The Death of Dollard
And Other Poems
To John Reade
As a slight appreciation of his invariable kindness, this booklet is respectfully dedicated to Dr. John Reade, poet and scholar, to whose generous encouragement the author owes any success that he may have achieved in the literary field.
The author may here be permitted to quote the lines addressed by him to Dr. Reade on his recent birthday anniversary, on which occasion deserved honour was paid by literary men throughout the Dominion to one of Canada’s finest poets, most eminent scholars, and truest men.
Scholar and poet, true man and steadfast friend, What wishes shall be ours this joyous day? We cannot wish thee fame, its fulgent ray Brightens thy path and shall until the end. We shall not wish thee gold, for gold is dross. Nor may we wish thee friends, for friends thou hast Innumerable, by links of love held fast. What wish bespeak that shall not suffer loss? “Health, joy and peace”—the wish is from the heart. Health in the golden years of well-earned rest, Joy in thy friends, thy books, the scholar’s zest, Peace in the restful hours of evening’s chimes. Crowned in the annals of thy Country’s Art, Thy works shall bear thy name to distant times. [unnumbered page]
The Death of Dollard
By JOHN BOYD.
(Written for the great celebration held on Place d’Armes, Montreal, May 29, 1910, in commemoration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the heroic deed of Dollard and his companions by which Montreal was saved.)
On swiftest feet the years have sped, Each after each with hastening tread, Since ‘neath the brightening beams of May, With gallant front, in scant array, A band of youthful heroes bold, Whose deeds famed from the days of old As brightly shine to-day. Knowing no craven fear of death, But sworn to fight till their last breath And never more the sword to sheath, On that fair morn o’er virgin heath Marched on their fateful way! Beneath the Royal mountain’s shade, Deep in primeval forest glade, By warrior hands its ramparts laid, The infant city stood. There Maisonneuve still held his post Against the lurking savage host, Target for many a ruthless band, Whose weapons were the knife and brand, Who in their dire, vindictive hate Had doomed the town to cruel fate, The Iroquois brotherhood. [page 5]
What hope to save the little town—
For who would tempt the martyr’s crown
To ward the deadly blow?
Then up rose Dollard, soldier brave,
And took an oath the town to save,
To face the savage foe;
And sixteen comrades, brave and true,
Strong in their faith, though all so few,
Shared in their leader’s fiery zeal,
And vowed to serve the common weal,
Though death should their devotion seal,
And with him boldly go.
Blessed by the church with solemn rite,
As warriors in a righteous fight,
Upon the river’s mighty stream,
Where rays of splendour brightly gleam,
They launch their frail canoes
No pomp of war, no martial tunes,
As laden are arms and musketoons,
As bade the last adieus;
Softly o’er river and lake they glide
Till they have reached the Ottawa’s tide,
And there where downward sweeps the Sault,
Where turbulent waters swiftly flow,
They find a battered barricade,
And camped within the palisade
They wait the coming foe.
Lo, eager to join the fateful fray,
Nor ever pausing on their way,
A band of Hurons speed!
Two score in numbers aid they brought
And with devotion boldly sought
Their allies in their need; [page 6]
Their chief was one of valiant mien.
Who staunch in aid had ever been.
Royal in nature, though untamed,
By deeds of prowess rightly famed,
In counsel sage, in conflict brave,
Who quarter neither sought nor gave,
Soon, swiftly gliding down the Sault,
Is seen the war craft of the foe—
The vanguard of the band;
From out the fort a volley speeds,
Tossed are the boats like fragile reeds
And driven to the land;
Into the woods the redmen flee
And circling fast from tree to tree
Summon the savage host;
Quickly is told the tale of woe,
How wait below the pale-faced foe,
Then war whoops rend the forest air
And rouse the savage in his lair
With sanguinary boast.
With frantic shout and savage yell,
Like demons from the depths of hell,
From far and near speed now the foe
And carried swiftly down the Sault
They glide from tree to tree;
Now nearer and nearer to the post,
Where scarce three score defy their host;
From twenty loopholes rains the fire,
Dampening the redmen’s murderous ire
What miracle they see!
As rocks are shattered by the storm,
Stayed are the fiends in human form,
They halt, they break, they flee. [page 7]
Soon couriers speed upon their way
To summon to the desperate fray
Another warrior band,
Encamped upon the isles below,
Where Richelieu’s water softly flow
Through miles of fertile land;
In haste they come and soon the throng
Swollen their ranks, eight hundred strong,
Their war songs ringing on the wind,
Glistening their eyes with fury blind,
Change tomahawk in hand,
Charge, charge again, but all in vain,
Shattered their ranks, their chieftains slain,
Steadfast the heroes stand.
Day followed day with rapid flight,
Still ceaseless raged the deadly fight,
And ‘neath the blazing noonday sun
Sounded afar the echoing gun
With its incessant boom;
Hunger and thirst bring added woe
To the fierce onslaught of the foe,
But still the heroes ward the blow
Amidst the forest gloom;
The Huron braves have fled the spot,
All but their chief, who flinches not
To share the common doom
And now, made desperate by their plight,
The Iroquois vow to win the fight;
One last attack to wager all,
Cost what it may, the fort must fall;
A host of demons heed the call
With eager vengeful breath. [page 8]
Close to the guns the heroes stand,
The remnant of the gallant band;
Undaunted each, with sword in hand,
All boldly facing death!
What desperate valour marked that fight,
What deeds of prowess, feats of might
Upon them glory cast!
No quarter sought no quarter given,
By blood the bond the closer riven,
The storm of shot the fiercer driven,
Death borne upon the blast!
As beat the waves upon the shore,
With loud, resounding, thunder roar;
So on the fort the legions pour,
Again and yet again!
Till, ‘midst a ceaseless rain of shot,
At last they reach the fated spot,
With many a warrior slain.
The fort is gained, by knife and fire
The redmen wreak their vengeful ire,
By frenzied strokes the walls are hacked,
Around the faggots closely packed;
And soon by many a broadening breach
The last defence of all they reach,
Moving with wary tread,
For rendering all their havoc vain,
Are huddled in heaps the victims slain
A rampart of the dead!
In the fell carnage like a rock,
Brave Dollard faced the foemen’s shock;
With dauntless mien and drawn sword,
He waited the onset of the horde,
Unflinching at his post; [page 9]
Thus in his youthful strength and pride,
Hemmed in by foes on every side,
He fought till he could fight no more,
Ever the onslaught bravely bore
In conflict glorious,
Whilst danced the savage foe around.
Till crushed by numbers to the ground
Dead but victorious!
Aghast the dusky warriors stood
And gazed upon the price of blood,
The slayers and the slain!
In heaps the mangled corpses lay,
The victims of that stubborn fray,
Who had not died in vain!
What hope to take the little town,
Guarded by men of like renown
To those who had no mercy craved,
But to the death their wrath had braved;—
Like mists before the morning light,
Vanished the foe in headlong flight,
And Ville Marie was saved!
Proud is the land whose records tell
The deeds of those who fought and fell,
Facing the fierce and cruel foe,
Where downward sweeps the surging Sault
For them no need of sculptured stone,
Of stately pile or trumpets blown,
On glory’s scroll their names are known,
The bravest of the brave!
And history’s page and poet’s song
Shall for all time their fame prolong, [page 10]
Whilst still needing not a battlement,
Where stood the town they died to save,
A city is their monument,
Though no stone marks their grave.
