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COUNTY OF PICTOU
We must now turn back, to give an account of the efforts of Dr. McCulloch on behalf of education, and of the discussions, political and ecclesiastical, connected with the subject, which at one time occupied so prominent a place in the history of the county.
The want of ministers to occupy the numerous destitute settlements of the Province, had from an early period engaged the attention of those already in the field, and they sent urgent appeals to the bodies in Scotland, from which they had come, for additional laborers. The supplies thus received, however, were always irregular and inadequate, and hence was almost forced upon their attention, the question of the possibility of training young men for the ministry in this country. Under the influence of such considerations, Dr. McCulloch, as we have mentioned, as early as the year 1805, only two years after his arrival, projected an institution for the purpose of giving instruction in the higher branches of education - which would thus meet the object of the Presbytery, by giving young men desirous of entering the Gospel ministry, that literary and scientific culture, which the Presbyterian Church has sought in its ministers, and at the same time afford the benefit of liberal studies to all who chose to avail themselves of them.
In that year, a society was formed for the establishment of such an institution, and subscriptions were taken throughout the district. The following is a copy of the heading of the one on the East River, the others, we presume, being in the same terms:--
We, the subscribers, hereby declare our approbation of the Society formed in Pictou, for establishing a college of learning in this district. We are persuaded that such an institution would have a powerful influence to promote the interests of society, both by disseminating general knowledge, correcting the vices of youth, and instilling into their minds the principles of virtue. That this design may therefore be carried into effect, we bind and oblige ourselves, our heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, to pay the sum respectively subscribed by us, one - third part on the first Tuesday of May, 1806, another third part on the first Tuesday of May, 1807, and the remaining third part on the first Tuesday of May, 1808, to such person or persons as the society shall appoint for transacting their business.
This was headed by Dr. McGregor, with a subscription of £20, provided the Harbour congregation pay me the sixteen pounds which they owe me. Others follow with subscriptions of £10, the whole amount in that settlement being £125, ($500). Writing at this time, Dr. McGregor says, The increasing demand for ministers seems to intimate the necessity of raising them in this country. The great expense of everything here renders this undertaking next to hopeless in our circumstances, yet Mr. McCulloch, who started the idea, has sanguine hopes. Pictou people have subscribed about £1,000, a more liberal subscription than they are well able to pay. We expect some money from the Province Treasury if we give our seminary a little name, as not rivaling the University, which Government has established. We expect great assistance from Britain and Ireland. We intend to send Mr. McCulloch home to beg.
The project was not carried into execution at that time. As far as obtaining Provincial aid, or even the legislation necessary for establishing such an institution, with Wentworth governor and Wallace at his back, we suspect that any expectations were found hopeless. Such a scheme would only appear to them as favoring a nest of pestilent disloyalty, which ought to be crushed as the serpents brood. The country too was not in a state to support such a measure.
The idea however was not lost sight of, and with a view to its ultimate realization, the ministers took charge of promising young men, to whom they gave instruction, in the way of preparing them for entering such an institution, and at the same time raised funds to aid in supporting them. In the year 1814, we find Mr. Ross teaching five boys Latin and Greek, with a view to the ministry. Dr. McGregor also did something in the same way. In the meantime, Dr. McCulloch, partly to improve his circumstances, for like most of the ministers of that period, he was imperfectly supported by his congregation, and partly with the view of raising the standard of education in the district, about this time opened a school of a higher class; and when in 1811, the Government passed an Act granting £100 per annum for a Grammar School in each county, and in the districts of Colchester, Pictou and Yarmouth, he obtained the grant for the one under his charge, and held it for a number of years. The building in which he taught, stood nearly opposite his gate on the old road out of town to the west. We may observe here that it continued to be used in the same way, till the winter of 1824, when it was hauled down to the lot, on which the engine house is now built. The ground was boggy, and it was placed on a foundation built up of squared logs, a few feet above the ground. After this it still continued to be used as a Grammar School, constantly till the year 1832, and again some years later.
The number and progress of the young men attending this institution, and studying in other quarters, revived the idea of a college; and accordingly under the leadership of Dr. McCulloch, and the cordial approval of the Governor having been first obtained, a Society was formed for the establishment of such a seminary on a liberal basis. As Mortimer was then a power in the Legislature, and Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, the Governor, the most independent ruler that was ever at the head of our affairs, success was confidently anticipated. Accordingly on the petition of Dr. McGregor and others, both in Pictou and elsewhere, an act of incorporation was granted to the trustees in the year 1816.
At this time we should observe , that the only institution in the Province at that time for the higher education was the college at Windsor. It was established by an Act of the Legislature of Nova Scotia, about the year 1790, which at the same time provided £400 sterling a year (as currency then was- £444, or $1,776) permanently for its support. The only restriction in the Act was that the president should be in holy orders in the Church of England. Subsequently a royal charter was obtained, by which the institution was designated Kings College, and the governors thereof authorized to pass statutes or by-laws for its government, which they did in reality. One of them ran thus:
No member of the University shall frequent the Romish Mass, or the meeting-houses of the Presbyterians, Baptists or Methodists, or the conventicles or places of worship of any other dissenters from the Church of England, or where divine service shall not be performed according to the liturgy of the Church of England, or shall be present at any seditious or rebellious meetings.
Independent of the bigotry of this, the conjunction of the first and last clauses is expressive. But another ran thus:
No degree shall be conferred, till the candidate shall have taken the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and obedience to the statutes of the University; and shall have subscribed the thirty-nine articles of the Church of England, and the three articles contained in the thirty-ninth canon of the Synod of London, held in the year of our Lord, 1603.
The institution was modeled on the plan of the University of Oxford, The students were obliged, at heavy expense, to reside within the walls, and its whole management was such, as would have excluded the great majority of the youth of the Province, even had its statutes been more liberal.*
*T.C. Haliburton , in one of his speeches on the Pictou Academy, as reported, said it cost a young man £120 per annum to live at Windsor College, and only £20 at Pictou.
It is now said that these statutes never were approved of by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who on the contrary expressed his disapproval of thus limiting to a small portion of the community, the benefits of an institution established by Government for the benefit of all, and was even determined to expunge the obnoxious laws; but that part of the trustees prevented the alteration. But these were the dominant party of the Institution, and these statements only present in a stronger light the bigotry of those, who in spite of representations from such a quarter, retained such regulations. Nothing was said at this time by the friends of the Institution about there being anything wrong about these statutes. For years after the Pictou Academy began, they were maintained in full force. Charles R. Fairbanks, one of the most brilliant public men that ever graced the Legislature of Nova Scotia, stated, in one of the debates on the Pictou Academy, that he had been educated at Kings College, but because he could not swallow the tests, he had been refused a degree. We may add here, that while thus restricted to about a fifth of the population, it had been receiving, besides the grant of £444 from the Legislature of Nova Scotia, £1000 sterling from the British Government annually since the year 1802.
With these arrangements the people were not satisfied, but scattered as they were, the majority struggling for the necessaries of life, and few of them thinking of collegiate education for their children, little had been said, and nothing had been done, to effect a change. But the proposal to establish an institution on a liberal basis, was generally hailed with satisfaction. The bill for the incorporation of the trustees, was introduced into the House by Mr. Chipman, a Baptist, and seconded by Mr. Wells, and passed unanimously. We think it worth while giving the names of the original trustees. They were, Edward Mortimer, Revs. Duncan Ross and Thomas McCulloch, Thomas Davidson, George Smith, Robert Lowden, Revs. William Patrick, JamesMcGregor. Archibald Gray, and James Robson, S.G.W. Archibald, and James Foreman.
The intention was to found an institution specially for Dissenters, not indeed excluding Churchmen, but as Kings College was entirely under the control of the latter, it was expected that only the former would take advantage of the new institution, or combine in its support. Still they wished it equally free to all, and the act of incorporation was introduced into the Assembly and passed there without any tests whatever.
