1845 Halifax N.S. political letter to George R. Young MPP from pastor

$110.00 CAD

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Long and interesting pre-Confederation letter from Pastor William Sommerville of Horton N.S. to MP George Renny Young MPP, giving him his opinion on religion in schools.

Addressed to "Geo R. Young Esq. MPP Halifax".

Handwriting difficult to decipher.

Horton Mar 13th 18---
... you do me the honour of thinking my opinion worth asking on an important subject. I feel bound to reply although the subject involves difficulties that under existing circumstances I fear are inseparable – Legislature anticipates public --- it is hardly ever followed by the beneficial results that might be reasonably expected and not ---- has the effect of postponing the advantages contemplated – an undefined period where we witness the happy effects of the parochial school system upon the Scottish population and their elevated  moral and intellectual --- to which it has in a large measure contributed – very naturally desire to see something similar introduced in other lands. It is not however to be overlooked that in the consolidation of the system the Legislation --- the practical development of public wills & morals gave legal force to the already evident desire of these -----  successful legislation to use the current ---- be based upon the well understood wishes of the people...the first object contemplated by the Christian

Patriot must be to put means in ---for the direction of the public mind means of course independent of Legislature interference....

To give permanence to religious divisions and –The Presbyterians of the N. of Ireland denounced the Principle of the former and forgetting the principle were only pacified by their exemption from the application of such parts...-the Factory Bill came out being in its original form entirely sectarian a mere compromise. I write from recollection not having at present access to the Acts. During the 18 mo. I taught at school in Horton I --- as a class book --- --parents to procured the books for their children – They read in common with – in the scripture class --, And if I had tacitly excluded the scriptures I –convinced that Protestants would have said little about it or been --- with the ---remark that the bible is not the best book to teach to read, overlooking --- important consideration that the object should be to make pupils from their first years--- with the lively – of God. But suppose the Legislation to interfere, if R. Catholics should proclaim it a --- to be obliged to use a heretical translation of the scriptures., Protestants ---the --- of equal rights would have equal excuse to complain of the – were prohibited. Neither party could obliged or indeed asked to ...I should judge from your letter that you  -- me credit for being a Scotchman. I am an Irishman. I am happy to be able to correct relationship with Scotchmen – adherent of the principles for which Scotland  --- find so much and has so nobly maintained.  I am a descendant of – Scotch that were introduced –profession of – in Ireland  which he English --- gave them when Irishmen were not considered worthy of the common rights of men. But I am an Irishman.
…yours truly

Wm Sommerville   

3 postmarks: black ‘HALIFAX MR 14 1845 NOVA SCOTIA’, red ‘HALIFAX PAID--- and red ‘—ILLE MA14 1845 N.S.’  (Woodville). Handwritten postal rate ‘7’.

Hole where seal ripped. Small bits of paper missing top of one page. some text missing.

4 pages; 3 with text, last page with address.

30.50 x 19 cm

YOUNG, GEORGE RENNY, lawyer, newspaperman, author, and politician; b. 4 July 1802 in Falkirk, Scotland, d. 30 June 1853 in Halifax.

Young entered active politics in 1843 by being elected to the assembly for Pictou County and quickly became a potent spokesman for the reformers. In 1845 a reporter, hearing Young’s speech condemning Lieutenant Governor Lord Falkland [Cary*] for making public certain dispatches unfavourable to Howe, wrote: “We have heard a good many speeches in our time, but one possessing more vigour and hard home thrusts we never heard.” In 1846 the Halifax and Quebec Railway became Young’s chief concern and it was to have a major effect upon the rest of his life. When the project was first proposed to him in Britain in 1845, he had thought it “in advance of the age,” but a subsequent visit to the Province of Canada and New Brunswick as well as an examination of the statistical information convinced him of its feasibility, and apparently he became the first prominent British North American to press for it energetically.


William Sommerville

William Sommerville was born in Ballyroney, County Down, Ireland, July 1, 1800. He studied classics and graduated with honors from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1820. He was licensed by the Southern Presbytery, Ireland, in 1826. He was ordained sine titulo by the Southern Presbytery, Ireland, May 31, 1831, as a missionary to the British North American provinces (now Canada) and sailed for St. John, New Brunswick, in August of that year. There he labored amongst scattered Presbyterians until a congregation of Covenanters was organized in 1833. Sommerville labored for 47 years as a missionary. In 1835, he was installed as pastor of the united congregations of Horton and Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He was noted for his controversies with the Baptists and hymn-singers, writing several pieces on both subjects.