The deed of Dollard and his brave companions which is commemorated in the above poem is one of the most heroic in Canadian history. In 1660 the little town of Ville Marie (now the great City of Montreal, the Metropolis of Canada) was in imminent peril from the formidable Iroquois who had threatened its destruction. It was then that the heroic Dollard des Ormeaux, a young Frenchman of noble descent, with sixteen devoted companions marched out from the little town and took up their position in an abandoned stockade near the Long Sault Rapids, where they awaited the Iroquois horde which was advancing to attack Ville Marie.
It was not long before the Indians appeared in considerable force and savagely attacked the fort. The fight was a furious one. The little garrison made a most heroic defence for a long time against overwhelming odds, but finally the Iroquois stormed the fort and despatched every one of the survivors. So stubborn, however, had been the resistance that the Iroquois abandoned their intention of attacking the town, and Ville Marie was saved.
The town hundred and fiftieth anniversary of this memorable action, which is well worthy of being described as Canada’s Thermopylæ, was commemorated on May 29th, 1910, by a great celebration held on Place d’Armes, Montreal, when in the presence of over ten thousand people, patriotic addresses were delivered by distinguished Canadians, and the poem “The Death of Dollard,” which had been written in commemoration of the memorable action, was read by the author.
It is gratifying to know that since the commemorative celebration, owing to the indefatigable efforts of the Committee, of which Mr. J. B. Lagacé is Chairman, and Mr. Emile Vaillancourt is secretary, funds have been raised for the erection of a monument to Dollard and his companions, and as a result a worthy memorial to those who saved the infant city of Montreal will soon stand on an appropriate site to recall to future generations the daring exploit of the little band of heroes. [page 11]
From the Montreal Gazette, May 30, 1910.
For two centuries and a half French-Canadians, and English-Canadians, too, have been singing the praises of Dollard des Ormeaux at the Long Sault, yet not till yesterday did that expression of loyal gratitude take shape in this city, which, when a little hamlet, had been heroically saved from the Indian’s torch and his blood-stained tomahawk by that noble and brave-hearted son of Old France, who, with sixteen companions, dared and died that the infant colony might live. No place in the city was more appropriate for the ceremony in all this great city than around the Maisonneauve monument, which was covered by scores of floral tributes to the memory of Dollard and his noble band, and only a few yards removed from the parish church of Notre Dame, in whose historic vaults are preciously stored the stained evidence of that splendid feat of arms and that heroic sacrifice of seventeen young lives.
Ten thousand people gathered yesterday beneath the shadows of Notre Dame to listen to tributes in speech and verse, and applaud the representatives of both Church of State as they testified to the great and useful lessons learned by the story of Dollard and his companions. In fact, the practical advice of that practical prelate, the Archbishop of Montreal, who asked that the next school for boys built in this city should be called by the soul-stirred name of Dollard, evoked the unanimous sympathy and support of all present. A feature of the day was the presence of English-speaking citizens on the platform, and it was noted that the English poem, read by Mr. John Boyd, received the same measure of applause as that of the brilliant French-Canadian poet, Abbe Melancon, of the Church of St. Louis de France. Both His Grace the Archbishop and Mr. Henri Bourassa referred to the happy entwining of English and French flags, and, what was better, to the union of English and French hearts in their like respect for the memory of Dollard des Ormeaux and his companions.
The ceremony of the day began by a solemn benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of Notre Dame. Mgr. Paul Bruchesi was present, and an eloquent address on Dollard [page 12] was delivered by Rev. Father Gauthier, of the sons of St. Sulpice. The rev. gentleman recalled the many precious lessons to be derived from the sacrifice of men like Dollard, who mysteriously arise at a given moment, and while going to their own death leave an imperishable name with the generations to come. Dollard had given his life for New France and for French Canada, and it was for the present generation to show by their faith and by their pious works that they are worthy of the great and glorious sacrifice that was made for them two hundred and fifty years ago.
After the religious ceremony was concluded the entire congregation moved out of the great temple, the spiritual cradle, as it were, of the French race, for which Dollard died, and grouped themselves around the Maisonneuve monument, facing a platform which had been erected on the north side of Place D’Armes. The 65th Regiment looking very “smart,” following their successful review of Saturyday, formed a guard of honour, saluting as the officer in charge read the names of the brave heroes who had fallen at the Long Sault two centuries and a half ago. All the bells of Notre Dame were rung for the occasion.
The addresses followed this interesting and impressive ceremony. Among those seated on the platform were His Grace Archbishop Bruchesi, Abbe Troie, Mr. Henri Bourassa, M.L.A.; J.J. Beauchamp, representing the St. Jean Baptiste Society; Mr. J. B. Legacé, chairman of the committee; Mr. Philippe Hebert, C.M.G.; Hon. Jeremie Decarie, Mr. W.D. Lighthall, Ald. Lamoureux, the acting mayor, and Ald. Dandurand, who officially represented the city; Mr. H.J. Kavanagh, K.C., president of St. Patrick’s Society; Rev. Abbe Melancon, and John Boyd.
His Grace the Archbishop of Montreal delivered the first address, which was eloquent as is Monseigneur’s wont on such occasions. He first read the act as recorded at St. Sulpice of the death of Dollard and his companions. Mgr. Bruchesi described the meeting of Dollard and his companions at the foot of the altar as the first French-Canadian society ever formed in this country. These men had severed all family ties, had received Holy Communion, and had gone to the defence of their country and their religion. The commemoration of this [page 13] great event, Mgr. said, was perhaps late but it was none the less sincere. It was true, he again said, that these men had died for their religion as well as for their country, New France, and what a debt of gratitude the descendant sof Ville Marie owe to Dollard and his brave companions who gave up their young lives on the altar of their church and of their country. His Grace said the bas relief on the statue before them was something, but it was not enough, and Mgr. evoked cheers by stating that the next school for boys erected in this city should receive the name of Dollard. He would also ask the young people to take upon themselves the patriotic duty to collect for a monument to the memory of Dollard in this great city. Mgr. Bruchesi then spoke of the enemies of the Church and of the country who appear in these days as well as in the first days of Ville Marie, and he solemnly asked those who heard him to vigorously combat these enemies just as Dollard combatted the children of the forest two centuries and a half ago.
Hon. Jeremie Decarie, M.L.A., was then introduced, and delivered a very fine address referring to the fact that several of his ancestors were sleeping their last sleep beneath the old church of Notre Dame. The Quebec minister advised the rising generation to strive to honour the heroes of the Church and of the State, making a very happy comparison of Dollard and his companions with the little historic Spartan band who sat at table and then went out to the salvation of their country threatened, as was Dollard’s, by the hands of the invader. Mr. Decarie was delighted with the suggestion of His Grace, and hoped the day was not far distant when the boys of the Dollard school would be receiving lessons in true patriotism and of Christian fortitude.
Abbe Melancon, of the Church of St. Louis de France, then read two fine sonnets which he had written for the occasion, one to the memory of Dollard and the other to the memory of Dollards brave companions. Abbe Melancon’s poetical tribute was a most stirring one and worthy of the high reputation he has achieved as a poet and he was loudly applauded.