But the leaders of the Church of England, who were then dominant in the Council, took alarm at the idea of such an institution, which they judged would form a rallying point for the Dissenters against the Church. They were willing, or at least the liberal minded among them were, to allow Presbyterians to have an institution, in which they might give their children such education as they could, but they feared the establishment of a college, which, combining Dissenters in its support, might become the successful rivals of Kings. In consequence of this, when the bill was introduced into the Upper House, they introduced a series of tests of a very offensive and vexatious character. Every new trustee was to be either a member of the Church of England, or of the Presbyterian religion (not church, for that title was not conceded to such a body), and on his election, a majority of the trustees present must sign a formal certificate to that effect, and forward it to the Lieutenant Governor. He must also appear before the Supreme Court, and, if not of the Church of England, make the following declaration:
I, A.B., appointed one of the Trustees of the Pictou Academy, do declare that I do profess the Presbyterian religion, as the same is declared in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Until he did this, he could not legally act as trustee. Moreover, he was required to do this every three years, or his office became vacant. The same tests were to be applied to every person appointed a teacher, and he also was required to appear before the Supreme Court, and make a similar declaration. The trustees were also prevented from holding any property outside the District of Pictou.
The House of Assembly were obliged either to submit to these amendments, or lose the bill, and they reluctantly agreed to them. This act, to which a suspending clause had been appended, afterwards received the sanction of the Prince Regent, and became law. By this act the Trustees were empowered to pass by-laws and fill up vacancies in the board, subject to the approval of the Governor for the time being. Sometime afterward a charter of incorporation, in pursuance of the act, and under the great seal of the Province, passed to the Trustees.
It should have been mentioned, that to avoid exciting the jealousy of the friends of Kings College, who were really all powerful in the Government, it was resolved not to seek the right of conferring degrees or the other privileges of a college. Hence the name Pictou Academy, though from the first it was intended to impart the education usual in colleges.
To establish such an institution under the circumstances, was a task simply Herculean. A large portion of the population in the rural districts were still struggling with the difficulties of a first settlement, and as to education, few thought of seeking for their children more than the ordinary training of a common school. Even that in many places was difficult to obtain, and when obtained very inferior. A large proportion of the inhabitants, did not feel the necessity of any thing better, and many did not value education at all. The population was sparse, and several portions had but little communication with one another or with the capital. The tests introduced by the council threw the institution into the hands of the Presbyterians, and as they then consisted only of about twenty congregations, most of these in thinly settled districts and the members in humble circumstances, it will be perceived, that the Dr. had entered upon an undertaking, requiring a large amount of that faith, which can remove mountains.
Nevertheless the trustees addressed themselves to their work with great energy. They immediately proceeded to raise money by subscription, beginning with about £400 among themselves, for the purchase of land and the erection of a suitable building. In this way they collected about £1,000 ($4,000) a large sum under the circumstances. The following is the heading of the list:
We, the subscribers, desirous of affording our concurrence and assistance to the society formed in Pictou, for providing the means of instruction in the branches of a liberal education, which are not taught in the Provincial Grammar Schools, hereby bind and oblige ourselves, our heirs and assigns to pay to the Treasurer of the society for the time being, the sums annexed to our respective signatures, the same to be paid when the society shall judge, that a sum has been subscribed sufficient to enter upon the execution of the said plan.
This is commenced by Mortimer, with a subscription of £100, who is followed by the three ministers, Messrs. McGregor, Ross and McCulloch, for sums of £50 each . Altogether in the town £628 was subscribed.
Dr. McCulloch was chosen its first president, and before the building was erected, teaching began. The first classes were opened, as near as we can ascertain, in the fall of 1817. A room was fitted up in one end of the house, in which the late Peter Crerar, Esq., resided, the other being occupied by the Rev. John McKinlay. Here plain pine desks were erected, so shaky, that on one occasion a Highland student, intent on taking notes, found it so difficult under the movements of his fellow- students, that, his patience being exhausted, he exclaimed, Please master, theyre shaking the dask on me. In this fashion was begun the first attempt at free liberal education in these Provinces. We give a list of the first students.*
these were not all present the first term, but they were in attendance
with the first class, who passed through the institution.
Soon after the building was completed, and the classes were transferred to it. After the practice of some of the Scottish Universities, students were now required to wear red gowns. These were made of light merino, and for the next twenty years these bright scarlet insignia of learning were one of the features of our town, reminding the Scotsman of his ancient seats of learning of his native land.
From this time, Dr. McCullochs life was devoted to the interests of the institution. The largest part of the teaching devolved on him, and that under the most unfavourable circumstances. The late Jotham Blanchard thus wrote of his efforts, during the infancy of the institution:
Of his daily labours and nightly vigils, after taking charge of the Insitution, I am surely a competent witness. I was one of his first students, and have often seen him, at 8 oclock of a winter morning, enter his desk in a state of exhaustion, which too plainly showed the labours of the night. To this those who are acquainted with the subject will give credence, when I state that his share of the course was, besides Greek and Hebrew, Logic, Moral Philosophy and Natural Philosophy. In each of these sciences, he drew out a system for himself, which was of course the results of much reading and much thought. When I add to this account of his daily labours, the repairs and additions which were necessary to a half-worn apparatus, and which none but himself could make, I am almost afraid my testimony will be doubted. And for the first five or six years of the institution, let it be remembered, he had charge of a congregation, and regularly preached twice a day, save when over-exertion ended in sickness.
His first co-laborer was the Rev. John McKinlay. He was a native of Stirlingshire, Scotland, who came to this country in the summer of 1817. Dr. McCulloch having given up the Grammar School, to take charge of the Academy, Mr McKinlay succeeded him in the former. Teaching in it part of the day, and aided there by an assistant, he also became teacher of classics and mathematics in the Academy, a position for which he was well qualified, by the accuracy as well as the extent of his scholarship. He continued to hold this position till the year 1824, when Dr. McCulloch having resigned the charge of the congregation at Pictou, he was ordained as his successor on the 11th of August, 1824, and was succeeded in the Academy by Mr. Michael McCulloch, who had previously been the second teacher in the Grammar School.
But during the whole existence of the institution, Dr. McCulloch was its life and soul. As long as he continued in connection with it, he taught logic, moral and natural philosophy. Diverse as were the branches devolving upon him, he taught them all efficiently. I have since had an opportunity of knowing something of the professors in Edinburgh University, but never till I saw them did I know the greatness of Dr. McCulloch. We doubt not every professor there would have excelled him in his own particular field, but I believe there was no man in that institution, who could have made the same appearance in all the branches taught that he did. The same view was expressed to me by Dr. Dawson, He had a multifarious learning, so that he might be regarded as a whole senatus academicus. He could have taken any branch included in the faculties of Arts and Theology, and taught it in a respectable and efficient manner. I may add, that his intellect was of that peculiar clearness, that whatever he knew, he knew accurately and distinctly.
The teaching of the branches named however, was only a small part of the work which devolved upon him. Besides the charge of a congregation till the year 1824, he took an active part in the business of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, and most of the public documents of the body came from his pen. As soon as the first class of students was sufficiently advanced, he was requested by the Synod to take charge of their studies in theology. To his other labors was added the instructing of these young men in Hebrew and theology. We may add here that he was a superior Hebrew scholar, and as such almost entirely self taught.
But his labours were chiefly increased by the opposition which the institution met with. This, as forming an important chapter in the history of Nova Scotia, as well as of the county, we must now notice. The trustees finding the amount insufficient to complete the building and provide other necessaries, in 1818 petitioned Lord Dalhousie, then Governor, to recommend a grant of money from the public funds of the Province to assist them in erecting a suitable building, or for such other purposes as might be necessary in establishing said Academy. His Lordship recommended the object to the Assembly by the following message:--
The institution of an academy at Pictou , appears to me to promise advantages of education, highly favorable to the whole eastern part of this Province, and I therefore recommend the accompanying petition of the trustees of that academy to your favorable consideration.
Upon this message, the House, with only four dissentients, passed a resolution for £500 to the trustees, to be drawn for, as soon as they had expended £1,000 from private subscription; to this resolution the Council refused concurrence.
In 1819 a similar vote passed the House, and was sanctioned in Council. The trustees continued to make an annual application for money, and during the next four years1820, 1821, 1822 and 1823 they received in all from the public funds £1,300.
For several reasons, the trustees about this time began to fear that the death of friends in the Council, and the increase of an influence in that body, which had always been opposed to the institution, might at some period deprive them of public support , and the possibility of this event they found injuriously to affect their arrangements. They therefore petitioned for a permanent endowment, and the Representative Branch, without a division, passed one to extent of £400 a year. This bill the Council rejected.
