In the News: An Octocentenary of Note: Magna Carta Turns 800


“JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.”

In 2015, such an aureate introduction won’t even fit in a tweet. But in 1215, a full eight centuries past, politicians and leaders were not constrained by 140-character limits when they wanted to make a proclamation. King John knew he had ample space on his luxuriously vacant vellum for a loquacious lead-in, and by Jove, he was going to use it.

As John Allemang’s recent (Feb 2) excellent spread in The Globe and Mail reminds us, this year we are celebrating the 800th anniversary of the truly remarkable Magna Carta. In his thoughtful piece, Allemang roundly considers arguments from both Magna Carta’s devotees and detractors, noting that, for all the praise given it for establishing the rule of law and basic tenets of human rights, “sometimes, it is just a self-interested legal document that attempts to settle a bunch of long-simmering quarrels between one very powerful man and a few almost-as-powerful men.” However you choose to view the Magna Carta at 800, for Allemang, its “statement of principle is good enough: Don’t let the bullies push you around.” But enough with the sound-bites; please, read on at The Globe and MailPart I and Part II.

As everyone should know, the Magna Carta — also known as the Great Charter — was signed by King John in the presence of his barons at the field of Runnymede near Windsor on June 15, 1215. There are four extant copies of the Magna Carta: two at the British Library and one each at Salisbury and Lincoln cathedrals. During this octocentenary year, all four copies will be on display at the British Library, which is also hosting an exhibition, “Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy”, from March to September this year. If you find you’re too busy with law school to take a trip to England (an understandable excuse), you can view the exhibition online.

Also as part of this year’s celebrations, a copies of the Magna Carta will be sent on tour around the world. A copy of the Magna Carta from Durham Catheral — a “reissue” from 1216, accompanied by Durham’s 1225 copy of the companion Charter of the Forest — will be on exhibit in Canada from June through December, making stops in four Canadian cities (Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton). Toronto’s Fort York, will be host from October 4 to November 7, 2015. For more information, visit the Magna Carta 800 Canada website.

Coat of Arms of Osgoode Hall Law School

Coat of Arms of Osgoode Hall Law School

The Magna Carta is also features on the coat of arms of Osgoode Hall Law School. On the left side of the shield is portrayed a Doric column surmounted by a crouching beaver. Around the column is a white scroll with the words “Magna Carta Angliae” (Great Charter of England). The beaver, of course, represents Canada. The column and scroll indicate that law, the rule of law and civil rights, descending from Magna Carta, are a pillar of Canadian society. These symbols — the pillar, the beaver and the scroll — are taken directly from the Seal of the Law Society of Upper Canada in Osgoode Hall, the School’s home until 1969.

If you’d like to learn a little more about the Great Charter, a quick search through our holdings reveals numbers of texts and commentaries regarding the eminent document. Our collection includes Blackstone’s famous treatise of 1759.

A Bounty of Bookplates

The Osgoode Library has purchased a modest collection of twenty-eight bookplates of various Canadian legal personages. These bookplates are of interest for biographical, bibliographical and professional reasons, and are also sure to be of interest to Game of Thrones fans for their assortment of family sigils and words, or in heraldic parlance, charges and mottoes.

A handful of our newly acquired bookplates.

bookplate, also known as an ex-librīs (from the Latin for “from the books of…”), is usually a small label pasted into a book, often on the inside front cover, to indicate ownership. Bookplates can be decorative or plain. Simple typographical bookplates are often termed “booklabels”. Typically, though, they bear a namemottodevicecoat-of-armscrestbadge, or any motif that relates to and identifies the owner of the book. Many collectors and other bibliomanes commission an artist to design a bookplate for their personal use. The name of the owner is usually preceded by an inscription such as “From the books of . . .” or “From the library of . . .”, or the Latin, “Ex libris . . .”

When attempting to determine the provenance of a book, a researcher’s best friend is the humble bookplate. No handwriting to decipher, no ambiguous ink marks, and no mysterious initials – bookplates are a comparatively clear and exact indicator of previous ownership (unless some sneaky individual inserts another person’s bookplate in a book never owned by that person – who could commit such an atrocity?).

