Editorial Emendations

These notes record all editorial emendations to the first edition or Abram’s Plains: A Poem and its Preface. Each entry contains the reading of the present text berore the “]” and the reading of the first edition after the “]”. Thus “Preface/19 Thomson] Thompson” indicates that in line nineteen of the Preface the corrcct spelling of “Thomson” has been substituted for the incorrect “Thompson” in the first edition.



adolescentiam] adolescentia
adversis perfugium ac solacium præbent] adversis solatium et perfugium præbent


11 requires] require
19 Thomson] Thompson This error has bcen corrected throughout the third paragraph.
38-39 Windsor-Forest] Windsor-Forrest


The Poem

24 heav’n’s] heav’ns
101 Gains] Gain’s
119 tumefying] tumifying
122 fascinating] facinating
157 cedes,] cedes.
179 exhilarates] exhilirates
205 eyes’] eyes
221 Its] It’s
258n Poisson-doré] Poison-doré
283 conqu’ring,] conqu’ring
298 hereditary] heriditary
329 die.”] die.”—
339 tender,] tender
411 spaniel’s] spaniels
579 its] it’s


Explanatory Notes


The primary purpose of these Explanatory Notes is twofold: to explain or identify words and references that might be obscure to modern readers of Abram ’s Plains and its Preface; and to call attention to words and phrases that allude to or, as the case may be, derive from the works of other writers. In this last category, the notes are intended to complement the Introduction, where emphasis is placed less on local verbal and phrasal echoes than on the large patterns, assumptions and attitudes that link Cary’s work with the writers and ideas of its day. In compiling these notes, extensive use has been made of standard works on classical mythology and Canadian history — Sir Paul Harvey’s Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (1937), for example, and Donald Creighton’s, Dominion of the North (1944) — as well as the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and the Oxford English Dictionary. and such specialized historical works as A.L. Burt’s Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester, 1724-1807 (1955), H.R. Casgrain’s Wolfe and Montcalm (1910), C.P. Stacey’s Quebec, 1759 (1959), Mason Wade’s, The French Canadians (1955) and George F.G. Stanley’s Canada’s Soldiers: The Military History of an Unmilitary People (1960). Use has also been made of D.G.G. Kerr’s A Historical Atlas of Canada (1961), a work which readers interested in the topographical aspects of Abram’s Plains could benefit from having to hand when studying the poem. Quotations from Goldsmith, Pope and Thomson — the writers most frequently echoed in the diction, tone and poetic texture of Abram’s Plains — are from Arthur Friedman’s edition of the Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, IV (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966), the Twickenham edition of Alexander Pope, Pastoral Poetry and an Essay on Criticism, edited by E. Audra and Aubrey Williams (London: Methuen; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), and James Sambrook’s edition of James Thomson, The Seasons (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981). Quotations from Jonathon Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768 are taken from the third edition (1781; rpt. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Ross and Haines, 1956). Other quotations are from standard or definitive editions of the author’s works.

Abram’s Plains     The title refers of course to the Plains of Abraham, the scene to the South of Quebec City of the decisive battle in the struggle between the British and the French in North America during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Lasting for less than half an hour on September 12, 1759, the battle on the Plains of Abraham claimed over a thousand French dead or wounded, as well as the lives of the victorious General James Wolfe and, the following day, the defeated Marquis de Montcalm. The Plains of Abraham were named for Abraham Martin, who owned the land from 1635 to 1645. There may be a prosodic reason for Cary’s unusual spelling of “Abram” here and in the opening line of the poem, for “Abram” conforms more readily than Abraham to the demands of iambic pentameter.

Hæc studia . . . TULL.     The epigraph is taken from Cicero’s “Pro A. Licinio Archia Poeta Oratio” ,"The Speech on Behalf of Archias the Poet”, VII, 16. In the Loeb Classical edition of The Speeches of Cicero (1935), p. 25 the passage is translated by N.H. Watts as follows: “. . . but this [the reading of literature] gives strength to our youth and diversion to our old age; this adds a charm to success, and offers a haven of consolation to failure. In the home it delights, in the world it hampers not. Through the night-watches, on all our journeying, and in our hours of country ease, it is our unfailing companion.” As Watts points out in his Introduction to “The Speech on Behalf of Archias the Poet”, the panegyric to literature from which Cary takes his epigraph has been quoted, admired and translated by “. . . a long series of writers from Quintilian, through Petrarch, until today   . . .”, including Sir Philip Sidney In “An Apology for Poetry” (a not inappropriate rubric for the epigraph and Preface to Abram’s Plains). “TULL.” is an abbreviation of Tully, the name by which Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) was known in eighteenth-century England.




The most famous work by James Thomson (1700-1748), and also the most pertinent to Abram’s Plains, is The Seasons, a cycle of four poems (“Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn”, “Winter”) first published together in 1738 and subsequently printed in several revised and corrected editions. In his own day and evidently still in Cary’s, “the harmonious Thomson” or The Seasons was regarded as the foremost modern practitioner both of “blank verse” and of “descriptive poetry” —poetry which, in the words of the previous paragraph of the Preface, “. . . exhibits a picture of the real scenes of nature. . . .”


