The primary purpose of these Explanatory Notes is threefold: to explain and identify words and phrases that might be obscure to modem readers of Acadia; to call attention to words, phrases, and passages in Howe’s poem that allude to, or, as the case may be, derive from, the works of other writers; and to elucidate, where possible, the historical and biographical background of the work.  In these last two categories, the notes are intended to complement the Introduction, where emphasis is placed less on local verbal and phrasal echoes and historical and biographical background than on the large patterns and assumptions that link Acadia with other works in the British literary tradition and Canadian continuity.  Quotations form Shakespeare, Pope, Thomson, and Goldsmith — the English writers most frequently echoed in the diction and texture of Acadia — are taken from the Riverside Shakespeare edited by G. Blackmore Evans (Boston: Houghton Muffin, 1974); 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); James Sambrook’s edition of James Thomson, The Seasons (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981); and Arthur Friedman’s edition of The Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, IV (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966).  Quotations from Thomas Chandler Haliburton, the native prose-writer of whom Howe makes the greatest use, are from the first edition of that writer’s An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Joseph Howe, 1929), 2 vols. Quotations from Howe’s other writings are primarily from Western and Eastern Rambles: Travel Sketches of Nova Scotia, ed. M.G. Parks (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973) and My Dear Susan Ann: Letters of Joseph Howe to His Wife, 18291836, ed. M.G. Parks (St. John’s: Jesperson Press, 1985).  Frequent references are also made to the following modem studies, which have been especially useful for the historical background of Acadia: Robert M. Leavitt, The Micmacs (Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1974), L.F.S. Upton, Micmacs and Colonists: Indian-White Relations in the Maritimes, 17131867 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1979), Wilson D. Wallis and Ruth Sawtell Wallis, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1955), and Naomi Griffiths, The Acadians: Creation of a People (Totonto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1973).  Other quotations in the notes are from standard or definitive editions of their author’s works.  When a critic is cited, a full reference is given in the first instance and an abbreviated form (name, shortened title, and page number) is used in subsequent citations.

     In compiling these notes, extensive use has been made of the Oxford English Dictionary and of numerous reference books, most notably Sir Paul Harvey’s Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (1937), Donald Creighton’s Dominion of the North (1944), the Dictionary of National Biography, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Several specialized works on eighteenth-century British literature have also been useful, especially the following: John Arthos, The Language of Natural Description in Eighteenth-Century Poetry (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1949), R.A. Aubin, Topographical Poetry in XVIII-Century England (New York: The Modem Language Association of America, 1936), and Benjamin Bissell, The American Indian in English Literature of the Eighteenth Century (Ithaca: Yale University Press, 1925).

The Title

Acadia     The term Acadia was originally applied by the French to all of what is now Nova Scotia and to parts of present-day New Brunswick and Maine.  Howe uses the name, however, as a synonym for Nova Scotia only.

The Poem

1–42   Where does the Sun . . . twine for thee    Howe’s long introductory passage on home and country was probably suggested to him by an even longer passage in James Montgomery’s topographical poem The West Indies (1809). Montgomery’s “Argument” to Part III of his poem begins with “The Love of Country, and of Home, the same in all Ages and among all Nations.”  The whole passage is appended below as a useful illustration of Howe’s indebtedness to earlier poets and the manner of his imitation.  Occasionally Howe echoes Montgomery’s actual words: “a spot of earth supremely blest” (Montgomery), “on what blest spot” (Howe); “o’er rude Kamschatka’s plains” (Montgomery), “ev’n Lapland’s rude, untutored child” (Howe); “on Euphrates’ brink” (Montgomery), “by Euphrates’ side” (Howe); “Canaan’s glories” (Montgomery), “Canaan’s verdant groves” (Howe).  Even more striking, however, is Howe’s borrowing of ideas and subject-matter from Montgomery’s poem.  Elsewhere Howe reveals his acquaintance with Montgomery’s poetry when he quotes from the poem “Night” in his “Western Rambles” (Western and Eastern Rambles, p. 79).  It is likely that Howe had been introduced to Montgomery’s poetry by his father, John Howe, who would have been very much in sympathy with Montgomery’s Christian piety and social conscience.



