When, in the second canto of Jean Baptiste (1825), Levi Adams turns from the “bleak Canadian fall, or winter” (607) to the most influential contemporary English poet, his biligual diction and carnivalesque aesthetic should make us reluctant to generalize about nineteenth-century literature:

                             They’re very much like Byron’s poetry—
                        Now here—now there—now sideways or uphill,—
                             Or in a cahot, if there’s snow d’ye see,—
                        And if there’s none—why have it if you will,
                             In mud or ditch, as best it pleases ye,
                        Both may be had, or either at your option,
                             As easy, as a son or daughter—by adoption!

Byron proves that English influences can be counter-hegemonic as well as imperial. In this case, Byron’s influence enables Adams to blend the two vernaculars of Lower Canada, especially when he refers to a “cahot, if there’s snow d’ye see.” What A.M. Klein said in his tribute to Montreal was already true in 1825: “multiple / The lexicons uncargo’d at your quays,” most importantly the “double-melodied vocabulaire” of English and French.1 But the reference to a “cahot” (or rut) is more than a colourful detail, for it shows the influence of Adams’ contemporary, George Longmore, who describes the cahot at length in The Charivari; or Canadian Poetics (1824).2  Both poems are exceptions to later generalizations about Canadian poetry of the colonial period, and both poems confirm C.D. Mazoff’s assertion that early Canadian poetry was more than “just another colonial extension of the mother country.”3
     Until 1977, and even longer in some cases,4 Longmore’s identity was unknown, and scholars followed Carl F. Klinck in attributing both the pseudonymously-published The Charivari and Jean Baptiste to Adams.5 [Page ix] Then in her Introduction to the Golden Dog Press edition of The Charivari, and more fully in a series of subsequent articles, Mary Lu MacDonald set the record straight.6 As a result, and as Klinck immediately recognized, “Now Longmore must take on what Adams must surrender,” including various poems and essays published in Montreal between 1823 and 1826 and the anonymously-published Tales of Chivalry and Romance (Edinburgh, 1826) as well as The Charivari.7 Adams is now known to be the author of Jean Baptiste, two short stories in the Canadian Magazine in 1825, six poems in the Montreal Herald in 1825 and 1826, one French poem dated 1831, and possibly three polemical exchanges under the pseudonym “X.Y.Z.”8
     As MacDonald writes in the best account of the matter, “Very little is known of Adams’ life.”9 She estimates that Adams was born on March 17, 1802, but we do not know where. The most likely place is Henryville, in the seigneury of Noyan, since one of Adams’ stories is signed “L.A., Henryville.” He articled to a lawyer in Noyan, and was admitted to the bar on November 2, 1827. When he married Elizabeth C. Wright in her home town of Northampton, Massachusetts on July 10, 1830, he was identified only as “Levi Adams Esq.” Of Montreal; his date of birth and family background are not given.10 Despite the Wright family’s prominence, not much is known of Adams’ wife. She was the child of Ferdinand Hunt and Olive Ames Wright, and the house in which she was raised is now preserved as a monument by Historic Northampton, but she disappears from the records when she married Adams. They were married in the First Congregational Church of Northampton, where Jonathan Edwards began his ministry in the previous century. Both Adams and his wife died in Montreal in the cholera epidemic of 1832. The Montreal Gazette’s notice of June 23, 1832 completes the story:

On Thursday evening, Elizabeth Wright, Widow of the late Levy [sic] Adams, Esquire, Advocate, and daughter of F.H. Wright, Esquire, Northampton, Massachusetts. This amiable young female survived her husband but a single day. Enfeebled by a malady from which she had scarcely recovered, she has fallen a victim to the fatigues and anxiety produced by her attendance on the sick bed of Mr. Adams, whose death we announced in our last. A son, only three weeks old, has been left to the care of the bereaved friends of the deceased.11 [Page x]

There is no further trace of the son, even in the extensive Wright family records.
     Since further speculation on Adams’ life would have to be based on evidence internal to Jean Baptiste, and since, as Edgar Allan Poe argued, “There is no subject matter under heaven about which funnier ideas are, in general, entertained than about this subject of internal evidence,”12 we must read Jean Baptiste with only a rudimentary biographical frame of reference. Nonetheless it is striking that the narrator is more provincial than the narrators of Byron’s satires or The Charivari. Although the bilingual character of the lower province is amply registered in the poem, the narrator sees nothing remarkable about it. Adams does not compare Canada with England, as Longmore does, probably because he lacked Longmore’s cosmopolitan experiences. That is one reason why Jean Baptiste is less successful than The Charivari.