Very often, especially before the 20th century, bookplates took the form of an individual’s coat of arms, which is wonderful, because — in theory at least — no family’s arms should be the same as any other’s, and even within the same immediate family arms are distinguished from person to person by marks of cadency. If the family plays by the rules of the appropriate heraldic authority (in our case, the Canadian Heraldic Authority), then the coat of arms should point directly to a particular individual, or at the very least, a particular family. Coats of arms are described with a specific heraldic argot, and since each is — again, theoretically — unique, each description should be unique too. If you know one of the name, coat of arms, or the description of the coat of arms, you can usually logically infer the rest of the information with the appropriate resources. What’s more, many arms and crests also feature mottos (think “Winter is coming”), which not only sound heroic, but are also an important piece of information. In sum, armorial bookplates can be as exact and even more meaningful than a clearly printed name and date, and they are much more delightful to behold.

While bookplates are certainly useful to researchers, many of them are also quite stately little works of art. Here are a few choice examples from our new collection, with well-researched descriptions courtesy of our dealer Warren Baker.

Abbott, Sir John Joseph Caldwell (1821-1893). Crest. 8.8 x 6.2 cm. Gagnon Supp.2649. Harrod & Ayearst, p. 18; Masson Coll. Vol. I, #3.

Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott Abbott was widely viewed as the most successful lawyer in Canada for many years, as measured by professional income (and when St James Street in Montreal had not yet been surpassed by Toronto’s Bay Street). He began lecturing in commercial and criminal law at McGill in 1853, and in 1855 he became a professor and dean of its Faculty of Law, where Sir Wilfrid Laurier, future prime minister of Canada, was among his students. He continued in this position until 1880. Upon his retirement, McGill named him emeritus professor, and in 1881 appointed him to its Board of Governors. Abbott succeeded Sir John A MacDonald as Prime Minister of Canada on MacDonald’s death in office in 1891, but held the office for only a year due to his ill health. He was our fist Canada-born prime minister. The plate was engraved by Francis Adams, Montreal engraver and lithographer, active from 1853-57. [Motto: Devant si je puis, or Forward if I can]

BaldwinDr William Warren (1775-1844).  Armorial. 11.6 x 7.2 cm. Gagnon I, 4759; Harrod & Ayearst, pp. 22 & 23; Masson Collection Vol. II, #229.

According to Harrod & Ayearst, this bookplate refers to the father of Robert Baldwin. He arrived in Upper Canada from Ireland in 1799, settling first in Durham County, where he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel in the Durham militia and a justice of the peace before the family resettled in York (not Toronto). He was called to the Bar in 1803 and appointed a district court judge in 1809. He became a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1807 and served several terms as Treasurer. He was elected MP for Norfolk in 1838. His home in York (Toronto) was called Spadina House from the Indian word spadina, which means a sudden rise of ground such as that upon which the house was built. [Motto: Nec timide nec temere, or Neither rashly nor timidly]

Robinson, John Beverley, Sir (1791-1863). Armorial mantling. 9.7 x 7.7 cm. Gagnon 4945. Harrod & Ayearst, p. 122; Masson Coll. Vol. XI, #1803.

John Beverley Robinson was born in Lower Canada, son of a Virginia loyalist. The family moved to Kingston, Upper Canada, in 1792. In 1799 he was enrolled in the school in York recently opened by John Strachan, and he lived in the the Strachan household until 1807. At age 16, he left to enter the study of law D’Arcy Boulton. Robinson served in the War of 1812 as a militia officer under Sir Isaac Brock, and was appointed acting Attorney General of the province. From 1818-1829, Robinson was the Attorney General of Upper Canada, and, in 1829, he was appointed Chief Justice, Speaker of the Legislative Council, and President of the Executive Council of Upper Canada. As a judge he has had few equals in the history of Canadian judicature. [Motto: Propere et provide, or Quickly and cautiously]

Cartwright, John S., QC (1804-1845)Engraved armorial. 10.6 x 6.7 cm. Gagnon I, 4796 who gives J. R. Cartwright; Harrod& Ayearst, p. 43, who assign his death date to 1860; Masson Collection Vol. III, #439.

