“The Calebite Platform,” The Globe (28 March 1850)
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Calebite Platform,” The Globe (28 March 1850).
The Calebite Platform.
The Examiner of yesterday contains a long reply to our remarks on the platform of the new republican party. It was to have been expected that the dire indignation of the Calebite organ would be drawn down on us with fresh fury, and we are not, therefore, surprised that our arguments are replied to with abusive personalities. The public are assured that the Editor of the Globe is “the great organ of Canadian moderatism”—a “hireling scoffer”—a “Titus Oates”—a “political harlequin,”—an “animal” showing “asinine displays,”—a “political parasite,”—a “political quack,”—a “hopeful adventurer,”—an “unprincipled adventurer,”—one of “those wretches, generally the meanest of mankind.”—a “wrong headed coxcombical Editor,”—one of those “tools” who obtain “the wages of prostitution,”—a specimen of “political vermin,”—causing “leprosy on the body politic,”—a “political spider,”—a “political hack,”—an intruder” in the Reform party—a notorious hack,”—a writer of “ruffianism and buffoonery,”—a “bearish-courtly contemporary,”—a “distinguished scribbler,”—an “innocent journalist” but decidedly chargeable with “stupidity.” Our contemporary is perfectly welcome to pile on abuse to his heart’s content;—no thinking man will be prejudiced by such silly trash, and for ourselves we are long used to that sort of thing. Indeed, were it not for regret at the unhappy mental condition of the man who could pen such a tirade—we might find cause of rejoicing at the undoubted evidence it affords that our remarks have told. Indeed, the whole tone of the Examiner article proves this to be the case. The bold “antagonism” to the present Government avowed in previous numbers is now altogether dropped,—the lion is metamorphosed once more into the cringing ignoble animal, which hangs about the kitchen yard, under a half licence founded on “use and wont,” and privileged to snap and snarl at any thing and every body. We were told last week that a “clear-grit administration” was at hand, and the very men to compose it were exhibited to our astonished gaze; but now, it seems, the summit of their ambition is “not to impair their (the Ministry’s) influence in the right path, but to strengthen it,” and all they modestly propose is, “that if the present Ministry do not carry their pledges into effect, others will”—meaning that they, the Calebites, will. It is brought as an accusation against us that, we are “determined to deprive the Ministry of the support of the clear-grits,” and, in short, wheedling, and protestation, and all sorts of devices are brought into play to work the republicans out of their attitude as a separate party, and back into their old position of annoyance as traitors in the Constitutional Reform camp. It is satisfactory that the Calebites have found so early that the false position which they have assumed is ruinous to them, and that their old double-faced game is the only one they can prosecute with success. We hope even that will not serve them again.
We admire the dexterity with which our contemporary attempts to fasten the language we applied to himself and his half-dozen friends who head the movement, upon “the farmers who assembled at Markham, Brooklin, and other places in the County of York,” but it is exceedingly unfair. We are assured that of the “two hundred Reformers who met at Markham,” nearly one-half were staunch Tories—that there was a strong dissentient party in the meeting to the revolutionary portion of Mr. Perry’s harangue; and that another strong party were mere lookers-on, and took no interest in the resolutions, which were all brought cut-and-dry for them to pass. The Examiner says:—
We suspect, however, that the farmers who assembled at Markham, Brooklin, and other places in the County of York, to express their opinion on the public questions of the day, will hardly fall down to kiss the big toe of any political harlequin who may take a notion to lecture them on the fashion of opinions they are to hold and the way they must express them.
This is a style of argument very well adapted to the political school from which it comes; it is an old device, when sound reasoning cannot be found in favour of a cause, to appeal to the pride and prejudices and mankind. Our contemporary must feel the truth of those “lectures,” when he trues to raise such a contemptible barrier in the way of their receiving fair consideration.
We admire also the ingenious manner in which the Examiner attempts to fasten on the “Reform Association of Hamilton, and perhaps nine-tenths of the whole Reform party,” a share in the charge of revolutionism, which we brough against the Calebites; but his mode of doing it is atrociously unprincipled. He says:—
“The Ballot is another of the measures, which the Globe has tumbled among the revolutionary lumber. Of this measure, Mr. Baldwin in his place in Parliament, on the 13th May, 1846, stated he had always been the advocate; and Mr. Price at the same time made an able speech in favour of it. Mr. Small used to move it every Session; the Assembly of the Upper Canada Parliament frequently sanctioned it. The Reform Association of Hamilton, and perhaps nine-tenths of the whole Reform party in the country are in favour of adopting it. Yet the Globe which claims to speak for reformers represents the ballot as a revolutionary measure!”