Pope’s Windsor-Forest First published in 1713 (and later reprinted in various editions of The Works, including the complete and revised edition of 1751), Windsor-Forest by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is a pastoral and topographical poem written in heroic couplets, a form that Pope practiced with even greater refinement and skill than in this early poem in such “ethics and satires” as An Essay on Criticism (1711), An Essay on Man (1733, 1734) and — less germane to Abram’s Plains — The Rape of the Lock (1714) and The Dunciad (1728).


Dr. Goldsmith’s Deserted Village The Deserted Village, A Poem. By Dr. Goldsmith (to quote the original title page) was first published in 1770 in a form that feloniously anticipates Abram’s Plains — “a quarto pamphlet priced at two shillings” (Collected Works, IV, 278). While the heroic couplets of The Deserted Village were often imitated by poets in North America in the late-eighteenth and early- nineteenth centuries, these same poets frequently took issue with the negative depiction by Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1794) of emigration to “distant climes” and of the “dreary scenes” and dangerous creatures to be encountered there (see below, note to l. 116f.).



The Seasons begins with an invocation to Spring to descend “. . . on our Plains. . . .” In delaying the verb in the opening sentence of Abram’s Plains, Cary employs a traditional epic beginning: ef. the opening lines of Virgil’s Aeneid: “Arms and the man I sing . . .” (Dryden’s translation).


Cf. Thomson, “Spring”, 101-103: “Now from the town . . . Oft let me wander o’er the dewy Fields. . . .”


blest converse with the learned dead    As noted in the Introduction (p. xvi), Thomson in “Winter”, 431 ff. “. . . hold[s] high Converse with the MIGHTY DEAD;/Sages of antient Time. . .” who (and cf. Abram’s Plains. 63-64)”. . . blest Mankind/With Arts, and Arms, and humaniz’d a World.” See also Thomson, “Autumn”, 1052.


like a steed . . . I drive across the plain     Cf. Pope. An Essay on Man,1, 61-62: “When the proud steed shall know why Man . . . / drives him o’er the plains. . . .”


Cf. Thomson, “Autumn”, 669-671: “I solitary court/ Th’ Inspiring Breeze; and meditate the Book/Of Nature. . . .”


Zephrus    In Greek mythology, the personification of the West Wind, the bringer of rain and the fertility of Spring. See Thomson’s “Spring”, 202 and 324.


bleak northern gale    Cf. Thomson, “Autumn”, 60-61: “. . . the bleak North,/With Winter charg’d. . . .”


Cf. Thomson, “Spring”, 914f.: “. . . or sit beneath the shade . . . And pensive listen to the various Voice / Of rural Peace: the Herds, the Flocks, the Birds. . . .”

14 verdure    Green vegetation.

block    See Introduction, p. xvii. and Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, I. i, 40:  “You Blockes, you stones, you worse than senseless things.”


As mentioned in the Introduction (pp. xiii-xiv), Cary’s description of the St. Lawrence River system has numerous classical and neo-classical precedents; see particularly, Thomson’s Nile in “Summer”, 803f. (“There, by Naiads nurs’d . . . and gathering many a Flood, and copious fed . . .”) and Pope’s Loddon (“In her chaste Current oft the Goddess laves . . .”) and Thames (“. . . the Sea-born Brothers . . . / . . . who swell with Tributary Urns his Flood.”) in Windsor-Forest, 17 if. and 329f. As important as these poems as a source for Abram’s Plains, 17-43 and 86-87 are Carver’s Travels, pp. 29 and 105-172, and Carter’s map between p. 22 and A2; Cary’s specific debts to Carter are recorded in detail below.


Naiades . . . lave    In Greek mythology, Naiades were the female personifications of springs (rivulets), rivers and lakes. Young and beautiful, they were also thought to be fond of music and dancing. To “lave” is to bathe or to swim.


and n.    Carver, Travels, pp. 132-133: “Lake Superior . . might justly be termed the Caspian of America, and is supposed to be the largest body of fresh water on the globe. . . . Though it was in the month of July that I passed over it, and the surface of the water, from the heat of the superambient air, impregnated with no small degree of warmth, yet on letting down a cup to the depth of about a fathom, the water drawn from thence was so excessively cold, that it had the same effect when received into the mouth as ice.” The Caspian Sea is an immense salt-water lake lying between Europe and Asia.


thund ’ring bay     Carver, Travels, p. 145: “Nearly half way between Saganum Bay and the north-west corner of . . . Lake [Huron] lies another, which is termed Thunder Bay . . . on account of the continued thunder . . . always observed there.”


ord’nance     Cannon or large guns. The metaphor is also present in “full-charg’d” — that is, fully loaded — “clouds”.


learned beavers     Cf. Carver, Travels, pp. 457-464 for an account of the beaver that emphasizes the animal’s “ingenuity” and “sagacity”.


two great tribes     The Chippewa and the Ottawa; see Carver, Travels, p. 29: “Half the space of the country that lies to the east, and extends to Lake Huron, belongs to the Ottowaw Indians. The line that divides their territories from the Chipéways, runs nearly north and south, and reaches almost from the southern extremity of . . . Lake [Michigan], across the high lands, to Michillimackinac, through the centre of which it passes"; and also p. 146: “This track, as I have before observed, is divided into almost an equal portion between the Ottowaw and Chipéway Indians.”


Carver, Travels, pp. 167-168: “The most remarkable of the different species that infest . . . Lake [Erie], is the hissing snake. . . . When any thing approaches . . . it blows from its mouth with great force a subtile wind, that is reported to be of a nauseous smell; and if drawn in with the breath of the unwary traveller, will infallibly bring on a decline, that in a few months must prove mortal. . . .”