John Solomon Cartwright was born in Kingston, Upper Canada, the son of Richard Cartwright and Magdalen Secord (the sister of Laura Secord). He studied law in York, UC (now Toronto) in the law office of John Beverley Robinson (whose bookplate is shown above) and was called to the Bar in 1825. He went to London to pursue further legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn, but by the autumn of 1830 had returned to Kingston, where he resumed his law practice. His seriousness about his profession is shown by the large sum he was spending on legal books. In England he had probably laid out £250 for a “law library”. In 1834 he was appointed a judge of the Midland District Court; he was elected a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1835 and in 1838 he was made a QC. He became the first president of the Commercial Bank of Kingston in 1831. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada in 1836 and to the Legislative Assembly of United Canada in 1841. He opposed the Union of 1840 and turned down the solicitor-generalship from Sir Charles Bagot in 1842. He died at Kingston. His great-grandson, John Robert Cartwright (1895-1979), a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, 1967-1970.

If you’re interested in learning more about bookplates, head to the ultimate resource at the Bookplate Society.

The Lawes Resolution of Women’s Rights, or The Woman’s Lawyer (1632)

The Balfour Halevy Special Collections has acquired an exciting new item, The Lawes Resolution of Women’s Rights, also known as The Woman’s Lawyer. Why is this exciting? The Woman’s Lawyer is the earliest work in English devoted to laws relating exclusively to women. Some particular topics include the age of consent, dower, hermaphrodites, polygamy, wooing, partition, chattels, divorce, descent, seisin, treason, felonies and rape. This 1632 text was authored anonymously, but is commonly attributed to either Thomas Edgar or Sir John Doderidge, an important legal figure during the reign of James I.

Though the title refers to “women’s rights”, its meaning is foreign to us who today think of suffrage, the fight for equality, and modern feminism when we hear the phrase. This book early on references the “especiall bane” suffered by women for Eve’s transgression in Eden, and takes this same sin as the reason “that Women have no voyse in Parliament, They make no Lawes, they consent to none, they abrogate none.” Here, women’s rights refers only to the rights of women in all their limitations, and is not a treatise for their advancement.

Nevertheless, the specific attention to the place of women in the law might be a step in the right direction, albeit a small one. Indeed, the work makes no judgment as to the correctness or morality of the laws contained therein, but only claims to collect them so that “profitable and usefull Learning […] be well knowne”. The editor laments the difficulty the law poses to the common person, and praises the author, who has made “this scattered part of Learning, in the great Volumes of the Common-Law-Bookes, and there darkly described, to be one entyre body, and more ready, and clearer to the view of the Reader”. The Norton Anthology generously describes how the work would “help women understand how the law impinged on them”, so this book may have, in compiling legislation related to women, simply highlighted the astounding injustice afforded them in the period. Bravo, anonymous author!

In addition to finding this book in our special collections, you can find an excellent digitized edition of the text via the London School of Economics library or, if you can dispense with page scans, a searchable text is available via the University of Michigan.

Alexander Buchanan (1798-1852) and His Books: Part 2: Early Canadian Legal Education

In my previous post, I talked about Alexander Buchanan, his place in Canadian history, and his library. In this post, I’d like to talk about one specific book from Buchanan’s collection, it’s special place in Osgoode’s Balfour Halévy Special Collections library. Also, I’d like to discuss a singular and exceptional document from Buchanan’s hand and its significance as a relic of early Canadian legal education.

The very first book on the shelf in our in our rare book room – with the appropriate call number A-0001 – is Buchanan’s personal copy of the 1809 edition of the Orders and Rules of Practice in the Court of King’s Bench, for the District of Quebec, Lower Canada (Quebec City, 1809). We know this was his personal copy not because the title-page is signed bears Buchanan’s signature, but also because of an inscription that perfectly traces the book’s provenance through four generations of Buchanan barristers:

“This book was given to me by my father Alexander Brock Buchanan. It belonged to his father Alexander Buchanan Q.C. when a student at law in Quebec. And I now give it to my son Erskine Buchanan Advocate. Oct. 28, 1933”.

