.

Jan. 6th.—Met at the Mission House with Rev. Richard Reece, President of the Conference. He is, I believe, the oldest preacher who has filled the presidential chair since the days of Wesley.

Jan. 10th, Sunday.—In the morning heard Rev. Mr. Cubitt, and in the evening endeavoured to preach for him.

Jan. 13th.—Received a note from Lord Glenelg fixing the time when he would receive me.

Jan. 14th.—Spent a delightful evening in company with Rev. John Hannah and wife, Dr. Sandwich (Editor of the Watchman) and wife, and several others. The conversation principally turned upon the learning of the ancients, and the writings of the early Protestant Reformers and their successors. Dr. Sandwich is a very literary man, Mr. Hannah an excellent general scholar.

Jan. 15th.—Spent the evening with Rev. William Jenkins, an old superannuated minister, in company with several friends. Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins are a venerable couple about 80 years of age.

Jan. 17th—Sabbath.—Heard the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel. The Church was plain, the congregation large, and very attentive and solemn. A large number of school children were present; the little girls all dressed alike; they all had prayer and hymn books; they read the responses and sung with the utmost correctness. In the afternoon we went to that splendid monument of art and wealth—St. Paul's. The sermon was more evangelical than I expected. In the evening I preached to a very large congregation in St. George's Chapel, Commercial Road. A gracious influence seemed to rest on the congregation.

Jan. 24th—Sabbath.—Preached in the Hinde-street Chapel. In Surrey Chapel I heard Rev. James Parsons, of York, one of the first preachers of the day. Surrey Chapel is the place of the celebrated Rowland Hill's protracted ministry. Its shape is octagon, and it will seat 3,000 persons. The church service was read well by a person of strong, sonorous voice. At the conclusion of the church service Mr. Parsons ascended the pulpit. His prayer was simple, unaffected, and scriptural. His text was Luke xi. 47-48. His manner was by no means pleasing; he stood nearly motionless, and appeared to be reading his sermon. Yet attention was riveted; the current of thought soon began to rise, and continued to swell, until he came to a pause. Then there was a general burst of coughing; after which the preacher proceeded in an ascending scale of argument, until he had his audience entranced, when he would burst forth upon his captives with the combined authority and tenderness of a conqueror and deliverer, and press them into the refuge city of Gospel salvation.

Jan. 25th.—Attended a Missionary-meeting in Southwark Chapel. Mr. Thomas Farmer, presided. Several spake: one a New Zealander, whose wit and oddities amused all, but profited none.

Jan. 26th.—Had an interview with Lord Glenelg, on the subject of my mission. We can get a charter for the Upper Canada Academy, but assistance is uncertain. His Lordship was very courteous and communicative. He thanked me for the information I gave him concerning the Colonies.[Pg 160]

Jan. 31st, Sunday.—Preached twice to-day (in City Road and Wilderness Row). The Lord was with me, and I believe I did not labour in vain.

Feb. 13th.—Had an interview with the Rt. Hon. Edward Ellice; was received with great kindness; he promised to use his utmost influence to promote the object of my mission at the Colonial office.

Feb. 18th.—Called at the residences of several of the nobility; found none at home, but Lord Ashburton, who gave me £5.

Feb. 20th.—Made no progress in the way of collecting; much ceremony is necessary. Have obtained some useful information, and written to Sir Robert Peel on the object of my mission.

Feb. 21st, Sunday.—Heard the Rev. Peter McOwan preach. It was the best sermon I have heard from a Methodist pulpit since my arrival in England. I preached in Great Queen-street Chapel in the evening, on the new birth. I think the Lord was present to apply the word.

Feb. 22nd.—Called upon Lord Kenyon. I was very courteously received; but His Lordship declined subscribing on account of the many objects to which he contributed in connection with America. He expressed his good wishes. I next called upon the Earl of Aberdeen—Colonial Secretary under Sir Robert Peel's government. He expressed himself satisfied with my letters from Upper Canada, but said that he would enquire of Mr. Hay, late under Colonial Secretary, and directed me to call again. I was also received by Dr. Blomfield, Lord Bishop of London. Dr. Blomfield is a handsome and very courteous man. He declined subscribing on account of its not having been recommended by the Bishop of the Diocese; was not unfriendly to my object; said he had a high respect for the Wesleyan body, and considered they had done much good; he had expressed this opinion in print.

Feb. 23rd.—Addressed a letter to Lord Glenelg requesting an early answer to our application, stating our pressing circumstances. Called upon Thomas Baring, Esq., M.P., who gave me £5. I find it very hard and very slow work to get money.

Feb. 24th.—Received an answer from Sir Robert Peel in the negative. His reason is non-connection with Upper Canada! A gentleman of the house of Thomas Wilson & Co. gave utterance to a sentiment which singularly contrasted with the selfishness of Sir Robert Peel. He said: Education was the same thing throughout the world, and that was the light in which this institution should be viewed. His house gave me ten guineas, and have kindly engaged to furnish me with names of other gentlemen.

Feb. 25th.—Obtained £21 for the Academy. The sentiments expressed by two of the gentlemen on whom I called deserve to be recorded. Mr. A. Gillespie, jun., who is connected with Lower Canada, after subscribing £10 and furnishing me with a list of names of merchants engaged in trade with the Canadas, said:—"I am a member of the Church of Scotland, but I have a high respect for John Wesley and Dr. Bunting. I admire the principles of John Wesley, and hope you will abide by them, and that they will be taught in this institution. Above all things keep out Socinianism." I then called on a Mr. Brooking, who said:—"I feel happy in the opportunity of contributing to such an object. I have been in the North American provinces and know that nothing is wanted more than good institutions for the education of youth, and especially under the superintendence of the Methodists. From what I have seen I believe they have done more good in the colonies than any other Church. Though I am a member of the Church of England, I feel it my duty as a Protestant, and a friend to religion, to give my utmost mite to the labours of your ministers in the colonies. I believe in those new countries the Methodists are the bulwark of Protestantism against popery and infidelity, and I am glad you are establishing such an institution."

Feb. 27th.—Received the greatest kindness from Mr. E. H. Chapman,[Pg 161] who was in Upper Canada last summer, and had seen the institution at Cobourg. He expressed himself happy in the opportunity to subscribe, and said he had travelled two days with Sir John Colborne. Mr. Chapman considered, of all people, the Methodists the most active and successful in imparting religious instruction to the Colonists.

Feb. 28th—Sabbath.—Preached at Islington; then dined with a Mr. Brunskill, who was well versed in the history of Methodism.

From this date until the close of July there is no record in Dr. Ryerson's diary. From letters written by him to Canada, I therefore continue the narrative:—

Birmingham, April 11th.—During a delightful visit here at the missionary anniversaries I had an opportunity of hearing and conversing with two of the most remarkable men of the present day: William (or, as he is called, Billy) Dawson, the Yorkshire farmer, and the venerable Gideon Ousley, the patriarchal Irish missionary. Mr. Dawson excelled in his own characteristic way any man I ever heard. His great strength lies in a matchless power of graphic description, dramatic imitation, and hallowed unction from the Holy One. He is a man of an age. At the missionary breakfast I sat beside the venerable Ousley, and told him of some of his spiritual children in Canada that I knew. He gave God the praise, and desired me to deliver this message to his old friends and spiritual children in Canada: "I am now in my 75th year, labouring as hard as ever; am well, and strong. Be faithful unto death. I will meet you in Heaven."

London, June 8th.—To-day my brethren are assembling in Annual Conference at Belleville. It is the first conference in the proceedings of which, I have not been permitted to take a part since I entered the ministry. A considerable part of the day I spent in imploring the divine blessing upon the deliberations of my brethren. After reckoning the difference of time, I retired at the hour when I knew they would be engaged in the conference prayer-meeting in order to unite with them at the throne of the Heavenly grace; and truly, I found it refreshing indeed to be present in spirit with them in beseeching the continual direction of the Divine Pilot to guide the Wesleyan ship over the tempestuous sea. I long to be with my fellow-labourers in Canada in their toils as well as joys. "If I forget thee," O thou Spiritual Jerusalem of my native land, "let my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces!"

June 12th.—Although I find that collecting for the Upper Canada Academy is a wearisome work, yet I must not slacken my exertions so long as our friends in Upper Canada are in such straits for funds. Brother John has written me an urgent letter from Hallowell, in which he says:—I hope the Lord will give you good success in collecting for our Seminary. Everything depends on the success of your exertions. £4,000 is the least that will answer. O, how awfully we have got involved in this painful and protracted business! O, if you can help us out of this mire, the Lord reward you! I am greatly at a loss what to do. I had concluded to leave, and go to the States; but thought I had better wait your return and take counsel with you. I hope the Lord may direct me!

Dublin, July 2nd.—I have just come over here to the Irish Conference, and was affectionately received by the Irish preachers. While in Dublin I stayed with a very intelligent and kind family. I attended the Irish Conference, which was held in Whitefriar's Street Chapel—a building rented for a preaching-place by the venerable Wesley himself. Here in the midst of the sallies of Irish wit and humour, mingled with evident piety and kindness, I sat down and wrote a letter to the dear friends in Canada.

[Pg 162]

From this letter I make an extract:—

The preachers are warm-hearted, pious men, some of them very clever; warm in their discussions, abounding in wit; talk much in doing their business; several are sometimes up at a time. They are certainly a body of excellent men. In their financial reports it appears that many of them are really examples of self-denial, suffering, and devotion.

The following are extracts from Dr. Ryerson's diary:—

July 26th.—Attended the Conference at Birmingham. When Dr. Fisk was introduced, the address of the American General Conference was read. Silence and attention were marked until the words "negro slavery" were mentioned, when there was a general cry of "hear, hear," and "no, no, no."

During the Conference a Mr. Robinson was called upon to explain his reason for preaching to a secret society called "Odd Fellows." Dr. Bunting and Dr. Newton had always refused to preach to such societies. Dr. Fisk made some remarks on Masonry in the United States, and the evil of the Methodist preachers being connected with, or countenancing, such societies.

Sept. 2nd.—Presented to Lord Glenelg the Address, to the King, of the Canadian Conference. He read it carefully, and expressed himself pleased with it. He enquired as to the charges against Sir Francis Head, and the appointment of those persons only to office who are truly attached to the British Constitution. I answered his lordship on each of these points mentioned, and assured him of the loyal British feelings of the inhabitants of Upper Canada. I pressed upon him the importance of an early settlement of the Clergy Reserve question. His lordship thanked me for the communications which I had from time to time made to him on Canadian affairs. He requested me to write to him on any matter, relative to the Canadas, I thought proper.

Sept. 4th—Sunday.—Attended the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel's Church at 8 a.m., when he administered the Lord's Supper to such as could not attend at any other hour. I communed for the first time in the Established Church. I heard this evangelical minister preach at 11 a.m. Preached myself in Spitalfields in the evening.

Sept. 6th.—Came here (Birmingham) from London on a collecting tour. Have been kindly received by my Quaker friends, the Sturges. In commemoration of the first Wesleyan Conference being held in Birmingham, gold medals were presented to Dr. Bunting and Dr. Newton, and silver medals to representatives of other Conferences—the Irish and American. My name as representative not having been received in time for a presentation at Conference, a medal was subsequently presented to me as Canadian representative, and to Rev. Richard Reece, ex-President, by the ladies of the Society in Birmingham. The addresses on the occasion were made by the President and Secretary—that to Mr. Reece in a few choice words by Dr. Bunting; and to me, in a kindly manner, by Dr. Newton. In reply I acknowledged the unexpected compliment, not as paid to me, but to the country and connexion which I represented.

Sept. 7th.—Have been kindly received by the preachers in Birmingham. Spent a pleasant evening at Mr. Oldham's (son-in-law of Rev. John Ryland), where I met no less than six clergymen of the Established Church; the conversation was wholly of a religious character, perfectly free and social. I was informed that all the clergymen in Birmingham, except one, were truly evangelical. Mr. Ryland told me that Rev. J. A. James had expressed his conviction that there is decidedly more piety amongst the mass of the Established Clergy than among the Dissenting Clergy. It was altogether the most unaffectedly genteel, and truly religious party I have met with in England.

Sept. 9th.—Busy and successful. Very kindly received by the following[Pg 163] Church of England ministers, viz., Rev. Mr. Mosely, Rector, Rev. Dr. Jeune [afterwards Master of Pembroke College], and Rev. William Marsh, who is frequently called the model of the Apostle John, on account of the depth and sweetness of his piety, the purity of his life, and the heavenly expression of his countenance. [His daughter is a noted evangelist and writer, 1883.]

Sept. 10th.—Took tea with Mr. Meredith, a Swedenborgian, upwards of 80, perfectly sincere in his belief, and sweet in his spirit. Also met the celebrated Dr. Philip, of South Africa, and the more celebrated John Angel James, of Birmingham. The conversation of the evening was principally turned upon the means by which the great measure of emancipation was carried—the conduct of Mr. Stanley and Mr. Buxton. I was struck with Mr. Sturge's remark, that he "believed such men as Sir A. Agnew, Sir Harry Inglis, and Lord Ashley [now, in 1883, Lord Shaftesbury], were the most honest men in the House of Commons."

Sheffield, Sept. 17th.—Here I met with my old friends, Revs. Messrs. Marsden, Grindrod, and Moss.

Sept. 18th—Sunday.—Preached in Craven street Chapel in the morning, and at Brunswick Chapel in the evening.

Sept. 20th.—Attended the Financial District Meeting. It was stated that 900 persons had seceded in Sheffield in the Kilhamite schism, and yet the finances were better at the end of the quarter than they had been the preceding one. Kind references were made to myself, and the object of my mission.

Dr. Ryerson's Diary ends here. From his letters to Canada I make the following extracts:—

Sheffield, Oct. 5th.—I was in Barnsley on Friday and Saturday; went to Wakefield on Saturday, and preached there on Sunday. Addressed about 40 circulars to gentlemen in Wakefield on Monday morning. Returned to Sheffield and spoke at the Missionary Meeting; begged yesterday; spoke at the adjourned meeting last evening; have been begging to-day. Spent Friday and Saturday in Wakefield; go to Leeds on Saturday evening, and so on. The preachers and friends shew me all possible kindness and attention. The Yorkshire people are very warm-hearted and social. Methodism there presents an aspect different in several respects from that which it presents in London, or in any other part of England I have visited; more warm, energetic, and unaffected—something like Hallowell Methodism in Upper Canada. Oh! I long to get home to my circuit work. Amidst all the kindness and interest that it is possible for piety, intelligence, Yorkshire generosity and wit to impart, I feel like an exiled captive here in England.

Bradford, Oct. 10th.—The time I am here appears very dreary, as I am from morning until midnight in public labours or society of some kind. I have collected £83 last week, and for much of it I have begged very hard—though some think that I do not beg hard enough. It is, however, only one who has been a stranger and had to beg, that can fully appreciate the feelings and embarrassments of a stranger in such circumstances. This work and sacrifice have not been of my own seeking—but against my seeking. I was comfortably settled amongst kind friends in Kingston, but am now cast forth in this distant land, and engaged in the most disagreeable of all employments,—and for what? Oh! it is for the sake of Him to whose cause and glory I have consecrated my life and all. I shall love, honour, and value my pastoral labours more than ever. I hope that they may be more useful. During the past week I have been enabled more fully than for a year past to adopt the language of St. Paul. Gal. ii. 20.

Oct. 11th.—While here I was truly gratified to receive a letter from Miss Clarissa Izard, of Boulogne (France), in which she says:—I trust you will[Pg 164] pardon me, sir, for this expression of my gratitude. If it had not been for a sermon preached by you on the 21st of February last, I might have been where hope never cometh; but, blessed be God, now I have a hope—a hope which lifts me above this world, and which, I trust, I shall retain until I obtain the crown of righteousness which fadeth not away.

Among the many pleasing incidents in Dr. Ryerson's otherwise unpleasant duty of collecting funds for the Upper Canada Academy, was the note written from Kensington Palace by command of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. It was as follows:—

I am commanded by the Duchess of Kent to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd inst., and accompanying statement of "The Upper Canada Academy, for the education of Canadian youth, and the most promising youth of converted Indian tribes—to prepare them for school-masters." Her Royal Highness is most happy in patronizing, as you request, so useful and benevolent an Institution, and calculated especially to promote the best interests of the native population, the British emigrants, and the aboriginal tribes of that valuable and important British Province. Her Royal Highness desires that her name be placed on the subscription list for £10.

Referring to the great importance of the Upper Canada Academy, and to the services rendered by Dr. Ryerson in connection with its establishment, Rev. William Lord said:—

There have been many circumstances and occurrences connected with this institution which, to my mind, are indicative of Providential interference. The bitterness manifested against it by the enemies of Methodism and of the peace of the country; the difficulties which stood in the way of its completion; the distressing, overwhelming, and unforseen embarrassments of its funds, which forced the Committee to send you to this country to seek relief, just at a time when the affairs of the Province had arrived at a crisis, and at a time when you could render special service, by communicating with the Home Government—service, allow me to say, greater than any other man could render, or than you could have rendered at any other time or place—the favourable turn which public affairs have recently taken, and, I know, in some degree through your instrumentality; the perplexing and most painful disappointments experienced in obtaining suitable teachers, now happily overcome; the share of public favour which the Academy has obtained on the commencement of its operations; and, lastly, the great services you have rendered the Missionary Society, in the advantage you have secured to our Indian Missionaries by your representations and applications to the Government, are to me reasons for believing God is in this business. You may, I think, take courage, and go on in the name of the Lord. I can sympathize with you; I have also suffered in this cause. I would not endure the anxiety and mental agony I have experienced on account of this institution for any earthly consideration. But if it flourish, I have my reward. And now the reflection that, at much personal risk, I have more than once saved innocent and deserving men from imprisonment, and Methodism from indelible reproach, is cheering and consoling. I will still stand by your side and share in your difficulties. My honour in this matter is united with yours, and the ruin of this institution will be mine.

In a letter from London, dated 21st July, 1836, Dr. Ryerson narrates the difficulties which he had encountered in obtaining a[Pg 165] Charter for the Upper Canada Academy. The correspondence with the Colonial Office embraced twenty-nine letters, and extended over a period of six months. In conducting it, Dr. Ryerson states:—I found those in the Colonial Office, and those who retired from it (during that time) equally favourable to the object of my mission, and equally desirous of promoting the best interests of the Colonies. In his report of the negotiations for the Charter, Dr. Ryerson says:—

The Attorney-General assured me that not only Lord Glenelg, but every member of His Majesty's Government was anxious to accede to my application—that the difficulties were purely legal—that though the doctrines and rules of the Methodist body in Canada were doubtless very sacred, yet they were unknown in law, (in England.) I, therefore, laid before the Crown officers[48] a copy of the statutes of Upper Canada (which I had borrowed from the Colonial office), and showed the grounds on which we professed to be invested with the clerical character by the statutes of the Province, as well as by the formularies of our connexion, and were recognized as ministers by the Courts of Quarter Sessions; that we might be defined as ministers (for the purposes of the Charter) as in the Marriage Statute of U.C., which would be the same thing as being defined according to the Rules of our Discipline. Placing the question before the Crown officers in this simple light, their scruples were at once removed, and they cordially acceded to my proposition to recognize our ministerial character. As I was required to name in the Charter the first trustees and visitors, and as I had no list of those who had been appointed by the Conference, I was obliged to furnish names myself. I was also required to name in the Charter the time and place of the next Annual Meeting (Conference) of Ministers. I inserted the second Wednesday of June as the time of meeting; Cobourg, or Toronto, as the place of meeting.

With the aid of a professional gentleman (whom I could only get for a small portion of each day) the draft of Charter was prepared after a delay of five weeks. This draft was approved, with the exception of the words: Wesleyan Methodist Church, for which the Solicitor-General had substituted the words: Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, as the designation of the Body on whose behalf a Charter was to be granted. In a letter to Sir George Grey I stated my reasons why the word Church should be retained, as the Wesleyan ministers, under whose superintendence the Academy is to be placed, had been licensed (under the Provincial Statute referred to in the Charter) as Ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada. To these reasons the Crown Officers yielded, and thus the Charter was completed.

I then renewed my application for receiving aid from the Casual and Territorial Revenue of Upper Canada. In reply, I was assured that the Lieutenant-Governor would be directed to bring the claims of the Academy before the notice of the Provincial Legislature.

Dr. Ryerson concludes:—

Thus terminated this protracted correspondence of more than six months, during the whole of which time I was enabled to cleave to and maintain my original purpose; though I had to encounter successive, discouraging, and almost insurmountable difficulties. Not having been able to effect any loan from private individuals, on account of the agitated state of the Canadas—being in suspense as to the result of my application to the Government, I[Pg 166] was several months pressed down with anxiety and fear by this suspense, and by reason of the failure of my efforts to obtain relief. In this anxiety and fear my own unassisted resolution and fortitude could not sustain me. I had to rely upon the unfailing support of the Lord, my God.

In my negotiations for the Charter, I was uniformly treated with courtesy and kindness in the Colonial office, and by the several members of His Majesty's Government. Praise God!

In a letter written to Dr. Alder, after Dr. Ryerson had returned from England, the latter said:—

We have not yet received a farthing of the Government grant to our Academy. The Governor's reply still is, there is no money in the treasury; but he has given us his written promise, and offered his word to any of the banks, that it shall be paid out of the first money which had not been previously appropriated. But, strange to say, there is not a bank or banker in Upper Canada that will take the Governor's promise for £100. Mr. Receiver-General Dunn kindly lent, out of his own pocket, to my brother John, about £1,200 for the Academy, upon my brother's receipt, remarking at the same time that he did it upon his credit, and out of respect to the Methodists, but that he could place no dependence upon the word of Sir Francis in the matter. We are thus pressed to beg or borrow in relation to the Academy as much as ever, or even worse, for several of us are individually responsible for £2,200, besides Mr. Farmer's loan of £800. At our recent Academy Board Meeting, the damages of Mr. Lord's protested bills came under consideration. The circumstances of the case are briefly as follows:—Mr. Lord's sincere desire and zeal to promote the interests of the Institution and Connexion generally, were admitted and appreciated by all the brethren; but it appears, 1. That a large portion of the debts were incurred in compliance with the advice of Mr. Lord, and in consequence of his influence as the representative of the British Connexion. He assured the Sub-Committee at Cobourg that money should be forthcoming, and if necessary he would go to England and beg it, that John Bull never stopped when he commenced a thing, etc.; that Mr. Lord did that contrary to the recommendation of the Conference Committee, and against the advice and even remonstrance of the Chairman of the District (John Ryerson), who had been appointed by the Conference to see that the Sub-Committee should not exceed the appropriations of the Conference, as they had done in former years. 2. The premises were mortgaged to Mr. Lord as security for the sum of £2500, some of which has not been advanced, and the payments of which he did advance were provided for (with the exception of two or three hundred pounds) by the brethren in this Province. 3. After Mr. Lord received information from the Committee in London that his bills would not be honoured, he called a meeting of the Board—stated his difficulties—got individuals to allow him to draw upon them to meet the bills on their return, and sent me to England. 4. Mr. Lord assured our Conference at Belleville, June, 1836, that the brethren here would never be called upon to pay a farthing of the damages for non-payment of his bills. I believe that no man could feel more earnestly desirous to promote the interests of the Canadian Connexion in every respect than he did. It is also the full conviction of our leading brethren that had I attended the American General Conference, instead of being in England, such an arrangement would have been made as to have secured to our Connexion what was due us from the New York Book Concern—which amounts to more than I obtained in England, besides the mortification and mental suffering which I experienced in my most unpleasant engagements, notwithstanding the sympathy and never-to-be-forgotten kindness of many of my fathers and brethren of the parent Connexion.


[48] Sir J. Campbell, afterwards Chief Justice, and Sir R. M. Rolfe, afterwards a Baron of the Exchequer.

[Pg 167]



Publication of The Hume and Roebuck Letters.

In a letter from London, dated 29th April, 1836, Dr. Ryerson said:—

This day week I went to the House of Commons to hear the debates on the motions relative to the Canadas, of which Messrs. Roebuck and Hume had given notice. As Mr. Roebuck was about to bring forward his motion, the House of 202 members thinned to 50 or 60 members. Under these circumstances he postponed it for a week, in the hope that a sufficient number of members would give him an opportunity to make a speech in return for the £1,100 a year paid to him as Agent of "the poor and oppressed Canadians." When Mr. Hume brought forward his motion there were only 43 members present. I thought how much Canada was benefitted by such men who could only command the attention of 50 out of the 658 members of the House of Commons! I know not a man more disliked and despised by all parties in the House than is Mr. Roebuck—a man who has been employed to establish (as he says in one of his letters to Mr. Papineau) a "pure democracy in the Canadas." One of the serious drawbacks to the credit and interests of our country, amongst public and business men of all parties in England, is their supposed connection with such a restless political cynic as Mr. Roebuck, and such an acknowledged and avowed colonial separationist as Mr. Hume.

In regard to these proceedings of Messrs. Hume and Roebuck, Dr. Ryerson writes, in this part of the Story of his Life, as follows:—

It was during the early part of 1836 that I was accosted by almost every gentleman to whom I was introduced in England with words, "You in Canada are going to separate from England, and set up a republic for yourselves!" I denied that there was any such feeling among the people of Canada, who desired certain reforms, and redress of grievances, but were as loyal as any people in England.

After the Canadian elections of 1836, Dr. Charles Duncombe[Pg 168] (afterwards leader of the rebels in the County of Oxford) came to England, the bearer of petitions got up by Mr. W. L. Mackenzie and his partizans and crammed Mr. Hume to make a formidable assault upon the British Canadian Government. In presenting the Canadian petition Mr. Hume made an elaborate speech, full of exaggerations and mis-statements from beginning to end. I was requested to take a seat under the gallery, and, while Mr. Hume was speaking as the mouth-piece of Dr. C. Duncombe, I furnished Lord Sandon and Mr. W. E. Gladstone with the materials for answers to Mr. Hume's mis-statements. Mr. Gladstone's quick perception, with Lord Sandon's promptings, kept the House in a roar of laughter at Mr. Hume's expense for more than an hour; the wonder being how Mr. Gladstone was so thoroughly informed on Canadian affairs. No member of the House of Commons seemed to be more astonished and confounded than Mr. Hume himself. He made no reply, and, as far as I know, never after spoke on Canadian affairs; and Mr. Roebuck soon ceased to be Agent for the Lower Canada House of Assembly. He has since become an ultra Conservative!

In a letter from London, dated 1st June, Dr. Ryerson says:—

Before Dr. Duncombe arrived in England, and seeing how much injury was being done to the reputation and influence of Canada by these representations, I commenced a series of letters in the London Times, designed to expose the machinations and mis-statements of Messrs. Hume and Roebuck in England, in regard to matters in Upper Canada, showing from their own letters to Messrs. Papineau and Mackenzie that they were the first prompters of the project.[49] To-day I also addressed a letter to Sir George Grey, Under-Secretary for the Colonies, on the political crisis in that Province. After discussing several matters relating to the recent election of a new House of Assembly, I concluded as follows:—As the affairs of the Province will now be taken into consideration by His Majesty's Government, there are three subjects on which I would respectfully request an interview with Lord Glenelg, yourself, and Mr. [Sir James] Stephen. 1. The Clergy Reserve question—a plan to meet the circumstances of the Province, and yet not deprive the clergy of the Church of England of an adequate support. 2. The Legislative Council—how it may be rendered more influential and popular, without rendering it elective, or infringing (but rather strengthening) the prerogatives of the Crown. 3. The Executive—how its just authority, influence[Pg 169] and popularity may be promoted and established, so as to prevent the occurrence of that embarrassment in which it is now involved, not from improper acts, but from an actual deficiency of the requisite operative means to secure the Royal Prerogative from insult and invasion. I am aware that each of these subjects is surrounded with difficulty, and that no plan proposed will be entirely free from objection, but I should like to state the views which my acquaintance with the Province has impressed on my own mind, and which I have not seen suggested in any official document or public journal, but which have been favourably thought of by two or three respectable gentlemen connected with Canada, to whom I have stated them.

In reply, Lord Glenelg appointed the following Monday for the desired interview. I afterwards embodied the substance of my views in a letter to Sir George Grey.

No further reference is made to this interview by Dr. Ryerson. But in a letter from him, dated 21st July, he says:—

I was applied to, and did, in my individual capacity, communicate to the Colonial Secretary frequently, and in one or two instances at great length, on the posture of Canadian affairs; and the parties and principal questions which have divided and agitated the Canadian public. I repeatedly received the thanks of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, for the pains which I had taken in these matters; but what influence my communications may have had, or may have, on the policy of His Majesty's Government towards the Canadas is not for me to say, as I desired Lord Glenelg not to assume, prima facie, as correct, any of my representations, but to examine my authorities—to weigh my arguments—to hear what could be said by others—as I had no friends to recommend to office, and no personal interests to promote, only the religious and general peace and prosperity of the Canadas, and the maintenance of a firm and mutually beneficial connection between these Colonies and the parent State.

I think I have good reason to believe that much more correct and decided views are entertained by His Majesty's ministers and many public men in England, in respect to the interests and government of the Canadas, than were possessed by them six months ago; and that all of those inhabitants of the Colonies, who patriotically maintain their Christian and constitutional allegiance, will ensure the respect, equal and firm protection, and parental regard of their Sovereign and his government, by whatever party it may be administered.

In a letter from London, dated 26th July (page 154), Dr. Ryerson says:—Mr. William Lunn, of Montreal, has just arrived from Quebec. He informs me that—

My letters to the London Times, on Hume and Roebuck, have produced the most amazing effect upon the public mind of the Province, of anything that I ever wrote. To the Lord be all the praise for his great goodness, after all our toil and suffering. There is nothing like integrity of principle and faithfulness in duty, in humble dependence upon the Lord, and with an eye to His glory!


[49] The British North American Association of Merchants had these letters reprinted from The Times newspaper, and a copy sent to each member of Parliament, both of the Lords and Commons. They were signed, "A Canadian."

[Pg 170]



Important Events Transpiring in Upper Canada.

Dr. Ryerson was absent in England from 20th November, 1835, to 12th June, 1837. On the 15th of January, 1836, Sir John Colborne, by order in Council, endowed fifty-seven Rectories in Upper Canada out of the Clergy Reserve Lands. On the 23rd of that month Sir F. B. Head, the new Governor, arrived in Toronto. On the 14th of January following, he opened the Session of the Legislature. What followed was reported to Dr. Ryerson by his friend, Mr. S. S. Junkin, in a letter, dated, Toronto, 1st May:—

Our Parliament was prorogued on the 20th April, after such a session as was never before known in Upper Canada. You will form some idea of the state of affairs when I tell you that it "stopped the supplies," and the Governor reserved all of the money bills, (twelve)—including that for the contingences of the House,—for the King's pleasure.

The immediate cause of the rupture between the new Governor (Sir F. B. Head) and the House of Assembly—

Arose out of the resignation of the Executive Council. On the 20th February, the Governor (as directed by Lord Glenelg) added three Reformers to his Council, viz.: Messrs. Robert Baldwin, John Rolph, and John Henry Dunn. On the 4th March, these gentlemen and the Conservative members, (Messrs. Peter Robinson, George H. Markland, and Joseph Wells) resigned. They complained that they were held responsible for measures which they never advised, and for a policy to which they were strangers. In reply the Governor stated in substance that he alone was responsible for the acts of his government, and was at liberty to have resource to their advice only when he required it; but that to consult them on all questions would be "utterly impossible." This answer was referred to a Committee of the House of Assembly, which brought in a report censuring the Governor in the strongest terms. On the 14th March, Sir F. B. Head appointed Messrs. R. B. Sullivan, William Allan, Augustus Baldwin, and John Elmsley, as his new Executive Council. On the 17th the House declared its entire want of confidence in the new Council, and stated that in retaining them the Governor violated the instructions of the Colonial Secretary to the Governor, to appoint Councillors who possessed the confidence of the people. Much recrimination followed; at length Sir F. B. Head dissolved the House, and directed that a new election be held.

In regard to this election, Dr. Ryerson, in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism" (page 226) says:[Pg 171]

Sir F. B. Head adroitly turned the issue, not on the question of the Clergy Reserves, or of other practical questions, but on the question of connection with the mother country, and of Republicanism vs. Monarchy, as had been recommended by Messrs. Hume and Roebuck, and advocated by Messrs. Mackenzie and Papineau. This was successful, inasmuch as those Reformers who would not disavow their connection with Messrs. Mackenzie, Hume and Roebuck, lost their election; for though not more than half a dozen had any sympathy with the sentiments of Messrs. Hume, Roebuck, Papineau, and Mackenzie, they did not wish to break the unity of the Reform party by repudiating them, and suffered defeat in consequence at the elections. The successful candidates, generally, while they repudiated Republican separation from the mother country, promised fidelity to the oft-expressed and well-known wishes of the people in the settlement of the Clergy Reserve question, which, however, they failed to fulfil.

In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, from Hallowell, his brother William said:—

Our loyal address, a very moderate one, to the Governor, was carried unanimously—all the young Preachers on trial being allowed to vote on that occasion. This is equally gratifying and surprising to all the friends of British supremacy. A gentleman from Montreal, who was present, was so surprised, and I may say, delighted, that he could hardly contain himself. I did not know for a short time, but he would be constrained from the violence of his feeling to jump up and shout. The Conference also adopted a very good address to the King. (See page 162.)

We are on the eve of a new election. The excitement through the country at large exceeds anything I have ever known. There would be very little cause for doubt or fear as to the results, were it not for one of the last acts of Sir John Colborne's administration, in establishing and endowing nearly sixty Rectories. Knowing, as I do, that the public mind is strongly opposed to any measure of that sort, or any step towards legalizing a church establishment, yet I could not believe the feeling was so strong as it actually is. If the elections should turn out disastrously to the best interest of the country, the result can only be attributed to that unjust and most unpolitic act. We are willing to do all that we consistently can, but everywhere the rectory question meets us. While I am compelled to believe that a vast majority are devotedly loyal to our gracious Sovereign, yet the best and most affectionate subjects of the King would almost prefer revolution to the establishment of a dominant Church thus sought to be imposed on us.

In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, from Toronto, his brother John says:—

The late elections agitated the Societies very much in some places, but they are now settling down to "quietness and assurance." I hope that the worst of the storm is over. The Governor is a talented man, but very little magisterial dignity about him. He takes good care to let every one know that he esteems every day alike, travelling on Sabbaths the same as other days. Indeed he seems to have no idea of religion at all, but is purely a man of pleasure. His popularity will soon be upon the wane if he does not mend in these respects.

The friends in Kingston are very anxiously looking for your return, and are becoming quite discontented and out of patience. They complained bitterly to me of your long absence, and were anxious to have me stay with them until you return.

[Pg 172]



Return to Canada.—The Chapel Property Cases.

In this part of the "Story" of his life, Dr. Ryerson has only left the following sentence:—At the Conference held after my return to Canada, in June, I declined re-election as Editor of the Christian Guardian, having promised my Kingston brethren, from whom I had been suddenly removed in November, 1835, that I would remain with them at least one year on my return from England.

After Conference, Dr. Ryerson (with Rev. E. Healy) attended as a deputation to the Black River Conference. He said:—

The Conference was presided over by Bishop Hedding, who, in strong and affecting language, expressed his feelings of respect and love for our Connexion in Canada. In reply, I reiterated the expression of our profound respect and affection for our honoured friend and father in the Gospel; by the imposition of whose hands, I, and several other brethren in Canada, have been set apart to the Holy Ministry. After my return to Kingston, brother Healy and I received from the Black River Conference a complimentary resolution in regard to our visit. In enclosing it to me, Rev. Jesse T. Peck, the Secretary [afterwards Bishop], said:—Allow me humbly, but earnestly, to beg a continuance of that friendship with you, which in its commencement has afforded me so much pleasure.

In August of this year, 1837, the celebrated trial of the Waterloo Chapel case[50] took place before Mr. Justice Macaulay, at the Kingston Assizes, and a verdict was given against the Wesleyan Methodists. It was subsequently appealed to the Court of King's Bench, at Toronto. Three elaborate judgments were delivered on the case. Rev. John Ryerson was a good deal exercised as to the ill effects, upon the connexional church property, of Judge Macaulay's adverse decision. In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, he said:—

We are much troubled and perplexed, here in Toronto, about the Waterloo Chapel case. I saw the Attorney-General on the subject to-day. When Judge Macaulay's judgment is published, I hope you will carefully review the whole matter, and lay the thing before the public in such a way as to produce conviction. Everybody is inquiring whether or not you will take up the subject.

[Pg 173]

An appeal was made to the King's Bench at Toronto. This Court—

Set aside the verdict of the lower Court, and ordered a new trial.... At this second trial, as also that respecting the Belleville Church property case, [November, 1837], ... the whole matter was "ventilated," and the result was that the legal decision of the highest judicial tribunal of the land confirmed the Wesleyan Methodist Church as the rightful owner of the Church property, it being the true representative and successor of the original Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada. These litigations extended over more than two years, and the friends of Zion and of peace greatly rejoiced when they were brought to a just and final settlement. (Epochs of Canadian Methodism, pages 278, 279.)

In regard to these three judgments on the case, Dr. Ryerson said:—

During the latter part of this month I have devoted such time as I could spare to a lengthened review for the Guardian, of the elaborate judgments of Chief Justice Robinson, and Justices Macaulay and Sherwood, on the Waterloo Chapel case.[51] The opinion of the Chief Justice displays profound research, acute discrimination, and sound judgment. The opinion of Mr. Justice Macaulay indicates great labour and strict religious scrupulosity. The opinion of Mr. Justice Sherwood betrays great want of acquaintance with the discipline, usages, and general history of Methodism. To the Methodist Connexion the conflict of opinion and confusion of reasoning of these learned judges are most prejudicial and disastrous. I have therefore sought, in the "review," to set forth the true facts of this abstruse case—facts connected with the history of Methodism—facts, with the most material of which I am personally acquainted, and in the progress of which I have been called to act a conspicuous part.

In regard to this "review," Rev. E. Healy wrote to Dr. Ryerson, from Brockville, and said:—

I have read your review of the opinion of the judges, and am happy to see it. What the judges will do with you, I do not know. You are considered, I believe, by some in this part of the country, as part man and part demon. This is one reason, doubtless, why I am also so bad a man, as I have said so much in your favour.

Rev. Hannibal Mulkins,[52] writing from Whitby on this subject, said:—

The agitation which was anticipated by some of the preachers at the last Conference, and which has existed in some degree has happily subsided, notwithstanding the most vigorous efforts have been made, and all the arts of calumny and misrepresentation, employed to harrass, to worry, and devour.

I was very glad to see your "review" of the opinions of the Judges in the Chapel case. I have read it with much satisfaction. On this circuit, notwithstanding the prejudices of some individuals, it has been perused with general delight, and to our friends in particular it has been highly satisfactory.

[Pg 174]

Dr. Ryerson, in a letter from New York, dated November, 1837, says:—

I have just returned from an extended tour of about 500 miles in the Middle and Southern States, in order to obtain information and evidence relative to the organization of the Methodist Church in America, the character of its Episcopacy, and the powers of the General Conference—points which involve the issue of our chapel property case. From the mass of testimony and information I have been able to collect, by seeing every preacher in this continent who was in the work in 1784, relative to the character of Methodist Episcopacy, and the powers of the General Conference, I feel no doubt as to the result.[53]

Rev. Joseph Stinson, in making his report on the same subject, said:—

I spent a whole day with Bishop Hedding, and had much conversation with him about our affairs generally. He told me that the American Methodist Church had never regarded Episcopacy as a Divine ordinance—nor as an essential doctrine of the Church—but as an expedient form of ecclesiastical government, which could be modified by the General Conference, or even dispensed with without violating the great principles of Methodism. The Bishop is of the opinion, however, that if our Courts decide against us, we shall have to return to Episcopacy, and that the first Bishop should be ordained by the Bishops of the American Church.

Dr. Ryerson, in the same November letter, says:—

I have also accompanied Mr. Stinson to render him what assistance I could, in examining Manual Labour Schools, with a view to establishing one for the benefit of our Indian youth—an object of the very greatest importance, both to the religious and civil interests of our aboriginal fellow countrymen. Also to get from the New York Missionary Board a sum of money for the Indian work which was expected from them before our Union with the English Conference.

In a letter to Dr. Alder, written from New York in the same month, Dr. Ryerson said:—

The concern of our preachers and friends on the Chapel case is deep and truly affecting. As I took so responsible a part in the Union, I cannot describe my feelings on this question. At the request of our brethren I have undertaken to do what I could to secure our Church property from the party claiming it. I have travelled nearly 500 miles this week for that purpose. But it is cheering amidst all our difficulties, and the commotions of the political elements, that our preachers, I believe, without exception, are of one heart—that our societies are in peace—that the work of our blessed Lord is reviving in many of the circuits, although the cause in Kingston suffers, and my dear brethren there complain, in consequence of my connexional engagements and absence from them.


[50] Between the Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodists for the possession of the Church property. Waterloo was four miles north of Kingston.

[51] The Review is inserted in the Guardian, vol. viii., pages 169-178. The Belleville case was published in pamphlet form.

[52] This gentleman entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1835, but joined the Church of England in 1840. He was for many years Chaplain to the Penitentiary, at Kingston, and always retained a warm regard for Dr. Ryerson. He died in 1877, aged 65 years.

[53] The particulars here referred to are given in detail in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pages 279-281.

[Pg 175]



The Coming Crisis.—Rebellion of 1837.

As Dr. Ryerson had anticipated, the combined effects of the publication of his "impressions," in 1833; his letters exposing the designs of Messrs. Hume, Roebuck, and Mackenzie in 1837; the secession of a section of the Methodist Church, and the disputes consequent thereon (culminating in the Waterloo and Belleville Chapel suits)—in which he took a leading part—provoked the parties concerned to active hostility against him. He had, however, many warm friends, especially among his ministerial brethren. One of these was Rev. John Black, in the Bay of Quinte District,—a quaint, but true and warm-hearted man. In inviting him to take part in the Quarterly Meeting services, at Napanee, Mr. Black indulges in a little playful satire, as follows:—

It appears that there are some amongst us here whom we dare not number amongst your friends, and who prophesied that you would never return from England—that you dare not, etc. Now we wish to afford them living proof of their vanity in prophesying, by your presence amongst them. Besides, on the other hand, the good-hearted brethren amongst us greatly rejoiced on hearing of your successful mission to England, and they wish to see and hear you once more.

Somewhat in Rev. John Black's spirit of kindly raillery, Rev. John C. Davidson, of Hallowell, in inviting Dr. Ryerson to take part in a Camp-meeting (and after mentioning several inducements), said:—

I would mention another inducement for you to come, viz.: the multiplicity of warm friends and virulent enemies you have on this circuit. Your presence and preaching will afford pleasure and profit to your friends, and will very much tend, in my opinion, to disarm the groundless prejudice entertained by many others against you.

In a more serious letter to Dr. Ryerson, dated Cobourg, 16th November, 1837, Rev. Anson Green gives expression to a general feeling of uneasiness and distrust which prevailed everywhere in the country at that time:—

I pity you most sincerely. You have a storm about your ears that you must bear, if you do not bow before it. In these perilous times a man[Pg 176] scarcely knows what to advise. I fear that destruction awaits us on either hand. With the Radicals we are Tories; and with the Tories we are Rebels. It is said by the Rebels here that they have money enough, and men enough, and guns enough, and that the plans are so laid that there can be no mistake. The Government appears to be in possession of these facts. Thus far the proceedings of the Rebels do not show much wisdom, or skill, in laying plans, or in executing them. I am mistaken if they stop short of a civil war.

I very much regret that you should be under the necessity of coming in contact with Governor Head in any one thing. I could not be a rebel; my conscience and religion forbid it; and, on the other hand, I could not fight for the Rectories and Church domination. I think them both to be great evils, and I have resolved to choose neither. I believe that in Haldimand and Cramahe townships there are twenty rebels to one sincere loyalist. Brother Wilson, (son of old Father Wilson), says that his life has been threatened for circulating the petition which you sent down, and others are in a similar condition. What will be the effect of all this I cannot say, but I have thought from the beginning that either the Rectories must be abolished, and a suitable disposition made of the Reserves, or a change of Government will ensue. And if the Church party have it all in their own hands to make peace, by allowing other Churches to enjoy equal privileges with themselves, and do not do so, they must bear the responsibility of all the bloodshed and carnage that may ensue. I fear that they are so perfectly infatuated that they will suffer utter destruction, and choose it rather than equal and impartial justice.

On the 5th December, 1837, Dr. Ryerson reached Cobourg on his way to Toronto. When he arrived there, Elders Case and Green, and other friends, thought that as his life had been threatened it would be unsafe for him to proceed to Toronto.[54] He, therefore, waited there for further news, and, in the meantime, wrote to a friend in Kingston, on the 6th, as follows:—

You will recollect my mentioning that I pressed upon Sir Francis the propriety and importance of making some prudent provision for the defence of the city, in case any party should be urged on in the madness of rebellion so far as to attack it. He is much blamed here on account of his overweening confidence, and foolish and culpable negligence in this respect. There was great excitement in this town and neighbourhood last night. To-day all is anxiety and hurry. The militia is called out to put down the rebellion of the very man whose seditious paper many of them have supported, and whom they have countenanced.

The precepts of the Bible and the example of the early Christians, leave me no occasion for second thoughts as to my duty, namely, to pray for and support the "powers that be," whether I admire them or not, and to implore the defeat of "fiery conspiracy and rebellion." And I doubt not that the sequel will in this, as in other cases, show that the path of[Pg 177] duty is that of wisdom, if not of safety. I am aware that my head would be regarded as something of a prize by the rebels; but I feel not in the least degree agitated. I trust implicitly in that God whom I have endeavoured—though imperfectly and unfaithfully—to serve; being assured nothing will harm us, but that all things, whether life or death, will work together for our good if we be followers of that which is good. Let us trust in the Lord, and do good, and He will never leave nor forsake us!

About 700 armed men have left this district to-day for Toronto, in order to put down the rebels. There is an unanimity and determination among the people to quash rebellion and support the law that I hardly expected. The country is safe, but it is a "gone day with the rebel party."