ARGUMENT — The Love of Country, and of Home, the same in all Ages among all Nations — The Negro’s Home and Country — Mungo Park — Progress of the Slave Trade — The Middle Passage — The Negro in the West Indies — The Guinea Captain — The Creole Planter — The Moors of Barbary — Buccaneers — Maroons — St. Domingo — Hurricanes — The Yellow Fever.


THERE is a land, of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o’er all the world beside;
Where brighter suns dispense serener light,
And milder moons emparadise the night;
A land of beauty, virtue, valour, truth,
Time-tutor’d age, and love-exalted youth;
The wandering mariner, whose eye explores
The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores,
Views not a realm so bountiful and fair,
Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air;
In every clime the magnet of his soul,
Touch’d by remembrance, trembles to that pole;
For in this land of Heaven’s peculiar grace,
The heritage of nature’s noblest race,
There is a spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest,
Where man, creation’s tyrant, casts aside
His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride,
While in his soften’d looks benignly blend
The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend:
Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,
Strews with fresh flowers the narrow way of life;
In the clear heaven of her delightful eye,
An angel-guard of loves and graces lie;
Around her knees domestic duties meet,
And fire-side pleasures gambol at her feet.
“Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?”

Art thou a man? — a patriot? — look around;
Oh, thou shalt find, howe’er thy footsteps roam,
That land thy country, and that spot thy home!
On Greenland’s rocks, o’er rude Kamschatka’s plains,
In pale Siberia’s desolate domains;
When the wild hunter takes his lonely way,
Tracks through tempestuous snows his savage prey,
The reindeer’s spoil, the ermine’s treasure shares,
And feasts his famine on the fat of bears;
Or, wrestling with the might of raging seas,
Where round the pole the eternal billows freeze,
Plucks from their jaws the stricken whale, in vain
Plunging down headlong through the whirling main;
— His wastes of ice are lovelier in his eye
Than all the flowery vales beneath the sky;
And dearer far than Cćsar’ s palace-dome,
His cavern-shelter, and his cottage-home.
O’er China’s garden-fields and peopled floods;
In California’s pathless world of woods;
Round Andes’ heights, where Winter, from his throne,
Looks down in scorn upon the summer zone;
By the gay borders of Bermuda’s isles,
Where spring with everlasting verdue smiles;
On pure Maderia’ s vine-robed hills of health;
In Java’s swamps of pestilence and wealth;
Where Babel stood, where wolves and jackals drink,
Midst weeping willows, on Euphrates’ brink
On Carmel’s crest; by Jordan’s reverend stream,
Where Canaan’s glories vanish’d like a dream;
Where Greece, a spectre, haunts her heroes’ graves,
And Rome’s vast ruins darken Tiber’s waves;
Where broken-hearted Switzerland bewails
Her subject mountains and dishonour’d vales;
There Albion’s rocks exult amidst the sea,
Around the beauteous isle of liberty;
— Man, through all ages of revolving time,
Unchanging man, in every varying clime,
Deems his own land of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o’er all the world beside;
His home the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.


6 rill    A small stream or brook.

our household Gods    The Lares and Penates, household deities or spirits of Roman mythology.


ashes of our Sires    Howe use “ashes” figuratively to mean the residue of the fires of life, echoing earlier poets.  See, for example, “E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires” (Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” 92).


Foscari     The reference is to Jacopo Foscari (1373–1457), the son of Francisco Foscari, doge of Venice. Jacopo Foscari was accused in 1444 of accepting presents from citizens and foreign princes in return for favours from the Venetian republic and was sentenced to exile to Nauplia by the Council of Ten. In 1446 his sentence was commuted to banishment at Treviso.  Six years later he was accused of complicity in the assassination of a Venetian councillor and was banished to Candia for the rest of his life.  Finally, he was accused of treason in 1456, imprisoned for a year, and sent back to his place of exile, where he died in 1457.  It is uncertain whether Jacopo was actually guilty of these charges, and therefore whether he was treated leniently by his judges or was the innocent victim of political machination.  Whatever the truth may have been, his pathetic life was later romanticized, and he was commonly regarded in Howe’s time as a victim of gross injustice.  Lord Byron’s tragedy, The Two Foscari (1821), is built upon this interpretation of the younger Foscari’s life and presents Jacopo as a man with an undying love of his own country, one who would rather be a prisoner at home than a free man in exile.  Samuel Rogers’ poem Italy (1822) also follows the same line, as does Howe in ascribing Jacopo’s death to the heartbreak of banishment from home.