Mr. John Boyd followed with an English tribute, entitled “The Death of Dollard,” which was received with great enthusiasm. Mr. Boyd accompanied his poetical tribute by an eloquent and patriotic address speaking for English Canadians. [page 14] “Let me,” concluded the English-speaking Canadian poet, “add one word. We are standing today beside the monument of the heroic founder of our great city, a monument designed by that great Canadian sculptor whom we have with us to-day and whose artistic genius will forever be reflected by the many noble monuments of his design that adorn our city. Is it not time, as His Grace the Archbishop has so well and eloquently said to-day, that we should also have a fitting memorial to the men whose heroism and devotion saved Montreal in its hour of peril? One of our distinguished Canadian historians, Prof. C.C. Colby, in ‘Types of the Old Regime,’ after describing the fight at the Long Sault, pointedly asks: ‘At the present day, how does Montreal remember the man who has given her th most glorious deed in her annals? Is it by statue, or boulevard, or public square? No, not by these. But between two important streets, Notre Dame and St. James, there runs a little lane about sixty paces long and seven or eight paces wide. This bears the name of Dollard. Elsewhere there is nothing which can recall by daily association the hero of the Long Sault.’
“The deed of those men, it is true, was so great that the memory of it will be imperishable whether there is a memorial or not. But do we not owe it to ourselves to pay fitting honour to such heroes by the erection of a permanent memorial worthy of their fame?”
Mr. Henri Bourassa, who was the next speaker, was received with a storm of applause. The Nationalist leader said that 250 years was not very long in the life of a nation or a people, but the story of Dollard’s life and death meant more than one can conceive to the people of this country here today. Then Mr. Bourassa, in his own inimitable style, proceeded to tell of the rise of this colony after Dollard’s death and of the departure of the French from Canada, elaving a handful of Canadians to compete with the English in the arts of peace; how two great races had become friends; how two flags are entwined here today; how English and French join hands to honour the memory of the hroes of the Long Sault, and how English Protestant and the French Catholic enter with patriotic emotion and pride into the spirit of this solemn commemoration of Dollard’s death and victory. The old enemies, now friends, English and French, bow down together as their representatives [page 15] on this platform tell of those heroic deeds. Mr. Bourassa also drew another beautiful picture, and, in fact, his whole speech was a series of beautiful word paintings, of the time-honoured temple of Notre Dame representing the church of their fathers, side by side with the splendid monuments of commerce and finance, testifying to that peace and harmony which reign in the city that Dollard saved. Mr. Bourassa also commended the idea launched by the eloquent head of the archdiocese, and wished God-speed to the idea of a Dollard school. He then proceeded to refer to the unselfish nature of Dollard’s character, for had that man, he declared, been a place-seeker or of power, or a man who wanted riches, he could have probably saved himself, although his safety would have brought about the fall and destruction of Ville Marie.
The following bodies and private individuals sent floral offerings: The city of Montreal, Montreal College, the St. Mary’s College, the former pupils of St. Mary’s College, St. Urbain Academy, the employees of Hudson, Hebert & Co., the Army Veterans of Land and Sea, Le Canada, the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Quebec, the Cercle Dollard, the Alliance Nationale, the Montreal St. Jean Baptiste Society, the Hochelaga Bank, Messrs. Austin Mosher and John Boyd, J.B. Learmont, La Presse, La Patrie, the Grand Seminary, the Lasalle Conservatory, the Chambre de Commerce de Montreal, the Laval Politechnique School, the Numismatic Society, the St. Patrick’s Society, the Pupils’ Association of St. Jean Baptise Academy, the Convent of Lachine, the Convent of Hochelaga, the French Chamber of Commerce, the Cercle Olier, the Alliance Francaise, while a very fine floral offering was sent by the committee in charge of the organization.
A beautiful wreath, bearing the words, “Hommage des Anglais,” was sent by Mr. J.B. Learmont on behalf of a number of English-speaking citizens.
The committee to whose patriotic efforts the great success of the celebration was due composed as follows: Mr. J.B. Legacé, president; Messrs. Philippe Hebert, C.M.G.; Dr. Boucher, Abbe Melancon, Alphonse Millette, A, Jolicoeur, Abbe Perrier, Abbe Deschamps, Beaupre; Alphonse Millette.
Henri Hebert, A. Audet, Adrien Hebert and Emile Vaillancourt, joint secretaries. [page 16]
The Battle of Chateaugay*
Oct. 26, 1813.
Read at the celebration held at Chambly on October 26th, 1913, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the memorable engagement at Chateaugay, in which Lieutenant-Col. de Salaberry in command of 300 Canadians repulsed an American army of 6,000 men under General Hampton, and thus saved Canada to the British Crown.
* This is the proper spelling, the word “Chateauguay” being a corruption of the original name. The battle is always referred to as the battle of Chateaugay in de Salaberry’s own letters and despatches, with the original copies now in possession of my friend, Mr. Chateaugay de Salaberry, the grandson of the hero of Chateaugay.
How de Salaberry the fearless with a bold and chosen few Saved Canada at Chateaugay and proved a hero true. See the young and gallant leader on that bleak October day Cheering on his dauntless comrades to the fierce and fateful fray, One of a race of soldiers whose sons with fearless glance Had oft drawn the sword of heroes for the honour of old France. And now with all his people he fought for Britain’s cause, (For they stood by those whose honour had sanctified their laws, [page 17] Repelled the wily tempters who had prompted them to rise, Join the ranks of the invader and share the proffered prize). De Salaberry the valiant had learned the sword to wield For Britain’s cause and honour on many a hard fought field, Before him now lay Hampton with six thousand men and more Faced by a scant three hundred who the brunt of battle bore, In the centre stood the leader with a calm and martial mien Watching while his men were mustered with an eye alert and keen. On the right were placed the Voltigeurs, brave De Salaberry’s own, Whose prowess had on many a field with splendid lustre shone, And Ferguson’s men, with manly frown, the Fencibles renowned, Of sturdy stock, in conflict tried, their deeds by valour crowned. On the left was one Duchesnay while another posted near Kept watch upon the river and the ford that crossed in rear, There Longtin gave his orders to the brave Beauharnois boys, Whose aim was sure and steady and whose muskets were not toys, In the woods Lamothe with redskins watched the foeman’s moving host, [page 18] Whilst guarding ford and river brave Macdonnell held his post, (He, whose deeds at Ogdensburg had won him lasting fame, Then veteran of a hundred fights, a Scot of glorious name) Of all that band of heroes these won great fame that day— Macdonnell, Debartz, Levesque, L’Ecuyer and the brothers Duchesnay, Gallant Ferguson and bold Daly and his comrade Schiller too, Pignet, Johnson, Powell and Hebben and brave Guy who lead the few Who kept watch on the advance line and the foeman’s host did dare, Longtin too, Bruyere and Huneau, men of nerve and courage rare. The brave and gallant chieftain was the bravest of the band, His the brain that planned their movements, his the voice that gave command. Up and down the line the leader looked with keen and flashing eye, Saw no point exposed to danger, saw the breastworks rising high, Then he waited for the foeman with an ear attuned to hear All the martial sounds of battle and a heart that knew not fear. Soon the foeman’s host marched forward with a sure and haughty tread, Column formed, in martial order, gallant Izard at its head, [page 19] What bold horseman this rides forward and attempts the line to speak, Soon on him the gallant leader shall not pause his wrath to wreak, For he seized a musket quickly and a shot rang like a knell While the horseman still harangueing from his lofty posture fell! Then the muskets poured their missiles on the still advancing foe Carrying death to the invaders, filling all their ranks with woe. Now the fates of war, as often, fought upon the weaker side And a stratagem of genius turned the battle’s stubborn tide— “Sound the bugles” cried Macdonell and with loud resounding blare Rose the bugles’ clarion chorus on the keen autumnal air, Carrying fear and trepidation to the foeman’s shattered ranks,— They imagined that an army lay entrenched upon the banks,— Then they halted and they waited while they gazed with anxious eyes Hoping that from near the river soon some succour would arise. At the ford the fight was doubtful and the day seemed all but lost, Purdy broke the brave defenders with a far superior host, Thither then the leader posted carrying courage to the spot, [page 20] Cheered the soldiers with his presence ‘mid a rain of deadly shot, While Macdonell showed his prowess in the crisis of the fight, Shared the honours with his leader by his valour and his might Had brave Daly wade the river with a staunch and chosen band, Stoutly did they drive the foemen up the very height of land, But they rallied and with numbers drove the little company back While the fight waxed ever fiercer with the muskets’ ceaseless crack. Daly fought with desperation as the records proudly tell And though wounded never wavered but kept fighting till he fell Then the foemen with loud cheering counted that the day was won But they reckoned all too quickly that the deadly work was done, Boldly as they then marched forward, from the river’s further bank Burst a furious fire upon them, raking them upon the flank, Not for nothing had Duchesnay there been posted by his chief, Swiftly sent the deadly muskets to the foemen woe and grief,— For a moment did they pause, then their ranks broke and they fled While the fatal field was strewn with their wounded and their dead, [page 21] And soon vanished had the army once so mighty and so grand, Swiftly had it crossed the frontier, swept the legions from our land. Thus was won the fateful victor in the days of long ago, Thus was driven from our soil the strong and valiant foe, And where’er the fight waxed fiercest on that unforgotten day, There De Salaberry lead his forces in the thickest of the fray, Bravest of the brave in battle, with his proud and piercing glance Did he show the fiery valour that bespoke the blood of France And while others well responded to the promptings of his might His alone the palm of victor, his the glory of the fight! Peace has since then blessed two peoples of a common speech and race And of bitterness there lingers not e’en the slightest trace, May they always live in friendship and acclaim with fitting pride The brave deeds of their heroes who have nobly fought and died. [page 22]
The Fight of the Atalante.