I. Byronic Satire and Its Influence

The main influence on Jean Baptiste is explicitly stated in the poem and implicitly evoked in every ottava rima stanza. That is the form, of course, that Byron used in Beppo (1818) and then returned to in Don Juan (1819-1824) and The Vision of Judgement (1822). Leslie A. Marchand describes the form’s suitability for Byronic satire:

The immensely adaptable ottava rima could be used to express a genuine sentiment, built up by the alternate rhyme and reinforced by the couplet at the end, or to blow a burlesque bubble to be pricked by a ludicrous rhyme.  Byron had found a medium in which he could be relaxed and honest, or bantering and witty, as in his letters. He could rise to poetry when he wished and return to prose without apology. And since he believed that no poetry was more than half good, why worry about the descent from Pegasus.13

Adams’ adaptation of Byron’s casual manner is at its best in the opening, in which the narrator calls Pegasus a “crazy Jade”(8) and then states, in the tenth stanza, “I mean beginning of digression, as you see” (73). The [Page xi] subject of the poem is not revealed until the end of the seventeenth stanza, but the narrator fends off objections by this tactic:

                        But gentle reader, let us jog along,—
                           We’ve a good way, to journey yet together:—
                        And if the muses aid me in my song—
                            ‘Tis well—if not—come rain, or windy weather—
                        I’ll brave it all and still my course prolong:—
                            Should critics start and ask the “why and whether”—
                        I’ll stop my ears, nor heed the pedant fools,
                        Whilst they quote “precedent” and give their “learned rules.”

Because the combination of a colloquial address to the reader with a disdain for pedantry gives the verse an endearing ease, we are content to linger in a lengthy digression.
     In many respects, and as Marchand implies, Byronic satire is the art of digression.14 According to John Jump, less than half of the stanzas in Beppo “contribute to telling the story,”15 and the same can be said of Jean Baptiste. The problem is that, in the first place, the plot of Jean Baptiste is less inherently interesting than the plots of Beppo or The Charivari, and that, in the second place, Adams’ digressions are sometimes neither witty nor pertinent. When the narrator of Beppo digresses on the differences between English and Italian manners, he addresses the poem’s main concerns. When the narrator of The Charivari digresses on the Canadian winter, he brings in the poem’s main concerns, for he compares a sleigh ride to the course of a marriage.16 But when the narrator of Jean Baptiste digresses on smoking or fishing, he tries the reader’s patience.
     The truth is that Adams’ understanding of Byron is weaker than Longmore’s.  Adams sees only the surface disorder of Byron’s poetry, “Now here—now there—now sideways or uphill” (II. 611). In one stanza, the narrator refers to “our superb / Constitution” (I. 392-93); in the next, to Byron’s politics, apparently unaware of the contradiction between his conservatism and Byron’s radicalism. By contrast, Longmore’s sense of Byron’s beliefs is so keen that The Charivari distances itself from Byron’s radicalism. As D.M.R. Bentley argues, “Longmore was not uncritical in his admiration of Byron [and this] is further indicated by the fact that The Charivari contains digressions declaring the narrator’s affection for his [Page xii] country and his family…, two subjects whose absence from the work of his cosmopolitan master Longmore notices with regret and apology in his essay on Lord Byron….”17 Furthermore, Adams has an imperfect grasp of the role of licentiousness in Byronic satire.  As Byron told John Murray, “Why Man the Soul of such writing is it’s license….”18 Adams includes several lines and one full stanza of asterisks, in an apparent attempt to suggest the licentiousness that he could not depict. The attempt recalls the American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, who similarly used asterisks in Fanny (1819), an imitation of Beppo. The attempt also recalls James Russell Lowell’s verdict on Fanny: “a pseudo Don Juan / With the wickedness out that gave salt to the true one.”19
     With all its shortcomings, Jean Baptiste has several virtues. First, early Canadian literature was especially ripe for satire; as Archibald Lampman wrote later in the century, “the times can hardly carry patriotic verse, particularly of a boastful character. Satire would appear to be the species of verse most applicable to the present emergency.”20 Adams and Longmore brought a healthy irreverence into early Canadian literature. Both understood the need for satiric self-reflexivity, and hence both mock themselves as well as others. Second, and as Klinck notes, “Adams read Byron as a new master of burlesque and satire in the tradition of Samual Butler (Hudibras, 1663-1678) and ‘Peter Pindar’ (Dr. John Wolcot, author of Lyric Odes (1782-1785).”21 As A.B. England argues, the importance of the burlesque style for Byronic satire is that it “manifests a high degree of tolerance for disorder, impurity, and discontinuity of rhetoric and diction,” and that it usually does so in the name of realism.22 As the notes to this edition attest, Adams alludes extensively to this tradition, as well as to the more exalted satirists in the Classical and English traditions.
     The third virtue of Jean Baptiste is that it leads us to question the facile assumption of a “cultural lag” in early Canadian literature.23 According to this theory, at least a decade or two had to elapse between the publication of the influential work and its reception in Canada. But “the earliest volume of Upper or Lower Canadian writing to which the author signed his name,” as MacDonald calls Jean Baptiste,24 suggests that such ideas need to be reconsidered. In the stanza referred to above, Adams writes that Byron brought politics and politicians “in, for sake of their variety / ‘To stuff with sage that verdant goose society’”(I. 407-08). The last line is quoted, slightly inaccurately, from Don Juan, Canto XV, stanza 93: “my business is to dress society, / And stuff with sage that very verdant [Page xiii] goose.”25 This canto made a strong impression on Adams, for he alludes to it again—accurately, this time—in his second canto: “‘There’s music in all things, if men had ears’ / Says Byron…” (161-62). Byron says precisely that in the fifth stanza of Canto XV (I.39). Now that canto was not published until April of 1824. It must have been sent to Canada almost immediately for Adams to refer to it in a poem published in 1825.  Because the theory of the “cultural lag” is clearly not appropriate in all cases, its general use does a disservice to early Canadian writers by exaggerating their isolation.

