DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day

DROGUE-LAJOIE, PASCAL – Volume XIV (1911-1920)

d. 25 Feb. 1919 in Jette-Saint-Pierre, Belgium


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

SMITH, GOLDWIN, writer, journalist, and controversialist; b. 13 Aug. 1823 in Reading, England, son of Richard Pritchard Smith, an Oxford-educated physician and railway promoter and director, and Elizabeth Breton, and the only one of their seven children to survive to adulthood; d. 7 June 1910 in Toronto.

After attending a private school and Eton College, Goldwin Smith in 1841 went to Christ Church and then in 1842 to Magdalen College, both at Oxford. He was awarded a first class in literae humaniores and obtained a ba in 1845 and an ma in 1848. He also carried off a series of prizes in classical studies, including one for a Latin essay on the position of women in ancient Greece. He both translated and wrote Latin verse, interests he would retain throughout his life. His education was intended as a preparation for the law and in 1842 his name had been entered at Lincoln’s Inn. He was called to the bar in 1850 but he never pursued a legal career.

When Smith was at Oxford the university was racked with religious controversy which focused on John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement. Smith apparently admired Newman’s style but he was repelled by the movement’s ritualistic tendencies and its affinities with Roman Catholicism. Although he was a member of the Church of England, as was required of all Oxford students at the time, his mother’s Huguenot background may have contributed to his developing religious liberalism and dislike of clericalism. He would remain interested in religious issues until the end of his life, but his knowledge of theology was superficial. In addition, his understanding of the scientific controversies that were beginning to arise in pre-Darwinian Oxford was modest and was probably gained at the geological lectures of William Buckland, who upheld William Paley’s view that God’s existence was demonstrated by design in nature. Although Smith would come to accept a version of evolution and to realize, as he wrote in 1883, that it had “wrought a great revolution,” he never fully understood Charles Darwin’s hypothesis.

Smith spent the late 1840s in London and in travels on the Continent with Oxford friends. His growing interest in liberal reforms, especially in reducing the privileged status of the Church of England, was stimulated by events and personalities at home and abroad, though he quickly joined the side of authority during the Chartist disturbances in 1848. His first reformist thrusts were directed at Oxford. A fellow in civil law at University College from 1846, he joined in a demand for a reduction in clerical control over the university. Partly as a result of the agitation, which included letters from Smith to the Times of London in 1850, a royal commission, with Smith as assistant secretary, was struck in that year to investigate the university. The commission reported in 1852 and the Oxford University Act two years later relaxed but did not abolish religious tests.

During his years with the royal commission Smith widened his contacts in the political and intellectual world and turned to journalism, which was to be his permanent vocation. In 1850 he began contributing to the Morning Chronicle and in 1855 to the Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, both published in London, reviewing poetry and advocating university reform. In 1858 he was made a member of a new royal commission, chaired by the Duke of Newcastle, to examine Britain’s educational system, and he wrote part of the report which appeared in 1862. Meanwhile, also in 1858, the Conservative government of Lord Derby appointed Smith regius professor of modern history at Oxford. This post carried such prestige that Smith, who was only 35, might have been expected to settle into it for the rest of his life. In 1861 he indicated his intention to withdraw from active journalism and devote himself to his new profession as an historian. He apparently planned to write some serious scholarly works, but this goal proved incompatible with his intense interest in contemporary affairs. Lack of detachment was the most prominent characteristic of Smith’s historical writing. He always knew which side was right. For him history was not an arid, scientific search for objective accuracy. “History,” he argued, “without moral philosophy, is a mere string of facts; and moral philosophy, without history, is apt to become a dream.”

