Today in Canada's Political History - January 5, 1950: Alberta’s High River Times newspaper publishes a review of Arthur Meighen’s speech collection, Unrevised and Unrepented

Former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen made a wise decision when he chose to assemble and publish a collection of his best speeches long after he had left the political arena. His collection, Unrevised and Unrepented, was published in 1949. The book received excellent reviews and had a great impact in cementing Meighen’s reputation as one of Canada’s greatest-ever political speech makers.

One of the newspaper’s that reviewed Meighen’s book was the High River Times in Alberta. “Not many politicians in this or any other country could afford to have their speeches covering a period of forty years published unrevised in book form. This is the achievement of Right Honourable Arthur Meighen, PC, KC. The speeches are not only unrevised, but unrepented,” the review stated. “He said what he thought at the time regardless often of what was politically expedient or profitable, and is able, now, many years later, to present them to the public, unafraid and unashamed. He is able to do this now because, like Goldsmith’s preacher, he was unpracticed in the art of seeking power by doctrines fashioned to the varying hour, but like Kipling’s artist, he painted things as he saw them for the good of things as they are.”

“Few statesmen and, fewer still, politicians could afford to publish their old speeches without revision,” the paper continued. “If they did, it would not be without repentance afterwards for having exposed how wrong they were when they made the speeches and how stupid they were, later on, to publish them without revision.”

Readers of Art’s History will be interested to learn that the author of that review was Col. Hugh Clark, brother of the newspaper’s owner, Charles Clark. The colonel’s nephew was none other than future prime minister Joe Clark.

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.

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