The author of the inscription never names himself, but we can tell from his father and from his son that he must be Arthur William Patrick Buchanan, KC. It’s satisfying to me to know that he’s the one who wrote this little note because we can clearly perceive his interest in his ancestry, further evidenced by the two family histories he wrote and published for private circulation, The Buchanan Book (1911; available here online) and Later Leaves of the Buchanan Book (1929), both of which are also in our collection. The family tree included in the first volume allowed me to identify him as the author of the inscription, so I thank him for his aid in solving his own mystery.

Being the first book on the shelf in our collection is certainly a distinction; but another Buchanan book occupies an even more prestigious place in our rare book room. For some time now, Alexander Buchanan’s own personal manuscipt Common Place Book (1816) has been a feature in our window display.

commonplace book is a sort of notebook cum diary, a collection of significant or well-known passages that have been copied and organized in some way, often under topical or thematic headings, in order to serve as a memory aid or reference for the compiler. In the days before newspapers, public libraries and large personal libraries, commonplace books served as a means of collecting, organizing and storing information, so that it may be retrieved and used by the compiler, often in his or her own work.

It’s not certain when Buchanan began this commonplace book, but the title page is signed “May 1816″, when he was an 18-year-old student-at-law. In 1814, a year before his death, John Buchanan, Alexander’s father, had apprenticed Alexander to his friend Andrew Stuart, a Quebec City lawyer, who made a contractual agreement to see to the boy’s education for five years and to facilitate his call to the bar. After his father died, Alexander remained with his mentor, who now became his guardian. Having reached his majority in April 1819 and after being called to the bar in May, Buchanan without more ado (and not unlike many recent graduates today) used his inheritance to embark on a long trip that took him to England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. He returned to Lower Canada in the autumn of 1820, and from then on could concentrate on his career.

The Common Place Book includes Buchanan’s own notes and observations on the law, as well as extracts copied directly from the sources, made while he was studying. This latter practice was not uncommon when students could not necessarily afford their own books and if they did not have access to a library; there would in any case have been few printed law books to consult at this time in Canada. Consequently, Buchanan’s manuscript is a singular and valuable document of legal education in Canada 200 years ago.

This astounding document is in excellent condition. The neatness and regularity of Buchanan’s hand mean that it’s easy to read, even for me, who suffers from a severe palaeographic dyslexia. Buchanan numbered all the pages by hand, giving each page a an exact topical header:

 He constructed a detailed index at the rear of the book:

He even planned ahead and left blank spaces and pages in case he needed to add more notes later (a common practice):

When he ran out of room (a common problem), he improvised, using “overwriting”, also a common practice when paper was scarce and expensive, especially in the colonies:

This book’s best feature, in my opinion, is the handwritten Greek epigraph on the title-page:

The commonplace book itself seems slightly alien in today’s digital culture; and for me, these three lines emphasize the absolute disparity between today’s world and the world two hundred years ago, and especially between today’s students and students of Buchanan’s era. It’s a tired theme, but in the age of the microchip, this sort of practice shows exactly how people functioned without personal computers or the Internet. There was no HeinOnline, no Lexis or Westlaw, there was no law library, and there were Google hyperlinks to carry you to a specific document or immediately relevant site in the blink of an eye. One had to work, and work hard, to collect, organize and save for retrieval the information that was necessary for learning and examination.

Still, we shouldn’t presume we’re so very sophisticated with our iPhones and our smartwatches and our Tamagotchis. We think we live in an era of information overabundance, but this problem has always existed; and as Ann M. Blair explains in her excellent Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age, our predecessors simply employed different strategies, like the commonplace book, to meet it.