the Hebrew, by Euphrates’ side    The Babylonian Captivity of the Israelites is here used as an example of exile from a beloved homeland, the Euphrates being the great river flowing through Babylonia.  Howe is probably thinking of Psalm 137, which begins “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”


Canaan’s verdant groves    The name “Canaan” was originally applied to the whole area from the Tauras Mountains in the north to the region south of Gaza, and from the Mediterranean to the valleys of the Jordan and Orontes rivers.  By 1200 B.C. the Israelites were settled in the central highlands of Canaan, and southern Canaan came under their rule after David’s victory over the Philistines (see II Samuel 5. 17–25).  To the Israelites who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, Canaan was the land promised them by God and the goal of their wanderings, “a land flowing with milk and honey“ (Exodus 3.8).


The wand’ring Swiss    This is a reference to the many Swiss who were forced to leave Switzerland after the French subjugation of their country in 1798; their plight was often cited as typical of patriots exiled from their homeland.  A poem on the subject that Howe would have known is James Montgomery’s “The Wanderer of Switzerland,” in which the wanderer “relates the sorrows and sufferings of his Country, during the Invasion and Conquest of it by the French” (Part II, headnote).


Lapland’s rude, untutored child    The Laplanders, living in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, were commonly regarded as typical of home-lovers whose homes are seemingly most inhospitable.  Thus James Thomson writes that “the sons of Lapland . . . love their mountains and enjoy their storms” and extols their natural way of life in a long passage of The Seasons (“Winter,” 843–886).  Oliver Goldsmith expresses the same general idea in The Traveller,” 65–66:  “The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone / Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own. . . .”


when Nelson fell    Horatio Nelson (1758–1805), the English admiral and naval hero, was killed in action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 when his fleet defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets. He was fatally wounded by a musket-shot fired from the mizzen-top of the French ship Redoubtable and died three hours later. Nelson had lost the sight of his right eye in 1794 when struck by sand and gravel thrown up by the impact of a shot fired from the besieged town of Calvi in Corsica. The unwary reader might therefore conclude that, in writing “illumed his eye,” Howe is being painfully literal. “Eye” should be read, however, as the usual eighteenth-century poeticism for the plural “eyes,” the part standing for the whole.


The unerring shaft of Tell    The legendary Swiss hero William Tell was said to have been forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head in punishment for refusing homage to Gessler, the Austrian bailiff ruling Tell’s canton of Switzerland; later, as the story goes, he shot Gessler in revenge and set off a revolt that ousted the Austrian bailiffs in 1308.  Tell probably never existed, and the stories about him are probably distortions of the actual events of 1291, when three Swiss cantons joined in a defensive alliance against their Hapsburg overlords and began the process of confederation.  It was not, however, until well into the nineteenth century that Swiss historians established that Tell and his feats were legendary rather than historically true. Howe, writing in the 1830s, would naturally have thought of Tell as an historical figure.


Burns    Howe is thinking of the poetry of Robert Burns that gave the dignity of literature to Scottish folk-songs and celebrated Scottish common life in a language close to Bums’ native Scots.  Burns was an excellent example of the poet who “fondly tries / To mix the patriot’s with the poet’s flame” (Thomson, “Autumn,” 22).


Moore’s seraphic lyre    Thomas Moore (1779–1852) was one of Howe’s favourite poets.  Here Howe is thinking in particular of the songs and lyrical poems of Moore’s Irish Melodies as celebrating the poet’s native land.


Pearl of the West    An application of the biblical “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13.46) to suggest the quality of Howe’s “most dear” province.


mead     A poetic shortening of “meadow.” Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 136: “Where cooling vapours breathe along the mead.”


trace     To tread or traverse. Cf. Pope, Windsor-Forest, 170: “Virgins trac’d the Dewy Lawn.”


varied scene    See Thomson, “The varied scene of quick-compounded thought” (“Autumn,” 1363) and “. . . o’er the varied landscape restless rove” (“Summer,” 779).


in riper years    Howe was twenty-eight years of age in 1832, when this part of his poem was written.


meed     In early use, something given in return for labour or service, or in consideration of good or bad deserts.


no fell disease    Here “fell” means “deadly.”