As suggested by David McNeil in an unpublished article, Cary’s description of Niagara Falls is indebted to Thomson’s descriptions of waterfalls in “Spring”, 912 (“And down the rough Cascade white-dashing fall . . .”) and “Winter”, 97-99 (“Resistless, roaring, dreadful, down it comes . . . Tumbling thro’ Rocks abrupt, and sounding far . . .”.) But see also Carver, Travels, pp. 169-170 for a description of the appearance and sound of Niagara Falls.

31 hoary    White.

echo     In Greek mythology, Echo was a nymph who, for differing reasons in different accounts, became a mere voice capable only of repeating the last thing that was said to her.


Handel’s . . . Messiah     The opera by the naturalized Englishman George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was considered in Cary’s day to contain one of the prime instances of the sublime in music: the “Alleluia” chorus.


See Carver, Travels, pp. 170-171: “Near the south-east part [Lake Ontario] receives the waters of the Oswego river, and on the northeast discharges itself into the River Cataraqui.” At this time, the portion of the St. Lawrence between Lake Ontario and Montreal was known as the Iroquois or Cataraqui.

44 lays     Songs.

Ceres’ praise    The Naiades sing the praise of the Roman goddess of agriculture, particularly grain. See Pope, Windsor-Forest, 39 (“Here Ceres’ Gifts in waving Prospect stand . . .”) and Thomson, “Summer”, 863 (“ . . . And Ceres void of Pain?”).


glad     An abbreviation of gladden — to make merry or, in an older sense, beautiful.


Dryades     In Greek mythology, a nymph of the woods, a Dryad was associated with a particular tree, and when it died, so did she.


wild deserts     Uninhabited and uncultivated tracts of land. Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 43-45: “Not thus the Land appear’d in Ages past, / A dreary Desart, and a gloomy Waste, / To Savage Laws a Prey. . . . “


fox obscene     Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 71: “The Fox obscene. . . .” Obscene is used here in the sense of repulsive or loathsome.

49 kine     Cattle.

See Pope, Windsor-Forest, 355-422 and Thomson, “Summer”, 136-137, 534 (and elsewhere in The Seasons) for praise of peace and condemnation of war.


Destructive war!     Pope, An Essay on Man, 184: “Destructive War. . . .”

54 savage     Wild, untamed, uncultivated.

arts of peace     Cf. Thomson, “Summer”, 875: “ . . . the softening Arts of Peace. . . .”


Circe’s glass     In Greek mythology, Circe was a beautiful but malevolent sorceress. In the Odyssey, X she transformed some of Ulysses’ men into swine. Cary seems to be using “glass” here in the poetic sense of eye-ball or eye.


After the American War of Independence (“the storm of civil broils”) had come to an end with the Peace of Paris (1783), many inhabitants of the United States who had been loyal to Britain during the conflict settled in Canada. Most of the these “loyal sufferer[s]”, the Loyalists, settled in the Maritimes but some (at most six thousand) came to what are now Quebec and Ontario.

66 unclog’d     Freed from hindrance or encumbrance.

Aid and compensation were given to the Loyalists by the British Government to make amends for past losses and to assist settlement in Canada.


The American revolutionaries who had earlier reproached and censured the Loyalists for their devotion to Britain will now envy their good fortune.


Utawas     The Ottawa River joins the Cataraqui (St. Lawrence) above Montreal.


Great mart!     See Carver, Travels, p. 99: “La Prairie le Chien, the great mart to which all who inhabit the adjacent countries resort. . . .”


furry treasures     Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 241: “. . . furry Nations.

83 blest traders     See Introduction, p. xxi.

canoniz’d     Declared a saint — a reference to the river becoming the St.
Lawrence at Montreal.


Champlain     The waters of Lake Champlain to the south flow into the St. Lawrence through the Richelieu River. Cf. Carver, Travels, p. 172.

88 sylvans     Trees.

discord cease     Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 327: “At length great ANNA said — ‘Let Discord Cease!’”


ambitious monarchs     Amongst others, Louis XV (1710-1774) and Louis XVI (1754-1793), Kings of France, both of whom had entered into conflict with Britain, the former in the Seven Years’ War and the latter at the time of the American War of Independence.


Masquinongi     The Maskinongé River flows from the north Into St. Lawrence where — “. . . spreading to a lake . . .” (94) — it becomes Lac St.-Pierre.


tyrant pikes     Pope, Windsor-Forest, 146: “. . . Pykes, the Tyrants of the watry Plains.”


haut-gout     Literally, high-taste: refined tastes.


Cf. Thomson, “Summer”, 1442f: “Happy BRITANNIA! where the QUEEN of ARTS, / Inspiring Vigor, LIBERTY abroad. . . .”


Cf. Exodus 14.21: “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back . . . and made the sea dry land . . .”


oozy bottom     Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 329: “Oozy Bed”.

109 submiss     Submissive.

Cf. Thomson, “Autumn”, 131-133: “. . . ribb’d with Oak,/To bear the BRITISH THUNDER, black, and bold, / The roaring Vessel rush’d into the Main.” Like Cary’s, Thomson’s description of the launching of a ship occurs within the context of an enumeration of the achievements of “commerce” (“Autumn”, 118). See also Pope, Windsor-Forest, 385-387: “Thy trees, fair Windsor / now shall leave their Woods, / And half thy Forests rush into my Floods, / Bear Britain’s Thunder, and her Cross display. . . .”


