Loyal Hearts and True: a Writer who thinks we have All we Require

Article Title
Loyal Hearts and True: a Writer who thinks we have All we Require
Page Number
Article Type
Article Contents
LOYAL HEARTS AND TRUE. A WRITER WHO THINKS WE HAVE ALL WE REQUIRE. Our People Are More English than the English— An Instance of an Editor who Made the Mistake of Being Inopportune. The following special article is from the pen of a gifted writer, for whose loyalty as well as for whose keen observation of men and matters THE FREEMAN can vouch. He says: We are a touchy people in St. John, very thin-skinned on some matters, notably where our loyalty is concerned. In that particular respect we are provincial, not English. In the mother country freedom of speech is considered an Englishman’s birthright, and the great makers and moulders of, public opinion in Great Britain avail themselves of the right to the fullest extent. They are not afraid to speak their minds even when their opinions are adverse to the trend of national prejudice. In speeches from the platform and in the House of Commons, in newspapers, books, and the great English magazines, everywhere we find the freeborn English- man exercising his right to private judgment in matters of political and national interest. He speaks out, calmly, with the assurance of a strong man, and he delivers his blows with a straightness of aim that n0 consideration of popular prejudice or sentiment of national humiliation can swerve. England’s greatness bas been built up by this lusty love of free and untrammeled speech, with the vigor of manhood that underlies it. Herein travelers note the difference between our colonial ideas of loyalty and the genuine article. It has been frequently said we will not say with what truth—that the Catholics of Québec were more Catholic than the Pope, that is, were narrower in their views and labored under greater limitations of an intellectual conception of true Catholicity than the supreme expounder of it, His Holiness the Pope. In like manner, we colonials are more loyal than the Queen. Perhaps it is because we distrust our own loyalty, or fear that others may distrust it. Perhaps it is our propinquity to our great American neighbors and the prevalence of strong anti-British feeling among them that we feel on our mettle to proclaim ours and exploit it to an unreasonable degree. Perhaps we are a slow and conservative people, whose minds are dull and sluggard and unwilling to recognize our own limitations or those of the people from whom we are proud to claim descent. In any case, while we may take the truth, however bitter, from the hands of an Englishman or an American, we cannot swallow it when 0ne of our own administers it to us. We can bear with allopathic doses of intelligent criticism from non-colonials, but our stomachs arise against any but homeopathic pillulets of the same medicine from our own people. Now, if it has come to this that an intelligent exposition of certain subsidiary causes leading to the war in South Africa cannot be made to our reading public in one of our leading newspapers without danger to our own loyalty and unjust impugment of the loyalty of the writer, then is our Canadian fealty to the Empire a delicate, feeble, and unreliable element of our political condition. Surely the outlook is discouraging for a long continuance of our present happy dependence and co-partnership with Great Britain if we cannot afford to look at things as they are, or even as they are not. Surely we can claim the same birthright of unshackled speech, when there can be no doubt of our rightful intention, as the Briton at home enjoys. If we cannot, because otherwise the connection with the Empire might be endangered, then will the next generation or two see that connection severed. Given these premises there can be no other conclusion, unless we are willing to subject ourselves to the opprobrium of being considered a narrow minded, prejudiced race, as unwilling to have the light let in on our pet theory and prepossessions, as the most bigoted Boer in the Transvaal. These remarks are called forth by an incident in our local newspaper history of last week. The new editor of the Telegraph, not yet sufficiently acquainted with the sharpness and volume of our loyalty down here by the sea, ventured to quote some information supplied by a well-known English journalist regarding the want of tact displayed by British officials in their treatment of the Africanders. The article was harmless at its worst, but it came at a most inopportune time. Ladysmith day was not an appropriate day for the publication of such information. It was most indiscreet and absolutely ill-timed. Not in London itself did jubilation and gratulation run greater riot than in our city 0n that glorious day. We had passed through such a trying period of depression: our patriotic feelings had been harassed and harrowed by a continuous series of British repulses; we knew that the Empire, of which it is our glory and our good to be a part, was on its trial before a hostile world which would rejoice in its humiliation, and that if England did not win in South Africa our own future was imperilled. Ail this we knew, and felt, and suffered. Then came the turn of the tide. Under better generalship Kimberley was relieved, the besiegers were themselves besieged and captured, and to crown all, as the full fruition of Lord Roberts strategy, Ladysmith was restored to British territory. Here, indeed, was ample matter for a whole empire’s joy and wildest jubilation. We of St. John joined in with our fellow subjects of our world-wide empire in the mighty chorus of victory song. But—but, there was one discordant note and it came from our great Liberal organ. It was only a squeak and it was not meant for discordance, and at any other time it would not have attracted notice; but it was out of place, as it was humiliatingly out of time, 0n that festive day. We did get wrathy over it, and we naturally rushed to the conclusion that the new editor had the leaven of Quebec in him, or that he was phenomenally obtuse to the character of the people among whom he has thrown his lot. And this, mayhap, is the only palliation that we can offer for our narrowness of colonial view in matters of loyalty, taking this incident as text, that the great tension under which the public mind had been held by months of disaster, and the profound relief and joy which followed victory, had unnerved us and made us savage with the lust and pride of conquerors, and we could not bear with any disparagement or impugnment of the justice and sacredness of our cause.