In a graphic letter to Dr. Ryerson, written on the 5th December, by his brother William, at Toronto, the scenes at the emeute in that city are thus described:—

Last night, about 12 or 1 o'clock, the bells rang with great violence; we all thought it was an alarm of fire, but being unable to see any light, we thought it was a false alarm, and we remained quiet until this morning, when, on visiting the market-place, I found a large number of persons serving out arms to others as fast as they possibly could. Among many others we saw the Lieutenant-Governor, in his every-day suit, with one double-barrelled gun in his hand, another leaning against his breast, and a brace of pistols in his leather belt. Also, Chief Justice Robinson, Judges Macaulay, Jones, and McLean, the Attorney-General, and Solicitor-General, with their muskets, cartridge boxes and bayonets, all standing in the ranks as private soldiers, under the command of Colonel Fitzgibbon. I assure you it is impossible for me to describe my feelings. I enquired of Judge McLean, who informed me that an express had arrived at the Government House late last night, giving intelligence that the Radicals had assembled in great force at Montgomery's, on Yonge Street, and were in full march for the city; that the Governor had sent out two persons, Mr. A. McDonell and Ald. J. Powell, to obtain information (both of whom had been made prisoners, but escaped).

Dr. Horne's house is now in flames. I feel very calm and composed in my own mind. Brother John thinks it will not be wise for you to come through all the way from Kingston. You would not be safe in visiting this wretched part of the country at the present. You know the feelings that are entertained against you. Your life would doubtless be industriously sought. My dear brother, farewell. May God mercifully bless and keep you from all the difficulties and dangers we are in!

Rev. William Ryerson further writes, on the 8th December:

About 10 o'clock to-day about 2,000 men, headed by the Lieut.-Governor, with Judge Jones, the Attorney-General and Capt. Halkett, as his aides-de-camp, and commanded by Cols. Fitzgibbon and Allan N. Macnab, Speaker of the House, left the city to attack the rebels at Montgomery's. After a little skirmishing in which we had three men wounded but none killed, the main body commenced a very spirited attack on their headquarters at Montgomery's large house. After a few shots from two six-pounders, and a few volleys of musketry, the most of the party fled and made their escape. The rest of them were taken prisoners. There were also three or[Pg 178] four killed and several wounded. After which His Excellency ordered the buildings to be burnt to the ground, and the whole force returned to the city. All the leaders succeeded in making their escape. A royal proclamation has just been issued offering £1,000 for the apprehension of Mackenzie, and £500 for that of Samuel Lount, David Gibson, Silas Fletcher, and Jesse Lloyd; so that now, through the mercy of God, we have peace, and feel safe again, for which we desire to feel sincerely thankful.

Dr. Ryerson, having reached Toronto safely, and knowing how anxious his parents would be to know something definite as to the state of affairs, wrote a letter to his Father on the 18th December, as follows:—

I have been trying to get time to make you and Mother a visit of at least one night; but I find it quite out of my power to secure the enjoyment of so precious a privilege.

It is remarkable that every man, with very few exceptions, who has left our Church and joined in the unprincipled crusade which has been made against us, has either been an active promoter of this plot, or so far connected with it as to be ruined in his character and prospects by the timely discovery and defeat of it! I have been deeply affected at hearing of some unhappy examples, among old acquaintances, of this description. I feel thankful that I have been enabled to do my duty from the beginning in this matter. Four years ago, I perceived and began to warn the public of the revolutionary tendency and spirit of Mackenzie's proceedings. Perhaps you may recollect that in a long article in the Guardian, four years ago this winter, headed "Revolutionary Symptoms," I pointed out, to the great displeasure of even some of my friends, what has come to pass.

It is also a matter of thankfulness that every one of our family and marriage connections, near and remote, is on the side of law, reason, and religion in this affair. Such indications of the Divine goodness are a fresh encouragement to me to renew my covenant engagement with my gracious Redeemer, to serve Him and His cause with greater zeal and faithfulness.

I hope, my dear Father, you are employing your last days in preparing for your approaching change, and for standing before the bar of God. My poor prayers are daily offered up in your behalf. Much travelling and other engagements have hitherto prevented me from writing to you as I would; but, hereafter, the first Monday in each month shall be considered as belonging to my dear aged Parents, in praying for or writing to them. My dutiful respects and love to my dear Mother. I would esteem it a great favour and privilege to receive a few lines from you or her.


[54] Dr. Ryerson in his "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," page 314, says:—It had been agreed by W. L. Mackenzie and his fellow rebels, in 1837, to hang Egerton Ryerson on the first tree they met with, could they apprehend him.

[Pg 179]



Sir F. B. Head and the Upper Canada Academy.

Lord Glenelg, as agreed, when Dr. Ryerson was in England, (page 165,) directed Lieutenant-Governor Sir F. B. Head to bring the pecuniary claims of the Upper Canada Academy before the Legislature. This he did in February, 1837. A committee (of which Hon. W. H. Draper was chairman)[55] brought in an excellent report on the subject. The House of Assembly by a vote of 31 to 10 agreed to advance $16,400 to the Academy. The Legislative Council, on motion of Hon. J. Elmsley, made such onerous conditions as virtually defeated the bill, and no relief was granted.[56] Dr. Ryerson, then in England, pressed the matter most urgently upon Lord Glenelg, who in April 1837, sent directions to Sir F. B. Head to advance the money without delay. This, on various pretexts, he refused to do; but when the Legislature opened in January, 1838, he sent a message to the House, which Dr. Ryerson, then in Toronto, thus describes, in a letter to a friend at Kingston, dated February 3rd, 1838. He said:[Pg 180]

Instead of giving us the promised money for the Upper Canada Academy, Sir Francis Head has sent a part of the correspondence with Lord Glenelg and with me down to the House of Assembly, with a message in which he implicates me, as also a letter to Lord Glenelg, written a few weeks after my return from England, in which he impeaches me. I have, in consequence, drawn up a petition to the House, filling six large sheets, exposing the whole of his conduct towards us, vindicating myself from the charges contained in his despatches, and proposing to establish every fact which I have stated before a select Committee of the House of Assembly. My petition was presented this morning. According to rule, a petition has to lie on the table for twenty-four hours before it is read. But a motion was made and agreed to, to dispense with the rule, and read my petition. It was then read, and created a great sensation. It was then moved that 200 copies of it be printed, together with all the documents sent down by the Governor, to which the petition referred. After discussion the motion was carried by a vote of 33 to 4. This was, of course, very gratifying to my feelings, as it must be extremely mortifying to the Governor. This is the first petition that has been ordered to be printed by the present—Sir Francis' own—Parliament. The dispensing with the rule, and giving such a petition the preference, was the highest mark of respect which the House could have shown me. I have not felt so much agitated with anything for years, as with this matter. I am now greatly relieved. I feel as if the Lord God of Hosts was on our side. The Governor clearly thought that as he was so greatly lauded and had become so famous a conqueror, we would not dare to come out against him before the public, or meet him face to face before the Assembly.

On the 16th, Dr. Ryerson again writes to Kingston:—

This Academy business is a most painful one to me. The Legislative Council and the House of Assembly have each appointed a select Committee on the subject. But I am afraid we will get nothing until we hear from Lord Glenelg.

My mind has been, and is, in a great degree depressed beyond expression, in regard to our circumstances. My only trust is in Him who has thus far brought us through, and turned the designs of our enemies to our account. For the last two days I have been as low as I was at my lowest in London.

In addition to Dr. Ryerson's petition to both Houses, he made a separate Appeal to members of the Assembly. In it he stated in substance that Sir Francis Head—

Had already issued his warrant for $8,200; that he was informed in December, 1837, not merely verbally, but in writing, by Hon. J. H. Dunn, Receiver-General, that he had funds with which to pay the balance ($8,200), yet the Governor refused to issue the requisite warrant for it, on the plea of[Pg 181] much business; but said that Mr. Dunn had all the warrant that was necessary. In January he again declined to issue the warrant, and excused himself by saying that Mr. Dunn required no further authority. When, later in the month, Dr. Ryerson had not only removed every variety of objection and excuse, but sent a note from Mr. Dunn saying that he had the necessary funds, Sir F. B. Head stated that he "must see one or two of his councillors." After he had done so, he wrote a note to Dr. Ryerson to say that he had misled him, as to the advance being a grant instead of a loan, etc.

On 21st February, the House of Assembly recommended that the balance be paid over at once. It pointed out that Dr. Ryerson had become personally liable to the banks for $3,400, and Revs. John Ryerson and E. Evans for $2,000 of the balance due; that although grants were constantly being made by the House, yet there was no precedent for a loan; and that as to whether the advance was to be a grant or a loan they would abstain from offering an opinion. This report had the desired effect. The money was paid.

On the 22nd February, Dr. Ryerson was, therefore, enabled to write to his friend in Kingston, to say that

The prayer of my petition has been this day complied with by a unanimous vote of the House of Assembly; and the Hon. Mr. Draper told Brother Evans that His Excellency would issue his warrant for the money as soon as the Address of the Assembly is presented. Not a man in the Assembly would risk his reputation in defence of the conduct of the Governor in this affair. The Report of the Committee was received, and the Address passed two readings last night and one this morning, and without one word from any member of the Assembly in the way of comment or remark. The Committee of the Legislative Council has actually declined entering into the investigation of the subject at all, as had been desired by His Excellency. Thus has Sir Francis Head not only disgraced himself, but helped us.

I thank the Lord for His blessing thus far. We will still trust in Him, and not be afraid. Tories, Radicals, and the Governor, have each had their turn at us. I hope we may now be allowed to live in peace. The result of this affair has in some measure compensated me for the anxiety of mind I have endured.

After this unpleasant controversy with Sir F. B. Head was over, Rev. Anson Green wrote to Dr. Ryerson as follows:—

How do you feel after your brush with Sir Francis? You need not feel very downcast, having attained so triumphant a victory. I doubt not but Sir Francis would willingly pay double the amount claimed by us, if he could have prevented the result which has happened. It is too late, however, to recall it now. I hope he will learn wisdom from the past, and not be so self-willed and headstrong in future. No one seems pleased with him but those whose praise is a reproach.

Rev. W. H. Harvard, in a letter from Kingston, said:—

I am truly pained at the conduct of the Lieutenant-Governor, and sympathize with you in thus being brought into such an unavoidable collision with him. I am more than grieved that he should use us so ungenerously.

I am glad that you are the warrior, for you will combine caution and courage, and will come off more than conqueror. You are at present the centre of our solicitude. I pray that your heart may be comforted and controlled from above. We are the Lord's covenanted, consecrated servants. In His work we are employed. By His Holy Spirit may we ever be actuated and aided!


[55] At the Conference of this year resolutions of thanks were passed to Mr. Draper, and were sent to him by Dr. Ryerson, the Secretary. Mr. Draper's reply was as follows:—

I feel deeply indebted to the Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for the honour conferred upon me in deeming my humble exertions in the cause of Christian education worthy of their approbation, and I trust I shall never forget their good opinion. I cannot, at the same time, pass by the opportunity of thanking you for the terms in which you have communicated that resolution to me, and of expressing my satisfaction that I have in any degree contributed to the success of your unwearied exertions in behalf of the Upper Canada Academy in England. I sincerely rejoice that you were enabled to obtain that aid for its completion, which was so necessary and so well deserved.

[56] In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, his brother William thus accounts for the failure to get the grant: To the miserable Missionary grant of £900 to the English Conference we are chiefly indebted for the loss of the Bill for the relief of the Upper Canada Academy, as we are positively informed by our best friends in the House of Assembly. It has also been the means of depriving many of the preachers of a considerable part of their small salary, and in one or two instances, of the whole of it. It has, and still does more to weaken our hands, and to embarrass our labours, and also to strengthen the hands and to increase the number of our enemies, than almost any or all other causes put together.

[Pg 182]



Victims of the Rebellion.—State of the Country.

Early in 1838 the trials for treason took place. Messrs. Lount and Matthews were found guilty and sentenced to death. Other parties were also tried: among them was Dr. Thomas D. Morrison, a prominent Methodist in Toronto.[57] In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, at Kingston, his brother John mentions that Dr. Morrison was triumphantly acquitted. He also mentions (as an amusing incident at the trial) the success of the two counsel for Dr. Morrison, in showing that statements entirely contradictory to each other could be fully proved from Sir F. B. Head's own speeches and dispatches. He said:—

Mr. Macdonald, of St. Catharines, stated that Sir Francis had declared in his speech at the opening of the Parliament, that he knew of the rebellion long before it occurred, and that he was the cause of it. Mr. Boswell, of Cobourg, admitted that Sir Francis had said he knew a good deal. But the Governor was very fond of a fine style; he liked rounded periods, or, as Lord Melbourne had expressed it, "epigrammic" flights, so well, that he could hardly make his pen write the words of truth and soberness on such occasions. Mr. Boswell read several extracts from Sir Francis' despatches to Lord Glenelg, which were in direct opposition to the extracts read by Mr. Macdonald. A gentleman whispered to me that anything (no matter what) could be proved from Sir Francis' writings and sayings. In reply to the Attorney-General, Mr. Macdonald said:—That if the suspicion of treasonable motives and doings in others, and not informing or using prompt measures to correct or prevent what might follow, was treason, then Sir Francis was the greatest traitor in the country, for he said he knew all about the proposed outbreak. Mr. Boswell said, that after Sir Francis had seen the "Declaration," and had taken the advice of the Attorney-General, he had sent a despatch to the Colonial Secretary declaring that there was nothing treasonable in the country; that everything was as it should be! To[Pg 183] demonstrate this, he had sent away all the troops. Thus, you see, the two lawyers made poor Sir Francis prove everything.

The jury returned with a verdict of "not guilty," which caused great cheering, and which could not be suppressed for some time. Several of the jury were warm Tories, but they acquitted the Doctor.

In another letter to Dr. Ryerson, his brother John gives an account of the efforts made to induce Sir George Arthur, the new Governor, to commute the sentence of Lount and Mathews. He says:—

I have signed a petition for the mitigation of Lount and Mathews' punishment, as did Brother William. I have just seen Rev. James Richardson, who has been with Lount and Mathews. Mathews professed to have found peace. Lount is earnestly seeking. A good deal of feeling has been excited respecting the execution of these unfortunate men. A petition signed by 4,000 persons in their behalf was presented to His Excellency. It was agreed that Rev. Mr. Brough (Church of England minister from Newmarket) and I should go and present the Toronto petition, and that we should seek a private interview with him. Instead of having a private interview, we were called into the Council Chamber in the presence of the Executive Council. This was rather embarrassing to me, as I did not wish to say what I had intended to say in the presence of Sir Francis' old Executive Council. After presenting the petition, Mr. Brough introduced the conversation and referred Sir George to me. I told him that I was extensively acquainted with the country,—that I had travelled lately through the Niagara, Gore, Home, Newcastle, Prince Edward, and part of the Midland Districts,—had conversed with a great many persons, many of whom, even persons of high respectability, and were strongly attached to the interests of His Majesty's Government, and the pervading feeling was that the severe penalty of the law should not be executed on those victims of deception and sin. I also read an extract of your last letter to His Excellency [p. 188]—relating to the inexpediency of inflicting severe punishment "in opposition to public sentiment and policy, for political offences," etc. After having listened to me very attentively, His Excellency said, that after the fullest consultation with his Executive, and the most serious and prayerful consideration of this painful matter, he had come to the conclusion that Lount and Mathews must be executed.

I also mentioned to the Governor that you and Rev. J. Stinson had waited on Sir Francis about four weeks previous to the insurrection,—that you informed him of insurrectionary movements about Lloydtown and other places, which you had learned from me,—that you had strongly urged Sir Francis to raise volunteers, and put the city and other places in a state of defence,—that you and I had waited on the Attorney-General next day, and that we had urged these things on him in a similar manner;—but that these statements and advice had been disregarded, if not disbelieved.

In a subsequent letter he thus related the closing scene:—

At eight o'clock to-day, Thursday, 12th April, Lount and Mathews were executed. The general feeling is in total opposition to the execution of those men. Sheriff Jarvis burst into tears when he entered the room to prepare them for execution. They said to him very calmly, "Mr. Jarvis, do your duty; we are prepared to meet death and our Judge." They then, both of them, put their arms around his neck and kissed him. They were then prepared for execution. They walked to the gallows with entire composure and firmness of step. Rev. J. Richardson walked alongside of Lount, and Rev. J.[Pg 184] Beatty alongside of Mathews. They ascended the scaffold and knelt down on the drop. The ropes were adjusted while they were on their knees. Mr. Richardson engaged in prayer; and when he came to that part of the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us," the drop fell!

In a letter written to Dr. Ryerson the next day, his brother John mentioned a sad incident connected with Lount's trial:

Lount's daughter, a young woman, was present when her father was condemned. It had such an effect on her, that she went home and died almost immediately afterwards. These are indeed melancholy times!

The evil effects upon the country of the arbitrary conduct of Sir F. B. Head, are thus described in a letter to Dr. Ryerson from his brother William, dated Toronto, 22nd April:—

The very painful excitement caused by the execution of Lount and Matthews has in some degree subsided, but dissatisfaction with the state of things is, I fear, increasing from day to day. Emigration to the States is the fear of the hour. It is indeed going on to an extent truly alarming and astonishing. A deputation has been sent from this city to Washington to negotiate with the American Government for a tract of land on which to form a settlement or colony. They have returned, and say that they met with a most gracious reception, encouragement and success beyond their most sanguine expectations. An emigration society has been formed, embracing some of the leading citizens. Its object is to commence a colony in the Iowa Territory, on the Mississippi River.[58] A very large class are becoming uneasy, and many of the best inhabitants of the country, as to industry and enterprise, are preparing to leave. My own spirit is almost broken down. I feel, I assure you, like leaving Canada too, and I am not alone in those feelings; some of our friends whom you would not suspect, often feel quite as much down in the throat as I do. If ever I felt the need of faith, and wisdom, and patience, it is at the present. I have just returned from visiting the prisoners. After all, we know but little of the calamities and miseries with which our once happy land is now afflicted, and yet Sir Francis, the most guilty author of this misery, escapes without punishment; yes, with honour and praise! How mysterious are the ways of Providence—how dark, crooked, and perverse the ways of man.


[57] Dr. Morrison had been a clerk in the Surveyor-General's office,—had, indeed, while there, collected materials for Dr. Strachan's Ecclesiastical Chart,—but, without any charge, or the slightest deficiency in faithfulness and efficiency, was dismissed, for the simple reason that he had become a Methodist! He then devoted himself to the medical profession. He was once elected to the House of Assembly for York, defeating the Attorney-General. He was also once elected Mayor of Toronto. He was the writer's [and the editor's] physician during life; died in great peace, strong in faith, giving glory to God.—"Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pages 188, 189.—H.

[58] This disposition to remove from Upper Canada to Iowa was not confined to Toronto and its vicinity. In the following chapter the case of a Mr. John Campbell, M.P.P. for Frontenac county, is mentioned. He was on his way to Iowa when he saw and read Dr. Ryerson's defence of Mr. Bidwell. The reading of that defence changed his plans, and he remained in Canada. (See page 192.)

[Pg 185]



Sketch of Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie.

The story of Dr. Ryerson's life would scarcely be complete without giving some information in regard to the chief opponents whom he encountered in the earlier part of his career—men well known at the time, but whose names and memories are now passing away.

With the exception of Bishop Strachan, no man came so immediately in contact with Dr. Ryerson in the first years of his public life as did Mr. W. L. Mackenzie.

Mr. Mackenzie was born in Scotland, in March, 1795. He died in Toronto, on the 28th August, 1861, in the 67th year of his age. He came to Canada in 1820, and until 1824 was engaged in mercantile pursuits. In May of that year he entered public life, and commenced the publication of the Colonial Advocate at Queenston. From that time until near the close of his life, he maintained his connection, more or less, with the press; but he was always on the stormy sea of politics, even when not a journalist. The reasons which induced him to enter public life are thus given in Mr. Charles Lindsey's "Life and Times of Mackenzie," page 40. They are in Mr. Mackenzie's own words, and were written some time after the rebellion of 1837-8:—

I had long seen the country in the hands of a few shrewd, crafty, covetous men, under whose management one of the most lovely, desirable sections of America remained a comparative desert. The most obvious public improvements were stayed; dissension was created among classes; citizens were banished and imprisoned [Gourley, Beardsley, etc.] in defiance of all law; the people had been forbidden, under severe pains and penalties, from meeting anywhere to petition for justice; large estates were wrested from their owners in utter contempt of even the forms of the courts; the Church of England, the adherents of which were few, monopolized as much of the lands of the Colony as all the religious houses and dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church had had the control of in Scotland at the era of the Reformation. Other sects were treated with contempt, and scarcely tolerated; a sordid band of land-jobbers grasped the soil as their patrimony, and with a few leading officials, who divided the public revenue among themselves, formed "the family compact," and were the avowed enemies of common[Pg 186] schools, of civil and religious liberty, of all legislative or other checks to their own will. Other men had opposed and been converted by them. At nine-and-twenty I might have united with them, but chose rather to join the oppressed; nor have I ever regretted that choice, or wavered from the object of my early pursuit. So far as I, or any other professed reformer, was concerned in inviting citizens of [the United States] to interfere in Canadian affairs, there was culpable error. So far as any of us, at any time, may have supposed that the cause of freedom would be advanced by adding the Canadas to [that] confederation, we were under the merest delusion. Mr. Lindsey adds:—In some respects the condition of the Province was worse than Mr. Mackenzie described it. He dealt only with its political condition.

With a Scotchman's idea of justice and freedom, he felt a longing desire to right the wrongs which he saw everywhere around him. This, therefore, constituted, as he believed, his mission as a public man in Canada, and it furnishes the key to his life and character.

Mr. Mackenzie was a political pessimist. He looked upon every abuse which he attacked, with a somewhat severe, if not a jaundiced, eye. Every evil which he discovered was, in his estimation, truly an evil; and all evils were about of equal magnitude. Besides, in attacking an evil or an abuse, he did not fail to attack the perpetrator or upholder of it also, and that, too, with a strength of invective, or of cutting sarcasm, which brought every foible, and weakness of his, and even those of his father before him, vividly into view. This was the baleful secret of his strength as an assailant; but this, too, caused him to be regarded by his victims with intense dislike, bordering on hatred. This style of attack, on the part of Mr. Mackenzie, did not necessarily arise from anything like vindictiveness, but rather from a keen sense of dislike to what he conceived to be wrong in the thing he was attacking.

In 1849 (12 years after the rebellion), Mr. Mackenzie, in a letter to Earl Grey, used the following remarkable language:—

A course of careful observation during the last eleven years has fully satisfied me that, had the violent movements in which I and many others were engaged on both sides of the Niagara proved successful, that success would have deeply injured the people of Canada, whom I then believed I was serving at great risks.... I have long been sensible of the errors committed during that period.... No punishment that power could inflict or nature sustain, would have equalled the regrets I have felt on account of much that I did, said, wrote, and published; but the past cannot be recalled.... There is not a living man on the continent who more sincerely desires that British Government in Canada may long continue, etc. Page 291, 292.

No man was more unselfish than Mr. Mackenzie. He would rather suffer extreme hardship than accept a doubtful favour. Even in regard to kindly and reasonable offers of help, he was morbidly sensitive (as mentioned on page 298 of his "Life and Times"); and yet, looking at the conduct of many men in like[Pg 187] circumstances, he deserved commendation rather than censure for his extreme conscientiousness.

Mr. Mackenzie did the State good service in many things. His investigations into the affairs of the Welland Canal were highly valuable to the country, greatly aided as he was by Mr. (now, Sir) Francis Hincks as chief accountant. His inquiries in regard to the Post Office and Prison management were also useful. Besides, he advocated many important reforms which were afterwards carried out. Mr. Mackenzie was the first Mayor of Toronto.

Towards the close of his life he and Dr. Ryerson were not on unfriendly terms; and when in 1852, as a member of the Legislature he instituted an inquiry into the management of the Educational Depository, he expressed himself satisfied with its usefulness.[59] At a later period when Mr. John C. Geikie[60]—then a bookseller in Toronto—commenced his attack upon the Depository in 1858, Mr. Mackenzie thus rebuked him in his Weekly Message of April 9th, of that year:—

At one time we thought with the redoubtable Geikie that Dr. Ryerson's book concern was a monopoly, but a more thorough inquiry induced us to change that opinion. We found that great benefits were obtained for the townships, the country schools, and general education through Dr. Ryerson's plan which could in no other way be conferred upon them, etc.

Dr. Ryerson, on his part, felt kindly towards Mr. Mackenzie. He mentioned to the Editor of this book near the close of the year 1860, that on the ensuing New Year's day he (Dr. Ryerson) would call upon and shake hands with his old antagonist, and wish him a "Happy New Year."


[59] Mr. Mackenzie frequently visited the Educational Depository to make inquiries, etc. The Editor of this book had frequent conversations with him on the subject, and explained to him the details of management. He was pleased to know that through the agency of the Depository thousands of volumes of good books were being yearly sent out to the schools.

[60] Now the Rev. Dr. Cunningham Geikie, of England, and author of the "Life and Words of Christ," and other valuable books. He declined the use of the title of reverend in his controversy with Dr. Ryerson.

[Pg 188]



Defence of the Hon. Marshall Spring Bidwell.

From various papers and letters left by Dr. Ryerson, I have compiled the following statement in regard to his memorable defence of the Hon. M. S. Bidwell, in 1838. I have used Dr. Ryerson's own words throughout, only varying them when the sense, or the construction, or condensation of a sentence, required it. He said:—

On Dr. Duncombe's return to Canada, I believe the conspiracy was commenced by him, Mr. Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, and others, sought to accomplish their objects by rebellion; but in this the great body of Reformers took no part except to surpress it. I had warned them that Mr. Mackenzie's proceedings would result in rebellion. I afterwards received the thanks of great numbers of Reformers for having by my warnings and counsels saved them and their families from being involved in the consequences of the rebellion. I was so odious to Mr. Mackenzie and his fellow rebels, that they determined to hang me on the first tree could they get hold of me. Of this, I had proof from one of themselves; yet I afterwards succeeded by my representations and appeals, to get several of them out of prison. My brother John, who was then in Toronto, presented to Governor Arthur and advocated a largely signed petition against the execution of Lount and Matthews. He also read a letter from me (then a stationed minister in Kingston) against their execution, and on the impolicy of capital punishment for political offences.

After the suppression of the rebellion—in the putting down of which the great body of the Reformers joined—the leaders of the dominant party sought, nevertheless, to hold the entire party of the Reformers responsible for that rebellion, and to proscribe and put them down accordingly. The first step in this process of proscription was the ostracism of Mr. M. S. Bidwell, an able and prudent politician, and a gentleman who took a high place in the legal profession.[61][Pg 189] and completed them in the office of Mr. Daniel Hagerman, of Ernestown. He was admitted as a barrister-at-law in April, 1821.

Mr. Bidwell was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1824; re-elected and chosen Speaker in 1828. On the death of George IV., in 1830, a new general election took place, when the Reform party were reduced to a minority, and Mr. Bidwell was not re-elected Speaker; but he greatly distinguished himself in the debates of the House. In 1834, a new general election took place; a large majority of Reformers were returned, and Mr. Bidwell was again elected Speaker. In May, 1836, Sir F. B. Head dissolved the House of Assembly, and Mr. Bidwell and his colleague, the late Peter Perry, were defeated in the united counties of Lennox and Addington, which Mr. Bidwell had represented in Parliament during twelve years. From that time (May, 1836) Mr. Bidwell never attended a political meeting, or took any part in politics.

During my stay in England, from December, 1835, to April, 1837, I had many conversations with Lord Glenelg, Sir George Grey, and Sir James Stephen (Under Secretaries), on the Government of Canada, shewing them that the foundation of our Government was too narrow, like an inverted pyramid, conferring the appointments to all offices, civil, military, judicial, to one party—excluding all others, however respectable and competent, as if they were enemies, and even aliens. I mentioned that not one member of the Reform party, (which had commanded for years a majority in the House of Assembly) had ever been appointed to the Bench, though there were several of them able lawyers, such as Bidwell, Rolph, etc. (Page 169.)

Lord Glenelg, in a despatch, directed Sir F. B. Head to appoint Mr. Bidwell to a judgeship on the first vacancy. Sir F. Head refused to do so, for which he was recalled, and Sir George Arthur was appointed in his place. In the meantime the House of Assembly was dissolved by Sir Francis, and a general election ordered. I had warned the public against Mr. Mackenzie's doings in converting constitutional reform into republican revolution, in consequence of which he attacked me furiously. Peter Perry, in the parliamentary session of 1836, attacked me also, and defended Mr. Mackenzie in a long speech. This speech reached me in England. I sat down and wrote a letter in reply, which reached Canada, and was published there on the eve of the elections, of which I then knew nothing. The constitutional party in Lennox and Addington had my letter printed by thousands, in the form of a large hand-bill headed: "Peter Perry Picked to Pieces by Egerton Ryerson." Although Mr. Bidwell took no part in the controversy, he was on the same electoral ticket with Mr. Perry, and both were defeated.[62][Pg 190]

The Radical party being defeated at the polls, its leaders: Mr. Wm. L. Mackenzie, Dr. Charles Duncombe, and many others, sought to accomplish by force of arms what they had failed to accomplish by popular elections; the rebellion of 1836-7 was the result. As Mr. Bidwell was known to be the intimate friend of Dr. Rolph, and as Dr. Rolph was thought to be implicated in the rebellion, it was assumed by Sir F. Head that Mr. Bidwell was concerned in it also. But this was perfectly untrue. Besides, Mr. Bidwell entertained the strongest views that not a drop of blood should be shed to obtain the civil freedom of a country—that only moral suasion and public opinion should be employed for such purposes.

Sir F. Head thought that now was the opportunity to revenge himself alike upon Lord Glenelg and the Whig Government, which had ordered him to appoint Mr. Bidwell to a judgeship, and also upon Mr. Bidwell as a former leader of the Reform party who had opposed him. Mr. Bidwell's letters having reached the Governor, he sent for that gentleman. What transpired is thus related by Mr. Bidwell, in a letter written to me some time afterwards:—

Sir Francis assured me that the letters had been sent to him without his orders, and that he never would allow my letters to be opened. I asked him to open them, as I did not wish to have any suspicions about them indulged afterwards; but he refused to do it, and said he had too much respect for me to allow it. Indeed, on the Wednesday previously, I expressly informed the Attorney-General of my own anxiety, (and that I was willing) to undergo the most full and unreserved examination, and to let all my papers be examined.

The terms of my note of the 8th December—the evening of the day of the interview—were dictated, or at least, suggested to me by Sir Francis, and referred particularly to his expressions of personal regard. The object of drawing such a note from me is now apparent—but I was not then aware that he had received orders from Lord Glenelg to make me a Judge.

Before leaving Toronto (as he intimates), and after his arrival at Lewiston, Mr. Bidwell wrote to Sir F. Head (December 11th, 1837), protesting his innocence and against the injustice of the means used to compel him to leave his country.

The conclusion of Mr. Bidwell's note from Toronto is as follows:

I am confident ... that the investigations, which will now of course be made, will fully remove those suspicions from the mind of your Excellency,[Pg 191] and will prove that I had also no knowledge or expectation that any such attempt [i.e. insurrectionary movement] was in contemplation.

To accomplish his revengeful purpose, however, Sir F. Head wrote or inspired an editorial to the Toronto Patriot newspaper (then the organ of his Government) stating that as Mr. Bidwell had left the country, under circumstances that proved his consciousness of guilt, it was therefore the duty of the Benchers of the Law Society to erase his name from their rolls.

I was then stationed at Kingston. When I saw the editorial in the Patriot, I at once recognized Sir F. Head's hand in it, and was horror-struck at the idea of a man being exiled from his country, and then deprived of his professional character and privileges without a trial! I passed a sleepless night.

The late Mr. Henry Cassidy was then mayor of Kingston; a staunch Churchman and Conservative. His wife was a relative of mine, so a sort of family intimacy existed between us. Mr. Cassidy had been a student in Mr. Bidwell's law-office and was now his law agent. Mr. Bidwell enclosed to Mr. Cassidy the correspondence which had taken place between himself and Sir F. Head and Attorney-General Hagerman, and Mr. Cassidy had shown it to me. The morning after I saw the article in the Patriot, proposing the erasure of Mr. Bidwell's name from the books of the Law Society, I went to Mr. Cassidy, saying that I had not closed my eyes all night, in consequence of Sir F. Head's article in the Patriot; that I was the only person besides himself who knew the facts of the case, and though I had been assailed by the newspapers of the party with which Mr. Bidwell had been connected, I felt it in my heart to prevent a gross act of injustice and cruelty being inflicted upon a man, in his absence and helplessness, who had introduced and carried through our Legislature the laws by which the different religious denominations held their Church property, and their ministers solemnized matrimony. I asked Mr. Cassidy if he would allow me the use of the letters which Mr. Bidwell had enclosed to him, justifying his own innocence, and showing the injustice done him by the misstatements of Sir F. Head. After some hours of deliberation, Mr. Cassidy consented. I sat down, and over the signature of "A United Empire Loyalist," I detailed the case, introducing as proofs of Mr. Bidwell's innocence the injustice proposed to be inflicted upon him, referring to Mr. Attorney-General Hagerman's own letter, and appealing to the Law Society, and the country at large, against such injustice and against such violation of the rights of a British subject. I got a friend to copy my communication, so as not[Pg 192] to excite suspicion.[63] It was the first article that had appeared in the public press after the rebellion, breathing the spirit of freedom, and advocating British constitutional rights against illegal oppression.[64]

The effect of this article upon the public mind was very remarkable. As an example, Mr. John Campbell, member of the Legislative Assembly for the County of Frontenac, despairing of the liberties of the country under the "tory" oppression of the day, determined to sell his property for whatever it might bring, and remove to the States. He was on a steamboat on Lake Ontario, on his way to the Territory of Iowa to buy land and settle there, when the newspaper containing my communication fell into his hands; he read it, rose up and said that as long as there was a man in Canada who could write in that way there was hope for the country. He returned home, resumed his business, and lived and died in Canada.

The Attorney-General was annoyed at the publication of his letter to Mr. Bidwell, and attempted a justification of his conduct. At the conclusion of a letter to me, he said that I had concealed my name for fear of the legal consequences of my seditious paper. I at once sat down and wrote the most argumentative[Pg 193] paper that I ever penned (and for the recovery of which I afterwards offered five pounds, but without success), reducing the questions to a series of mathematical propositions, and demonstrating in each case from the Attorney-General's own data, that my conclusions were true, and his absurd. I concluded by defying his legal threat of prosecution, and signed my name to the letter.

The effect of my reply to Mr. Attorney-General Hagerman was marvellous in weakening the influence of the first law adviser of the Crown, and in reviving the confidence of the friends of liberal constitutional government.[65]

Subsequently, (in June, 1838), I received a letter from Mr. Hagerman, in which he stated that in my observations on Mr. Bidwell's case I had made assertions that impeached his character, and desired me to inform him on what evidence I had based my statements. He said:—

The first assertion is that I was the author of certain remarks published under the editorial head of the Patriot newspaper of this city, injurious to the reputation of Mr. Bidwell.... The second statement is that I desired to procure his expulsion from the Province, because he had been preferred to me for the office of judge.

My reply to Mr. Hagerman was brief and to the point:

I beg to say, in reply to your letter, that I am not conscious of having made either of the assertions which you have been pleased to attribute to me.

I think it only just to the late Mr. Hagerman to add, that the sharp discussions between him and me did not chill the friendliness, and even pleasantness, of our personal intercourse afterwards; and I believe few men would have more heartily welcomed Mr. Bidwell's return to Canada than Mr. Justice[Pg 194] Hagerman himself. Mr. Hagerman was a man of generous impulses. He was a variable speaker, but at times his every gesture was eloquent, his intonations of voice were truly musical, and almost every sentence was a gem of beauty.

The discussion ended there; but no proposal was ever made to, much less entertained by, the Law Society to erase Mr. Bidwell's name from its rolls.

Mr. Bidwell's case did not, however, end here. In 1842, on the recommendation of Hon. Robert Baldwin, any promise given by Mr. Bidwell not to return to Canada—of which no record was found in any of the Government offices—was revoked, in 1843, by the Governor-General (Lord Metcalfe). Mr. Bidwell was also strongly urged to come back, and a promise was given to him by the authority of the Governor-General that all of his former rights and privileges would be restored to him, with a view to his elevation to the Bench. He, however, declined to return. Again, some years afterwards, when Sir W. B. Richards was Attorney-General, he was authorized to offer Mr. Bidwell the position of Commissioner to revise our Statute Law. He declined that offer also.

In conversation, in 1872, with Sir John Macdonald in relation to Mr. Bidwell's early life, Sir John informed me that some years before, he himself had, while in New York, solicited Mr. Bidwell to return to Canada, but without success. Sir John said that he had done so, not merely on his own account (as he had always loved Mr. Bidwell, and did not believe that he had any connection whatever with the rebellion), but because he believed that he represented the wishes of his political friends, as well as those of the people of Canada generally.

Mr. Bidwell was an earnest Christian. He was also a charming companion. A few weeks before his lamented decease, he visited his relatives and friends in Canada, spent a Sabbath in Toronto, occupying a seat in my pew in the Metropolitan Church. While here he presented me with a beautiful likeness of himself on ivory. I have placed it in the Canadian room of our Departmental Museum. I little thought it was my last meeting with him, as I had long anticipated and often intended to visit him in New York, where he promised to narrate to me many incidents of men and things in the Canada of former years, which had not come to my knowledge, or which I had forgotten. A suitable monument would be an appropriate tribute to his memory by our Legislature and country.

The following are extracts of letters written to Dr. Ryerson, by Mr. Bidwell, at the dates mentioned:

May 21st, 1828—Kingston.—I admire and fully approved of your plan (as[Pg 195] I advised Mr. H. C. Thompson) of striking off a large number of copies, in pamphlet form, of your Review of Archdeacon Strachan's Sermon. (See page 68.) I have no doubt it will be really a great service to the country to do so. Indeed, I sincerely think that you could not in any other way be instrumental in promoting so much the cause of Christ, as in the labours which you have undertaken. The concerns of this Colony, as you see in the newspapers, are attracting the attention of the British Parliament; and the decided expression of public opinion here at present will outweigh all that Dr. Strachan and his junto can say and do. My father and I will shortly give the subject of Church Establishment in this Province, contended for by Dr. Strachan, a full and careful examination, and communicate to you the result.

January 19th, 1829—York.—I rejoice once more to receive a letter from you.... I sincerely thank you for your congratulations on my elevation to the Speakership. I am sensible how much I need the prayers and counsels of my friends in discharging the duties of my station. I wish Christians would reflect what important consequences may follow from every step taken by those in public life, and especially in the Legislature.... I send you a copy of Wilbur's Reference Bible, which I beg you will accept as a testimony of my respect and friendship.

March 10th, 1829—York.—The Marriage Bill has been passed, with amendments made by the Legislative Council. The House is about equally divided on trying questions, so that we often forbear attempting measures which we would wish to pass. This unpleasant state of things produces anxiety, uncertainty, and (worst of all) violent party spirit. I can with great truth declare that I have received but little satisfaction in my public life.

To you and your brother the Province owes a large debt of gratitude. For one, I feel it sensibly, and wish most sincerely that we could have the benefit of your counsel in our House. Two or three such men would be a comfort, a relief, a support, and an assistance, beyond what you have any idea of.

April 6th, 1831—Kingston.—I am very glad to see your commendations of the Attorney-General.[A] I think they are just. They are certainly politic and seasonable. Indeed, I had thought of hinting to you the propriety of some such notice of his liberality, etc. I was afraid otherwise the coldness of the courtiers towards him might make him repent of such liberality. But I think that your remarks have come at the right time, and are exactly of the right sort.[66]

June 14th, 1833—York.—We have heard with pleasure of your safe arrival in England: and pleasing indeed this has been to your many friends in the Province, whose prayers, good wishes, and friendly recollections, have accompanied you across the Atlantic.... Mr. John Willson, M.P.P., of Saltfleet, has, within a day or two, obtained from the Receiver-General, on the warrant of the Lieutenant-Governor, £600 of the public money, to aid in building chapels, I suppose, for the Ryanites. (See page 87). The fact was mentioned to me privately this morning, but I deem it so important as to justify and require me to inform you confidentially of it, leaving it to your judgment to use the intelligence in the most discreet manner that may be consistent with the duty you owe to liberty and religion.

It excites surprise, pain, mortification, indignation, and contempt, to see the Executive Government here making unjust and invidious distinctions between His Majesty's subjects in the appropriations of the Clergy Reserves, thereby endeavouring to secure an unconstitutional and corrupt influence, especially after Lord Goderich's declaration in his despatch (which he[Pg 196] directed to be published), that if any preference was shown to one denomination of Christians more than another, it was contrary to the policy of His Majesty's Government, and against repeated instructions sent to the Government here.

As a Presbyterian I lament the grant to the Presbytery, and will do all I can to get it repealed, for I am convinced it will do injury to liberty and religion, and to the very persons who may wish, or wicked enough, to receive it. I suppose the Province is indebted to Sir John Colborne for these grants. If it is the Government at home, it ought to be known: if it is not, they ought not only to remove Sir John, but also reform this abuse. Have the Government ever given your Society sixpence, or even a foot of land for your chapels?—although it is the oldest and most numerous body of the kind in the Province; is not wealthy, and has rendered the most valuable services, and at a time when no other Church evinced the least interest for the religious instruction or the welfare of the people.

April 12th, 1838—New York.—Your letter of the 23rd ult. and its enclosure [the defence], I need not say, have effected me deeply, too much, indeed, for me to describe my feelings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this instance of your kindness; not less valued, certainly, because it was unexpected, not to say undeserved. If my misfortunes shall be the means of recovering a friendship which I formerly enjoyed and always prized, I shall feel not a little reconciled.[67]

I took the precaution some time ago, to send to England a plain, distinct statement of all that had occurred between Sir Francis Head and myself. This was transmitted to a friend to show to Lord Glenelg. My only object was the vindication of my character. I have never had the least expectation of obtaining justice or redress from the Colonial office. There seems in that department utter incapacity. The very persons they select for the Government of Upper Canada are enough to prove this. And yet I believe that Lord Glenelg is an able, as well as amiable, devout, good man.

May 15th, 1838—New York.—I have received a letter from the gentleman in England, to whom I had written. He had seen Lord Durham, and shown him my letter. He expressed no opinion; but the gentleman thinks that the matter stands favourably before him. He has not yet seen Lord Glenelg.

August 10th, 1839—New York.—Mr. Christopher Dunkin[68] is very anxious[Pg 197] to have the honour of an introduction to you. I am very happy to be the means of gratifying him. Mr. Dunkin was editor of the Montreal Courier, in the latter part of 1837, and beginning of 1838. He was afterwards appointed by Lord Durham on the Commission relating to education, and has latterly resided in the United States.

About the time of Mr. Bidwell's defence, Dr. Ryerson also wrote an explanatory letter to the Colonial Office in regard to his excellent friend, Hon. John H. Dunn, the Receiver-General, whose generous conduct towards the Upper Canada Academy is mentioned on page 166[69]. In a letter of acknowledgment from Mr. Dunn to Dr. Ryerson, he said:—

I am very glad to learn from your letter that you have written to Lord Glenelg. It is but just to put His Lordship in possession of facts which may counteract the influence of misrepresentation, and enable His Lordship to exercise his own humane disposition in putting matters right, which have been so wrong and arbitrary towards the individual Mr. Bidwell, whom you have taken the interest in, and trouble, to restore to his position and his country.

I feel exceedingly obliged for the kind feeling which you entertain towards me. Believe me, that you have only done me justice by mentioning my name to Lord Glenelg. I have laboured hard since I have been in the Province to discharge my duty to my God and my Government. I have entertained different opinions at times of the "Powers here," but they have been the dictates of an honest heart. I cannot guide my opinions to the service of any party. Whatever they may be, I shall lament if they should result in any other than for the best interests and welfare of the Province of Upper Canada.

You were so good as to read me your letter to Lord Glenelg, on the subject of the late execution of Lount and Matthews. Your version too, of the real meaning of the representation which caused Sir Francis Head to compel us to retire from the Executive Council, is so correct, that I cannot suggest any amendment; besides, I am bound by my oath not to divulge any transaction arising at the Council Board. I shall be very happy to see the letter published. (See page 170.)

You have seen my name kindly mentioned in the public prints. What has been said has been the spontaneous expressions of other persons, quite unknown to me. I am grateful to those persons who have vindicated me against a party, eager to destroy me, and my family. I leave them to a Judge who knows the secrets of all hearts, and before whom we all shall soon appear. I have had my share of afflictions and troubles in this world,[Pg 198] and to which I feel little or no attachment whatever. When the heart is sick, the whole body is faint.

Dr. Ryerson (in the Guardian of 22nd January, 1840) thus referred to Mr. Dunn as one of the speakers in the Legislative Council on the popular side of the clergy reserve question:—

I was glad to hear Mr. Dunn speak so well and so forcibly,—universally and affectionately esteemed as he is beyond any other public functionary in Upper Canada.

Some months after the exile of Mr. Bidwell, Mr. James S. Howard was dismissed by Sir F. B. Head from the office of Postmaster of Toronto. The alleged ground of dismissal was that he was a Radical, and had not taken up arms in defence of the country. Dr. Ryerson, with his usual generous sympathy for persons who in those days were made the victims of Governor Head's caprice, at once espoused Mr. Howard's cause. In his first letter in the Defence of Sir Charles Metcalfe, he said:—

After the insurrection of 1837-8, unfavourable impressions were made far and wide against the late Postmaster of Toronto, and Mr. Bidwell. But subsequent investigations corrected these impressions. The former has been appointed to office, and Sir F. B. Head's proceedings against the latter have been cancelled by Sir Charles Metcalfe. (Page 16.)

Again, in the "Prefatory Address" to the Metcalfe Defence, he said:—

While God gives me a heart to feel, a head to think, and a pen to write, I will not passively see honourable integrity murdered by grasping faction.... I would not do so in 1838, when an attempt was made to degrade and proscribe, and drive out of the country all naturalized subjects from the United States, and to stigmatize all Reformers with the brand of rebellion.... I relieved the name of an injured James S. Howard from the obloquy that hung over it, and rescued the character and rights of an exiled Bidwell from ruthless invasion, and the still further effort to cover him with perpetual infamy by expelling him from the Law Society. (Page 7.)


[61] According to the books of the Law Society, Mr. Bidwell commenced his legal studies in Kingston, the 14th March, 1816, in the office of Mr. Daniel Washburn, and completed them in the office of Mr. Daniel Hagerman, of Ernestown. He was admitted as a barrister-at-law in April, 1821.