As I noted at the end of my last post, we so often find a bookplate or an inscription with a name that, if followed, will lead to naught. Thankfully, here with Buchanan’s books, the clues lead not to empty ghosts but to a fully fleshed character, a student-at-law and an advocate, progenitor of generations of lawyers, and a part of Canadian history. While these several books may not tell a story in themselves, the web of connections between them assuredly offers an impression of a life lived in the service of his country.

Alexander Buchanan (1798-1851) and His Books: Part 1

It may simply be an instance of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but it seems like everywhere I turn in our rare book room I run into vestiges of Alexander Buchanan.

As a reasonably important historical figure, it’s not surprising to see his name pop up here and there every now and then, but this barrage of six books is unprecedented.

So who was this Alexander Buchanan?

Alexander Buchanan was born in Gosport, England, on April 23, 1798. John Buchanan, Alexander’s father, emigrated with his family in 1802 and settled in Quebec City, where he was surgeon to the garrison, in 1803. In 1814, Alexander was apprenticed to Andrew Stuart, a Quebec City lawyer, and was called to the bar in 1819. He argued his first case before the Court of King’s Bench in Montreal in 1821 and subsequently settled there. He went into practice first with his mentor’s brother, James Stuart, a renowned Montreal lawyer and former Solicitor General; and, after the latter’s appointment as Attorney General, with the equally renowned Charles Richard Ogden, himself Solicitor General. In 1824, Buchanan married the conventiently-named Mary Buchanan, daughter of the British consul in New York. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 1835, and a judge of the Court of Requests and justice of the peace in 1839.

Buchanan is best known for his subsequent work as Chair of two important commissions of inquiry in 1842. The first was set up to revise the acts and ordinances of Lower Canada. Buchanan’s Report, which was presented in three sections from 1843 to 1845, incorporated the previously scattered laws into one volume; it recommended that these laws, which were in both French and English, be codified and translated to promote their dissemination, and resulting in the publication of the Revised Acts and Ordinances of Lower Canada in 1845.

The second commission was to inquire into the system of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada. In this period of economic and political change (and some revolutionary ferment after the uprisings of 1838), many people were demanding that the system of seigneurial tenure be abolished or at least reformed. In his report, Buchanan came down on the side of those opposing seigneurial tenure, calling it a relic of “barbaric ages”, a system of servitude disastrous for agriculture and industrial development that no longer met the needs of the population, and he recommended it be abolished. Sadly, Buchanan, who died in 1851, did not live to see the final abolition of the seigneurial system in 1854.

Buchanan was a keen collector of books and built a large private library, which was a rare thing in the Canadian colonies of the day. The collection was was so significant that a catalogue of it was printed shortly after Buchanan’s death:

Catalogue of the library of thr [sic] late Alexander Buchanan, Esq., Q.C. : being one of the most select and complete collections of valuable books in this province comprising the principal and most important works on the civil, French, and English law; the Greek and Roman classics; standard works in English literature; and the productions of the principal writers in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese languages. Montreal : Printed by Wm. Salter & Co., St. James Street, 1852.

The catalogue has been digitized and is available online here. And though we don’t have a copy of the catalogue in our library, we do have one of the actual books listed in the catalogue. Our copy of the Dictionnaire des fiefs et des droits seigneuriaux utiles et honorifiques, par M. Renauldon (Paris: chez Knapen, 1765) is listed as item #215 in the catalogue and bears Buchanan’s autograph signature. His acquisition of this title is also a refection of his work as Chair of the commission on the seigneurial system, described above.

So often we find a bookplate or an inscription with a name that, if followed, will lead to naught.  Thankfully, here with Buchanan’s books, the clues lead not to empty ghosts but to a fully fleshed character and a part of Canadian history.

For more about Alexander Buchanan and his books in our library, stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this post.