No with’ring plague    Howe is thinking especially of the prevalence of epidemic diseases in hot climates. Cf. T.C. Haliburton, An Historical and Statistical Account, II, 352–353: “To say that the climate of Nova-Scotia is not unfriendly to the human constitution, would be conveying but an inadequate idea of it.  It is remarkably salubrious, and conduces to health and longevity. . . .  The air of the forest, notwithstanding the density of the wood, is far from being noxious.  The infinite number of streams, the aromatic effluvia of balsamic trees, the invigorating north west wind, and the varied surface of the country, all conspire to render it pure and wholesome.” Howe may have actually had this passage in mind, for Haliburton goes on to observe that “The absence of intermittent fevers, the bilious remittent, and yellow fevers, gives this country a decided superiority over most others” (335).


thy smiling plains    The same epithet is found in Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village, 40.  When applied to the physical features of landscape, “smiling” means appearing bright and cheerful, agreeable to the sight.


No parching Simoom’s . . . breath    The simoom is the suffocating sand-laden wind of the deserts of Arabia and North Africa.  See Byron, Manfred, II, i, 128: “like the wind, the red hot breath of the lone Simoom that dwells but in the desert.”


Mayflower     The Trailing Arbutus, a low and trailing plant with fragrant flowers varying from white to deep rose in colour; it is common in Nova Scotia, where it is found in pastures, barrens, and open woodlands. It is now the floral emblem of the province.


the wanton air     Howe means “sportive,” “frolicsome,” and perhaps also “having free play.”


The Maple’s purple blossoms    “Purple”    here arouses the suspicion that Howe may have suffered from a touch of colour-blindness, for the common red maple (Acer rubrum) bears red flowers and other provincial varieties yellowish flowers.

116 verdant   Of a green hue or green with vegetation.

spreading Beech    Cf. Thomson, “Summer,” 1363: “And on the spreading beech, that o’er the stream / Incumbent hung.”


The bending Sumach    Howe probably means the staghorn sumach (Rhus typhina), a native tree or shrub with a distinctive shape.  The extreme length of the large compound leaves creates the drooping effect.


the downy Palm    True palms do not grow in Nova Scotia; even the most hardy species do not appear north of North Carolina.  Howe may be using a local term no longer current for some other plant that has a palm-like habit of growth.  Otherwise, he must be accused of inventing a plant merely to rhyme with “charm.”


The Laurel . . . flowers of death    The reference is to the sheep laurel or lambkill (Kalmia augustifolia), a common shrub in Nova Scotia.  The flowers are showy, but it is the leaves that are poisonous to grazing animals.  Howe appears to mean that the flowers attract animals to graze on the foliage.


the leafy Withe    The common osier (Salix viminalis) or white willow (Salix alba); the pliant twigs of both were used for basket-making.


the sweet Fern    Possibly Howe attributes sweetness to the plant because some ferns are edible.  The Indians considered the fern a source of food and medicine.


The milk-white Stars    These are star-flowers (Trientalis borealis), a common woodland plant in Nova Scotia.


cerulean dye    The adjective occurs several times in Thomson’s Seasons, and “dye” is a favourite eighteenth-century poeticism for “colour.”


beetling rock    “Projecting” or “overhanging,” as in Thomson’s “beetling cliff” (“Spring,” 454). See also Hamlet, I, iv, 70–71.


buoyant flowers    The water-lily (Nymphaea odorata), common in ponds and lake margins in Nova Scotia.  The large white flowers float on the surface of the water.