In 1824 the Assembly passed another and similar bill, which was also lost in the Council. A vote of £400 for that year was then passed in the Lower and agreed to in the Upper House.
The Academy had now proved itself by its work. Several young men had completed their studies, and were coming forward to take their places in various professions, with good promise of usefulness. In that year, seven young men, having completed a course of study for the ministry in connection with the Presbyterian Church, were licensed to preach the gospel. As these were the first native preachers ever sent forth by that body, in any of these Provinces, and as they were all brought up in Pictou, we may give their names. They were John L. Murdoch, John McLean, R.S. Patterson, Angus McGillivray Hugh Ross, Hugh Dunbar and Duncan McDonald. That autumn, three of these, viz,: Messrs. McLean, Murdoch and Patterson proceeded to Scotland, and preached with acceptance in the pulpits of various Dissenting ministers; and having undergone an examination by Professors Walker, Sandford, Jardine, Miller, Milne and Meikleham, professors in the University of Glasgow, as to their scholastic attainments, they received the degree of A.M. from that institution.
The trustees of the Pictou Academy now felt, that they were entitled to appeal to the Legislature, on behalf of the institution, as no longer an experiment, but as having its character established. They accordingly in 1825, petitioned the Legislature for the removal of tests, for an enlargement of their powers and for permanent grant. We have not a copy of the petition, but presume the enlargement of powers, meant the right of conferring degrees. The petition was referred in the Assembly to a committee, of which Charles R. Fairbanks, Esq., then Solicitor General, was chairman, which reported as follows:
The Committee are of opinion that the Pictou Academy is a highly useful Institution, conducted on an excellent system, that of the Scotch Universities, and peculiarly adapted to meet the wants, and accords with the sentiments of the majority of the Province in regard to the higher branches of education. That its establishment and support has been and will continue be a favorite object with the greater part of the Dissenters in the Province, on account of its total exemption from any disqualifications to students, originating in religious distinctions, and for the careful attention, which its conductors have manifested for the morals of those who attend it. That the attainment of a sound classical education, and of a competent knowledge of the other branches of science, commonly taught in the high schools, is brought down to the means and ability of those, who, if the Academy did not exist, would be wholly unable to provide these advantages for their children. And lastly, that the Institution possesses decided advantages, in many respects to those students who are destined to the ministry in the Presbyterian and other Dissenting Churches, and is for this object, indispensably necessary, if these are to be supplied by the youth of the Province.
Referring to the exclusive Scotch character of the population of the Eastern part of the Province, and to their known and perhaps laudable, partiality and attachment to the Institutions of the country, whence they have originated, and regarding also the great and rapidly increasing population of that quarter, the Committee consider, there exists a fair claim on the part of Pictou, for support to this Academy, for which so decided an interest is there manifest, out of that General Revenue, to which they so largely contribute; and as from the evidence before them and other considerations, the Committee are obliged to believe, that this Institution will be attended by a class of persons, who, on various accounts, are, and will be, incapable of prosecuting their studies at Kings College, Windsor, or in the institution of doubtful and uncertain stability now forming in Halifax, they have deemed it their duty under the clearest convictions of the invaluable benefits, which Education confers on a country, to recommend the Pictou Academy to the continued support and fostering care of the General Assembly.
And believing the honorary Collegiate Distinctions to be highly useful, as incitements to the emulation and diligence of students, and to be the means of extending the respectability, and character and influence of the institution; while the incapacity to grant them possesses a tendency injurious, and perhaps discreditable to it, the Committee cannot perceive any substantial reason, for refusing to allow these privileges to the Academy.
The Committee therefore report that in their opinion, it is expedient to provide, by an act of the General Assembly, for a permanent allowance to the Trustees of the Pictou Academy, of the sum of £400 from the Treasury, and for bestowing upon it, with full exemption from all tests now required of its Trustees, the name, distinctions and privileges of a college as known in Scotland. These the Committee believe will remove all impediments to the advancement and prosperity of this Seminary, give it stability and consideration, and justify its supporters in bestowing that assistance, which the doubt of its permanence now renders it prudent to withhold.
Upon this report the house first passed a vote of £400, which received the assent of the Council. It then proceeded to pass a permanent bill for a like sum, but, after two readings, it was delayed until the next session, on account of the absence of the Governor, and the supposed want of power in the President to give his assent. This supposed want of power was simply pretence. Wallace, the Administrator of the Government, never had any scruples about want of power, when it was a question of rewarding one of his creatures. Then he could exercise the powers of his position, in a way that the Governor himself would scarcely have done; but a measure of those Pictou Dissenters, why it was simply flaunting the red flag in his face.
In 1826, the Assembly passed another permanent bill, to which the Council refused their assent. The Assembly then appointed a committee to search the Journals of the Council, who reported, that in favor of the bill there were four, Mr. Morris, Judges Stewart and Halliburton, and the Master of the Rolls, and against it, five, the Lord Bishop, and Messrs. Wallace, Jeffrey, Binney, and Prescott. The Committee also reported, that the minority had entered a protest against the dismissal of the bill. This document we must present entire. But we may mention here, that during the Session, the Assembly passed the usual vote of £400, which received the assent of the Council.
Reasons of Protest By Minority Of Council,
Dated 22nd March, 1826
1. Because we think that the Dissenters in this Province, who compose more than four-fifths of its population, have entitled themselves to the favorable consideration of the Legislature, by their orderly, steady and loyal conduct, and the cheerful support which they have so long given to his Majestys Government in Nova Scotia.
2. Because we think that when £400 sterling have been annually paid, for thirty-six years past, out of the revenue of this country, for the support of a college, which confines its academical honors to members of the Established Church, who pay but one-fifth of the revenue of this country, the Dissenters, who pay the other four-fifths , are entitled to at least an equal sum to support an institution in which their children can derive the benefit of a liberal education.
3. Because we do not think that the objection, which has been urged to the permanent establishment of such an institution in a remote part of the Province, as Pictou has been termed, ought to have any weight when the general wishes of the Dissenters have been expressed, by their Representatives in three successive Sessions in the House of Assembly, in favor of that situation, where the great body of the Dissenters reside, and where, out of a population of 12,000 persons, not 100 members of the Established Church could be found.
4. Because we think the Bill, which His Majestys Council have now determined to reject, is free from the objections to which the others Bills for endowing the Pictou Academy were liable, as the Institution is by this Bill placed sufficiently under the control of the Government, by empowering the Governor to nominate so large a portion of the trustees, and thereby securing the Province against the future introduction of teachers into that seminary, whose principles might be inimical to our political institutions.
5. Because we are convinced that the public feeling, which has been so strongly expressed in favor of the Pictou Academy, will still continue to manifest itself, and defeat all the efforts of its opponents to destroy the institution; it will therefore continue to exist, not withstanding the rejection of the present Bill, --but Government will not have that salutary influence over it which it would acquire if this Bill was passed into a law.
6. Because, as members of the Established Church, we feel that the best interests of that Church will be consulted by manifesting a spirit of liberality to our fellow christians who dissent from us,--- that even policy, independent of higher motives, dictates to us as a minority, the advantages of conciliating the Dissenters, and showing to them that we feel that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the diffusion of knowledge.
7. Because we value highly that harmony and good understanding, which, without the compromise of principle, has so long prevailed among Christians of all denominations in this Province; and we fear, that the rejection of this Bill, while the annual allowance to the College at Windsor is continued, will excite a spirit of hostility to the Established Church among the Dissenters, which will seriously disturb the peace of the country, as upwards of 30 years experience has convinced all of us, who enter this Protest, that every attempt to give or retain exclusive privileges to the Church of England, has invariably operated to its disadvantage. If the clergymen of that church will exert themselves with tempered zeal, the purity of its precepts, the beauty of its liturgy, and the liberality of its sentiments, will insure its extension among the people of this Province, unless their feelings are so roused against it by any injudicious measures, on the part of the Government or the Legislature, to give to it advantages, to which so large a portion of the population think that it is not entitled.