A Topsy-Turvy Image of the Lawyer-Client Relationship

With its classical symmetry, coffered ceiling, modern furnishings and book-lined walls, all suffused with old book smell (“A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness”), the Canada Law Book Rare Book Room is a near perfect space and a wonderful place to work. The collection is not as large as Harvard’s or Yale’s, but it still provides ample opportunity for serendipitous discovery and consequent wonder. We recently recovered an 18th-century print of a very silly caricature, seemingly unsigned, that was donated to the library by former Osgoode Dean and York University President, Professor Harry Arthurs. The etching was in an old Plexiglas frame, completely yellowed. Fortunately, when removed from the frame, the print proved to be in perfect condition. Though the image looked vaguely familiar, none of us could identify it. Because of its obvious quality, we immediately determined to get the print expertly framed, to archival standard; but first, we wanted to identify the artist. This post is a short record of our investigations and what we learned about the picture and the artist.

The print is a small copper etching, 7 x 8.7 cm, of a curious sort. Held one way, it’s a picture of a “Lawyer”. But when you turn the image 180 degrees, it’s portrays a “Client” — a technique referred to as “topsy-turvy caricature”. There’s no signature on the plate, the only identification being the caption “The Lawyer” followed by the very small date “1790”; and when flipped, the caption “The Client” followed by “K 1790 347”. Here’s the image (from both directions):


I cease to be amazed by what can be found on the web and how effective it is for research. A quick Google search of the basic terms “the lawyer the client etching caricature” got immediate results. The sixth link on the first page of results was a review of the book Capital Caricatures: A Selection of Etchings by John Kay, by Sheila Szatkowski (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2007).  (The home site, Electric Scotland, is dedicated to books and information about “Scots, Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora”.) The review page not only reproduced the Lawyer-Client etching, but also provided basic biographical information about its creator, the great Scottish engraver and caricaturist John Kay (1742-1826).

John Kay was born near Dalkeith, Scotland, in 1742, to a stonemason and his wife. His father died when he was only six, and his mother sent him to apprentice to a barber at the age of 13. Six years later he set up shop in Edinburgh after paying his dues to the Society of Surgeon-Barbers in 1771, where he earned a good living “dressing the wigs and trimming the heads of a certain number of gentlemen every morning”. But he had always possessed a knack for sketching; and perhaps employment as a barber provided him ample occasion for the close inspection of human features and afforded him the opportunity to develop the analytic eye necessary for accurate portraiture and uproarious caricature. One of Kay’s customers, William Nisbet of Dirleton, took to Kay and desired to foster his talent. Nisbet supplied Kay with proper artistic materials for the first time in his life and supported Kay’s family as he became established. Nisbet died in 1782, but arranged for Kay to draw a yearly sum of money from his estate. Kay published his first caricature in 1784, when he was 42; and during a long and distinguished career produced portraits, sketches and caricatures of Scotland’s most important personalities and of Edinburgh’s celebrities and oddities. He worked steadily at his craft until his death in 1826. Kay is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.

Our image, Kay’s “The Lawyer; The Client”, dates to 1790, in the first decade of his professional career. The British Museum tells us that Kay drew inspiration from a print published, though not necessarily executed, by John Wallis in 1789 , depicting “Moses and The Vicar” (a parish clerk and a parson), and which seems to come from a popular ballad of the period.

With the black hat and the wig, Kay’s etching uses the exact same elements and the same composition as that of Wallis. I can spot only two real differences. Most obviously, Kay labels the characters represented differently, changing “Moses and the Vicar” to “The Lawyer and the Client”. Along with the change in professions, Kay’s caricatures, with their wrinkles and warts, are considerably more satirical. It’s funny to think that despite the passage of time, public opinion on certain matters can remain remarkably obstinate. This wasn’t the only etching Kay produced in this satirical style (you can see another one here), suggesting that, thankfully, the law profession shouldn’t feel uniquely victimized. The great equalizers are death and the satirist’s pen.

