Tuesday, November 20, 2018

George Brown Days 7: Dear Malcolm Cameron

I should work up one or two substantial pieces about George Brown before his 200th birthday November 29, but other things interfere.  More correspondence, instead, and another aspect of Victorian moral principles.

Apparently this letter exists in George Brown's handwriting, but there is no confirmation it was actually sent,  The intended recipient is thought to have been Malcolm Cameron of Sarnia, lawyer, temperance advocate, Clear Grit radical turned political independent, and a frequent rival of Brown's.  It is published in Careless, Brown of the Globe Vol 1.  Thanks again to Russ Chamberlayne.

27th February, 1857
Globe Office Toronto

My dear Sir:

It is said here that your mercantile affairs are irretrievably embarrassed, and that you are quite disheartened about it. I yet trust the case may be exaggerated, but fear there is some truth in it. You may doubt it, but I assure you nothing that has happened in a very long time has grieved me more and I have been thinking ever since I heard of it whether I could not be of service to you in your difficulty. I have had my own pecuniary trials here and in the States, but have I trust got over them; also I am vain enough to believe I have learnt that by experience which might now serve you. If you think so, I am at your services for a few weeks in any part of the country. Don't give way to despondency--from the little I know, you can retrieve matters. The only way in such cases is to look the worst right in the face and go at it with the determination to be at the bottom of it--not to cover up--and to do our duty in the sight of God. There are often circumstances which one has to regret, in lookingback, by which perhaps friends suffer. Well, that can't be helped for the past, but the thought of it should only invigorate us to fresh efforts to make amends in the future.

This letter, perhaps rude, perhaps impertinent, may displease you or may produce mere contempt for the writer. I can't help that--I have done my duty and I never did a duty with more sincerity or good feeling. Had I not looked on you as we met in King Street the other day as a rich and prosperous man I would certainly have tried to make friends again. I am not going, even at this moment, to say I do not think you did very wrong in past transactions, but I will say that a knowledge of your sanguine temperament and the effect of a similar temperament on my own actions, ought to have made me at least less harsh. Politics I believe hardens men's hearts worse than anything else.

You may answer this or not, as you like--but I trust whatever you do, you will at the worst give me the benefit of doubt, and throw this letter into the flames and forget it.

Were I in Sarnia, and oppressed, I would seek first to have my mind at rest in God's sight. And as Christian fellowship strengthens one much I would seek the sympathy of my friend, Reverend MacAlister. How easy do trials become when the mind and affections are fixed on things of eternity and we feel that all here is a passing show--may end tomorrow--will end soon. Do you wonder at my writing this? I wonder myself--but thanks to a long- suffering God, I feel it somewhat.

Yours very truly,
(Signed) Geo. Brown

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