CANADA
Lot 17
CANADA – SIR JOHN MACDONALD
Sold for £25,200 (US$ 42,316) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
CANADA – SIR JOHN MACDONALD
Series of over twenty letters signed ("John Macdonald"), all but two autograph, to Alexander Morris MP ("My dear Morris"), originally his solicitor' clerk and afterwards Chief Justice at Fort Garry and Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba; together with the Articles of Agreement signed by Macdonald, appointing Morris his clerk (10 November 1847); plus copies of outgoing letters to Macdonald extracted from Morris's sponge-paper copy book, carbon typescript copies, etc., over 50 pages, with traces of mounting where evidently extracted from an album, other minor damp-staining etc., mostly 8vo, Ottawa and elsewhere, one letter 1847, the remainder 1868-1889

Footnotes

  • A FINE SERIES OF LETTERS BY CANADA'S FIRST PRIME MINISTER, written with a good deal of frankness and characteristically bluff humour to a close associate. A letter of 24 July 1877, written while on holiday, well sets the tone of the whole: "Here am I with my belongings enjoying 'a sniff of the briny' and escaping from the turmoils & excitements of political pic nics. – and now I bethink me. I owe you a letter. Imperious I wish your term of office did not expire till Decr 1878. Your successor would then be a Conservative. As it is I hope you will serve out your term till the very last day. – I am not surprised at little Mills giving you trouble. He is a prig and a positive prig at that. – But the whole Ministry are a set of incapables. The Country has found that out and only waits for an opportunity to get rid of them. You could have no idea, unless an eye-witness, of the enthusiasm with which I am greeted every where, as the Exponent of Conservative principles and policy. The Country is spoiling for a fight. I think that you should seek a Constituency in Manitoba. As such you be a representative Man in Parliament. And your Constituents would not be very exigent as to your attendance... This would free you from the necessity of nightly sittings which are so destructive of health. And you could spend much of your time even during the session at Perth. if you represent a County in eastern Ontario they could keep you up to your Work – being so close to you – and besides after five years absence, you would be as it were at the foot of the ladder again, with many young or ambitious before you".

    In the earliest letter of the series, written in 1847, Macdonald ponders on his future career and reveals the esteem, even then, in which Morris was held: "Appealed to, as I have been by you, and with the assurance that you will remain in the Council, I have after some hesitation, made up my mind to answer in the affirmative, and to accept the office of Receiver General, if offered to me...Many questions of more real importance may arise, but none which operates so strongly on the principles or rather prejudices of the public, and if the Conservatives hope to retain power they must settle it before the General Election – There seems to be a general desire among Conservatives to forget all minor points of difference and present a united front to the Common Enemy". Other letters similarly range over the whole spectrum of political issues, such as the sensibilities of French Canadians ("...I go to Toronto in the morning to convince the noblesse there that His Excellency WP Howlant is descended from Charlemagne..."), the importance of keeping up appearances ("...I have had a talk with Archbishop Taché and find that although he grumbles a good deal there is nothing in his complaints. He makes one point however in which I think there is a good deal. He says that the matter of the apportionment of land among the Half-breeds has been left to Urquhart who does not speak a word of French. He makes this a great grievance. He thinks the appointment the more objectionable as Urquhart is known to have been the correspondent of the Mail. It was an act of great indiscretion on Urquhart's part to let it be known that he wrote for any Newspapers. The fact of his allowing it to be known destroys his usefulness very much. Cannot you cure this in some way?...") and religious bigotry ("...The Jesuit body is no more a body of 'foreign Ecclesiastics', than are The Sulpicians or Les Peres Oblats, or any other Monkish Order. Our friend J.E. Henry MP has two or three brothers Jesuit Priests all Canadians & Conservatives. The Son of the late Judge LJ Drummond my old Colleague is a Jesuit Priest at St Boniface and a Clever fellow he is. Stoneyhurst & Oscott in England are Jesuit Colleges where the English Aristocracy are Educated – without danger of the Supremacy of the Crown or to the Protestant religions. If we go on the US. we will find Jesuit Monks & Colleges in every State without Objection. It is only in Ontario that this mare's nest is to be found...").
Activities