Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 13 April 1868, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT.—It is with feelings of deep regret that I have to announce to this House the sad news reported by telegraph, that the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee was assassinated at Ottawa, on the morning of the 7th instant. There are few hon. members present who have not seen him, and those who have not, have heard of his patriotic movements in Canada, before the Provinces were united, and from all they know, they must feel as I do, a deep regret that so worthy a man should be assassinated by his fellow-man. I do not intend to enter into a long display of words upon this occasion, but I admired the man who was a co-delegate at the late Conference on Confederation, and who always showed a feeling to do justice to the Lower Provinces, as well as to his adopted country. I can bear willing testimony to the love of justice and fair play which actuated the noble heart and able mind of this distinguished statesman and orator. I have always held him in high esteem, and nothing has given me a greater shake than to bear that this worthy and noble man has been assassinated for speaking the truth, and uttering the sentiments of his mind. All hon. members present must feel that an assassin could deprive them of life, and might do so if they merely speak the simple truth, and therefore it behoves all public men to deprecate this atrocious act Having had the honor of an acquaintance with Mrs. McGee, I deeply sympathize, as I believe the whole House does with her in her bereavement. It is with a deep feeling of sorrow that I move the following :—
The assassination of the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee, of the Dominion of Canada, having been reported by telegram—
Therefore, Resolved, That this House regards with horror and detestation the atrocious and blood-thirsty act ; deeply sympathizes with the bereaved widow and orphans, and sincerely regrets that the Dominion Government should have lost such an able and patriotic statesman.
This, I believe, expresses the sentiments of this hon. House.
Hon. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.—As the Leader of the Opposition, I have the painful satisfaction of seconding the resolution which has just been moved by the hon. Leader of the Government on the death of the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee. I bad the pleasure of his acquaintance in 1864, while attending the Quebec Conference, and from what I saw of him then, both in public and private, I came to the conclusion, Sir, that he was one of the greatest men of which British North America could boast. I have never altered the conclusion I then came to, and day by day, and year by year, subsequently, I have been more convinced than ever, that he was a bright and shining light. As a public man in British America, and one who had at heart the welfare and prosperity of all the inhabitants of these Provinces, he stood in the front rank, and I am certain, however hon. members in this House may differ with him as regards the means of carrying out his great object, they must all be convinced that he had no selfish purposes to serve in advocating the Union of British America; because, if he would wish to make himself popular for the moment, he would have taken the opposite course. But he had large conscientiousness and matured views upon this important question, and could speak with greater weight upon that topic than any other man, because in his early days, before his judgment was matured, he was tinged strongly with republican principles, and firmly believed that his beloved country could never prosper unless under the republican system of government. When that unfortunate crisis arrived, in his native country in 1848, he took up his abode in the United States, believing that he could there enjoy greater liberty than under the flag of England; but he did not remain there for many years before he saw that what at first seemed to him very beautiful and fair was far from sound and correct in principle. He crossed the line and found the people of Canada enjoying more real liberty than their neighbors in the United States. After experiencing the various forms of government, he came to the conclusion in his matured judgment, that there was more liberty as regards action and the rights of conscience under a constitutional monarchy, than could be enjoyed under a republican government. From that time to the day of his sudden and cruel death, he devoted himself to ttie cause of his country, and after leaving the Legislative Halls of the Dominion on the morning of the 7th instant, having just delivered a very able speech, he was sent into eternity by the shots of an assassin, without a moment's warning. He is not the first statesman who has fallen in that manner; a Prime Minister of England was sent into eternity in the same way within the present century, and again the late President of the United States fell also by the brutal assassin's hand. We cannot find words, for the tongue refuses to perform its functions, when we contemplate the tearful end of the great Canadian statesman. A great and noble man has fallen in the zenith of his political power; and, therefore, I am sure there will not be a dissentient voice to the resolution. In meditating upon the sad death of this true patriot, we are reminded of the language of the poet Longfellow, when he said :—
"The lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time."
The resolution was here again read at the Clerk's table.