Smith used his chair largely to engage in controversies over political and religious questions. Although he was undoubtedly a stimulating and devoted lecturer and tutor, he showed no interest in original research and published nothing of scholarly merit. His later historical publications and literary biographies, including histories of the United States and the United Kingdom and studies on William Cowper and Jane Austen, were little more than a reworking of secondary sources usually spiced up with a dose of his principles and prejudices. He was a man of letters, not a research scholar, and he also published travel books and Latin and Greek authors in translation. His first book was typical. Of his five Lectures on modern history (1861), three dealt with religious controversies related to rationalism and agnosticism, another with the idea of progress, and only one with a historical topic, the founding of the American colonies. Though denying that history was a science, Smith was quite prepared to draw moral laws from his reading of the past. In the first place, he considered “the laws of the production and distribution of wealth . . . the most beautiful and wonderful of the natural laws of God. . . . To buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market, the supposed concentration of economical selfishness, is simply to fulfil the commands of the Creator.” These laws, discovered by Adam Smith, whom he viewed as a prophet, expressed a tenet of political economy from which he would never deviate: a market economy guided by the “hidden hand” was divinely sanctioned and if faithfully observed would lead to a just social order. Secondly, Smith’s reading of history convinced him that religion provided the cement holding the social order in place. “Religion,” he warned those who contended that progress had made Christianity obsolete, “is the very core, centre, and vital support of our social and political organization; so that without a religion the civil tie would be loosened, personal would completely prevail over public motives, selfish ambition and cupidity would break loose in all directions, and society and the body politic would be in danger of dissolution.”

To these lessons of history Smith added a third which would serve as a permanent guide to his judgements on the way of the world, a conviction that “colonial emancipation” should take place as rapidly as possible because it was – except for India and Ireland – inevitable. This conclusion appeared in a series of articles published in the London Daily News in 1862–63 and then in pamphlet form as The empire in 1863. There he presented a distillation of the opinions of his friends John Bright, Richard Cobden, and others of the so-called Manchester school who believed that Britain’s economic power, under free trade, was so great that the formal, political empire could be disbanded without economic loss. The lesson of the American revolution, for Smith a disaster which had divided the Anglo-Saxon people, was simply that colonies should be allowed to grow naturally into nations. Once they were freed of the yoke of dependency, “something in the nature of a great Anglo-Saxon federation may, in substance if not form, spontaneously arise out of affinity and mutual affection.” Though condemned by the Times and attacked by Benjamin Disraeli as one of the “prigs and pedants” who should make way for statesmen, Smith clung tenaciously to his anti-imperial faith.

A drastic alteration in Smith’s personal circumstances led to his departure from England in 1868. He had resigned his chair at Oxford in 1866 in order to attend to his father, who had suffered permanent injury in a railway accident. In the autumn of 1867, when Smith was briefly absent, his father took his own life. Doubtless blaming himself for the tragedy – and now without an Oxford appointment – he decided to travel to North America, which he had previously visited in 1864, when Andrew Dickson White, president of Cornell University at Ithaca, N.Y., invited him to take up a teaching post at the newly founded institution. Smith was attracted by the determination of its founder, Ezra Cornell, to organize a university that was non-sectarian and open to all classes of society, though he had no sympathy for its commitment to coeducation. He remained at Cornell on a full-time basis for only two years but his connection with the university, which in 1906 named a building after him, continued for life. Whether it was the climate or the presence of women, admitted in 1869, that caused Smith to leave, he decided in 1871 to move to Toronto and to be near some relatives. Four years later that move became permanent as a consequence of his marriage in Toronto on 3 Sept. 1875 to William Henry Boulton*’s widow, Harriet Elizabeth Mann, née Dixon, who was two years his junior, an American by birth, and possessor of a significant fortune which included the estate named the Grange. Smith settled into a late-blooming marital bliss and the Grange’s affluent surroundings with ease: “a union for the afternoon and evening of life,” he told his American friend Charles Eliot Norton. He was, as he remarked after Harriet died in 1909, “finally bound to Canada by the happiest event of my life.”

The marriage, a personal healing of the unfortunate breach of 1776, was an extremely successful one. After years of transiency and a life seemingly limited to male friendships, Smith had found a perfect mate. His new wife was socially sophisticated and apparently utterly devoted to her austere husband who, in contrast to her first, spent his waking hours in reading, writing, and good talk. His circle of friends and visitors, the intellectual élite of the English-speaking world, joined local celebrities and politicians in the drawing-room of the Grange. “Here one is suddenly set down in an old English house,” Albert Venn Dicey wrote, “surrounded by grounds, with old four-post beds, old servants, all English, and English hosts . . . an English mansion in some English county.” For the remaining 35 years of his life, Smith lived in Canada, but he was never quite of it. From his “English mansion,” this talented and acerbic political and literary critic would hurl his jeremiads at a world that irritatingly deviated from the Manchester liberal faith in which he was steeped.