Dedicated to the memory of Louis Frechette, one of whose poems, L’Atalante, suggested the following tribute by an English-speaking Canadian to the memory of those heroes who so gloriously upheld the honour of France in the closing days of the struggle between Great Britain and France for the possession of Canada and of the brave French-Canadians who fought under Montcalm.
Presented by the author to the Union National Française of Montreal, July 14, 1908.
Now let the tale be told,— (It is worth the telling, too,)— Of those heroes true and bold, Of the gallant Vauquelin, Of the French ship Atalante, And of her dauntless crew. How they faced a British fleet, Boldly braved each British gun, Never faltered, never wavered Though outnumbered three to one; Mid a storm of cannon shot Kept the flag of France aloft, To their lives gave not a thought, Fought like heroes on the deck, Nobly stood and fiercely fought, Fought for France. ‘Twas the last days of the war, Glorious war for British arms, Victory both on land and sea, Mid the din of strife’s alarms; Battle of the Plains was o’er, [page 23] Wolfe and Montcalm were no more, Murray hemmed up in Quebec, By brave Levis kept in check Through the cruel winter months, While the weary days did drag. But with spring had come the ships, Ships of war from over seas, Flying proudly in the breeze Britain’s flag. On the mighty river’s deep, Where the current swiftly flows, Past Pointe aux Trembles’ shores, Six small ships of France’s fleet On the mighty river lay, In the early days of May. Six they were, but only one Counted in the fight to come, The Atalante, a sixteen gun, Admiral of the sorry fleet, Jean Vauquelin, mark the name, Worthy of undying fame. Nearby proudly rode the stream Three ships of the British fleet, Mighty monarchs of the deep, With a hundred or more guns, And their decks all cleared and trim. Thus did the fight begin With such odds. Never seen was such a fight On the land or on the sea, As was seen that day of May In the early morning light, [page 24] Where the mighty river flows Past Pointe aux Trembles’ shores— One ship boldy fighting three, Sixteen to a hundred guns, Manned by Britain’s stalwart sons. Two long hours the conflict raged, Mortal duel there was waged, Till the little Atalante, In the storm of shot and shell Stood a wreck. Gone were all her stays and sails, As if swept by mighty gales, Toppled was each spar and mast, Shattered by the fiery blast; Flames enwreathed her as of hell, Circling France’s gallant sons, Spent were all her shot and shell, All dismantled were her guns. But amid the storm and wreck, From a blackened, riddled staff, Rising from the battered craft, Flew the fleur de lys of France, While the heroes still fought on Around their leader Vauquelin,— Fought till all but he had fallen, Fallen on the blood-stained deck, Fallen for France. Then a voice came from the deck Of the foremost British ship, Words addressed to Vauquelin, Standing on the battered wreck. “You have fought a glorious fight, [page 25] You have proven France’s might, You and all your gallant crew. We are British, we are men, And we gladly own your might, But to you is lost the fight. Strike your flag then, yield your ship, Yield to us and save your life: Ours the odds to of war and ours Britain’s might.” Swiftly back the answer came By the voice of Vauquelin, “You have shot and you have shell, You have guns and gunners too; I have none, or need I tell? Spent are all my shot and shell, Not one left of all my crew. Still I shall not yield to you. Do your worst, I fear not death, I shall fight till my last breath; Die I may, but never shall Haul down the flag of France.” Nobly spoken Vauquelin, In the very face of death, Hail to France! And still the cannons roared, Shot and shell still were poured On the frigate’s sinking shell, All there was of the Atalante, While amid the deadly din Stood the dauntless Vauquelin, Stood upon the deck alone, Fighting grimly to the last, [page 26] Like a hero of old Greece, Or the palmy days of Rome, Sword in hand fighting fell, Fell upon the blood-stained deck, Carried captive off the wreck. But the royal fleur de lys, Flag of France, still flew free, Floated from the riddled staff, Till the shattered Atalante Sinking like a blood red sun, All its course of glory run, Sank from view. And the gallant British tars Tributes paid to Vauquelin, Noble hero he, though fallen, Foeman worthy of their might, Who had fought a glorious fight, Gave the honours that were due To a foeman brave and true, Cared for him and set him free, Gave him passage over sea, Sent him homeward on his way Back to France. Thus hath the tale been told, (It was worth the telling, too)— Of those heroes true and bold, Of the gallant Vauquelin, Of the French ship Atalante, And of her dauntless crew, French they were, for France they fought, We are British, proud the name, But their deeds are one in fame; For bravery speaks one tongue, [page 27] Speaks by such deeds as sung, Deeds that as brightly shine In every age, in every clime, Nobly lost or nobly won. And as long as hand joins hand Over all our widespread land, As long as hearts are stirred By the memory of the brave, Be they British, be they French,— (We are all one by the grave,)— Shall be told the deathless story Of the Frenchmen’s deed of glory Of the Atalante’s fight. Long live Canada, our land! Long live Britain and her might! Long live the fame of Vauquelin And of the gallant band Who faced the British fleet, Boldly braved the British guns. Long live her who bore such sons, Long live France!
The subject of the foregoing, it may be explained, was suggested to the author by a reading of Louis Frechette’s poem L’Atalante, contained in his Légende d’Un Peuple. The work had been completed, and it was the author’s intention to have submitted it to Dr. Frechette, but in the meantime he was stricken by the attack which resulted in the loss to the Dominion of one of the most gifted poets Canada has produced. It is now dedicated to his memory, which should be cherished by all Candians. It is not necessary to explain to those familiar with Louis Frechette’s works that the above is not a translation of his poem, the subject only being the same.