Venus     In Roman mythology the goddess of love, Venus is sometimes depicted (for instance in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus) being carried across the waves on a huge half-shell.


See Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, 342-358, especially 349f.: “Those matted woods . . . Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned / Where the dark scorpion gathers death around; / Where at each step the stranger fears to wake / The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake. . . .” Rank: abundant to the point of excess; disgusting.


flies in myriads     See Thomson, “Spring”, 120- 122: “. . . engender’d by the hazy North, / Myriads on Myriads, Insect-Armies waft / Keen in the poison’d Breeze . . .”; and also “Summer”, 246f..

119 tumefying      Causing to swell.

dark adder     Possibly Carver’s Long Black Snake (Travels, pp. 485-486) which he describes as terrifying in appearance but “ . . . free from venom”.


and n.      envenom’d snake      The Rattle Snake, probably as described by Carver, Travels, 479-485 (and elsewhere): “. . . the whole of this dangerous reptile is very beautiful [including the ‘red’ ‘iris’ of its eye], and could it be viewed with less terror, such a variegated arrangement of colours could be extremely pleasing. . . . as the snake vibrates or shakes its tail, [it] makes a rattling noise. This alarm it always gives when it is apprehensive of danger; and in an instant after forms itself into a spiral wreath, in the centre of which appears the head erect, and breathing forth vengeance against either man or beast. . . . The bite of this reptile is more or less venomous according to the season. . . . In the dog-days [mid-summer], it often proves instantly mortal.” Cary’s description of the Rattle Snake also owes a debt to Milton, Paradise Lost, IX, 496f. where Satan disguised as a snake makes his way towards Eve on a “Circular base of rising fields . . . his head / Crested aloft . . . erect / Amidst his circling Spires. . . .”


ether . . . solar ray      A Thomsonian locution: see “Spring”, 148 and “Winter”, 44-48. In Cary’s day, ether was supposed to be the medium of the transmission of light and heat.


and n.     In his Travels, pp. 517-518, Carver describes the Rattle Snake Plaintain as follows: “The leaves of this herb are more efficacious than any other part of it for the bite of the reptile from which it receives its name; and being chewed and applied immediately to the wound, and some of the juice swallowed, seldoms [sic] fails of averting every dangerous symptom. . . . It is to be remarked that during those months in which the bite of these creatures is most venomous [that is, ‘the dog-days’; see note to 120f. and n.], that this remedy for it is in its greatest perfection. . . .” See also Travels, p. 481, where Carver suggests that “. . . heaven seems to have provided . . .” the cacophonous rattle of the Rattle Snake “. . . as a means to counteract the mischief this venomous snake would otherwise be the perpetrator of [if] the unwary traveller . . .” were not thus noisily “. . . apprized of his danger. . . .”


deep hid in mists     Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, IX, 75: “. . . involv’d in rising Mist. . . .”


Saint Charles     The St Charles River flows into the St. Lawrence below Quebec City.


The Montmorenci River and the famous Falls of the same name are below Quebec City. See the note to 29f. for the Thomsonian precedents for Cary’s descriptions of waterfalls.


Britannia     Both Pope and Thomson use this Latin and poetic name for Britain; see, for instance, Windsor-Forest, 110 and “Summer”, 423.


Malbay     La Malbaie.     In 1687 one of the earliest, if not the earliest, sawmills in Quebec was built at Malbaie, about eighty miles downriver from Quebec City.

147, 151

firrs     Firs.     The word was frequently spelt as Cary has it in the eighteenth century and earlier.


Cary may have drawn on an (unidentified) Indian myth for his description of “ . . . warriors . . . transform’d to weeping firrs . . . “, but it is equally, or more, likely that in this passage he adapted Ovid’s account of the transformation of various figures into trees and plants — Daphne, for example, in Metamorphoses, I and the daughters of Clymene in Metamorphoses, II — to his Canadian subject-matter. Cf. Spenser, Faerie Queen, I, i, 9: “. . . the firre that weepeth still . . .” (also and Ovidian allusion), and Carver, Travels, p. 293ff. for hair-raising accounts of Indians butchering “in cold blood” their valiant foes.


trunks trickling . . . tears     No doubt it was the running sap or resin of such trees as the fir that gave rise to the lacrimose myths and metaphors employed in this passage and its possible sources.


Saguenay . . . Taddusac’s     What is now the town of Tadoussac stands at the mouth of the Saguenay River on the north shore of the St. Lawrence.

157 cedes     Gives up, surrenders.

Gulph     The Gulf of St. Lawrence.


In the copy of Abram’s Plains in the Bibliothèque de la Ville de Montréal someone has written beside this line, and presumably in reference to “The best of nature’s works — an honest man”, “P. Stuart — my gr.father”. Cf. Pope, An Essay on Man, IV, 248: “An honest Man’s the noblest work of God.”