The move to Canada and marriage and domestic tranquillity did nothing to diminish Smith’s intellectual energy or his eagerness to improve public morality. Indeed, what he viewed as the underdeveloped, overly partisan state of Canadian public discussion spurred him on to greater effort. No sooner had he arrived in Toronto than he began reviewing for the Globe, but he quickly fell out with George Brown*, the paper’s proprietor, whose dogmatic righteousness brooked no competition. Smith soon turned to a series of attempts to establish independent organs, though independence usually meant agreement with Smith. First, he assisted Graeme Mercer Adam* in the founding of the Canadian Monthly and National Review (Toronto), where in February 1872 he adopted the nom de plume that would become his most characteristic signature, A Bystander. It was intended to imply that he was an outsider and therefore detached and analytical. In fact, it was soon obvious enough to readers that the author was a committed, often fierce, partisan, even if somewhat of an outsider. When the supporters of the Canada First movement launched the Nation in Toronto in 1874, Smith signed on as one of the principal contributors, both financially and as a writer. Then, in April 1876, he participated in a more ambitious project, the establishment, with John Ross Robertson* as publisher, of the Evening Telegram, a daily to compete with Brown’s Globe. It soon developed Conservative sympathies and Smith departed.

In June 1878 Smith returned to Toronto following an 18-month sojourn with Harriet in England more convinced than ever that the country needed the benefit of his intellectual guidance. Within a year he opened his own one-man show, the Bystander, subtitled “A monthly review of current events, Canadian and general.” The performance was a breathtaking one. For three years Smith’s outpourings filled its pages with brilliant, opinionated comment on virtually every political, cultural, and intellectual development in Europe and North America. He was determined to broaden the mental horizons of Canadians and by 1880 was pleased to admit that “the great questions of religious philosophy are beginning to engage a good many Canadian minds.” He expounded Adam Smith’s political economy, denounced women’s suffrage as a threat to the family, warned of the dangers of Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism, castigated Bismarck, expatiated on the Eastern Question, and sniped at Disraeli. He even found space, when Sarah Bernhardt visited Canada in 1881, to agree with Bishop Édouard-Charles Fabre* and the Presbyterian (Montreal) in condemning her for her unsanctified liaisons. The Bystander’s suspicious eye frequently detected clerical power in Quebec and Ireland, and Jewish control over the European press. When Smith decided to give his active pen a rest in June 1881, he had established himself as a vigorous intellectual voice in Canada. A second series of the Bystander, this time published quarterly from January to October 1883, began after his return from another lengthy stay in England. The third and final series appeared between October 1889 and September 1890. In the interim he lent his support to another new journal, the Week, edited by Charles George Douglas Roberts*, which began publication in December 1883. Smith’s final venture in Canadian journalism came in 1896 when he acquired a controlling interest in the faltering Canada Farmers’ Sun (Toronto), a paper which, under George Weston Wrigley, had actively supported such radical causes as the political insurgency of the Patrons of Industry. The Bystander promptly put the paper back on orthodox rails by calling for free trade, retrenchment, and opposition to Canadian participation in the South African War. All of this activity still left time for a flood of articles in the international press: the Fortnightly Review, the Contemporary Review, and the Nineteenth Century, a Monthly Review in London, the Atlantic Monthly in Boston, and the Sun, the Nation, and the Forum in New York. Indeed, he published in any daily or monthly that would print his articles, reviews, and letters. His output was prodigious, the writing crisp and often epigrammatic.