To produce an etching, the artist scratches his drawing into a wax ground covering a metal plate, often copper, to create an intaglio design. When he’s completed his image, he soaks the plate in a bath of acid, which eats away at the exposed parts of the metal; that is, everywhere he’s scratched through the wax. After the acid bath, the artist scrapes away the remaining wax, inks the metal plate, and puts it to paper. Etching allows the artist greater freedom than engraving, as wax is much easier to manipulate than metal. Identifying the various types of prints can be tricky, but one thing you can look for is the impression the plate makes around the image, as etchings and engravings require an enormous amount of force to properly transfer ink from plate to paper. You won’t find this impression with woodblock or most modern methods of printmaking.

There’s one last issue to consider with regard to our print; namely, the “state” of the plate from which it was printed. Compared to a copy of the image online at the British National Portrait Gallery, ours seems identical, right down to the presence of three small dots in the bottom left when “The Lawyer” faces right side up; but there is one glaring difference. Ours  print has the number “347” in the bottom right corner when “The Client” is right side up, whereas the National Portrait Gallery’s does not. One other copy was also not numbered; and unfortunately, the British Museum record for the etching does not include an image with which we could compare ours.

I could find only one more copy online, and thankfully, this one solved the riddle. I believe our print was taken from the second volume of the two-volume collection A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings by the Late John Kay, with Biographical Sketches and Illustrative Anecdotes, published after Kay’s death in 1837-1838, in which all images are numbered. The introductory notice to the first volume notes that that Kay tried unsuccessfully to publish a collected works in his own lifetime, and that after his and his widow’s death, his original plates came into the possession of Hugh Paton, the book’s compiler and publisher. Our presumption is that, for the collection, Paton had the catalogue number added to (ie, inscribed onto) each individual plate used for the published work. This would mean that our print was made after Kay’s death, from a late state of the original plate, with the numbering added. Of course, this knowledge does not make our print any less interesting.

Kay’s Lawyer and Client is currently the only work of art (other than the books) in the Canada Law Book Rare Book Reading Room, but only one of many in the law library. Next time you’re on a study break, take a stroll and admire our growing collection.

Election Special – Five True Patriot Tips from 1899

Our provincial election is coming up, but I’m sure that many of us are still scratching our heads and wondering which way to send our vote. As established by Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is our right as citizens to vote in federal and provincial elections, and it is our civic duty to choose responsibly. But politics is such a messy game, with mud slinging left, right, and sometimes up the middle, and it’s difficult to sort out the true from the false to make an informed decision.

If you’re like me and still weighing the choices before you, I found a pleasant little book in our Special Collections that might be of use. Canadian Citizenship: A Treatise on Civil Government was written in 1899 by John Millar, BA, the Deputy Minister for Education for Ontario. Millar wrote this book “to give young people a general outline of the Canadian system of government, and to urge the importance of that moral and intellectual training which forms the basis of good citizenship”.

In his book he touches upon all the important aspects of being a Canadian citizen at the turn of the century — the various types of government (Empire > Dominion > Province > Municipality > Self), what taxation is and why it exists, patriotism (both Canadian and British), and of course, looming “20th Century Problems” such as, large cities, strikes, intemperance, socialism, and non-essential government functions — all in all, quite a bit! For all its palpable idealism and heavy use of masculine-only pronouns, I’m tempted to see this book as a quaint relic from a simpler age before women’s suffrage, but I have to say that some of the values Millar espouses are nevertheless timeless. I found his chapter on political parties to be especially pertinent today, and today I’d like to share with you some True Patriot Tips from our forefathers that you can put to use at your local polling station.

#1. The Choice of a Party – “Every young man upon coming of age is called upon to vote for one of the great parties. Of course he will wish to vote for the best party. How shall he decide what is best? He should not vote for a party merely because his father votes for it, or because he hopes to secure an office at its hands, but should vote for the one that he thinks will act for the best interest of the country. He should make a careful study of the history and principles of all the great political parties, and learn what each has already done for the country, and what each proposes to do, and then decide for himself which one he will vote for. The principles of a party may be found in its platform. A very good way for a young man to choose his party would be for him to decide (without having the party name before him) which of the platforms of the great political parties contains the best principles, and choose the party that declares for those principles, no matter what may be its name.”

True Patriot Tip: Make an objective and informed decision!