II. The Narration of Inconstancy

A good place to start on the complex topic of the role of the narrator in Jean Baptiste is with Frederick L. Beaty’s comment: “One must consistently bear in mind that the persona in Beppo, like all of Byron’s speakers, deliberately undercuts himself and therefore his own satiric authority.”26 As in Beppo, a pattern of self-mockery is evident in Jean Baptiste from the beginning. Such self-mockery, however, seems at first inconsistent with the narrator’s penchant for melancholy confession. Without denying that there are contradictions in Jean Baptiste, I would argue that some of these contradictions are at least compatible with the poem’s emphasis on the inconstancy of the mind and heart. To some extent, then, the narrator makes his point in two ways: explicitly in his remarks on inconstancy; and implicitly in his shifts and inconsistencies. He does not assume an authority above his characters, because he is as liable to err as they are. None of this is meant to deny that there are obvious lapses in the poem, but there is also a method to some of the narrative madness.
     These patterns are clearer in Canto I. As we have seen, the poem begins in self-mockery, as the narrator digresses before he even begins his story. Whatever his faults, he is at least occasionally modest and witty, as in the twelfth stanza:

                        Yes patience—hear what I may have to say,
                             It may do good, if not ‘twill do no harm;
                        Just for amusement to pass time away—
                             If, tinctured with a soporific charm,
                        It make you doze,—peruse it in the day—
                             When you are sick, and should it grief disarm, [Page xiv]
                        Tho’ I am neither Doctor nor Magician—
                        I might set up for a most learn’d Physician.