It would seem fitting that at this time, especially one of the most heroic exploits of the struggle between Great Britain and [page 28] France for the possession of Canada, should be remembered. Following the battle of Ste. Foye, Levis besieged the British forces under Murray in Quebec during the winter, but early in May, to the unbounded joy of the besieged, a British frigate entered the port. “On May 15,” to quote Garneau, “two other British warships entered the port. Then Levis decided on raising the siege, being apprehensive of having his retreat cut off and losing his magazine stores, for the enemy was stronger on the water than the French, who had only two frigates, both ill armed and without proper crews. M. de Vauquelin, who commanded them, fell, sword in hand and covered with honourable wounds, into the enemy’s power, after an heroic combat of two hours maintained against several frigates, opposite Pointe-aux-Trembles. Almost all his officers were killed or wounded, as well as most of the scanty crew of the Atalante, aboard which vessel he had hoisted his flag and would not strike it.” Parkman in his Wolfe and Montcalm relates how, on the morning of May 16, the British vessels passed Quebec to attack the French vessels in the river above. “There were six in all,” says Parkman, “two frigates, two smaller armed ships and two schooners, the whole under the command of the gallant Vauquelin. He did not belie his reputation, fought his ship with persistent bravery till his ammunition was spent, refused even then to strike his flag, and being made prisoner, was treated by his captors with distinguished honour. The other vessels made little or no resistance.”
Vauquelin, after his return to France, was, as the result of an intrigue against him, disgraced and put in prison. After some months’ detention he was set at liberty, but was assassinated by some unkown enemies, his body being found covered with wounds. Under Louis XVI, his services to France were remembered, and his son, Pierre Vauquelin, a man of considerable learning, was appointed to several important missions. [page 29]
Wolfe and Montcalm.
Written for the Quebec Tercentenary Celebration.
Wolfe and Montcalm! Montcalm and Wolfe! Two heroes of a kindred soul To whom a People tribute pays, In life divided but by death united, Today in glory one. This year we dedicate The far-famed field of honour Where heroes fought and fell And of their mighty deeds remembrance set. Not ours to triumph but to honour heroes, Where all fought nobly all were victors And none the vanquished, Wolfe and Montcalm an equal glory share. With honour crowned to distant ages borne Their names shall echo with a just renown, Teaching Canadians of a common soil That though distinct in race they may be one In loyalty to high ideals, of duty nobly done, Of life unselfish and of death heroic. Where fell the mighty dead Heirs of their valour and their glory gather Their memory to honour, Hushed all contention, healed all division, Peace reigns where discord dwelt of yore, Upon this sacred ground join hands as brethren, High sound the paeans in their honour, With fitting pageant celebrate, [page 30] While all the world their fame acclaims, Erect the tablets to their worth, Their deeds in sculptured story trace, While high over all with folded wings The Angel of Peace shall stand In benediction on our native land.
The above ode was written on the occasion of the great Quebec Tercentenary celebration in 1908, and is included in the Quebec Tercentenary history. [page 31]
Vivent Les Canadiens!
Written for and presented to the St. Jean-Baptiste Association of Montreal on the occasion of the memorable celebration of its seventy-fifth anniversary, June 24th, 1909.
Ring all ye bells a joyous sound Upon this gladsome day, Shed, golden sun, upon the earth Thy most effulgent ray. Let music sweet from far and near Mount to the azure sky, And to the tread of echoing feet Let banners wave on high. For on this day our brethren meet To hail their patron saint, A people gather in their pride And joy without restraint. No factious voice shall mar the joy Of this free people’s fête, Canadians they, Canadians we,— We form one mighty state. From Brittany and Normandy, From the fair fields of France, Their fathers crossed the stormy sea, What sights did meet their glance! Primeval forests cast their shade Where now rich cities stand; The Indian was the lord of all Throughout this widespread land. [page 32] Into the forest’s mighty depths They plunged with valour high, Like giants wrought, like heroes fought And died without a sigh. And, while the flag of France waved high Over all the new found land, The Cross of Christ was lifted up By many a hero hand. No danger daunted those brave men Who wore the Church’s robe, Whenever to them came the call, With steadfast zeal they strove. And many met a martyr death, Sealing with saintly love, Devotion to their Master’s cause With blessings from above. And gentle women braved the perils Of many a darksome hour, Their feeble frames made trebly strong By an Almighty power. ‘Mid hardships and war’s deadly din Like angels fair they stood, Their presence lent a heavenly light To realms of solitude. Those were the days of valorous deeds, Of heroes bold and true, When sights of rarest chivalry Were blazoned to the view. [page 33] Oh, dauntless souls and heroes bold Their fame can never die, Nor can the record of their fate Be read without a sigh. Into the soil were rooted deep, Watered by heroes’ blood The fibres of a people’s strength To stand war’s fiery flood. And when at last by fate of arms Was lowered the fleur-de-lys Alone a dauntless people stood And struggled to be free. Then small in numbers, now so great, A valiant fight they fought, Now theirs the blessing of the free Which their forefathers sought Who fought not for themselves alone, For us their blood was shed, That fullest freedom might be ours, All praise the mighty dead! And if today, with giant strength, A nation proud we rise, Let’s ne’er forget it is to them We owe this priceless prize. For on the field of Chateauguay They saved the nation’s day— To those brave men a debt we owe That we can never pay. [page 34] DeSalaberry’s valiant few There drew the fateful sword And from the soil of our dear land Drove back the invading horde. Now peaceful people till the soil On which their fathers bled, By honest toil they honour best The memory of their dead. They live their sane and simple lives Unspoiled by Fortune’s smile, Nor do the tempter Mammon’s arts Their happiness beguile. To our great country’s honour roll Many a name they’ve given, Their statesmen have by service high The bonds of union riven. Scholars and poets, genius-dowered, Have added to our store The largess of their mighty work, And made our debt the more. Oh, sprightly maidens, passing fair, With winsome, loving glance, In your sweet eyes still brightly shines The light of sunny France! May heaven its richest blessings pour Upon this people’s lot, And not a deed of darksome hue The heroic record blot. [page 35] And joined as one let our aim be,— One land, one flag, one pride,— From alien hordes to guard the soil, For which our fathers died. Canadians all, we join your ranks Upon this festive day, We, too, rejoice in your great joy, Your heroes tribute pay. Such heroes know no race or creed, Theirs but the will to do; We claim them as of kindred blood They are our heroes too. Then ring, ye bells, a joyous sound, Upon this gladsome day, Shed, golden sun, upon the earth, Thy most effulgent ray. Let music sweet from far and near Mount to the azure sky And to the tread of echoing feet Let banners wave on high. Strew all the way with maple leaves, Fit emblem of our land, While we the paths of peace shall tread As brethren, hand in hand. [page 36]
Upon each day of all our days, What message shall we hear? What rallying cry our voices raise? Canadians All! In distant days did heroes bold The sure foundations rear, Who were those mighty ones of old? Canadians All! The pioneer who blazed the way, The priest who taught the savage, The warriors brave, in proud array, Canadians All! And when the cause of valiant France Succumbed to warfare’s ravage, Her sons arose with dauntless glance, Canadians All! Sprung from the soil, proud of their past And of its glorious pages, They’ve always been from first to last, Canadians All! The English brought their virile power, The heirs of mighty ages, To our fair country gave the dower, Canadians All! And Scots have written large the name Upon our country’s annals, How great their work, how high their fame, Canadians All! [page 37] And Irishmen, whose fiery zeal Hath broken through all trammels, Whose genius hath affixed its seal, Canadians All! And men of every race and clime Shall be heirs to our future, Shall too become in course of time, Canadians All! And one and all, joined hand in hand, Shall guard the mighty structure, Shall make the future far more grand, Canadians All! Let others in their emblems see The signs of pomp and glory, The Maple Leaf our emblem be— Canadians All! The past is theirs, the future ours And great shall be its story, Most puissant be this people’s powers Canadians All! Who says the time is past to talk Of Canada for Canadians? Shall we our future greatness balk? Canadians All! Nay, far from that, but rather say, As one our voices sounding,— “We hail the name upon each day, Canadians All!” The future calls to greater fame To our fair land resounding, One land for brethren, one in name— Canadians All! [page 38]
Milton! The very name is as a bell To call us from the bustle and the strife And calm the soul by the sweet music spell That casts its magic o’er our barren life What visions did he see with those blind eyes! What hosts angelical, what demon hordes, He scaled the very walls of Paradise, He saw the angel with the flaming swords, O mighty master of the angelic choir! We bow our heads in rev’rence at thy name, Would that these days might hear some puissant lyre, With music worthy thy immortal fame, They are but feeble sounds to strains of thine, Which stir the soul as if by power divine. [page 39]
Born August 6, 1809.