We must now, however, refer to the nature and source of the opposition, which the institution encountered during these and subsequent years. This will appear, in part, from the preceding document; but we must explain, farther, that the Church of England Bishop- the second Bishop Inglis - not only had a seat in the Council, but was one of its most active members, not merely in matters which might interest him as a churchman, but in public affairs generally. Having often the ear of governors, he was a power behind the throne. He was a man of ability and an astute politician, but specially an able and persevering worker for the Church of England. None would have had any right to object to this, had his efforts been regulated by a due regard to the rights of others. But he was trained in the most intolerant school; and instead of relying for the progress of his church on the influence of her principles and practice, and the zeal and piety of her ministers and members, he devoted a large share of his energies to maintaining her exclusive privileges and political supremacy, as an established church.
The maintenance of Windsor College was essential to his object. Had he sought this without seeking any exclusive rights, it would never have met with a word of objection; but, notwithstanding that four-fifths of the population were excluded from its benefits, there was yet no word of removing the tests. As for giving them any share in the management of an institution established by Government for the benefit of all, why such a thought could scarcely ever be supposed to enter his mind! And now, when they dared to establish an institution for themselves, his jealousy was excited against it, not only as likely to foster the evils of dissent, but as likely to form a rival to Kings College. His views are at least partially revealed, in the following extracts of a letter published in the report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, for the year 1823:-
At Pictou an Academy, or college as it is called, has been built, at which there are now about twenty students. Much pains have been taken to make it attractive by its Philosophical Apparatus and lectures in the sciences, and the residence is agreeable to the students, as they lodge in private houses, at moderate expense and free from restraints. The Insitution owes its rise partly to the difficulties and embarrassments, which have oppressed Kings College, Windsor, and partly to the zeal of the Presbyterian ministers, who have the sole charge of it. It is supported chiefly by an annual grant from the Provincial Legislature, and is likely to rise or decay as the College at Windsor is depressed or advanced.
In these days of religious equality, and of good feeling among religious denominations, it is scarcely possible to realize the state of matters which existed then, the inferior position of Dissenters, the prejudices with which they are regarded even by sensible men, and the difficulties therefore which were thrown in the Doctors way, at every stage of his efforts on behalf of the Pictou Academy. Many believed that a Dissenter must necessarily be disloyal. In the year 1809, on the visit of Sir George Prevost, the Governor, to Pictou, some parties made representations to him regarding the Doctors loyalty, in consequence of which he felt it worth while to send to Government a lengthy defence, with a certificate signed by Hugh Dunoon and the other magistrates, that he regularly prayed for the King. In one of the debates of the Assembly, R.J. Uniacke, Jr., on some report he had heard of the principles of the Antiburghers, said that they ought to be looked after. When Wallace was administering the Government, representations were forwarded to him, accusing the trustees of disloyal principles. When they applied to him for a copy of the charges, he acknowledged having received such a paper, but refused to give a copy of it. This state of things as affecting the Academy, is thus described by T.C, Haliburton in one of his speeches:
There is much to regret, sir, in the state of public affairs in this province, and there are few colonies which present such a singular spectacle. There are a few individuals in Halifax, who direct public opinion, and who not only influence but control all public measures, Seated in the capital, they govern the movements of all the different parts; as they touch the springs the wires move, and simultaneously arise the puppets in the different counties and towns, play the part assigned to them, and re-echo the sounds which have been breathed into them. The smiles of episcopacy, the frowns of the treasury, and the patronage of official interest, have a powerful effect, when brought to bear upon any one object. There is also a wide difference between the success of any measure, when called for by the people, and when advocated by this party. Any project however absurd or extravagant, when required by the latter, to be carried into effect, has friends without number, but if the people solicit, it is viewed with caution; you hear it whispered on all sides, it will offend such a person, it will not be acceptable in a certain quarter, and you are advised to be silent, as it may affect your personal interests, or draw down upon you a displeasure, which may retard your own advancement. The war cry of the church and state has been raised against this persecuted institution, and it is said on all sides, it will militate against the interests of the Established Church and of Kings College at Windsor.
I am a member of the Church of England, and admire it and revere it; I shall continue so, and though I disapprove of the intemperate zeal of some of its friends, I shall live and die a member of that church. I have also the honour of being a graduate of Kings College, and am a warm friend of that invaluable establishment, As, such, sir, if there were any prejudices among the members of either, against the Pictou Academy, because it is the resort of children of dissenters, or if it was viewed by those with distrust, as a sectarian institution, I ought to know something of those prejudices. It is the misfortune of the church, and we all deeply lament it, that one or two unworthy members of it, have sought promotion through the paths of slander, and political intrigue, and have constantly represented Dissenters as disloyal and disaffected people. The value of these gentlemen has unfortunately been estimated on the other side of the water by their zeal; and as they have uniformly reported sectarianism, as they are pleased to call it, synonymous with revolt and rebellion, the dependence of the colony has been absurdly thought, to be alone supported by these staunch friends, and honor and promotion await their laudable exertions.
I will never consent that this seminary of education for Dissenters, shall be crushed to gratify the bigotry of a few individuals in this town, who have originated, fostered, and supported, all the opposition to Pictou Academy. I do not mean to say, that they directly influence those gentlemen in this house, who oppose the bill, but their influence reaches to people who are not conscious of it themselves. They are in a situation to give a tone to public opinion; few men take the trouble of forming just conclusions on any subject but adopt the sentiments of those, whose judgments they respect. In this manner they hint, ambitious Scotchmen at Pictou, sour sectarians, disloyal people, opposed to church and state, their hints circulate from one to another, men hear it, they know not where, adopt it, they know not how; and finally give it as their own opinion; until you find honest and honourable men, as you have heard to-day, pronouncing a judgment, evidently tinctured by the breath of poison, which they themselves are wholly unconscious of having inhaled,.
In one of the reports made to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, we find the following eulogium on Dissenters; It can be clearly substantiated, that in exact proportion to the influence of the established religion, will be the immovable loyalty of the inhabitants of the province,-- It would be difficult to find in public annals, such another abnominable libel on Dissenters; it is said the person who made it, was once your chaplain. Had I been a member of the Assembly at the time, I would have moved to have him publicly censured at the bar of the house; he deserved to have been placed in the custody of the Sergeant- at- Arms, to have been deprived of his gown, and should have been admonished to go and sin no more.
At the starting of the Pictou Academy, the Bishop and his friends had succeeded in placing such restrictions upon it, as were likely to render it a small affair. But now that in spite of this, it was proving successful, his whole influence in the Legislature was employed against it. He was sure of Wallaces help to do any thing against the wishes of those Pictou Dissenters, and with two or three placemen he was able to command a majority in the Upper House to defeat its claims. It will be seen that in that year,(1826) it was only by his casting vote that the bill was rejected.*
* It is curious to note the position of these men to the public treasury. The Bishops salary was £2000, sterling we believe, largely through the liberality of the British Government, with £150 for traveling expenses, besides other perquisites, even it was said to a share of the royalty on coal; Jeffrey had £2000 sterling; Binney was collector of Excise, and Wallace Treasurer, on what were large salaries for the times. Yet these four men, receiving among them annually fifteen or twenty times the whole sum asked for advanced education for four fifths of the population, could, and with the aid of one other councillor, defeat the almost unanimous wishes of the country and their representatives in this regard. An objection was even made that Dr. McCulloch was receiving two hundred pounds a year!
In the course which the Bishop and his party adopted, he was acting against the opinions of the best, the ablest, and certainly the most liberal minded members of his own church. This will appear from the foregoing protest, all the signers to which belonged to that body. The same spirit was shown in the Assembly, where Episcopalians, as T.C. Halliburton, were among the most earnest advocates of the Pictou Institution. And probably a majority of that church throughout the country, would have shown the same spirit. But the Bishop and his clique were unrelenting.
In the meantime the friends of the Institution had put forth vigorous efforts for its maintenance. The Synod of the Presbyterian Church had taken up its support in earnest, and subscriptions, liberal for the times and circumstances, were made in its congregations, though always the largest amount came from the members of the body in Pictou. Though anticipating, we may say here that up to the year 1830, about £5,000 was thus raised, of which about £3,000 was expended on building, library and philosophical apparatus. Much of this was from Ladies Penny-a week Societies, and sometimes from men, who, not having money, brought their produce to the stores, to pay their subscriptions. The very opposition which the Institution encountered, only intensified the earnestness of its friends.