Hon. Mr. MCAULAY.—There is no individual, Sir, in whose breast the tender feeling of humanity exists, but must have formed a favorable opinion of the hon. gentleman whose career has been suddenly out short in the midst of youth. Although he ran in the path of error, when young, experience calmed him down, and he repented in maturer years. I am not aware that a greater man exists in these Colonies; although I have never seen his person, I have read his writings and his speeches with profound admiration. When we think of his patriotism, his love of constitutional liberty and his superior attainments, we must, under these circumstances, conclude that the world has lost a great man. We may say truly that "a great man has fallen in Israel." We must deeply regret that any community should shelter in its bosom a person capable of perpetrating such an atrocious crime, and must sincerely hope that he will be brought to justice.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—I am sorry that we should be called upon to pass a resolution of this kind. When we see a man of such a stamp as the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee, who had one of the noblest and most cultivated minds the world has ever seen, and the largest heart that has ever throbbed in sympathy with his fellow-creatures, cut down in the prime of life, the heart is made sore at the thought that any man could launch such a noble soul into eternity. This great and honorable man occupied a position and earned a name in his adopted country which cannot be forgotten; and though he erred in his early days, there was an ample excuse for him when we take into consideration the views and prevailing ideas which agitated his native country at the time. His experience afterwards taught him the folly of the course which he had pursued, and he took the side of justice and true liberty; while little minds would have followed on in their foolish course, and would have carried the errors of youth into middle age, he saw the right path and walked in it. While smaller minds would have taken credit to themselves if they had acted as be did in 1848, in his native country, he was not the man to do so. He thought that he had thrown away his early days, that he had some re PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 191 compense to make, and that he could do it better in the new country than in the old one. He might have occupied an enviable position in the United States, but be thought that in this new country he could be of some use, that his soul would find some rest, and that he would yet be able to make some recompense to the public of British America and to the Mother Country for the errors of his youth. I have never seen him, nor do I agree with him on the great question of Confederation; but in view of the events which are now taking place, every British subject in America must feel that we have lost one of the greatest minds that have ever been amongst us. I believe that as a poet he was unequalled in these Colonies, and I hoped that in his old age he would have rested from his political labors, and settled down in some quiet retreat with his mind richly stored; and thus to have an opportunity of adding considerably to our British American literature. He might have written a history of the events which have lately taken place in these Colonies. I trust that the Dominion of Canada, to which he has given the best years of his valuable life, will not forget his family; they should not be thrown upon the charity of a cold world. His name and his eloquence have resounded throughout all the Lower Provinces, and when we hear all tongues full of his praise for his generosity, patriotism, ability and attainments, I think we can only come to the one conclusion, that British America and British interests have lost one of the greatest friends they have ever had in these Provinces.
Hon. Mr. HENSLEY.—If an individual in the most obscure position in the land were hurried into eternity in the same manner as the Hon T. D'Arcy McGee has been, I believe that every member in this House would at once, with a natural impulse, express their indignation and abhorrence at the unnatural and cruel act. But how much we detest the assassination of a man whose life has been so valuable to the people of British America, and who was so remarkable for his virtues, his patriotism and his attainments. It is a lamentable fact that these dastardly acts have not been unfrequent of late, for it is not long since the President of the neighboring Republic was cut down, and now the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee is the victim. I have not been so well acquainted with the latter gentleman as the hon. Leader of the Government and the hon. Leader of the Opposition were, but I know him by his speeches, his writings and his actions; and if ever there was a statesman for whom I had respect, it was for the Hon. Mr. McGee. I recollect the part he took in the troubles of 1848, as well as his subsequent change of opinion on these events; and I have admired the path which he has taken since that time. He went into a country where there was a different form of government and judged its merits for himself; he afterwards returned to that country to which his allegiance was first given. In spite of the opinion of some, he came and declared openly that there was no form of government to be compared with a limited monarchy, such as that of Great Britain, and that no government afforded such freedom to its subjects or citizens. His country was justly proud of his talents, and indeed the whole United Kingdom was proud of him as an orator, and as one who threw himself into the patriotic movement with heart and soul. The atrocious crime which has been perpetrated, has deprived the outcry to which be belongs of an able statesman, and there must be but one feeling of detestation and horror at the blood-thirsty act. I am glad to hear that this resolution will not only be communicated to the Speaker of the Dominion Parliament, but to the poor widow, though it will be but a small tribute.