sleeping Beauty’s lip    This conventional personification. has been given a curious reading in an article on the poem. S.G. Zenchuk (“A Reading of Joseph Howe’s Acadia”, Canadian Poetry, 9 [Fall/Winter, 1981], p. 64 and n. 19) interprets it as “an allusion to the tale of Rosebud” or Sleeping Beauty and develops this identification into an interpretation of Rosebud as Acadia being awakened from sleep by her prince, the “science,” “art,” and “culture” of Howe’s next verse-paragraph.  Such an interpretation seems unwarranted for two reasons: (1) Howe capitalizes nouns so liberally in his two manuscript versions of Acadia that the omission here, and in the manuscripts, of the crucial capital “5” for “sleeping,” when it would be essential if he were in fact alluding to the fairy tale, makes such an intention highly unlikely; (2) the personification “Beauty” is conventional to the point of triteness in eighteenth-century verse and is often preceded by an appropriate adjective, as in Thomas Campbell’s line “Like pensive Beauty smiling in her tears . . . ” (The Pleasures of Hope, II, 96).  In Howe’s lines, the image is that of wildflower buds floating on the surface of a rill, dipping in the “waves” of the slow current as “gently” as “kisses fall on sleeping Beauty’s lip” — a nicely decorative simile and use of personification, Howe would have thought.


Soft impress . . . had adorned the land    It should be noted that Howe praises both the untouched natural beauty of the province and the adornment bestowed upon it by “Improvement,” which is said to leave a “soft impress” and to grace the “wild beauties” of the land.  Thus to suggest that “Howe’s discomfort with ‘science’ and ‘culture’ ” is “most clearly shown in the uneasy passages of the twelfth verse-paragraph” (155–162) and to aver that these lines “have a wistful and elegiac tone” (Zenchuk, “A Reading,” p. 58) seems to be a serious distortion of both the denotation and connotation of Howe’s diction.  In Acadia, as in his prose, Howe was a staunch supporter of progress and “Improvement’s hand.”  A subsequent declaration in the same article (p. 58) that another passage in the poem (827–838) “describes the advance of civilization into the wilderness in terms of the defilement of a woman” also strains Howe’s meaning; the beauty of Lake Lochaber is untouched by the settler’s axe, which in this context of unspoiled beauty would seem “profane,” a tool of irreverence.  Howe makes no other connection between his image of Lochaber as a “bashful Beauty” and the settlers’ felling of trees.  A passage from T.C. Haliburton’s description of the effects of settlement upon natural beauty helps to dissipate any notion that Howe’s use of “profane axe” contradicts his approval of nature’s “wild beauties . . . by culture graced”: “The process by which the wilderness is converted into a fruitful country, although necessarily slow is uniform. . . .  Far from embellishing, their [the settlers’] first operations deform the beauty of the landscape.  The graceful forest is prostrated, and the blackened remains of the half burned wood and the unsightly stumps still remain.  In process of time the appearance of the country is again changed.  Every year pours forth, in an increased ratio, new laborers, until their scattered clearings approximate on every side, and the rudely constructed log huts are succeeded by well built houses.  Time, that crumbles into dust the exquisite monuments of art, cherishes and fosters their improvements, until at length hills, vales, groves, streams and rivers, previously concealed by the interminable forest, delight the eye of the beholder in their diversified succession” (An Historical and Statistical Account, II, 126).  This is much like Howe’s attitude: the beauty of untouched nature is violated and demolished by the processes of settlement, but a new and picturesque beauty eventually emerges from the ruins “to delight the eye of the beholder.”


No treacherous steel . . . stems of pride    This image has been read as evidence for believing that “Howe views civilization as a potential encroachment on ideal freedom” (Zenchuck, “A Reading,” p. 58).  Without doubting for a moment that Howe shared the common realization that civilization brings with it order, and that order may threaten individual liberty, one may reasonably conclude that the word “threatening” has no such particular weight in this line.  To the trees of the virgin forest, the settler’s axe naturally poses a threat.  Howe’s muse was nodding here anyway, for “treacherous” implies the betrayal of trust, a condition that would not have existed between tree and axe, nature and settler.


The Cariboo    The caribou was common in Nova Scotia before the coming of the white man and even at the time Howe was writing this poem.  By the latter part of the nineteenth century it was near extinction.


the gay Moose . . . springs    This unfortunate line, with its ludicrous depiction of the solemn-visaged and ungainly moose as cavorting “in jocund gambol,” was a little less inane in Howe’s first manuscript version of Acadia, where we find “the grey moose Nevertheless, Howe was sufficiently taken by his notion of a frolicking moose to intensify the picture by substituting “gay” for “grey,” for the change appears in his second manuscript version and is therefore not a compositor’s error.  Haliburton mention that the moose’s “colour is a light grey, mixed with a dark red” (An Historical and Statistical Account, 11, 392).