That year Dr. McCulloch visited Scotland. He addressed the Synod of the United Secession Church, which unanimously recorded it as their opinion that the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia and the Pictou Institution have strong claims on the sympathy and liberality of the Presbyterian and other churches in Britain, and of associations for religious purposes, and especially of the United Secessions Church. They also issued a recommendation to the congregations under their inspection to make a collection, without delay, in aid of the funds of the Pictou Academical Institution, and they appointed a committee to prepare a short statement of the claims of the Institution, to be read from the pulpit of each congregation, which the collection was intimated, and also to consider what further measures might be adopted, for promoting the interests of our sister church in Nova Scotia.
A society was formed in Glasgow, entitled The Glasgow Society for promoting the interests of Religion and liberal Education in the North America Colonies, and including in the committee of management, several influential laymen and ministers of different denominations. The students attending the Theological Hall of the United Sessions Church, pledged themselves to raise the sum of £200, and as a result of these efforts, considerable sums were remitted in subsequent years in aid of the Institution.
By these means a library, deemed respectable at the time, was collected, and a philosophical apparatus, and later a chemical apparatus, partly the Doctors own property, the first in these Lower Provinces, were added, and in spite of adverse influences, the institution was gaining strength.
Up to this period, the opposition to the Institution had come from the leaders of a dominant church, and was so clearly the expression of narrow- minded exclusiveness- so opposed even to the sense of justice of the best members of that body, that if nothing else had interfered, it must in the progress of events have been swept away by the rising tide of public sentiment. But now its friends were to be taken in flank, and the institution to encounter an opposition more intense, and ultimately more fatal, from men of the same religious name.
We are far from desirous of reviving old quarrels, but it is necessary to our history, to give the facts of the controversy in its new phase. The founders of the institution while desirous of establishing it on a liberal basis, and to give in it such a training as would fit our youth for usefulness in any sphere, attached special importance to it, as a means of educating young men for the Gospel ministry. Indeed the difficulty of obtaining ministers to supply the destitute parts of the Province, was one and perhaps the leading cause, which led them to found such an institution. The Presbyterian Synod had taken up its support on the same ground, and with this view Dr. McGregor and the other ministers had appealed to their people, and enlisted their sympathies on its behalf.
When the ministers of the Church of Scotland commenced the movement, forming an organization in connection with that body, they found the Institution ready to send out its first company of native preachers. They came with that contempt, which it was customary then and long after, for old country people to entertain for everything colonial. The idea of training some of the natives of the backwoods for ministers, seemed to them supremely ridiculous, and when they commenced preaching they decried them in the strongest terms. They also looked upon Seceders with that distain, with which the members of the Established Church at that time generally regarded that body. They could not see that in this country they hold no more favoured position. But they were not long in seeing that the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, composed principally of Seceders, who were in the Province before them, had a firm footing in the country, and that such an institution, by providing ministers in the Province, was giving them a great advantage, an advantage, it is true, equally open to all, but of which they had no intention of availing themselves. Hence they took a position against it, as favouring the Seceders in opposition to the Kirk of Scotland.
In the year 1826, Messrs. Fraser and McKenzie held an interview with the Trustees. At this meeting they objected to the teaching of the higher branches in the Institution, and proposed substantially, that it should be converted into Grammer School. To this of course the Trustees could not accede, and Messrs, F. and McK. left, intimating that as the Trustees would not adopt their views, they would henceforth meet with their most determined opposition.
Accordingly by their exertions, for the next few years petitions were forwarded to the Legislature, signed by their adherents asking for a change in the Institution, a change which amounted to an entire destruction of it, as far as the objects of its founders were concerned. They alleged that the teaching of the higher branches was a violation of its charter, and complained that English grammar, elocution, bookkeeping, navigation, geography and the elements of the classics, were not taught in the Institution, and they asked for their introduction.
To this it was replied, that the Institution had never been intended to teach these branches. It was shown that the original petition, on which the charter was granted, was distinctly for the establishment of an institution for teaching the branches not taught in the Grammar Schools of the Province-- that the charter was given with this view-- that the subscription list was in the same terms, and the money raised expressly for this purpose-- that its by-laws, which defined the course of instruction, had been according to law submitted to the Governor, and approved by him-- that the Legislature perfectly understood this, as for seven years after the establishment of the Institution, they had made a liberal grant to a Grammar School along side of it, and that a Committee of the Assembly, after a thorough examination, had expressed the highest approval of the system of education adopted. Therefore to employ the funds of the Institution in teaching the branches of an ordinary English education, was destroying the Institution, as far as its original purpose was concerned, and was entirely unnecessary as there was a Grammar School, in which these branches were efficiently taught within a few rods of the building.
It was objected farther that the Institution, in terms of the charter, ought to be under the management of persons belonging either to the Church of England, or the established Church of Scotland, but that instead of this it had with a few exceptions, fallen into the hands of Seceders from the latter, who had adopted the present course of instruction, not suited to the circumstances of the Province, to forward their favourite design of raising ministers for their own connection, and that a divinity class had been introduced avowedly for this object, which gave the Academy a sectarian appearance.
To this it was replied, that according to the charter, the Trustees must be members of the Church of England or Presbyterians -- that the Trustees had taken the test once in every three years though it had been forced upon them, -- that the Trustees had always been anxious to have as full a representation of different religious bodies at their Board, as in their power -- that they had elected Mr. Fraser a trustee soon after his arrival in this country -- that the Rev. Archibald Gray, minister of the Church of Scotland, as well as Mr. Foreman, a member of his congregation, had been a trustee from the commencement of the Institution, had signed the first petition for its establishment, and every one presented by the trustees during his lifetime, and that they had also invited members of the Council to become Trustees -- that as to education, the Institution was conducted on the principles of the Glasgow University, that the education given was restricted to such branches as were required for all the learned professions -- and as to the Divinity class, that it was quite disconnected with the Institution. The Trustees had granted the use of a class room for the purpose, but agreed to extend the same favor to any other denomination. Dr. McCulloch further offered to remove this class to his own house. But his opponents demanded that he should relinquish it altogether. This he positively refused.
The opposition from these sources involved Dr. McCulloch in a vast amount of labour. His pen was constantly employed, in various ways, in representations to the Legislature, appeals to the Presbyterian congregations, and carrying on a scarcely interrupted controversy in the press. Besides these labours, he visited Halifax and the leading towns in the Lower Provinces, delivering popular lectures on science, especially chemistry, with a design of awakening an interest in education. These lectures were among the first of the kind in British North America. With the assistance of his family, he collected a Museum of Natural History, which was the finest in the Province at the time. Audobon pronounced the collection of native birds to be the finest, or among the finest he had ever seen. To the discredit of Nova Scotia, be it said, it was allowed to be sold abroad. By these controversies the feelings of parties were excited to a degree, which it is now scarcely possible to realize. The members of the Presbyterian Church looked upon the Institution, as that upon which the progress and prosperity of their church depended, and all their most sacred feelings were roused in its support ; while the adherents of the other body, taught to regard it as an institution against the Church of Scotland, through the strength of their best feelings toward their mother church, were roused to the most violent opposition. And the strife became deeply intensified, by becoming mixed with the political struggles of the day.
We must now return to the history of the question in the Legislature. In 1827, the trustees again petitioned for the abolition of tests, and for a permanent endowment; but owing to the absence of Mr. Smith, the Pictou member for the County of Halifax, and the person who took the lead in the business of the Academy in the House, no permanent bill was introduced. But now the majority of Council were emboldened to go farther than ever in their opposition of the Institution. There can be no doubt that the opposition in Pictou was fomented, perhaps instigated, by the official party in Halifax, but now they took advantage of this division, as an excuse for refusing all aid to the Academy. They could now turn round and say, agree among yourselves. Hitherto the opponents of the Institution, had generally after a fight allowed the vote to pass each year, though refusing to make it permanent. This was anything but satisfactory. For trustees to engage teachers, and teachers to accept engagements, on the faith of a grant, for which annually they were at the mercy of the deadly foes of the Institution, was a position which none would willingly occupy, and it was unjust, when Windsor had its grant secured permanently.
