October 30, 1869
Vol. I, No. 1
A "first appearance" is always a trying ordeal. Whether it be the entry of the blushing maiden into society, the début of the lawyer at the bar, the first essay of the young divine in the pulpit, or even the blossoming of the editorial WE, in the infant number of some newly-born journal, already heralded before an expectant public through the rash promises of the well-written and carefully considered prospectus, or whatever else may be the occasion, there is a hesitancy, a trepidatim, a veritable "catching of the breath," from which no one, sensible of the value of other people's opinion, or desirous of winning a favourable judgment from the world to which she or he appeals, can reasonably hope to escape. Long training on the beaten path makes the old "stager" callous to the popular verdict as to the merits of his pace, but when he is driven for the first time over a new course, the doubts, the hopes, the uncertainties, and the fears which beset his "first appearance" will overtake him again, though mellowed somewhat by experience. The fear of failure, and the hope of success are alike susceptible of toning down from the sharp lines that distinguish them on the threshold of active life; and if we meet the public for the first time in the new character and new dress of the Canadian Illustrated News, with less enthusiasm of hope than if we had never faced that public before, we also meet it with a surer confidence of success than usually falls to the lot of the mere novice. Relying on an entirely new process for the reproduction of the scenes from Life, Nature, and Art, with which the pages of the News will be graced; and knowing that those entrusted with the working of this new process have thoroughly mastered it, in all its details, and are fully capable of performing all they promise, we have no reason to doubt of success, unless we doubt the appreciation of the public; and, having already seen and felt so much of the kindness and generosity with which the Canadian people patronize Canadian talent and enterprise, we cannot find room for the shadow of a fear of failure.
The public do not like apologies, and we do not offer any. But some facts may be stated to account for the appearance of our first number a few days behind time. The presses, types, and machinery of the Canadian Illustrated News Establishment are entirely new, and of the best description that could possibly be obtained for the execution of the work. Artisans and mechanics frequently make the discovery that they cannot fulfill their promises as to the precise day on which a stated undertaking will be completed; and it so happened with the News office that several days more than had been supposed would be necessary were required to complete the fittings of the machinery, and to place everything in working order. For the rest, the absence of a complete exchange list, the novelty of the undertaking, and all the other difficulties incident to the getting up of a "first number," (which professionals only can understand) will account for the large margin left for improvement in the letter-press matter of the News, and of which margin we intend to take the fullest advantage hereafter, by endeavouring to make each succeeding issue better than its predecessor.
It will be noticed that the proprietor of the Canadian Illustrated News has offered premiums for the best romances founded on Canadian history: In the absence of any original composition in the line of fiction, deserving of publication, we have copied from an English Magazine a pleasant story, very pleasantly told, the conclusion of which will appear in our next number. In the third number of the News (Nov. 6th) will be commenced an interesting romance, translated from the German, expressly for the News, and the lovers of exciting narrative will be gratified to learn, in advance, that some of the most thrilling scenes of the first French Revolution are skilfully interwoven in the tale. On the completion of this romance, we hope to have the production of some successful competitor for the Proprietor's prizes to lay before our readers. And this liberal offer for the encouragement of Canadian literary talent should suggest to the public the obligation of patronizing the Canadian Illustrated News, which in itself embraces the three branches of Canadian Entreprise, Canadian Art, and Canadian Literature. Experienced publicists, well disposed towards the success of the News, have frankly told us their conviction that Canada is too small a field for such a journal. The illustrated papers of England, France, Germany, and the United States, count their contituencies by thousands for our Canadian hundreds; but the Australian Colonies have already shewn that they can sustain more than one illustrated paper which will compare favourably with those of Europe or America; and surely Canada, which plumes itself on being the foremost of British Colonial possessions, ought not to be behind the antipodean colonies in public spirit and artistic taste. As already stated, our conviction that the News will prove a success, rests upon our faith in the new art by which it will be illustrated and in the generous spirit of the Canadian people.
To our brethren of the press who, irrespective of political association, have already bespoken, in such flattering terms, the good will of the public towards the News, we return our most grateful thanks. The Canadian Illustrated News enters on the cultivation of a field now lying fallow in the wide domain of Canadian journalism. If it shall succeed, as we believe it will, and as all connected with it have resolved it must, in reaping a profitable harvest, then it will have shed a fresh luster on the Press of Canada, and conferred upon our country a new title to rank with the foremost nations of the earth, in refining taste and popularizing art.
The Canadian Constitution is not yet two and a half years old, but already there is a demand that it should be set aside in favour of still other political relationships. This constant craving for change is not, however, so deeply seated in the public mind as might, at first sight, be supposed. Confederation was rather the work of the politicians than of the people. Among the constituencies the "Quebec scheme," embodied in the resolutions of 1864, was viewed with indifference if not with some degree of hostility. But nineteen-twentieths of the people rejoiced that the country had escaped from the party wrangles which had threatened to make all government impossible. They regarded with satisfaction the prospect of closer commercial relations with the sister Provinces, even while some of them, influenced by their early political education, dreaded that the cost of the alliance might be more than its worth. Considering the situation as it really was when the Coalition Government secured the sanction of Parliament to the Quebec Scheme, and remembering, that between the first session of '65 and the meeting of the Legislature at Ottawa, in the summer of '66, some incidents had occurred calculated to revive old party animosities, we cannot be suprised that with the short experience of two years the people still look upon the new Constitution in the light of an experiment, at the failure of which many of them would be by no means astonished. It is not so much because of active hostility to the existing governmental machinery, as because of the wide-spread feeling of indifference towards it, that the agitators for another change in our relations with the Empire, and with the world at large, are heard throughout the land, to an extent entirely disproportioned to their numbers or their influence.