The whole of this is deliberately concocted—without a shadow of groundwork for it. Where did we represent the ballot as a revolutionary measure?—point out the passage. Far from so speaking, had we touched on it, we would have expressed perfect indifference; we are satisfied that in practice it has not the effect its friends anticipate from it—that every man’s vote is known quite as well in the United States as here. But in truth we have no strong feeling on the subject, and if any existing evil arising from the present system which ballot would remedy could be shown, we would go for it without hesitation. It certainly has the prima facie argument against it, that it encourages moral cowardice.
Another very glaring misrepresentation of the Examiner’s is in reference to a change in the construction of the Upper House. He says:—
“Amongst the ‘revolutionary,’ unfortunately for the Globe, are measures now before the British Parliament, introduced by the Whig Cabinet. We have, too, the declaration of one of the ministers that Canada can have one of these ‘revolutionary measures’ if she desires it. In the late discussion on the colonies, Mr. Hawes, Under Colonial Secretary, said:—
“He wished it to be considered as a declaration of the Parliament of England, that in any Colony where a large proportion of Europeans existed, an elective Legislative Council would meet with no opposition from Parliament.”
“This declaration of the Under Colonial Secretary, is of course, as the Globe describes a similar movement here, ‘but another step in the ‘sapping and mining’ tactics, and the first step of preparation for the annexation denouncement; “ergo (Globe logic) Under Secretary Hawes is a traitor, and must be decapitated without further trial! The Hamilton Reform Association, several weeks ago, came out in favor of an elective Legislative Council; and, singularly enough, about the same time some seventeen branches of the League did the same.”
Where, pray, did the Globe pronounce an elective Legislative Council to be a “revolutionary measure?” The Examiner must be hard put to it when he can only meet our arguments by attributing to us words and sentiments we never uttered, for the purpose of knocking them down. It was not the election of legislatures that we charged as revolutionary, but elective institutions “the whole length,” according to Mr. Perry, or in the more precise language of the Brooklin Calebites, the election by “universal suffrage and vote by ballot” of “all our public functionaries of every grade”—governors, executive councillors, legislative councillors, judges, sheriffs, post-master, custom-house officers, registrars, clerks of the peace, &c., down to the lowest grade of placemen. This is what, among other points of the platform, we called revolutionary. We did not say that the Examiner and his friends have no right to agitate for such changes—revolutionary though they be—for we admit that all but that to sever the last connecting link between Canada and Great Britain, the appointment of the Head of the Government, are fit grounds of agitation. The adoption of their platform would amount to an entire revolution in our constitutional system; and we oppose it, because we vastly prefer British constitutional to American republican government. We denounce the agitators who invoke this revolution, because they are attempting to throw the country into new turmoil, most destructive to its best interests—because they are raising a cry for these revolutionary projects when there exists no desire for them in the country—because they wish to pronounce against and throw overboard a constitution only just achieved, after twenty years labor, and to introduce a much worse one in its place; and we denounce their whole conduct, because it was originally the offspring of personal chagrin and envy, and because it is merely the insertion of the lever to work the way for annexation.
The Examiner may falsify, and misrepresent, and coax as he well knows how, to work himself and his ambitious faction back into the partial confidence of the Reform party,—he may try to cloak his annexation principles with all the wile he has employed for the last six months,—he may try to soften the past admissions of his friends by present statements that “his opinion on the subject of an elective Legislative Council has yet to be expressed,” that “the people of Canada care very little about the mode of appointing the Governor,” that the Calebites are not “in favor of carrying universal suffrage into immediate practical effect,” and that he “supports the principle of the Hamilton platform;” but it will be all of no avail. His career during the last twelve months shook confidence in him, and his conduct in the last few weeks has completely unmasked him. His insidious attempts to overthrow the present Ministry, while he was protesting every moment his desire to sustain them,—his coalescing with the Tories to oust a member of a Reform Government, because it dared to dismiss Dr. Parke, and declined making Perry’s Corners a District Town, have entirely extracted the strong from his fangs.
We repeat that the entire article of the Examiner is satisfactory as showing that public opinion has compelled the boasting republicans of last week to shrink back into their shells already, and betake themselves once more to sapping and mining. We are satisfied that the rational correction of abuses and a judicious system of legislation is all that is sought by the Reform party of Upper Canada; that they are totally opposed to throwing the country into another violent agitation for organic changes; and that they are quite prepared to give the British Constitutional system which we now enjoy, a full and fair trial.