If there is a contradiction here, it is integral to Byronic satire: how can you criticize others without resembling the moralists that you want to satirize? Byron’s answer was “to be a little quietly facetious upon every thing,” as he said in one letter, and to keep his morality implicit, as he said in another: “I maintain that [Don Juan] is the most moral of poems—but if people won’t discover the moral that is their fault not mine.”27 Adams’ answer is to retreat from a moral perspective whenever it arises—hence in the stanza after the one just quoted, he dismisses his own plans, adding that “I have, as yet, nor licence, nor diploma” (104). Again, later in the canto, his admiration for Byron’s stance leads him back to the same problem. Here is his graceful retreat:

                        Tho’ not professedly a moralizer—
                             One may presume to lecture, now and then,
                        E’en those who are, in truth, much wiser
                             Than his dear self; since there’s a class of men,
                        Who sadly need, a candid, kind adviser,
                             And, might derive instructions, from my pen;—
                        But stop—my pen is bad—and I must mend it—
                        So ends the stanza—or this line will end it!

Neither a sage nor a man of the world, the narrator finds himself in the position of lecturing his superiors. When he calls attention to the construction of his own verses in the closing lines of this stanza, he moves from lecturer to bufoon.  He vacillates between these positions throughout the poem.
     In the context of such self-mockery, some of the narrator’s confessions are not quite so dubious as they seem. Take the four-stanza digression on bachelors, for instance.  It begins with the argument that bachelors are mistaken, since they

                                                            renounce their legal rights
                        To social joys—the raptures and the honey, [Page xv]
                        Of the most blissful of all blisses—Matrimony!

This passage is immediately followed by four lines of quotation on the “free and funny” reveries and “serene” days enjoyed by bachelors. In a poem influenced by Byron, it is hard not to read these shifting attitudes as a deep ambivalence towards the institution of marriage. After all, Byron thought of ending Don Juan with his hero in either Hell or “an unhappy marriage,” adding that the former may be an allegory of the latter.28 Lacking any experience of marriage, let alone Byron’s, Adams’ narrator can say only that when he prefers the married to the single life, “It may be truly that I’m in the wrong” (166).  Caught in the awkward position of lecturing his superiors, the narrator responds by calling attention to his own poetic fumblings, which are further accentuated by running one stanza into the next:

                        And say who’d be a Bachelor—I’d not,
                             That is, if I could marry to my liking,
                        (Which heav’n permit may some day be my lot),
                             And get a model of each beauty striking,
                        In love’s vocabulary—if I thought—
                             But where’s the rhyme? What say you now to spiking
                        —Pray pardon me—I meant to add, or ought,—
                        That if she’d half the qualities I sought,


                        I could consent to hie me to the altar
                             Of Hymen….

In an uncharitable reading, these admissions show that Adams lacks the qualifications to write Byronic satire. In the more charitable reading offered here, these admissions show that Adams is conscious of his lacks, and the sign of that consciousness is the self-mockery of the poet. And so again, several stanzas later, when the narrator hesitates whether to write that Baptiste fell “in” or “into love” (201,217), he is not merely padding his stanza, he is calling attention to his limitations: [Page xvi]

                        Though I’ve, as yet, not taken my degrees,
                             In Cupid’s College, and can’t justly know:
                        But I will hazard in, for your inspection,
                        Saving recourse to all who claim connection!

As a Postmodernist might say, the narrator situates himself while calling atten- tion to the materiality of the signifier.
     The biggest flaw in the first Canto is the odd inclusion of brief melancholy confessions, notably this in the thirty-sixth stanza:

                        I had a “friend” once, and I deem’d him all,
                             That man could or should be—not what man is,
                        And has been, e’er since our first parents’ fall
                             From Eden’s bow’rs—blest Paradise of bliss.—
                        But he is changed; what then was friendship’s call
                             Were now a favour to bestow—but ‘tis
                        Not, not that I grieve, the moments past to scan;
                        I grieve to see th’inconstancy of man.

It is quite fitting for satire to see such inconstancy, but not to “grieve” to see it. Without inconstancy, satire would be deprived of most of its targets. Furthermore, the details of the past friendship are pathetic in more than one sense, and so whatever autobiographical compulsion inspires the stanza does not serve the larger interests of the poem. But if even Homer nods, even Adams wakes, and five stanzas later, he humourously corrects his own melancholy vision:

                        In truth the world’s a wonder altogether—
                             And man’s a creature wonderfully made,—
                        (And so is woman!) fickle as the feather;
                             So heathenish philosophers have said,
                        Made to endure sunshine and rainy weather,
                             To love, fear, hope, betray and be betrayed,
                        And marry too—not till he courts a wife tho’,
                        Eat, drink, be merry, some say smoke tobacco.
                                                                                    (321-28) [Page xvii]