Say not the poet’s voice is stilled, No echo stirs the ambient air, Silent the music that once thrilled The heart surcharged with care. For hark! as if by magic spell Sound sweetest strains afar, Clear as the softest, silvery bell, No strident notes that jar! A hundred years ago today First broke his light on earth, From heaven fell the fulgent ray That marks the poet’s birth. And years have flown since that dark day When, like a meteor star, His spirit took its destined way And swiftly crossed the bar. But yet he lives, we hear his voice In soul-entrancing strains, And how our heavy hearts rejoice As sounds those soft refrains. Great singer of Victorian days Whose voice rose clear o’er all, His name is crowned with glorious bays, His words a clarion call. To deeper faith and clearer sight, To all things sane and true, The dawn must follow darkest night, Keep but the right in view. [page 40] And countless years shall wax and wane And still his voice be heard, That voice that never rose in vain, Sweet as the song of bird. O ocean breezes gently waft To his dear English land A garland woven without craft And yet with loving hand. And with those flowers of rarer bloom That blow ‘neath English skies The humblest flower upon his tomb May gladden kindred eyes. [page 41]
Edgar Allen Poe.
Wild child of genius with his witching lyre, Dreamer of dreams of rarest fantasy, Upon the earth he flashed with meteor fire, And in his wake rolled waves of melody, Seraphic songs as if from heaven’s choir, With elfin music, weird and mystical, Bewitching notes that golden thought inspire, Angelic strains, divinely musical. All praise be his on this his natal day, May all his faults and frailties be forgot, Lay laurels on his tomb and honours pay, Think only of the glory that he wrought, Hail! sister nation, for thy great son’s sake, A kindred soul to Keats and Burns and Blake. [page 42]
Not thine alone, Republic great and free, Not thine alone the glory of his name! He was thy son, a gift from God to thee, Thine is the heritage of his deeds and fame, Who in the fiery ordeal met the test Of noble manhood and undaunted stood, To save the Union giving of his best, Gentle but firm, kind, patient, brave and good, Now blazoned in his name in every land Nobler than kings, for he was king by deeds And not by birth alone, and by his hand Was wrought the work to meet what mighty needs! As long as time shall be his name shall sound Duty’s clear signal to earth’s furthest bound. [page 43]
LaFontaine! patriot and statesman great, Colleague of Baldwin in those days of yore, When men strove not for self but for the state. His people’s champion he their burden bore, Loyal in service, by no devious ways He won the fight and nobly played his part, Conscience his guiding star and not men’s praise. Raise now aloft the monumental stone And as his name is blazoned to our sight The lesson his life speaks in trumpet tone Be ours to profit by in days of might, And, bound as brethren, let us firmly stand For lasting concord in our common land. [page 44]
[2 blank pages]
In Memoriam, WILLIAM EDWARD HUNT (Keppel Strange), Who passed into everlasting life on Christmas Day, 1911.
In quelle parte del libro della mia memoria. dinanzi alla quale poco si potrebbe leggere. si trova una rubric, la quale dice: Incipit Vita Nuova.—Dante, LA VITA NUOVA.
He is not dead, my true and trusted friend, He is not dead, say not that he is dead. He is not dead, nor was that hour the end, When we did stand beside his bier with bowed head. Thou wert not dead, my friend, thou wert not dead, Though cold thine hand, though silent was thy voice, And though we stood beside thy cushioned head, We did not sorrow, nay we did rejoice. Ceased was all toil, all anguish and all pain, So calm thy sleep, so peaceful was thy rest We could not sorrow for what was thy gain, We could not sorrow for thy lot was best. That Christmas Day was wrapped in garb of gloom, The fallen snow did form for him a shroud, But on the day we bore him to the tomb, The sun had scattered every sombre cloud. Symbol of joy which springs from sorrow’s seed, In ways mysterious we cannot trace, The perfect peace which waits on sorest need The smile which breaks upon the tear-stained face. There is no death had we but faith to see, There is no death which is but fuller life, A rarer and more perfect liberty After the bondage of this earthly strife. [page 47] Beauty is ever with us could we see Her form divine bright with celestial light, But till the soul is from its bonds set free, We cannot view her with our mortal sight. Only the gleam which falls upon her way, A ray from source divine, light of our life, A forecast of the dawn of perfect day, The sun which rises after darksome night. He sought for Beauty in all shapes divine, In poet’s song, in Art’s entrancing form, In sculptured semblance, and at Music’s shrine, In Nature’s handiwork in calm and storm. And bravely did he follow on the gleam, Steadfast, nor ever ceasing in his quest, Till from high Heaven fell a fulgent beam, His search was ended and he was at rest. The winter’s snows shall melt and spring shall be, Heralding the summer of his fond desire, All Nature shall rejoice, and fair and free, The verdant earth shall its fresh life suspire. The birds’ sweet carol shall awake the morn, The day be joyous with their gladsome song, Nor shall the course of night be all forlorn, Lit by the stars in many a clustered throng. Fair flowers shall bloom in many a pleasant place, The waters dance beneath the golden sun, The Summer’s glow shall greet fair Autumn’s face, And Spring shall see the course of Winter run. Season shall follow season, year on year, And goodliest store shall cover all the earth, From the deep slumber of the winter drear, Shall come a season of more glorious birth. [page 48] And in the song of bird, the bloom of flower, In Spring’s revival after seeming death, In Summer’s glory and in Autumn’s dower, His spirit shall be as a living breath. His songs forever shall endear his name, Shall breathe the music of his dulcet lyre, And bright with radiance of undying fame, His winged words shall noble thoughts inspire. Surely I heard his voice a moment gone, In accents gentle as in days of yore, Surely his hand held mine, nor am I now alone, Why say that we shall never know him more! Thou art not dead, my friend, thou art not dead! Thou livest yet, indeed, thou livest yet, And thou we stood beside thy cushioned head, We do not sorrow nor do we forget.
William Edward Hunt, known in the Canadian literary world by the nom de plume of Keppel Strange, passed, after a brief illness, from mortal existence on Christmas Day, 1911. Poet and artist, he was one of those rare spirits whom to know is to love. For many years connected with the editorial staff of the Montreal Witness, he found time, despite exacting journalistic labours, to write many poems of rare beauty, as well as to do considerable artistic work. Adequate justice has not yet been done to his literary productions which will perpetuate his name.
To the writer of the above lines, of whom he was a close personal friend, as well as to many others, his premature death was a sore bereavement, but the memory of a kindred spirit and beloved friend is cherished as an abiding possession. [page 49]
Canadian to Britain.