Mr. Bidwell was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1824; re-elected and chosen Speaker in 1828. On the death of George IV., in 1830, a new general election took place, when the Reform party were reduced to a minority, and Mr. Bidwell was not re-elected Speaker; but he greatly distinguished himself in the debates of the House. In 1834, a new general election took place; a large majority of Reformers were returned, and Mr. Bidwell was again elected Speaker. In May, 1836, Sir F. B. Head dissolved the House of Assembly, and Mr. Bidwell and his colleague, the late Peter Perry, were defeated in the united counties of Lennox and Addington, which Mr. Bidwell had represented in Parliament during twelve years. From that time (May, 1836) Mr. Bidwell never attended a political meeting, or took any part in politics.

[62] As stated by Dr. Ryerson, in the above note, Mr. Bidwell took no part in politics after his political defeat in May, 1836. In a note to Mr. W. L. Mackenzie, dated August 3rd, 1837, Mr. Bidwell said: Having learned from the Constitution of yesterday that I was chosen as a delegate to a Provincial Convention, I think it right without delay to inform you ... that I must be excused from undertaking the duties of that appointment.... I cannot but regret that my name should have been used without my consent, or previous knowledge, by which I am driven to the disagreeable necessity of thus publicly declining [the] appointment, etc. In the Guardian of 27th September, where this letter appears, it is stated that Mr. Mackenzie did not publish it in the Constitution until the 20th September—six weeks after he had received it.

In a letter from Mr. Bidwell, dated, the 30th April, 1837, to Dr. O'Callaghan, of Montreal, he said: Retired from public life, probably for ever; I still look with the deepest sympathy on the efforts of those who are actively contending for the great principles of liberty, and good government, etc.—"Political History of Canada, 1840-1855, by Sir Francis Hincks, 1877, page 7."

[63] Sir Alexander Campbell, now Minister of Justice, in a note to the Editor, thus explains this circumstance:—In the winter of 1837-38, I was a student-at-law, and a resident of Kingston. Dr. Ryerson was then the Methodist minister in charge of the only congregation of that body in town. The rebellion of 1837-8, had led to excited, and very bitter feelings—arrests had been frequent; and it was not prudent for any one to try to palliate the deeds of the rebels, or to seek to lessen the odium which covered their real, or even supposed allies and friends. Dr. Ryerson, however, desired to bring out the facts connected with Mr. Bidwell's banishment, and to change the current of public feeling on the subject—but it was not wise to send letters to the press in his own handwriting, or in any other way suffer it to become known that he was the author of the letters in defence of Mr. Bidwell. Under these circumstances he asked me to copy them, and take them to the Herald office—then the most liberal paper in Upper Canada. I was proud of the confidence placed in me, and copied the several letters, and went with them to the publisher. The letters were signed in words which I have not since seen, but which remain impressed upon my memory, and which were as follows:—

"I am Sir, by parental instruction and example, by personal feeling and

A United Empire Loyalist"

The letters constituted an eloquent defence of Mr. Bidwell, who certainly took no part in the counsels of those who were afterwards engaged in the rebellion, when it became evident that they intended to push matters to extremes.

The incident made a great impression on me at the time, and was the beginning of a friendship with which Dr. Ryerson honoured me, and which ended only with his life.

A. Campbell.

Ottawa, 29th December, 1882.

[64] The defence was afterwards reprinted in a pamphlet on the 10th of May, 1838, with the following title: "The Cause and Circumstances of Mr. Bidwell's Banishment by Sir F. B. Head, correctly stated and proved by A United Empire Loyalist." Kingston, 1838, pp. 16.

[65] Some time after Sir George Arthur's arrival as Governor, he sent for me, and stated that his object in doing so was to request me, for the sake of the Government and the country, to withdraw the letter I had written in answer to Attorney-General Hagerman; that it greatly weakened the Government; that my power of argumentation was prodigious, but he believed I was mistaken; that Mr. Bidwell had called to pay his respects to him at Albany, on his way to Canada; and that he (Sir George) believed Mr. Bidwell was guilty, as far as a man of his caution and knowledge could be concerned in the rebellion; and though my argument on his behalf seemed to be irresistible, he believed I was wrong, and that the withdrawal of my letter would be a great help to the Government. I replied that my weekly editorials in the Christian Guardian (of which I had consented to be re-elected Editor) showed that I was anxious to suppress the factious and party hatreds of the day, and to place the Government upon a broad foundation of loyalty and justice; that what I had written in the case of Mr. Bidwell had been written by me as an individual and not as the editor of the organ of a religious body, and had been written from the firm conviction of Mr. Bidwell's innocence, and that his case involved the fundamental and essential rights of every British subject; and that, however anxious I was to meet His Excellency's wishes, I could not withdraw my letter. I then bowed myself out from the presence of Sir George, who, from that hour became my enemy, and afterwards warned Lord Sydenham against me as "a dangerous man," as Lord Sydenham laughingly told me the last evening I spent with him in Montreal, at his request, and before his lamented death.

[66] These remarks will be found on page 83 of the Guardian of 2nd April.

[67] This loss of friendship with Dr. Ryerson may be explained by the following reference to Mr. Bidwell, in a letter from Dr. Ryerson, to his brother John, dated, Kingston, 29th May, 1838:—From an intimate religious friend of Mr. Bidwell, I learn that during the last few years he had acted more after a worldly policy, common to politicians, and had, therefore, partly laid himself open to the censure which he has received. I am also sensible of his prejudices against me of late years, and of the great injury which I have thereby sustained. I had some difficulty to overcome my own feelings in the first instance. But as far as individual feelings and interests are concerned, "it is the glory of man to pass over a transgression," generous as well as just, as we have received help from Bidwell himself when we could not help ourselves, and were trampled upon by a desperate party. If others had seen the letters from Bidwell to Mr. Cassidy, which I have been permitted to read, I am sure the noble generosity of their hearts would be excited in all its sympathies. I do not think, however, that he will ever return to this Province to reside. That appears to be altogether out of the question with him; but that does not alter the nature of the case.

I have replied to Mr. Hagerman with calmness, but with deep feeling. My reply will occupy about eight columns in to-morrow's Herald.

[68] Mr. Dunkin afterwards became a noted politician, and member of the Parliament of United Canada, from 1857, until Confederation. He was the promoter of the "Dunkin Act." He was one of the contributors to the Monthly Review, established by Lord Sydenham in 1841. He was subsequently appointed to the Bench, and died a few years since.

[69] The Hon. John Henry Dunn was a native of England. He came to Canada in 1820, having been appointed Receiver-General of Upper Canada, and a member of the Executive and Legislative Council. He held the office of Receiver-General until the union of the Provinces in 1841, when the political exigencies of the times compelled him to resign it. He and Hon. Isaac Buchanan contested the city of Toronto, in the Reform interest, in 1841, and were returned. Mr. Dunn received no compensation for the loss of his office, and soon afterwards returned to England, where he died in 1854. He was a most estimable public officer. His son, Col. Dunn, greatly distinguished himself during the Crimean war, and, on his visiting Canada soon afterwards, was received with great enthusiasm, and a handsome sword was presented to him.—H.

[Pg 199]



Return to the Editorship of the "Guardian."

The Rebellion of 1837-38 was suppressed by the inherent and spontaneous loyalty of all classes of the Canadian people. Yet, after it was over, the seeds of strife engendered by the effort to prove that one section of the community was more loyal than the other, and that that other section was chiefly responsible for the outbreak, bore bitter fruit in the way of controversy. Dr. Ryerson took little part in such recriminatory warfare. It was too superficial. He felt that it did not touch the underlying points at issue between the dominant, or ruling, party and those who were engaged in a contest for equal civil and religious rights. He, and the other leaders who influenced and moulded public opinion, clearly saw that this recriminatory war was carried on by the dominant party as a mask to cover their ulterior designs—designs which were afterwards developed in the more serious struggle for religious supremacy which that party waged for years afterwards, and which at length issued in the complete triumph of the principles of civil and religious freedom for which Dr. Ryerson and the representatives of other religious bodies had so long and so earnestly contended. (See page 452.)

Besides, Dr. Ryerson was anxious to fulfil the engagement made with the Kingston Society that he would resume his pastoral charge there, after his return from England in June, 1837. He was, however, repeatedly pressed by his friends to write for the Guardian, or other newspaper, on the vital questions of the day. In reply to his brother John, who had urged him in the matter, he wrote (March, 1838) saying that he was so happily engaged in his pastoral duties at Kingston that he could not then devote the necessary time to the discussion of public questions. His brother, in remonstrating with him on the subject, said:—

Your letter affords me great satisfaction, accompanied with sorrow. I am afflicted to think of the state the Province is in. Never did high-churchism take such rapid strides towards undisputed domination in this country as it is now taking. Never were the prospects of the friends of civil and religious liberty so gloomy and desperate as they are now. You say that you have not time to write on these subjects. I will say, if you had, it would not now, I fear, accomplish much. Indeed, it would, require the undeviating[Pg 200] course and the whole weight of the Guardian to accomplish anything at this time, so completely is all moral power in the country enervated and liberty prostrated.

It is a great blessing that Mackenzie and radicalism are down, but we are in imminent danger of being brought under the domination of a military and high-church oligarchy, which would be equally bad, if not infinitely worse. Under the blessing of Providence there is one remedy, and only one; and that is, for you to take the editorship of the Guardian again. Several preachers have spoken to me on this subject lately. One of them said to me (and he could think of nothing else) that that alone would save us and the country from utter ruin, and urged the necessity of the Conference electing you, whether you would consent to serve or not. The truth is, it is absolutely necessary for the sake of the Church and the country that you reside in Toronto, and have direction of affairs here. I wish all of our proceedings to be calm and moderate, but that we be firm, and that the great principles of religious freedom and equality should be uncompromisingly maintained.

In a subsequent letter to Dr. Ryerson his brother John said:

In fact there is no way of escape out of our troubles but for you to take the Guardian. The feeling of dissatisfaction at the present state of things is becoming exceedingly strong among the preachers and people. I participate in their feelings.

Dr. Ryerson yielded to these appeals, and did write for the Guardian. In a letter, dated Kingston, April 4th, he said:—

I have recently written at considerable length to Lord Glenelg respecting the Academy and other local matters. What you say in regard to myself, and my appointment next year, I feel to be a delicate and difficult matter for me to speak on. In regard to myself I have many conflicting thoughts. My feelings, and private interests, are in favour of my remaining where I am, if I remain in the Province. I have been very much cast down, and my mind has been much agitated on the subject. For the present I am somewhat relieved by the conclusion to which I have come, in accordance with Dr. Clarke's "Advice to a Young Preacher," not to choose my own appointment, but after making known any circumstances, which I may feel it necessary to explain, to leave myself in the hands of God and my brethren, as I have done during the former years of my ministry. If the Lord, therefore, will give me grace, I am resolved to stand on the old Methodistic ground in the matter of appointment to the Guardian.

I thank you for Chief Justice Robinson's address at the trial of the prisoners. It is good. My own views are in favour of lenity to these prisoners. Punishments for political offences can never be beneficial, when they are inflicted in opposition to public sentiment and sympathy. In such a case it will defeat the object it is intended to accomplish. It matters not whether that sentiment and sympathy are right or wrong in the abstract; the effect of doing violence to it will be the same. But I would not pander to that feeling, how carefully soever one may be disposed to observe its operations. The fact, however, is, that Sir Francis Head deserves impeachment, just as much as Samuel Lount deserves execution. Morally speaking, I cannot but regard Sir Francis as the more guilty culprit of the two.

I admire, as a whole, Sir George Arthur's reply to the address of the "Constitutional Reformers." There is good in it. They will see the folly of continuing the former party designations, and pretended grounds of complaint. I think, however, that their address will do good, from the large number of names attached to it. I was surprised, and it has created quite a sensation here, that there are so many as 772 in Toronto, who still have the moral courage to designate themselves "Constitutional Reformers." It[Pg 201] will teach the other party that they are not so strong, and so absolute in the voice of the country, as they thought themselves to be.

I am satisfied that there never was such a time as from the termination of the trial of the prisoners to the next session of Parliament, for us to stamp upon the public mind at large, our own constitutional, and Scriptural, political, and religious doctrines; and to give the tone to the future Government and Legislation of the Province, and to enlarge vastly a sphere of usefulness. I shall write some papers for the Guardian with this view.

In a letter from Brockville, Rev. William Scott said:—

My humble opinion is, that in order to our safety as a Church—our preservation from high church influence—you must be at Toronto. I assure you that is the opinion of our influential men in this quarter, who understand the state of the province, and the position of Methodism. Permit me to add that the one hour's conversation which I had with you amply repaid me for all the furious battles which I have fought on this circuit in your defence.

Rev. Joseph Stinson, in a letter to Rev. John Ryerson, said:

I am quite of your opinion that your brother Egerton ought to take the Guardian next year. There is a crisis approaching in our affairs which will require a vigorous hand to wield the defensive weapon of our Conference. There can be no two opinions as to whom we should give that weapon. We now stand on fair ground to maintain our own against the encroachments of the oligarchy, and we must do it, or sink into a comparatively uninfluential body—this must not be.

As urged by these letters from his brethren, Dr. Ryerson, early in May, 1838, prepared several articles for the Guardian. His brother John, who was a member of the Book Committee, thus speaks of the series of articles sent to that paper:—

I cannot express to you how much I am gratified and pleased with your article on "Christian Loyalty." It will, no doubt, do immense good. We have had a regular campaign in our Book Committee, in reading and discussing your articles. The one on "Christian Loyalty" occupied nearly the whole time. Your article on "The Church" is one of the most admirable papers I ever read. Not a word of that is to be altered. Your communication on "Indian Affairs," I cannot speak so highly of. I hope you will pardon me for leaving out some of the severe remarks on Sir Francis. I am afraid they will do harm with the present Government.

At the Conference of 1838, Dr. Ryerson was re-elected Editor of the Christian Guardian. In his first editorial, dated 11th July 1838, he said:—

Notwithstanding the almost incredible calumny which has in past years been heaped upon me by antipodes-party-presses, I still adhere to the principles and views upon which I set out in 1826. I believe the endowment of the priesthood of any Church in the Province to be an evil to that Church.... I believe that the appropriation of the proceeds of the clergy reserves to general educational purposes, will be the most satisfactory and advantageous disposal of them that can be made. In nothing is this Province so defective as in the requisite available provisions for, and an efficient system of,[Pg 202] general education. Let the distinctive character of that system be the union of public and private effort.... To Government influence will be spontaneously added the various and combined religious influence of the country in the noble, statesmanlike, and divine work of raising up an elevated, intelligent, and moral population.[70]

In combatting the idea that his editorial opinions in the Guardian were necessarily "the opinions of the Methodists" as a body, and that they were responsible for them, Dr. Ryerson, in the Guardian of August 15th, thus defines the rights of an editor:—To be the mere scribe of the opinions of others, and not to write what we think ourselves, is a greater degradation of intellectual and moral character than slavery itself.... In doctrines and opinions we write what we believe to be the truth, leaving to others the exercise of a judgment equally unbiassed and free.

In the exuberance of loyal zeal, and yet in a kindly spirit which was characteristic of him, Rev. W. M. Harvard, President of the Canada Conference, issued a pastoral on the 17th April, 1838, to the ministers of the Church, enjoining them not to recognize as members of the Society those whose loyalty could be impeached. The directions which he gave were:—

Should there be a single individual for whose Christian loyalty the preacher cannot conscientiously answer for to his brethren, in the first place such individual should not be included in the return of membership, and in the second place such individual should be dealt with kindly and compassionately, but firmly, according to the provisions of the Discipline.

No man who is not disposed to be a good subject can be admissible to the Sacraments of the Church....

Should any person apply hereafter for admission into our Church, who may be ill-affected to the Crown ... tell him kindly, but firmly, ... that he has applied at the wrong door.

As soon as this extraordinary pastoral had appeared, Dr. Ryerson addressed a letter of some length to the Guardian, objecting in very temperate, but yet in very strong language to the doctrine laid down in it by the President of the Conference. Before publication, however, he sent it to Mr. Harvard for his information and perusal. He showed from the writings of John Wesley, Richard Watson, and others, and from examples which he cited (John Nelson, "the apostolic fellow-labourer of John Wesley," etc.) that such a doctrine savoured of despotism, and was harsh and inquisitorial in its effects. He concluded thus:—

None of the various political opinions which men hold, and their respectful and constitutional expression of them, is any just cause of excluding from the[Pg 203] Lord's Table any human being, provided his religious character is unexceptional. The only condition of membership in our Church is "a desire to flee from the wrath to come,"[71] and none of the opinions mentioned is inconsistent with the fruits by which that desire is evidenced. The Discipline of the Church, or the Scripture itself, does not authorize me to become the judge of another man's political opinions—the Church is not a political association—any man has as good a right, religiously and politically, to his opinions of public matters as I have to mine—and laymen frequently know much more, and are better judges, than ministers in civil and secular affairs.

It can be well understood what would be the effect of the Pastoral, and not less so of Dr. Ryerson's clear and dispassionate disclaimer of the doctrines which it officially laid down.

It required courage and firmness, in the loyal outburst and reaction of those days, to question the propriety or expediency of any reasonable means by which the unimpeachable loyalty of members of the Church could be ascertained. What added to the embarrassment of Dr. Ryerson in discussing such a question was the fact that the Methodists were being constantly taunted with being disloyal. Knowing this, and sensitive as to the disgrace of such a stigma being cast upon the Church, the President felt constrained to take some decisive, and yet, as he thought, kindly and satisfactory means of ridding the Church of members who were the cause, in his estimation, of such a disgrace and reproach to that Church.

Among many other strong letters of commendations of his reply to Mr. Harvard, which Dr. Ryerson received, were two,—one from a representative minister of the Canadian section of the Church, and the other from an equally excellent representative of the British missionaries. Thus:

Rev. Anson Green, writing from Picton, said:—

I was sorry, though not surprised, to hear that you were very much perplexed. I could easily understand your feelings, and quite sympathize with you. Your recent efforts for the peace and prosperity of the Church have very much endeared you to my heart. I am fully prepared to believe the assertion which you made while in England, "that you love Jerusalem above your chief joy." This you have fully proved by your untiring efforts on behalf of the Academy, the Chapels, and on the Church question; but in nothing more, allow me to say, than in the firm, manly, and Christian spirit, in which you have come out, publicly, in defence of the membership of the Church, and of sound principles. I had resolved when Rev. Mr. Harvard wrote to me to carry out the principles of his instructions and Pastoral in this district, to write him a letter respectfully and yet firmly declining to do so. But when I saw the storm gathering in every quarter, I could only exclaim in the despondency of my soul:—When will our brethren cease to destroy us, and when will the Church again have rest from internal commotion and strife! And just at this crisis (a memorable crisis to thousands of our Canadian friends) your excellent rejoinder to Mr. Harvard's Pastoral came out in the Guardian. It was a balm to the afflicted heart. It was a precious cordial poured forth. Your letter was sent from house to house, from cottage[Pg 204] to cottage, and met with unequivical applause from all. The lowering sky began to clear up, and we are encouraged once more to hope for clear sunshine. You have had the courage to speak the truth in opposition to men in high authority. Your letter was in every respect just what it should have been, and thousands do most sincerely thank you for it.

Rev. Joseph Stinson, writing from Simcoe, said:—

As far as I can ascertain, your appointment as Editor of the Guardian next year will give general satisfaction. The President's Pastoral and your reply are producing quite a sensation. Most people give Mr. Harvard credit for purity of intention, but regret that the subject of politics has been adverted to by him in such a form. Your remarks on the Pastoral have hushed the fears of many who were greatly disturbed; but some think that your statement of abstract right is carried too far, and may at a future day be appealed to in support of measures which you would utterly condemn.

Some of your old tory friends think that there is design in all you write on these questions, and do not hesitate to designate you by the amiable title of a "jesuit," etc. You can bear all this and much more in carrying out your design, to show them that their tactics are understood, and their proceedings are closely watched, so as to prevent them from obtaining those objects which would be alike unjust to us as a Church, and ungenerous to themselves. It is well that in all of the "burnings which your fingers" have had, you have not yet lost your nails; for I expect that you will need them before long. The high church party have the will, if they can muster the courage, to make a renewed and desperate attack upon you. Fear not; while you advocate the truth, you can defy their rage.

The public mind seems to me to be in a state of painful suspense. The people hate and dread rebellion. They are not satisfied with the present leading political party. They hope to see a new man rise up with sufficient talent and influence to collect around him a respectable party to act as a balance between oppression and destruction. Some talk of a new election; some talk of leaving the country; all seem to think that something must be done; none know what to do. How ought we in this awful crisis (for an awful crisis it is), to pray for the Divine interposition in behalf of our distracted province.... I saw your venerable father last night. He very much wishes you to write to him.

On the 7th of November, 1838, the first number of the 10th volume of the Guardian was issued. In it there is an elaborate article signed by Dr. Ryerson (although he was then Editor), on the state of public affairs in Upper Canada. In his introductory remarks he said:—

From the part I have usually taken in questions which affect the foundations of our Government, and our relations with the Mother Country,—and from the position I at present occupy in respect to public affairs, and in relation to the Province generally, it will be expected that I should take a more than passing notice of the eventful crisis at which we have arrived. In conclusion, he says: Having faithfully laid before the Government and the country the present posture of affairs, and the causes of our present dissatisfaction and dangers, I advert to the remedies: (1. Military defence.) 2. Let the Government be administered as much in accordance with the general wishes of this country, as it is in England. 3. Abolish high-church domination, and provide perfect religious and political equality. 4. Let them be at equal fidelity to obey the authorities when called upon.... He who does most to bring about this happy state of things in the Province will be the greatest benefactor of his country.


[70] Even at this early date, Dr. Ryerson indicated the comprehensive character of the system of education which he was afterwards destined to found in Upper Canada.

[71] These words as to membership are identical with those which Dr. Ryerson uttered fifteen years afterwards in his discussion on the Class-meeting question.

[Pg 205]



Enemies and Friends Within and Without.

Any controversialist, whose honest belief in his own doctrines makes him terribly in earnest, may count on a life embittered by the anger of those on whom he has forced the disagreeable task of reconsidering their own assumptions.—Canon Farrar.

All through his public career, Dr. Ryerson had many bitter enemies and many warm and devoted friends. This was not to be wondered at. No man with such strongly marked individuality of will and purpose, and with such an instinctive dislike to injustice and oppression, could fail to come in contact with those whose views and proceedings were opposed to his sense of right. The enmity which he excited in discussing public questions was rarely disarmed (except in the case of men of generous impulses or noble natures) by the fact that he and those who acted with him were battling for great principles—those of truth, and justice, and freedom.

When these principles could not be successfully assailed, the usual plan was to attack the character, and wound the tender sensibilities of their chief defender. This was a mistake; but it was the common error with most of Dr. Ryerson's assailants. And yet those who did so in his presence, and in the arena of debate, rarely repeated the mistake. With all his kindness of heart and warmth of friendship, there was, when aroused, much of the lion in his nature. Few who assailed him in Conference, or made a personal attack upon him in other places of public discussion, could stand before the glitter of his eye when that lion-nature was aroused; and fewer still would care to endure the effect of its fire a second time.

Most of the personal attacks made upon Dr. Ryerson were in writing, and often anonymously. He had, therefore, to defend himself chiefly with his pen. This he rarely failed to do, and with good effect.[72] On such occasions he used strong and vigorous[Pg 206] language, of which he was an acknowledged master. Very many of these attacks were ephemeral, and not worthy of note. Others were more serious and affected character, and these were more or less bitter and violent. They, of course, called forth a good deal of feeling at the time, but are only referred to now as part of the story of a life, then singularly active and stormy.

The Editor of the Toronto Patriot having published extracts from a pamphlet issued in the Newcastle District (County of Northumberland), in 1832, in which attacks were made upon Dr. Ryerson's character, he replied to them in the columns of that paper. In 1828, his circuit was in the Newcastle district, and the person who made these attacks resided in Haldimand, about eight miles east of Cobourg. Among other things, this man said that Dr. Ryerson "read seditious newspapers at his house, on the Sabbath day!" In reply, Dr. Ryerson said:—

As my plan of labour prevented me from reaching this person's locality until Sunday evening, and then preach in the Church there, it would be impossible for me to do as he has alleged. Were I to have done so, I would be unworthy of the society of Christian men. But the author of this libel, which was published by him four years after the alleged circumstance took place, was defeated as a candidate for the House of Assembly, on account of a personal attack which he made upon me at the hustings! Hinc illæ lucrymæ. This person also said that I "hoped yet to see the walls of the Church of England levelled to the dust." In my reply to this I said:—I solemnly declare that I never uttered such a sentiment, nor have I cherished any hostility to the Church of England. Some of my friends desired me to take orders in the Church of England [see page 41]; and a gentleman (now an Episcopal clergyman) was authorized by the late Bishop of Quebec to request me to make an appointment to see him on his then contemplated tour through the Niagara District, where I was travelling. After mature, and I trust, prayerful deliberation, I replied by letter declining the proposals made, at the same time appreciating the kindness and partiality of my friends. A short time afterwards, I met the friend who had been the medium of this communication from the late Dr. Stewart. He was deeply affected at my decision. When I assigned my religious obligation to the Methodists as a reason for declining the offer, he replied that all of his own religious feelings had also been derived from them, but he thought the Church required our labours.

Some person having written, professedly from Kingston, a diatribe against Dr. Ryerson, in the London (Eng.) Standard, Rev. Robert Alder replied to it, and apprised him of the fact:—

An attack having been made on you in a letter from Kingston, and inserted in the Standard, I have been stirred up to write in your defence. I expect also to have a battle to fight with Sir Francis Head, for "I guess" he knows something of your Kingston friend.

From Mr. Alder's reply, I make the following extracts:—

There is no man, either in the Canadas or at home, better acquainted with the former and present state of these fine provinces than Mr. Ryerson, as his letters in the Times, signed "A Canadian," testify. Even his Kingston[Pg 207] slanderer admits that the facts stated in these letters were, in the main exceedingly correct, indisputably true, and for the publication of which he is entitled to the grateful thanks of every loyal subject throughout British North America. But the malice of an adversary is too often swifter than the gratitude of those who have derived benefit from our services. This is proved in the case of Mr. Ryerson; for while every radical and republican journal in the province has teemed with communications vilifying his character and motives in the strongest terms, a stinted meed of praise has been doled out to him....

No wonder that persons in this country deeply interested in Canada frequently consulted him; no wonder that the British North American Land Company re-published his letters from the Times at their own expense. And it is to the honour of the noble lord at the head of the Colonial Department, that he did obtain from so intelligent and influential an individual as Mr. Ryerson, information respecting the state of parties in a country so well-known to him. If his information and advice, and that of another "Methodist Parson" in Canada, had been received and acted upon elsewhere, there is reason to believe that Mackenzie and his traitorous associates would not have been permitted to unfurl the standard of rebellion in the midst of a peaceful and loyal people. (See pages 176 and 183.)

The inspired truth that "A man's foes shall be they of his own household" received many a painful illustration in Dr. Ryerson's history. In 1838, it was reduced to a system. The assailant was often "A Wesleyan," or, "A True Wesleyan," and under the friendly ægis of four or five papers, which were usually hostile to Methodism itself, the attack would be made. From numerous examples noted in the Guardian, I select a specimen:—

The rebellious Guardian is shut against us; its cry is war, havoc, and bloodshed, with Wesley on the lips, but implacable hatred to him in the heart of its editor and his friends.... One of two things remain for us, either to expel the Ryerson family and their friends from our Society, who are the root of all our misfortunes, or ... for all true Wesleyans to withdraw from them and their wicked adherents, as the Israelites did from Egypt, or a leper.

In Dr. Ryerson's effort to protect individuals who were oppressed, and who had no means of defence, except in the columns of the Guardian, he was often virulently assailed, and even his life threatened. On the 22nd December, 1838, he received a letter of this kind from an influential gentleman in Toronto, who threatened legal proceedings unless the name of a writer in the Guardian was given to him. He said:—

In reply to your letter of last evening, I have to say that the writer of the communication in the Guardian, to which you refer, is one of the "peaceable members of the Methodist Society," whose character had been gratuitously and basely assailed by the Editor of the Patriot and his associate. He is a poor man, whose living depends upon his daily industry. Were he a rich man, I might consult with him on the subject of your letter; but being in those circumstances of life which disable him from sustaining himself[Pg 208] against your wealth, and relentless persecution, I at once determine to shield him from your power. I will not, therefore, furnish you with his name.

In the published paragraph of his communication, the writer has asserted that certain things were published some time since in the Patriot, respecting the associate of its Editor, and an attempt was made to blast the character and prospects of several unoffending members of the Methodist Society—men, the daily bread for whose families must be taken out of their mouths, if the political or private character of their protectors is, in times like the present, believed to be what this associate has represented it to be. These men do not, like you, get rich upon "wars and rumours of wars;" their high church zeal would not, like yours, treble their business, and bring them into possession of a tolerable fortune in a few years. It is to blunt the assassinating dagger of a marked, and hitherto privileged slanderer, against the character of such men that I admitted the paragraph in question into the Guardian. If you are not the associate of the city Editor in this "crusade against the character of peaceable members of the Methodist Society," then you are exonerated from the remarks in the letters, and the columns of the Guardian are open to you for any reparation you can desire. Notwithstanding your attacks upon both my public and private character for years past; notwithstanding your late unprovoked attack upon my private character in a city newspaper; notwithstanding your late indirect threats upon my life, and the Guardian office in the event of an invasion; notwithstanding all this, and much more, I am still ready to open the columns of the Guardian to you, if you think that any kind of injustice has been done you. The letter to which you refer, mentions no name, but adverts to an already published portrait of a certain character who is, upon good grounds, believed to be figuring behind the scenes in this high church warfare against Methodists and others, and who is known to be indiscriminately scattering "firebrands, arrows and death," amongst all of Her Majesty's subjects who will not contribute to the profits of his newspaper craft in crying up his golden idol of a dominant church. It is amusing to see you, sir, who have availed yourself so lavishly, in all time past, of the freedom of the press to assail others, so sensitive at the mere suspicion of a mere report against causeless attacks upon private individuals, having been intended for yourself.

Dr. Ryerson concluded in the following vigorous language:—

Sir,—After having exhausted the resources of a free, I may add a licentious press to destroy me, with a view of extinguishing the principles of civil and religious liberty which I advocate, you and your party now seek to have recourse to the "glorious uncertainty of the law" to accomplish what you cannot effect by free discussion before an intelligent public; but I am not concerned at your threats. I know the malice of the party of which you are a convenient, active, and useful tool; I know its resources; I know its power; but I also know the ground on which I stand. I know the country for whose welfare I am labouring; above all, I rely upon the wisdom and efficiency of that Providence, whose administration, I believe, if I can judge of the signs of the times, has better things in store for the inhabitants of Upper Canada (my native land) than the despotism of a dominant oligarchy, upheld and promoted by the persecuting, the anti-British, and anti-patriotic spirit of such partizans as yourself.[Pg 209]

Rev. Matthew Richey wrote to Dr. Ryerson from Cobourg, in January, 1839, stating that some of the leading Methodists in Montreal were inducing subscribers to give up the Guardian, on the alleged ground of some disloyal sentiments contained in that paper of the 12th December.[73] Mr. Richey adds:—

I have written to a leading friend in Montreal, earnestly expostulating with him upon the precipitancy of such a course. I have not failed to apprise him of the bitter hostility of the Kingston Chronicle, the Toronto Patriot, the Cobourg Star, and The Church, to Methodism, and to say that, did they read these papers, they would not be surprised at the pungency with which you express yourself on the questions at issue between the arrayed parties of the Province.

To intimate that the faithful discharge of your duty may expose you to gaol or gibbet ... is not very complimentary to the freedom of the Government under whose protection you are placed. Situated as you are in the burning centre of excitement, and aware of the high hopes, as well as high-handed measures of your opponents, you have great need of patience, and forbearance.

The leading Methodists in Montreal to whom Rev. Matthew Richey refers in the foregoing letter, having written to Dr. Ryerson on the subject of their complaint, he replied to them, on the 7th January, as follows:—

Your letter of the 24th ult. being rather unusual, both in matter and form, seems to demand more than a silent acknowledgment. I shall have much pleasure in complying with your request; but I should despise myself, were I capable of making any reply to the allegation contained in your letter.

Not a few of you impugned both my motives and principles in former years, I have lived to furnish a practical commentary on your candour and justice, by being the first to excite in the Colonial Office in England a determination to protect British interests in Lower Canada against French ambition and prejudice. I may yet have an opportunity of furnishing a second similar commentary upon your second similar imputation.

It is true that I am not of the high church school of politics, nor of the Montreal Herald school of bloodshed and French extermination; but I, nevertheless, think there still remains another basis of Scripture, justice, and humanity, on which may rest the principles of a loyalty that will sacrifice[Pg 210] life itself in the maintenance of British supremacy, in perfect harmony with a vigorous support of the constitutional rights of the subject,—unmoved at one time by the fierce denunciations of revolutionists, and unshaken at another time by the imputations of ultra-sycophantic partizanship.

Twice have the leading members of the Methodist Society in Montreal had the opportunity of insulting (and if their influence could have done it, of injuring) me—and twice have they improved it,—in May, 1834 [see page 148], when I was in Montreal; and in December, 1838—a juncture when a stain might be inflicted upon the character and reputation of any vulnerable minister of the Church that would tarnish his very grave. It is a pleasing as well as singular circumstance, and one that will be engraved upon the tablet of my heart while memory holds her seat, that when in 1834 I was insulted in Montreal, I was invited to preach in Quebec; and now that I am honoured from Montreal a second time in a similar way, I have this day received from Quebec a second token of "respect for my character and love to Methodism" of ten new subscribers to the Guardian, with a promise "ere long of from ten to twenty more."[74]

On the other hand, Dr. Ryerson, in the Guardian of October 17th, 1838, exposes the kind of warfare which was carried on against him by the high church party:—

I have been informed, upon the authority of creditable eye witnesses, that the number of the Patriot which contained four or five columns of attacks on the Editor of the Guardian in his private and public relations, has been carried from house to house for the edification of Methodists; that in one instance the wife of a rector had carried and read the Patriot to members of the Methodist Church and friends of the Editor, and then asked if they could be led by such a man as Egerton Ryerson?

In the Guardian of the 31st October, Dr. Ryerson says:—

Another example of this vicious and disgraceful mode of warfare is contained in a pamphlet published at the Kingston Chronicle office, with a view of preventing the soldiers from deserting to the United States.... I copy the following infamous passages, purporting to be written by a deserter [name and regiment not given]:—Well, I deserted. Ryerson never rested till he worked me up to the deed. I was like a child in his hands—he led me as he pleased.... It was only to get clear off, and then the road to all that I ever wished for was open before me—so said Ryerson, etc.... Ryerson has two or three more on hand, etc.

Dr. Ryerson adds:—

I had marked other passages of a like character, from the Patriot, the Cobourg Star, and the Statesman.... Such are the barbarous weapons used to pull down the religious liberties of the people of this Province, and to establish a church domination.

While Dr. Ryerson was at the Conference at Hamilton, in 1839, Rev. D. McMullen, of Hillier, in a letter to him, said:—

I have read the Guardian with some attention during the past year. I believe the general principles of political, civil, and ecclesiastical policy advocated in it are such as must be supported and ultimately prevail, or our country will be ruined. Yet, while I admire the talent displayed by you, it[Pg 211] is still a question with me whether you, as a Methodist minister, in conducting a religious journal, are justifiable in going the lengths you do in discussions of a political character. I know that your ability and your intimate acquaintance with the state of things in the country, with parties, and all the questions at issue, etc., render you a very competent person (perhaps the most so of any other in the country) to write on these subjects; nor do I think that you ought to bury this talent, but that through some other medium than the Guardian, you should employ it for the country's good, and in a way that would occasion less dissatisfaction among our people, and excite and stir up less bad feeling against us and you from without.

At the same Conference, Dr. Ryerson received a strong letter of approval and encouragement from Mr. Hugh Moore, a highly respected and active member of the Church in Dundas. Mr. Moore said:—

I came to Hamilton this morning (13th June) to see you and to strengthen your hands in the course that you have taken, and are taking, in the Guardian. I could not get an opportunity of seeing you, so I take this way of assuring you of our hearty approbation and support,—as it is deemed necessary at this time to speak out. Go on; you speak the language of our hearts. I should have seen you at Toronto on my way from Montreal, and have told you of the opinion and feelings of our community here, but time would not permit. It is worthy of note that the people are determined to support you. May God aid and direct you and all that are with you!

Equally hearty was a letter which Dr. Ryerson received from Rev. John McIntyre, in September, 1839,[75] inviting him to come and preach for him in Perth. In urging him to comply with the request, Mr. McIntyre said:—

If the day is favourable, the people will assemble from all quarters. I know myself of persons who intend to come about 20 miles to hear you. You can have no idea of your popularity in this district, although principally a military settlement. Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and moderate Churchmen, consider you, as some Presbyterians were pleased some time ago to style you, "The Saviour of Upper Canada." Now, to disappoint their just expectation would be almost unpardonable. The people entertain so high an opinion of your abilities, that (as some have lately said) you could speak with five minutes' notice on any subject. I should be extremely sorry that they should ever hold any other opinion; but, at your departure from Perth, the people may say, as the Queen of Sheba did on her visit to Solomon, "It was a true report we heard of his acts, and of his wisdom, and behold the half was not told us."

Rev. G. R. Sanderson, also writing to Dr. Ryerson, said:—

I greatly regret these constant attacks upon you, who have laboured so arduously and struggled so perseveringly for the good of our country, and the settlement of the Clergy Reserves. I am sure, however, that you will have the warmest thanks of all true friends of their country; and that posterity will not withhold that praise which is due you for your indefatigable exertions.

I have already, on page 101, inserted a kindly letter to Dr.[Pg 212] Ryerson from Rev. William Bell, Presbyterian minister, expressive of his sympathy with the course pursued by the Guardian on the Clergy Reserve and other questions. The following letters of the same character were from parties outside of Dr. Ryerson's own Church. Thus in 1839, the Congregational Association of Upper Canada passed resolutions approving of Dr. Ryerson's course—the last one of which was as follows:—

We express to the Rev. Egerton Ryerson our thanks for his able and persevering exertions to effect a settlement of the Clergy Reserve question, and our determination to afford him any and every support in his endeavours that it may be in our power to render.

Rev. James Noll in enclosing the resolutions said:—

I feel myself happy, Sir, to be the medium of communicating to you the sentiments and feelings of my brethren at a time when you are insulted and abused as a public disturber, a rebel, and a political demagogue, by those who are willing to sacrifice the peace, and even risk the safety of the Colony.... Allow me to assure you of my admiration of the fair, spirited, and able manner in which you have conducted this important and painful controversy.... The cause you are advocating is closely identified with the cause of God. Your object is not only the temporal but spiritual welfare of your country, and your friends are the great bulk of its loyal and well-disposed inhabitants.

Rev. John Roaf (Congregational), of Toronto, in a letter to Dr. Ryerson, dated December, 1838, said:—

I am desirous of not omitting one of my duties in relation to the "Church question," and looking to you as the Leader of the non-established parties, am anxious to understand your views upon the rectory question. Should you also think of any other measure by which I and my immediate brethren can support the cause which you are so zealously and efficiently promoting, or can assist in weakening the opposition to which you are subject, I shall be happy in attending to your suggestions.

Mr. William Greig (Baptist), Bookseller, Montreal, in a letter to Dr. Ryerson, dated June, 1839, says:—

As an ardent friend to civil and religious liberty, and an admirer of the course pursued by yourself as Editor of the Christian Guardian, I cannot but express my regret at seeing you assailed on all sides, and especially by those for whose good you have been exerting yourself. As a native of Great Britain, I am fondly attached to her civil institutions, and will yield in loyalty to no one. I cannot, therefore, but approve of any lawful and fair measures which will tend to bring all denominations to that level, that every one provide for itself. I therefore say, go on in your present course; keep up the fire, brisk and hot on the enemy, till they are routed. As I see several are withdrawing their subscriptions to the Guardian, the friends of civil and religious liberty, of whatever denomination, ought to come in and take their places. Although not a Methodist, please put me down as a subscriber to the Guardian.


[72] Dr. Ryerson, early in his controversial career, adopted Lord Macaulay's motto: No misrepresentation should be suffered to pass unrefuted. We must remember that misstatements constantly reiterated, and seldom answered, will assuredly be believed.

[73] The article in the Guardian to which reference is made, is the reply of Dr. Ryerson to several Methodists in Toronto who had signed the Address of the British Missionary party to the Governor; and who, in a letter to him, had repudiated the construction put upon the Address by the Patriot. Among other things the Editor said: The manly firmness with which the signers of this Address have resisted the cunning wiles of Egerton Ryerson, is a solemn pledge of their love and veneration for the glorious institution of the Empire.... Thus ever thought we of British Wesleyans; and thus thinking was our impelling motive for persevering for the first three years of our editorial career, in one incessant battering of the pernicious, seditious principles of Egerton Ryerson; the very first number of whose paper betrayed him to us, flagrante delicto, a pestilent and dangerous demagogue.... If his ambition were as legitimate and praiseworthy as his talents are commanding, he would be a far more valuable member of society than he can ever hope to be while hankering to return to the flesh pots of Yankee Episcopal Methodism, etc.

Dr. Ryerson's reply was an elaborate defence of his opposition to the efforts of the Patriot party to create a dominant Church, the application of the reserves to high church uses, and the establishment of the fifty-seven rectories.

[74] In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, dated Montreal, 1st February, 1836, Rev. William Lord said:—Rev. Anson Green was here last week and preached. An Upper Canada Presiding Elder preaching with acceptance in Montreal! Who would have thought of such a thing when brother Egerton Ryerson and even brother Joseph Stinson were denied the pulpit!

[75] This gentlemen entered the Methodist ministry in 1835, and joined the Church of England in 1841. He died some years since.

[Pg 213]



The Honourable and Right Reverend Bishop Strachan.

The Venerable John Strachan, D.D., LL.D., Archdeacon of York, and subsequently (1839-1867) first Bishop of Toronto, was the chief clerical opponent which Dr. Ryerson encountered in the contest for religious freedom and denominational equality during nearly twenty years.

Dr. Strachan was born in Scotland, in April, 1778, and died at Toronto, in November 1867, in the 90th year of his age.

It was a singular coincidence that Dr. Strachan entered the ministry of the Church of England in May, 1803, just two months after Dr. Ryerson was born. Who could then have foreseen the respective careers of these two remarkable men! The one, the virtual founder and administrative head of the Church of England in Upper Canada for upwards of 60 years; and the other, although not the founder, yet the controlling head and leader of the Methodist Church in the Province for nearly the same period.

Dr. Strachan was an uncompromising high churchman. His exclusive views on the "priestly authority, and the catholic and apostolic character of the Church of England," were those of a church optimist, but they were not based upon any profound study of the subject, as his own statement will attest.[76][Pg 214]

It is interesting to note the causes which led Dr. Strachan to cling so tenaciously to the idea of "Church and State"—a union which he regarded as sacred, and ordained of God for the maintenance of His cause and Church on the earth. It is no less interesting to understand the reason why Dr. Ryerson as strenuously repudiated and resisted the practical application of the same idea to Canada. The reason in each case may be stated in a few words.

The one from early associations regarded the idea of Scottish parish churches and parochial schools, supported by the State, as eminently Scriptural, if not divinely enjoined from the earliest Jewish times. The other was brought up in a land where such a state of things had never existed, and where the pure gospel had been preached from the earliest times without the aid of a state endowment. He lived in a land, too, where the command to the Christian Church was felt to be fitly expressed by John Wesley, to take the "world as a parish" and preach the Gospel to every creature. The manner in which this command was to be obeyed was indicated by our Lord's example, when He sent forth His disciples with this injunction:—

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses ... for the workman is worthy of his meat. Matt. x. 9, 10.

Members of the Conference, in Dr. Ryerson's early days, unhesitatingly obeyed the directions of the Conference—many regarding it as the voice of God in the Church—and went forth, without scrip or purse, everywhere, even to the remotest corner of the land, bearing the good tidings, not considering their pecuniary interests,[77] or even their lives dear unto them, so that they might win souls for the Master.[78]

Dr. Strachan's views on the question of State aid to churches[Pg 215] were clearly, on the other hand, the result of his observations, in Scotland. They are prominently brought out in his memorable speech, delivered in the Legislative Council, on the 6th of March, 1828. He says:—

Have not the Methodists in this Province ... ever shown themselves the enemies of the Established Church? Are they not at this moment labouring to separate religion from the State, with which it ought to be firmly united?... Has it not been the primary object of all enemies to regular government ... to pull down religious establishments?... If they tell me the Ecclesiastical establishments are great evils, I bid them look to England and Scotland, each of which has a religious establishment, and to these establishments are they mainly indebted for their vast superiority to other nations. To what but her Established Church, and the Parochial Schools under her direction, does Scotland owe her high reputation for moral improvement. (Pages 27 and 28.)

Again, in a remarkable letter to his friend (Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, of Edinburgh[79]), written in 1832, on the Life and Character of Bishop Hobart of New York, Dr. Strachan relates a conversation with that Bishop in which he took him severely to task for extolling the voluntary system of the American Episcopal Church as compared with the endowed State Church of England. I make a few extracts:—

Let us look at the Episcopal Church of the United States, and see what moral effect it can have on the population, as a source of religious instruction.... The influence of the two Churches as confined to England and New York (alone) is as one to seventy.... Such influence on the manners and habits of the people [in that state] is next to nothing, and yet you extol your Church above that of England, and exclaim against establishment! Add to this, the dependence of your clergy upon the people for support—a state of things which is attended with most pernicious consequences ... but in general, the clergy of all denominations in the United States, are miserably dependent upon their congregations.... It is the duty of Christian nations to constitute, within their boundaries, ecclesiastical establishments.... For it is incumbent upon nations as upon individuals, to honour the Lord with their substance. (Pages 41-47.)

Bishop Strachan's early and later writings abound in expressions of similar views. It was not to be wondered at, therefore, that a man of his strong convictions would seek to give practical effect to them in dealing, as opportunity offered, with questions of church establishment and the clergy reserves.