But now, when the House passed the usual vote of £400, the Council negatived it, and in a paper sent to the Assembly, gravely assigned as their reason, that measures have been adopted by a majority of the trustees to excite a spirit of hostility to the Established Church, and to render Windsor College unpopular on account of its restrictions; and they declared their determination not to consent to any grant, while the Institution remained under the management of the present trustees. The House then voted £300 for the current years expenses, and £100 for the partial discharge of the pecuniary engagements of the trustees; this also the Council rejected. A resolution was then passed in the Assembly placing £400 at the discretionary disposal of the Governor for the benefit of the Institution; to this the Council assented. The Governor issued a commission, Judge Chipman chairman, to examine into the state and proceedings of the Institution, and the result after deliberate enquiry, was a most favourable report, which caused the Government instantly to give his warrant for the money.
The history of the legislation of the following years we give in Mr. Blanchards words: In 1828, another permanent bill passed the Lower House, and was lost in Council. Next day the House passed another permanent bill, with some other alteration of the provisions. To this, the Council sent down several amendments or, more properly speaking, a very voluminous bill of quite a different nature. It is sufficient to mention , that Dr. McCulloch, the principal, was personally excluded from the trust. All the trustees were to be removed, and others appointed in their place by the Governor, and the Institution was to be reduced to the level of a Grammar School, or something lower, The House of course refused to concur in the amendments, and the bill was lost.
The House then voted £500 to be placed at the discretionary disposal of the Governor, towards discharging the debts of the institution. This was sent to the Council and lost. There were only four nays. Next day the Assembly resolved, that if His Excellency the Governor should judge it proper to aid the Trustees, to the extent of £500 towards the payments of their debts, the House would provide for it at its next session. Next morning, however, the friends of the Institution, thought it was going too far thus to overlook the Council altogether, and upon reading their journals, moved the insertion of the words, with the advice of His Majestys Council. After the rising of the House, the Governor called upon the Council for their advice, and they advised to withhold the money, and it accordingly withheld.
To ascertain the proceedings of the Council with regard to the permanent bill, a Committee of the House searched their journals, and reported that sixteen petitions from various portions of the Province, had been presented to the Council, praying their assent to a permanent endowment of the Academy, and it was also reported that there were four nays in Council to the rejection of the bill.
In 1829, a permanent endowment passed the House, but was lost in Council. The usual vote of £400 was also passed and also lost in Council. In 1830 a similar bill and a similar vote passed the Assembly, but were both lost in Council.
In 1831, a Committee of ten was appointed in the Assembly, to report a bill respecting the Institution, and they introduced one which passed the house, and was sent to the Council. They returned it with several amendments, but these being connected with money, and so an infringement of the privileges of the House were not considered. The House then passed a resolution of £400; while the resolution was under discussion, several members who were opposed to the bill, expressed their consent to the vote for that year, and one of them proposed that the word unanimous should be prefixed to the resolution, in order that the Council might know the unanimity of the House, and be perhaps thereby induced to acquience in its wishes. The word unanimous was prefixed by the consent of a full House, but failed to produce the expected effect. The resolution came back disagreed to.
In concluding this naked history of the Parliamentary proceedings relative to the Academy, the following facts are recurred to as particularly worthy of remark. The House of Assembly passed eight resolutions granting money to the Institution, which were negatived, or destroyed by amendments.
During the fifteen years since the Academy was founded, there have been four General Assemblies, and in each of these, there was always a very large majority in favor of the Institution. The bills and votes for annual allowances often passed without a division, sometimes against minorities of four or five, and on the last occasion, unanimously.
These proceedings led to debates in the House, conducted with great ability. It was in these discussions, and those which arose out of them on the constitutional powers of the House of Assembly, that S.G.W. Archibald, then speaker, established his character as one of the finest orators of the day, while perhaps not less able, and little less eloquent, were the addresses of T.C. Haliburton and C.R. Fairbanks on the same side, while Alexander Stewart on the opposite did what could be done to cover a bad cause.
But the issue was what those in power little expected. The Council it is true had manifested their power in defeating the wishes of the House on a money question, strongly expressed for a dozen years, and their intolerant exclusiveness, in refusing an act of the commonest justice to the whole dissenting population, and the Bishop might feel as if he could smile defiance upon all foes. Indeed the Council seemed determined to exercise their power in very wantonness, for they now negatived a grant passed in the House for Horton Academy, and even refused the small sum of £30 to the Pictou Grammar School
But these things were but the beginning of the end of the whole system of the irresponsible power of cliques and compacts. The discussions on the Pictou Academy raised the whole question of the Councils constitutional rights, and there were men now to claim for the Assembly that control of money matters, which, according to the British Constitution, belongs to the peoples representatives. The temper too of both the House and country was being roused, by the manner in which the Council had exercised their powers, and men were now found boldly to cry out to have the whole concern swept away, or its Constitution radically changed. We will give one example of this. On the 19th March, 1829, Mr. Hartshorne, one of the minority, moved that the House appoint a committee to confer with the Council, and instruct them to concur with the Councils bill of the preceding year. Then Mr. Haliburton, after indignantly repudiating the idea, that after seven bills had been passed by the Assembly and rejected by the Council, the views of the latter should now be thrust upon them, proposed that the resolution should lie on the table, and that instead, the members should agree to resolve themselves into a committee on the general state of the Province, and to prepare an address to His Majesty, humbly soliciting him to remove from his Council those who filled public offices, or to give them a Legislative Council, and afterward made the following remarks: --
Will any man say that this is not necessary? or that it would not be a desirable amendment of our local government? Will any man say that we, the forty members here assembled from all parts of Nova Scotia, do not bring together a greater body of local and topographical knowledge than any similar number of men residing in Halifax ? Or will it be denied that twelve or fourteen gentlemen appointed by the King, from different counties in Nova Scotia, to a Legislative Council, could not better subserve the interests of Nova Scotia than the same number of people in Halifax ? It has been said that this country is a peaceable, quiet country, and is well governed. I admit that it has been a quiet and exemplary Province, but, sir, it is owing to the temperance, prudence, good sense and forbearance of this House, and the morality of the people for many years past. But as to our local government, the structure and frame of it is essentially defective. Is it possible that any man can assert that where the Legislative Council consists of the same persons as the Privy Council, and the latter is composed of all our public officers, whereby the servants of the public become its masters, that such a form of government is perfect, or that men so situated, unless equal to angels, could in the nature of things give satisfaction ? Is it possible to affirm that a council separate and apart from the Privy Council, but appointed by the King from the country, would not be infinitely preferable?
And then after a scathing rebuke of the Bishop for his treatment of Dr. McCulloch, as well as some other of his friends, he concluded: --
I turn from them and him to this House and say, consider of this matter, and petition the King, either to remove the public officers fed and paid by the Province, from the Privy Council, or to grant us a Legislative Council. That there does exist a necessity for this measure, no man can doubt who understands the state of our affairs.
Though the Assembly was thus coming to learn and assert its rights there was still wanting the firmness to take a firm stand in the maintenance of them. Had they done so on this question, and simply had this grant or given no supply at all, the contest would perhaps have come sooner, but the victory would have been more easily won, and with less loss and trouble to the country than in the contest which soon after forced upon them. But the members had always objects, for which they wanted money votes, and the House resorted to a system of manoevering, to maintain the consent of the Council even for grants necessary for public improvement, and the latter could always secure their measures, and in every collision with the House and hitherto been successful. And even the author of the above bold words, under the influence of a judgeship, quietly subsided into the most compliant of placemen. But freedoms battle was now begun, and when the next fight came, the Council found itself engaged in a vain struggle for life, and passed away, unwept, unhonoured and unsung; and in the new order of things, the people of Nova Scotia took good care that no Bishop managed our civil affairs.
It was perhaps unfortunate for the Academy, that it was mixed up with these political questions, but this position was forced upon its friends by the course of its opponents.
During the time that the annual grant was withheld, the friends of the Institution rallied nobly to its support. In one year friends in Halifax subscribed £500 towards it. At one meeting in Pictou a subscription was opened, which the next day amounted to £181.5s
($725). Had it been a time of prosperity in the country, the zeal of its friends was such, that it might have been maintained without Government aid, and sometimes Dr. McCulloch proposed, that the Presbyterian Church should take the matter into their own hands, and leave the Legislature alone. But it was a time of great depression and scarcity of money, and subscriptions were insufficient, so that debt was accumulating upon the Trustees. The Council remaining obstinate, they resolved to lay their grievances before the Home Government. This had been threatened before, but the Bishop and the Council had hitherto had the ear of the authorities at Downing Street, and they smiled contempt on such a proposal. But they had to deal with men, who knew their rights and had the boldness to assert them, and who had confidence in the justice of the British Government. Accordingly in the year 1831, Jotham Blanchard, Esq., was sent to Britain as their agent. He addressed the United Secession Synod, which, after hearing his statements, resolved to strengthen his hands, by presenting an address to the King on behalf of his mission, and otherwise to aid in the promotion of his views. He then presented to Lord Goderich, then Colonial Secretary, a long memorial giving a full history of the Institution and its claims, which was confirmed by a variety of documents. Some members of Council were in London at the time, from whom His Lordship sought explanations, but they had to make the excuse, that they had not with them the documents necessary to reply to it.