Coronation Day, June 22, 1911.
What scenes of grandeur crowd upon the sight, O, Britain, in thine hour of joyance now! What storied monuments attest thy might, What laurels deck thy brow! Nigh to a thousand years have run their course Since he, the Conqueror, came with warrior train And won the Kingdom with his Norman force By sword and shield On Hastings’ field, Sovereign has followed sovereign through the years, Illustrious monarchs, great of heart and brain, Till he, the heir of ages, now appears, Whom thou shalt crown to-day With symbol of thy sway.,
Whence is thy glory, Britain, whence thy fame? Why doth the whole world hail thy name? Not for thy wealth and power, Nor for thy matchless dower— Though clothed in nature’s beauty fair thou art. Not for thy echoing guns, Or prowess of thy sons, Which though they awe inspire gain not the heart; The glorious company of the illustrious dead [page 50] Shall answer for thy worth As queen of all the earth. Heroes and saints and martyrs with bowed head, Salute thee in this hour Of thy world-circling power.
See now the great procession slowly pass Amidst the tumult of the living mass, Shades of the mighty, who were of thy brood, From the tomb’s solitude, Warrior and statesman, hero, martyr, priest, All gather to this feast, Who toiled and struggled, fought and bled and died, Fond children of thy pride; And those of that immortal band, Whose fame is known in every land— Dan Chaucer, fount of purest, sweetest song, And Spenser with his elfin, fairy throng, Leading our minds a-maze In nature’s pleasant ways, Charmed by quaint tales of gallant, knightly feats; And those who richly wrought Rare treasures from their thought, Shakespeare and Milton, Wordsworth, Burns, and Keats And he of later days* Who saw with prophet’s gaze The brightness of the future’s fulgent glow, When lust of power laid low, And Peace’s flag unfurled Over the whole wide world, All peoples shall be one In bonds of unison.
* Tennyson, who, with inspired vision, foresaw “the parliament of man, the federation of the world.” [page 51]
This is thy glory, Britain, that thy sons Wrought deeds more puissant than thy monster guns, For they have made thy name a spell of might; Foes of the wrong, And champions of the right, Their words arouse the world like battle cries, Summoning all souls in bondage to arise ‘Midst the tumultuous strife To fullest, freest life— The life that few men live but all men prize; And where their footsteps marked thy hallowed soil In their past days of toil Their memories keep sacred many a place As sanctuaries of the race; For they did fan the flame of freedom’s fire, Higher to soar and higher, Till it attains at last earth’s highest crag, Crowned be thy meteor flag.
From this fair land where love and concord reign, Whose fields are ripening with the golden grain, Where millions of thy sons have found a rest, Sheltered on her warm breast, Where heirs of Saxon and of Gallic blood Are in one brotherhood, Go greetings to thee on this day Of thine imperial sway. Behold her now, thy fairest daughter, O Lady of the Water!* She stands with fondest arms extended; By thy great power defended. [page 52] Her face is set towards the rising sun, Her course of glory yet to run, Radiant with mystic light of morn, Her greatness newly born, Her proudest privilege is to be Daughter of thine, forever free, And mistress of her own, close-bound to thee.
* This fitting designation was used by the lamented Francis Thompson in his striking “Victorian Ode.”
And should dark treason ever raise its head, Dishonouring the deeds of her great dead, Should alien hands her birthright seek to steal, Trust her to do the right As heiress of thy might, In danger’s hour her long devotion seal. Her sons aglow with martial pride shall stand To guard the portals of their native land, A million swords from out their scabbards leap, To hold this sacred soil, Won by our fathers’ toil Who sowed that we the harvest rare might reap; And ever free on high, Shall thy proud ensign fly, For Britons we were born and Britons we shall die.
Imperial mistress of the boundless sea, Whose name is known to all the winds that blow! Mother of liberty! Guardian of the free! They err who think that thy great day is o’er, Palsied thy arm and shorne of all its might, The voice that roused thy sons in days of yore [page 53] To battle for the cause of truth and right Little they reckon or thy prowess know, For brighter yet shall rise To all men’s wondering eyes, The light of that great beacon lit by thee.
Time passes, ages end and men depart Still stands the Imperial Whole, The symbol of a people’s soul, The fond desire of thy true, mother-heart, A world-power built on freedom’s ample base, Sheltering all the race; And whilst the whole world hails thy glorious name, Pays tribute to thy fame, Thy children bear thee homage on this day, Rejoicing in thy sway.
The above Coronation Ode appeared in leading English and Canadian newspapers on the occasion of the Coronation of His Majesty King George V. [page 54]
O Canada, My Own Beloved Land!
From the French “O CANADA, MON PAYS, MES AMOURS,”
of Sir George Etienne Cartier.
For the Cartier Centenary.
”One’s own land is best of all,” So an ancient adage says; To sing it is the poet’s call, Mine be to sing my fair land’s praise. Strangers behold with envious eyes St. Lawrence’s tide so swift and grand, But the Canadian proudly cries, O Canada, my own beloved land! Rivers and streams in myriad maze Meander through our fertile plains, Midst many a lofty mountain’s haze, What vast expanse the vision chains! Vales, hills and rapids, forest brakes— What panorama near so grand! Who doth not love thy limpid lakes, O Canada, my own beloved land! Each season of the passing year, In turn, attractions hath to bless. Spring like an ardent wooer, dear, Besports fair flowers and verdant dress; Summer anon prepares to wrest The harvest rare with joyful hand; In Fall and Winter, feast and jest. O Canada, my own beloved land! [page 55] Canadians, like their sires of old, Revel in song, and gaily live, Mild, gentle, free, not overbold, Polite and gallant, welcome give. Patriots, to country ever leal, They, foes of slavery, staunchly stand; Their watchword is the peace and weal Of Canada, their beloved land. Each country vaunts its damsels fair, (I quite agree with truth they boast) But our Canadian girls must share The witching charm of beauty’s host, So lovely they and so sincere, With that French charm of magic wand, Coquettish just to make them dear. O Canada, my own beloved land! O my country, thou art blest, Favoured of all the nations now! But the stranger’s vile behest Would the seeds of discord sow. May thy brave sons for thy sake Join to help thee, hand in hand, For thy great day doth e’en now break, O Canada, my own beloved land!
The above, which is a faithful translation of the famous French-Canadian national song, “O Canada Mon Pays, Mes Amours,” is intended simply to give the sense of the original. The song was composed in 1835 by George Etienne Cartier, then a young man of 21, who was destined to become one of the most illustrious figures in Canadian history.
Cartier was for some time secretary of the St. Jean Baptise Association, which was founded by Ludger Duvernay in 1834, and it was at the first celebration of St. Jean Baptise Day, held in Montreal in 1835, that the song was sung for the first time by Cartier himself. [page 56]
O Canada, Land of Our Sires!
From the French “O CANADA! TERRE DE NOS AIEUX” by Sir Adolphe Routhier
O Canada! land of our sires, Whose brow is bound with glorious bays, The sword thy valorous hand can wield And bear the Cross that faith inspires, What mighty deeds hast thou beheld, An epopee of glorious sights! The faith, thy shield through all thy days, Shall still protect our homes and rights, Shall still protect our homes and rights. By the broad river’s giant stream, Beneath God’s ever-watchful sight, Canadians thrive in Hope’s bright gleam, Sprung from a great and noble race, Cradled by self-denial’s hand, In the new world high Heaven did trace The pathway of their progress grand, And ever guided by its light They’ll guard the banner of their land, They’ll guard the banner of their land. Christ’s forerunner, their patron saint, From him they bear a crown of fire, Enemies of the tyrant’s base restraint The depths of loyalty their deeds inspire. And their proud liberty they would keep With never-ending concord blest, While by their genius sown deep Upon our soil the truth shall rest, Upon our soil the truth shall rest. [page 57] O sacred love of altar and of throne, May thy immortal breath our spirits fire! ‘Midst other races as we hold Thy law whose sway we ever own, May we as brethren all aspire, With faith’s control, while clear shall ring, As from our sires in days of old, The conquering cry, “For Christ and King,” The conquering cry, “For Christ and King.”