It is true that by his persuasive words and strong personal influence—when the object was the financial benefit of the Church—Bishop Strachan rallied around him many of the[Pg 216] leading members of the Church of England in Upper Canada who aided him in his plans for endowing the Church out of the public domain. Yet it is also true that many equally sound churchmen were opposed to these schemes, and saw in them the germ of a fatal canker, which in time would be sure to destroy the Church's missionary zeal, and paralyze all of those noble and generous impulses which characterize a living Church in the promotion of Christian effort in the various departments of Church work.[80]

As time has passed on the little band of loyal churchmen, who incurred the Bishop's unmerited censure for opposing his exclusive schemes of Church aggrandisement, has increased to thousands in our day. They deeply regret the success of those schemes, and deprecate the existence of clergy reserves and rectory endowments as in themselves fatal to the healthy development of Church work as an active and aggressive force in the Christian life.

It is not necessary to refer here to Bishop Strachan's views in regard to ecclesiastical polity. They are well known. On this matter also many sound churchmen differed widely (and still differ) from his views. Yet Bishop Strachan, while holding such strong and exclusive views, was kindly disposed towards "Sectaries" individually, and lived on terms of personal friendship with many of those whose opinions were opposed to his on church questions. In his Legislative Council speech, already quoted, he says:—

I have been charged with being hostile to the Scotch Church, and with being an apostate from that communion.... My hostility to the Kirk of Scotland consists in being on the most intimate terms with the late Mr. Bethune and Dr. Spark.... To both these excellent men I willingly ... pay a tribute of respect.... Nor have I ever missed an opportunity, when in my power, of being useful to the clergy of the Church of Scotland, or of treating them with respect, kindness, and hospitality. (Page 22.)

Again, in his sermon on "Church Fellowship," preached in 1832, Dr. Strachan says:[Pg 217]

Widely as we differ from the Roman Catholics in many religious points of the greatest importance, we have always lived with them in the kindest intercourse, and in the cordial exchange of the charities of social life. The worthy prelate, by whom they are at present spiritually governed, has been my friend for nearly thirty years. With the members of the Church of Scotland we associate in the same manner....[81] The merits of our sister Church cannot be unknown to you, my brethren. To me they are familiar, and connected with many of my cherished and early associations.... Of that popular and increasing class of Christians [the Methodists], who call themselves a branch of our Church, both at home and abroad, I would speak with praise. (Pages 23-25.)

As to his relations with Dr. Ryerson, I here insert two notes from the Bishop to him. The first is dated February 7th, 1838, as follows:—

The Archdeacon of York presents his compliments to the Rev. E. Ryerson, and begs to acknowledge with satisfaction his courtesy in sending him a copy of his excellent sermon on the Recent Conspiracy, which the Archdeacon has read with much pleasure and profit. Such doctrines, if generally diffused among our people, cannot fail of producing the most beneficial effects, both spiritual and temporal.

The second related to the calamity which had befallen the Church of England congregation of St. James, in the destruction of its church building by fire early in January, 1839. Dr. Ryerson at once wrote to the Archdeacon offering him the use of the Newgate (Adelaide Street) Church. On the 6th January, Dr. Strachan replied as follows:—

I thank you most sincerely for the kind sympathy you express in the sad calamity that has befallen us, and for your generous offer of accommodation. Before your note reached me, I had made arrangements with the Mayor, for the Town Hall, which we can occupy at our accustomed hours of worship, without disturbing any other congregation. I and my people are not the less grateful for your kind offer, which we shall keep in brotherly remembrance.

In his Charge to the Clergy in 1853, and again in 1856, he pays a personal tribute to Dr. Ryerson. In the later Charge, speaking of the School system, he says:—

So far as Dr. Ryerson is concerned, I am one of those who appreciate very highly his exertions, his unwearied assiduity, and his administrative capacity.

Dr. Ryerson's last reference to the Bishop is contained in the "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," written in 1880, as follows:

Upwards of fifty years have passed away since my criticisms on Dr. Strachan's "Sermon on the death of the Bishop of Quebec" were written. On the re-perusal of them, after the lapse of so long a time, the impression on my own mind is that Dr. Strachan was honest in his statements and opinions.... He was more moderate and liberal in his views and feelings in his later years, and became the personal friend of his old antagonist, "The Reviewer," who, he said, had "fought fair." (Page 145.)


[76] My mother (he said) belonged to the Relief denomination.... My father was attached to the Non-Jurants; and although he went occasionally with my mother, he was a frequent hearer of Bishop Skinner, to whose church he was in the habit of carrying me. He died when I was very young, but not before my mind was impressed in favour of Episcopacy.... I readily confess, that in respect to Church Government, my principles were sufficiently vague and unformed; for to this important subject my attention was never particularly drawn till I came to this country, when my venerated friend, the late Dr. Stewart, of Kingston, urged me to enter the Church, and as I had never yet communicated, that excellent person, whom I loved as a father, admitted me to the altar a little before I went to Quebec to take holy orders, in 1803. Before I had determined to enter the Church of England, I was induced by the advice of another friend (the late Mr. Cartwright) ... to make some inquiries respecting the Presbyterian Church of Montreal, then vacant. (Dr. Strachan's Speech in the Legislative Council, March 6th, 1828, pages 25, 26.)

[77] The stipends of Methodist ministers in those days were very small. Rev. Dr. John Carroll tells me that the "quarterage" payable to an unmarried Methodist minister in America, at first, was only $60 per annum; then it was increased to $80, at which rate it remained until 1816, when the General Conference fixed it at $100, at which it remained until 1854. The rule for a married minister was double that for a single man, and $16 for each child. Besides quarterage, there was an allowance for travelling and table expenses. Two hundred dollars was the sum for salary, besides travelling and aid expenses, allowed to a minister up to 1854, and even then this sum was rarely ever paid in full.—H.

[78] Rev. H. Wilkinson in a note to Dr. Ryerson, in 1837, thus describes the kind of places to which some ministers had to be sent, and their duties and qualifications when there. He said: I require a man for a mission which lies about 200 miles from Bytown, up the Grand River (Ottawa), and which will be difficult of access in the winter. A suitable person could make his way northwards with some of the rude lumbermen, who now and then go up in companies. The brother would need to be strong in mind and body, and fervent in spirit. He would need to go on foot, and paddle a canoe, or row a boat, as the case might be, and thus reach his appointments in the best way he can.

[79] While in the vicinity of St. Andrews I contracted several important friendships, amongst others, with Thomas Duncan, afterwards Professor of Mathematics, and also with Dr. Chalmers, since then so deservedly renowned. We were all three very nearly of the same age, and our friendship only terminated with death, being kept alive by a constant correspondence during more than sixty years. (Bishop Strachan's Charge to his Clergy, June, 1860; page 10.)

[80] Speaking of the passage of a Clergy Reserve Bill in 1840, to which the Bishop of Toronto was strongly opposed, Dr. Ryerson says: A considerable majority of the members of the Church of England in both Houses of the Legislature voted for the Bill, and were afterwards charged by the Bishop with "defection and treachery" for doing so. On this point, Lord Sydenham, in a despatch to Lord John Russell, dated, 5th February, 1840, said: It is notorious to every one here, that of twenty-two members (being communicants of the Church of England) who voted upon this bill, only eight recorded their opinion in favour of the views expressed by the Right Reverend Prelate, whilst, in the Legislative Council the majority was still greater; and amongst those who gave it their warmest support, are to be found many gentlemen of the highest character for independence, and for attachment to the Church, and whose views on general politics differ from those of Her Majesty's Government. (Dr. Ryerson's Criticism on Bishop Strachan's letter to Lord John Russell, dated, February 20th, 1851.)

[81] These kindly words the Bishop repeated in substance to the Editor some years since, when talking with him on the subject.—H.

[Pg 218]



The Clergy Reserves and Rectories Questions.

The discussion of the Clergy Reserve Question enters so largely into the Story of Dr. Ryerson's Life, that I give in this chapter a short, condensed sketch of its origin and history down to 1837-38. The remainder of the sketch will be developed in an account of the contest preceding the settlement of the question in subsequent chapters.

After the conquest of Canada, in 1760, the right of the Roman Catholic inhabitants to enjoy their religion was guaranteed to them in the Treaty of Paris, Feb. 10th, 1763. In 1774, an Act was passed by the British Parliament (14 Geo. III., ch. 83) by which the right to their accustomed dues and tithes was secured to the clergy of the Church of Rome in the then Province of Quebec (including what was afterwards Upper and Lower Canada). The same Act provided for the encouragement of the Protestant religion, and, for the support of a Protestant clergy, by other tithes and dues.[82]

In 1791, the Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada, and, in an Act introduced into the British Parliament by Mr. Pitt, provision was made for their government. Sections 35-42 of that Act dealt with the maintenance and support of a Protestant Clergy, and this provision (1) allotted one-seventh of all lands which might be hereafter granted by the King for settlement; and (2) gave authority for the erection of "parsonages or rectories, according to the establishment of the Church of England," to be endowed out of the lands so allotted, etc. (Sec. 38).

The alleged reasons which induced George III. to make provision for the support of religion in the North American Colonies, are set forth, so far as they related to the Protestant[Pg 219] religion, by the late Bishop Strachan in a pamphlet which he published in England in 1827.[83] He mentions the fact that Great Britain, of all European nations, had hitherto made no provision for religious instruction in her colonies. He further states that:—

The effect of this was that emigrants belonging to the Established Church who settled in America, not having access to their own religious ministrations, became frequently dissenters; and when the Colonies (now the United States) rebelled, there was not, among a population of nearly 3,000,000, a single prelate, and but very few Episcopal clergymen.

The folly of this policy was shown in the strongest light during the rebellion; almost all of the Episcopal clergy and their congregations remained faithful to the King, demonstrating by their conduct, that had proper care been taken to promote a religious establishment in connection with that of England, the revolution would not have taken place.[84]

Aware of the pernicious effects of this narrow and unchristian policy, and sensible that the colonial ought to be attached to the parent state by religious, as well as by political feelings, the great Mr. Pitt determined (in forming a constitution for the Canadas) to provide for the religious instruction of the people, and to lay the foundation of an Ecclesiastical Establishment which should increase with the settlement.

To accomplish this noble purpose, Mr. Pitt advised that one-seventh of the lands should be set apart for the maintenance of a Protestant Clergy. In Upper Canada this appropriation comprises one-seventh of the whole province: but in Lower Canada, one-seventh of those parts only which have been granted since 1791 (pages 2, 3).[85]

In a pamphlet published at Kingston, U.C., during the previous year, the substance of Mr. Pitt's remarks on that part of the Bill which authorized the setting apart of these lands, is given as follows:—

Mr. Pitt (House of Commons, 12th May, 1791), said that he gave the Colonial Government and Council power, under the instructions of His Majesty, to distribute out of a sum arising from the tithes for land or possessions, and set apart for the maintenance and support of a Protestant clergy. Another clause (he said) provided, for the permanent support of the Protestant clergy, a seventh portion of the lands to be granted in future. He declared that the meaning of the Act was to enable the Governor to endow and to present the Protestant clergy of the established church to such parsonage or rectory as might be constituted or erected within every township or parish, which now was, or might be formed; and to give to such Protestant clergyman of the established church, a part, or the whole, as the Governor thought proper, of the lands appropriated by the Act. He further[Pg 220] explained that this was done to encourage the established church; and that possibly hereafter it might be proposed to send a Bishop of the established church to sit in the Legislative Council. (Parl. Reg., vol. 29, pp. 414, 415.)[86]

Mr. Fox was entirely opposed to these arrangements. He said: By the Protestant clergy, he supposed to be understood not only the clergy of the Church of England, but all descriptions of Protestants.... That the clergy should have one-seventh of all grants, he must confess, appeared to him an absurd doctrine. If they were all of the Church of England, this would not reconcile him to the measure. The greater part of these Protestant clergy were not of the Church of England; they were chiefly Protestant dissenters.... We were, by this Bill, making a sort of provision for the Protestant clergy of Canada [of one-seventh of the land] which was unknown to them in every part of Europe; a provision, in his apprehension, which would rather tend to corrupt than to benefit them. (Hansard, vol. 29, 1791, page 108.)

I have carefully gone through the whole of the debate on this subject, but I cannot find one word in it which would indicate that Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, or Mr. Burke (the chief speakers), entertained the idea that endowing the clergy had any political significance as a precautionary measure for ensuring the loyalty of the inhabitants. The opinion was expressed that setting apart these lands was the most feasible way (as Mr. Pitt said) of providing "for the permanent support of the Protestant clergy," and of giving "them a competent income."[87]

In a letter to Dr. Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury, dated December, 1790, Col. J. Graves Simcoe said:—

I am decidedly of opinion that a regular Episcopal establishment ... is absolutely necessary in any extensive colony which England means to preserve, etc. The neglect of this principle of overturning republicanism in former periods, by giving support and assistance to those causes which are perpetually offering themselves to affect so necessary an object, is much to be lamented; but it is my duty to be as solicitous as possible, that they may now have their due influence, etc.

In a "Memoir" written by Governor Simcoe in 1791, he said:

In regard to the Episcopal establishment ... I firmly believe the present to be a critical moment, in which that system, so interwoven and connected with the monarchical foundation of our government, may be productive of the most permanent and extensive benefits, in preserving the connection between Great Britain and her Colonies.

From various sources I gather the following particulars:—

From 1791 to 1819, the Clergy Reserves were in the hands of the Government, and managed by it alone. For years they yielded scarcely enough to defray the expenses of management. In 1817 the House of Assembly objected to such an appropriation for the clergy, as "beyond all precedent lavish," and complained that the reservations were an obstacle to improvement[Pg 221] and settlement. In 1819, lands were taxed for the construction of roads, and it was contended that the reservations on the public roads should also be taxed.

In 1819, the question was first mooted, as to the right of Presbyterians to share in the reserves. In March, of that year, thirty-seven Presbyterians of the town of Niagara, petitioned Sir Peregrine Maitland, to grant to the Presbyterian congregation there, the annual sum of £100 in aid, out of the clergy reserves, or out of any other fund at the Governor's disposal. In transmitting this petition to the Colonial Secretary for instructions, Sir P. Maitland mentioned that "the actual product of the clergy reserves is about £700 per annum." In May, 1820, a reply was received from Lord Bathurst, stating that, in the opinion of the Crown officers, the provisions of the Act of 1791, "for the support of the Protestant clergy, are not confined solely to the clergy of the Church of England, but may be extended also to the clergy of the Church of Scotland," but not to dissenting ministers.

In 1819, on the application of Bishop Mountain, of Quebec, the clergy in each province were incorporated for the purpose of leasing and managing the reserves—the proceeds, however, to be paid over to the Government. On the appearance of a notice to this effect in the Quebec Gazette, dated, 13th June, 1820, the clergy of the Church of Scotland memorialized the King for a share in these reserves.

In 1823, the House of Assembly, on motion of Hon. William Morris, concurred in a series of resolutions, asserting the right of the Church of Scotland in Canada to a share in the reserves. These resolutions were rejected by the Legislative Council, by a vote of 6 to 5.

In April, 1824, Dr. Strachan was deputed by the Bishop of Quebec and Sir P. Maitland, to go to England and get authority from Lord Bathurst to sell portions of the reserves. In the meantime, the Canada (Land) Company proposed to purchase all the Crown and Clergy Reserve Lands at a valuation to be agreed on. The clergy corporation having desired a voice in this valuation, the Bishop of Quebec deputed Archdeacon Mountain to press this view on Lord Bathurst. Some misunderstanding having arisen between Lord Bathurst and Archdeacon Strachan, and the Canada Land Company, Dr. Strachan went to England in April, 1826, and was deputed by Lord Bathurst to arrange the differences with Mr. John Galt, Commissioner of the Company. This they did by changing the original plan. The clergy lands were exchanged for 1,000,000 acres in the Huron tract. Out of the moneys received from the Canada Company the Home Government appropriated £700 a year to the Church of Scotland clergy,[88] and the same amount to the clergy of the Church of Rome in Upper Canada.

In June, 1826, the Home Government, on the memorial of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, and an address from the House of Assembly, founded on the resolutions of 1823 (which, as introduced, had been rejected by the Legislative Council), acknowledged the rights of the Church of Scotland clergy to a share of the reserves. In January, 1826, the House of Assembly memorialized the King to distribute the proceeds of the reserves for the benefit of all denominations, or failing that to the purposes of education and the general improvement of the Province. The reply to this memorial was so unsatisfactory that the House of Assembly (December 22nd, 1826), adopted a series of eleven resolutions, deprecating the action of the Home Government in appropriating the clergy reserves to individuals connected with the Church of England "to the exclusion of other denominations"—that church bearing "a very small proportion to the number of other[Pg 222] Christians in the province." The Assembly prayed that the proceeds of the reserves be applied to the support of district and common schools, a Provincial seminary, and in aid of erecting places of worship for all denominations of Christians. These resolutions passed by majorities of from 25 to 30; the nays being 2 and 3 only. The bill founded on these resolutions was negatived in the Legislative Council (January, 1827). In the year 1826, Dr. Strachan obtained a royal charter for King's College, with an endowment of 225,000 acres of land, and a grant of £1,000 for sixteen years. This charter was wholly in favour of the Church of England, and its obnoxious clauses remained unchanged until 1835.

In March, 1827, Hon. R. W. Horton introduced a Bill into Parliament to provide for the sale of the clergy lands, as asked for by the Bishop of Quebec. This led to a protracted discussion between the friends in the House of the English and Scotch Churches, and requests were made for information on the state of these Churches in Upper Canada. Archdeacon Strachan, then in England, furnished this information in his famous letter and Chart, dated, May 16th, 1827. Objection to giving the clergy corporation power to sell these lands having been made, Mr. Horton withdrew his original bill, and in a new one, which was passed, confined the exercise of this power to the Executive Government.

In March, 1828, the House of Assembly memorialized the King to place the proceeds of the reserves at the disposal of the House for the purposes of education and internal improvement. Mr. Morris' motion to strike out "internal improvement" was lost. In this year a committee of the House of Commons reported against continuing the reservation in mortmain of the clergy lands, as it imposed serious obstacles to the improvement of the colony.

In 1829, two despatches on the clergy reserve question were sent to the Colonial Secretary by Sir John Colborne. In one, dated 11th April, Sir John says: If a more ardent zeal be not shown by the Established Church, and a very different kind of minister than that which is generally to be found in this Province sent out from England, it is obvious that the members of the Established Church will be inconsiderable, and that it will continue to lose ground. The Methodists, apparently, exceed the number of the Churches of England and Scotland.... If the Wesleyan Methodists in England could be prevailed on to supply this Province with preachers, the Methodists of this country would become, as a political body, of less importance than they are at present.

In this year the House of Assembly passed a bill similar to that of 1828. It was rejected, as in the previous year, by the Legislative Council. In 1830, the same proceedings were repeated with like result.

In December, 1830 (see page 101), a monster petition was agreed to, and afterwards signed by 10,000 persons and sent to England, praying that steps be taken to leave the ministers of all denominations to be supported by the people among whom they labour and the voluntary contributions of benevolent Societies in Canada and Great Britain—to do away with all political distinctions on account of religious faith—to remove all ministers of religion from seats and places of political power in the Provincial Government—to grant to the clergy of all denominations the enjoyment of equal rights and privileges in everything that appertains to them as British subjects and as ministers of the Gospel, particularly the right of solemnizing matrimony—to modify the charter of King's College, so as to[Pg 223] exclude all sectarian tests and preferences—and to appropriate the proceeds of the sale of the lands, heretofore set apart for the support of a Protestant Clergy, to the purposes of general education and various internal improvements.

Such was the comprehensive character of the reforms prayed for in this province upwards of fifty years ago. All of these reforms have been long since granted; but the enumeration of them shows how far off the mass of the people and their ministers were then from the enjoyment of the civil and religious privileges which are now the birthright of every British subject in Canada.

This "programme of reforms" will also show what were the principles for which Dr. Ryerson, and other pioneers of religious freedom in Upper Canada, had to contend half a century ago. Nor was the victory easily won which they achieved. The struggle was a long and arduous one. Each step was contested by the dominant party, and every reform was resisted with a determination worthy of a better cause.

In March 1831, the first attempt was made (on motion of Mr. Hagerman) to deprive the Canadian Legislature of the power to deal with the clergy reserve question. His motion was to revest the reserves in the crown for religious purposes, but it was negatived by a vote of 30 to 7. Although defeated now, the same proposition was frequently made afterwards, and at length with success. In 1839 a provision of that kind was passed, but it failed on technical grounds to receive the royal assent. See chapter xxxi.

In 1831 and 1832, addresses to the King were adopted by the House of Assembly praying, as before, that the reserves be applied to educational purposes. In this year a satisfactory reply from the Home Government, in regard to the clergy reserve question, was communicated to the Legislature, and it was invited to consider the desirability of exercising its power to "vary or repeal" certain provisions for the support of a Protestant Clergy. In 1832 and in 1833, bills to revest the clergy reserve lands in the Crown were read a second time, and, in 1834, one to that effect was finally passed, but was rejected by the Legislative Council. A bill for the sale of the reserves and the application of the proceeds to educational purposes, was passed in 1835, by a vote of 40 to 4, but was again rejected by the Legislative Council. This body in the same year proposed that both Houses should abdicate their functions in regard to the reserves (as they were unable to concur in any measure on the subject), and request the Imperial Parliament to legislate on the subject! The House of Assembly peremptorily refused, by a vote of two to one, to concur in such a proposition, and[Pg 224] read a dignified lecture to the Council on its refusal to pass their measures, or to originate one of its own. The members of the Assembly felt that the influence of the Governor and the members of the Council would be so potent in England, that by it the wishes of the people of Upper Canada, as repeatedly expressed by that House, would be frustrated.[89] In 1836, the bill of the previous year was passed by the Assembly by a majority of 35 to 5. The Legislative Council amended it so as to leave the matter as before with the British Parliament. This amendment was defeated by the House of Assembly by a vote of 27 to 1, and so the matter ended. In 1837-38 the rebellion took place, leaving the clergy reserve question in abeyance for some time.

On the 15th January, 1836, Sir John Colborne, by order in council, established fifty-seven rectories in Upper Canada, and endowed them out of the clergy reserve lands. This was done at the last moment, and while the successor of Sir John Colborne (Sir F. B. Head) was on his way from New York to Toronto. So great was the haste in which this act was done, that only 44 out of the 57 patents were signed by the retiring Governor; so that only that number of rectories were actually endowed. There is no doubt but that the Constitutional Act of 1791 authorized not only the setting apart of the clergy reserves, but also the erection of "parsonages and rectories according to the establishment of the Church of England," to be endowed out of the lands so allotted. (Sec. 38). But, in Lord Glenelg's opinion, the subject was never submitted for the signification of the King's pleasure thereon. Certain ambiguous words, in Lord Ripon's reply to a private communication from Sir John Colborne, was the authority relied upon for the hasty and unpopular act of the retiring Governor. The legality of the act was frequently questioned, but it was finally affirmed by the Court of Chancery in Upper Canada in 1856. The judgment in the case of the Attorney-General vs. Grasett was that—

Under the statute 31, Geo. III., ch. 31, and the Royal Commission, Sir John Colborne, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, had authority to create and endow rectories without further instructions.


[82] These tithes continued to be collected for the support of a Protestant Clergy until February, 1823, when a declaratory Act, passed by the Legislature of Upper Canada in 1821, was sanctioned by the King to the effect that hereafter "no tithes shall be claimed, demanded, or received by any ecclesiastical parson, rector or vicar, of the Protestant Church within this Province."

[83] Observations on the Provision made for the Maintenance of a Protestant Clergy in the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, under the 31st Geo. III., cap. 31. By John Strachan, D.D., Archdeacon of York, Upper Canada, pp. 44. London, 1827.

[84] In a letter written by Dr. Ryerson in 1851, he criticised a similar statement then made by Bishop Strachan. He pointed out that Washington and other leaders of the revolution were staunch churchmen.

[85] In no part of Mr. Pitt's remarks on the Bill setting apart land for the Protestant Clergy do I find any intimation of the kind mentioned by Bishop Strachan. Governor Simcoe, however, held these views, which by mistake the Bishop may have attributed to Mr. Pitt. (See next page.)—H.

[86] An Apology for the Church of England in the Canadas, etc. By a Protestant of the Established Church of England. Kingston, U.C., 1826, page 11.

[87] It was in the discussion on this Bill that the long personal friendship which had existed between Fox and Burke was brought to an abrupt termination.—H.

[88] In 1830, Presbyterian ministers not of the Church of Scotland, were, on petition to that effect (signed by Rev. W. Smart, Moderator, and Rev. W. Bell, Presbytery Clerk), placed on the same footing as the ministers of the Kirk.—H.

[89] This was abundantly proved afterwards. In the following Parliament an amended bill was carried, by a majority of one vote, in the House of Assembly to place the proceeds of the reserves at the disposal of the British Parliament. Petitions were at once sent to the Queen to induce her to assent to this bill, and the Bishop went to England to present them. Sir George Arthur also lent his aid for the same object. The scheme failed, however, on technical grounds, but was successfully revived the next year. (See Guardian 1st January, 1840, and page 249.)—H.

[Pg 225]



The Clergy Reserve Controversy Renewed.

The question at issue, when the House of Assembly was elected in 1836 for the parliamentary term ending in 1839, was adroitly narrowed by Sir F. B. Head to the simple one of loyalty to the Crown, or—as Dr. Ryerson, in a letter to Hon. W. H. Draper (September, 1838), expressed it—"Whether or not ... this Province would remain an integral part of the British Empire." Lord Durham pointed out that Sir F. B. Head led the people to believe "that they were called upon to decide the question of separation [from Great Britain] by their votes."

Under such circumstances the clergy reserve question was subordinated to those of graver moment. Besides, even if pledges had been given by members before the election on the subject, they were not felt, as the event proved, to be very sacred. Speaking of this Parliament, Dr. Ryerson, in his letter to Mr. Draper, (already mentioned), said:—

The present Assembly at its first session adopted a resolution in favour of appropriating the reserves for "the religious and moral instruction of the Province." But its proceedings during the second session were so vacillating that it is now difficult to say what the opinions of the members are.

One explanation of this state of feeling was, that the political views of a majority of the members were in harmony with those of the ruling party in the country, and yet were at variance with the views of their constituents on the clergy reserve question. Advantage was taken of the existence of this political sympathy by the leaders of the dominant party, with a view to secure the removal of the clergy reserve question from the hostile arena of the Upper Canada Legislature to the friendly atmosphere of the English House of Commons, and the still more friendly tribunal of the House of Lords—where the bench of bishops would be sure to defend the claims of the Church to this royal patrimony.[90][Pg 226]

Accordingly, at the third session of this Parliament, Mr. Cartwright, of Kingston, introduced a bill "to revest the Clergy Reserves in Her Majesty"—the first reading of which was carried by a vote of 24 to 5, and passed through Committee of the whole by a vote of 29 to 12. As soon as Dr. Ryerson, then in Kingston, got a copy of this bill he wrote the following letter, on the 13th January, 1838, to the Guardian:—

The professed object of this bill is described by its title, but the real object, and the necessary effect of it, from the very nature of its provisions, is to apply the reserves to those exclusive and partial purposes against which the great majority of the inhabitants of this province, both by petition and through their representatives, have protested in every variety of language during the last twelve years—and that without any variation or the shadow of change. The bill even proposes to transfer future legislation on this subject from the Provincial to the Imperial Parliament! The authors of this bill are, it seems, afraid to trust the inhabitants of Upper Canada to legislate on a subject in which they themselves are solely concerned; nay, they will environ themselves and the interests they wish to promote behind the Imperial Parliament! The measure itself, containing the provisions it does, is a shameful deception upon the Canadian public—is a wanton betrayal of Canadian rights—is a disgraceful sacrifice of Canadian, to selfish party interests—is a covert assassination of a vital principle of Canadian constitutional and free government—is a base political and religious fraud which ought to excite the deep concern and rouse the indignant and vigorous exertion of every friend of justice, and freedom, and good government in the country.

My language may be strong; but strong as it is, it halts far behind the emotions of my mind. Such a measure, I boldly affirm, is not what the people of Upper Canada expected from the members of the present Assembly when they elected them as their representatives; it is not such a measure as, I have reason to believe, a majority of the present members of the Assembly gave their constituents to understand they would vote for when they solicited their suffrages. Honourable gentlemen, if I can be heard by them, ought to remember that they have a character to sustain, more important than the attainment[Pg 227] of a particular object; they ought to remember that they act in a delegated capacity; and if they cannot clear their consciences and maintain the views and interests of their constituents, they ought, as many an honest English gentleman has done, to resign their seats in the legislature; they ought to remember to whom and under what expectations they owe their present elevation; above all, they ought to remember what the equal and impartial interests of their whole constituency require at their hands.

If, however, every pledge or honourable understanding should be violated; if every reasonable hope should be disappointed; and if the loyal and deserving inhabitants of Upper Canada should be deceived, and disappointed, and wronged by the passage of this bill into a law, petitions ought to be circulated in every part of the province to Her Majesty the Queen to withhold the royal assent from the bill; and I hereby pledge £50 (if I have to sell my library to obtain the amount) for the promotion of that object. Such an act, under the present circumstances of the country, would be worse than a former alien bill, and ought to be deprecated, resisted, and execrated by every enlightened friend of the peace, happiness, and prosperity of the Province.

In reply to a letter from Rev. Joseph Stinson, urging him to come to Toronto and oppose this bill, Dr. Ryerson said:—

For me to leave Kingston, under present circumstances, and go to Toronto would ruin my ministerial influence and usefulness here and blast all our present hopes of prosperity. You know that by my continued and repeated absence, I have already lost fifty per cent. in the confiding hopes of the people, and consequently in very power of doing them good. You know, likewise, that the financial interests of the Society have so lamentably declined that we are already largely in arrears. I cannot, therefore, leave, unless I am positively required to do so by the Book Committee.

A more serious aspect of the matter, however, was presented to Dr. Ryerson in the extraordinary silence of the Conference organ on the subject. In the same letter he said:—

I cannot but feel deeply grieved at not only the tameness but the profound silence of the Guardian on this bill. Silence on such a measure, and at such a time, and after the course we have pursued hitherto, is acquiescence in it to all intents and purposes, and may be fairly and legitimately construed so by both friends and enemies. Oh, is it so? Can it be so, that the Editor of the Guardian has got so completely into the leading strings of that churchism which is as poisonous in its feelings towards us, and its plans respecting us, as the simoon blast; that he will see measures going forward, which he must know are calculated, nay, intended, to trample us in the dust, and not even say one word, except in praise (as often as possible), of the very men who he sees from day to day plotting our overthrow!

I have also observed, in Dr. Strachan's letters to Hon. Wm. Morris, an attack upon Lord Glenelg, the Colonial Secretary—such a one as would enable us to turn to our account on the clergy reserve question (and against Dr. Strachan's exclusive system) the entire influence of Her Majesty's[Pg 228] Government, which would have great weight both in and out of the House of Assembly. How I have heard Dr. Bunting, Mr. Beecham, and other members of the Committee at home, say that Lord Glenelg is one of the best and ablest men of the present day. At all events, after what we have obtained through his Lordship's instrumentality, I think that silence on our part is disgraceful—apart from considerations of local interests in this battle for right and justice.

Two able and moderate advocates of the settlement of the clergy reserve question were sent to England in 1837 to confer with Lord Glenelg on the subject, viz.: Hon. William Morris on behalf of the Church of Scotland, and Hon. W. H. Draper on behalf of the Church of England. In November of that year Dr. Ryerson was requested to draw up a paper embodying the opinions of the leading members of the Conference. This was done, and an elaborate paper on the subject was published in the Guardian of January 17th, 1838.[91] Shortly afterwards Dr. Ryerson addressed a letter to Lord Glenelg on the subject. I only insert the narrative part of it, as follows:—

I was favoured with a conversation on the clergy reserve question with Mr. [Sir James] Stephen, in accordance with your Lordship's suggestion, the day before I left London for Canada (27th April, 1837). After my arrival in this Province it was unanimously agreed to support the plan for the adjustment of that important and long agitated question, which had been mentioned by Mr. Stephen, in the interview referred to.

Sir F. B. Head set his face against it from the beginning, and did not wish me to say anything about it publicly. The Attorney-General acknowledged it was equitable, and did not make any serious objection to it.[92]

Recently a meeting of our principal ministers took place in Toronto, in order to consult upon the measures which it was desirable to adopt in order to promote the settlement of the question at the next session of Parliament.[Pg 229] At the request of the meeting, another gentleman and myself waited upon the Hon. Mr. Draper (who had taken the most official part in previous sessions), and showed him the resolutions agreed to. We stated that if it would embarrass him in promoting the earliest settlement of the question, we would desist from publishing anything on the subject. He expressed himself as highly gratified at our frankness, courtesy, and general views, and said that if his high-church friends had treated him with the same liberality and courtesy he would have been saved from much difficulty and embarrassment, which he had experienced in his previous exertions; but that he thought there could be no objection to our publishing at large our views on the subject. The preparation of the document was assigned to me. When published, it appeared to meet the views of all parties, except the ultra shade of one party, who want the whole of the reserves; and it is now the most popular plan throughout the Province of settling the question, except that of appropriating the reserves to educational purposes exclusively.

A day or two before the publication of this document, the House of Assembly went into Committee on a Bill to revest the reserves in the Imperial Parliament! Going to Toronto at this time, I did what I could to bring the subject again before the House, and accordingly addressed a letter through the press to Speaker MacNab, of the Assembly, on the importance of an immediate settlement of the question, and also urging the adoption of the plan which had been recently proposed.[93] These papers appeared to create a considerable sensation among the members of the Assembly; it was agreed on all sides that the question ought to be settled forthwith. But the reluctance of the Crown Officers to take up the subject soon became manifest; and it was not for some weeks after, that the subject could be forced upon them.[94] Then all (with very few exceptions) professed that the subject ought not to be postponed any longer. But the Crown Officers had no measure prepared, and differed in opinion on the subject—the Attorney-General consenting to the revesting of the reserves in the Crown, the Solicitor-General contending that they should be divided among four denominations (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, according to their relative numbers in Great Britain and Ireland!) This proposition had but three or four advocates in the House, including the author of it. Mr. Boulton, seconded by Mr. Cartwright, moved, in substance, that the clergy reserve provision was made for the clergy of the Church of England;—that it does not provide for more than a competent support for them;—that to appropriate it for them would give most satisfaction to the country. This resolution had five votes in favour of it. All these amendments, and several others, having been lost in Committee, the original resolution moved by Mr. Cartwright, to revest the clergy reserves in Her Majesty, for "the support of the Christian religion in this Province," was[Pg 230] adopted by a majority of three or four. A bill was then brought in and read a first time, and ordered to a second reading next day, but was never afterwards taken up—the exclusive church party being anxious to keep it out of sight. Thus the question is laid over for another year, to the great disappointment and dissatisfaction of thousands who have promptly come forward to the support of the Government of the country.

As an indication of the determination of the party then in power in Upper Canada to carry their scheme for the re-investment of the Reserves in the Crown, before the close of this friendly Parliament, I quote the following extract from a despatch from Sir George Arthur to Lord Glenelg, dated 11th July, 1838:—

At the first meeting of the Legislature, I propose to cause a bill to be introduced for re-investing the lands reserved for the clergy in the Crown, to be applied for religious purposes, and I have reason to think that it will be carried by a considerable majority.

In June, 1838, Dr. Ryerson became Editor of the Christian Guardian. It was, as I have shown, at a most critical period in our provincial history. He was called to that post by the unanimous voice of his brethren. That call, too, was emphasized by the fact that the object of the dominant party in decrying the loyalty of their opponents was now clearly seen; and that, therefore, none but a man of undaunted courage, unimpeachable loyalty, as well as unquestioned ability, could successfully cope with the powerful combination of talent and influence which the ruling party possessed.

Nor should it be forgotten, that in the unfortunate crisis through which the Province had just passed, the prestige of the party which had always claimed the whole of the reserves as the patrimony of the Church of England, had, from political causes, immensely increased. This gave them a double advantage; while, on the other hand, the prestige of the party which for years had firmly and consistently resisted these claims, had, for the same political reasons, as sensibly and as seriously declined.

These facts were well known to every one in Upper Canada at the time. They imposed a double burthen upon those who had the courage (or, it might be said, audacity) to question the righteousness of claims, which—not to speak of the invaluable services and inviolable loyalty of the claimants themselves in the crisis of the rebellion—were by words of the statute, as interpreted by the law officers of the Crown, so clearly given to those claimants.

Such was the position of parties, and the condition of affairs in Upper Canada, when Dr. Ryerson was called to the editorial chair of the leading newspaper in the Province. That he was possessed of the requisite ability and firmness to maintain the[Pg 231] rights of a discouraged minority, and resist the then almost unquestioned will of a powerful majority, few doubted. The bold defence of the supposed exiled rebel, Bidwell, proved that neither courage nor talent was wanting. The bitter hatred of the revolutionary party, as expressed in the threat that, should they succeed, their first victim would be Egerton Ryerson, showed that in the new crusade he would have no help (if not covert opposition) from that extreme section of his former friends. Nor, as events proved, could he reckon on any support from the British missionary section of the Methodist community. Indeed, they were hostile to his views, as will be seen in a subsequent chapter.

In entering into this contest, therefore, Dr. Ryerson found that he would have to encounter a threefold enemy—each section of it able, resolute and influential, especially that one practically in possession of the reserves—fighting, as it was, for its very existence, and acting entirely on the defensive.

Soon after Dr. Ryerson entered on his editorial duties he published in the Guardian an elaborate series of letters on "The Clergy Reserve Question, as a matter of History, a Question of Law, and a Subject of Legislation," addressed to Hon. W. H. Draper, Solicitor-General. After reviewing the proceedings of the Government and Legislature on the subject down to the end of the session of 1838, he summed up the leading facts which he had established, in the following words:—

I have stated that the Government has been administered for fourteen years in utter contempt of the wishes of the inhabitants, constitutionally, continuously, and almost unanimously expressed through their representatives and otherwise, on a subject which concerns their highest and best interests, and which, as the history of Great Britain amply shows, has always more deeply interested British subjects than any other. Sir, on the unspeakably important subjects of religion and education our constitutional right of legislation has, by the arbitrary exercise and influence of Executive power, been made a mockery, and our constitutional liberties a deception; and it is to the influence over the public mind of the high religious feelings and principles of those classes of the population who have been so shamefully calumniated by the Episcopal clergy and their party scribes, that the inhabitants of Upper Canada are not doing in 1838, what Englishmen did do in 1688, when their feelings were outraged and their constitutional liberties infringed, and the privileges of Parliament trampled upon, in order to force upon the nation a system of religious domination which the great majority of the people did not desire.

As the session of the Legislature of 1839 approached, a vigorous effort was made by The Church newspaper (the clerical organ), and the Patriot (the lay organ) of the church party to influence public opinion in favour of a re-investment of the clergy reserves in the Crown (for the reasons given on page 225.)

It was well known that Dr. Ryerson had strenuously opposed[Pg 232] any reference of the questions to the British Parliament as a pusillanimous, and yet an interested, party abnegation of Canadian rights. He, therefore, prepared and circulated extensively a petition to the House of Assembly on this and kindred subjects. This proceeding called forth a counter petition, urging the Legislature to recognize the principle of an established church, etc. Dr. Ryerson, therefore, lost no time in inserting in the Guardian of 24th October, a stirring appeal, in which he urged the Methodist ministers and members throughout the country to sign the petition which he had prepared without delay. He insisted upon the abolition of the rectories surreptitiously established by Sir John Colborne, on the ground that, although authorized by the Act of 1791, yet that their establishment was not in harmony with the terms of the despatch of Lord Ripon, dated November 8th, 1832, which stated that—

His Majesty has studiously abstained from the exercise of his undoubted prerogative of founding and endowing literary or religious corporations, until he should obtain the advice of the representatives of the people in that respect.

He concluded the appeal with these words:—It becomes every man who properly appreciates his civil and religious rights and privileges, and those of posterity after him, to give his name, his influence, and exertions, in the final effort to place those rights and privileges upon the broad foundation of equal justice to all classes of the inhabitants.

In a subsequent appeal, issued in November, he said:—Let every man who has a head to think, a foot to walk, and a hand to write, do all in his power to circulate the petitions for the entire abolition of high church domination, and the perfect religious and political equality of all denominations of Christians.... The majority of the people of England are willing to have glebes, rectories, tithes, church rates, etc.; but the majority of the people of this Province want nothing of the kind.... The right of the inhabitants of this Province to judge, and to have their wishes granted on everything connected with the disposition of the clergy reserves, and the proceeds of them, has been formally recognized in gracious despatches from the Throne.

Few in the present day can realize the storm which these petitions and appeals provoked. Every effort was made (as will be seen) to silence the voice and stay the hand of Dr. Ryerson, the chief promoter of the petitions, and the able opponent of the establishment of church ascendancy in Upper Canada. Thus matters reached a crisis in the latter part of the year 1838. So intense was the feeling evoked by the[Pg 233] ruling party against Dr. Ryerson's proceeding, that in many places the promoters of the petitions were threatened with personal violence, and even with death, as may be seen by letters published in the Guardian at this time. The publication of these letters at the present time would excite feelings of amazement that such a state of things was ever possible in a free country like Canada.

Not only was this policy of intimidation pursued in the rural parts of the country, but the newspapers in Toronto and the larger towns, controlled by his opponents, made a combined assault upon Dr. Ryerson, as the central figure in this movement. On the 19th December, 1838, he inserted an able defence of himself. He said:—

The question of the Clergy Reserves, or in other words, of a dominant ecclesiastical establishment in this Province, embracing one or more Churches, has been a topic of public discussion for nearly twenty years. For thirty years after the creation of Upper Canada (in 1783) there was no ecclesiastical establishment in the country, except in the letter of an Act of Parliament. During that time there was no weakening of the hands of Government by discussing the question of a dominant church.... But from the time that the Episcopal clergy commenced the enterprise of ecclesiastical supremacy in the Province, there has been civil and religious discord. The calumnious and persecuting measures they have pursued from time to time to accomplish their purpose, I need not enumerate. For twelve years I have sought to restore peace to the Province, by putting down their pretensions. I have varied in the means I have employed, but never in the end I have had in view, as I have always avowed to them and their partizans, and to the Colonial and Imperial Governments, on every suitable occasion.

It was a favourite weapon of attack to denounce as rebels and republicans all those who opposed the exclusive claims of the then representatives of the Church of England. And this stigma was, in 1838, a personal and social one which every person to whom it was applied resented. But the more such persons resented the charge of disloyalty the more was the charge reiterated, and they were harassed and denounced as "radicals" and "republicans."

In repelling this unfounded charge, Dr. Ryerson did not descend to vindication or explanation. He became in turn the assailant, and began to "carry the war into Africa." With scorn and invective he replied to the charge, and showed that his opponents, with all their boasting and professions of loyalty, had failed to render the necessary aid in time of need. Thus: It has been said that I prevented the militia from turning out when first called upon.... It is true that I did not exhort any one to volunteer.... One reason ... was that I desired to have the country furnished with a practical illustration of high-church patriotism and loyalty in the[Pg 234] hour of need. The Church and the Patriot had boasted of their multitudes; but those multitudes shrivelled into a Falstaff's company in an hour which detected the difference between the loyalty of the lip and the heart.... The elongated countenances in certain quarters for a few days [in December, 1837], will never be forgotten! From the Government House to the poorest cottage the omnipotent power of the Guardian was proclaimed as producing this alarming state of things! Indeed, I received a verbal message from His Excellency on the subject. At this juncture ... the heads of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches formally addressed [their adherents] exhorting them to rally to the standard of their country, and from that hour we have heard nothing but congratulations and boasts in regard to the readiness ... with which the militia came forward in all parts of the Province at the call of the Government. It has been insinuated that I attacked the local Government.... The charge is unfounded. When the local Government was attacked for having pursued a different course from that of Lord Durham towards the political prisoners, I reconciled the course of the two administrations. Several numbers of the Guardian containing that dissertation were requested for the Government House, and ... were sent to England.... But when both my position and myself stand virtually ... impugned by proclamation, I am neither the sycophant nor the renegade to crouch down under unmerited imputations, come from whence they may, even though I should suffer imprisonment and ruin for my temerity.

I am at length exhorted to silence, but not my opponents.... A royal answer was returned to an address of the Episcopal Clergy a few weeks since.[95] Nor is silence imposed upon me until the entire weight of the Chief Magistracy is thrown into the Episcopal scale. If the injunction had been given to all parties ... then we might have felt ourselves in some degree equally protected.... But at the moment when the Province is turned into a camp—when freedom of opinion may be said to exist, but scarcely to live—when unprecedented power is wielded by the Executive, and the Habeas Corpus Act is suspended, for one party in the Province to have free range of denunciation, intimidation, etc., against Methodists and others ... and then for silence to be enjoined on me and those who agree with me ... does excite, I confess, my[Pg 235] anxious concern, as the object of it in regard to myself and a large portion of the country cannot be mistaken.

The despatches of Lord Ripon (Nov. 8th, 1832) and Lord Glenelg (Dec. 15th, 1835) recommended a "comprehensive liberality" in every department, and in all the acts of the Government, they conceded in full the popular demands on the clergy reserve question, and deprecated the establishment of any religious corporations until the advice of the local Legislature had been obtained—these very despatches Sir F. B. Head promised to carry out.... But has that pledge been redeemed by him? Has it not been grossly violated?... In his appointments and dismissals from office, and in the whole tone and spirit of his government, did not Sir F. B. Head become the head of a party instead of the Governor of the Province?... The result of his new system of government already is derangement of the currency—insurrection—bloodshed—loss of property—demoralization, by calling large bodies of men from rural to military employments—decrease of population—cessation of immigration—decrease of credit—decrease of revenue—increase of the public debt—decrease of the value of property—increase of popular dissatisfaction—vast military expenditures from the taxes of an overburthened British population—insecurity of person and property, and general distrust. Under these "Church and King" counsels, for two years more, and this province will be a Paradise!... We have laboured hard to obtain and secure many blessings for our native land, but certainly not such blessings as these!

In connection with this discussion, a Kingston paper stated that Dr. Ryerson was moved by ambitious motives. In reply Dr. Ryerson said:—As to my motives of ambition, etc., my enemies will probably concede to me two or three things. 1. That long before Sir F. B. Head came to Upper Canada I had been honoured by as large a share of popular favour in this province as any individual could reasonably expect or desire.... 2. That the path to royal favour has been opened as widely to me as it is possible for it to be opened to any clerical individual who has laid it down as a rule, and stated it to Ministers of the Crown and Governors, that he never could knowingly receive a farthing from any quarter, or in any way, which was not pointed out and authorized by the discipline of his Church. But as a love of popular favour has not obliterated from my recollection the rightful prerogatives of the Crown, I cannot see why I should thereby be disqualified from a disinterested maintenance of constitutional rights, especially when many more are immediately concerned in the latter than in the former.


