Another Loyalist Anniversary

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Another Loyalist Anniversary
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ANOTHER LOYALIST ANNIVERSARY. This is the ninety-seventh anniversary of the landing of the loyalists in St. John. It now lacks but three years of a century since this city was founded by our forefathers, and the beginning made of this busy community, which, notwithstanding many reverses and losses, still has made wonderful advances towards being a large and populous city. The stock from which these pioneers of St. John mostly sprung was a good one, tough and strong, with the true Saxon obstinacy and pugnacity, a race well fitted to hew down the forest and cut through the rocks, to level and to build. For many years the Loyalists toiled and struggled, and maintained an unequal warfare against the rugged might of Nature, building houses and churches and schools, and ships with which to trade, to carry commerce to and from our shores, and to bear the name and fame of St. John to remote lands. They landed on these shores poor, for they came from a country which had been vexed with war for many years; they came the representatives of a lost cause, de-spoiled of their possessions and driven into exile, their lands confiscated, their dwellings burnt down, their persons proscribed, and in many instances a price set upon their heads. But they were the representatives of a principle, fidelity to the Throne, loyalty to the Government under which they had been born and the flag which had protected them, and while their lot seemed hard and the circumstances which surrounded them were of a discouraging character they were nobly aided in their struggle for existence here by the Government to which they had been so faithful. They were also sustained by the hope of building up great and prosperous communities in this new land, and laying the foundations broad and deep of a state which, at some future time would be not unworthy to be compared with the country from which they had been exiled. No greater act of folly was ever committed by any people than the harsh treatment accorded to the Loyalists at the close of the war by the successful colonists who had won their independence. They created a breach between themselves and the Loyalists which could scarcely be bridged; they made wounds which are hard to be healed, and they drove out an amount of ability, education and strength which they could ill afford to spare, all of which was speedily turned against them, for the building up of rival communities and hostile states upon this continent. For the past three or four years our friends on the other side of the line have been having what they term centenary celebrations of the great events connected with the beginnings of their national history. Every city and every little town that had been the scene of a battle or of some other notable exploit during the Revolutionary war has had its separate centenary celebration, its orators firing the hearts of their fellow-citizens with patriotic enthusiasm and its monument to commemorate the exploit for which the celebration was held. All this is right and commendable; great deeds are worthy of being held in remembrance; acts of heroism should have their meed of honor. The great events and associations which cluster round a place should be subjects of pride to its inhabitants and should be regarded as part of the common property of a community. A people who take no pride in such matters not to be envied, no matter how rich they may be in material wealth, for they are without that which promotes the growth of public spirit, they are destitute of one of the elements which make nations great. We cannot believe that the people of St. John are in this condition, although we have here none of the outward and visible signs of the public spirit and pride of ancestry which some other peoples show. It must be held that it is only latent and has not yet had the chance to develop itself in the direction of any outward expression. Before the three years roll round which separate us from the centenary anniversary of the landing of the Loyalists we shall no doubt see as great an awakening on the subject of doing honor to the occasion, as was witnessed twenty-seven years ago when the first sod of our first railway was turned. Other cities erect monuments to their great men or to commemorate notable events that have taken place within their bounds. Why then should not St. John have its Loyalist monument rising on one of the many eminences of this seven hilled city, to bear witness to the whole world that the people of St. John are not ashamed of their forefathers, the founders of this city’s greatness, and to bear witness to the fact that they were men of principle who had the courage of their opinions and made themselves exiles rather than take a course which they conscientiously believed to be wrong? In a field near Quebec, the ancient Capital of Canada, there stands a monument, which has been erected to commemorate the death of a hero. The simple legend, “HERE DIED WOLFE VICTORIOUS,” stirs the pulses of the reader who sees it for the first time, like the blast of a trumpet, for he feels that he is standing upon historic and hallowed ground, which has been enriched with the life blood of one of earth’s greatest ones, a child of immortality. More than five hundred miles farther west, within the sound of the mighty Niagara, a lofty monument rises on Queenstown Heights, to commemorate the death of the hero, BROCK, who died victorious in a battle fought against the invaders of Canada sixty-eight years ago. Canadian patriotism will never want a rallying point while this noble heroic column stands overlooking the garden of Ontario, and the name of BROCK will never cease to be the watchword of the descendants of those whose country was saved from invasion and rapine by his courage. We have no great battles to commemorate here by monumental pillars, except such as have been fought against the forces of Nature herself in this new land. But there are heroes who never drew a sword or saw human blood spilt in anger; courage and conduct may be as well displayed in civil life as on the tented field, the heroic virtues are not alone expended in the ranks of war. And we count those men heroes who forsook all their worldly possessions, their broad acres, their comfortable houses, their old friends and associates, for the sake of an idea and of a cause which they believed to be just, and came here to found a new Province, under the flag they loved, on these shores. We cannot but think that a lofty monument in one of our public places, with the inscription, “IN MEMORY OF THE LOYALIST FOUNDERS OF ST. JOHN,” might well stir the patriotic hearts of our people with pride and cause them to feel that it was something even to live in a city which was founded by such men. It will be for the people of St. John to say whether they will do honor to themselves by thus honoring the memory of their forefathers before the first century of this city’s existence has passed.