Fifty Years Ago.
DEAR Sir: — There is a general drift westward of the population of the eastern States, as well as of the Maritime Provinces; but the drift from the Provinces is largely the work of sullen, selfish, disloyal, dis-appointed magistrates, politicians, and newspaper writers. It is not so IN the States; if things go wrong, they turn on one another, but their country is held sacred.
A magistrate might be mentioned—a newspaper writer of no mean order—who cannot find language to express his hatred of his country and its institutions, or to magnify every thing American. This man, too, is now enjoying his ease, his high office, and a competency gained in the country he reviles. While there is, doubtless, a great majority of magistrates, who are loyal, good citizens, and some a credit to the office they hold, yet the very unwise, indiscriminate choice of the incompetent legions to that high office by one local Government is largely the parent of that disloyal element that IS seducing our people.
They are appointed to office for life, and thinking it is on account of their own merits, their vanity is inflated; it soon gets to be an old story, they think they ought to have a paying office, it does not come and as soon as their party goes out of office, they developed into annexationists, no matter which party is in. Then you hear them holding forth from nail kegs in groceries, or roosting on farm yard fences denouncing their country and their political antagonists indiscriminately.
There are a few newspaper editors not above it; they, with the disappointed law fostering justice, through the influence of their office are doing a monstrous evil. They pretend to know everything; innocent people believe the slanders, get discouraged and leave the Dominion.
The people are told they are taxed to death; they do not know they would be more heavily taxed in the United States. They are told the import duties are so high that people cannot pay for the necessaries of life. I had the privilege of going over the day books of one of the largest dealers in goods, from 1877 to 1887. As near as it could be come at, at the necessaries of life sold to that store, such as farmers, millmen, mechanics, etc. use, and such as merchants themselves use, are about 12 per cent, cheaper now, than before the National Policy came into operation. Wines, rum and tobacco are higher now and I believe silks &c.
Another merchant said, that made up tweed clothing for men cost very little more than half what it cost some years ago. On being asked how that was, he said we pay NO duty now, all the stuff is manufactured in the Dominion; he farther remarked that it was wonderful that farmers should complain, hay is a cash article and from one to two dollars higher then a few years ago; broad leaf hay he says was sold a few years ago for from 3 to 4 dollars is now sold for from 5 to 6 a ton. Many articles of their produce—not long since—they would be glad to give for goods, they now most have money. It would be interesting to know where all the taxes are that these slanderers are corrupting our people about, and where the hard times come in for farmers.
If farmers feel the hard times, it is very strange they do not exert themselves to supply Sackville with oats, potatoes and feed; those articles are easily raised. Their great marshes give them abundance of manure, and yet car leads of provisions are imported every year and consumed in considerable quantities by the farmers themselves. This does not say much for the farmers of Sackville in the fiftieth year or Her Majesty's reign.
But the poor mechanics are oppressed and starved by the high duties. They buy all goods from the stores cheaper now than ever before in the history of the colonist. How then are they taxed? I saw a mechanic buy a shad in front of Mr. Ayer's store for ten cents that would have cost him twenty-five in Boston or New York. Meats, potatoes and nearly all the mechanics family would consume fresh from the farm is in about the same proportion. But the farmer does not get the benefit of high prices. Middle-men travel through the rural districts buy produce low, and sell to the grocers at a good profit, the grocers then supply the consumer at another living profit. Here the mechanics buy from the farmers themselves, and farmers get the consumer's price. This is speaking of Sackville and its surroundings. The middlemen's work, doubtless, goes on in the Dominion, but the Granges are pretty well defeating it in many parts of Ontario and Quebec.
Sept., 1887. X X