[90] In his despatch to Lord Glenelg, giving an extract of his speech at the opening of the ensuing session of the Legislature, Sir George Arthur puts this idea in an official form. He says:—That such "a tribunal is free from those local influences and excitement which operate too powerfully here." In his seventh letter to Hon. W. H. Draper on the clergy reserve question, dated January, 26th, 1839, Dr. Ryerson argues the whole question of the re-investment of the reserves at length. He also shows that so far from the "tribunal" here spoken of by Sir George Arthur being a desirable one to adjudicate on this question, it would be the very reverse.

It should be remembered that in more than one despatch the Colonial Secretary held that the question was one to be settled by the Provincial, rather than by the Imperial Parliament, and declined to interfere with the rights of the Canadian Legislature in the matter. This will be clearly shown in a subsequent chapter. Lord Glenelg's utterances on this question are very emphatic, especially in his despatch dated 5th December, 1835.

[91] The paper was signed by Rev. Messrs. Harvard, Case, Stinson, J. Ryerson, W. Ryerson, E. Ryerson, Green, Evans, Jones, Wilkinson, Beatty, and Wright. See also Guardian of October 10th, 1838.

[92] In the Guardian of September 12th, 1838, page 180, Dr. Ryerson makes a fuller reference to this matter. Speaking of the Hume and Roebuck letters (page 167), he says: I was indeed—what I never thought of in London—applauded to satiety by the constitutional press of Upper Canada [for these letters], and by many individuals, several of whom, on my landing in Canada last year, gave me no small thanks for the results of the election of 1836. But all that ceased within a week after my return to Canada.... And why? Because I availed myself of the first opportunity after my return to submit and press upon Sir Francis and the Attorney-General and others, the importance and necessity of an early and equitable settlement of the clergy reserve question, in order to satisfy the expectations of thousands who had voted for constitutional candidates.... The very moment it was seen that my views and intentions on that subject remained unchanged, I saw a change in the expression of countenances. Sir Francis, indeed, never thanked me, for [the letters]; he wished me to say nothing about the clergy reserve question; and within four weeks sent a calumniating letter against me to Lord Glenelg; and the Attorney-General, so far from remembering the estimate he professed (on my return from England) to place upon my services to the Province, sought last winter to get a clause inserted in the Report of the Select Committee on the Upper Canada Academy, impugning my motives and exonerating Sir Francis from the allegations contained in my petition (see page 180), without even investigating its merits, etc.

[93] In a letter to a friend, in January, 1838, Dr. Ryerson relates an amusing incident which was characteristic of Sir Allan MacNab's love of a bit of fun. He said:—In conversation one day with Mr. Speaker MacNab, he gravely proposed to me that I should meet Archdeacon Strachan and a clergyman of the Church of Scotland; and for him and other members of the Assembly to hear us put forth our respective claims to the clergy reserves, and for them to say a word now and then if they liked. After having heard the parsons argue the point, some member was to bring such a measure before the Assembly, as we three should propose. This rather amusing way of settling the question was evidently by way of a joke, so I made no objection to it. He is to inform me of the time and place for the argument, after having consulted the other parties concerned; but I shall hear no more of it!

[94] The cause of this apathy will be apparent from the narrative in chapter xxxi., and the note on page 225.

[95] In their address they designated themselves as the Bishop, Archdeacons, and Clergy of the Established Church of Upper Canada; but Sir George Arthur, in his reply, addressed them as the Bishop, Archdeacons, and Clergy of the established Church of England in Upper Canada.

[Pg 236]



The Ruling Party and the Reserves.—"Divide et Impera."

In dealing with so large and influential a body as the Methodists, made up, as it was years ago, of two distinct elements, somewhat antagonistic to each other, it can easily be understood that the more astute among the high church or "family compact" party clearly saw that their only hope of success in the clergy reserve controversy was by taking advantage of the presence of this antagonistic element in the Methodist body, and to turn it to practical account against Dr. Ryerson, so as to checkmate him in the contest. Queen Elizabeth's motto: Divide et impera, was therefore adopted. And every effort was made to intensify the feelings and widen the breach which already existed between the two sections of the Methodists. This was the more easily done by the appeal which was made to the national prejudices of Methodists of British origin, as against the alleged republican tendency of their colonial brethren.[96] In this effort the ruling party were publicly and privately aided by members of the Missionary Committee in London. To discuss this question now would be practically useless. None but actors in the scenes and conflicts of those times could realize the strong, even bitter, feelings which existed in the chief towns between the two parties at the time. Cherished sentiments of loyalty, strong home feelings, and orthodox Methodist principles, were appealed to, and alternately asserted their influence on opposite sides in the contest.

Added to the difficulty which Dr. Ryerson experienced in conducting the clergy reserve controversy was the fact, that many Methodists of British origin fully sympathized with the claims of the old national and historical Church of England—they[Pg 237] held that it was ipso facto the "established" church in every British Colony, as often asserted by the Missionary party.

As the clergy reserve question gradually became the absorbing topic of discussion in the country (with Dr. Ryerson as one of the chief leaders in that discussion), it was natural that so important a matter should receive the attention of Conference. This it did at an early date. In 1837 strong resolutions were passed upon the subject, which excited much uneasiness among the English Missionary party. The Rev. W. H. Harvard, President of the Conference, in writing to Dr. Ryerson on the subject after Conference, said:—

Since I came away from the Conference, I have been greatly concerned as to the anti-church impression likely to be made on the mind of our people by our recent resolutions of Conference; and I would fain engage your interest with Rev. E. Evans, our Editor, to accompany them with some saving paragraph on the general principle of an establishment which may keep our people from the danger of imbibing the principle of dissent, the operation of which will always foster a religious radicalism in our body, and the influence of which our fathers at home strongly deprecate. I think with you, that in the altered circumstances of our Colonial relations, we have reason to plead for concessions of equality of rights and privileges which would never be granted in the Mother Country. In that respect I do not dissent from the spirit of the resolutions. But I more and more think and feel that there is a middle path of respectful deference to the principle of an establishment even in the Colonies, which, so modified, would not be injurious, but rather helpful, to our good cause,—and which is a vantage ground on which none of our enemies could touch us. It is true, that from Wesleyan high quarters you have had encouragement to believe an independent stand against Church domination would not be disapproved; yet even there a denial of the principle of an establishment (or that the Government should profess some one form of Christianity, with equal privileges to other Christians) would meet with reprobation; and if not, who does not see, if we take that anti-Wesleyan ground, it may involve the question of Wesleyan consistency on our part, while at the same time it would be in danger of throwing our people into the arms of the Radical-popish-infidel faction, where they will, bear like, be hugged till the breath of piety is pressed out of them. Of course, it would drive away from our congregations many of those pious or well-disposed Church people who occasionally mingle with and derive good from us. It was Mr. Wesley's conviction that the Methodists were in part raised up to spread scriptural holiness in the Church of England, as well as in the world at large. I must repeat my wish, that you had yielded to my suggestion to admit into the resolution the phrases, "that the principle of an establishment should be so administered in this Province as to secure perfect equality of rights and privileges among all other communities."

You may have ulterior views which I am too short-sighted to perceive. But I am fully convinced, that if the Guardian does not save us from identification with dissent from the Church of England at this crisis, the real friends of our Zion will bitterly deplore it another day.[97]

[Pg 238]

Here was a broad and distinct declaration of principle, as fully in harmony with the views of the dominant party as they were entirely opposed to those held by the Canadian Conference party. They were perfectly sincere, too, and were uttered by one of the most moderate, and yet most thoroughly representative agents of the British Missionary party in this Province. It can be easily seen how tempting an opportunity it was for the ruling party to foster this feeling amongst the English Missionary section of Methodists, by strong appeals to their well-known loyalty—their respect and love for the old mother-church, which John Wesley so venerated. Even condescension and flattery were employed. The Church and other newspapers made appeals with tact and ability[98] (see page 236); the Lieutenant Governor himself took the trouble to address a letter on the subject direct to the Missionary Committee in London, and Archdeacon Strachan never failed to single out for respectful mention and commendation the representatives of the British Missionary party in Canada, as distinguished from the "disloyal and republican section of the Methodists."[99][Pg 239]

Referring to this period, Rev. John Ryerson, in his Historical Recollections of Methodism (as annotated by Dr. Ryerson) informs us that—

After aiding to suppress the rebellion, the Guardian resumed the discussion of the clergy reserve question, and insisted that it should be settled. But nothing was farther from the thoughts of Dr. Strachan and Sir George Arthur. They contended that the mooting of the question at such a time was evidence of disloyalty on the part of those who were endeavouring to despoil the Church of its lawful rights. The Editor of the Guardian (Dr. Ryerson) was threatened with personal violence, with prosecution, and banishment. Yet the Guardian kept on the even tenor of its way; and in proportion to the fury of the monopolists, did the Editor increase his exertions to wrest from them their unjust gains. Then the oppressors of equal rights, seeing that nothing else would do, called into requisition the old craft to divide the Methodists, or, by other influences, to coercively control them.

Sir George Arthur, the amanuensis of Dr. Strachan in these matters, wrote to the Missionary Committee in London of the evil and disturbing doings of the Guardian, and called on them for their interference. This flattering appeal received a very complimentary reply. The Committee also wrote to their missionary agents in Canada, directing them to interpose and arrest the unjustifiable course of the Guardian. The objection was that the paper "had become party-political;" that "its course was disquieting to the country, and disreputable to Wesleyan Methodism," ... etc. It is not denied (adds Rev. J. Ryerson), that the Guardian at this time was very political for a religious journal....

On this Dr. Ryerson remarked—

It is true, as my brother has intimated, that the Guardian was "very political," because the Editor was intensely in earnest on the great object for which he had been elected by the Conference.... The times of his former proposed conciliations and compromises were now past. He felt the awfulness of the crisis and the responsibility of his position. The Reform party had been crushed by the rebellion of 1837, and the Reform press silenced; there was, in fact, no Reform party. The high-church party thought that their day of absolute power and ecclesiastical monopoly had dawned. It had been agreed by Mr. W. L. Mackenzie and his fellow rebels ... that Egerton Ryerson [should be their first victim]. He alone stood above successful calumny by the high-church party, and[Pg 240] backed as he was by his Canadian Methodist brethren, he determined to defend to the last, the citadel of Canadian liberty....

He knew that, as in a final struggle for victory between two armies, when that victory was trembling in the scales, the wavering of a single battalion on either side might animate and decide victory in favour of the enemy; so a compromising sentence or ambiguous word from the Editor might rouse the high-church party to increased confidence and action, and proportionally weaken the cause of civil and religious liberty in Upper Canada. The Editor of the Guardian had no fear, and he evinced none.... I contended that all the political questions then pending had a direct or indirect bearing on this great question; ... that I would not be turned aside from the great object in view until it was obtained; that the real object of the Government and of the Missionary Committee was not so much to prevent the introduction of politics into the Guardian, as the discussion of the clergy reserve question itself, and of the equal religious rights of the people altogether, so that the high-church party might be left in peaceable possession of their exclusive privileges, and their unjust and immense monopolies, without molestation or dispute.

Rev. J. Ryerson adds: Had Dr. Ryerson "yielded to the dictation of Sir George Arthur's government, and the interference of the London Missionary Committee, one-seventh of the land of the Province might now be in the hands of the Church of England. But the course of the Guardian in this matter, however right, brought upon [the Canadian Methodist Church] calamities and sufferings of seven years' continuance."

About a month before the Conference of 1839 met, Sir George Arthur received a reply, by the hands of Dr. Alder, from the Missionary Committee in London (signed by Dr. Bunting and the other Secretaries), which he published in the Patriot newspaper. Dr. Ryerson inserted the letter in the Guardian of the 22nd May, with these remarks:—

We copy from the Patriot a letter, addressed by the Wesleyan Missionary Secretaries in London to Sir George Arthur, disclaiming "all participation in the views expressed in the Guardian on the ecclesiastical questions of this Province."

He then goes on to show that the views expressed in the Guardian were identical with those embodied in the proceedings of the Wesleyan Conference in Upper Canada from the beginning, and that they were explicitly avowed and understood by both parties at the time of the union of the Conferences in 1833.

The object of the publication of the letter was evidently twofold: 1st. To put a weapon into the hands of the friends of a dominant church in Upper Canada. 2nd. To paralyze the efforts[Pg 241] of Dr. Ryerson to secure equal rights for all religious bodies, and thus to weaken his powerful influence as a champion of those rights.

It was a noticeable fact that all of the disclaimers from the British party first appeared in the Church of England organs, and were there triumphantly appealed to as the unbiassed expression of Methodist opinion from headquarters in England. In supplementing Rev. John Ryerson's Historical Narrative of events at this period, Dr. Ryerson stated, in substance, that:—

It was soon found that Sir George Arthur had thrown himself into the hands of the oligarchy on the question of the clergy reserves—he would not consent to have them applied to any other purpose than the support of the clergy, and was anxious to have them revested in the Crown. When Sir George's views and plans were brought before the Legislature, I opposed them. The Missionary Committee interposed (at Sir George's own request) and supported him on that question. However, Her Majesty's Government subsequently set aside the proceedings of Sir George Arthur, upon the very same grounds on which I had opposed them; but that made no difference in the feelings towards me of Dr. Alder and his colleagues.

Early in June, 1839, Dr. Alder addressed a letter to the Guardian, explaining and defending his views on church establishments. On the 12th of that month, Dr. Ryerson replied to him at length, and, at the close, put a series of questions to Dr. Alder. From the 2nd and 6th I make the following extracts:—

2. Are you satisfied that you are providentially called of God to attempt to make Methodism an agency in promoting a national establishment of religion in a new country, in the teeth of an overwhelming majority of the inhabitants?

6. Are you warranted from any writings or authority of Mr. Wesley to insist that, "under no circumstances," the principle of an establishment shall be abandoned?... Mr. Wesley and his coadjutors have left it on record, in the minutes of their Conference, as their deliberate judgment, that "there is no instance of, or ground at all for, a national church in the New Testament;" that they "apprehended it to be a merely political institution." How can any true Wesleyan convert that into a matter of faith and religious principle for which Mr. Wesley declared there "was no instance or ground at all in the New Testament?" ... I know that the local Executive is most intent to secure the aid of the Missionary Committee to support the recent re-investment act of spoliation; I believe that your letter ... emboldened and encouraged them in the re-investment scheme, and His Excellency stated some months since that he had written for you to come to this country; they think that they can bargain with you upon more advantageous terms than they can with the Methodist Conference in this Province, but I entreat you to pause before you proceed to insist that that which Mr. Wesley declares ... to be "a merely political institution," forms any part of Wesleyan Methodism.[100]

[Pg 242]

Dr. Ryerson's account of what transpired at the ensuing Conference is in substance as follows:—

Dr. Alder attended the Conference at Hamilton, June, 1839, and introduced resolutions expressive of his views, to which he insisted upon the concurrence of the Conference. The resolutions were discussed for three days. On the last day Dr. Ryerson replied, after which the resolutions were negatived by a vote of 55 to 5.[101]

At the same Conference Dr. Ryerson was appointed secretary, by a vote of 41 to 14. But it was in regard to the election of Editor that the greatest interest was taken, not so much amongst the Canadian section of the Methodist people as amongst the members of other religious bodies. The Guardian stated:—

For the last two months the several provincial journals have renewed their efforts of vehement vituperation against the Editor; ... they have sought and hoped to create a division in the ranks of the Methodist family, and, by thus dividing, to conquer; they even triumphed by anticipation—so much so, that the Editor of The Church oracularly predicted the speedy release of the Editor of the Guardian from his editorial duties.

The chagrin which was felt by these parties can be well imagined when the ballot announced that Dr. Ryerson had been re-elected editor, by a vote of 60 to 13! Speaking of this memorable triumph, Dr. Ryerson declared that:—

Never before did I receive, directly or indirectly, so many unequivocal testimonies of respect and confidence, not merely from the Methodist Church at large, but also from members of other churches.

In the meantime (as Dr. Ryerson stated elsewhere) the discussion on the question of a dominant church monopoly and party ... proscription waxed hotter and hotter; ... rumours prevailed of a change of Governors in Upper Canada; the high church party felt that this was their time, and perhaps their last chance to confirm their absolute power.... Under these[Pg 243] circumstances, I stated to the Conference that the moment that the clergy reserve and other questions affecting our constitutional and just rights as British Canadian subjects, and as a religious body, were adjusted, we ought to abstain entirely from any discussions in reference to civil affairs. When Dr. Alder's resolutions were rejected by our Conference, one prepared by myself was agreed to, as follows:—

While this Conference has felt itself bound to express its sentiments on the question of an ecclesiastical establishment in this Province, and our constitutional and religious rights and privileges, and our determination to maintain them, we disclaim any intention to interfere with the merely secular, party-politics of the day.

This resolution, as it afterwards appeared, did not go far enough to meet the wishes and designs of Dr. Alder. He, therefore, brought the matter before the Book Committee, Toronto, in October, 1839. To that Committee he stated at length his decided objection to the course pursued by the Guardian since Conference as "a violation of the known design of the resolution adopted by it." Dr. Ryerson, while fully justifying the course which he had pursued, nevertheless tendered to the Committee his resignation as Editor. The Committee, however, instructed Rev. William Case to write to him as follows:—

By request of the Book Committee, I beg leave to communicate the result of their deliberations on the subject of your proffered resignation of the editorship of the Guardian. "Resolved, That the Committee do not feel themselves at liberty to accept of the resignation of the Editor of the Guardian, and that he be affectionately requested to withdraw it, and to continue his services in accordance with the deliberately framed regulations of the Committee until the ensuing Conference, the regulations to which he objects having been adopted, not for the purpose of reflecting in any way upon the Editor; and that we assure him that we have the utmost confidence in his ability, his integrity, and his anxious desire to promote the best interests of the Connexion."

Dr. Ryerson withdrew his resignation at the time, but resolved to press it at the next Conference. This he did; and peremptorily declined re-election at the Conference of 1840—in fact other and more serious matters were pressed upon him. He thus finally retired from the editorship of the paper which he had established in 1829, and which he had made such a power in Upper Canada. He justly felt that, with the enlarged Methodist constituency which the Guardian at this time represented, it would be impossible for him, while great questions remained unsettled, to harmonize the conflicting opinions on politico-religious matters which were then held by opposite and influential sections of the Methodist Church. He clearly foresaw further conflict on these and other inter-connexional subjects, and was, therefore, the more anxious to free himself from the unwise, official trammels, which a hostile, anti-Canadian and[Pg 244] unpatriotic party sought to impose upon him—single-handed as he was. He longed for more congenial work. He also felt that literary freedom was essential to him in his thorough and practical discussion of the all absorbing questions of the day.[102] This it was well known he could do, in dealing with these questions, not only on their own merits, but with the comprehensive grasp which his enlarged experience, intuitive clearness of perception, and naturally statesmanlike views on grave public questions, eminently qualified him for.

As an illustration of the acknowledged ability, fairness, and conclusiveness of argument with which he dealt with questions which touched the sensibilities and even prejudices of leading members of the British Missionary party in Canada, it is a striking fact that when these gentlemen were not under the direct and potent influence of the Mission House, they were Dr. Ryerson's personal friends, and gave him an active support. This was particularly the case with the late Rev. Dr. Stinson, a man of noble and generous impulses; Rev. W. H. Harvard, always kind and courteous; Rev. Dr. Richey, a man of much refinement and culture, and others. In the important crisis of 1838, both Dr. Stinson and Dr. Richey voted for Dr. Ryerson as Editor. The former wrote a strong letter urging his appointment as Editor. (Page 201.) The latter, on his way to Halifax, after the Conference of 1839, wrote from Montreal to Dr. Ryerson, as follows:—

Sir John Colborne, on whom I called, and by whom I was graciously received, is delighted with the continuance of the Union. So are all our Montreal friends, after my explanations. They will immediately order the Guardian. Sir John paid a handsome tribute to your talents, as who with whom I conversed did not? however they might happen to view your course. They all say you commenced admirably,—that the moment the paper passed into your hands, it manifestly improved; and they all approve of your course for the last six months, just about as well as you know I do. Adhere most religiously, my dear brother, to the spirit and letter of the resolutions, by which the Conference has expressed its will that you should be guided. Your friend Joseph Howe[103] begins, I perceive, to mingle with tories, as they are invidiously designated. I do not wish you to be a tory; and I will not insult you by expressing a desire that you were a high conservative.

I do not flatter you in saying, that on no man in Upper Canada does the peace of our Church and of the Province so much depend, as on yourself. May all your powers be employed for good! Guard against the fascination of political fame. It will do no more for you on a dying bed than it did for Cardinal Wolsey. O! that your fine mind were fully concentrated upon the [Greek: politeuma] of Heaven!


[96] Dr. Ryerson, in the Guardian of October 31, 1838, says:—Five columns of The Church, of the 20th ult., are occupied with an appeal to the old country Methodists, to induce them to oppose the Conference and Connexion in this Province in the clergy reserve question. The Cobourg Star follows in the wake of The Church, in the same pious crusade. The Patriot of the 26th inst. also copies the schismatic appeal of The Church.

[97] Even Rev. J. Stinson (who heartily sympathized in many things with the Canadian Methodists), in a letter to Dr. Ryerson, written in February, 1839, said:—I have read your address to Hon. W. H. Draper, on the clergy reserve question, with considerable attention; and while there is much in it which I admire, I must honestly tell you, en passant, that it contains more against the principle of an establishment in this Colony than I like.

[98] Not satisfied with these strong appeals in the newspapers, resort was had to personal ones, made to leading members of the missionary party. In a kind and yet candid letter which Dr. Ryerson received in November, 1838, Rev. Joseph Stinson says:—I sincerely sympathize with you in your present perplexing and trying circumstances. I heard to-day that some of the dominant church champions are appealing to me to array myself against you. They may save themselves the trouble of making such appeals. Whenever I have differed in opinion with you, I have told you so, and shall do so again,—but shall never, unless you become a revolutionist, either directly or indirectly sanction any factious opposition to you. I think, as Wesleyan Methodists, we ought, openly and fearlessly, to advocate the righteous claims of our own Church; but we ought to do it without detracting from the merits or opposing the interests of that Church which is so closely connected with our Government, as is the Church of England. I know that the exclusive spirit—the arrogant pretentiousness—the priestly insolence—the anti-Christian spirit of certain members of that Church richly deserves chastisement.... I know that your public services have been undervalued; your faults have been shamefully exaggerated; your motives have been misrepresented; your influence (connected as you are with a large and influential body of Christians) is feared, and your enemies are as bitter as Satan can make them; but, if you are conscious that, in the sight of God, you are aiming at the right object, why not leave your cause in His hands? why so frequently appeal to the people? You may not see it; but there is a recklessness in your mode of writing, sometimes, which is really alarming, and for which many of the members of the Conference of our Society do not like to be responsible. I know well, that the acts of the high church party are far more likely to excite rebellion than your writings. There is a strong, a very strong, feeling against a dominant Church; but a majority of the Province would rather have that, and connection with Great Britain, than republicanism.

[99] On the other hand, the Editor of The Church thus sketched Dr. Ryerson:—As The promoter, if not originator, of prejudices of indigenous growth, against the Church of England, and as the thoughtless scatterer of the seeds of political error and of antipathy to the national church. Notwithstanding these counteracting influences, the Editor does not despair of seeing the day when Methodists in Canada will join with Churchmen in vindicating the Church's right to the property of the reserves, which will enable them to plant the established church in every corner of these Provinces. And this they will do, not upon the ground merely of filial partiality, but on the most rational security for the permanence and purity of our Protestant faith, etc. Under these circumstances, Dr. Ryerson said:—

I have felt it due to the Guardian connexion to enter my protest against the claims of the Episcopal Church, and to combat and explain the opinion of my English brethren as not those prevalent in this Province.

A lengthened communication, embodying those views, appearing on page 109 of the Guardian of May 16th, 1838.

[100] With a view to increase the clamour against the Editor of the Guardian on this subject, Mr. Alex. Davidson, writing to Dr. Ryerson from Niagara, said:—Dr. Alder's letter to you had been printed and circulated there in the form of a hand-bill. Mr. E. C. Griffin, of Waterdown, writing from Hamilton on the same subject, said: I have learned from brother Edward Jackson what are the feelings of the Society in Hamilton, respecting the letter of Dr. Alder. He says, that if the leaders' meeting is any index of the views of the entire Society here, they are a "unit" to a man (except the preacher) in their determination to support you in your principles and proceedings.

[101] The following incident in connection with this vote is mentioned by Dr. Ryerson: Dr. Alder (he said) appeared disappointed and depressed; and, after the close of the Conference I said to him: Dr. Alder, you see how entirely you have mistaken the state of Canadian society, and the views and feelings of the Methodist people. Now, I do not wish that you should return to England a defeated and disgraced man. I purpose to write a short editorial for the Guardian, stating that the differences and misunderstandings which had arisen, after having been carefully considered and fully discussed, were adjusted in an amicable spirit, and the unity of the Church maintained inviolate. Dr. Alder appeared delighted and thankful beyond expression. I prepared the editorial. Dr. Alder used and interpreted this editorial on his return to England, to show that the Canadian Conference and its Editor had acceded to all of his demands, and that he had been completely successful in his mission to Canada! The English Committee adopted resolutions complimentary to Dr. Alder in consequence; but I did not imagine that Dr. Alder's fictitious representation of the results of his mission would afterwards be made the ground of charges against myself!

[102] Dr. Ryerson gave full expression to these views in a letter addressed to the Governor-General in April, 1840. (See chapter xxxiii., page 266.)

[103] See letter from Mr. Howe to Dr. Ryerson on page 258.

[Pg 245]



Strategy in the Clergy Reserve Controversy.

The year 1839 was somewhat noted for the prolonged and animated discussions which took place in and out of the Legislature on the clergy reserve question. There were some new features in the discussion of the preceding year which had their effect on the clergy reserve legislation of that year. And while they partially ceased to be influential in the discussions of 1839, yet the legislation of that year was practically brought to the same issue as that of 1838, only that it was more decisive. It may be interesting, therefore, to refer to these special features in the discussion of 1838-9.

The first was the final change of tactics on the part of the leaders of the Church of England party in the contest. The second was the persistent and personal efforts which Lieutenant Governor Arthur put forth in behalf of that party, so as to enable them to accomplish their object, and, at the same time, to counteract the efforts of those who were seeking to uphold Canadian and popular rights. The third was (as shown in the last chapter) the plan adopted to foment discord in the Methodist body—which was by far the most formidable opponent of the scheme of monopoly and aggrandisement which the ruling party was seeking to promote.

At this distance of time it is easy to survey the whole field of conflict, and to note the plans and strategies of the combatants. Although efforts had hitherto been made to shift the battle-ground from Upper Canada to England, yet, as the Colonial Secretary had discouraged such efforts as unwise, and as an unnecessary interference with the rights of the Provincial Legislature, the matter was not openly pressed in 1839. Nor was it pressed at all to a conclusion in 1838. For, by a singular coincidence, the very day (29th December, 1837) on which Mr. Cartwright had moved to bring a bill into the House of Assembly to revest the clergy reserve in Her Majesty, Sir George Grey penned a despatch to Sir George Arthur, in which he disclaimed, on behalf of the Imperial Government,[Pg 246] any wish or intention to interfere, in the settlement of the clergy reserve question, with the functions of the Provincial Legislature, on the ground that—

Such interference would tend to create a not unreasonable suspicion of the sincerity with which the Legislature have been invited to the exercise of the power [to vary or repeal] reserved to them on this subject by the Constitutional Act of 1791.

It is likely that the publication of this despatch prevented the House of Assembly from proceeding any farther with Mr. Cartwright's bill, than ordering it to a second reading on the 26th February, 1838. In this dilemma the ruling party were evidently at a loss how to act. It required much tact and skill to break the ranks of the chief forces arrayed against the scheme to revest the reserves in the Crown—a scheme distasteful to Canadians generally, and subversive of the legislative independence of Upper Canada. Two methods were therefore adopted: The first was to divide the Methodists (as shown in the last chapter). The second and more astute one was to appeal to the professed loyalty of that class which hitherto had been held up to scorn as disloyal, and denounced as republican in its tendencies, as well as seditious in their conduct. The appeal was varied in form, but it was in substance that as those who made it were not themselves afraid to trust their interests in the hands of the Sovereign, their opponents should be equally trustful in the equal and entire justice which would be meted out to all of her Canadian subjects.[104] This appeal, from its very speciousness, and the skill with which it was pressed, had its effect in many cases. But, as a general rule, it failed. The object of the decisive change of tactics was too transparent to deceive the more sensible and thoughtful men to whom the appeal was addressed.

The two other methods adopted (already referred to) were only partially successful; but the three combined, no doubt, strengthened the hands of the advocates of the scheme for the re-investment of the reserves in the Crown. They, however, ceased to press the matter upon public attention, being determined to bide their time, and (as events proved), to carry their point in another and more skilful way.

In the meantime, and early in 1839, Dr. Ryerson was deputed by several important circuits to present loyal addresses to Sir George Arthur. This he did on the 2nd February; and in enclosing them to the Governor's secretary, used language which sounds strange in these days of religious equality. He said:[Pg 247]

I feel myself fully authorized, by various communications and my official position, to assure His Excellency that the members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church will not be contented with subordinate civil standing to any other church, any more than the members of the Church of Scotland. They do not, and never have asked for any peculiar advantages; but they feel that upon the principles of justice, by labours, by usefulness, by character, by numbers, and by the principles laid down in royal despatches, they are entitled, in the eye of the law, and in the administration of an impartial government, to equal consideration, and equal advantages with any other church. I am confident that I but state a simple fact, when I express our belief that the Methodist Church, in its doctrines, ministry, and institutions, furnishes as formidable a barrier against the irreligion and infidelity of the times as any other section of Protestantism. Nor is it possible for us—notwithstanding our unfeigned respect for His Excellency—to feel ourselves under any obligations to tender our support to another section of the Protestant Church, whose clergy, in this Province, collectively, officially, and individually (with solitary exceptions), have resisted the attainment of every civil and religious privilege we now enjoy—have twice impeached our character and principles before the Imperial Government—who deny the legitimacy of our ministry, who, in their doctrines respecting Church polity, and several points of faith, do not represent the doctrines of the Church of England, or of the established clergy in England as a body, but that section only of the established clergy that have associated with all arbitrary measures of government against various classes of Protestant non-conformists which have darkened the page of British history, and also the dark ages, notions of rites and ceremonies, and the conductor of whose official organ in this Province has recently represented the Methodist ministry as the guilty cause of those divine chastisements under the influence of which our land droops and mourns. I am sure my brethren, as well as myself, freely forgive the great wrongs thus perpetrated against us; but we feel ourselves equally bound in duty to ourselves, to our country, and to our common Christianity, to employ all lawful means to prevent such exclusive, repulsive, and proscriptive sentiments from acquiring anything more than equal protection in the Province.

I might appeal to circumstances within His Excellency's knowledge, to show that from 1836 to the close of the last session of our Provincial Parliament, I have spared no pains—without the remotest view to personal or even Methodistic advantage—to second, to the utmost of my humble ability, any plan to which the Province might, under all circumstances, be induced to concur, in order to settle the protracted controversy on the clergy reserve question; and that it has not been, until I have had indubitable proofs that there was no disposition or intention on the side of the Episcopal clergy to yield a single iota any further than they were compelled. It was not until all these circumstances had transpired, that we reluctantly determined to appeal against the exclusive and unjust pretensions of the Episcopal clergy, to the bar of public opinion—a power recognized by our free constitution, and which no party or administration can successfully resist many years.

The reply of the Governor was friendly and conciliatory; but in it he expresses his

Surprise to find that his appeal on a late occasion to the Wesleyan Methodists, to give the Church of England their most cordial support, had been misunderstood and construed into an expression of sectarian preference. By inviting the Methodists to such a course of conduct, His Excellency thought that he was only appealing to a feeling of attachment for the Church of England, which he had always been induced to consider—especially from[Pg 248] personal observation—as a badge of "legitimate Wesleyan Methodists" all over the world.

Dr. Ryerson in his remarks on this reply, said:—

The questions at issue about the clergy reserves do not involve the principle of "attachment for the Church of England" from the well known fact that many respectable members of that Church, in every district throughout the Province, concur in the views advocated in the Guardian on that question—therefore an appeal to "attachment for the Church of England" as the rule of judgment in this controversy, much less as a "badge of legitimate Wesleyan Methodists," is the very climax of absurdity.

The discussions on the clergy reserve question up to the time when the House reassembled (27th February, 1839), must have convinced the dominant party that it was, and ever would be, hopeless, in the face of the determined opposition which their schemes encountered, to obtain that which they wanted from the local legislature. They could not again openly bring in a bill (as they did last year) to revest the reserves in the Crown, in the face of the declarations of the Colonial Secretary, that—

Imperial Parliamentary Legislation on any subject of exclusively internal concern, in any British colony possessing a representative assembly is, as a general rule, unconstitutional. It is a right of which the exercise is reserved for extreme cases, in which necessity at once creates and justifies the exception. (Lord Glenelg to Sir F. B. Head, 5th December, 1835.)

They therefore adopted what events proved to be a ruse, to accomplish their object. It is true that Sir George Arthur, in his opening speech, urged that—

The settlement of this vitally important question ought not to be longer delayed.... I confidently hope, that if the claims of contending parties be advanced ... in a spirit of moderation and Christian charity, the adjustment of them by you will not prove insuperably difficult.

The Governor then adroitly added—

But, should all your efforts for the purpose unhappily fail, it will then only remain for you to re-invest the reserves in the hands of the Crown, and to refer the appropriation of them to the Imperial Parliament, as a tribunal free from those local influences and excitements which may operate too powerfully here.

Both Houses, in apparent good faith, sought to carry out the wishes of the Governor as expressed in the first part of his speech. The managers of the scheme indicated in the latter part of the speech initiated a totally different bill in each House, apparently liberal and comprehensive in character, but yet objectionable in detail. Dr. Ryerson felt this so strongly that he petitioned to be heard at the Bar of the House of Assembly against the bill which had been introduced into it. His request was at first granted on the 7th April, by a vote of 24 to 22, but afterwards refused by a vote of 21 to 17. After[Pg 249] protracted debates in the House of Assembly and about forty-four divisions, that House sent up its bill to the Legislative Council for concurrence. The Council struck out the whole of the bill after the word "whereas," and substituted one of its own, and in turn sent it down to the House of Assembly for concurrence. That House, not to be outdone by the other, struck out the whole of the Legislative Council bill, and substituted a bill of its own, totally different from the one first sent up to the Legislative Council, the last clause of which read as follows:—

The moneys to arise, and to be procured and henceforth received for any sale or sales [of clergy reserve lands] shall be paid into the hands of Her Majesty's Receiver-General of this Province, to be appropriated by the Provincial Legislature for religion and education.

The bill thus constructed needed but the alteration of the last five words to adapt it admirably to the object and purpose of the Church party. The Legislative Council, therefore, changed the concluding words in the last clause into the words "Imperial Parliament for religious purposes." In this apparently simple way, but in reality, fundamental manner—and without any attempt at a conference between the Houses, with a view to adjust differences—the Legislative Council, taking advantage of a comparatively thin House of Assembly, made the desired change on the last day of the session. By adroit manœuvring the agents of the Church party carried the bill in the House of Assembly thus altered. In this way they succeeded in destroying the whole object of the bill, as passed by the House of Assembly. Sir George Arthur, in his despatch to the Colonial Secretary, virtually admitted that the passage of the altered bill was due to the fact that it was carried in the House of Assembly by a majority of one vote [22 to 21], in a House of 44 members, and at a late hour on the night preceding the prorogation!

Such were the discreditable circumstances under which the bill re-investing the clergy reserves in the Crown was passed. It, however, required the assent of the Queen before it became law. This it was destined never to receive, owing to a technical objection raised in England in the following October, that such a delegation to the Imperial Parliament could not be made by a subordinate authority. This defeat, however, proved to be a moral victory for the vanquished, as it gave them time for farther deliberation; it incited them to greater caution in their mode of warfare, and induced them to adopt tactics of a more secret and, as it proved, effective character.


[104] In the Guardian of September 19th, 1838, the question is put in this form and discussed: "Why do you not appeal to Her Majesty's Privy Council, or to the High Court of Parliament instead of appealing to the public here?" The answer was conclusive.

[Pg 250]



Sir G. Arthur's Partizanship.—State of the Province.

The bill for revesting the clergy reserves in the Crown barely escaped defeat (as just mentioned) in the House of Assembly, on 11th May, 1839. On the 14th Sir George Arthur sent the bill to Lord Normanby (successor to Lord Glenelg) for Her Majesty's assent, with an elaborate despatch. On the 15th, Dr. Ryerson also addressed to Lord Normanby a long letter on the same subject. In it he called the attention of the Colonial Secretary to the following facts, which he discussed at length in his letter:—

1. That the great majority of the House of Assembly in four successive parliaments had remonstrated against the exclusive pretensions of the Church of England in Upper Canada; and that the claims of the Church of England to be the established Church of the Province had from the beginning been steadily denied by such representatives, and elsewhere.

2. That the ground of dissatisfaction in the Province was not merely between the Churches of England and Scotland, but between the high-church party, and the religious denominations and the inhabitants of the Province generally.

3. That from the beginning the House of Assembly had protested against any appropriation of the clergy reserves being made to the Church of England, not granted equally [for educational purposes] to the other Christian denominations.

4. That notwithstanding the annual remonstrances of the House of Assembly, large grants had been paid since 1827, to the Episcopal Clergy, exclusive of grants by the Imperial Parliament and the Propagation Society.

5. That under these circumstances it was not surprising that there should be a widespread and deeply seated dissatisfaction. It is rather surprising that a vestige of British power exists in the Province.

6. That Sir George Arthur has for the last five months endeavoured—by official proclamations and other published[Pg 251] communications through public offices, and by military influences in various parts of the Province—to prevent any expression of opinion on this subject, even by petition to the Legislature.

7. That the Lieutenant-Governor has been induced to make himself a partizan with the Episcopal Church in the clergy reserve discussion; the entire influence of the Executive has been thrown into that scale; the representation of impartial sovereignty has been made the watchword of party.

8. That under the pretense of resisting brigand invasion, large militia forces have been raised; violent penniless partizans have been put on pay in preference to respectable and loyal men; and these forces have not been placed on the frontier where invasion might have been expected, but have been scattered in parties over many parts of the interior, in order to exterminate discontent by silencing complaint.

These, with a reference to the embarrassed financial condition of the Province, were the chief points to which Dr. Ryerson called the attention of the Colonial Secretary in this elaborate letter.

On the 22nd of the same month (May) Dr. Ryerson addressed another vigorous letter to Lord Normanby, on the clergy reserves and kindred questions. "That letter," he says, he writes "with feelings which he has no language to express."

The main points of the letter were as follows:—

1. For thirty years (up to 1820) nothing was heard of an ecclesiastical establishment in the Province: all classes felt themselves equally free, and were, therefore, equally contented and happy.

2. From the first open and unequivocal pretensions to a state establishment being made, the inhabitants of Upper Canada, in every constitutional way, have resisted and remonstrated against it.

3. Every appropriation and grant to the Episcopal clergy out of the lands and funds of the Province has been made in the very teeth of the country's remonstrance.

4. The utter powerlessness of the representative branch of the Legislature has rendered the officers and dependents and partizans of the Executive more and more despotic, overbearing, and reckless of the feelings of the country.

5 This most blighting of all partizanship has been carried into every department of the Executive Government—the magistracy, militia, and even into the administration of justice. Its poison is working throughout the whole body politic; it destroys the peace of the country; rouses neighbour against neighbour; weakens the best social affections of the human[Pg 252] heart, and awakens its worst passions; and converts a healthy and fertile province into a pandemonium of strife, discontent, and civil commotion.

6. While upwards of $220,000 (besides lands) have been given to the Episcopal clergy since 1827, the grants made by the Imperial Parliament to the clergy of Upper Canada amount to over $400,000, being over $620,000 in all.

7. A very large sum has been expended in the erection of Upper Canada College, on the grounds of King's College, and with an endowment of $8,000 or $10,000 a year. This institution is wholly under the management of Episcopal clergymen, while the Upper Canada Academy, which has been built at Cobourg by the Methodists at a cost of about $40,000, could not without a severe struggle get even the $16,000 which were directed to be paid over to it by Lord Glenelg. The matter had to be contested with Sir F. B. Head on the floor of the House of Assembly before he could be induced to obey the Royal instructions. (Page 179.)

8. In the recent legislation on the clergy reserve question, the high church party resisted every measure by which the Methodist Church might obtain a farthing's aid to the Upper Canada Academy. And, to add insult to injury, the high church people denounce Methodists as republicans, rebels, traitors, and use every possible epithet and insinuation of contumely because they complain, reason, and remonstrate against such barefaced oppression and injustice—notwithstanding that not a single member of that church has been convicted of complicity with the late unhappy troubles in the Province.

9. A perpetuation of the past and present obnoxious and withering system, will not only continue to drive thousands of industrious farmers and tradesmen from the country, but will prompt thousands more, before they will sacrifice their property and expatriate themselves, to advocate constitutionally, openly, and decidedly, the erection of an "independent kingdom," as has been suggested by the Attorney-General, as best both for this province and Great Britain.

10. It rests with Her Majesty's Government to decide whether or not the inhabitants shall be treated as strangers and helots; whether the blighted hopes of this province shall wither and die, or revive, and bloom, and flourish; whether Her Majesty's Canadian subjects shall be allowed the legitimate constitutional control of their own earnings, or whether the property sufficient to pay off the large provincial debt shall be wrested from them; whether honour, loyalty, free and responsible government are to be established in this province, or whether our resources are to be absorbed in support of pretensions[Pg 253] which have proved the bane of religion in the country; have fomented discord; emboldened, if not prompted, rebellion; turned the tide of capital and emigration to other shores; impaired public credit; arrested trade and commerce, and caused Upper Canada to stand "like a girdled tree," its drooping branches mournfully betraying that its natural nourishment has been deliberately cut off.

In a third and concluding letter to Lord Normanby, Dr. Ryerson uses this language:—

The great body of the inhabitants of this province will not likely again petition on the question of the clergy reserves and a church establishment in this province. They will express their sentiments at the hustings with a vengeance, to the confusion of the men who have deceived, and misrepresented, and wronged them; ... A petition would acknowledge the right of the Imperial Parliament to interfere—which ought not to be admitted. If past expressions of public sentiment will not satisfy Her Majesty's Government, none other can do it; and more efficient means (such as the coming elections), must and ought to be adopted, instead of the fruitless method of asking by petition for what has been guaranteed to the constituencies of the country as a right.

The validity of the recent Act of the Legislature, revesting the reserves in the Crown, never will be acknowledged, or recognized by the electors of this province. Any Ministers of the Crown in England would more than lose their places, who should press through the House of Commons, on the last night of the session, in a thin house, a great public measure which had not only been repealed by four successive parliaments, but had been negatived from six to twelve times during the same session of the existing parliament. Nor would the British nation ever submit to any public measure (much less to loss of the control of one-seventh of their lands, and the infliction upon them of an uncongenial ecclesiastical system) which had been forced upon them.

The declarations of the Representative of Royalty have heretofore been regarded in this province as sacred and inviolable; but the reliance of the Canadian electors upon those declarations from the lips of Sir Francis Head has cost them bloodshed, bankruptcy, and misery.... The electors will employ the elective franchise to redress their accumulated wrongs to the last farthing.

It is, of course, my good or bad fortune to be assailed from week to week, whether I write or not.... I am no theorist. I advocate no change in the Constitution of the Province. I have never written a paragraph the principles of which could not be carried out in accordance with the letter and spirit of[Pg 254] the established Constitution. I desire nothing more than the free and impartial administration of that Constitution for the benefit of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. I only oppose or support men, or measures, for the attainment of that object.

Entertaining such strong feelings in regard to the personal conduct of Sir George Arthur in respect to the passage of the clergy reserve bill, Dr. Ryerson felt that he could not accept any social courtesy at his hands. In reply, therefore, to an invitation from Sir George, for Her Majesty's birthday, he felt constrained to decline it. In his letter to the A.D.C., he said:—

After the most mature deliberation up to the last moment in which it is proper to reply, I feel it my duty respectfully to decline the honour of His Excellency's invitation. I most firmly believe that the office of impartial sovereignty has been employed by His Excellency for partial purposes; that an undue and an unconstitutional exercise of the office of royalty has been employed by His Excellency to influence the public mind, and the decisions of our constitutional tribunals on pending and debatable questions between equally loyal and deserving classes of Her Majesty's subjects in this Province; that His Excellency has also employed the influence of the high office of the Queen's representative to procure and afterwards express his cordial satisfaction at the passing of a Bill, in a thin House, on the very last night of the session, the provisions of which had been repeatedly negatived by a considerable majority of the people's representatives, and which deprive the faithful but embarrassed inhabitants of this Province of the control of a revenue and lands sufficient in value to pay off the whole public debt—a proceeding at complete variance with the fair and constitutional administration of a free monarchical government, and the imperial usages since the accession of the present Royal Family to the throne of Great Britain; and, finally, that His Excellency has employed the influence of his high office to the disparagement of the large section of the religious community whose views, rights, and interests, I have been elected to my present offices to advocate and promote.

I beg that my declining the honour proposed by His Excellency may not be construed into any disrespect to His Excellency personally, or to the high office His Excellency holds—for the inviolableness and dignity of which I feel the jealous veneration of a loyal subject—but I beg that it may be attributed solely to a fixed determination not to do anything that may in the slightest degree tend to weaken, but on the contrary, to use every lawful means, on all occasions, to advance those civil and religious interests which I am most fully convinced are essential to the happy preservation of a prosperous British Government in this country, and to the happiness and welfare of the great body of Her Majesty's Canadian subjects.

In order to insure the assent of Her Majesty to the Bill which had been sent to the Colonial Secretary by Sir George Arthur, the authorities of the Church of England in the Province circulated a petition for presentation to the Queen and the British Parliament[105] containing the following statement and request:—

"Your petitioners, consisting of the United Empire Loyalists and their children, took refuge in this Province after the American Revolution, under the impression that they possessed the same constitution as that of[Pg 255] the Mother Country, which includes a decent provision for the administration of the Word and Sacraments according to the forms of the Church of England."