Nature round him flings    Cf. Thomson, “Spring,” 230–231: “With such a liberal hand has Nature flung / Their seeds abroad . . . .”


The Micmac    “The Micmacs occupied a territory of over fifty thousand square miles covering, in present-day terms, the whole of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, most of New Brunswick outside the St. John River Valley, and the southern Gaspé Peninsula of the province of Quebec” (Upton, Micmacs and Colonists, p. 1).


With slender spear . . . provides    The reference is to spearing fish or eels from a canoe in shallow water.


the am’rous Moor . . . Venetia’s maid    Howe refers to Othello and Desdemona of Shakespeare’s Othello, which is set in Venice and Cyprus.  The reference is probably decorative and will not bear the symbolic meaning applied to it by S.G. Zenchuk, “A Reading,” p. 65.  Howe simply means that the Micmac’s love of his homeland and his pride of possession (“’tis all his own”) are like Othello’s passionate and possessive regard for Desdemona — a comparison that is not particularly apt when subjected to critical analysis.


his devious way   “Devious” is here used in its original sense of “circuitous” or “roundabout” without any suggestion of deceit or guile. See Susan Gingell-Beckmann, “Joseph Howe’s Acadia: Document of a Divided Sensibility,” Canadian Poetry, 10 (Spring/Summer, 1982), p. 30, n. 6. A comparable usage is found in Thomson’s “Summer,” 78–80: “. . . when every muse / And every blooming pleasure wait without / To bless the wildly devious morning-walk?”


negligently dressed    “Negligently” is not used pejoratively here; it simply signifies the casualness of Nature as opposed to the order and pattern of art, a common eighteenth-century idea associated with the cult of primitivism.  In line 246 (“negligently tied”) the same contrast between the natural and the artificial is suggested and is one of the many contrasts Howe makes between the stately homes formed by art and the “simple homes” of the Indians.


Patriarch hands    A reference to the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob as representative of early mankind after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden and the loss of the state of innocence.

237 sedulously     Diligently or attentively.

some slender poles . . . rude frames    The Micmac wigwam was a conical structure built of four inwardly slanting poles about fourteen feet long and with several smaller poles between them, over which birch bark was placed in overlapping layers after the poles had been interlaced with spruce root or other fibers.  The strips of birch bark were sewn together with spruce root.  More temporary shelters were covered with evergreen boughs. See Leavitt, The Micmacs, pp. 20–21, and Wallis and Wallis, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada, p. 57.


so proud a dome    Although Latin domus does mean “house,” Howe’s use of the word here can hardly be defended on that account, for “so proud” denies any intention to adhere to the original meaning.  Howe is using “dome” in the poetic sense of “a stately edifice.”  The clumsy irony was probably un intentional, the word being unwisely forced into service to rhyme with “home.”


the motley inmates scatter’d careless round    “Motley” need not be taken pejoratively here, as Howe is probably using it to mean simply “varied.”  Neither is “careless” used pejoratively but, rather, in the same manner as “negligently” (see note to 225 above), perhaps meaning “haphazardly” in contrast to a regimented order.


the box of bark    By the 1790s the Micmacs were relying on the sale of artifacts for much of their support.  “In summer, Micmac families would camp near a white village to sell the goods the women made, such as baskets, quill boxes, and brooms. . . .  The Micmacs were proud of their handiwork, particularly the quill boxes” (Upton, Micmacs and Colonists, p. 19). As seventeenth-century accounts of Indian crafts, however, do not mention these birch-bark boxes adorned with quills, Howe was probably mistaken in thinking that they were being made before the coming of Europeans.  See Wallis and Wallis, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada, p. 89.


the “fretful porcupine”    Shakespeare, Hamlet, I, v, 19–20: “And each particular hair to stand on end / Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.”  “Porpentine” was an Elizabethan form of the word “porcupine”.