161 main      Ocean

Esquimaux     French (plural): Eskimo, Innuit.      No single source has yet been discovered for Cary’s description of the “Esquimauax”, but see [Theodore Swaine Drage], An Account of a Voyage For the Discovery of a North-West Passage . . . (1748; rpt. 1968), 1, 25 for “Eskemaux” with “Eyes [that] are small and brown” and Henry Ellis, A Voyage to Hudson’s Bay by the Dobbs Galley and California in the years 1746 and 1747. . . (1748; rpt. 1967) p. 132 for “Eskimaux Indians” of “a middle size” with “Eyes black, small and sparkling” and pp. 138-139 for the derivation of “the Word Eskimaux” from “An eater of raw Flesh.” And also see [Thomas Pennant], Arctic Zoology (1784-1785; rpt. 1974), clxiii and clxxxi: “As [the Eskimaux people] advance northward they decrease in height, till they dwindle into the dwarfish tribes which occupy some of the coasts of the Icy Sea, and the maritime parts of Hudson’s Bay, of Greenland, and Terra de Labrador. . . . The Greenlanders . . . style themselves Innuit. . . . their eyes [are] small.”

165 rank     Disgusting.

epicures     Those who cultivate refined tastes in eating and drinking.


Dillon     Probably the Richard Dillon who announced in the Quebec Gazette on May 1, 8 and 17, 1788 “that he has opened the Hotel, late Macpherson’s (now the QUEBEC HOTEL). . . .”      Dillon’s proprietorship of the Quebec hotel was evidently short-lived, for on November 20, 1788 one Thomas Ferguson informed “his friends and the public in general, That he has removed to the house formerly Mr. Macpherson’s Hotel, and lately occupied by Mr. Dillon . . . “ and assured them that it would be “his constant care to procure the best provisions, liquors, and attendants, the country can produce.” In the April 10, 1794 issue of the Quebec Gazette, however, there is an announcement indicating indirectly the continuation of Dillon’s career as a hotelier: L. Dulongpré will paint portraits in miniature in “his house on the Grand Parade, joining to Mr. Dillon’s Hotel.”


Horton     From the context, it would appear that Horton was a cook in Quebec City in Cary’s day, but no evidence to confirm this has yet come to light.


LeMoine     The Directory for the City and Suburbs of Quebec (1790), p. 31 lists a Jacques Lemoine who was a “Tavernkeeper [or] Cabaretier”.


ragouts     Dishes of stewed and highly seasoned meat.

173 froward     Perverse, unreasonable, hard to please.

cits     Short for citizen, usually applied snobbishly to townspeople and tradespeople by those who, like “Thomas Cary, Gent.”, imagine themselves superior by virtue of their rural connections or social position.

176 gormandize and cloy     Feed to excess; pig-out.

ortolans     A small European bird much esteemed for the delicacy of its flesh.

178 repast     Meal.
180 gout     Pleasure, relish.

beau     A man who pays special or excessive attention to his clothes and manners; a fop; a dandy.

182 dainties     Delicacies.

viands     Articles of food, particularly dressed meats.

185 stripling     Youth, adolescent.
186 Ductile     Yielding, tractable.

insensibly     Passively, without awareness.

187 controul     Control.
195 a call     A spiritual summons to serve God.

Cary may have had in mind here the fact that, after wintering on the St. Lawrence in 1541-1542, Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) returned to France with mica, quartz and felspar, which he mistook for gold and diamonds. See also the note to l. 481.

198 spoils     Valuable goods.
201 front     Forehead.

martin’s sables     The skin or fur (sable) of the marten, a small animal of the weasel family, was considered specially fine and valuable.


Thomson, “Summer”, 871: “Golconda’s Gems and Potosi’s Mines. . . .” The town of Golconda in India was a centre of the diamond trade. Potosi in South America was mined for silver by the Spanish.

206 jetty     Jet-black.
207f. The reference in these lines is to courts of law.

carriboo     Cary probably found this unusual spelling of caribou (or cariboo) in Carver’s Travels, p. 110 and elsewhere.

211 conduce     Contribute.

Ceres     See note to l. 45 above and Thomson, “Spring” 75-77.

219 Muscovite     A native of Muscovy or Russia; a Russian.
222 past     Here and in l. 555: passed.
224 porpus     Porpoise.

spoil     Strip: the “fishers” strip the dead porpoises and seals of their “valuable” skins and “fat”.

234 smoking     Giving off spray.

doubles     The whale turns, or doubles, back on his own course.

240 smoke     Give off spray.
255 gust     Taste.

Bedropt with gold    Pope, Windsor-Forest, 144: “The yellow Carp, in Scales bedrop’d with Gold. . . .”


The dusky eel, in circling volumes roll ’d      Pope, Windsor-Forest, 143:  “The silver Eel, in shining volumes roll’d. . . .”

262 rank     Full, swollen.

tomi-cod     Tommy-cod or Tom-cod — the name for several small varieties of fish found off the coast of North America; a young cod-fish: see Introduction, p. xxxiii. In The Scribbler (Montreal) for June 10, 1824, p. 141, the following note occurs: “To Canadian readers it is not necessary to explain what a tommy-cod is, but to others it may be right to add, that it is a small fish, caught in very large quantities in the lower part of the St. Lawrence, from 5 to 8 inches in length, shaped exactly like a cod, but being like a whiting or a sperling in flavour, tho’ in my opinion superior to either. They are always brought to market in a frozen state.”


bleak archer     Sagittarius, the sign of the zodiac into which the sun enters near the end of November. Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 41f., particularly for Cary’s “. . . Sol shoots oblique rays . . .”, 46-47: “. . . and ineffectual shoot / His struggling Rays, in horizontal Lines, / Thro’ the thick Air. . . .”

