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JUDITH FINGARD English Humanitarianism and the Colonial Mind: ley' ' WalterBrom NovaScoha, 1813-25 mSTORIa•qS havenotcompletely ignored WalterBromley. Post-Confederation chroniclers of NovaScotia applauded hisRoyalAcadianSchool of I813, one oftheearliest charity schools ofitskindinBritish NorthAmerica. xNearly a century later,George Hart claimed that Bromley wasthe originator and leading inspiration behind theself-help organization, theHalifaxPoorMan's Friend Society? Morerecently, Robin Winks canbecredited withspreading inaccuracies concerning Bromley's rolein Negroeducation in NovaScotia. a In theminorrealms ofCanadian literary history, Bromley waslongthought tobetheanonymous author ofA General Description ofNovaScotia, published in •8•3.4Far removed fromthecontext of thecolonial Maritimes, I B. Murdoch,A Historyof Nova-Scotia, or Acadie,in (Halifax i867), 347-8; D. Campbell,Nova Scotia,in its Historical,Mercantileand Industrial Relations (Montrealx873),p. 243;T.B. Akins,'Historyof Halifax City,' Nova Scotia HistoricalSociety, Collections, vin, x895,•58-9, x74 2 G.E.Hart, 'The Halifax PoorMan'sFriendSociety, •82o-•7, An Early Social Experiment,' Canadian Historical Review,xxxn,, i953, IO9-23 3 R.W. Winks,'NegroSchool Segregation in OntarioandNovaScotia,'Canadian Historical Review,% I969, I68. Winksalsoconfuses Bromley withWalterHenry Bromley, agrandson whomBromley never knew.E.R. Coward, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia: Its Historyto •9oo (Kenwillei955), p. 66 4 Aftera longperiodofdebate, BasilStuart-Stubb assembled theincontestable proof thatThomas Chandler Haliburton didinfactwritetheGeneral Description, which wasproduced onBromley's printing press in Halifax.See'On theAuthorship of A General Description ofNovaScotia, I823,'Papers oftheBibliographical Society ofCanada, IV,i965,i4-i8 , anarticle based ontheCorrespondence ofJudge Peleg Wiswall, vol.i, folder2in thePublicArchives ofNovaScotia leANS]. An examination of Bromley's career reveals twosidelights to Haliburton's authorship .Firstly,Bromleywasan incorrigible publicistof his own activities and Vol. LivNo 2Junei973 124 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Douglas Pikeacknowledged Bromley's achievements inNovaScotia ascredentialsforhisprotempore appointment asprotector oftheaborigines of South Australia. 5Nonetheless, randomcomments of historians onBromley's activitiesarefewandfarbetween . Since hewasnevercentrally involved in colonial religion or politics, hiswide-ranging career hasneverbeeninvestigated. Yet a studentof the socialhistoryof BritishNorth Americain the earlynineteenthcenturycannotbut beintriguedby the tenacityand ingenuityof this controversial figureashefleetingly appears onthehistorical stage in various humanitarian guises. Bromley ishistorically significant because hewasoneoftherarelyidentifiableprivateindividuals throughwhomBritishsocial influences wereintroduced intothecolonies. He foundhisraison d'•trein theburgeoning English moralreformmovement of the period.Partlyhumanitarian, partlysentimentalist , partlymissionary in character, English philanthropy in the 'Age ofWilberforce' waschannelled principally through thebusinesslike andhighly mobile agency ofthevoluntary association. 6Unlikemanyofhiscontemporaries ,Bromley's humanitarianism did nothavean essentially intellectual or fanaticallyrdigiousbasis.Rather, he 'viewedwith admirationthe various benevolent Institutions whichoflateyears havebeenestablished in theBritish Empire, several ofwhich excited such livelyemotions inhisbreast astoinduce him to contemplate the moregeneraldiffusion of theirbenefits to the most distant regions of theGlobe. '• Bromley's altruistic activism wascertainly exceptional among British Americanresidents of hisdayandage;significantly, Bromley wasnot a colonist bornandraised, but an expatriate Englishman. His lackof vested interest in preserving the status quoin Nova Scotiaand hisinexhaustible vitality achievements, and wouldhaveundoubtedly claimedthe authorship of a bookso widelyapprovedasthe GeneralDescription.Secondly, it is well knownthat Hallburtonwasashamed of hisfirstliteraryeffortandhe undoubtedly intended to makeit appearthat Bromleywasthe author.Why elsewouldHaliburtonhave claimed in his introduction that the author had resided in Nova Scotia for at leastfifteenyears? Thiswasa clearreference to Bromley's initial visitto the colony in x8o8with hisregiment,the WelchFusiliers. Contemporaries did not believethat Bromleywastheauthorbutbythe x83os hisnamehadbecome associated with the book.J. Crosskill, A Comprehensive Outlineo[ the Geography and Historyof NovaScotia(Halifax x838), p. 76.Haliburton's rusedeceived generations of literary historians. 5 D. Pike,Paradise ofDissent, South Australia •8•9-•857 (Melbourne x957),PP.•4ø-• 6 F.K. Brown, Fathers oftheVictorians, theAgeof Wilberforce (Cambridge x96•), passim 7 Petition ofBromley toGeneral Assembly ofNovaScotia, x8•4,x,^Ns mss vol.305 (Filesof theHouseofAssembly), doc.no 77 WALTER BROMLEY IN NOVA SCOTIA 1813-25 125 helpedtomakehim anoutstanding innovator in thefieldof socialimprovement , a breedwhich an immatureand imitativecolonialcommunitydid notofitself produce. 8Asa product of English society, hepossessed onedistinctive asset which in his view accounted for his fervent and disinterested publicspirit.He considered himselfto be a memberof the 'middleclass' that social stratafromwhichtheinitiatives for improvement generally had tospring, because theupperclass wastoodepraved andcomplacent toserve inanybenevolent capacity butthatoffigurehead. In thepre-industrial society of the colonies, however,nascentmiddle-class elementswere slow to riseto positions of influenceand independence. In Bromley'sday, the colonial bourgeosie wasstilldominated by government officeholders and supporters, andtheycould notcompare withsuccessful capitalists, that'class ofgentlemen everywhereto befoundin themiddleclass of society throughout England whofortheirzealandphilanthropy maybetrulystyled thesaltoftheearth. '9 Twoaspects ofBromley's background areimportant foranappreciation of hisvariedachievements: hewasa self-made manof humbleoriginsandhe spent theprimeyears ofhislifeworkinghiswayup throughtheranksof the highlyitinerantBritish armyin...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 123-151
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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