The aged Chiefs    By no means all Micmac chiefs would have been “aged,” although experience and maturity would have been important qualifications in a system of authority in which decisions affecting a whole group “were made by persuasion, and the man with the most persuasive ways was the leader” (Upton, Micmacs and Colonists, p. 7).


to the green advance    This is one of Howe’s most careless transpositions from English poetry; the grassy expanse of the English village common naturally had no close counterpart in Micmac life.


on some dried bark    The Micmac drum was a birch-bark box struck with the knuckles. See Leavitt, The Micmacs, p. 191.


The dance begins    Howe’s depiction of Micmac dancing appears to be accurate.  See Wallis and Wallis, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada, pp. 191–192.


the adventurous Briton steer’d    Howe is referring generally to the first British settlers but probably is also thinking of the initial discovery of the mainland of North America by John Cabot in 1497 as giving the British a formal claim to the Maritime region. As T.C. Haliburton explains, “The claim of the English [to Nova Scotia] was founded on discovery” (An Historical and Statistical Account, I, 2), for “it appears that Cabot, in the name, and under the conunission of Henry the VII, actually discovered the continent of North America, before Columbus had visited any part of the main land . . .” (I, 4).  “The discovery of Cabot, the formal possession taken by Sir Humphrey [Gilbert], and the actual residence of Sir John Gilbert [in Maine], are considered, by the English, as the foundations of the right and title of the crown of England, not only to the territory of Newfoundland, and the Fishery on its banks, but to the whole of its possessions in North America” (I, 8).


the Micmac’s eye discerned the sail    No doubt Howe had read accounts of the first encounters of Europeans and North American Indians, for lines 317–340 have an authentic ring.  One account of such a meeting, recorded as “from the mouth of an intelligent Delaware Indian” describing the first arrival of the Dutch at New York island in the early seventeeth century, reveals similar attitudes: “A great many years ago, when men with a white skin had never yet been seen in the land, some Indians who were out-a-fishing at a place where the sea widens, espied at a great distance something remarkably large floating on the water, and such as they had never seen before.  These Indians immediately returning to the shore, apprized their countrymen of what they had observed, and pressed them to go out with them and discover what it might be.  They hurried out together, and saw with astonishment the phenomenon which now appeared to their sight, but could not agree upon what it was; some believed it to be an uncommonly large fish or animal, while others were of opinion it must be a very big house floating on the sea.  At length the spectators concluded that this wonderful object was moving towards the land . . . it would therefore be proper to inform all the Indians on the inhabited islands of what they had seen, and put them on their guard. . . .  These arriving in numbers, and having themselves viewed the strange appearance . . . concluded it to be a remarkably large house in which the Mannitto (the Great or Supreme Being) himself was present, and that he probably was coming to visit them” (James Buchanan, Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs of the North American Indians [1824], pp. 11–12).  The Europeans first encountered by the Micmacs were, of course, the fishermen from France, the Basque region, and Portugal who began their summer visits to the coasts of what are now the Atlantic Provinces as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century, after the voyages of the Cabots had become known in western Europe. See Upton, Micmacs and Colonists, pp. 17–18.


the red Hunter    Howe probably means the sun, which was associated with Micmac religious beliefs. In addition to human and animal spirits, “there were totally supernatural beings possessed of a mystical power of unspecified potential. Different spirits held this power in different quantities; the principal one was the Great Spirit, possibly identified with the sun.  A simple ceremony observed by missionaries was the greeting of the rising sun with a bow and a request that it guard the man’s family, vanquish his foes, and bring him a good hunt” (Upton, Micmacs and Colonists, p. 13).


the stones . . . his parents’ bones    “The Micmacs were accustomed to burying their dead in a common burial ground near to, but not part of, the summer camp site” (Upton, p. 14).


When o’er his feeble land . . . Barbarians roved    This refers to the early history of Britain, specifically to the successive invasions by Celts, Danes, Norwegians, Saxons, Angles, and Jutes.


Whose arch . . . from clime to clime    Although the British Empire was not at its height until the late nineteenth century, even by the 1830s numerous British colonies spanned the globe.