268 ice-cot     Ice-fishing hut.
270 crouds     Crowds.

finny brood     A Thomsonian periphrasis: cf. “Spring”, 395: “finny Race”. See also Pope, Windsor-Forest, 139: “Scaly Breed”.


Here hill and dale diversify the scene     This line, and the ensuing picturesque description, derive from Pope, Windsor-Forest, 11-16:  “Here Hills and Vales, the Woodland and the Plain . . . Where Order In Variety we see, / And where, tho’ all things differ, all agree.” See Introduction, pp. xxxiv-xxxviii for a discussion of the presence and function of the picturesque in Abram’s Plains.


pensile woods     Cf. William Shlenstone, “Ruined Abbey”, 6: “. . . with pensile woods enclos’d.” Pensile: overhanging.


russet plain     Pope, Windsor-Forest, 23: “russet Plains”.     Russet:  reddish-brown.

275 haws     Berries.

villas     Country houses of some size and architectural elegance.

280 green-sward     Grass, turf.

threatning     Gallia Like l. 288 below — “Presumptuous Gallia” — a Thomsonian phrase: see “Summer”, 430 for “Gallia” (that is France), “Autumn”, 1077 for “Insulting Gaul” and “Winter”, 234 for “presumptuous France”.


In and after 1754 there was fighting between English and French colonists over the possession of the Ohio river basin, control of which brought with it the power to colonize the larger basin of the Mississippi. France had built a line of scattered forts between her holdings in Canada and Louisiana, claiming for herself the entire area west of the Allegheny Mountains. Fighting broke out when English settlers moved westward across the Alleghenys, especially at the head of the Ohio river, refusing to acknowledge French sovereignty in the area.


nymphs     In Greek mythology, nymphs were personifications of various natural objects such as rivers — specifically, in this instance, the Ohio River.


Lake George     Until it was named for George Washington, this lake, which lies south of Lake Champlain in what is now New York State, was known as Lac St. Sacrement. In 1755 it was the scene of an engagement between the British, under Sir William Johnson (c. 1715-1774), and the French, under Jean-Armand, Baron Dieskau (1701-1767). Johnson defeated the French and captured a wounded and disgraced Dieskau.


In addition to winning his “laurels” (traditionally emblematic of victory) at Lac St. Sacrement (see previous note), Sir William Johnson captured Fort. Niagara in 1759 and fought at Montreal in 1760. The “Scene of [Johnson’s] glorious repose” was Johnson Hall near Johnstown, New York.


After his capture by Johnson (see above, note to l. 291), Baron Dieskau was replaced as commander of the French forces by the Marquis de Montcalm (1712-1759). Dieskau died in 1767 in France.


Cary’s account of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham is fulsome but largely accurate: Wolfe did indeed lead “on foot the line” (312), he was wounded repeatedly (twice in some accounts, three times in others), and he did utter something like the dying words that Cary gives him. Cary may have drawn upon a variety of sources both written and oral for his account of the Battle and Wolfe. See the “Bibliography of the Siege of Quebec” in A. Doughty and G.W. Parmelee, The Siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (Quebec: Dussault and Proulx, 1901), VI, 153-313.

303 lawn     An open space of grass-covered land.

This passage is a compliment to Lord Dorchester (see note to l. 485f. below) who as Major-General Sir Guy Carleton and Governor of Lower Canada had saved Quebec in 1775-1776 from an invasion of American forces led, in part, by General Richard Montgomery (1738-1775). On December 31, 1775 Montgomery led troops who were indeed “tatter’d” (336) after several months of fighting in the Canadian fall and winiter in an assault on Quebec City. Montgomery was killed and Carleton had maintained the city that Wolfe had lost hils life to gain (336-337).

340 distain     Discolour, stain.
347 studious . . . of     Intent on.
362 flood     St. Lawrence River.
362 cots     Cottages.
363 thrifty     Poor, meagre.
368 spunge     Sponge.

hospital     The Hôpital Général (General Hospital), founded in 1692 and run by nuns, the “Sequester’d vestals” of l. 374.

385 indu’d     Indulged: privileged.
401 meads     Meadows, fields.
403 dews     Moisture.
407 views     Visions.
408 milch-kine     Milk cows.

The feather’d game     Thomson, “Winter”, 793: “The feather’d Game. . . .”


the leaden death     Pope, Windsor-Forest, 132: . . . Lapwings feel the Leaden Death. . . .”


spaniel’s     Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 99: “. . . the ready Spaniel. . . .”


Lorette Formerly Jeune Lorette and now Loretteville, the village in which a remnant of the Hurons settled towards the end of the seventeenth century.


copper-tribes     Cf. Carver, Travels, p. 223: “. . . their skin [the Indians’] is of a reddish or copper colour. . . .”


houshold gods      Alexander Mackenzie, Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America . . . (1801; rpt. 1966), p. ci gives the following description of an Indian household god (i.e. the god presiding, as in ancient Rome, over the home or family): “. . . a small carved image about eight inches long. Its first covering is of down, over which a piece of beech bark is closely tied, and the whole is enveloped in several folds of red and blue cloth. The little figure is an object of the most pious regard.”


Charlebourg     The town of Charlesbourg. Originally Charlesbourg Royal, the site of early French attempts at colonization under Cartier and Sieur de Roberval (c. 1500-1560) in 1541-1543. A mill was built in this agricultural centre in about 1750.