Reprinted from the Canadian Magazine.
The words of the Canadian national song “O Canada! Terre de nos Aïeux, of which the above is a translation, were written in 1880 at Quebec by Hon. A.R. Routhier, now Sir Adolphe Routhier, music composed by Calixa Lavallée, the eminent French-Canadian musician then resident at the Ancient Capital. The idea of a national song was suggested by Mr. Ernest Gagnon who was in charge of the musical programme of the notable St. Jean Baptiste celebration, held at Quebec in June of 1880. The song was first sung on St. Jean Baptiste Day, June 24th, 1880, in the great hall of Laval University at Quebec, by a choir of 200 voices, accompanied by an orchestra directed by Mr. Ernest Gagnon himself. The song, both on account of spirit and patriotism of its words, and the inspiring strains of Lavallée’s music at once met with favour. It spread throughout the whole Province of Quebec, and gained the greatest popularity, a popularity it has retained until today when it is generally recognized by French Canadians as the national song par excellence. A number of English translations of the song have been set to music, and of late years it has also gained considerable vogue throughout the Dominion.
Hon. A.R. Routhier, whose name will forever be associated with the famous song of which he is the author is now Sir Adolphe Routhier, a knighthood having been conferred upon him. In this instance, the bearer, eminent alike in the literary and judicial field, confers distinction upon the title.
The above translation is intended simply to convey the sense of the original as a poem, and not of course for singing purposes. [page 58]
From the French of Louis Frechette.
When neath the wintry skies The snow-clad valleys lie; When ever-green arise The stately pines on high; When from their branches tost, Dissolving in the sun, Fast falls the silvery frost; When April seems to stray From out its destined way,— From Spring to us they come, These messengers so gay! From the cold and the snow, From tempest and flood, May God in His love His protection bestow, Little birds! Far from softer rests, In more benignant climes Where sun of summer chines; Where, deep in silken moss, Untouched by snow or frost, Lie hidden other nests— You wing your speedy flight To shores as bleak as night, May sends you on your ways To tell of happier days! From the cold and the snow, From tempest and flood, May God in His love His protection bestow, Little birds! [page 59] When seen, your silken wing, O little birds, you bring Peace to the mournful soul; Away the dark clouds roll; The heart is stirred with joy, With joy without alloy; From God, sweet birds, you bring The hope of gladsome spring. From the cold and the snow, From tempest and flood, May God in His love His protection bestow, Little birds!
Louis Frechette, whom the writer had the high privilege of counting as a personal friend, and to whose memory “The Fight of the Atalante” is dedicated, was one of the best known and most beloved of French Canadian poets and litterateurs. His work received the distinction of being crowned by the French Academy and his death was recognized by all Canadians as a national loss.
The above fragment is from “Les Oiseuax de Neiges,” which was crowned by the French Academy. [page 60]
The Canadian Exile’s Lament.
Weeping sorely as he journeyed Over many a foreign strand, A Canadian exile wandered, Banished from his native land. Sad and pensive, sitting lonely By a rushing river’s shore, To the flowing waters spake he Words that fondest memories bore: “If you see my own dear country,— Most unhappy is its lot,— Say to all my friends, O river, That they never are forgot. “Oh, those days so full of gladness, Now forever are they o’er; And, alas, my own dear country, I shall never see it more. “No, dear Canada, Oh, my homeland! But upon my dying day Fondly shall my last look wander To thee, beloved, far away!”
“Un Canadien Errant,” of which the above is a translation, was written by Antoine Gerin-Lajoie, a distinguished French-Canadian litterateur, and is one of the most famous and touching poems of French-Canadian literature, the lament of a French-Canadian banished from his native land following the rising of 1837. [page 61]
From the French of Octave Crémazie.
When Eve had from the tree of life With her fair hand plucked death, Upon the earth remorse appeared, As blight fell from its breath. Archangels, then, upon their wings, Bore Eden, stilled, away And placed it in the heavens above, Where spheres eternal sway. But, as they upward winged their flight, They let fall on their way Fair flowers from Eden’s bowers divine, As signs of their brief stay. And into the mighty river fell These flowers of varied hue. To form the beauteous Thousand Isles, A Paradise to the view.
Octave Crémazie, author of “Le Drapeau de Carillon” and many other famous poems is one of the glories of French Canadian literature. A pathetic interest attaches to Cremazie’s career as he died far from his beloved Canada, and his remains rest in the cemetery at Havre, France. For many years, his burial place was neglected, but owing to the efforts of Mr. G.E. Desaulniers of Montreal, himself a distinguished litterateur, and other public spirited Canadians, an appropriate monument now marks the last resting place of one of Canada’s finest poets. A fine monument to Crémazie’s memory erected through the efforts of the late Louis Fréchette, the French Canadian poet laureate, and other admirers of the poet, stands on St. Louis Square, Montreal.
The above is a translation of a fragment from Crémazie’s works, a complete edition of which has recently been issued in handsome form. [page 62[
From the French of Albert Lozeau.
As a door opens wide, my heart it is free, It awaits thee, Beloved, wilt thou not come? What matter to-morrow or later it be? The hour far or near, my heart shall be home. Not idle it is that for love we should stay, For by waiting desire the stronger shall grow, The joy unexpected too soon speeds away Before we have time its fullness to know.
* * *
An hour shall suffice, and life shall be full As a river where widest its waters appear, An hour shall requite for days drear and dull An hour of the essence of year upon year. As a door open wide, my heart it is free, It awaits thee, Beloved, wilt thou not come? What matter to-morrow or later we see? The love that awaits finds a far fairer home, The joy long-delayed the richer shall be.
Albert Lozeau of Montreal has by the sheer force of genius achieved a distinguished place in literature. “L’Ame Solitaire,” the first volume of poems from his pen, attracted wide attention not only in Canada but in France, and his work has received the highest praise from critics. A second volume “Le Miroir des Jours”—maintains the same high level as the first volume. [page 63]
From the French of William Chapman.
Beneath the heavy team with shoulders bent The ploughman moves across the lonely mead, His hardened hands which tell of toil well-spent Fixed to the plough that now prepares for seed, Close to a verdant hill submerged in light, His eyes are fixed upon the cherished ground, The perfume of the soil ascends with might Calmly and slowly furrows to the bound. Dreaming, upon his face a smile doth break, His ears now seem to hear the sea of grain Beneath the scorching sun a joyous rustle make, He sees his barns with riches stocked again. An angel seems to wait his steps upon, And with the Lord he works in unison.
The above is a translation of the striking sonnet “Le Laboureur,” by William Chapman, one of the most distinguished of our French Canadian poets, whose work has met with wide appreciation in his own country, and marked distinction in France. William Chapman has been made a prolific writer and the results of his poetical genius deservedly entitle him to a very high place in Canadian literature.
The French sonnet “Le Labourer” is included by Mr. Lawrence J. Burpee in A Century of Canadian Sonnets which contains many of the finest sonnets from the works of Canadian writers. [page 64]