Now betrayal is not just something done to us, it is also something we do to others. Now the “inconstancy of man” is not just a source of grief, it is also a source of “wonder.” Now inconstancy is as natural as the weather, which we can occasionally enjoy as well as “endure.” Whatever his flaws, Adams employs what Edward E. Bostetter calls Byron’s “device of incongruity, the lightning shift from one state of mind to its opposite.”29 For Bostetter, this device ultimately becomes “romantic irony—the half-sad, half-comic juxtaposition of the illusion and the reality, of the ideal and the actual, of what we should be and what we are. In this form it establishes the dominant mood of the poem [Don Juan].”  Jean Baptiste never quite establishes a “dominant mood,” and whatever “romantic irony” it has may not be intentional. Nonetheless, Klinck is right to argue that Adams achieved “a kind of salvation by imitating Byron’s Don Juan,” 30 for Byron saved him from his own worst qualities.
     We see a similar incongruity later in the canto, where a stanza lamenting the “happy hours” of youth (473) precedes a stanza flouting poetic decorum: “But who would choose become an analytic / Merely to please a despicable critic?” (487-88). The shift is so abrupt that the irony seems deliberate. A similar irony governs the characterization of Baptiste, who begins as a military hero (stanza XXV) and ends, after failing to woo Lorrain, as a failed suicide: “hanging infused such a queer pain, / It brought him to his senses back again” (535-36). What prevents me from confidently referring to a deliberately ironic pattern is the canto’s conclusion. The narrator’s comic struggle to balance his commitments to Pegasus and his readers would have closed matters nicely, but that stanza is followed by a melancholy one on the sadness of parting. With Jean Baptiste, it is sometimes hard to know if the bathos is intentional.
     Canto II is less coherent than Canto I in at least three ways: it begins with an even longer digression, returning to the story of Baptiste only in stanza XXVIII; it does not substantially add to the story until it is more than half finished; and it makes greater use of the regrettable asterisks. But the pattern of shifts, self-mockery, and incongruities is present again. The opening stanzas on the beauties of Canadian nature turn disconcertingly into an account of memory as the “cankering gangrene of all misery” (24). The narrator seems unaware of the incongruity in admiring change in the seasons (3-8) and regretting change in his life (18-24), but he recovers in stanza IV, when he alludes to Peter Pindar’s wisdom: “Care to our coffin adds a nail, no doubt; / But every grin so merry draws one out.”31 But several [Page xviii] nails are added in the following stanzas. Perhaps the most incongruous digression in the poem is the one on mutability beginning in stanza XIV. Not only is the facile view of aging the kind that only a poet in his early twenties could hold, but also the religious sentiment in these lines is utterly at odds with Byronic satire in general and this poem in particular:

                        Then think not of thy youthful hours—the years
                             Of bye-past scenes…
                                    …but look beyond, where taught
                        To soar, faith triumphs o’er death’s dark, cold bed,
                        And, all immortal, man no tears shall shed.        
                                                                                    (105-06, 110-12)

Such faith is notably absent from the remainder of the poem: thus the narrator does not witness the wedding of Baptiste and Rosalie because “for me, ‘tis much too early, / To go to church” (625-26).
     The poem has a way of recovering from its flaws. In this case, it happens in stanza XIX, when the narrator realizes that to forego sadness is also to forego joy, since the two are inextricably linked. He then restates the same moral in appropriately self-deprecatory fashion in stanza XXXIII: “I would not love—(reason and prudence bid not) / Could I endure life’s burthen if I did not” (263-64). Adams’ conservatism appears in his accounts of the social implications of the poet’s sense of proportion: it is the business of “music, poetry, or politicians” to “keep the constitution in complete / State of preservation” (153-57); and “all, ‘tis said, with a firm resolution / May be achiev’d by time and a good—constitution!” (279-80). Like Longmore’s, Adams’ politics owe less to Byron than to what Bentley calls “the Augustan satirists in whose values and techniques Byron’s roots also lie.”32
     What is true of the narrator is also true of Baptiste: “—In truth, tho’ Baptiste could not love another / Or said as much, it proved quite au contraire” (313-14).  Gracefully turning a long digression on bitterness into self-mockery (375-76), the narrator finally resumes his story, and the last half of the second canto describes Baptiste’s pursuit of and marriage to the Lady Rosalie. Because both of the lovers are mocked (see especially stanzas XLVII, XLIX, LV, and LX), and because the narrator emphasizes “precaution” (505) and “marriage contracts” (515, 534-36), Klinck argues that “Adams goes beyond Longmore in instructing his readers, and Adams [Page xix] confesses to more caution about marriage than Longmore does… Adams’ treatment of love puts it into the area of stern, practical, realities known to the legal profession and recognized in the courts.”33 In my reading, the narrator is much less consistent and decisive. He is never able to elevate himself beyond Baptiste, although he tries:

                        Oh, love! to write it makes my heart ache sadly;
                             In truth, I love to have it ache a little—
                        Not that I’d feel the tender passion madly,
                             But to remind me that life’s thread is brittle,
                        And quickly may be snapp’d—I would not, gladly,
                             Feel as poor Baptiste did, in every tittle,
                        Nor in the outline, but there are sensations—
                        Most deeply painful with their consolations.

That is stanza XXX, but the narrator is still indecisive in stanzas LXXXVIII and LXXXIX: “Some things I used to love, I almost hate; / And vice versa” (704-05).  In words that Adams attributes to Swift,34 “An honest man may be a bitter bad logician” (note to 521). This ambivalence is sustained to the very last stanza, which begins with an allusion to Rabelais and ends with an another to Dryden35: “La Farce est faite,” he concludes, for “all things… Must have an end”: “And since it is so—reader be assur’d, / ‘A CURELESS MALADY MUST BE ENDUR’D’” (713, 714-18, 719-20).  According to Dryden’s Arcite, “love’s a malady without a cure.”  According to Jean Baptiste, it is also a malady that neither the narrator nor the hero can escape.

III. Adams and Longmore Revisited

As Klinck maintains, “Not all of the queries concerning The Charivari (spring 1824) and Jean Baptiste (1825) are swept away by the new evidence” about Longmore’s identity.36  Why did two remarkably similar poems appear almost simultaneously in Montreal? Part of the answer resides in Byron’s extraordinary influence, which by 1824 was almost as widespread as the English language itself. In addition to the similarities in setting, character, plot, and style discussed by Klinck, the numerous verbal echoes and parallels between the two poems imply a further answer to [Page xx] Klinck’s questions: “Should they be judged as parallel imitations of Don Juan? Was Adams provoked or inspired to produce in 1825 an imitation of The Charivari?”37 It is precisely because Jean Baptiste is an imitation of The Charivari that the latter has priority in every sense. The Charivari is a better satire, with a better understanding of Byron and a better grasp of time and place. One of Adams’ shortcomings is that it is not at all clear how, while it is all too clear that, Jean Baptiste was provoked by The Charivari.

The First Edition

The first edition of Jean Baptiste was published in Montreal in 1825 and reprinted the next year in The Canadian Review and Magazine, II, No. IV (Feb. 1826): 451-84. The name of the publisher is not stated. The book was bound in a blank blue cover of heavy paper. The pages are of rough quality, and the five signatures were not sewn, but punched through the margins. The collation is “1 p. 1, 34 p. 8vo. p. 18-22 appear as 8-12. 19.2 x 12 cm.”38 There are copies in the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library and the Rare Books section of the D.B. Weldon Library, University of Western Ontario. The Toronto copy has been recovered in boards, while the latter has been repaired. On the front page (unnumbered) of the Western Ontario copy is this inscription: “To J. Dewitt Esq with the compts. of the author.” On the cover is the name “Jacob Dewitt, Esquire.” The recto running titles are sometimes higher than the verso running titles towards the end of the book. In both the Toronto and the Western Ontario copies, pages 18-22 are mistakenly paginated as 8-12.