Beauport     One of the oldest communities in Quebec, the Seigneury of Beauport was established in 1634.

421 lawns     Meadows.
422 Montmorenci     The Montmorency River.

Orleans     The Ile d’Orleans.      Two historical aspects of the Ile d’Orleans may bear on thie ensuing ll. 430-451: (1) in 1759 the island was taken by Wolfe and Carleton and used as a base for the British operations against Quebec that culminated in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham; and (2) in 1663 two seigneuries were established there by the notoriously autocratic, indeed, tyrannical, François de Laval (1623-1708), the first Bishop of Quebec.


the blue-eyed train     Presumably the British sailors, enjoying a last carefree, if not licentious, fling before putting out to sea.

432 herbage     Herbs or pasture.

Plenty     The personification of natural abundance.


cornucopia     The horn of plenty, often represented as a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit and corn.

434 swains     Farm labourers.

ancient sov’reign lord     The French King.


small tyrants     Seigneurs: the lords who, under the feudal system imported to Canada from Old France, wielded extensive economic, legal and social power over those living on their estates. It is worth noting that pasted beside ll. 433-453 in the copy of Abram’s Plains in the Gagnon Collection is a newspaper clipping under the title “Office of the Crown Lands, Montreal, 19th December, 1845” and over the signature “D.B. Papineau, C.C.L.”. The clipping announces the forthcoming sale by Public Auction at the Court House, Three Rivers of “That Real Estate, known as the Saint Maurice Forges, situated on the River Saint Maurice, District of Three Rivers, Lower Canada, comprising the whole of the Iron Works, Mills, Furnaces, Dwelllnig Houses, Stove Houses, Out Houses, etc., and containing about fifty-five acres, more or less. The purchaser to have the privilege of buying any additional quantity of the adjoining land, (not exceeding three hundred and fifty acres,). . . . The purchaser will also have the right of taking Iron Ore, during a period of five years, on the ungranted Crown Lands of the Fiefs Saint Etienne and Saint Maurice, known as the Lands of the Forges. . . .”

440 tawdry     Pretenitious.

GEORGE     George III (1738-1820) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 to 1820.


peopled town     Quebec, whose fortifications, begun in 1608, include “walls” and (now restored) “arched gates” — St. Louis Gate, St. John’s Gate and Palace Gate.


make a lodgment     A military term: the action of making good a position on enemy ground. A lodgement is a place of security or protection.


covert-way     Covered way; in the fortification of a castle or a town, the level space or ground between the top of the counterscarp (the outer edge of the defenisive ditch) and the glacis (the sloping back that is so raised as to bring the enemy advancing over it into the most direct line of fire from the defenders).

458f. Cf. Thomson, “Autumn”, 379f.: “. . . the peaceful Muse. . . .”

parallels     Another military term: trenches parallel to the front of the fortifications being attacked, serving as a path of communication between the different parts of the siege works.


Trojans     The inhabitants of Troy, the siege of which by the ancient Greeks forms the subject or Homer’s Iliad.


It was at the time of Julius Caesar (c. 102-44 B.C.) that ancient Rome abandoned the Republican ideal and moved by way of military despotism towards Imperialism. Among the infamous later emperors who traced their origins to Julius Caesar were Caligula and Nero. Cf. Thomson, “Summer”, 952-953: “. . . from stooping Rome, / And guilty Caesar, LIBERTY return’d . . .” and Pope, An Essay on Man, I, 159:”. . . fierce Ambition in a Caesar’s mind. . . .”


bastions     Projecting parts of a fortification. Six bastions — Cape Diamond Bastion, La Glacière Bastion, St. Louis Bastion, Ste. Ursule Bastion, St. John’s Bastion and Potasse Bastion — were part of the original fortifications defending the western wall of Quebec. Most of these were either destroyed, modified or replaced by new fortifications after the conquest.

464 batt’ries     Batteries: groups of cannon.

spread curtain     The part of a fortification wall or rampart that is between two bastions.

468 works     Fortifications.

See where     As noted in the Introduction (p. xxxvii), a Thomsonian locution: see, for example, “Spring”, 494: “SEE, where the. . . .”


The sleepy pool, with a green mantle spread     Cf. Thomson, “Spring”, 655 (“The slimy pool . . .”) and “Summer”, 303-304 (“Where the Pool/Stands mantled o’er with Green . . .”).

472 croaking race     A Thomsonian periphrasis for frogs.
474 spumy     Frothy.

Sirius’ scorching ray     for the ancient Greeks, the setting of Sirius (the Dog-Star) with the sun in August marked the period of greatest heat.

479 husbandmen     Farmers.

Di’mond     Cape Diamond.      On the north shore of the St. Lawrence, Cape Diamond overlooks the old city of Quebec to the north and the Plains of Abraham to the south-west. Taking its name from the mica, quartz and feispar which Cartier mistook for diamonds and gold, it was the site of the first and highest of the bastions defending the walled city. The site is now occupied by the Citadel.


sanguine     Red; a reference to the red-tinged slate cliffs from which Cape Rouge takes its name. Situated a few miles upriver from Quebec City, Cape Rouge also has associations with the Battle of the Plains of Abraham: on board the Sutherland, which was anchored with the British fleet just below Cape Rouge, Wolfe planned his decisive assault against Quebec.


Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 235f. and 375f. and Thomson, “Winter”, 666f. for parallel paeans to home, hearth and hero.      As intimated above (note to ll. 332-339) and discussed in the Introduction (p. xxx), the Dorchester here is Lord Dorchester (1724-1808), earlier Sir Guy Carleton, who participated in thie capture of Quebec in 1759, repelled the American invasion of Canada in 1775-1776 and assisted in the evacuation of the Loyalists from New York in 1782-1783. Dorchester became governor of Quebec in 1786, a position that he held until his resignation in 1794. He was married to Lady Maria Howard, and they had eleven children. The governor’s official residence — “The villa of fair Dorchester” — was the Chateau St. Louis, which was destroyed by fire in 1834. Its site is now occupied by the Chateau Frontenac hotel.


equipage     The trappings of rank, office or social position.    Cf. Pope, An Essay on Man, II, 44: “. . . strip off all her equipage of Pride. . . .”


Torment Rising about two-thousand feet above sea level, Cap-Tourmente is on the north shore of the St. Lawrence near the lower end of Ile d’Orleans, about twenty miles downriver from Quebec City.

497 pendent     Hanging or floating.
497 sportive      Playful.
500 compress     Embrace sexually.

Delightful change!     Cf. Thomson, “Summer”, 784: “how chang’d the scene!”


endless snows     Cf. Thomson, “Winter, 802: “. . . Desarts lost in snow. . . .”


Eurus     In Greek mythology, the god of the east or south-east wind.

505 Fleak     Flake.

nitre     Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 694-695: “. . . th’ ethereal Nitre flies; / Killing infections Damps, and the spent Air / Storing afresh with elemental Life.” The production of Nitre, a nitrous element that was believed to be in the air, was supposed to be assisted by wind and cold.


Boreas     In Greek mythology, the god of the north wind.

508 Zephyrus     See note to l. 9.

Apalachian hills     The Appalachian mountain system extends south from Quebec to Alabama.


Chaudiere     The Chaudière Falls on the Ottawa River.


Midway arrested     Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 723-725: “An icy gale . . . in its mid Career / Arrests the bickering Stream.”

518 wight     Person; creature.

Arnold     With Richard Montgomery (see note to ll. 332-339), the American General Bemiedict Arnold attacked Quebec in the Winter of 1775-1776. Arnold was wounded, but continued the siege of Quebec until the Spring of 1776, when he withdrew to the south with Carleton in unenthusiastic pursuit. Arnold went on to defeat the British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777. 

525 goal     Gaol: jail.
528 plumb     Plum.

But to a whereas lo!     Whereas is a conjunction used frequently to introduce a preamble or a recital in a legal document such as a statement of bankruptcy.

531 vicissitudes     Alterations, changes.

Cf. Goldsnnlth, The Deserted Village, 265: “Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen. . . .”


Blind fortune     Fortune is often depicted as a blind and fickle goddess holding a wheel emblematic of vicissitude.


No source has yet been discovered for Cary’s description of Iceland.


Hyde Park     In the centre of London, England, Hyde Park still furnishes the inhabitants of the city with opportunities to enjoy the pleasures of the out-doors.


Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 760f. for a parallel description of the “. . . various Sport / And Revelry . . .” of winter.

545 cariole     Horse-drawn sledge.

Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 725f. for a similar description of the “crystal Pavement” and “loosen’d ice” of a frozen river.


meads     Meadows; grass-lands. 558f. Cary’s account of the “skilful peasant” and “trav’ller dauntless”, seems to deride one particular tale of a European “Lost in Snow” — that is in Thomson’s “Winter”, 276-321.

564 fops     See note to l. 180. Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 645.

As discussed in the Introduction (pp. xvii-xviii), this passage is very much of the eighteenth century in its praise of moderation, of what Thomson near the end of “Spring”, 1161-1165 describes as

An elegant Sufficiency, Content
Retirement, rural Quiet, Friendship, Books,
Ease and alternate Labour, useful Life,
Progressive Virtue, and approving HEAVEN.

See also Thomson, “Summer”, 465-468 and “Autumn”, 1235-1278, and Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, 97-112.

574 mad ambition     Pope, Windsor-Forest, 416: “mad Ambition”.
577 spleen     Ill-nature or ill-humour.

Cf. Thomson, “Winter”, 1032-1033: “. . . Winter comes at last, / And shuts the Scene.”


shining fireflies lucid lightnings     Cf. Thomson, “Summer” 827-828 (“. . . Menam’s orient Stream, that nightly shines / With Insect- Lamps . . .”), 1682-1684 (“. . . on every Hedge, / The Glow-Worm lights his Gem; and thro’ the Dark, / A moving Radiance twinkles”) and 1700 (“. . . the lambent Lightnings shoot / Across the sky . . .”).

586 mimic     Imitation of a playful or artistic sort.

and n.     In his portrait of Gaius Caesar Caligula (A.D. 37-41), 20 in his History of Twelve Caesars (translated in 1606 by Philemon Holland), Suetonius records that Caligula built a bridge over three miles long and rode across it on a chariot drawn by two horses. A possible purpose for this activity, according to Suetonius, was that the noise caused would frighten Germany and Britain, two countries upon which Caligula planned to make war. Two paragraphs later (22) Suetonius records that Caligula’s attempts to usurp the attributes of Jupiter (Jove), the chief divinity of the Romans, who is associated with thunder and lightning.