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A Sketch of the Life of the Hon. and Right Reverend Alexander MacDonell
The Bishop's Memory honoured at St. Raphael's

The Highland Society of Canada having been resuscitated, the then secretary, in his narrative, states:-

"It now becomes my pleasing task to speak of an act of the Society, the first public act since its reorganization, which was hailed with the highest degree of satisfaction, not alone by the Highlanders of Glengarry, but by all true-hearted British subjects in the United Provinces—the erection of a monument by it to the memory of the author of its existence—the late Bishop Macdonell.

Were the Society to have revived solely for that purpose, and were it never to do another act from which good of any kind could be derived, I will be supported in advancing that it has already done enough to entitle it to the gratitude and best wishes of all Canadians, for it has spared them the possibility of other people turning upon them with scorn, to say, 'You have allowed him who was your warmest and best friend, whose long and valuable life was uninterruptedly devoted to your service, without distinction of your race or creed, to lay dead for upwards of three years, without your having gratitude enough among you to pay any—the slightest mark—of respect to his- memory. Yes! you accepted all that he could do for you, received all that he could give you, and when he died, and could give no more, you neglected his memory.'

'The day on which this monument was erected must be looked upon in Canada as a day to which no ordinary interest is attached; and will be forever remembered by being associated with the undying remembrance of him who has very appropriately been called 'the father of his people.' On it the Highland Society must ever look with peculiar satisfaction, as upon a day conferring lasting honour upon them; and when those who now compose it and who were engaged in that day's good work, are gone where their illustrious founder has proceeded them, may their successors. by a continuance of the generous and patriotic feelings which governed that day, bear out the Reverend Mr. Urquhart in saying 'that while this was an act worthy of the new-being of the Society, it was an act auspicuous of its future character.'

"At a meeting of the Society at Cornwall on the 9th of May, 1843, over which the President presided, the Reverend Mr. Urquhart, to whom an acquaintance with that inestimable man, had endeared the memory of the Bishop, alter some eloquent and most feeling remarks, introduced the following resolution, which being seconded by the Reverend George Alexander Hay, was put and carried unanimously

"Resolved, that the Highland Society of Canada do erect on the 18th of June next, in the Parish Church of St. Raphael's, a tablet to the memory of the late Bishop Alexander Macdonell; that the said Society meet on that day, which is the day of the festival anniversary meeting, at eleven o'clock at Macdonell's in Williamstown, and proceed thence at twelve o'clock in procession to the Parish Church, where the Reverend John Macdonald be requested to read prayers, to erect the tablet; and that George S. Jarvis, Esquire, Guy C. Wood, Esquire, and Alexander MacMartin, Esquire, be a committee to procure such tablet."

"A tablet of very beautiful workmanship, hearing the following inscription:-

"On the 18th of June, 1843,
"Erected this Tablet to the memory of
"Born 1760. Died 1840.
Though dead, he still lives in the hearts of his countrymen."

having been procured by the committee appointed for that purpose, was, under the direction of Mr. Macdonell, the Secretary (the compiler of this account) placed in the Church on Saturday, the 17th of June, to be ready against the coming of the Society on the following Monday, to witness its consecration by the Church.

"The members of the Society began to arrive at Williamstown about eleven o'clock on Monday, shortly after which a guard of honour from the 2nd Regiment of Glengarry Militia, under the command of Captain J. A. Macdonell (a grand-nephew of the late Bishop), arrived. At twelve, the Society and the immense multitude of the country people, whose respect for the memory of the late Bishop brought them together to witness the first mark of respect paid to His Lordship's memory in a country which owed so much to his exertions, and to honour the Society while so engaged, formed into a procession and took their way to St. Raphael's. When about half a mile out of the village they were met by the Very Reverend John Macdonald and his worthy colleague in the cause of religion, the Reverend Mr. Macdonald, of Alexandria, at the head of about three hundred men on horseback, who formed in rear of the procession, which they followed to St. Raphael's. Arriving at 'the corners,' the whole road between there and the Church, upwards of a mile, was found to be lined with green bushes, and arches every now and then; and the moment the procession passed under the first arch, an artillery detachment from the 2nd Regiment Glengarry Militia commenced firing minute guns, which they continued until it had arrived at the Church, where it was received by an immense concourse of people, composed of persons of all ranks, politics and religion, and in which members of the fair sex were to be seen intermingled with stout and stalwart Highlanders.