The result was a despatch from the Colonial Secretary to the Lieut. Governor, of which the following are extracts:
The arrival of Mr. Blanchard in this country, with a memorial upon the subject of the Pictou Academy, has called my particular attention to that question, which seems to be almost the only topic calculated to interrupt the harmony and good understanding, which in general prevails between the different branches of the Legislature, and throughout the Province at large.
Unless, however, some means be found of adjusting the differences, which have risen upon this subject, I fear it may swell into an affair of some magnitude, and threaten injurious consequences, which it might not be easy to avert. His Majestys Government, therefore, feel most anxious that this cause of internal dissention should be removed, and that a bill should be passed, which might give to the Pictou Academy that permanent pecuniary assistance from the public revenue, to the grant of which the Assembly attaches so much importance; and I have no hesitation in submitting to you my opinion, that it would be most unfortunate, if the passing of such a bill should be frustrated, by attempting to annex to it conditions as to the constitution of the Body of Trustees, to which there is but little reason to expect that the Assembly would be prepared to agree.
It may, I think, well be doubted whether, considering the nature of the institution and the great variety of religious opinions, which may be entertained by those who attend it, any benefit would result from placing the management of it, in the hands of a Board of Trustees composed of persons holding official situations under Government , who might thereby become, in the discharge of their duties, most inconveniently mixed up with questions in which they could not interfere with advantage. The veto which the Governor now possesses upon the appointment of new trustees when vacancies occur, seems to afford a sufficient guarantee against the introduction into the Board of improper persons; and although it can hardly be expected, that any board of management could at all times give unqualified satisfaction to every one, yet so long as the Assembly, representing all classes of persons in the community, should not deem any fresh Legislative interference necessary, it might fairly be inferred that the Institution was not improperly conducted; at all events, it is obvious at the present moment that the public at large are not desirous of any material change in its management.
Whilst, however, I cannot say that I see reason to participate in the grounds upon which the Council have rejected a bill for a permanent grant, I should, of course, deem it to be more satisfactory if the measure were adopted in such a manner as to meet and conciliate the feelings and wishes of both parties. Your object will therefore be to endeavor to bring about, by the exercise of all proper means of persuasion on your part, such a state of feeling upon the subject as may lead to that result. All will then see that His Majestys Government at home, and the individual who represents His Majesty in the colony, have no other object in view than the good of the Province, and the harmony and contentment of all classes of his Majestys subjects.
This was a pretty severe rap on the knuckles of the old ladies, and most unexpected from such a quarter. With such instructions to the Governor, and such a plain expression of sentiment regarding the conduct of the Council, had the friends of the Institution now stood firm, we believe they might have gained all they had sought. But the House was disposed to compromise, and thus threw away the fruits of victory. Mr. Archibald now introduced a bill, the principal provisions of which were, that the Institution should be under the management of a board of twelve trustees, seven of the old trustees, to be elected by themselves, four to be appointed by the Governor, (these it was intended should be appointed from the party in Pictou opposed to the Institution), and the Roman Catholic Bishop. The Institution was to consist of a higher and lower department, the higher to teach the branches already taught, and the lower to teach those usually taught in the Grammar schools. The trustees however might obtain any suitable house in any part of Pictou, separate from the Academy for the lower division, which was to be commenced, as soon as funds had been raised by private subscription, tuition fees or otherwise to provide a salary of £100 a year. There was to be no Theological class taught in the Academy, but this was not to prevent any professor teaching any such class in any other part of the town of Pictou. The sum of £400 a year was granted for ten years, of which £250 was to be paid to Dr. McCulloch, as principal, while he continued in office, the rest to be for the benefit of the Academy, as the trustees might direct.
This bill was an attempt fairly to meet the views of all parties. The proportion of the trustees allowed to the old funds of the Institution, was what Mr. McKenzie professed himself willing to do. It preserved the teaching of the higher branches, which its friends had been so long endeavoring to build up, and it at the same time sought to meet the views of its opponents as to the lower branches. But Mr. McKenzie was no more reconciled than ever. It still made provision for maintaining the higher branches, and thus the Seceders might still educate ministers in Nova Scotia, and he accordingly appealed to the Council against the measure.
The manifest aim, he complained to them, and effect of the Bill, is the appropriation of £400 a year out of the public revenue, to gratify the ambitious views of a particular sect, to whom a combination of circumstances, and the injurious union of the three districts of this county, has given temporary ascendancy and a degree of political influence, to which their relative numbers and strength in the districts of Halifax and Pictou, by no means entitles them. It is an ascendancy, which tramples under foot the just rights, and sets at naught the moderate demands of the other classes of His Majestys loyal subjects and which in seeking to perpetuate itself, has led to consequences of which none are more fully aware then the members of your Hon. Board. The Academy has been declared by the Rev. Principal, to be subservient to the propagation of the gospel, that is, as is apparent from his printed memorial of 1826, containing this passage, to the education of preachers for the body of Presbyterian Seceders. The political and religious influence of this sect is thus to be extended and confirmed at the public cost, and to the injury and depression of the Kirk of Scotland, and of all other denominations of Christians. *
* To this, Dr. McCulloch's reply was easy, that as benefits of the Institution were equally accessible to all, injustice was done to none, and that its course was restricted to those branches of education, which every civilized community has accounted necessary alike for all the learned profession. If he supported the Institution as subservient to the Propagation of the Gospel, because he believed the interests of religion required a native ministry, he sought to promote its efficiency equally in subservience to more general purposes. If Mr. McKenzie preferred teaching his people to depend on Scotland, he had no right to complain of others who pursued a different policy. At all events, instruction in Theology formed no part of the course of instruction at the Academy.
Mr. McKenzie therefore demanded , that £100 or £150 of the grant, should be appropriated expressly to the teaching of the lower branches, of which proposal Dr. McCulloch said:
He knows what education is. He knows what is taught in the Pictou Academy. If he thinks that the several branches are not taught, let him show it to this Honourable Board. If they are taught, I ask him to specify any seminary upon earth, where so much instruction is given for £400 Nova Scotia currency. Yet from this sum he would abstract £100 or £150, leaving at farthest £300 to keep the building in repair, to pay the interest of debt, amounting to, perhaps, £1200, and to maintain the teachers. The governors of Kings expend, I believe, not less than £1,000 sterling on education. In the Pictou Academy the system of instruction is, at least, as extensive, and I trust, not inferior in quality; but when it is proposed to grant to the latter £360, he eagerly solicits to take £90 for the lower branches. The result is certain destruction.
Mr. McKenzie also persisted in requiring the lower branches to be in the same building. To this its friends were strongly opposed. There are, said Mr. Archibald in his speech, but four rooms in the present building, one devoted to the library, one to the philosophical apparatus, a third is the class room, and the fourth contained the museum. To introduce a grammar school into the College is to destroy it. The higher branches could not be taught amidst the noise and tumult of a common school; and if young boys were allowed to range through the library, museum, and depositary of philosophical apparatus, these would shortly be destroyed.
All Mr. McKenzies views were conceded. The clause allowing the lower branches to be taught in a separate building was struck out of the bill, and £100 of the annual grant was expressly appropriated to their support, and both departments were to be compressed into one building with four rooms. Mr. McKenzie pledged himself that he and his party would raise penny for peny with the others, to maintain the Institution; and he with Revds. D.A. Fraser, and John McRae, and David Crichton, Esq., were added to the trust.