The prayer of the petition was—

That the proceeds of the clergy reserve lands be applied to the maintenance of such clergy, and of a bishop to superintend the same, so that the ministrations of our Holy Religion may be afforded without charge[106] to the inhabitants of every township in the Province.

Dr. Ryerson, having with difficulty procured a copy of this petition, pointed out in the Guardian of July 3rd, 1839: 1st. Its historical misstatements, and denounced the selfish and exclusive character of its demands. He showed in effect that the Province was settled in 1783, whereas the constitutional Act (which was invoked as though it had existed long before that date), was not passed until 1791—eight years after "the United Empire Loyalists and their children took refuge in Upper Canada." 2nd. That for forty years and more, nine-tenths of the United Empire Loyalists and their descendants, with all their "impressions," might have perished in heathen ignorance had not some other than the Episcopal clergy cared for their spiritual interests; and that after these forty years of slumbering and neglect, and after the incorporation of the great body of the old Loyalists and their descendants into other churches, the Episcopal clergy came in, and now seek, on the strength of these apocryphal "impressions" (which never could have existed), to claim one-seventh of the lands of the Province as their heritage.[107] In proof of these facts Dr. Ryerson referred to the testimony of fifty-two witnesses, given before a select Committee of the House of Assembly in 1828, and published in full at that time.[Pg 256]

I have purposely abstained from making any special reference to discussions in the clergy reserve question with which Dr. Ryerson had no connection. An important one, however, took place between Hon. Wm. Morris and Archdeacon Strachan in 1838-39, chiefly in regard to the claims of the Church of Scotland. Mr. Morris, however, did good service in the general discussion.

In November, 1838, Dr. Ryerson received a letter from Thomas Farmer, Esq., of London, England, in regard to the Centenary Celebration, to which he replied as follows:—

Our prospects as a country are rather gloomy. We have lately had the excitement and loss produced by Lord Durham's departure, and the second rebellion in Lower Canada, followed in a few days by a brigand invasion of this province to distract and destroy us. You refer to a Centenary Offering. I cannot say what we shall be able to do. We have not the slightest provision yet for the education of preacher's children; nor a contingent fund to aid poor circuits, or to relieve the distressed preachers' families; and an unpaid for Book Room, and not an entirely paid for Academy;—all of which subjects have engaged our most anxious consideration;—but in the present entirely unsettled state of our public affairs, we scarcely know what to do in respect to the future. We cannot, therefore, as yet fix upon the objects of our Centenary Offering.

The Methodist Centenary Year occurred in 1839. The Conference set apart the 25th October for its celebration,

By holding religious "services in all of our chapels and congregations, for the purpose of calling to mind the great things which the Lord has done for us as a people; of solemnly recognizing our obligations and responsibilities to our Heavenly Father; and of imploring, on behalf of ourselves and the whole Wesleyan Methodist family throughout the world, a continuance and increase of religious happiness, unity and prosperity."

Meetings were held all over the Province during the months of August, September and October, for the collection of a centenary offering, to be applied to the Superannuation Fund, Book Room, Parsonages, Missionary, and other objects. Dr. Ryerson, as one of a deputation, attended a large number of meetings. Writing from Brockville, he mentions the fact that he

Stopped at a graveyard, a few miles west of Prescott, to survey the graves of some of the honoured dead. The remains of Mrs. Heck, the devoted matron who urged Philip Embury (the first Methodist preacher in America) to lift up his voice in the city of New York, in 1766, are deposited here.


[105] See note on page 224.

[106] This selfish demand—"that the ministrations of our Holy Religion be afforded without charge to the inhabitants of every township" (in which members of the Church of England were persistently educated in those days)—was most unfortunate in its influence on the Church, and has borne bitter fruit in these later times. Its legitimate effect has been to dry up the sources of Christian benevolence, paralyze the arm of Christian effort, and secularize, if not render impossible, any successful plan of Church extension and missionary work. Witness the almost complete failure (as compared with other Christian bodies) to raise sufficient funds to support even the limited number of Home missions in most of the dioceses, and the nearly hopeless task of infusing a genuine missionary zeal in behalf of the "regions beyond."

[107] It should be noted, in connection with this petition, that one most important part of its prayer was granted in that year—viz., the appointment of the Archdeacon (who went to England to present the petitions and to receive the appointment) as first Bishop of Toronto. His patent bears date, 27th July, 1839. The other part of the prayer was also granted, but not until 1840, when Lord John Russell, then Colonial Secretary, by an unprecedented and unlooked for stretch of official authority, but no doubt with the assent of his colleagues, introduced a bill into the House of Commons to do what even he and other Colonial Secretaries had deprecated doing—viz., the re-investing of the reserves in the Crown. Dr. Ryerson, then in England, strongly protested against this act of provincial spoliation and legislative invasion, but the bill became law. (See next chapter.)

[Pg 257]



The New Era—Lord Durham and Lord Sydenham.

In the midst of the gloom which overspread the Province, in consequence of the long continued exercise of irresponsible and arbitrary power on the part of the local executive, Dr. Ryerson, like many other loyal-hearted Canadians, rejoiced at the advent of Lord Durham,—a man possessed of plenary powers to inquire into and report on the grievances existing in Canada. Those who wished to perpetuate the reign of the ruling party, strongly deprecated Dr. Ryerson's advocacy of Lord Durham's schemes of reform. One of the most respectable organs[108] of that party (Neilson's Quebec Gazette) in a complimentary editorial on Dr. Ryerson (in May, 1839), expressed regret that a man "of his undoubted talents and great industry" should have endorsed Lord Durham's system of Responsible Government. In the Guardian of the 5th June, Dr. Ryerson replied, pointing out the fair and equitable system of Responsible Government advocated by Lord Durham, as compared with the crude one put forth by Messrs. W. L. Mackenzie and L. J. Papineau. He then illustrates the necessity for the reform proposed by Lord Durham, by referring to the arbitrary and irresponsible acts of Sir Francis Head. He said:—

The published word of the Representative of Royalty had [until Sir F. B. Head's time] been sacred and inviolable in Upper Canada; the majority of the people believed him. In 1836 they elected a House of Assembly in accordance with his wishes. He fulfilled his pledges by dismissing many of the magistrates and militia officers, because they voted against his candidates at the elections, and finished his career by plunging the country into misery, and thereby insuring its ruin.

Now, where (he asked) was the "responsibility" under which ... such a Governor acts? He abuses the confidence reposed in him,—where is his censure? He disobeys the orders given[Pg 258] him from England,—where is his punishment? He ruins men [Bidwell, etc.] whom he was ordered to appoint,—where is their redress, and his accountability? They are exiles, and he is made a Baronet! He disgraces and degrades numbers of persons without colour of reason, or justice, or law—yet they are without redress, and he is even without reproof. He tramples upon the orders from Her Majesty's Government, and attacks her ministers in their places—then returns to England, and boasts of his disobedience.... And there are those who tell us of the responsibility of our Governors to the Queen and Parliament!... The history of Sir F. B. Head's administration is enough to make the veriest bigot a convert to "Responsible Government."

For these and other important reasons it can be seen how the great question of the day (in 1839) was that of responsible government for these provinces. Dr. Ryerson and others had written freely on the subject, claiming that the government of the country should be administered, as it was then expressed—"according to the well understood wishes of the people." This could only be done by men representing their wishes, and responsible to the legislature for their exercise of power and for every official act of the Governor.

In October, Dr. Ryerson received a letter on this subject from a well-known advocate of the principle of responsible government in Nova Scotia—Hon. Joseph Howe. He said:—

May I beg your acceptance of a little work on responsible government, the object of which is to advance the good cause in which you have so heartily and with so much ability embarked. It is a great satisfaction to the friends of responsible government here, that the cause has been taken up in Canada by men about whose intentions and loyalty there can be no mistake. So long as we deprive the family compact of their only defence, which the folly of rebels and sympathizers raised for them, and act together without just cause for suspicion that we are anything but what we say, there can be little doubt of ultimate success. Should your electors return a majority favourable to responsibility at the next election, and all the colonies unite in one demand, it will be yielded. Our legislature, and any that can be chosen here, will uphold the principle. So will the majorities in Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. I cannot speak with certainty, but hope they will soon understand the question thoroughly in that province. It may be necessary for all the provinces to send delegates at the same time to England, to claim to be heard on the subject at the Bar of the Commons and Lords, and to diffuse, through every fair channel, correct views of the question. Think of this, and drop me a line at your leisure.

This Dr. Ryerson did in due time.

The coming of Lord Durham was the first harbinger of better days for Canada. His mission was one of enquiry, and for the suggestion of remedial measures. The mission of Mr. Poulett Thompson (who followed Lord Durham as Governor-[Pg 259]General) was hailed with delight by the people generally. He came to give practical effect to pressing measures of reform—to unite the provinces, and to introduce a new element of strength into the administrative system of the country.

The year 1839 was noted for the enthusiasm with which "Durham Meetings" were held throughout Upper Canada. These meetings were for the purpose of endorsing the famous report of Lord Durham, and for approving of the many valuable reforms which that report suggested. Much opposition and even violence characterized these meetings; but they revived and again inaugurated the right of free speech on public questions. The only record which Dr. Ryerson has left of this period of his history is as follows:—

In 1838 I yielded to persuasion and remonstrances, and was again re-elected Editor, and continued as such until June, 1840, when I relinquished finally all connection with the Editorship of the Christian Guardian.

It was during this period, from 1833 to 1840, that the most important events transpired in Upper Canada; the controversy respecting the clergy reserves, and a church establishment, was steadily and earnestly maintained.

The constitution of Lower Canada was suspended for two years, and an Executive Council Government was established in its place. The dominant party in Upper Canada by liberal professions succeeded in the elections, in 1836; but, instead of adopting a just and liberal policy, they sought to exclude all Reformers from a share in the Government as virtual rebels, and set themselves to promote a high-church establishment policy, to the exclusion of the Methodists and members of other religious denominations.

This unwise, unjust, and inverted-pyramid policy laid the foundation for a new agitation. The Methodists were the only party capable of coping with the revived high-church policy to crush out the rights of other denominations and the liberties of the country, and to paralyze their influence. The Presbyterians being divided, the Canadian Conference was not to be deterred, or moved from its principles, avowed and maintained for more than ten years; the result was a contest between the English and Canadian Conferences, which culminated in 1840 in a separation of the two bodies, and a conflict of seven years—wholly political—for London Wesleyan, English superiority, and tory ascendancy on the one side, and Canadian Methodist and Canadian liberty on the other side.

[Pg 260]

It is not my purpose to enter into detail, except in so far as Dr. Ryerson became an actor in the new scenes and events which followed the appointment of Mr. Charles Poulett Thompson as Governor-General.

Mr. Poulett Thompson arrived in Quebec on the 19th October, 1839, and in Toronto on the 21st November. As Governor-General, he superseded both Sir John Colborne at Quebec and Sir George Arthur at Toronto.

On the 3rd December, the Governor-General opened the Upper Canada Legislature; and on that very day Dr. Ryerson addressed to him an elaborate letter on the chief object of his mission. In referring to the clergy reserve question, he said:—

For sixteen years this question has been a topic of ceaseless discussion; and one on which the sentiments and feelings of a very large majority of the inhabitants have been without variation expressed; notwithstanding that Governor has succeeded Governor, and party has succeeded party.... From the time when, at the elections of 1824, the sentiments of the country were first called forth to the present moment, its collective voice has demanded, what your Excellency has avowed on another subject, "equal justice to all of Her Majesty's subjects." This question is the parent of social discord in Upper Canada; all the other party questions have originated in this. The elevation of one class above all others in a community where there is little diversity of rank or intelligence, begets a necessity for special means to support that elevation. Hence partizan appointments to office; hence partizan administration of offices; hence party animosities, embittered by the jealousies of conscious weakness on one side, and a deep sense of unmerited exclusion and provocation on the other.... Hence on the one side a selfish, insolent, baseless ecclesiastical and political oligarchy, and, on the other side, an abused, an injured, and dissatisfied country.

The bill providing for the vesting of the proceeds of the reserves in the Imperial Parliament, to which I have referred in the preceeding chapter, was not sanctioned by Her Majesty. This was "a sore blow and a heavy discouragement" to those who had laboured so assiduously to carry such a bill through the local Legislature. The objection raised to it by Lord John Russell was twofold. The chief reason, however, was thus expressed:—

It appeared to Her Majesty's Government that strong objections existed to this delegation to Parliament by a subordinate authority of the power of legislation. The proceeding should have been by address to the three estates of the Realm, asking them to undertake the decision of the question.

[Pg 261]

Thus by a stroke of Lord John Russell's pen, the whole of the pet scheme of the ruling party, devised after three months' anxious local legislation, was irrecoverably lost. And yet it was not lost, for by the after careful manipulation of Lord John and his colleagues by Bishop Strachan, Lord Seaton (Sir John Colborne) and Sir George Arthur, that bill afterwards proved to be, for ten years, the basis of a far more sweeping and unjust measure than even the most reckless and partizan member of the Legislature in Upper Canada would have ventured to propose.

When it was known that Her Majesty had declined to sanction Sir George Arthur's bill, steps were taken by the Governor-General to devise such a measure as would meet with the approval of the great mass of the people in Upper Canada. To aid him in accomplishing this desirable end, Mr. Poulett Thompson privately sought the aid of leading public men in the Province. Having obtained their assistance, he, with the advice of his Council, prepared a compromise measure which was designed to be just and equitable to all parties concerned.

On the 6th January, 1840, the Governor-General sent a message to the House of Assembly, in which he thus outlines the measure which, with his sanction, Hon. Solicitor-General Draper submitted to the House:—

The Governor-General proposes that the remainder of the land should be sold, and the annual proceeds of the whole fund, when realized, be distributed [one half to the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, and the other half among other religious bodies desiring to share in it] for the support of religious instruction within the Province, and for the promotion there, of the great and sacred objects for which these different bodies are established or associated.

On this bill, Dr. Ryerson remarked:—

From this message, the hopelessness of success in any further attempts to get the annual proceeds of the reserves appropriated to exclusively secular objects, is apparent.... Up to the present time I have employed my best efforts, by every kind of argument, persuasion and entreaty, to get the proceeds applied simply and solely to educational purposes.... This is unattainable, and is rendered so by an original provision of our Constitution (of 1791), as stated by the Governor-General.

The bill was fiercely attacked by the then newly-appointed Bishop of Toronto. He denounced it as—

Depriving the National Church of nearly three-fourths of her acknowledged property, and then, in mockery and derision, offering her back a portion of her own, so trifling as to be totally insufficient to maintain her present Establishment; it tramples on the faith of the British Government by destroying the birthright of all the members of the Established Church who are now in the province, or who may hereafter come into it; it promotes error, schism and dissent, and seeks to degrade the clergy of the Church of England to an equality with unauthorized teachers, etc.

[Pg 262]

The Bishop then uttered, that which events proved to be a memorable and true prophecy, that the Church—

Need be under no great apprehension in regard to any measure likely to pass the Provincial Legislature on the subject of the reserves:—reckless injustice in their disposition will not be permitted; although the Church may appear friendless and in peril, from the defection and treachery of some professing members.... If any of her children incline to despondency, let them turn their eyes to England, where we have protectors both numerous and powerful, watching our struggles, and holding out the hand of fellowship and assistance. [See next page.]

Dr. Ryerson at once joined issue with the Bishop, and—

Confuted the pretensions of "John Toronto" by the doctrines and statements of "John Strachan," who, when in England in 1827, published a pamphlet in which he stated that "the provincial legislatures have nothing to do, either directly or indirectly, with the Romish Church; but the same legislatures may vary, repeal, or modify the 31st Geo. III., cap. 31, as far as it respects the Church of England."

Dr. Ryerson pertinently asked the Bishop—

How could a "birthright" be "varied, repealed, or modified," as he had admitted that the constitutional act could do, "as far as it respects the Church of England?" Can (he asks) the Legislature "vary or repeal" the deeds by which individuals hold their lands?—Which of the "dissenting" denominations recognized by law is not as orthodox in doctrine as the Church of England, and far more orthodox than those who endorse the Oxford "Tracts for the Times?"

The bill was finally passed in the House of Assembly, by a vote of 31 to 7, and in the Legislative Council, by a vote of 13 to 4, notwithstanding a remarkably outspoken and defiant speech from the Bishop. In it he used the following language:

Feeling that the bill provides for the encouragement and propagation of error; inflicts the grossest injustice by robbing and plundering the National Church; that it attempts to destroy all distinction between truth and falsehood; that its anti-Christian tendencies lead directly to infidelity, and will reflect disgrace on the Legislature, I give it my unqualified opposition.

The Bishop again utters his prediction, and stated that what he wanted would be secured in England. He said—

At the same time I have no fear of its ever becoming law. But it may be useful, for its monstrous and unprincipled provisions will teach the Imperial Government the folly of permitting a Colonial Legislature to tamper with those great and holy principles of the Constitution, on the preservation of which the prosperity and happiness of the British Empire must ever depend.

Although it was almost impossible to reason with any one who would deliberately use such extravagant language, yet Dr. Ryerson replied to the Bishop's statements seriatim. With a touch of irony, he said:—

After penning such an effusion, the Bishop might well betake himself to the Litany of his Church, and pray the good Lord to deliver him—from all blindness of heart; from pride, vain glory and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness.

[Pg 263]

The fate of the bill is thus described in a statement on the subject, prepared by Dr. Ryerson. What he details clearly reveals the powerful and sympathetic influences which the Bishop of Toronto was able successfully to bring to bear upon "Henry of Exeter"—the then leader of the Bench of Bishops,—and, through him, upon the other Bishops in the House of Lords. Besides, Sir John Colborne (now Lord Seaton) took strong ground in the House of Lords in favour of the views of his old friend, Bishop Strachan, and aided the English Bishops in giving them practical effect. Thus the reiterated prophecy of the Bishop of Toronto was not uttered without abundant foreknowledge. It proved too true. Knowing this, he no doubt felt free to deal in strong language, both against the Legislature of Upper Canada, and the members of the Church of England in both Houses, who were too patriotic, just and reasonable, as well as far-seeing, to second his efforts to aggrandize the Church at the expense, and against the strongly-expressed and oft-repeated wishes, of the majority of the people, of Upper Canada. He said:

On the bill being sent to England (accompanied by a most energetic despatch from the Governor-General, imploring Her Majesty's Government not to disallow, but to sanction it), the Bishop of Exeter moved in the House of Lords, that the question of the right to the clergy reserve property in Canada should be referred to the twelve Judges of England; but the decision of the Judges having proved adverse to the exclusive pretensions of the Bishop of Exeter and his party in England and Canada, the English Bishops then conferred with Lord John Russell, in order to set aside Lord Sydenham's Canadian bill, and introduce one into the Imperial Parliament which would accomplish as far as possible the objects aimed at by referring the question to the Judges. Lord John Russell became a consenting party and agent in this unconstitutional act of injustice and spoliation against the rights and feelings of a large majority of the people of Upper Canada. It was against this act that Messrs. W. and E. Ryerson (then in England), on behalf of the Wesleyan Church in Canada, remonstrated in an elaborate and strongly-worded letter to Lord John Russell—the only communication of the kind made by any religious body in Canada against the bill while it was before the British Parliament, or for several years afterwards.

Knowing the strong influences which had been brought to bear upon Mr. Poulett Thompson against Dr. Ryerson, by Sir George Arthur (page 193), and against the Methodist body generally by interested parties in this discussion, Dr. Ryerson addressed a letter to the Governor-General on the 25th March, 1840, in which he reviewed the course of the Guardian and his own attitude on public questions during the preceding ten years. The letter was evidently written with deep feeling, and under a keen sense of the injustice done to the Methodist people by means of the prolonged and persistent misrepresentation of these years. He said:—

I address your Excellency with feelings of the highest respect and strong affection. You are the first Governor of Canada who has exerted his personal[Pg 264] influence and the authority of his station, to accomplish that in Upper Canada which has been avowed and promised by every Colonial-Secretary during the last ten years—framing enactments and administering the Government for the equal protection and benefit of all classes of Her Majesty's Canadian subjects.... In doing so, your Excellency has been told that you have patronized "republicans and rebels."... The Guardian, which you have been pleased to honour with an expression of your approbation, has been charged with opposite crimes from different quarters.... You have been told that the ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church—whose rights you have justly and kindly consulted—have formerly come from the United States; and that the Guardian, during the first years of its existence, was nothing but a vehicle of radicalism, disaffection, and sedition.... As to the former, I may say that the Methodist ministers have not come from ... the United States during the last twenty years.... As to the latter, I furnish three columns of extracts from the Guardian, ... from which the following may be adduced:—

1. That in 1830 I entertained less friendship towards our American neighbours than I do in 1840.

2. That in 1830 I advocated the very principles in the administration of the Provincial Government that your Excellency has declared to be the basis of your administration in 1840.

3. That in 1830 I was as strongly opposed to an exclusive, or sectarian, spirit as I am in 1840.

4. That the very advice which I gave to the electors in 1830, as to their rights and interests, I could now repeat with a view to support your Excellency's administration.

5. That the very principles upon which your Excellency has commenced your administration, ... were actually promised and assured to the people of Upper Canada by a Tory Government in 1830.

In 1830 the Colonial-Secretary and Sir John Colborne proclaimed the "good laws and free institutions," and the non-preference system amongst religious denominations, which your Excellency is determined to carry into practice.... When the hopes created by these avowals have not only been deferred for these years, but those who have indulged these hopes have been maligned and proscribed for constitutionally seeking a realization of them, you cannot be surprised if many of their hearts have been made sick, and that confidence and hope has yielded to distrust and despair.

The Governor-General, through his private secretary, often requested Dr. Ryerson, while Editor of the Guardian, to correct misstatements which were made in regard to His Excellency's proceedings.[109]

After an interview with His Excellency, at his request, Dr. Ryerson, in a letter dated 4th April, 1840, made a practical suggestion[Pg 265] as to the desirability of establishing the Monthly Review, as a means of disseminating the liberal views which he entertained in regard to the future government of this country, and also as an organ of public opinion in harmony with these views. It was at first proposed that Dr. Ryerson should edit the Review, but after fuller consideration of the matter he declined, and the editing and management of it was, at his suggestion, placed in the hands of John Waudby, Esq., Editor of the Kingston Herald. It was issued in Toronto early in 1841, but ceased on the death of Lord Sydenham, in September of that year. In Dr. Ryerson's letter to the Governor he said:—

About a fortnight after your Excellency left Toronto, I happened in the course of conversation with Hon. R. B. Sullivan to mention the subject of establishing a monthly periodical, such as I had mentioned to you. Mr. Sullivan was anxious that something of the kind should be undertaken; I stated to him that I understood that your Excellency would highly approve of such a publication, if it could be successfully established. Mr. Sullivan pressed me to prepare a prospectus and submit it for your Excellency's consideration. I drew up a prospectus, and got an estimate of the cost, covering all expenses. Mr. Sullivan fully concurred in the prospectus, except the first paragraph. He was afraid it might be construed into an expression of opinion in favour of "responsible Government," and proposed another paragraph in place of it. The one was as acceptable to me as the other. A feeling of apprehension and embarrassment at the responsibilities of such an undertaking, and the course of exertion which a successful accomplishment of it would require, has deterred me from forwarding, until now, the accompanying prospectus for your Excellency's perusal and signification of your pleasure thereon.[110][Pg 266]

I cannot but see that the public mind in this country is in a chaotic state, without any controlling current of feeling, or fixed principle of action, in civil affairs; but susceptible, by proper management and instruction, of being cast into any mould of rational opinion and feeling; yet liable, without judicious direction, to fall into a state of "confusion worse confounded." I know that now is the time—perhaps the only time—to establish our institutions and relations upon the cheapest, the surest, and the only permanent foundation of any system, or form of Government—the sentiments and feelings of the population. But I alone have not the means or the power of contributing to the accomplishment of these objects. To the utmost of my humble abilities and acquirements, I am willing to exert myself; and that without a shillings' remuneration—although my present salary is less than £200 per annum. I believe the government about to be established in these provinces may be made the most enduring and loftiest memorial of your Excellency's fame, and the greatest earthly blessing to its inhabitants; and it will be to me a source of satisfaction to contribute towards the formation and cementing of materials for the erection of a monument at once so honourable to its founder, and so beneficial to Her Majesty's Canadian subjects.

The personal influence of your Excellency in Lower Canada will be required to induce two or three of the cleverest men in Lower Canada to contribute to the columns of the Review; especially on questions and subjects which grow out of the state and structure of society in that province. Mr. Sullivan thinks he will be able to contribute one, if not two, articles for each number. I am acquainted with several other gentlemen who are competent to contribute very ably on some subjects. I know from experience that furnishing matter for any periodical, as well as giving it character, must chiefly devolve upon the conductor of it. He must give it soul, if it have any; he must combine, concentrate, and direct its power. And such a publication, got up under so high and favourable auspices, and properly conducted, and embodying the productions of the leading minds of both provinces, cannot fail to prove an engine of immense and even irresistible moral power in the country; and must materially contribute to its intellectual as well as political elevation.

As to my own views and feelings, I would greatly prefer retiring altogether from any connection with the press in all discussions of civil affairs in every shape and form, and I can consistently and honourably do so in June. But if this course be not justifiable in the present circumstances of the province; if it be deemed expedient for me still to take a part in public matters, I am sensible I ought to do more than I do now, or can do through the organ of a religious body. The relation, character and objects of the publication I now conduct, impose a restriction upon the topics and illustrations which are requisite to an effective discussion of political questions. Under such circumstances I can neither do justice to myself, nor to the subjects on which I occasionally remark, or might discuss.

I have felt the more disposed to make this communication, because your Excellency's avowed system and policy of Government is but carrying out and reducing to practice those views of civil polity in Canada which have guided my public life, as your Excellency will have observed from the articles and references which have appeared in the Guardian. I have been defeated and disappointed heretofore, because the local executive itself has been for the most part rather the head of a party, than the Government of the country, and the opposition, or "Reform" party, has often gone to equal extremes of selfishness and extravagance; so that I have occupied the unenviable and uncomfortable position of a sort of break-water—resisting and checking the conflicting waves of mutual party violence, convinced that the exclusive and absolute ascendancy of either party would be destructive of the ends of just Government, and public happiness; a position which, previously[Pg 267] to your Excellency's arrival in Canada, I had determined to abandon, as I found myself possessed of no adequate means of accomplishing any permanent good by occupying it.

I think the appearance in this province of Lord John Russell's despatch on "Responsible Government" is timely. The "Reformers" are too fully committed to Government to fly off; and a large portion of the old "Conservative" party are glad of an excuse to change their position. Neither party can triumph, as both must concede something. This mutual concession will prepare the way for mutual forbearance, and ultimately for co-operation and union. Having perceived that the Editor of the Examiner was seeking, under the pretence of supporting the Government, to get a House of Assembly returned, consisting wholly of the old Reformers, who had identified themselves in 1834-5-6, with the Papineau party of Lower Canada, I thought it desirable to check such a design in the bud, by insisting upon the support of Hon. W. H. Draper, and that he should be returned upon the same grounds as those of Mr. Baldwin. The elucidation and description of this one case will affect the position of parties in the character of the elections throughout the province, and make them turn, not upon Lord Durham's "Report," or any of the old questions of difference, but upon your Excellency's administration. This, I have no doubt, with a little care, will, in most instances be the case. Thus will the members returned from Upper Canada, be isolated from the French anti-unionists of Lower Canada, and be more fully, both in obligation and feeling, identified with the Government. I have not, therefore, been surprised at the Examiner's indignation, as it is so ultra, and thorough a partizan, and as it has some discernment, though but little prudence.

In reply, the Private Secretary of the Governor-General said:

I am to express to you His Excellency's approbation of the plans you have suggested, and he desires me to say that he requests that you will visit Montreal, on your way to New York, as he is anxious to see you on the subject contained in your letter.

The Special Council meets this day for the first time.

The Secretary further added:—

His Excellency agrees that the line which you have taken is most judicious. There is no doubt that the gentleman to whom you refer is doing very great mischief both to Hon. Robert Baldwin and the Government, by the extremes to which he is pushing his cry for responsible government, and his opposition to Hon. W. H. Draper.

Dr. Ryerson (who was on his way to the General Conference at Baltimore) in a note, dated Montreal, 4th May, said:—

The Governor-General having kindly invited me to visit him and converse on matters relating to public affairs, I did so, and was most cordially received by him. I also had a long interview with him on Friday afternoon, and am desired to spend the evening with him on Saturday. His Excellency has given every requisite information as to his plans. I am thus enabled to accomplish the object of my visit far beyond what I expected when I left home.

In a letter from New York (dated 9th May) Dr. Ryerson said:—Much to my surprise to-day, while in New York on my way to Baltimore, I received a note from the Governor-General's Secretary, T. W. C. Murdoch, Esq., as follows:[Pg 268]

By direction of the Governor-General I send you the enclosed bill of exchange for £100 stg., the receipt of which I would request you to acknowledge.

You will have seen the English papers which hold out every prospect that both the Union and the Clergy Reserve Bills will be satisfactorily settled. I feel that I may congratulate you, and every friend of Canada, on such a result.

I acknowledged this kind and generous act, but at once returned the Bill of Exchange to His Excellency—at the same time respectfully assuring him, that under no circumstances could I receive anything for what I had done, or might do, to support the policy and administration of Her Majesty's Government, in the peculiar circumstances of the Province.

One of the chief points discussed in Upper Canada, in connection with the proposed union of the provinces, was the effect it would have on the Protestant character of the government and institutions of the county. Mr. John W. Gamble, a public man, and a leading member of the Church of England, in Vaughan, writing to Dr. Ryerson on the subject, said:—

I feel deeply the conviction that the time has now arrived when Protestants must sink all points of minor consideration, and unite in defence of our common faith. The union of the provinces will most assuredly result in giving not only a preponderance, but a large majority to the Roman Catholics in the united legislature; and this taken in conjunction with the plans now in operation for pouring a large Roman Catholic population into these provinces, surely ought not only to excite the fears, but rouse the energies of those who know and love the truth as it is in Jesus. I am altogether ignorant of your opinion upon the union question, but I call upon you as a Protestant to unite with me in endeavouring to avert the threatened calamity.

Mr. Gamble was for many years afterwards an earnest opponent in the Legislature of United Canada of the extension of the Separate School system in the province.

Although greatly enfeebled in health, yet Dr. Ryerson's Mother was enabled to write to him occasionally. In a letter written by her in 1839, after returning from seeing him, she said:—

I suppose you are anxious to know the state of my mind. I yet feel that the Lord is my trust, and I am waiting daily till my change come. I feel that when the "earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, I have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Dear Egerton, I feel very much as I did when I left you—a great deal of weakness. I am anxious to live to see you all once more, perhaps for the last time. Do not neglect to come up, one and all, as soon as convenient, if you only stay one day. When you come fetch some books, such as you think would be profitable for me, and one of your good-sized Bibles; also three of your likenesses. I thought that your Father had brought them up when he came. Do not fail to come up and see us. Don't let me be denied the happiness of seeing you soon.


[108] The organs of that party in Upper Canada spoke of Dr. Ryerson's advocacy of Lord Durham's reforms with far less courtesy, and for obvious reasons.

[109] Thus in a note dated 8th April, 1840, the Private Secretary said:—I know that His Excellency would wish you to comment on Lord John's despatch in the sense in which it is treated in the Montreal Gazette. [This was done in the Guardian of 15th April.] There is no doubt also that it is absurd in Hon. Henry Sherwood to pretend that he is supporting the Government when he opposes their own Solicitor-General, but not less so in the Examiner to support him and oppose Mr. Draper, or to stand up for a kind of responsible government which both His Excellency and Lord John Russell have declared to be inadmissible. I know that His Excellency would wish you to do everything in your power to support both Mr. Draper and Mr. Baldwin. Should any article come out which you consider would interest His Excellency, may I request you to send me a copy.

[110] The following was the prospectus agreed upon and issued:—

A Monthly Review, Devoted to the Civil Government of Canada.

The Canadas have been united under an amended constitution; the foundation has been laid for an improved system of government. The success of that constitution will greatly depend upon a correct understanding and a just appreciation of its principles; and the advantages of the new system of government will be essentially influenced by the views and feelings of the inhabitants of the Canadas themselves. At a period so eventful, and under circumstances so peculiar, it is of the utmost importance that the principles of the constitution should be carefully analysed, and dispassionately expounded; that the relations between this and the Mother Country, and the mutual advantages connected with those relations, should be explained and illustrated; the duties of the several branches of the government and the different classes of the community, stated and enforced; the natural, commercial, and agricultural resources and interests of these Provinces investigated and developed; a comprehensive and efficient system[a] of public education discussed and established; the subject of emigration practically considered in proportion to its vast importance; the various measures adapted to promote the welfare of all classes of the people originated and advocated; and a taste for intellectual improvement and refinement encouraged and cultivated.

As the Editor's views on all the leading questions of Canadian policy accord with those of His Excellency the Governor-General, who has been pleased to approve of the plan of the Monthly Review, it will be enabled to state correctly the facts and principles on which the government proceeds; yet the writers alone will be held responsible for whatever they may advance.

[a] Dr. Ryerson, who wrote this prospectus, evidently had in view such a system of Education as he afterwards established.

[Pg 269]



Proposal to leave Canada—Dr. Ryerson's Visit to England.

The year 1840 is somewhat memorable in the Methodistic history of Upper Canada, for three things: 1st. The final retirement of Dr. Ryerson from the editorship of the Christian Guardian; 2nd. Visit of Revs. William and Egerton Ryerson to England, and the painful, yet fruitless, discussions with a Committee of the British Conference on the lapsed Union; 3rd. The annual and special Canada Conferences of that year—at the latter of which the formal separation of the British and Canadian sections of the Conference took place under peculiarly affecting circumstances.

Dr. Ryerson and his brother John attended the American General Conference at Baltimore, May, 1840. In a letter from there he said:—

The Methodist Connexion here are much in advance of us, and, as a whole, even of the British Connexion. I have never seen a more pious, intelligent, and talented body of men than the preachers assembled here at Conference; nor more respectable, intelligent congregations. The manners of the people in these Middle States are very like the manners of intelligent people in Upper Canada—alike removed from the English haughtiness and Yankee coldness—simple, frank, and unaffected. Bishops Roberts, Soule, Hedding and Waugh dined with us to-day. They are venerable and apostolic men. We have had cordial invitations to come to this country, and did we consult our own comfort, brother John and I would do so without hesitation. Bishop Hedding hopes to visit us at our approaching Conference. Rev. R. Newton, of England, will not visit Canada. Mr. —— has told him that it was not worth while to go to Canada; and all that can be said to induce him to come is unavailing. We in Canada are not worth so much trouble, or notice!

In a letter from Baltimore, dated May 25th, 1840, Dr. Ryerson states the reason why he proposed to leave Canada:—

I am still at the General Conference. Rev. Dr. Bangs says that I ought to remain until the close. After much consideration I have decided upon a step which, for many reasons, appears desirable. Instead of coming to this country for a few months, in order to avail myself of some collegiate lectures, to pursue certain branches of science, I have concluded and have made arrangements to take a station in the city of New York for one, if not for[Pg 270] two years. My brother John would have done the same if we could have both left Canada this year. If things in the province do not go on better with us he will do so another year. I have seen the new constitution which is about to be adopted by the British Parliament for the future Government of Canada. I do not approve of it. To interfere any more in civil contentions will be wasting the best part of my life to little purpose, for there seems to be no end to such things. To remain in Canada and be silent, will incur the hostility of both parties. The government will regard my neutrality as opposition, and the popular party will view it as indifference to the rights of the people; and, in such circumstances, I shall neither be useful nor happy. While, therefore, I am on good terms with the Government and the country at large, my brother thinks with me that it is by all means best to withdraw from such scenes. I have the offer of one of the three or four largest Methodist Chapels in New York. I shall be appointed to one of the largest and most elegant in the city, where all the great public meetings are held. There are, however, three or four vacant, equally desirable. I much prefer this to my taking a district in Canada. I would not return to the Guardian again for any earthly consideration.

Dr. Ryerson went to the Conference at Belleville after his return from Baltimore. Writing from there, he said:—

Previously to proceeding to elect the Secretary, an English brother remarked that he had certain communications from the Committee in London, which he wished to read. I observed that no communications could be read until the Conference was organized, and the Conference could not be organized until the Secretary was elected. The brother persevered, and then stated that the documents referred to me. I then arose, and observed that the proceeding was at variance with law, Methodism, and justice. The Conference was justly roused to indignation by my remarks, which were followed by some observations from my brother John, in the same strain. Not a man spoke in favour of the English brother's proceeding, and he was compelled to withdraw his proposal. Such an anti-Methodistic and barbarous attempt to sacrifice me (as some of the preachers afterwards expressed it), excited a strong feeling in my favour, and, I was told, increased my majority of votes for the Secretaryship. When the Conference balloted for Secretary, the votes stood as follows:—Matthew Richey, 1; Anson Green, 1; Wm. Case, 2; E. Evans, 12; Egerton Ryerson, 43. The circumstance has so deeply affected me, that I feel it to be like tearing soul from body to be separated from brethren who stand by me in the day of trial, and who will not suffer me, as one of them expressed it to me, to be sacrificed at the pleasure of my enemies.[111] But I see no reason to change my purposes; and[Pg 271] my brother John thinks I can do more good to the Connexion by being in New York, than by remaining in Canada.

I desire, with humble dependence upon the wisdom and providence of God, to commit my all to Him. I hunger and thirst after the mind which was in Christ Jesus.

Subsequently Dr. Ryerson wrote, saying:—

My plans in regard to the United States must now be changed. The charges of the London Committee, and the state of the Connexion in regard to the Union, render my absence from the Province, in the judgment of my brethren, unjustifiable and out of the question. Some of the preachers insist that I must go to England, and meet Mr. Alder before the British Conference. Such a mission is not impossible, but, I hope, not probable.

After the election of Secretary, the charges against Dr. Ryerson were read. They were embodied in a resolution to the effect that he had improperly interfered and sought to deprive the British Conference of its annual grant from the Imperial Government for the extension of missions in the province. The resolution was negatived by a vote of 59 to 8, and a series of resolutions sustaining Dr. Ryerson, in the strongest manner, was passed. He and his brother William were appointed as Representatives at the British Conference, with directions "to use all proper means to prevent collision between the two Connexions."

As intimated in Dr. Ryerson's letter from Baltimore, he decided to retire finally from the Editorship of the Christian Guardian. This he did at the Belleville Conference, and on the 24th of June, 1840, he laid down his pen as Editor of the Christian Guardian, and was succeeded by Rev. Jonathan Scott. In his valedictory of that date, Dr. Ryerson said:—

The present number of the Guardian closes the connection of the undersigned with the provincial press. To his friends and to those of the public who have confided in him, and supported him in seasons of difficulty and danger, he offers his most grateful acknowledgments; those who have opposed him honourably, he sincerely respects; those who have assailed him personally, he heartily forgives; and of those whose feelings he may have wounded in the heat of discussion, he most humbly asks pardon. While he is deeply sensible of his imperfections, infirmities, and failings, he derives satisfaction from[Pg 272] the consciousness that he has earnestly aimed at promoting the best interests of his adopted church and his native country.

Egerton Ryerson.

Immediately after the close of the annual Conference of 1840, Dr. Ryerson and his brother William left for England. From his diary, written at that time, he had made the following extracts for this work:—

July 22nd, 1840.—After landing at Liverpool, I called upon an old and kind friend, Mr. Michael Ashton, and I had much conversation with him and Rev. R. Young, on the affairs of our mission. I and my brother William arrived in London on the 23rd. Took up our lodgings with my old hostess, 27 Great Ormond Street. Addressed a note to Lord John Russell, on the object of our mission; an interview was appointed for the next day. Went to the House of Commons in the evening, having an order for admission to the Speaker's gallery, through the kindness of Lord Sandon.

July 24th.—Went to the Colonial office; had a long interview with Lord John Russell, on the Canada Clergy Reserve Bill. Mr. [afterwards Sir James] Stephen was present. We pointed out to His Lordship the injustice of the bill, and the probable consequences if it were passed in its present shape. We spoke at some length, but with great plainness; intimating that we regarded the measure as the forfeiture of good faith on the part of Her Majesty's Government, as the violation of the constitutional rights of the inhabitants of Upper Canada, and as the cause of the unpopularity of the British Government in that country. But his Lordship appeared inflexible, and seemed to regard it essential to conciliate the Bishops, but not essential to do what he considered just in itself, or to fulfil the declarations of Government to the inhabitants of Upper Canada, or to consult their oft-expressed views and wishes. In the afternoon we went to see Mr. Charles Buller, but he was not in town. In going through Hyde Park we saw the Queen and Prince Albert, coming from Windsor. We took a hasty view through Westminster Abbey, and in the evening we called upon the Rev. Mr. Stead, formerly a missionary to India, and received from him many useful suggestions respecting the object of our mission.

July 27th.—Prepared a long letter to Lord John Russell on the Canada Clergy Reserve Bill, now before Parliament. Went to the House of Commons in order to hear the debate on the third reading of said bill. Lord John Russell was not present. But we heard a long debate on the China opium trade, etc. Mr. W. E. Gladstone introduced the discussion. Afterwards Sir Robert Peel spoke on the present position of the Church of Scotland in resisting the decision of the House of Lords. Mr. Fox Maule [Lord Panmure] spoke in reply, and contended that the point for which the General Assembly contended was the right of the people to a voice in the choice of their ministers.

July 28th.—Visited the City Road Chapel Grave-yard, the Bank, various book establishments, and St. Paul's Cathedral.

July 30th.—Left London yesterday; entered the city of York by the southwest gate; got a glimpse of the Minster; the country exceedingly beautiful, and in a high state of cultivation. Heard of the death of poor Lord Durham. The attacks upon him in the House of Lords as Governor-General of Canada, the abandonment of him by the Government, the mortification experienced by him in consequence of the Royal disapprobation at his sudden return from Canada before his resignation had been accepted, are said to have hastened, if not caused his death. His heart seems to have been set upon making Canada a happy and a great country, and I think he[Pg 273] intended to rest his fame upon that achievement. He was defeated, disappointed, died! How bright the prospect two years ago—how sudden the change, how sad the termination! Oh, the vanity of earthly power, wealth and glory!

July 29th.—Arrived this morning at Newcastle-upon-Tyne by stage, eighty miles from York. The next morning we went to the Conference, and sent in our cards to Rev. G. Marsden; he came out and kindly received us, and hoped our mission would be for good. We met with a very cool reception from several of the preachers, with whom I was acquainted and on friendly terms during my former visits. Not feeling very well, or very much at home, we enquired our way to our lodgings, and left.

July 31st.—Went to the Conference this morning at 7 a.m. We were furnished with the President's card of admittance, and shown a seat in a corner at the side of the Chapel, and could hear but a part of the debates. In the afternoon we addressed a note to the President, to which we only received a verbal reply.

Aug. 1st.—This morning we were engaged in writing a strong letter to the President concerning our treatment, our position, the objects of our mission, etc., but we were saved the pain of delivering it, as, on our arrival, we were met and introduced as accredited Representatives of the Canada Conference. Rev. J. Stinson and Rev. M. Richey were also introduced at the same time. My brother William then presented the address and resolutions of the Canada Conference. A comfortable seat was now provided for us, in front of the President. Thank God, we now have a right to speak, can take our own part, and maintain the rights and interests we have been appointed to represent!

Aug. 3rd.—The Committee of the last year on Canadian affairs had met and reported:—That the resolutions of the Committee of which the Canadian Conference had complained we unanimously confirmed, and recommended that the Conference appoint a large Committee to whom the Messrs. Ryerson and the documents of the Canadian Conference be referred.

The cases of Circuits proposed to be divided were next taken up. This caused many amusing remarks. Rev. R. Newton thought they were losing the spirit of their fathers in travelling, who had insuperable objections to solitary stations. Dr. Bunting assigned as a reason for the failure of the health of so many young men, the custom of giving up horses: said it was an innovation; quoted some of the last words of Wesley: "I cannot make preachers—I cannot buy preachers—and I will not kill preachers."

A long conversation ensued on the subject of reading the Liturgy generally, and concluded by a resolution that the Liturgy be read on the principal Sabbath at each Conference. On the subject of reading the Liturgy by the preachers themselves, Dr. Bunting said: It was very well for men to spend their strength in preaching, and let others read the prayers, when Methodism was only a Society supplementary to the Church; but having in the order of Providence grown up into an independent and separate Church, the preachers were something more than mere preachers of the Word—they were ministers of the Church, and ought to read as well as preach.

The address of the Irish Conference was read. Rev. T. Jackson said he could bear testimony to the very respectful manner in which the address of the British Conference had been received by the Irish Conference, and he trusted the brethren would understand the import and bearing of that remark. Rev. Mr. Entwistle referred to the liberality and cheerfulness of the Irish preachers in their difficulties, when Dr. Bunting replied that if they had been in such difficulties their heads would have hung down.

Dr. Ryerson's diary ends here. A full account of the interviews[Pg 274] and discussions with the Wesleyan authorities in England are given in the Epochs of Canadian Methodism, pages 407-426. The result was, that the Committee on the subject reported a series of resolutions adverse to the Canada representatives, which were adopted by the Conference after "more than four-fifths of its members had left for their circuits." The pacific resolutions of the Upper Canada Conference were negatived by a majority, and it was declared "that a continuance of the more intimate connection established by the articles of 1833 [was] quite impracticable."

Thus was ignominously ended a union between the two Conferences which had (nominally) existed since 1833, and which had promised such happy results, and thus was inaugurated a period of unseemly strife between the two parties from 1840 to 1847, when it happily ceased. What followed in Upper Canada is thus narrated by Dr. Ryerson:—

The English Conference having determined to secede from the Union which it had entered into with the Canadian Conference in 1833, and to commence aggressive operations upon the Canadian Conference, and its societies and congregations, a special meeting of the Canadian Conference became necessary to meet this new state of things, to organize for resenting the invasion upon its field of labour, and to maintain the cause for which they had toiled and suffered so much for more than half a century.