Smith’s activities were not confined to intellectual labour. A public-spirited person, he devoted both money and energy to a variety of causes. Civic affairs especially concerned him for he believed that local governments should take greater responsibility for the welfare of citizens than was the case in Toronto. He chaired a citizens’ reform committee, advocated the commission system for city government, fought for the preservation and extension of parks for public recreation, campaigned for Sunday streetcars, and opposed free public lending libraries. (“A novel library,” he told Andrew Carnegie, “is to women mentally pretty much what the saloon is physically to men.”) He was distressed by problems of urban unemployment and poverty, and contributed generously to such charities and benevolent societies as the Associated City Charities of Toronto, which he founded, and the St Vincent de Paul Society. He also supported the building of a synagogue. For two decades he urged the appointment of a city welfare officer to supervise grants to social agencies, a cause that succeeded in 1893 only after Smith agreed to pay the officer’s salary for the first two years. Underlying these and other humanitarian endeavours was a philosophy of noblesse oblige, the Christian duty of the fortunate towards their weaker brethren. He feared that the failure of Christian voluntary charity would increase the popularity of those who advocated radical social programs. “Care for their own safety, then, as well as higher considerations, counsels the natural leaders of society to be at the post of duty,” Smith told a conference of the combined charities of Toronto in May 1889.

Education was another concern which Smith brought with him to Canada. In 1874 he was elected by Ontario teachers to represent them on the Council of Public Instruction and he was subsequently chosen president of the Ontario Teachers’ Association. But once again, university reform captured his deepest interest, and as in so many things, he advocated reforms that revealed his Oxford connections. Almost from the time of his arrival he proposed the federation of Ontario’s scattered universities on an Oxford model. He followed progress towards that federation in the 1880s and 1890s, regularly participating in University of Toronto functions and advocating university autonomy. In 1905 he accepted membership on, but not the chair of, a royal commission on the University of Toronto. One outcome was a new act in 1906 establishing a board of governors for the university, to which Smith was appointed. Among the many honorary degrees which Smith received from the great universities of the English-speaking world he must have particularly savoured the one conferred on him in 1902 by the University of Toronto; six years earlier he had withdrawn his name from nomination for a degree in the face of the furious opposition of George Taylor Denison* and other imperial federationists who protested against the granting of the degree to a “traitor.”

For all of his breadth of knowledge and interest, Smith’s overriding concern was the contemporary world. His reputation rests on that collection of ideas which he regularly, and with remarkable consistency, applied to the issues of his time. Though he has most often been categorized as a “Victorian liberal,” it is not his liberal principles but rather his faith in the superiority of Anglo-Saxon civilization that is his most striking trait. That faith not only frequently contradicted his liberalism, but also, in its application to Canada, limited his ability to understand and sympathize with the aspirations of the people among whom he had chosen to take up residence.

Smith’s liberalism expressed itself most fulsomely in his commitment to free market economics, the secularization of public life, and opposition to empire. Though a firm believer in individualism and parliamentary government, Smith showed no special interest in civil liberties, except in his criticism of clericalism, and he favoured neither universal manhood nor women’s suffrage. He distrusted democracy and pronounced the French revolution (an event admired by most liberals) “of all the events in history, the most calamitous.” Inequality, he believed, was mankind’s permanent condition. While he repeatedly professed sympathy for labour and supported trade unions, he abhorred strikes and denounced as “chimeras” those reforms – single tax, currency inflation, public ownership, the regulation of hours of work – which labour radicals began to advocate in the late 19th century; progress he thought possible, but “there is no leaping into the millennium.” Although limited government intervention in the economy might sometimes be justified (he reluctantly supported Sir John A. Macdonald*’s arguments for a National Policy), collectivism and socialism were anathema. He opposed income tax, old-age pensions, and even publicly financed education. In his introduction to Essays on questions of the day (1893), he summed up his social philosophy by confessing that “the opinions of the present writer are those of a Liberal of the old school as yet unconverted to State Socialism, who looks for further improvement not to an increase of the authority of government, but to the same agencies, moral, intellectual, and economical, which have brought us thus far, and one of which, science, is now operating with immensely increased power.” Clearly, it was not just “state socialism” that had failed to convert the master of the Grange; the new social liberalism of Thomas Hill Green and Leonard Trelawney Hobhouse was equally heretical to him. Indeed, by the late Victorian era one of Smith’s own adages could reasonably be applied to its author: “There is no reactionary,” the Bystander informed the readers of the Week in 1884, “like the exhausted Reformer.”