The Present Text

The present text of Jean Baptiste is based on the first edition of the poem held by the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library. The copy at the University of Western Ontario reveals no variations. Except in cases of obvious error (such as missing parentheses and misspellings) and likely error (such as misplaced commas), the original punctuation and spelling have been retained. All departures from the first edition are recorded in the list of Editorial Emendations that follows the text. [Page xxi]

Notes to the Introduction


The Rocking Chair and Other Poems (Toronto: Ryerson, 1948) 30. [back]


The Charivari; or Canadian Poetics: A Tale, After the Manner of Beppo, ed. D.M.R. Bentley (London, Canada: Canadian Poetry Press, 1991) 33, 1. 634 and note. [back]


“Strategies of Colonial Legitimation in the Early Canadian Long Poem,” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 36 (1995): 109. [back]


Smaro Kamboureli recognizes that The Charivari is a “notable exception” to her argument that early Canadian long poems “express an aesthetic and an ideology extraneous to Canadian experience,” but she attributes the poem to Adams. Furthermore, she confuses a Byronic parody with a parody of Byron: thus she argues that “excessive digression,” “numerous apostrophes,” and self-reflexive comments make the poem’s “rendering of Beppo…clearly parodic.” On the Edge of Genre: The Contemporary Canadian Long Poem (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1991) 10, 19. That such a critic can err in such fundamental ways suggests that a wilful ignorance of nineteenth-century poetry is as necessary for Post-modernists as it was for their Modernist predecessors—even in Canada. That Kamboureli’s errors were not corrected by an important university press says much about the ongoing marginalization of early Canadian literature. [back]


See “The Charivari and Levi Adams,” Dalhousie Review 40 (1960): 34-42. [back]


Introd., The Charivari or Canadian Poetics (Ottawa: Golden Dog, 1977); “George Longmore: A New Literary Ancestor,” Dalhousie Review 59 (1979): 265-85; “Some Notes on the Montreal Literary Scene in the Mid-1820’s,” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 5 (1979): 29-40; and “Further Light on a Life: George Longmore in Cape Colony,” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 24 (1989): 62-77. [back]


Introd., Jean Baptiste: A Poetic Olio, in II Cantos (Ottawa: Golden Dog, 1978) 6. [back]


The two stories are “The Young Lieutenant: A Tale,” The Canadian Magazine IV, No. XXIV (June 1825): 495-500; and “The Wedding,” The Canadian Magazine IV, No. XXIV (June 1825): 523-24. Six poems appeared under the initials “L.A.” in the Montreal Herald[Page xxii]“Who Has Not Felt,” Jan. 22, 1825; “Poetry Run Mad: Chap. I: Term Time; or the first of October,” Nov. 5, 1825; “Poetry Run Mad: Chap. II: Montreal,” Nov. 12, 1825; “Theatre Royal,” Dec. 17, 1825; “Lines on a Young Lady’s Glove Having Been Torn to Pieces by her Little Pig,” Feb. 18, 1826; “The Years That I Have Liv’d,” Feb. 20, 1826.  On “X.Y.Z.,” see Klinck, Introd., 1-3.  The three pieces in question are a poem responding to elegies for animals in Quebec Mercury, Feb. 5, 1822; “Rejected Address Written for the opening of the New-Market Theatre,” Montreal Herald, April 24, 1824; and a letter in The Scribbler 121 (May 13, 1824): 123-24. The French poem is “Le Beau Sexe Canadien,” Rëpertoire, ed. J. Huston (Montreal, 1893), Vol. I, 230. I am indebted to D.M.R. Bentley and Klinck’s Introd. for these bibliographical details. [back]


“Levi Adams,” Dictionary of Literary Biography 99: Canadian Writers Before 1890, ed. W.H. New (Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 1990) 5-6.  MacDonald provided further help in a letter to me, 26 Jan. 1993. [back]


I obtained a copy of the marriage certificate from the Northampton city records. [back]


The Hampshire Gazette announced the death on June 27, 1832: “In Montreal, Levi Adams, Esq. formerly of Colerain.” Like Hampshire, Colerain is a Massachusetts town. Adams’ birth there would help to explain his marriage, but there is no record of it.  The Colerain genealogy refers only to a Levi Adams born in 1815, too late for the author of Jean Baptiste. [back]


“Marginalia, March 1848,” Essays and Reviews, ed. G.R. Thompson (New York: Library of America, 1984) 1430. [back]


Byron’s Poetry: A Critical Introduction (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965) 148. [back]