The prospects of the Canada Conference were gloomy in the extreme; the paucity of ministers, and the poverty of resources in comparison to the English Conference, besides numerous other disadvantages; but the ministers of the Canadian Conference with less than a dozen individual exceptions, had hearts of Canadian oak, and weapons of New Jerusalem steel, and were determined to maintain the freedom of the Church, and the liberties of their country, whatever might be the prestige or resources of their invaders; and "according to their faith it was done unto them;" out of weakness they waxed strong. They sowed in tears, they reaped in joy. Their weeping seed-sowing was followed by rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.

The Special Conference caused by these events was held in the Newgate (Adelaide) Street Church in October, 1840. The venerable Thomas Whitehead, then in his 87th year, opened the proceedings, after which Rev. William Case was elected to preside. Rev. Mr. Whitehead was subsequently elected President. Dr. Ryerson was elected Secretary, but declined, and Rev. J. C. Davidson was appointed in his place. The whole matter of differences between the two Conferences was discussed at[Pg 275] great length, and with deep feeling on the part of the speakers. Dr. Ryerson spoke for five hours, and his brother William for nearly three. Finally a series of eleven resolutions were adopted, strongly maintaining the views of the Canadian Representatives to England, and protesting—

Against the Methodistic or legal right or power of the Conference in England to dissolve, of its own accord, articles and obligations which have been entered into with this Conference by mutual consent.

In consequence of the adoption of these resolutions, the following ministers requested permission to withdraw from the Canada Conference with a view to connect themselves with the British Missionary party, viz:—

Rev. Messrs. William Case, Ephraim Evans, Benjamin Slight, James Norris, Thomas Fawcett, William Scott, John G. Manly, Edmund Stoney, James Brock, Thomas Hurlburt, Matthew Lang, John Douse, William Steer, John Sunday, and C. B. Goodrich.

The leave-taking was said to have been very tender and sorrowful. Of the members of the Canada Conference who left it, Dr. Ryerson said:—

Among the ten who seceded from the Canada Conference to the London Wesleyan Committee was the venerable William Case, who took no part in the crusade against his old Canadian brethren, but who wished to live in peace and quietness, with the supply of his wants assured to him in his old, lonely Indian Mission at Alnwick, near Cobourg, isolated alike from the white inhabitants and from other Indian tribes, where he continued until his decease.

The character of this untoward contest with the British Conference party—so far as it related to Dr. Ryerson—can be best understood from the conclusion of his five hours' speech before the Special Conference. He said:—

I am aware that a combined effort has been determined upon and is making to destroy me as a public man, and to injure this Connexion, as far as my overthrow can affect it. I rejoice to know that the strength and efficiency of our Church are not depending upon me; but I am not insensible to the advantages which it is supposed will be gained over the Church if I can be put down. Our adversaries seem to have abandoned the idea of answering my arguments, or of diverting me from my purposes, in regard to my position, and views and feelings towards this Connexion. The only expedient left is that which requires no strength of intellect—no solid arguments—no moral principle—but abundance of confidence, malignity, and zeal. It is the expedient of impeaching my moral integrity, and blackening my character. And this is attempted to be accomplished. One class of adversaries, not by an appeal to reason, or even to official documents, but by the importation and retail from one side of the Atlantic to the other, and one end of the province to the other, and from house to house, of bits and parcels of perverted private conversations—a mode of warfare disgraceful to human nature, much more to any Christian community. History apprizes me that, in such a warfare, some of the best of men have not triumphed until long after they slept in death, when the hand of time and the researches of impartial history did them that justice which the cupidity and jealousies[Pg 276] of powerful contemporaries denied them. I know not the present result of existing combinations against myself. On that point I feel little concern, though I am keenly alive to their influence upon my public usefulness. I engaged in the Union, because I believed the principles upon which it was founded were reasonable, and the prejudices against it on all sides were unreasonable. I do not regret the opposition which I have experienced—the reproaches which I have incurred—the labours I have endured; but I do regret—and every day's reflection adds fresh poignancy to my regrets—that in carrying out a measure which I had hoped would prove an unspeakable blessing to my native country, I have lost so many friends of my youth. No young man in Canada had more friends amongst all Christian denominations than I had when the Union took place. Many of them have become my enemies. I can lose property without concern or much thought; but I cannot lose my friends, and meet them in the character of enemies, without emotions not to be described. I feel that I have injured myself, and injured this Connexion, and I fear this province, not by my obstinacy, but by my concessions. This is my sin, and not the sins laid to my charge. I have regarded myself, and all that Providence has put into my hands from year to year, as the property of this Connexion. I can say, in the language of Wesley's hymn—

"No foot of land do I possess,
No cottage in the wilderness;
A poor wayfaring man."

And it is to me a source of unavailing grief, that after the expenditure of so much time, and labour, and suffering, and means, one of the most important measures of my life may prove a misfortune to the Church of my affections and the country of my birth. I have only to say, that as long as there is any prospect of my being useful to either, I will never desert them.

We have surveyed every inch of the ground on which we stand: We have offered to concede everything but what appertains to our character, and to our existence and operations as a Wesleyan Methodist Church. The ground we occupy is Methodistic, is rational, is just. The very declarations of those who leave us attest this. They are compelled to pay homage to our character as a body; they cannot impeach our doctrines, or discipline, or practice; nor can they sustain a single objection against our principles or standing; the very reasons which they assign for their own secession are variable, indefinite, personal, or trivial. But the reasons which may be assigned for our position and unity are tangible, are definite, are Methodistic, are satisfactory, are unanswerable.

The effect of this disruption was disastrous to the peace and unity of the Wesleyan body, especially in the towns and cities.

Some time after the Conference, Dr. Ryerson received the following characteristic letter from the venerable Thomas Whitehead, the President of the Canada Special Conference:—

I have been not a little pleased with the expectation of seeing you this evening, and of hearing you speak of the sorrows and joys of Wesleyan Methodism in Upper Canada. God grant that you and I and all of us, when our labours, sorrows and joys on earth are ended, may meet around the throne of God and the Lamb. Your labours, sorrows and joys for these years past have been unparalleled, and to the present they are increasing. Well, you have been called (with not a few invaluable assistants) to stand up in defence of the Gospel, and have been sometimes placed near the swellings of Jordan; however, you still rejoice in your labours, and the effects thereof, and so do I; and, blessed be God, the Pilot of the Galilean lake is still on shipboard, and he will soon speak peace to the troubled waters, and there will be a[Pg 277] great calm. I have no doubt but Brother Green and Brother Bevitt (a comical soul) and yourself have had cold travelling (I hope good lodging) in your western rides; I am persuaded you have met with friends, and a generous people. God bless them!

I greatly rejoice that our brethren in the ministry are faithful, affectionate, and successful in defence of all that appertains to the privileges of the glorious Gospel of the Son of God, long, long preached by the Wesleyan Methodist ministers in the wilds of Upper Canada, and I trust they will, by all Christian means and measures, support Her Majesty's Government in Canada. May the Holy and Blessed God give us peace, and good government in our day. I have been a little vexed with the travelling gab of one of our own former friends, who is pleased to inform the people that you were the sole cause of the late rebellion. I must tell him, the first time I meet with him, that the meaning of his sing-song is not understood, and that if he will explain his hidden meaning, it will be, that he is ready to prove that the Rev. Egerton Ryerson was the sole cause of the rebellion in Heaven, by the fallen angels. In that case no one would mistake his meaning.

In a letter of congratulation, written in May, 1841, to Rev. Dr. Bangs, on his appointment to the Presidency of the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., Dr. Ryerson said:—

I hope and pray that you may be able to continue without abatement to favour and edify the religious public with the rich results of your varied reading and matured thinking. On this ground I desire to express my personal obligations; and not the least for your "Letters to young Ministers of the Gospel," which were the first I recollect of reading. Many of your remarks and suggestions, on the subjects which they treat, have been of great service to me.

Speaking of the rupture of the union between the British and Canadian Conferences, and of alleged personal obstacles which he presented in the way of a reunion, Dr. Ryerson said:—The agents of the London Missionary Committee have not injured the Societies generally; although the scenes of schism which have been and are exhibited in many places are highly disgraceful. I am not aware that Elder Case has taken any active part in these transactions, and he has continued an acting and useful member of the Academy Board, notwithstanding his strange secession from our Conference. I have observed by the discussion, especially in the pamphlet lately published by the Committee in London, that the whole affair is made to appear, as much as possible, a matter of difference between the Committee and me personally, and epithets have been multiplied against me in proportion to the want of facts. I have always resolved not to allow myself to be the ground of difference between two bodies. If I can make this circumstance instrumental in effecting an amicable adjustment of differences, such as would be agreeable and advantageous to my brethren, I have thought it would be best to do so, and retire personally from the Conference, either employing my pen for the religious and general interests of my native land, or seeking a more[Pg 278] peaceful field of labour in your part of the world, where I almost wish I had gone last year as proposed—although I know not that I could have done otherwise than I did, in accordance with what is due to personal honour and character.

The Imperial Parliament has disposed of the clergy reserves in a manner the most unfair, unjust, and corrupt, although the old Constitution of Canada provides for the disposal of them by the Provincial Legislature. Wide-spread, secret dissatisfaction exists in the country; a majority of the new Assembly (which has not yet met) are friends of the people, but many are afraid to move, or to say what they think. My own apprehension is that, notwithstanding all exertions to the contrary, under the present system of things the morals and intelligence of the people will be on a level with their liberties. Whether my continued silence in such circumstances is a virtue, or a crime; or whether I should retire from the country, or remain and make one Christian, open, and decisive effort to secure for my fellow-countrymen a free constitution and equal rights among their churches, is a perplexing question to me, as well as to my brothers. It is believed by some intelligent men, who have talked on the subject, that if I would come out as the advocate of the country, there would be no doubt of success, from my knowledge of the subject, from a general, and, as I think, overweening confidence on the part of my friends in my powers of concentration, perseverance and energy, and from the feelings of the country. It is also thought that, if there should be a failure of success, I could then honourably retire to the United States. I am no theorist, but I hate despotism as I do Satan, and I love liberty as I do life; and my thoughts and feelings flow so strongly in favour of the religious and civil freedom of my native country, that with all my engagements and duties, I cannot resist them, at least half of the time. I would be most grateful to you for your opinion on this general matter, irrespective of details, with which, of course, you cannot be acquainted.

To this letter Rev. Dr. Bangs replied as follows:—

I feel much for my Canadian brethren, and I can never be indifferent to their weal or woe. I have never had but one opinion respecting your separation from us, and that is, that it was an erroneous step at the time, originating with the ambition of one man—Henry Ryan. (See page 87.) Regrets, however, are useless now. The die has been cast; but from that unhappy moment you have been tossed about from one point of the compass to another. What a sad condition the people are in, according to your representation! And who shall right them? I suppose you cannot do it, although you cannot be indifferent to their interests, temporal and eternal.

Respecting your leaving the country, I would say, that if your brethren judge it best, you will receive a cordial welcome among us; as I am sure you would from me. In the meantime, you would do well to consult Bishop[Pg 279] Hedding, who presides among us this year. I thank you for the expressions of affection. Whatever of good you may have received from my poor labours, let God have the praise and glory. I never undertook any duties with more appalling feelings than I did the present ones; and yet I have been wonderfully blessed and favoured by providential indications. When I was called to the Presidency of the Wesleyan University, I dared not say no; but I accepted it with a trembling sense of my responsibilities, and thus far I have been greatly blessed and comforted. I shall be glad to see you, and remember that I have a prophet's room, and a bed and a table for you.

From Rev. Dr. D. M. Reese, a noted member of the New York Conference, Dr. Ryerson received the following letter:—

I am at a loss to say what is the opinion of our great men here, touching your Canadian conflict with the British Conference; though all our sympathies are with you. All concur that you have the victory in your pamphlet war. I have not heard a different opinion from any one who has read them. I suppose you may have learned how cavalierly Rev. R. Newton treated Rev. Mr. Gurley, though introduced to him by letters from those to whom Mr. N. was largely indebted here. He refused to introduce him to Dr. Bunting, etc., although this favour was solicited. He neither invited Mr. G. to see him again, nor even called on him. This British reciprocity of American politeness is humiliating, and resembles the treatment you and your brother received at his hands, as well as that of other great men in the Wesleyan Conference towards you.

At the Special Conference of October, Dr. Ryerson was appointed Corresponding Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society of Upper Canada. On the 10th November he issued a statement and appeal on behalf of the Society. In it he indicates definitely the secret causes which led to the disruption of the Union. He said:—

Zealous attempts have been made to lead astray sincere friends of Methodism and religion by the pretense that party politics is the [difficulty]. Never was a pretext more unfounded.... It will be seen by the proceedings of our Conference— ... and is even admitted in the report of the ... English Conference—that no political party question should, on any account, be suffered amongst us, ... or in our official organ, and that we did not even desire the continued discussion of the clergy reserve question.... But with even silent neutrality on all questions of civil polity ..., the authorities of the English Conference were not satisfied; they insisted that we should "admit and maintain, even in this Province, the principle of Church and State Union"—a question which has been the most exciting and baneful topic of party feeling and party organization of any question which has ever been discussed in Upper Canada. They also insisted that we should concede to the Conference in England the right of an "efficient direction over the public proceedings" of the Connexion in this province....[Pg 280] These are the real grounds of the difference between the two bodies.

In a letter on this subject, written by Dr. Ryerson, 13th November, he said:—

Herewith is a copy of a letter which I addressed to the late Rev. Richard Watson in 1831 [see Guardian of November 18th, 1840], deprecating the interference of the London Committee with our work in this province, and explaining our views and operations as a body.... In going one day into the Wesleyan Mission House, when in England in 1833, I found one of the clerks copying that letter into the official books of the Committee. That letter is of some importance on several accounts. It will show that we were just as moderate, and as reasonable, and as constitutional in our views as a body in 1831, as we have been from that time to this, and that the representations to the contrary are the fabulous creations of party feelings.... [It will also show] that [the London Committee] fully understood our views on the question of a church establishment in Upper Canada, respecting which they have not even pretended that we ever made the slightest compromise; and that we as a body were in a prosperous condition before the Union.

It was not, therefore, without full knowledge of Dr. Ryerson's views on this subject, and of the state of the Methodist body in Upper Canada, that the British Conference in 1833, and again in 1840, sought to interfere with the work in this province and divide the Societies. By Dr. Ryerson's mission to England this evil was averted by a union in 1833, which proved to be but a hollow truce, as the events of 1840 demonstrated.

That the evil genius of Rev. Robert Alder exercised a baneful influence upon both Conferences, is abundantly evident from his own subsequent conduct and other events. And that this was the case is more clearly manifest from the fact that when he ceased to exert any influence in the Connexion, and when Dr. Ryerson and the Canadian Representatives were able to lay the whole case before the British Conference in 1847, that body, led by Dr. Bunting himself, entirely endorsed the consistent action of the Canada Conference in all of this painful and protracted business. He said: "The Canadian brethren are right, and we are wrong." (See a subsequent Chapter on the subject.)

Looking at the facts of the case in the light of to-day, can any one wonder at the pertinacity and zeal with which Dr. Ryerson resisted the unnatural and unwise system of foreign dictation sought to be imposed upon the Canadian Connexion. This he did at a great sacrifice of personal feeling, and of personal friendship, as well as of personal comfort and popularity. He maintained, as he had stipulated in the articles of Union, that "the rights and privileges of the Canadian preachers and Societies should be preserved inviolate." He knew that a Church in a free country like Canada, characterized as it was[Pg 281] by Methodistic zeal and vigour, and yet tempered by the moderation of Canadian institutions and manners, possessed within itself a spirit of independence and of growth and progress which would never brook the official control of a Committee thousands of miles away. To be subject to even the generous control of such a Committee, possessed of no practical experience in Canadian matters, would, he knew, doom the Church to a dwarfed, and unnatural, and a miserable existence. Events had already proved to Dr. Ryerson (while the Union during 1839-1840 was in a moribund state) that the Church, controlled by a dominant section of the British Conference, would be a prey to internal feuds and jealousies. In the conflicts that would then ensue spiritual life would die out, missionary zeal would be fitful in its efforts, and every Church interest would partake largely of a sectional and partizan character, destructive alike to the symmetry, growth and harmony of development of a living Church, endowed with rich spiritual life and free and vigorous in its independent action.

To a person of the statesman-like qualities of mind which Dr. Ryerson possessed in so high a degree, these things must have been ever present. They gave evident decision to his thoughts and vigour to his pen. He was no novice in public or ecclesiastical affairs. He had been trained for fifteen years in a school of resistance, almost single-handed, to ecclesiastical domination, and had detected and exposed intrigues,—one of which was of parties in this conflict, which was entirely derogatory to the dignity and independence of Methodism in Canada. (See pages 238-241.)

His knowledge of public affairs and of party leaders gave him abundant insight into the motives and tactics of men bent upon accomplishing pet schemes and favourite projects. And all of this knowledge had so ripened his experience that it rendered him the invaluable and trusted leader in Canadian Methodism, which in those days made his name a household word in the Methodist homes of Upper Canada. This trust and confidence he never betrayed. His unswerving fidelity to his Church and people cost him dearly—the loss of many friends, and the reproaches of many enemies. But he survived it all, and was enabled, under Providence, to mould the institutions of Canadian Methodism and even of his native country. He has left on some of them the impress of his mind and genius, which it is the pride of Canadians to recognize and acknowledge to this day.


[111] The more important parts of the painful proceedings at this Conference are given in "Epochs of Canadian Methodism," pages 341-358. The result of this formidable attack on Dr. Ryerson by the English Missionary party before the Canada Conference, is thus stated by Rev. Dr. Carroll: "When the Rev. Matthew Richey's motion of condemnation on the Rev. Egerton Ryerson for his interference in the matter [of the Government grant of £900 to Wesleyan missions] was put to the Conference, there were only eight in its favour, several of whom, after obtaining further light, wished to change their votes; and fifty-nine against it. Three were excused from voting."—Case, etc., vol. iv., page 298, note.

[Pg 282]



Last Pastoral Charge.—Lord Sydenham's Death.

The following paragraphs, prepared by Dr. Ryerson, refer to this period of his history:—

In the autumn of 1840, on returning from England, when the English Wesleyan Committee and Conference seceded from the Union with the Canadian Conference, I was appointed to Adelaide Street station in Toronto, which had been filled for two years by the Rev. Dr. Richey—an eloquent and popular preacher. The separation between the two Conferences had taken place the week before I assumed the charge of Adelaide Street station. Dr. Richey had carried off the greater part of both the private and official members of the Church, and I was left with but a skeleton of each. When I ascended the pulpit for the first time, the pews in the body of the church, which had been occupied by those who had seceded, were empty, and there were but scattered hearers, here and there, in the other pews and in the gallery. By faith and prayer I had prepared myself for the crucial test, and conducted the services without apparent depression or embarrassment. I made no pretensions, and had never made any, to pulpit eloquence—the motto of my ministry being to make things plain and strong by previous thought and prayer, and without verbal preparation. I often went from lying on my back in my study, in an agony of distress and prayer, to the pulpit, where a divine anointing seemed to rest upon me, such as I had never before experienced. There were frequent prayer-meetings in my own study, at six o'clock in the morning. The result was, by the Divine blessing, that the church was filled with hearers, and the membership was more than doubled.

At the first Annual Missionary Meeting in the Church after the division, the President of the Executive Council presided; several members of the Government were on the platform, and the collections and subscriptions were more than double those of any previous year. The pretext for this separation of the[Pg 283] English Wesleyan Committee and Conference from the Canadian Conference, was professed loyalty in Church and State; but both the Imperial and Canadian Government of that day approved the position of the Canadian Conference, withdrew and suspended the grant previously made to the London Wesleyan Missionary Committee during the seven years of its hostility to the Canadian Conference, and only consented to its restoration for the joint interests of the two Conferences, and on recommendation of the Representatives of the Canadian Conference, after the reconciliation and reunion of the two Conferences, in 1847.

Old Newgate Street (afterwards Adelaide St.) Wesleyan Church, 1832-1872.

In October, 1840, Dr. Ryerson addressed a letter of congratulation to Lord Sydenham, on his elevation to the peerage.[Pg 284] He again referred to the publication of the Monthly Review, proposed by His Excellency. In regard to the latter he said:—

The publication of a monthly periodical such as I suggested to your Excellency last spring, appears to me now, as it did then, to be of great importance, in order to mould the thinkings of public men and the views of the country in harmony with the principles of the new Constitution and the policy of Your Excellency's administration, and to secure a rational and permanent appreciation of its objects, and merits; and it would have afforded me sincere satisfaction to have given a proper tone and character to a publication of that kind. But what I have written publicly in reference to the principles and measures of Your Excellency's Government has already been productive of serious consequences both to myself and the Body with which I am connected.

In the discharge of my ecclesiastical duties, I have to devote several hours of four days in each week to visiting the sick, poor, and other members of my pastoral charge, and am preparing a series of discourses on the Patriarchal History, and the Evidences of Christianity, arising from the discoveries of modern science, and the testimony of recent travellers, besides the correspondence and engagements which devolve upon me in the office I hold in the Methodist Church. Under such circumstances the assumption by me of the management of such a periodical is impracticable. I could not do justice to it, nor to my other appropriate duties. I might, in the course of my miscellaneous reading, select passages from established authors, which would be suitable for a miscellany at the end of each number, to illustrate and confirm the principles discussed in the preceding pages of it. I might now and then contribute a general article on the Intellectual and Moral Elements of Canadian Society; or, on the Evils of Party Spirit; or, on the Necessity of General Unity in order to General Prosperity, etc., etc.; but even in these respects I fear I could not render much efficient aid, from the exhaustion of my physical strength in other labours, and for want of the requisite time for study, in order to write instructively and effectively on general subjects.

In the same letter, Dr. Ryerson thus referred to his determination to take no further part in the discussion of public affairs, owing to the hostility which his support of Lord Sydenham's policy had excited in various quarters[112]:—

In retiring from taking any public part in the civil affairs of this country, I beg to express my grateful sense of the frankness,[Pg 285] kindness, and condescension which I have experienced from Your Excellency. You are the first Governor of Canada who has taken the pains to investigate the character and affairs of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for himself, and not judge and act from hearsay; the first Governor to ascertain my sentiments, feelings, and wishes from my own lips, and not from the representations of others. As a body, considering our labours and numbers, we have certainly been treated unjustly and hardly by the Local Government. Every effort was used here to deprive us of the Royal liberality, and Lord Glenelg's recommendations in regard to the Upper Canada Academy. I think Lord John Russell himself was prepossessed against me by the representations of Rev. Mr. Alder, and probably of Sir George Arthur and others. But by your condescension and courtesy I have been prompted and emboldened to express myself to Your Excellency on all questions of civil government and the affairs of this country, more fully than I have to any man living. My private opinions and public writings have been simultaneously before Your Excellency, together with all the circumstances under which I have expressed the one and published the other. I feel confident, therefore, that however I may be misrepresented by some, or misunderstood by others, I shall have justice in the estimate and opinions of Your Excellency—that I have been anything but theoretical or obstinate—that I have shrunk from no responsibility in the time of need and difficulty—and that my opinions, whether superficial or well-considered, are such as any common-sense, practical man, whose connection, associations, and feeling are involved in the happiness and well-being of the middle classes, might be expected to entertain.

It is not my intention or wish to obtrude my opinions upon your attention, except in so far as may be necessary to acquaint Your Excellency with the interests and wishes of the body whom I have been appointed to represent. In regard to the many other important questions embraced in the great objects of your Government, I shall abstain from any officious interference; although all that may be in my mind or heart on any subject shall be at the service of Your Excellency when desired.

From what I have witnessed and experienced, I have no doubt that every possible effort will made to prejudice me in Your Excellency's mind, and induce Your Excellency to treat the Methodist body in this province as preceding Governors have done. But I implore Your Excellency to try another course of proceeding, whether as any experiment, or as an act of justice. I am persuaded that Your Excellency has found no portion of the people of this Province more reasonable in their requests, or more easily conciliated to your views and wishes[Pg 286] than the Representatives, members and friends of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada; and, I doubt not, Your Excellency will find them cultivating and exhibiting the same spirit during the entire period (and may it be a long one!) of your administration of the Government of Canada.

On the 8th of the same month, Dr. Ryerson felt himself constrained to address a note to Lord Sydenham in regard to the policy of Lord John Russell's Clergy Reserve Bill, so far as it might affect the question of public education, in which he was deeply interested. He said that he conceived the Bill to be most unjust in its provisions, as he had stated to His Lordship (while it was under consideration of Parliament). He added: Should the partial and exclusive provisions of the measure pervade the views and administration of Government in Canada, in regard to a general system of education, etc., I should utterly despair of ever witnessing social happiness, general educational culture, or unity in this country. But I have no doubt the exclusive powers with which the Bill invests the Governor, will be exerted to counteract the inequality of its other provisions, and that Your Excellency's whole system of public policy will be based upon the principles of "equal justice to all classes of Her Majesty's Canadian subjects." Under these circumstances, I have suggested to the conductor of the Christian Guardian (from the editorship of which I retired last June) not to make any remarks on the Bill which may tend to create dissatisfaction; nor do I intend, for the same reasons, to publish the letter which my brother and I addressed to Lord John Russell on the subject. His Lordship said, indeed, that the Bill was not what he wished, nor could he say it was just; but he had clearly ascertained that a more liberal one could not be got through the House of Lords, and he thought that that Bill was better than none.

The Hon. Isaac Buchanan, in a letter to the Editor, dated April 1882,—speaking of these times and events—said:—

I was one of Dr. Ryerson's oldest friends and coöperators that have survived him. I was first in Toronto (then York) in 1830. Although not then 20 years of age, I came out to Montreal as a partner in a mercantile firm; and in the fall of 1831 I came up to York to establish a branch House. From that time I have known Dr. Ryerson, and then formed that high opinion of both his abilities and his character which went on increasing more and more; so that for the last forty years of his life I have regarded him as Canada's greatest son. Of late years I seldom met him, but when I did, it was an inexpressible pleasure to me, as an interchange of the most unbounded mutual confidences took place between us in our views and objects. He knew my view of religion,—that as with Spiritual Religion (which is nothing to the mind unless it is everything), so with the Religion of Humanity (my name for the removal of all impediments out of the way of the employment, and of the enjoyment of living of our own people)—it[Pg 287] will not take a second place, but must be the first question in the politics of every country—otherwise its Government is a mere political machine. He knew my belief that the Church Question being in the way of this people's question, it took the first place among the causes of all the industrial evils in England and Ireland. With me, therefore, it was a sine qua non to get quit of our dominant Church nuisance in Canada, viewing it as a thing in the way of the prosperity of the people, and therefore as a thing insidiously undermining their loyalty. I am sure that his views were not far removed from mine in this matter, and yet not a particle of enmity to the Church ever affected me, and, I believe, the same thing was true of Dr. Ryerson. But I felt the insufferable evil of the position it had in this country, not only as usurping the first place in politics, which the Labour Question should occupy, but as rendering the connection with England odious and short-lived. Being one of those sent for by the Governor-General (Mr. Poulett Thompson) on the clergy reserve question, I told His Excellency plainly that although my countrymen, the Scotch, did not hesitate to dissent, as a matter of conscience, they would not be loyal to a government that made them dissenters by Act of Parliament.

Five years previous to this, or in 1835, I had, as an extra of the Albion newspaper, published by Mr. Cull, about the time York became Toronto, proposed a plan of settlement for the clergy reserves, fitted to solve the difficulties connected with them, whether Industrial, Educational, or Political. My proposal was that an educational tax should be levied, the payments by each church or sect being shewn in separate columns, and each sect receiving from the clergy reserve fund, in the proportion of its payments for education.

This first attempt of mine to get an endowment for education failed, as there was then no system of Responsible Government. But five years afterwards (in 1840) when my election for Toronto had decided the question of Responsible Government, and before the first Parliament met, I spoke to Lord Sydenham, the Governor-General, on the subject. He felt under considerable obligation to me for standing in the breach when Hon. Robert Baldwin found he could not succeed in carrying Toronto. I told him that I felt sure that if we were allowed to throw the accounts of the Province into regular books, we would show a surplus over expenditure. His Excellency agreed to my proposal, and I stipulated that, if we showed a surplus, half would be given as an endowment for an educational system. Happily we found that Upper Canada had a surplus revenue of about $100,000 a year—half of which the Parliament of 1841 set aside for education as agreed—the law stipulating that every District Council getting a share of it would locally tax for as much more, and this constituted the financial basis of our educational system. Thus I have given you a glimpse of the time when Dr. Ryerson and I were active coöperators.

Dr. Ryerson has left no farther record of his two years' ministry in Newgate (Adelaide) Street circuit, Toronto, than that recorded on page 282. Some incidents of it will be found in the letter of the Rev. Jonathan Scott, editor of the Guardian, on page 294. Rev. I. B. Howard, Dr. Ryerson's assistant at the time, has also furnished me with some personal reminiscences of his intercourse with him during the latter year of Dr. Ryerson's pastoral life. He says:—

When I was Dr. Ryerson's assistant in Toronto, upwards of forty years ago (in 1841-2), he was studying Hebrew with a private tutor. As I had previously taken lessons in that language he kindly invited me to unite with[Pg 288] him (at his expense) in this study. This I did three times a week at his house. On those days I always dined with him; and as it was his custom to spend the hour before dinner in devotional reading and prayer, I had the great privilege of spending this hour with him in his study—and I shall never forget the sincere, heart-searching, and devout manner in which he conducted these hallowed exercises, nor the great spiritual instruction and benefit I received from them. His humble confessions, earnest pleadings, and fervent spirit deeply impressed my youthful heart with the fact that he was indeed a man of God.

During that year (one of the few of his regular pastorate) I had also the privilege of frequently hearing him preach, especially during eight weeks of special and very successful revival services, which we held in old Adelaide (then nearly new and known as "Newgate") Street Church. I have frequently heard him preach since that time, mostly on special occasions, and always with pleasure and profit; but never since he left the pastoral work have I heard from him such earnest, powerful and overwhelming appeals to the minds, and hearts, and consciences of men, as when, with the responsibilities and sympathies of a pastor's heart, he delighted, and moved, and melted the large and admiring audiences which attended his ministry. I have always believed, that, had he continued in his pastoral work, he would have been not only an able and popular, but also in an eminent degree a successful soul-saving preacher.

During the year I was with him in Toronto, Dr. Ryerson frequently heard me preach; and as it was only the second year of my ministry his presence in the congregation was at first a great terror to me; but the kind words of encouragement, as well as the wise and fatherly counsels which he frequently gave me soon allayed my fears, and led me to regard it rather as a privilege than a cross to have him for a hearer.[113] Would that every young preacher had such a kind and sympathizing superintendent!

Hon. William Macdougall also bears testimony to the kindness which he experienced from Dr. Ryerson at this period. He says:

About the year 1840, I was living in the township of Vaughan, and like other boys of the same class and age, devoting my winters to school, and my summers to the healthful exercise of the farm. My father was a good farmer, pretty well-to-do, and I, being the eldest son, was second in command. He had purchased two or three uncleared lots in the same township, one of which was designed for me. I was fond of books, and possessed some good ones, besides I had made diligent use of a circulating library in the neighbourhood. We took in a political newspaper, an agricultural monthly, and the Christian Guardian. At this point of my career I met Dr. Ryerson. He came into our neighbourhood to attend a missionary meeting, and stopped at my father's house. I was asked to go with him to his next appointment. We were thus alone together for some hours. On the way we chatted about temperance, history, politics, education, etc. The rebellion of 1837, and the political questions that grew out of it still agitated the public mind. He spoke of Mackenzie and Rolph; of Baldwin and Bidwell; of Sir Francis Head and the Family Compact. I discovered that he admired Bidwell, but disliked Mackenzie. He took much pains to explain to me some points in reference to the clergy reserve and rectory questions, and seeing that I was an appreciative listener, he asked me if I would like to be a politician. I said I would, if I thought I could overturn the Family Compact, secure the clergy reserves for education, and drive the Hudson Bay Company out of the[Pg 289] North-West. He looked at me for a moment with an amused expression. The last plank of my platform seemed to arouse his curiosity. The Hudson Bay Company and its affairs had not then attracted much notice. He asked me why I desired to drive out the Hudson Bay Company. I replied that I had read a lecture by Hon. R. B. Sullivan, on immigration and the movement of population westward, in which he described the Great Valley of the Saskatchewan in colours so glowing, that I wondered why we did not all go there, but on further enquiry I found that a small body of London Fur-traders claimed the whole country as a preserve for musk-rats and foxes, under an old charter from a King who, at the time, did not own a foot of it; that I thought the fur-traders ought to be compelled to give up the good land, vi et armis, if need be. He said, "My young friend, your ambition is great; I am afraid you have not considered the difficulties to be overcome." I felt slightly sat upon; but I warmed with my subject, and as I had already made temperance speeches to admiring audiences in the "back concessions," I was not easily disconcerted. He then made the remark which forty years afterwards I recalled to his recollection. "Before you undertake such enterprises you must study law; it is a noble profession, and in this country is the only sure road to success in politics. If I had not felt it my duty to preach the Gospel, I would have studied law myself." I remarked that I had read articles in the Christian Guardian, attributed to him, which I had heard people say exhibited a great deal of legal knowledge. He seemed pleased by the compliment, but did not acknowledge the paternity of the articles. After some further conversation as to my studies, etc., he recommended me to begin at once to read Latin, and promised to speak to my father and advise him to let me study law. He kept his promise; my father rather reluctantly consented, telling me that if I left home I would lose the farm. You know the rest.

May I not venture the remark, that if a promising agriculturist was spoiled by that interview, Dr. Ryerson was the spoiler? and, if Canada has derived any benefit from my humble labours as journalist, legislator, executive councillor, etc., he is entitled to a share of the credit, for, as I loved—and still recall with envious regret—the unsophisticated pleasures and contentment of a farmer's life, I would, probably, have pursued the even tenor of my bucolic way but for his advice and kind-hearted mediation.

In the political controversies that agitated the country from 1850 to 1862, we sometimes crossed swords. In 1865, it became my duty, as a member of Government, to carry through Parliament an important measure relating to Grammar Schools. Much to his surprise, I successfully resisted all attempts at mutilation, for which he warmly expressed his acknowledgements. During the serious, and sometimes acrimonious discussions which preceded and followed the Act of Confederation, I enjoyed the benefit of his approving sympathy and wise counsel. Others with better warrant may speak of his great power and achievements as a Christian Minister; but you will permit me to say that I knew him as a generous friend and patron of Canadian youth; as a sagacious and resolute man of affairs; as a staunch defender of the British constitutional system of government; and as a patriotic, true-hearted son of Canada—Si monumentum requiris—circumspice!

Dr. Ryerson's pastoral charge of the Toronto City Circuit in 1840-41, and other ministerial duties, engrossed all of his time to the exclusion of other matters. It seemed to have been a positive relief to him to engage in these more congenial pursuits. He rarely used his pen, except on very pressing occasions. He was nevertheless a close observer of passing events, but took no active part in them.[Pg 290]

Lord Sydenham frequently availed himself of Dr. Ryerson's counsel and co-operation. Shortly before the death of that able Governor, Dr. Ryerson had gone to Kingston, as requested, on matters of public interest. The unexpected death of Lord Sydenham, on the 19th of September, 1841 (the immediate cause of which was a fall from his horse), called forth a burst of universal sorrow throughout the then newly created Province of Canada. One of the most touching tributes to his memory was penned by Dr. Ryerson, while on his way to Kingston to see him. It was published in the Guardian of the 29th September, and republished with other notices in a pamphlet by Mr. (now Sir) Francis Hincks, then editor of the Toronto Examiner. From that sketch of Lord Sydenham's career I take the following concluding passages:—

At the commencement of His Lordship's mission in Upper Canada, when his plans were little known, his difficulties formidable, and his Government weak, I had the pleasing satisfaction of giving him my humble and dutiful support in the promotion of his non-party and provincial objects; and now that he is beyond the reach of human praise or censure—where all earthly ranks and distinctions are lost in the sublimities of eternity—I have the melancholy satisfaction of bearing my humble testimony to his candour, sincerity, faithfulness, kindness and liberality. A few days before the occurrence of the accident which terminated his life, I had the honour of spending an evening and part of a day in free conversation with His Lordship; and on that, as well as on former similar occasions, he observed the most marked reverence for the truths of Christianity—a most earnest desire to base the civil institutions of the country upon Christian principles, with a scrupulous regard to the rights of conscience—a total absence of all animosity against any person or parties opposed to him—and an intense anxiety to silence dissensions and discord, and render Canada contented, happy and prosperous.

... The day before his lamented death he expressed his regret that he had not given more of his time to religion.... The last hours of his life were spent in earnest supplications to the Redeemer, in humble reliance upon whose atonement he yielded up the ghost.

After the publication of this letter in the Guardian, Dr. Ryerson received the following acknowledgment from T. W. C. Murdoch, Esq., late private Secretary to Lord Sydenham:—

I ought to have thanked you before for the numbers of the Guardian containing your letter on the death of Lord Sydenham. That letter I have read over and over again with the deepest emotion, and I cannot but feel how much more worthily the task of writing the history of his administration might have been confided to your hands than to mine. That I shall discharge the duty with affectionate zeal and good faith, I hope I need not assure you, but I fear my inability to do justice to so statesmanlike an administration, or to make apparent to others those nice shades of policy which constituted the beauty and insured the success of his government. In the meantime what are we to hope or expect from the new Governor Sir C. Bagot. My principal confidence is that Sir R. Peel is too prudent a man to wish discredit to his administration by allowing the re-introduction of the old, bad system, and that consequently Sir Charles will be instructed to follow out to the best of his ability Lord Sydenham's policy.


[112] In the Guardian of October 7th, 1840, Dr. Ryerson says:—Lord Sydenham well knows the feelings of reluctance and apprehension under which I assumed the responsibility of giving my humble and earnest support to the measures of his government in Upper Canada.... He well knows that I adopted the course I did with a deep consciousness that it would be attended with personal sacrifice, with no other expectation or wish but justice to the church to which I belonged—equal justice to other churches—and the hope of prosperity to my native country under an improved and efficient system of government. I did not indeed expect that hostility against me from London would be prosecuted to the extent it has been.... I have incurred the censure of the British Conference for supporting, and not for opposing, the government when it needed my support, and when it was in my power to have embarrassed it.... As it respects myself personally, I shall not repine at having made the sacrifice, if the new system of government but succeeds, and the land of my birth and affections is made prosperous and happy. Note on page 199.

[113] This the Editor has been assured was also Rev. Dr. Potts' experience of Dr. Ryerson as a hearer, several years afterwards, and during the time that he (Dr. Potts) was pastor of the Metropolitan Church, Toronto.

[Pg 291]



Dr. Ryerson's attitude toward the Church of England.

The constant references in this volume to Dr. Ryerson's attitude of hostility to the exclusive claims and pretensions put forth on behalf of the Church of England in this province, require some explanation. His opponents sought to neutralize this opposition by endeavouring to make it appear that, because he opposed these claims and ignored these pretensions, he was hostile to the Church of England as a great spiritual power in the land.[114] He had himself often pointed out the fallacy of this reasoning, and drawn so clear a distinction between men and things in the controversy—the Church and her representatives—that I cannot add any thing to what he has written on the subject. In one letter he said:—

I am often charged with hostility to the Church of England. Did I know nothing of the Church of England except what has been exhibited in this province, ... how could I have any partiality for that Church? There is a large and growing branch of the Established Church in England that I venerate, admire, and love; but there is a semi-popish branch of it for which I have no such respect, and that is the branch, with a few individual exceptions, which exists in this province....

Again, in a letter to Hon. W. H. Draper, on the clergy reserve question, dated October 12th, 1838, he said:—

I would not derogate an iota from the respect claimed by the Church of England on account of the prerogatives to which she is legally entitled [in England]. As the form of religion professed by the Sovereign and rulers of the Empire—as the Established Church of the British realm—as the Church which has nursed some of the greatest statesmen, philosophers, and divines that have enlightened, adorned, and blest the world, she cannot fail to command the respect of all enlightened men, whatever may be thought of the conduct and pretensions of the Canadian branch of that Church—pretensions which have been virtually repudiated in royal charters, and contradicted by the entire civil and ecclesiastical history of the old British colonies.

Dr. Ryerson's attitude to the Church of England was clearly defined in a private and friendly correspondence between him[Pg 292] and John Kent, Esq., Editor of The Church newspaper, in 1841-42. (See page 97.) That paper was established in May, 1837, as the organ of the Church of England in Upper Canada. It was at first edited by Rev. Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Bethune, rector of Cobourg. In 1841, John Kent, Esq., became its editor.[115] In the religions controversies of those days The Church, was ably edited. It was a decided champion of the high church, or Puseyite party, and, as such it came into constant conflict with the Wesleyan Methodists and their organ, the Christian Guardian, and especially with its chief editor, Dr. Ryerson. On the 21st December, 1841, Dr. Ryerson wrote a letter for insertion in The Church, and accompanied it with a private note to Mr. Kent. From that letter I make the following extracts:—

I, as well as my friends, have been the subjects of repeated strictures in your pages; during the last two years I have replied not a word, nor published a line in reference to the Church Of England.

I have stated on former occasions—and perhaps my two years' silence may now give some weight to the statement—that my objections had no reference to the existence, or prosperity, of the Church of England as a Church, but simply and solely to its exclusive establishment and endowment in Upper Canada, especially, and indeed entirely, in reference to the clergy reserves. During the discussions which took place, and which were continued for years, I wrote many strong things; but nothing on the Episcopal form of Government, or the formularies, or doctrines of the Church of England. The doctrines of the Church of England, as contained in the Articles and Homilies, I always professed to believe. On the subject of Church Government, I often expressed my views in the language of Dr. Paley, and in accordance with the sentiments of many distinguished dignitaries and divines of the Church of England, that no particular form of Church Government has been enjoined by the Apostles. I have objected to the Episcopal, or any other one form of Church Government, being put forth as essential to the existence of the Church of Christ, and as the only Scriptural form; but no further. I do not think the form of Church, any more than the form of civil government, is settled in the Scriptures; I believe that both are left, as Bishop Stillingfleet has shown at large, to times, places, and circumstances, to be determined upon the ground of expediency and utility—a ground on which Dr. Paley has supported the different orders of the Church of England with his accustomed clearness, ability and elegance. I know, on the contrary, that much may be said upon the same ground in favour of itinerancy, of Presbyterianism, and of independency.

On the subject of forms of prayer, I have never written; though I have for many years used forms of prayer in private as helps to, not substitutes for, devotion. I believe the foundation of the Church of Christ is not laid in forms, but in doctrines....

I believe it would be a moral calamity for either the Church of England, or Church of Scotland, or the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Congregational,[Pg 293] or the Baptist Churches to be annihilated in this province. I believe there are fields of labour which may be occupied by any one of those Churches with more efficiency and success than by any of the others. They need not, and I think, ought not, to be aggressors upon each other....

As there were seven Apostolic Churches in Asia, we believe ourselves one of the Apostolic Churches in Canada.... Those persons, who believe that the instruction, and religious advantages and privileges afforded by our Church will more effectually aid them in working out their salvation than those which they can command in any other part of the general fold of Christ, are affectionately received under our watch-care; but not on account of our approximation to, or our dissent from, the Church of England, or any other Church.

With the settlement of the clergy reserve question ended my controversy with the Church of England, as I have again and again intimated that it would. Churches, as well as individuals, may learn wisdom from experience. I therefore, submit, whether the controversies and their characteristic feelings between the Church of England and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in this province ought not to cease, with the removal of the causes which produced them?... Whether both Churches are not likely to accomplish more religious and moral good by directing their energies against prevalent vice and ignorance than by mutual warfare?

Dr. Ryerson concludes his letter in the following truthful and striking language:—

I intend no offence when I express my conviction that the Church of England in this province has vastly greater resources for doing good than for warring with other Protestant Churches. I know her weak points, as well as her strong towers. I am not a stranger to the appropriate weapons for assailing the one, and for neutralizing the strength of the other. And you have not to learn that it is easier to deface than to beautify—to pull down a fair fabric than to rear a common structure; and that a man may injure others without benefitting himself. On the other hand I am equally sensible that the Wesleyan Methodist Church has nothing to gain by controversy; but I am quite sure, from past experience, as well as from present aspects, that she has not so much to fear, to risk, or to lose, as the Church of England. If controversy be perpetuated between your Church and our own, I wash my hands from all responsibility of it—even should the duty of self-defence compel me to draw the sword which I had, in inclination and intention, sheathed for ever. History, and our own experience to some extent, abounds with monitory lessons, that personal disputes may convulse churches, that ecclesiastical controversies may convulse provinces, and lead to the subversion of governments....

In his private note to Mr. Kent, Dr. Ryerson said:—

I have long been impressed with the conviction that Canada could not prosper under the element of agitation. I supported the Union of the Canadas with a view to their civil tranquility. I believe my expectations will be realized. In our new state of things I desire not to be considered as standing in an attitude of hostility to the Church of England, any more than to any other Church. I have wished and resolved to leave civil and ecclesiastical party politics with the former bad state of things. Travelling, observation and experience, have been a useful school[Pg 294] to me, and time will do justice to the merits or demerits of my motives and conduct.

On the 22nd of December, Mr. Kent replied to Dr. Ryerson:—

Do not think that I wish to meet you coldly. I would gladly fling away the weapons of strife. The warfare in which I am engaged, and which I dare not decline, is literally embittering my existence, and pressing upon me very severely. I am not aware that I have in any way personally attacked you, or ever by name, since the commencement of my editorial career. I should hail a day of concord with overflowing joy. I should rejoice to see your powerful, acute, and vigorous mind exerting itself in a manner that we should all consider serviceable to the cause of loyalty and the Protestant religion.

From a glance at your letters, I fondly hope that some gleam of light is breaking in upon us all. My firm conviction is that the doctrine of the apostolical succession will be the bond of union and the cementer of differences, now apparently impossible. You must have studied the question—and how can your vivid and clear mind elude its force? Must there not be some one apostolical mode of conferring the ministerial functions, or must it be open to all, and Quakerism be right? I do not think I have been the assailant. The Guardian is outrageously personal and unscrupulous in its misstatements.... I am far from thinking that I am meek and gentle enough; but I have carefully excluded personalities,—though I readily concede that my course of argument, which pervades all I write or select, has been to cut away the ground from under the feet of every denomination in the province, outside of the Church.