Had Smith’s social philosophy become threadbare merely as a result of the passage of time, then he might none the less rank as a significant liberal, if only of the “old school.” But the limits of his liberalism are even more evident when placed in the context of his nationalism – his belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority. In common with most 19th-century political thinkers, especially liberals, Smith believed that “nations” were “an ordinance of nature, and a natural bond.” Like John Stuart Mill, and in contrast to Lord Acton, he defined a nation in terms of the concept of cultural homogeneity. And although he opposed imperialism, he was nevertheless utterly at one with those imperialists who believed that the Anglo-Saxon cultural community, centred in Great Britain with branches around the world, was a superior civilization. Its political institutions, economic system, morality, and culture were all signs of its primacy in a world of diverse nations. In his first, and most famous, critique of the empire, he gave voice to his own form of nationalism, one which verged on cultural imperialism. “I am no more against Colonies than I am against the solar system,” he wrote in The empire. “I am against dependencies, when nations are fit to be independent. If Canada were made an independent nation she would still be a Colony of England, and England would still be her Mother Country in the full sense in which those names have been given to the most famous examples of Colonization in history. Our race and language, our laws and liberties, will be hers.”

For Smith the great failure, even tragedy, of Anglo-Saxon history was the American revolution. “Before their unhappy schism they were one people,” and the healing of that schism through the “moral, diplomatic and commercial union of the whole English-speaking race throughout the world” became the goal to which all else was secondary. He shared that goal with those Canadians who advocated imperial federation – Denison, George Monro Grant, George Robert Parkin* – but because his chosen route began with the annexation of Canada to the United States he found himself in permanent head-to-head combat with those same men.

Smith’s convictions about the superiority of Anglo-Saxon values are most strikingly illustrated in his attitude towards “lesser breeds without the Law.” His advocacy of colonial freedom was limited to those colonies which had English majorities. India, a conquered territory, was exempt; for Britain to relinquish what he called this “splendid curse” would be to abdicate its responsibility and leave the subcontinent to certain anarchy. If India troubled Smith, Ireland infuriated him. He mistrusted Roman Catholicism everywhere; in Ireland he despised it. As an ethnic group the Irish were an “amiable but thriftless, uncommercial, saint-worshipping, priest-ridden race.” He fought Home Rule as though his very life depended upon its defeat. “Statesmen might as well provide the Irish people with Canadian snowshoes,” he declaimed sarcastically, “as extend to them the Canadian Constitution.” His one-time associate William Ewart Gladstone was denounced as “an unspeakable old man” when he took up the Irish cause.

Other non-Anglo-Saxon groups fared little better. Though Smith occasionally expressed sympathy for “the wild-stocks of humanity” – the people of Africa, for example – he saw no reason to lament the oppressed state of the native North American. The doomed state of the native people was not the fault of the British who “had always treated [them] with humanity and justice”; with their disappearance, “little will be lost by humanity,” he concluded callously.

For the Jewish people, Smith reserved a special place in his catalogue of “undesirables.” The critical problem with the Jews was what Smith saw as their stubborn unwillingness to assimilate, to give up their religious beliefs and cultural practices, to become “civilized.” He regularly stereotyped them as “tribal,” “usurious,” “plutopolitans,” incapable of loyalty to their country of residence. The Talmud, the Bystander affirmed, “is a code of casuistical legalism . . . of all reactionary productions the most debased, arid, and wretched.” If the Jews would not assimilate they should be returned to their homeland. In a sentence that reeked with racist arrogance he declared that “two greater calamities perhaps have never befallen mankind than the transportation of the negro and the dispersion of the Jews.” Smith’s extreme ethnocentricity in the case of the Jewish people, as Gerald Tulchinsky has shown, can only be described as anti-Semitism.