If the advocates of Canadian independece, or of annexation to the United States, have any political history of their own to boast, the changes are ten to one it will prove them to have opposed Confederation, or accepted it only from the exigencies of party, and with many reservations. It has not yet appeared that any of the early supporters of the measure have turned their backs upon it; while several public men of high character, personally and politically, who opposed it at the beginning, have now given their adhesion to the policy of 1864.
The demand for "independence" comes not, therefore, from the friends of the present constitution, though many of these believe in the inevitable necessity of some day cutting Canada loose from the Parent State. Throughout the whole period, when the new constitution was under consideration, there was even in Ontario a larger numerical opposition to it than the "Independents" can muster today. It would therefore be a mistake to assume, because the cry of Independence, or even of Annexation, may have been heard within the Dominion, that the public mind of Canada is so fickle as to seek already to discard the new relationship with the Empire. If there is one point upon which the public mind has given evidence of being firmly settled, it is that things as they are shall receive a full trial, and that agitation for constitutional changes will be resolutely discountenanced. The Imperial authorities have assuredly not encouraged Canadian Independence, if by that is meant the severance of our connection with the empire. But they have encouraged a policy of true Canadian independence by emancipating the country from the trammels of Imperial legislation in the management of its own affairs, and conferring the fullest powers of self-government consistent with the preservation of the Royal Perogative. With this form of independence Canada may well be contented for many years to come. Is there another offering greater security for peace and the progressive development of the country's resources? We have heard frequently of a "guaranteed" independence. It was a favourite dream with a certain few during the early years of the late war between the Northern and Southern States. Then it was argued that under the joint protection of England, France, and the United States, Canada would become a country of perpetual peace; that, secured for ever against interruption from war's alarms, the people would more surely enjoy uninterrupted progress. The theme was then discussed as "Canadian neutrality," the terms of the proposition being, that the powers named guarantee that Canada should be regarded as neutral ground. It was a very preposterous, and a very pusillanimous proposition. It involved the surrender for the sovereignty of the crown over British North America, and the placing of the affairs of Canada to some extent under the direction of the protecting powers. To say nothing of the impracticability of such a arrangement, or of the degrading position in which it would have placed Canada, could it possibly have been carried out, there is abundant evidence of the very slight hold it had then, even in the face of some danger, upon the Canadian mind, in the fact that the young men of the country rushed to arms with zeal and alacrity the moment the excitement about the Trent affair promised them the probability of real work in the defence of crown and country. The humiliating position of enforced neutrality would ill-comport with the traditions of the races from which the people of Canada have sprung; and certainly it would add but little of dignity or self-respect to the Canadian national character, which, happily, is now being developed under better, more generous, and manlier impulses than those which the "neutral ground" policy, with its abiding sense of national incapacity would inspire.
The independence of Canada guaranteed by England, though less offensive, in that it would not openly proclaim to the world that Canadians were sneaks and cowards, can have no solid advantages, either for Canada or for the Empire, which are not already secured by the existing arrangement. For England to guarantee the independence of Canada would be to invite her enemies to assail that independence; and assuming, what of course is possible, though improbable, that the United States and England drift into war, Canadian independence, resting on England's guarantee, would as certainly drag the people of Canada into the conflict, as would the present Colonial connection. But to assume independence even on such a guarantee, which, in all human probability, England would never give, would involve this country in much heavier charges for its government than it is at present called upon to pay. There is in fact no middle house between our present relations with the Empire and absolute independence, for the country already possesses all the advantages which independence could confer in the management of its internal affairs, while it is relieved of international obligations by the connection with the mother country, which the severance of that connexion would necessarily impose. It would be a waste of space to discuss the probable consequences of an early separation from the Empire, because as we have said, the people of Canada, those who have the franchise in their hands, are in no humour to try another new Constitution, or any serious alterations of the existing one, just yet. They do not consider themselves one whit the less Canadians because they are also Britons; nor can they be persuaded to believe otherwise than that the prestige and dignity of the Empire are shared in by Canada so long as the Imperial connection is maintained.
Mr. E. H. King has retired from the position of General Manager of the Bank of Montreal, and is succeeded by Mr. P. B. Angus, the Manager of the Montreal Branch. It is reported in Toronto that Mr. Yarker, the Manager of the Branch there, is "booked" for promotion, probably to succeed to Mr. Angus. Mr. Anderson, who has been President of the Bank for the last ten years, is now said to be desirous to resign, and he will probably be succeeded at the Board and in the Presidency by Mr. King. One of our city confrères says: "Mr. King retires from the active "management of the Bank, after having made a large "fortune." This is no doubt true, but it should also be said that he retires, after having brought up the Bank to a condition of strength and prosperity such as must add largely to the "fortune" of the Shareholders. The position just vacated by Mr. King is one of great importance as well as extreme difficulty; and measuring his exertions by the common standard, i.e., the result, it must be admitted that he has been preeminently successful as Bank Manager.
We invite the attention of the Editors of the London Art Journal to the principal illustration (double page) in this number of the Canadian Illustrated News. The plate from which it is printed was produced directly from an ordinary Sketch in Indian Ink, the photographer taking the place of the engraver. As the print is a faithful reproduction of the drawing, it is only justice to the artist to say that the Sketch was made in an incredibly short space of time. We mention these facts and call the attention of the Art Journal thereto, because of the article in its October number, on "the Graphotype." We hope in future numbers to show that wherein the Graphotype has been a failure the Leggotype will prove a success.
Père Hyacinthe, who is at present in New York, has been "interviewed" by the reporter of the New York World. He declares himself still a Catholic, and says he has not rebelled against the Church, but against the abuse of authority. The World irreverently "chaffs" the Boston divines who threatened the Père with a public reception. It is said he will deliver a course of lectures before leaving America.