The papists, I firmly believe, are meditating some grand movement all over the world; and it would be glorious indeed if Protestants could find a common centre of union. But what can I, in my humble way, do? I dare not drop the necessity of the apostolical succession,—though I might dwell less upon it, and avoid, as much as possible, as I always have done, to mix it up with offence to other denominations. Yet, as I before intimated, the assertion and maintenance of it, in the simplest and least controversial manner, must ever provoke hostility. It is an endless subject to get upon....

I shall be very happy to call on you at an early opportunity, and obtain, or rather revive, the pleasure of your personal acquaintance. It would be the happiest Christmas I ever spent, if it witness the extinction of long theological enmities, and the dawn of an era of Christian concord and love.

On the 29th December, Dr. Ryerson wrote a private note again to Mr. Kent. He said:—I was glad to learn by the last Church that you will give my remarks a place in your columns, and that you cordially and elegantly respond to the general spirit and design of them....

I have had a correspondence with the Editor of the Guardian in reference to the mode of conducting it, in regard to the Church of England, and in some other respects. I am happy to be able to say that he has at length yielded to my reasonings and recommendations, and will, I have no doubt, conduct the Guardian in accordance with the general views expressed in my communications to you.[116] To-day's Guardian, as you see,[Pg 295] presents a visible and agreeable improvement in the points referred to.

I blame you not for your strict and high principles as a churchman, but I do not think that you do now make sufficient allowance for difference of forms and ceremonies in the common faith of Protestantism. I think you should allow as much as Archbishop (Lord Keeper) Williams has done, and as much as is involved in the passage quoted by him from Irenæus. Why[Pg 296] should we be "unchurched" any more than the continental churches?

Mr. Kent, in reply to Dr. Ryerson (31st December), said:—

I trust you will think that in the remarks which I have made on your letter in The Church, I have met your overtures in a pacific and cordial spirit. I am sure that my remarks will be much more acceptable to churchmen, so far as such remarks are friendly to you, than they will be to others not belonging to our pale. I have not consulted a soul about what I have written, nor have I shown your pleasing reply to my first note to any one save good and safe Mr. Henry Rowsell; though I should like to show it to Rev. H. J. Grasett, and Bishop Strachan. You need never be afraid of what you say to me in confidence.... It is certainly much more consistent in you (provided only you get rid of Mr. Wesley's authority, and then, by the way, you destroy your genealogy and succession) to call yourselves a Church, than to be of the Church and not in it.... You are said to possess some fine old Divinity works. You cannot have read them without some approximation to our Church.

You are not in the position of the continental Churches. No constraint is upon you. You can get Episcopacy, if you desire it. Neither does the Church of England stand relatively towards you, as the Gallican Church towards the Huguenots. You admit the purity of our doctrine, and do not consider our discipline unscriptural. If you were to read Bishop Stillingfleet on Separation, I think you would open up new trains of thought. I just became so staunch an Episcopalian, from viewing the matter extrinsically of Scripture and history, and was led to conclude, from the nature of things, that there can be but one valid ministry.

You are certainly a Prospero. You have waved your magic wand over the Guardian. I saw it in an instant, and saw that you had done it. I purposely, in my editorial, abstained from all allusions to our confidential intercourse, or I would have thanked you for this exercise of your healing influence.

It is by no means an unpleasing marvel that you and I, on the last day of 1841, should be conversing so pleasantly and amicably. I trust that peace and amity will flourish still more!

Do me the favour to accept a slight New Year's gift at my hands.

Dr. Ryerson wrote a reply to the strictures of The Church newspaper, and on the 26th addressed a private note on the subject to Mr. Kent, in which he said:—

... The great difference between us seems to be that I value what I hold to be the cardinal doctrines, and morals and interests of Christianity, above either Churchism or Methodism. So that those interests are advanced, either through the Church of England, or Church of Scotland, or any other Protestant Church, I therein do rejoice and will rejoice. You make the Church of England first of all—essential to all—all in all; and that all who are not in the Church of England are enemies to the Church of Christ, "strangers to the covenants of promise, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel."... It is true you have exempted me by way of compliment; but no intelligent man would wish to hold his religious intercourse and standing on the tenor of a compliment; and that too at the expense of his[Pg 297] ecclesiastical connexion and general principles. If I cannot but be viewed as an enemy of the Church of England as a Methodist, it is a poor compliment to tell me that I am friendly to it as a man. I do not understand the hair-splitting casuistry which separates the man from the Christian....

I believe in your perfect sincerity and personal disinterestedness and kindness, but I must say that you do not appear from the last Church to suppose it possible for a man to think in a different channel from yourself without endangering his title to the skies, or to common sense, and without absolutely forfeiting his claim to orthodox Christianity. I refer not all to your maintenance of apostolic succession, but to your unqualified reprobation of the motives, feelings, and character of all who are not of your own fold. How different are the sentiments and spirit of Bishop Onderdonk's essay in support of the "Divine Right of Episcopacy" from those of your articles in the last Church? Now, though we may be without the attributes of what you believe to be a scripturally constituted Church, we are not without the attributes and feelings of men.... The apparatus of the Church of England is surprisingly powerful when spiritually, rightly, and comprehensively applied; but to build your structure like an inverted pyramid, and to rouse every one not of you into warfare against you, does not appear to me to be sound in theory, or wise in practice.

Mr. Kent, in a private reply, dated 3rd February, said:—

I have read your letter over so as to prepare my remarks. In doing this I anticipate no trouble. On the contrary, I hope to strengthen my position and give greater weight to my axioms respecting the duties of Churchmen in withholding aid from all religious societies unconnected with the Church. I find, however, that your tone of remark is excessively warm and indignant; and, deeming from the tenor of your conversation on Thursday last, that you have doubts on your mind respecting church government, and feeling convinced that if ever you are led to subscribe to the indispensable obligations of episcopacy, ... you will admit the validity of my reasons for acting and writing as I do—under all these circumstances I feel bound to ask you to meditate whether you will not withdraw your letter. I give you my sacred honour that I do not dread its effects. But I feel this, that should you ever experience and avow a change of opinion in reference to the matters that are now engaging your attention, it will be brought up against you by your enemies, and may altogether prove a constant embarrassment. Should you withdraw it, I will only mention the matter to Mr. Grasett, who has already seen it. Should you determine on its insertion, it shall appear next Saturday.

Dr. Ryerson did not withdraw his letter, and it appeared in The Church of February 5th. The personal correspondence, however, ended here.

In accounting for his decided opposition to a church establishment in Upper Canada, Dr. Ryerson said:[Pg 298]

Before I was twenty years of age I had read Paley's Political Philosophy, including his chapters on the British Constitution and a Church Establishment; Locke on Government, and especially Blackstone's Commentaries, particularly those parts on the Rights of the Crown and the Rights of the Subject. From Paley I learned that a Church Establishment is no part of Christianity, but a means of supporting it, and a means which should be used only when the majority of the people are of the religion thus supported. From Blackstone I learned that the Church of England is the Established Church of England and Ireland, but not of any colony, except under one or more of three conditions, none of which existed in Upper Canada. Upon the grounds, therefore, furnished by Blackstone and Paley, I opposed the erection of a Church Establishment in Upper Canada, without touching the question of a Church Establishment in England.

Dr. Ryerson in a letter to a friend, thus refers to his early experiences in regard to the Church of England:—

Although I had no opportunity of attending the service of the Church of England until I was nearly twenty years of age, I made the Homilies and Prayer Book, with the Bible, very constant companions of travel and subjects of study. I drew my best pulpit illustrations from them, at the very time that I was controverting the pretensions of the leaders of that Church to exclusive establishment and supremacy in Upper Canada; and, in so doing, I had the sympathies and support of a large portion of the members of the Church of England, in addition to the unanimous support of the members of other religious denominations. I felt that I was preaching the Protestant Reformation doctrines of the Church of England; and throughout life I have loved the Church of England with all its faults, only second to that of my own church. I declined the offer of ordination in the Church of England [page 206] several months after I commenced preaching on a Methodist circuit, simply and solely upon the ground that I was indebted to the Methodists for all the religious instruction and influences I had experienced. I believed that I would be more useful among them, though my life would be, as then appeared, one of privation and labour. During the first four years of my ministry, my salary amounted to less than one hundred dollars per annum, and during the next twelve years (after my marriage) my salary did not exceed six hundred dollars a year, including house rent and fuel.

In a letter written on the 28th October, 1843, to the Editor of the Guardian by Dr. Ryerson, he says:—

It is still, as it has long been, the position with the Editor of The Church and writers of his school to represent the efforts of other Churches to maintain their own equal rights and privileges as hostility to the Church of England.... Who proposed peace, and who has perpetuated war—aggressive war? [page 292.] ... Who is it that proclaims bodies prior to his[Pg 299] own in Western Canada as "Dissenters," and seeks by every species of unfair statement and insinuation to injure and degrade them—both politically and religiously—and substantially maintaining that Civil Government itself is an appropriate Providential instrument to put down "dissent." For one, I have as yet been silent under this provocation, insult, and proscription.

Circumscribed must his views be who does not perceive that "Puseyism," both in a religious and civil point of view, will soon become a far more important question for the consideration and decision of the inhabitants of Western Canada than that of the seat of Government, or than even that of the University. And the day is hastening apace, when it will be a prime matter of inquiry with them to determine ... whether they will quietly consent to have their civil rights and liberties placed in any form in the hands of men who regard the great majority of their Christian fellow-subjects as unbaptized heathens and aliens in a Christian country. Such is the issue to which The Church is bringing matters in Western Canada.[117]

In a journey from Kingston to Toronto by stage, which Dr. Ryerson made in February, 1842, Bishop Strachan was a fellow passenger. Dr. Ryerson thus speaks of the agreeable intercourse which he had with the Bishop on that occasion:—

For the first time in my life I found myself in company with the Lord Bishop of Toronto. He was accompanied by Mr. T. M. Jones, his son-in-law, and Mr. Jarvis (Indian Department), very pleasant companions, nor could I desire to meet with a more affable, agreeable man than the Bishop himself. It would be unpardonable to introduce remarks ... of one's neighbours ... into travelling notes in any form, but there has been something so peculiar in the relations of "John Toronto" and "Egerton Ryerson," that I must beg, in this instance, to depart from a general rule. Conversation took place on several topics, on scarcely any of which did I see reason to differ from the Bishop. He spoke of the importance to us of getting our College at Cobourg endowed—that an annual grant was an insufficient dependence—that as the clergy reserve question had been settled by law, we had as much right to a portion of the clergy lands as the Church of England—that as we did not desire Government support for our ministers, we ought to get our proportion appropriated to the College, as religious education was clearly within the provisions of the Clergy Reserve Act. Valuable suggestions, for which I thanked his lordship. I took occasion to advert to what had excited the strongest feelings in[Pg 300] my own mind, and in the minds of our people generally—namely imputations on our loyalty to the Government and laws of the country. The Bishop, with his characteristic energy, said that what he had written on the subject he could at any time prove—that he never represented or supposed that the Methodist body of people were disaffected; nor had he represented or supposed that those preachers who had been born and brought up in the country were disloyal; but he was satisfied that such was the case with the majority of those who used to come from the United States. I felt that the whole matter was one of history, and not of practical importance in reference to present interests; and I was much gratified in my own mind to find that the real question, as one of history, was the proportion of preachers who formerly came from the United States, and the character and tendency of their feelings and influence; for no preachers have come from the United States to this country these many years, and we have none but British subjects in the Canada Conference.

After parting with the Bishop at Cobourg, in analyzing the exercises of my own mind, I found myself deeply impressed with the following facts and considerations:—

1. That the settlement of the clergy reserve question had annihilated the principal causes of difference between those individuals and bodies in this province who had been most hostile to each other.

2. That how much asperity of feeling, and how much bitter controversy might be prevented, if those most concerned would converse privately with each other before they entered into the arena of public disputation.

3. That how much more numerous and powerful are the reasons for agreement than for hostility in the general affairs of the country, even among those who differ most widely on points of religious doctrine and polity.[118]


[114] I have already on pages 41 and 206 mentioned the overtures which were made to Dr. Ryerson by the late Bishop Stewart of Quebec to induce him to enter the ministry of the Church of England. See also page 97.

[115] "From 1841 to 1843 the editorial management of The Church was assumed by Mr. John Kent, who had been a valuable contributor to its pages from the commencement. The excitement, however, amid the clash and din of party strife was too much for him, and the paper came back to its first editor, who held it again ... for nearly four years.... It gradually lost ground, and died out ... in 1856. Memoir of Bishop Strachan by Bishop Bethune," page 159.

[116] From Dr. Ryerson's letter to Rev. J. Scott, Editor of the Guardian, I make the following extracts:—I take the liberty to mention two or three things that I have seen in the Guardian which have caused me some pain and concern. I refer to your mode and style of controversy with "The Church." During, and since my late tour to the West, I have heard several preachers and some others allude to it, and nearly all in terms of regret. I set down the questions as they occur to my own mind.

1. We have no controversy with the Church of England as a Church Establishment. We have disclaimed opposing, or doing anything to disparage the Church Establishment in England.... 2. Then on the subject of church polity. Your articles, especially the series entitled "Dissent, etc., No Wonder"—were put forth as a defence.... But which of our institutions did they defend? The burden of them went to prove that the Church of England is unscriptural in its polity, union with the state, etc. Suppose all this were true, would it prove that our own Church is apostolic and Scriptural? To prove that our neighbours are black, does not prove that we are white. We do not profess to build up ourselves upon the ruin of any body else, or to be "foragers" upon others, although we readily accept members of other churches when they offer themselves. To prove that Presbyterian ordination is valid (as did the valuable series of articles copied by you from the Wesleyan Magazine, and Powell, on Apostolic Succession) defends our ordination. To prove that the Church of England is wrong and rotten from beginning to end cannot be a defence of ourselves. It may, indeed, please some of our friends; but it also tends to prove that we are settled enemies to the Church of England in all its forms and features, as well as in its union with the state.

Far be it from me to look upon the things I have mentioned as characteristics of the Guardian; I look upon them as blemishes, and as drawbacks from its usefulness—objects which I know are scarcely less dear to your heart than life itself. If we narrow our own foundations by such sweeping denunciations against the Church of England, and strictures on persons without our communion, ... we multiply our opponents, and reduce the circulation of our journal within the circle of our own members.

I am sensible of my own errors, deficiency and unworthiness; but I have felt that I should not do my duty to you as a brother beloved, and one from whom I have received too many proofs of regard, and so much aid in my labours, without thus telling you what was in my heart.

Rev. Mr. Scott at first felt aggrieved and disappointed on receiving this letter and a personal correspondence between him and Dr. Ryerson ensued, which, however, ended satisfactorily. In a letter to Dr. Ryerson, written in 1864—23 years afterwards,—Mr. Scott thus recalls the reminiscence of his career as Editor of the Guardian. He says:—My esteemed friend: You and I have not always thought alike (and what is manliness worth that is not independent enough to disagree?) but as age advances I have an increasing pleasure in recalling to mind the years, when you were Superintendent of old Adelaide street Church, and I was your supplementary helper,—in joint intercession with the humbled at night—in the damp basement, and during the day pursuing the penitents in dirty taverns, and the dens of dirtier March [now Lombard] street, the sainted Mrs. S. E. Taylor praying for us; and Christ won many souls. Since then what progress Scriptural Christianity—Methodism—has made in Canada! I trust that when you repose in the tomb, and I am beneath some quiet sod of loved Canada, we shall meet those again for whose salvation we laboured. In the words of an ancient wish: May your last days be your best days! Mr. Scott entered the ministry in 1834; and died at Brampton, May 5th, 1880, aged 77.

[117] In this connection see the significant conclusion of the note on page 291.

[118] This incident might also form a fitting sequel to chapter xxvii, page 213.

[Pg 301]



Victoria College.—Hon. W. H. Draper.—Sir Chas. Bagot.

Amongst the last public acts performed by Lord Sydenham was the giving of the Royal assent to a Bill for the erection of the Upper Canada Academy into a College with University powers. This he did on the 27th August, 1841. Dr. Ryerson thus refers to the event, in a letter written from Kingston on that day:—

The establishment of such an institution by the members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada attests their estimate of education and science; and the passing of such an act unanimously by both Houses of the Legislature, and the Royal assent to it by His Excellency in Her Majesty's name, is an ample refutation of recent statements and proceedings of the Wesleyan Committee in London ... while the Act itself will advance the paramount interests of literary education amongst Her Majesty's Canadian subjects.... For the accomplishment of this purpose, a grant must be added to the charter—a measure ... honourable to the enlightened liberality of the Government and Legislature. When they are securely laying a broad foundation for popular government, and devising comprehensive schemes for the development of the latent resources of the country, and the improvement of its internal communication, and proposing a liberal system of common school education, free from the domination of every church, and aiding colleges which may have been established by any church, we may rationally and confidently anticipate the arrival of a long-looked for era of civil government and civil liberty, social harmony, and public prosperity.

In October, 1841, Dr. Ryerson was appointed Principal of the newly-chartered College, and on the 21st of that month, he opened its first session by a practical address to the students.

At the close of that address he said:—

His late Most Gracious Majesty William IV., of precious memory, first invested this institution, in 1836, with a corporate charter as an Academy—the first institution of the kind established by Royal Charter, unconnected with the Church of England, throughout the British Colonies. It is a cause of renewed satisfaction and congratulation, that, after five years' operation as an Academy, it has been incorporated as a College, and financially assisted by the unanimous vote of both branches of the Provincial Legislature,—sanctioned[Pg 302] by more than an official cordiality, in Her Majesty's name, by the late lamented Lord Sydenham, one of whose last messages to the Legislative Assembly was, a recommendation, to grant £500 as an aid to the Victoria College.... We have buoyant hopes for our country when our rulers and legislators direct their earliest and most liberal attention to its literary institutions and educational interests. A foundation for a common school system in this province has been laid by the Legislature, which I believe will at no distant day, exceed in efficiency any yet established on the American Continent;[119][Pg 303] and I have reason to believe that the attention of Government is earnestly directed to make permanent provision for the support of colleges also, that they may be rendered efficient in their operation, and accessible to as large a number of the enterprising youth of our country as possible.

University of Victoria College, Cobourg.

Dr. Ryerson, although appointed Principal of the newly chartered Victoria College in October, 1841, did not relinquish his pastoral duties as Superintendent of the Toronto City Circuit until the Conference of June, 1842. His appointment as General Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, in 1840, necessitated his constant attendance during the winter season at missionary-meetings. Correspondence, consultation, and committee meetings filled up such time as he could spare from his duties as Superintendent of the Circuit. His was indeed a busy life; and by his untiring energy and industry he was enabled to give more than the usual time to the various departments of the Church's work. His aid and counsel was constantly being sought in these things, and was as freely given as though he had the most abundant leisure at his command. In February, 1842, he went to Kingston to attend its missionary anniversary. While there he says:—

In an interview which I had with Sir Charles Bagot, the new Governor-General, it affords me a satisfaction I cannot express, to be able to say that, in advancing the interests of Victoria College, and in securing the rights and interests of our Church, Sir Charles Bagot will not be second to Lord Sydenham—that while, as a man and a Christian, His Excellency is a strict and conscientious churchman, as a Governor he will know no creed or party in his decisions and administration.... I believe that it is a principle of His Excellency's Government, in public appointments, etc., qualifications and character being equal, to give the preference to native and resident inhabitants of the province—those who have suffered in the privations, have grown with the growth, and strengthened with the strength of the country. Sir Charles has the wisdom and experience of sixty-three years, and the buoyant activity of our public men of forty. If I mistake not, the characteristics of his government will be impartiality and energy—not in making further changes, but,—in consolidating and maturing the new institutions which have been established amongst us—in obliterating past differences, in developing the latent resources of the country, and in raising up a "united, happy, and prosperous people."

In March, 1842, the question was raised as to the right of ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, who had been members of the old organization of the Methodist[Pg 304] Episcopal Church in Upper Canada, to solemnize matrimony, or for the Conference legally to hold church property. Dr. Ryerson prepared a case on the subject, and submitted it to Hon. R. S. Jameson, the Attorney-General, for his opinion. The opinion of the Attorney-General was conclusive in favour of these rights, and thus this troublesome question, so often raised by adversaries, was finally set at rest.

The transition period between the death of Lord Sydenham and the arrival of his successor, Sir Charles Bagot, was marked by much uncertainty in political matters. In September, 1842, Dr. Ryerson wrote to his friend, Mr. John P. Roblin, the Liberal M.P.P. for Prince Edward county, on the apparently threatening aspect of affairs. Mr. Roblin, in his reply, dated Kingston, September 16th, said:[120]

The political sea has indeed appeared rough; the clouds were dark and ominous of a dreadful storm. But I am happy to say that they have passed away, and the prospect before us is now favourable. There were in the House quite a large majority against ministers; this they plainly saw, and, therefore, shaped their course to avert the blow. Hon. W. H. Draper stated distinctly that it was, and had been, his opinion, that the Lower Canadians should have a fair proportion of members in the Executive Council, and for that purpose he had no less than three times tendered his resignation; that he was ready to go out, and would do so at any moment. Hon. R. Baldwin certainly occupies a proud position at present, and may continue to do so, if he is not too punctilious. The arrangement, which it is understood has been come to, is that Messrs. Ogden, Draper, and Sherwood go out, and that Mr. L. H. Lafontaine comes in as Attorney East; Mr. Baldwin, Attorney-General West; Mr. T. C. Aylwin, Solicitor-General East; Mr. James E. Small, or some other Liberal, as the third man. This will make a strong Government, for it can command a large majority in the House. It is true that the gentleman you mentioned, and a few others will be dead against it, but they are a small minority, and will form a wholesome check.

No man would regret more than I would to see the country thrown into confusion at this time. I entertain a high opinion of the Governor-General (Sir Charles Bagot.) He certainly has shown a disposition to do everything he consistently could to give satisfaction to the prominent party, and being (as he is) of the Tory school, and appointed by a Tory ministry, he certainly is deserving of much credit for going as far as he did to meet the views of the Reformers.

The following was the only record left by Dr. Ryerson of his principalship of Victoria College:—At the end of two years' labours in the station of Adelaide Street Church (the predecessor of the present Metropolitan Church), I was again wrested from my loved work by an official pressure brought to bear upon me to accept the Presidency of Victoria College, which was raised from Upper Canada Academy to a College, and opened and inaugurated, in 1842, as a University College.

On the 3rd of August, 1842, the Wesleyan University at[Pg 305] Middletown, Connecticut, conferred on the Principal of Victoria College the degree of D.D. His old and valued friend Francis Hall, Esq., proprietor of the New York Commercial Advertiser, was the first to convey to him the pleasing intelligence. He said:

Perhaps this will be the first communication from Middletown which announces to Victoria College that its head is Rev. Egerton Ryerson, D.D. May you long live to enjoy the distinguished title! I hope to take you by the hand in a few days, and congratulate you personally.

On the 21st of June, 1842, Dr. Ryerson was, with appropriate ceremonies, formally installed as Principal of Victoria College. The Editor of this volume well remembers what a joyful day it was for the College; and how heartily and kindly the new Principal spoke words of encouragement to each of the students then present. On that occasion he delivered a carefully prepared inaugural address, which was afterwards published in pamphlet form and widely circulated. On the 10th September, he sent a copy of the address to Hon. W. H. Draper. In his note Dr. Ryerson called Mr. Draper's attention to what he conceived to be the defective nature of the provisions for the education of law-students, before their entrance on the study of the law (pages 24 and 25 of the address). To this Mr. Draper replied on the 16th. He also added an explanation in regard to his present position in the Government. He said:—

I have perused your address with much satisfaction. The Law Society of Upper Canada, by appointing a well-qualified examiner last term, will, I think, forward your views as to the education which should precede the study of that profession.

By the recent changes which have taken place, I have no longer the right to visit Victoria College officially; but I hope that I may be favoured with an opportunity of doing so in my private capacity.

You will not, I trust, consider it intrusive in me to briefly state the cause of my retirement from the Cabinet. I have long considered the Government in a false position, while the French Canadians saw in the Council no person acquainted with their wants and wishes—able and willing to look after their interests, and in whom they had confidence. Apprehending from what took place in the beginning of last session that they might refuse to take office with me, I signified several months ago my readiness to retire if that were the case. In July I renewed that offer. And now, when a negotiation was opened on, it appeared that they would not come in without Mr. Baldwin. I again offered my resignation, because, taking the view I do of his conduct when we were last in Council together, I feel I should not be in that body if he were there also. From that moment I ceased to advise or have anything to do with the matter. Had every other part of it been satisfactory to me, or had it been altered so as to make it satisfactory, nevertheless his being brought in inevitably put me out. Should you hear my conduct canvassed and misunderstood, this explanation will, I trust, set it right.

To Mr. Draper's letter Dr. Ryerson replied, and on the 7th October again wrote, asking him to deliver an address to the students at the opening of the session. In his letter Dr. Ryerson said:[Pg 306]

I deeply regret any occurrence which would deprive Canada of the advantage of your official counsels. I have observed your public conduct throughout, and it has been such in my estimation, as I have felt it a pleasurable duty to appreciate and defend, even in the most doubtful and trying circumstances. You now enjoy the proud distinction of advising and assisting, on public grounds, to form a government, from which, on personal grounds, you have felt it your duty to retire. You cannot suppose that I entertain a less exalted opinion of your disinterestedness and high sense of honour, when the strong opinions I have again and again expressed of it, have been more than realized by your present patriotic and noble course of proceeding.

In regard to the address which I have solicited you to deliver at the opening of the next session of our College, I desire to state that you will of course make it long or short, as you like, although I should like it long. It is my intention to get, if possible, some gentleman of high public standing and literary talent to deliver an address at the commencement of each collegiate year. I think that such addresses will have a salutary influence upon the taste and feeling and ambition of the students; and the notices and publication of them in the newspapers will tend to elevate the standard of the public taste, and will, I think, be useful to public men themselves. I shall be gratified, and I am sure good will ensue, from your appearing before the public in a somewhat new character.

To this letter Mr. Draper replied, on the 10th October:—

I find that, consistently with my professional engagements at the different assizes (which are now of paramount importance to me), I cannot prepare an address so as to do justice to your request. If it involved only the attendance on the day, I would cheerfully make some sacrifice to accomplish it; but there is more, for I would wish, if I undertook the task, to perform it well, and try to approximate the favourable expectation of those who were willing to entrust it to me; and for this end I cannot devote time enough out of the short interval between this and the latest day named by you. Accept my assurance that I feel great reluctance in declining your proposal. The compliment it conveyed was highly gratifying to me under existing circumstances, and I should have felt sincere pleasure in exciting my humble abilities in favour of an institution to which, when I had fuller opportunities, I had endeavoured to be of use (page 179). Accept my acknowledgements for the kindness and courtesy of your other remarks in reference to myself.

Sir Charles Bagot did not long hold the office of Governor-General. Like Lord Sydenham, he was unexpectedly stricken by the hand of death, at Kingston, on the 19th May, 1843. A sketch of his life and character was prepared by Dr. Ryerson and published in the Kingston Chronicle. In that sketch he said:—

Sir Charles Bagot has created throughout the length and breadth of United Canada the settled and delightful conviction that its Government is henceforth to be British, as well as Colonial—and, as such, the best on the continent of America; that Canadians are to be governed upon the principle of domestic, and not transatlantic, policy; that they are not to be minified as men and citizens, because they are colonists; that they are (to use the golden words of Sir Robert Peel) "to be treated as an integral portion of the British Empire."

This sketch was very favourably received by the leading public men of Canada, and, after it appeared in the Chronicle,[Pg 307] was reprinted by Stewart Derbyshire, Esq., Queen's Printer, who, in a letter to Dr. Ryerson on the subject, said:—

Your letter in the Chronicle has attracted high admiration in the quarters most competent for criticism, and it is felt you have done a real service to the country. Supposing your wish is to diffuse the sentiments of your letter, I have taken the liberty of giving it to our printers of the Canada Gazette to set up in handsome type, 8 octavo pages, and shall strike off 1,000, and send about, giving away a good many, and putting the rest at book-stores at a very small price. The common run of people do not value what they do not pay for. Have I acted in this in accordance with your wishes—or do you interdict the publication? Many extra copies of the Chronicle were struck off, and about forty copies sent to-day to England by the steamer "Great Western." Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, and Sir Charles Buller had one each.

Dr. Ryerson assented to the republication of his letter.

In the light of after events, the following extract from a letter received by Dr. Ryerson from Hon. R. B. Sullivan, dated Kingston, 21st July, 1843, is somewhat interesting. Mr. Sullivan had placed one of his sons under Dr. Ryerson's care at Victoria College. After referring to matters relating to the education of youth, Mr. Sullivan proceeded:—"I hope that our friendship will be a sufficient inducement to you to teach my boy that upon his own good conduct under Providence his future happiness depends, and to give him that steadfastness of mind which lads naturally want. In asking these things of you, I place myself under no common obligation. There is no man in Canada of whom I would ask the same. My doing so of you arises from a respect and regard for you personally, which has grown as we have been longer acquainted, and which no prejudices on the part of those with whom I have mixed, and no obloquy heaped upon you by others, have ever shaken."

It is pleasant to get a kind word from those who approve of one's course. It is pleasanter to get it from those who have been indifferent, or even hostile. Thus, in a letter from Rev. Matthew Holtby to Dr. Ryerson, written in March, 1842, he said:

Soon after I arrived here from England, I became acquainted with you and your writings, and ever since, I have watched your course, often with painful and prayerful anxiety. It is long since I doubted the propriety of your public conduct, or the justice of your cause; but as I observed the storm gathering around you, and the winds blowing into a hurricane, from all the cardinal points at once, I have had my fears, that you might faint in the apparently unequal conflict. Thank God, he has delivered you—he has enabled you to stand at the helm, and to steer the Old Ship into smoother water. But we may rest assured that our foes are not dead. I only wish you may manifest as much nautical skill in a calm, as you have in the long storm, and I doubt not but all will be well.


[119] This memorable prophecy as to the future of our educational system was evidently made by Dr. Ryerson under the conviction that the verbal promise made to him by Lord Sydenham in 1841,—that he should have the superintendence of that system—would have been carried out by his successor, Sir Charles Bagot. There was no written promise, however, on the subject, and he and his friends were greatly surprised at the singular appointment made in May, 1842. It was not until 1844 that Dr. Ryerson received the promised appointment—the reward (as was then most unjustly alleged against him) of services rendered to Sir Charles Metcalfe in the crisis of that year. (See, however, chapter xliii. on Dr. Ryerson's appointment as Superintendent of Education.)

[120] This correspondence illustrates one phase of the political history of the times.

[Pg 308]



Episode in the Case of Hon. Marshall S. Bidwell.

As mentioned in Chapter xxiv., page 188, an effort was made in 1843 to induce Hon. M. S. Bidwell to return to Canada. Copies of the correspondence on the subject were enclosed to Dr. Ryerson, by the Hon. Robert Baldwin, in a letter dated Kingston, 5th June, 1843, as follows:—

I enclose you copies of letters which I am sure will afford you much pleasure. At present this communication of them must be confidential, as you will see by their date that they have not yet reached their object himself. But after the warm interest you have taken in the cause of my friend, at a time when any interference on my part would have been worse than useless, I feel it due to you to make you early acquainted with what has taken place. I have seen, with much pleasure, that you have carried out the intention you hinted to me when I last had the pleasure of seeing you at Kingston. Your admirable letter must have had a good effect. I see that some little popguns were let off at you on the occasion, but they are too puny to excite anything but a smile at their imbecility.

I regret much my inability to have been present at your last annual examination, but hope to be more fortunate another year.

The Hon. Robert Baldwin's letter to Mr. Bidwell, enclosed to Dr. Ryerson, dated Kingston, 2nd June, 1843, was as follows:—

I have great pleasure in being able to transmit to you a copy of a note addressed by me to His Excellency the Governor-General, with a copy of that of Mr. Secretary Harrison, conveying His Excellency's reply, which, I am happy, so distinctly removes every obstacle to your return to what has been in all essentials your native country; and that without the descent on your part, by even a single step, from the high ground which you have always maintained in relation to your unjust expatriation.

I will at present only stop to assure you of the sentiments of unabated affection and respect with which you have ever continued to be regarded in this country, during the whole period of your exile, and to express my conviction of the satisfaction with which your return will be hailed by all your former friends, and by many even of your former political opponents—in which satisfaction, I trust, I need scarcely add that no one will more sincerely participate than myself.

The following is a copy of Mr. Baldwin's note to Sir Charles Metcalfe, the Governor-General, dated 25th May:—

Mr. Robert Baldwin, having been informed by Mr. Secretary Harrison that with reference to the case of Mr. Bidwell, which Mr. Baldwin had the honour of bringing under the notice of the Governor-General shortly after his assumption of the Government, His Excellency only requires a request to be made to him as a foundation for his directing that the pledge taken from that gentleman, in his departure from Upper Canada, should be cancelled,[Pg 309] and giving His Excellency's sanction for the introduction into Parliament of a Bill to restore to Mr. Bidwell the political rights of which his residence abroad, under pressure of that pledge, has deprived him, Mr. Baldwin respectfully begs leave to make that request.

The letter in reply, of Mr. Secretary Harrison to Hon. Robert Baldwin, dated 29th May, was as follows:—

I am commanded by the Governor-General to inform you, in reply to your note of the 25th inst., that His Excellency considers it right that whatever pledge may have been given by Mr. Bidwell on his departure from Upper Canada, to preclude his return, should be cancelled. The letter of that gentleman to the then Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, supposed to contain such a pledge, is not to be found in the archives of the Secretary's office. I am, therefore, directed to say that the pledge is considered as cancelled, and that the letter, if ever found, may be returned.

I am also further desired to acquaint you that in the event of Mr. Bidwell's proposing to return, His Excellency will give his sanction to the introduction into Parliament of a Bill to restore to that gentleman the political rights of which his residence abroad, under pressure of his pledge, deprived him.

On the 14th August, 1843, Hon. Robert Baldwin wrote the following letter to Dr. Ryerson:—

I send you a copy of a letter from our friend, Mr. Bidwell, in answer to my letters to him. The original I have sent up to my father, but had a copy made for you, knowing the interest you have ever taken in his case.

Hon. M. S. Bidwell's letter to Hon. Robert Baldwin, dated New York, 31st July, 1843, was as follows:—

I hardly know how to commence my answer to your letter after so long a delay which has been unintentional and unexpected, and in a great measure unavoidable. I might, indeed, and ought to have written to you when I first received it, but I then hoped it would be in my power to make you a short visit in compliance with your invitation. On this point I was kept in suspense by the state of Mrs. Bidwell's health, and was besides very laboriously occupied with indispensable professional engagements. With this frank explanation I throw myself upon your indulgence to pardon my delay.

Never, my dear friend, for one moment have I doubted your kind and friendly feelings, or your anxiety that I should be treated with justice and liberality by the Government, and I have never ceased to be gratified that I was honoured with the friendship of one whose wishes and talents have, for many years, commanded my respect. Amidst the dejection of spirits and perplexity of mind that I have suffered, this consideration has afforded me great consolation.

Your communication has now taken me by surprise. You will add to your former obligations if you will make suitable acknowledgements for me to His Excellency for the answer which, by his directions, Mr. Secretary Harrison returned to your letter.

All that I have learned of Sir Charles Metcalfe's character and measures has filled me with the highest respect, and with a confidence that Canada will be governed by him with wisdom, justice, and liberality. Loving that country, this confidence has been a source of great joy to me.

Let me add that, in my judgment, Sir Robert Peel in all his measures, since his last appointment has shown a wise moderation and conciliatory spirit, and an anxious desire for the true welfare of the vast Empire beneath the sway of Her Majesty's sceptre.[Pg 310]

I would gladly make you a visit at once if I could, but I should feel great pleasure to see you here. I shall do with great pleasure what I can to make the visit agreeable to you. I have heard with concern of the feeble health of your venerable father. I cannot tell you with what deep interest and great respect I think of him. He has been the consistent friend of constitutional liberty through evil report as well as good report. Amidst perfidy and violence, folly and bigotry and intolerance, he has presented a rare and happy example, which I admire, of an enlightened and cultivated mind supporting the great principles of the British Constitution with discriminating zeal, constancy of purpose, and moderation of temper. I beg that you will do me the favour when you write to him to present my most affectionate and respectful regards.

I perceive that Mr. Secretary Harrison alludes to the possibility of my returning to Canada. I cannot fail to feel, as long as I live, a deep interest in that country, and the most ardent wishes for its prosperity. But I have formed no plans for a change of residence. A constant attention to my business, which is necessary for the support of my family, has left me no time to form plans.

With a gratified sense of your kindness and with great regard and affection, your friend,

Marshall S. Bidwell.

To this letter from Mr. Bidwell, Hon. Robert Baldwin replied on the 12th August, as follows:—

I have, believe me, great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your letter, as well on account of its relieving me, to a certain extent at least, from apprehensions that Mrs. Bidwell's health was the cause of your silence.

I cannot, however, conceal my disappointment at the last paragraph of your letter, in which, though you do not altogether shut out the hope of our having you again amongst us.... The obligations in regard to Mrs. Bidwell's health which you wrote (as precluding such consideration for the present) are, however, too sacred for even friendship to venture upon more than a repetition of those assurances, which my former letter contained, of the feelings of affection entertained towards you in this country, and the satisfaction which your return would afford. I, however, find it impossible to do otherwise than indulge in the pleasing anticipation of again seeing you amongst us, not as a mere visitor, but as once more a Canadian, in fact as well as in feeling. We have not, and certainly for the generation to which we belong, shall not, have any subjects of equal importance, in a pecuniary point of view, to those which seek the aid, and reward the exertion, of your professional talents where you are. It seems, therefore, to partake somewhat of selfishness to wish to withdraw you from an arena worthy of your great talents, to appropriate those talents to a sphere so much more limited. Be that as it may, I will indulge the hope, so long as you do not forbid it. In the meantime, could you not take a leave of absence for a few weeks during the coming Autumn Assizes, and amuse yourself with holding some briefs on some of them here? We have now five Circuits—the Eastern, Midland, Home, Niagara, and Western. Mr. Justice Jones takes the Eastern, Mr. Justice McLean the Midland, the Chief Justice the Niagara, and Mr. Justice Hagerman the Western. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see you thus renew your relations with our bar; even if you should not do so with a view to a final return to it. Let me know soon, in a post or two, if possible, as well as the circuit you mean to go on.... Now as I have gone on with this scheme, I find myself grow warm on it, so do not throw cold water upon it by a negative.

If I could do so with any propriety, I would avail myself of your kind invitation to visit you at New York for the purpose, not only of seeing you,[Pg 311] but of urging this my suit in person. But I assure you it is out of my power to do so. Parliament is called for 2nd September, and I shall not have a moment's leisure from this time till the Session is over. You must recollect that, as a Parliament man, I am comparatively but a young hand, and I have to try and make up for want of experience by hard work; though I find it by no means a sufficient substitute.

I complied in substance with your request to make your acknowledgements to His Excellency for the answer, which by his direction, Mr. Secretary Harrison returned to my letter; but lest I should do so less appropriately than I ought, I took the liberty of letting you speak for yourself, by showing His Excellency your letter.

Your opinions of the Governor-General and of Sir Robert Peel entirely agree with my own. But I regret to say that some of our friends, and of our firm friends too, seem to me to forget what has been accomplished because everything is not done at once, or, because some things are done not exactly as they would have them. This impatience is much to be regretted. If I were one whom it was necessary to keep up to the mark, as it may be called, it might be excusable, but they do not even profess to think that to be the case as respects the points in question. Their display of dissatisfaction, therefore, has only the effect of lessening the weight of the party in Upper Canada in the eyes of both the Head of the government here and the Imperial authorities at home. But I did not mean to make this a letter of complaint; but the fact is, I am just now smarting under an ebullition of violence on the part of our friends in Toronto, on the subject of Mr. Stanton's appointment to the Collectorship there, which almost involuntarily led me into these remarks. You will, I hope, excuse me.

My dear father, I am happy to say, appears by his last letters to be rather better. I fear much, however, that the improvement cannot be considered of a permanent character. As the Governor-General kept your letter till yesterday, I was only able to send it up to him to-day. It will, I am sure, afford him much gratification.

I hope you will excuse the length of this epistle, and rebuke me by the shortness of your reply, which need contain no more than six words, to wit: "I will ride the circuit." I believe "ride" is the professional term; at least used to be so, though it may belong to the era of Mr. Justice Twisden, if not a still more remote one, rather than at present.... You see how inclined I am to run on, so that lest I should transgress beyond endurance, I will conclude at once, with the assurance of my warm and continued regard. Ever your affectionate friend,

R. B.

[Pg 312]



Events Preceding the Defence of Lord Metcalfe.

The defence of Lord Metcalfe, the Governor-General of Canada, who succeeded Sir Charles Bagot in 1843, was unquestionably the most memorable act of Dr. Ryerson's long and eventful life.

His previous training for twenty years in the school of controversy in relation to civil and religious rights; his personal intercourse with leading statesmen in England on Canadian affairs; his contests for denominational equality with successive Governors in Upper Canada, and his counsels and suggestions, (offered at their request), to such notable representatives of Royalty in Canada as Lord Durham, Lord Sydenham, Sir Charles Bagot, and Sir Charles Metcalfe, put it beyond the power of even the most captious to question the pre-eminent qualifications of Dr. Ryerson to discuss, in a practical and intelligent manner, the then unsettled question of responsible government as against the prerogative—a question which had arisen between Sir Charles Metcalfe and his late Councillors. In the chapter which Dr. Ryerson had prepared for this part of the Story of his Life, he thus refers to his intercourse with, and relations to, the distinguished Governors whom I have mentioned. He said:—

In 1839 a Royal Commission was issued to Lord Durham to investigate the affairs of Canada, and report thereon to Her Majesty. While engaged in his important duty he sent for and conferred with me repeatedly, and treated me with such consideration, as that on leaving him he would accompany me to the door and open it for me, shaking hands with me most cordially. After his return to England he sent me a copy of his famous Report (addressed by himself) before it was laid on the table of the House of Lords. On receiving in advance this report of Lord Durham I published in the Guardian, with appropriate headings, extracts from that part of it which related to the establishment of responsible government and its administration in Canada, and then lent the extracts and the type on which they were printed to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Francis[Pg 313] Hincks for insertion in the Examiner newspaper, of which he was at that time proprietor and Editor. I afterwards aided Lord Sydenham in every way in my power to allay the party passions and animosities of the past, and to establish responsible government upon liberal principles, irrespective of past party distinctions, comprehending Hon. W. H. Draper and Hon. Robert Baldwin in the same administration—a union or coalition which did not long survive the life of Lord Sydenham—Mr. Baldwin declaring his want of confidence in Mr. Draper, and retiring from the government. Soon afterwards, Mr. Baldwin and his friends succeeded to power under Sir Charles Bagot.

This was the state of things until 1843, when Sir Charles Bagot died, and Sir Charles Metcalfe was appointed to succeed him. I had the melancholy pleasure of offering a tribute (in the form of an obituary notice) to the character and administration of both Lord Sydenham and Sir Charles Bagot—papers much noticed and widely circulated at the time as the best specimens of any writing which had ever appeared; but I had a genial theme and good subjects in both cases. Sir Charles Metcalfe was popular with all parties at first: but after a few months a difference arose between him and his Councillors as to the appointment of the Clerk of the Peace of the County of Lanark, and then on the principle of appointments to office; or in other words, the exercise of the patronage of the Crown.

To understand the character of this famous and much misrepresented controversy, and how I became involved in it, some preliminary and explanatory remarks are necessary:—

It is to be observed in the first place, that one chief subject of complaint by "Reformers" for many years—nay from the beginning—was the partial exercise of the patronage of the Crown, appointing magistrates, officers of militia, judges, etc., from men of one party only, in whose behalf every kind of executive favour was bestowed for years. This was the purport of their complaints in the various petitions and addresses of "Reformers" to the Earl of Durham, Lord Sydenham, Sir Charles Bagot, etc., who necessarily promised that the Governments should henceforth be conducted upon the principles of justice, "according to the well understood wishes of the people," of whom "Reformers" claimed to contribute a large majority, and even of the liberal Conservative members of the Church of England. But singular to say, on the occurrence of the first vacancy, the Reform government urged upon Sir Charles Metcalfe the appointment of one of their own party, irrespective of the superior claims, as the Governor conceived (on the ground of service, experience and fitness), of a deserving widow and her orphan son. The circumstances were as follows:[Pg 314]

Amongst the early gentlemen immigrants in the County of Lanark was a Mr. Powell, a man of wealth and education; but in attempting to clear and cultivate a farm in a new country, he soon expended his means and became reduced in circumstances. He was appointed Clerk of the Peace, and discharged its duties for many years, when he sickened and died. During the two years' sickness which preceded his death, the duties of office were discharged satisfactorily by his son, who was then about twenty or twenty-one years of age. On the death of her husband, the Widow Powell proceeded to Kingston to plead in person before Sir Charles Metcalfe for the appointment of her son to the office vacated by the death of her husband, and as the only means of supporting herself and family. One can easily conceive the effect of such an appeal upon Sir Charles Metcalfe's benevolent feelings. He declined the advice of his Councillors for a party appointment, and determined to appoint the widow's son to the office rendered vacant by the death of her husband, and one which he had successfully discharged for nearly two years. The Council, instead of resigning on the fact of the appointment, sought to obtain from Sir Charles Metcalfe a promise that he would henceforth act upon their advice. He said he would always receive and consider their advice, but would give no promise on the part of the Crown as to how far he would pledge the prerogative in advance and act upon that advice. On this the Councillors resigned, charging Sir Charles Metcalfe with violating the principles of responsible government. This he positively denied. The circumstances of the case were so mystified by the statements made, that general prejudice was excited against Sir Charles Metcalfe, and the Councillors seemed for the time to have the country at their backs.[121]

I was at that time President of Victoria College; and the late Hon. Wm. Hamilton Merritt, returning from Kingston at the sudden close of the Session of Parliament held there, stopped the stage in front of the College, called to see me, and asked me what I thought of the occurrences between the Governor-General and his Councillors. I told him that, from what I had heard, my sympathies were with the Councillors. He answered that I was mistaken; that the Councillors were clearly in the wrong; that they had made a great mistake, and were endangering principles of government for which he had so long contended. He then stated the particulars of what had transpired, and referred me, in confirmation of his statement, to the documents and correspondence which would all be printed in a few days. I replied, that if what he (Mr. Merritt) stated was correct, Sir Charles Metcalfe was an injured man, and that the new system of responsible government was likely to be applied in a way contrary to what had always been professed by its