Smith’s belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority and the importance that he attached to the reunification of the “race” provided him with both his questions and his answers when he analysed “Canada and the Canadian question.” On his arrival in Toronto Smith had discovered a nascent nationalist movement. He threw his support behind this amorphous group of young men whose platform was set out in William Alexander Foster*’s pamphlet Canada First; or, our new nationality: an address (Toronto, 1871), which called for the promotion of a national sentiment and the clarification of Canada’s status in the empire as well as for a number of political reforms. While Smith believed that the movement would promote Canadian independence, others favoured some form of equal partnership with the other members of the empire. For a time the movement attracted the sympathy of the prominent Liberal party intellectual Edward Blake*, but by the mid 1870s it had disintegrated, and its organ, the Nation, disappeared in 1876. This brief experience apparently convinced Smith that Canada could never become a genuine nation and that its destiny lay in union with the United States. In 1877 he set out these conclusions in an article for the Fortnightly Review and then in the Canadian Monthly, conclusions which he would repeat over the remainder of his life and which found their most famous expression in his Canada and the Canadian question in 1891. At the heart of his case was the claim that Canada could not be a nation because it lacked cultural homogeneity. The principal obstacle to nationhood was Quebec, composed as it was of an “unprogressive, religious, submissive, courteous, and, though poor, not unhappy people. . . . They are governed by the priest, with the occasional assistance of the notary. . . . The French-Canadians . . . retain their exclusive national character.” Confederation had failed to meld the competing “races” and regions into a single community and only political corruption, bribes to the regions, and the vested interests which benefited from the protective tariff kept this artificial country from collapsing. “Sectionalism,” he had written in 1878, “still reigns in everything, from the composition of a Cabinet down to that of a Wimbledon Rifle team.” In Smith’s mind the natural geographical and economic forces of North America worked against the unnatural political and sentimental opinions of Canadians. Like the United States, Canada was a North American nation and once this fact was recognized the two communities would achieve their destiny in unity. “The more one sees of society in the New World, the more convinced one is that its structure essentially differs from that of society in the Old World, and that the feudal element has been eliminated completely and forever.” Everything pointed towards “an equal and honorable alliance like that of Scotland and England” between Canada and her southern neighbour, “Canadian nationality being a lost cause.”

Over the years Smith’s conviction about Canada’s destiny intensified, his observation of French Canada hardening his hostility to that community. By 1891 he was willing to state emphatically that one of the principal benefits of union with the United States would be the final solution of the French Canadian problem. “Either the conquest of Quebec was utterly fatuous or it is to be desired that the American Continent should belong to the English tongue and to Anglo-Saxon civilisation.” Though the opposition of French Canadians to the South African War moderated these sentiments somewhat – Smith even considered joining forces with Henri Bourassa* in an anti-imperialist movement – he continued to fear, as he told Bourassa in 1905, “the connexion of your national aspirations with those of an ambitious and aggressive priesthood.” His ideal of cultural homogeneity left no room for a political nationality based on cultural diversity, the cornerstone of confederation. For him the call of race was irresistible: “In blood and character, language, religion, institutions, laws and interests, the two portions of the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent are one people.”

In all of his pronouncements on politics, economics, and Canada’s destiny, Smith seemed a self-confident, even dogmatic, pundit. But underneath that confidence was a profoundly uneasy man. The unease arose not only from Smith’s personal religious uncertainty but even more from his anxiety about the future of society in an age of religious scepticism. Though Smith does not seem to have experienced that typical Victorian “crisis of faith,” Darwinism and the higher criticism of the Bible certainly left him with little more than a thin deism and a vague humanism founded on Christian ethics. Throughout his life he struggled with religious questions, and his inconclusive answers were recorded in his Guesses at the riddle of existence (1897). But it was always to the social implications of the decline of faith that he returned. In an essay entitled “The prospect of a moral interregnum,” published in 1879, he observed: “That which prevails as Agnosticism among philosophers and the highly educated prevails as secularism among mechanics, and in that form is likely soon to breed mutinous questionings about the present social order among those who get the poorer share, and who can no longer be appeased by promises of compensation in another world.” For 30 years he repeated this gloomy theme, revealing his forebodings about the decline and fall of practically everything he accepted as eternal verities. Everywhere “prophets of unrest” loomed – Karl Marx, Henry George, Edward Bellamy, assorted socialists and anarchists, and the leaders of “the revolt of women” – questioning the established order, no longer satisfied by the opiate of religion. His increasingly shrill polemics signified his alienation from a world that had passed him by. He was simply too set in his ways to admit, as he was urged to do by Alphonse Desjardins*, the leader of the Quebec cooperative movement, “that improvements can be got by recognizing that the old liberal school of Political Economy has not discovered everything.”