Nothing could be finer than the effect the tout ensemble had yet though the whole country turned out to pay one mark of respect to the memory of their friend, even this was a slight acknowledgment of all the Bishop had done for his countrymen.

"From the door of the Church the President addressed the assemblage as nearly as I can recollect in these words:-

"'As President of the Highland Society of Canada, I feel myself called upon to make some observations with respect to the interesting occasion which has brought us this day together at this place, and I regret much my inability to do so, as I could wish. We must all feel an inward satisfaction that the first of the Society's acts since its reorganization has been the erection of this tablet to the memory of a man whose loss to the country we must all deplore.

"'The late Bishop Macdonell was in all respects an uncommon man; one of those whom we see rise up in an age to advance the good of mankind and elevate our conception of human nature; he was, in a word, a great and good man. His private virtues endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and his exalted Patriotism and devoted loyalty to his Sovereign will long cause his name to be cherished at home and abroad. I may truly say that no one ever had the honour and prosperity of his country more truly at heart than his late Lordship; and although this tribute to his memory is small and of little value, when compared with his great worth, it is to be hoped that generations to come will appreciate the motives from which it originated. This solemn ceremony—this first act of our revived Society----must, I am convinced, be highly approved of wherever this worthy man and true Christian was known.

"'To Glengarry, in particular, where the prime of his valuable life was spent, and for the prosperity of which and to maintain the honour and elevate the character of whose people all the energies of his mind were ever directed, this day must indeed be gratifying; and I trust that I shall live to see the day when a grateful people shall erect in this place a monument worthy of his memory, to which the passer-by may point, and pointing say, "HERE WERE SPENT THE BEST DAYS OF BISHOP MACDONELL. THE FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE."

"'We all know his great anxiety to preserve in this country the language and genuine character of the Highlanders. He early conceived the idea of forming here a Highland Society, and with that object in view he procured from the Highland Society of London the Commission under which we now act; of the Society thus formed he continued to fill the presidential chair with much ease and dignity while it remained in active Operation. All those associated with him in that Commission, with the exception of the humble individual who now addresses you, are now no more, but they all live in our memories-and one of them in particular, as the dear and sincere friend of the late Bishop—the Honourable William MacGillivray, whose cordial co-operation and generous liberality contributed so much to the formation of the Society—may, I trust, without any irreverence, have his name associated with this day's work.

"'I will not detain you any longer by enlarging on the character of this inestimable Prelate; it will remain for future historians to give it to posterity, with those of other eminent men of his day; and I will conclude by hoping that we may all follow the example of our departed friend and lamented President in promoting the objects of our Society with zeal, harmony and cordiality, and, by so doing, confer a benefit on our country and reflect credit on ourselves.'

The President having ceased speaking, the bell rang for church where the Vicar-General delivered a short but impressive discourse. The Honourable Mr. MacGillivray addressed the people in the Gaelic language on their coining out, but I regret being unable to give his speech (which, from the impression it seemed to make upon his hearers, must have been worthy of him) being, I am ashamed to say, unacquainted with the language in which it was delivered. Everything being over, the Society returned to Williamstown under a salute of ten guns, carrying with it the conviction that in Glengarry there was a field worthy of its best exertions."

Had the Bishop had a voice in the direction of the mark of respect thus shown to him, he could scarcely have wished or planned it otherwise than as it was performed. No man gloried more in his country than did he, there never was a truer Briton; the ever memorable i8th of June was therefore a day ever dear to him: again, though a Catholic Priest and a Catholic Prelate, he always respected other men's convictions, and was in return respected by those who differed from him in religion witness the fact that it was Dr. Urquhart, for many years the leading Presbyterian Minister of this part of Upper Canada, who moved the resolution suggesting the erection of the tablet, and three gentlemen of the Protestant faith who were appointed to select it it emanated from the Highland Society of the Province, which he had originated and for years presided over, and the tribute to his memory was placed in the Church of the Parish where the greater portion of his life was spent, and whose people, kinsmen, clansmen and fellow-countrymen he had served so faithfully, the two chief speakers on the occasion, Mr. Macdonald of Gart and Mr. MacGiuivrav, being both Presbyterians.

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