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I have a sort of melancholy gratification in hearing the hon. Leader of the Government move this resolution. It is but a tribute of respect due to the memory of that great man who has lately been removed from life by the ruthless hand of the assassin. From what little I have beard and read of his career, I believe that he was one of the most valuable men that Her Majesty had on this side of the Atlantic. He was a gentleman remarkable for his great talents, large soul and high attainments; and as a statesman be was eminently successful in carrying out his designs, the principal of which was the union of the North American Provinces. D'Arcy McGee was a literary man of the first order, and his abilities as a journalist, as well as the able articles he wrote, attracted the notice of the great Daniel O'Connell, the famous Irish agitator. We know that be had in his youth no love nor admiration for the institutions of our mother country, as he had in his later days, but having worked out the political problem on the spirit of our institutions, his unflinching interest in the cause of these principles which he then adopted, rendered him one of the most useful men in British North America. No man has done more for his country than D'Arcy McGee, and no man was more beloved by his countrymen than he. No man has been more deservedly popular in Canada for his unflagging labors in behalf of the cause of constitutional liberty, and the welfare and prosperity of his adopted country. In the prime of life be has been sent to his long home through the malice of his cruel enemies, for opposing all which would retard his country's progress, and for advancing its true interests. He has left a widow and children behind him, but they will not be allowed to remain unprovided for. In his efforts in behalf of the cause of Confederation, nothing but a spirit of fairness, integrity, and true patriotism, characterized his actions. I can imagine the desolation that will not only weigh down his own family, but his political friends, as well as all whose hearts were full of hope for the future progress and prosperity of the New Dominion. I am glad that this small tribute has been awarded to his memory by this hon House.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON.—I believe, Sir, that no hon. member of this House can approach this subject without feelings of deep emotion — at least I cannot. I had not the honor nor the pleasure of being personally acquainted with the departed, whose melancholy end has been the subject of discussion, but I have carefully pursued his speeches and pamphlets. I speak from my heart, and express it as my honest conviction, that what that gentleman was in his youth he was to the last day of his life— a sincere patriot. What I mean to say is, that what he believed to be his duty, he did with transparent honesty and purity of motive. When he walked in the path which be afterwards found to be not that of Wisdom, he gave the clearest proofs that he acted from unselfish motives, and when be saw his error, he made ample recompense for all his former mistakes. He reviewed his past conduct, which is certainly the best of teachers, and gave utterance to what he believed to be his duty. We must cheerfully admit that what he believed to be his duty he pursued, whether that course was under the frowns or the smiles of his fellow-countrymen; and although they sometimes thought he was in error and opposed to them, he was at all times their true friend and protector; this is the conviction of my mind. And now under present circumstances, I cannot but sympathise deeply with all that has been expressed by hon. members in regard to that gentleman. He, from the depths of his warm and noble heart, gave utterance to beautiful and patriotic language, when he apprehended no danger from speaking freely in the Halls of the Dominion Parliament, but on his way home he fell by the hand of the treacherous assassin. I can fancy to myself that if Mr. McGee's late prototype were in this House to-day, he would deliver a speech upon this sad event, equal in power and effect to the noble speech which he delivered on the patriotic fund, for his large and warm heart was want to sympathize in cases of this kind. If the Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee had fallen in the Crimea, while advancing in that great charge near Balaclava, my mind would be possessed of PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 192 very different feelings from what it is to-day, for then he would have died as a noble warrior, by the band of a powerful enemy; but no, he died by the hand of the brutal assassin. All high-minded and far-seeing statesmen will agree with me that he died in the cause of liberty, as well as those who fell in the Crimea, while doing battle for their country. I certainly concur with every sentiment of regard and of sympathy, that has been expressed by the hon. members who have preceded me in their remarks, for the relatives and friends of the deceased; and if anything is required for the support of the mourning widow and her family, Prince Edward Island will not be behindhand in doing her part, for it should be deemed a duty to support the bereaved family.
Hons. Kelly, Davies, Laird, and Callbeck; and Messrs. Reilly, McNeill, and Bell, then severally expressed their approval of the sentiments conveyed in the resolution before the House, and their deep and unfeigned sorrow on the lamentable death of the distinguished statesman.
The resolution was then unanimously agreed to.
Hon. LEADER or THE GOVERNMENT.—Mr. Speaker, I wish this resolution to be sent to the widow, as well as to the Speaker of the Dominion Parliament, through your hands.
This motion was also carried.
House adjourned.
I OXENHAM, Reporter.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: The Examiner, 1868. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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