#2 The Politicians – “The great number of the people have little time to spend in politics, that is, in the management of government. Beyond voting and occasionally attending a caucus or mass meeting to hear speeches, they are very apt to leave public business in the hands of a few persons. There comes, therefore, to be a class of men in every community who mostly manage the politics. They attend all the caucuses; they are put upon the party committees; they are chosen to go to the great State or national conventions which nominate candidates for office; they are ready and willing to take office themselves. They bring out their neighbors and friends to vote at elections, and work for their party. They are apt to think that they have earned the right to its honors and places if their party gets into power. Such men, who make politics their business, are called politicians. The name is given specially to those who make use of politics to serve or advance their own private interests. It is not usually given to those whose interest in public business is for the sake of the public welfare, and who do not seek place or office for themselves. The name, therefore, while it has not a positively bad meaning, is not one by which the most public-spirited men would choose to be called. The word statesmen better describes the higher class of wise and faithful public servants.”

True Patriot Tip: Down with politicians! Long live the statesmen (and stateswomen!)

#3. Independents – “Among men, as in the school-room, there are always some who ask questions and want to know the reason of things. As on the playground, some do not care always to go with the crowd, or even prefer to be by themselves. Such as these, who think for themselves, and dare to stand alone, make the independents in politics. Sometimes they are wrong-headed, or unsympathetic, or unsocial. They may make mistakes, as the wisest men sometimes do; but it is important to have independent men in every community. They are likely to prefer the good of their country to the success of their party. They will not act with their party, or will leave it, if it is wrong. If the other party changes, as parties sometimes change, and advocates measures that they believe in; if they change their own minds as sensible men sometimes must, or if the other party puts forward better candidates, or if a new party arises, the independent voters are willing to act wherever they believe that they can best secure the public welfare. They therefore help to keep the great parties right.

It will be observed, however, that in a great country, with millions of voters, no individual can effect much with his vote unless he joins somewhere with other who think with him. And although a few patriotic men, if banded together, like the old Greek phalanx, may form a new party, or change the direction of the old party, or hold the balance of power between parties, and accomplish a reform, yet the man who stands by himself, and only finds fault or votes alone, is in danger of throwing his vote away.”

True Patriot Tip: Think for yourself!

#4. Loyalty to party – “After a man has voted for and worked with the same political party for some years, he becomes attached to it, and it is difficult, sometimes, for him to vote for any other party. He becomes a party man — a partisan. If he leaves his party he is pretty sure to offend his party associates, who call him traitor, or mugwump, or some other harsh name. Yet there are times when it is the duty of a good citizen to vote against his party. When he believes the principles of his party are no longer good for his country, or when he is asked by it to vote for dishonest, or dangerous, or incompetent men, it is his plain duty to refuse to do so. In such a case he is called upon to decide, not between one party and another, but between a party and his country. It is a question of patriotism, or love of country. In times of war a man’s love for his country is tested by his willingness to fight and die for it, but in times of peace his patriotism is tested by his willingness to vote right, whatever may be his interests, or prejudices, or party ties.”

True Patriot Tip: Mugwumps be darned, a leopard CAN change his spots!

#5. Political duty – “In closing this account of our party organizations and their operation, emphasis should again be laid on the absolute duty of every citizen to consider his citizenship a public office, and the benefits which he derives from his life in the State as creating an obligation on his part to lend honest assistance towards rendering the political life of his community as high and as pure as possible. This means his active, intelligent and disinterested participation in the political affairs of his country. As far as possible, he is to co-operate with that party which he honestly considers to represent the best public policies, for in such co-operation his efforts will yield the greatest fruit. But where there is no party to which he can conscientiously give his allegiance, independence in politics is his duty.”

True Patriot Tip: Get out there and exercise your right to vote!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips. Read the rest of Millar’s book online here on the Internet Archive. You won’t regret at least skimming it.

Questions about voting? Check out Elections Ontario.
Where are your polling stations? Find out here.
Learn about Ontario’s registered political parties here.
Keep up with media coverage of the election at the CBC here.