From this time, the finger of decay may be said to have been upon it. It did some good work, and some of its best students were educated after this. The old friends still came forth from time to time liberally for its support. But there was a blight upon it. External war had been exchanged for internal strife. Hitherto the trustees were united, but now what the one party wished to build, the other laboured to destroy. The lower branches were taught for a time efficiently by George A. Blanchard, but afterward were committed to a friend and countryman of Mr. McKenzie, under whose management the teaching of them was discontinued, simply from want of pupils. In the meantime, the trustees were becoming embarrassed in bearing the expense of the upper department. In consequence, the second teachers classes were closed. Friends became disheartened, and in the uncertainty as to the future if the Institution, young men were discouraged from preparing to enter it.
Under these circumstances, in the year 1838, an Act passed the Legislature, transferring Dr. McCulloch and £200 of the grant to Dalhousie College. The ministers of the Church of Scotland now argued that the founder of the Institution, in proposing as his model the University of Edinburgh, meant the institution to be in connection with the Church of Scotland, and though they could not exclude Dr. McCulloch, they succeeded, through their influence with Sir Colin Campbell, the Governor, in getting members of their own body appointed to the other chairs, to the exclusion of better men. Mr. Crawley, who was one of the rejected, immediately commenced the agitation, which resulted in the establishment of Acadia College.
The Pictou Academy was subsequently remodeled as an Academy or High School, and as such has been doing good work. And the higher education in Nova Scotia has ever since been inextricably muddled.
We have thus fully noticed the Pictou Academy and the discussions connected with it, as these involved important results to the Province:
In the first place, it was the means of training a goodly number of men for stations of usefulness, both in Church and State, which they have filled in a highly creditable manner, many of whom could not otherwise have had more than a common school education. Among those who gave themselves to the gospel ministry, we need only mention such men as John McLean, J. L. Murdoch, R. S. Patterson, John Campbell, Drs.Ross, McCulloch, McGregor and Geddie. To law and politics, it gave among others, Sir T.D. Archibald, baron of the English Court of Exchequer; Judge Ritchie, now of the Supreme Court of Canada, lately Chief Justice of New Brunswick; Sir Hugh Hoyles, Chief Justice of Newfoundland; A.G. Archibald , Governor of Nova Scotia; Judge Young, of Charlottetown, P.E.I ; Judge Blanchard, George R. Young, &c., &c. Among its students who followed the healing art, we may mention Dr. W.R. grant, Professor of Anatomy in Pennsylvania Medical College, and among scientific men, Dr. J.W. Dawson, Principal of McGill College, Montreal.
Secondly. It largely advanced the cause of general education and diffused a taste for literature and science. The number of men it educated, with their general influence, the schools, that they taught, the number of others partially taught, the popular scientific lectures of Dr. McCulloch, the general air which such an institution disused around it, and even the discussions to which it gave rise, made it the means if diffusing intelligence and a desire for knowledge, among all classes of the community, bebond any institution of its time, and we might almost say since. The illiberality of those who imposed tests upon it, in some measure limited its influence to Presbyterians. But persons of all denominations attended it, and by the discussions of which it was the subject, and in other ways, these bodies were excited to an interest in the same cause.
Thirdly. It was in the contests, of which it was the subject, that the equal rights of all classes to public education were secured. What sane man in our day would advocate the maintenance of only one institution, from which only one fifth of the population should derive any benefit?
Lastly, As we have seen, it was in the same contests, that the movement began, in which the government of the country by irresponsible cliques was broken, and the Province secured the true force of representative institutions.
If the Institution cost money, it will be difficult to find one that gave as much in return for as little. But its benefits cannot be reckoned by any money value. One John McLean was worth more to a Province a hundred fold, than all that it ever cost. If there was strife about it, this was only because it was attacked. All was harmony when it was founded, and for years after, but it was assailed and of course defended.
We may add here, that as Dr, McCullochs exertions in connexion with the Institution, directed young men to the ministry, the county has ever since given a larger proportion of the best of her sons to that sacred employment, than any population of the same size in the Dominion, a circumstance probably in part owing to old Scotch training. We give a list in the Appendix, which contains the names of about a hundred, of whom seven have received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, and seven have been missionaries to the Heathen (Appendix J.) . Probably there are others, whose names we have not ascertained.
We have also mentioned that Dr. McCulloch from an early date after his arrival, contributed to the Acadian Recorder. In that paper first appeared some of his writings, which have since been published separately. Among these was a tale or sketch of colonial life, called William, which, with another of the same kind named Melville, was published in Edinburgh in the year 1826, under the title Colonial Gleanings. In that journal, several of his writings on local controversies, ecclesiastical and educational, first appeared. In it also in the years 1822-23. as we have already mentioned, he published a series of light and amusing sketches of the social habits of the people of Nova Scotia at the time, particularly in the rural districts. These were thrown off by him hastily as a sort of relaxation from the engrossing labours, but they are so graphic, that in every part of the Province, persons were found that were regarded as the originals of the characters which he had delineated.
Some others of his writings were published in pamphlet form, among which may be mentioned the following:
The prosperity of the Church in troublous times. A sermon preached in Pictou. Halifax; 1814 . pp. 24 .
Words of peace; being an address delivered to the congregation of Halifax, in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, in consequence of some congregational disputes. Halifax; 1817, pp. 16 18 mo.
The nature and uses of a liberal education. Illustrated. A lecture. 1818. pp.34. 8 vo.
After his death his theological lectures were published in the year 1849, at Glasgow, in a volumn of 270 pages, 12mo., under the title. Calvinism the doctrine of the Scriptures, or a Scriptural account of the ruin and recovery of fallen man, and a review of the principal objections, which have been advanced against the Calvinistic system.
Dr. McCulloch continued to labour in Dalhousie College, with some measure of success, but was ill supported in his work. The toils and anxieties of past years had broken down his constitution, and rendered him prematurely old, though his energetic spirit still bore him through bodily infirmities; yet all his energy was not sufficient to establish a new institution, against the weight of incapable colleagues, insufficient appliances, and half-hearted support. He died at Halifax in 1843, in the 67th year of his age. His remains rest in the old Pictou Cemetery, where some years later his students erected a monument to his memory.
The Rev. John McKinlay, his associate, in the first efforts to establish the Pictou Academy, continued from the year 1824 till his death, on the 20th October, 1850, to minister to the congregation in Pictou, now known as Prince Street Church. He was a man well read, a diligent student, a faithful pastor, and a man of peaceful disposition, and he passed away amid expressions of universal respect.
The Rev. Donald A. Fraser, in the year 1837, removed to Lunenburg, from which place, in 1842, he removed to St. Johns, Newfoundland, where he founded St. Andrews Church and congregation there in connection with the Church of Scotland. There he died much respected, on the 7th February, 1845. It is but due to him to say, that removed from the scene of strife in Pictou, he saw matters in a different light, and acknowledged his mistake, in the part which he had taken in dividing the Presbyterian interest. He had not been long in Lunenburg till he found himself a Dissenter, haughtily treated as such, and obliged to employ the energies, which he had previously employed against his fellow Presbyterians and their Institution , against the arrogant pretensions of Episcopacy. On one of his first visits to Pictou, after leaving it, he said to a leading member of the Presbyterian Church, You used to tell us that in the course we adopted in Pictou, we were making ourselves the tools of the Bishop and his party. I never saw it till I left Pictou, but I see it now. He spoke and wrote in favour of union, and strongly condemned the virulence, with which his late colleagues carried on their controversy against the Pictou Academy. But the waters of strife had been let out, and he was powerless to arrest them.
The Rev. Ken. J. McKenzie continued to minister to the Congregation of St. Andrews Church, Pictou, till the year 1837. His conduct grieved the hearts of the pious in his own congregation, and he then relinquished the ministry altogether. In the winter following, a vacancy occurred in the representation of the county, by the elevation of Mr. Smith to the Legislative Council, and he became a candidate for the position. He was opposed by Thomas Dickson, Esq., was defeated, and died a few weeks later.
We have omitted all reference to the personalities, which marked the deplorable controversies, in which these men were engaged, but as to the questions of issue, it would be foolish and wrong, not to employ the light of experience, to judge of the wisdom of the policy of the respective parties. We venture to say, that never did time, which tests all things, more thoroughly determine any question, than it has vindicated the wisdom of the course adopted by the Presbyterian ministers, in endeavouring to establish a collegiate Institution, with a special view to the training of a native ministry, and the unwisdom of the opposite. We need not enter into particulars. The history of the two churches since tells the tale.
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