Harriet Smith died at the Grange on 9 Sept. 1909. The following March the old man slipped and broke his thigh. He died on 7 June 1910 and was buried in St James cemetery. The Grange, which remained his wife’s property, was willed by her to the city of Toronto to serve as a public art gallery. The £20,000 Smith had inherited from his father had grown to more than $830,000 by the time of his death. He left his excellent library to the University of Toronto. Most of his fortune and his private papers went to Cornell University as a mark, Smith’s will revealingly declared, of his “attachment as an Englishman to the union of the two branches of our race on this continent with each other, and with their common mother.”

Ramsay Cook

[The Goldwin Smith papers, composed largely of incoming correspondence and copies of Smith’s publications, are held in Cornell Univ. Library, Coll. of Regional Hist. and Univ. Arch., Ithaca, N.Y. The papers have been microfilmed and are available in various Canadian institutions, including the NA (MG 29, D69). Smith’s private secretary, Theodore Arnold Haultain, compiled and published a collection of letters in A selection from Goldwin Smith’s correspondence, comprising letters chiefly to and from his English friends, written between the years 1846 and 1910 (Toronto, [1913?]); additional correspondence by Smith has been published in “Letters of Goldwin Smith to Charles Eliot Norton,” Mass. Hist. Soc., Proc. (Boston), 49 (1915–16): 106–60.

An extensive listing of Smith’s publications, the Goldwin Smith bibliography, 1845–1913 (Ithaca, 1972), was compiled by Patricia H. Gaffney in conjunction with the microfilming of his papers at Cornell; further editions of some of his monographs may be found in the CIHM Reg., Canadiana, 1867–1900, and the National union catalog. The most important of his works are Rational religion, and the rationalistic objections of the Brampton lectures for 1858 and Lectures on modern history, delivered in Oxford, 1859–61, both published at Oxford and London in 1861; The empire: a series of letters published in “The Daily News,” 1862, 1863 (Oxford and London, 1863); Canada and the Canadian question (Toronto, 1891); Essays on questions of the day, political and social (Toronto, 1893); Guesses at the riddle of existence; and other essays on kindred subjects (Toronto and New York, 1896); and Reminiscences, ed. [T.] A. Haultain (New York, 1910).

Among secondary sources, Elisabeth Wallace’s Goldwin Smith: Victorian liberal (Toronto, 1957) remains the standard study, following an interpretation set out in Frank Hawkins Underhill*’s chapter on Smith in his In search of Canadian liberalism (Toronto, 1960), 85–103. The traditional interpretation also appears in the entry in the DNB. More critical studies are Malcolm Ross, “Goldwin Smith,” in Our living tradition, [first ser.], ed. C. T. Bissell (Toronto, 1957), 29–47; Carl Berger’s introduction to the most recent edition of Smith’s Canada and the Canadian question (Toronto and Buffalo, N.Y., 1971), vi–xvii and G. [J. J.] Tulchinsky, “Goldwin Smith: Victorian Canadian antisemite,” in, Antisemitism in Canada: history and interpretation, ed. Alan Davies (Waterloo, Ont., 1992), 67–91.  r.c.]

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Ramsay Cook, “SMITH, GOLDWIN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 25, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/smith_goldwin_13E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/smith_goldwin_13E.html
Author of Article:   Ramsay Cook
Title of Article:   SMITH, GOLDWIN
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1994
Year of revision:   1994
Access Date:   February 25, 2024