Marchand writes of Beppo that “the meat of the poem was in the digression” (150). [back]


Byron (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972) 96. Jump estimates that 41 of the 99 stanzas contribute to the narrative. I estimate that 68 of the 160 stanzas in Jean Baptiste contribute to the narrative. [back]


Stanzas 70-83. I have discussed this digression at length in “George Longmore’s The Charivari: A Poem ‘After the Manner of Beppo,” [Page xxiii] Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews 10 (1982): 1-17. [back]


Mimic Fires: Accounts of Early Long Poems on Canada (Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 1994) 133. Bentley notes a similar ambivalence in Richardson’s Tecumseh, the 1828 version of which “contains explicit challenges to Byron’s religious scepticism and social irresponsibility” (141). [back]


“To John Murray,” 12 August, 1819, “The flesh is frail”: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Volume 6: 1818-1819, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (Cambridge Ma: Harvard UP, 1976) 208. [back]


Lowell’s remark is from “A Fable for Critics” (1848); it is cited in William Ellery Leonard, Byron and Byronism in America (1905; New York: Haskell House, 1964) 39. [back]


In a column of 19 November, 1892, in At the Mermaid Inn; Wilfred Campbell, Archibald Lampman, and Duncan Campbell Scott in The Globe 1892-93, ed. Barrie Davies (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1979) 194. [back]


Introd., Jean Baptiste 6. The point can be amply substantiated. At his own request, Pindar was buried near Butler in St. Paul’s Covent Garden. Adams takes his epigraph from Butler’s Hudibras and alludes to Pindar extensively in the second canto of Jean Baptiste. Pindar was praised by George Colman the Younger, to whom Adams also alludes in this canto. See Colman, Broad Grins; Comprising with New Additional Tales in Verse, Those Formerly Published Under the Title of “My Night-Gown and Slippers,” 5th ed., (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1811) 26: “Peter has often wanted grace, / But he has never wanted wit.” And Colman was a drinking companion of Byron’s. See the latter’s “Detached Thoughts, October 15, 1821—May 18, 1822,” Item 107, Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1982) 279: “I have met George Colman occasionally and thought him extremely pleasant and convivial.” [back]


Byron’s Don Juan and Eighteenth-Century Literature: A Study of Some Rhetorical Continuities and Discontinuities (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1975) 15-16, 95. [back]


See my “On the Lack of a ‘Cultural Lag’ in Early Canadian Literature,” Notes and Queries 238 (1993): 472-73. [back]


“Levi Adams” (see note 9) 5. [back]


Byron, ed. Jerome J. McGann, The Oxford Authors (Oxford: Oxford [Page xxiv] UP, 1986) 842, 11. 741-42. For the dates of publication for Don Juan, see McGann, “Chronology,” xxvi. [back]


Byron the Satirist (Dekalb: N. Illinois UP, 1985) 91. [back]


“To John Murray,” 1 February 1819, “The flesh is frail” 99. The previous quotation is from the same volume, “To Thomas Moore,” 19 September 1818, 67. [back]


“To John Murray,” 16 February 1821, “Born for Opposition”: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Volume 8: 1821, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1978) 78. [back]


Introd., Byron, Selected Works: Revised and Enlarged, ed. Edward E. Bostetter (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1972) xxviii. [back]


Klinck, Introd. Jean Baptiste, 3. [back]


From the fifteenth of the Expostulatory Odes. [back]


Mimic Fires 134. [back]


Introd., Jean Baptiste, 7. [back]


I have not been able to identify the source, but I am confident that it is not Swift. [back]


Rabelais’ last words, echoed also in line 712, are said to be “Tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée” ( Bring down the curtain, the farce is played out.) Arcite defines love in Palamon and Arcite, Book 2, 1. 110;  see Dryden, ed. Keith Walker, The Oxford Authors (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987) 593. [back]


Klinck, Introd., Jean Baptiste 6. [back]


Klinck, Introd., Jean Baptiste 7. [back]


For this collation, see Frances M. Staton and Marie Tremaine, A Bibliography of Canadiana: Being Items in the Public Library of Toronto, Canada, Relating to the Early History and Development of Canada (Toronto: Public Library, 1934) 291. [Page xxv] [back]