Whose pillars . . . on the land   Howe has in mind Revelation 10. 1–2: “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. . . .”  Howe’s image is that of the punitory and world-wide power of “the hope — the guide — the glory of a world”, British civilization.  It does not bear the meaning given to it by S.G. Zenchuk, “A Reading”, p. 66, where the reference to the “dreadful angel” is read as a warning to the European settlers of Nova Scotia, whose “failure to show empathy for their fellow inhabitants of Acadia will have dire consequences” for them.  It is rather the power of Britain that is “like the dreadful angel”.

361 fervid    Glowing; impassioned.

like the fire . . . led the way    Howe is alluding to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  See Exodus 13.21: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by night and day.”


pile    A lofty building such as a castle, tower, or stronghold.


Where “the forefathers of our Hamlets sleep”    The near-quotations is from Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” 15–16: “Each in his narrow cell forever laid, / The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.”


glad    To make glad; to cause to rejoice.


They felled . . . with sturdy stroke . . . culture broke    Cf. Gray, “Elegy,” 28: “How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke.” Contrary to the view of S.G. Zenchuk (“A Reading”, p. 60 and n. 15), Howe’s diction in line 386 (“The virgin soil, with gentle culture broke”) does not suggest a “deflowering” of nature; it is entirely positive and approving, as “gentle” suggests.  See the note to 157–158, above, for a similar use of diction.


Ceres lured . . . sylvan scene    Both “Ceres” (the Roman goddess of agriculture) and “sylvan” are terms that Howe borrows from English pastoral and topographical poetry without questioning their appropriateness for the early stages of farming in Nova Scotia.  See Susan Gingell-Beckmann’s valid observation on this line (“Joseph Howe’s Acadia,” p. 31, n. 13); also note Thomson’s “Autumn,” 1043–1044: “Not Persian Cyrus on Ionia’s shore / E’er saw such sylvan scenes.


the Log House    The first settlers in Nova Scotia naturally used for building materials what was readily at hand, so their first houses were made of logs and were constructed in the manner Howe describes in the succeeding lines. The “twisted withe” (392), willow or osier twigs twisted together to make door hinges, is another example of pioneering resourcefulness.


hissing green wood    The settler’s firewood was “green” (undried) because he would have no opportunity to store up a sufficient supply of dry wood in his first year of settlement; its high moisture content accounts for the “hissing.”


cleats    Pieces of wood driven into or between the logs of the cabin and projecting to serve as supports.


cleansed the balsam from his palm    The settler’s hands were coated with resin from the spruce and fir trees with which he was working.

408 floweret    A small flower.

a father’s transports    Cf. a similar passage in Thomson’s “Autumn,” 1339–1344:

The touch of kindred, too, and love he feels —
The modest eye whose beams on his alone
Ecstatic shine, the little strong embrace
Of prattling children, twined around his neck,
And emulous to please him, calling forth
The fond parental soul.


filial    Pertaining to a child’s regard for a parent.


“absent friends”    This is a phrase from Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, II, iii, 180–182: “The solemn feast / Shall more attend upon the coming space, / Expecting absent friends.”

453 Anon    Straightway, forthwith.

to strew its poppies there    An allusion to the narcotic effects of the poppy plant, a source of opium.

523 weary moil     Drudgery.

the hours beguiled    “Beguiled” here means “passed pleasantly,” not “deluded” or “deceived by guile.”


cottar    Howe is using the word loosely to mean “cottager,” not in its original sense of a peasant occupying a cottage belonging to a farm for which he has to perform labour when required.


cribs    Here possibly bins for storing food.


the howling crew     “Crew” is here the common poeticism for “company.” Cf. Milton’s “horrid crew” (Paradise Lost, I, 51).


welkin     The sky or firmament, conceived as an arch or vault overhead.


reeking     Here permeated with warm blood.


brand    Usually the blade of a sword and, by extension, the sword itself; here it is a household knife.


Like Montezuma . . . but a perfumed rose    Howe appears to be thinking of an episode of Indian heroism attributed not to Montezuma but to the emperor or king Guatamozin (Guatemoc): “When the Spaniards under Cortes were torturing him in order to extort more gold, [he] saw one of his companions about to succumb, [and] said to him, “Do you think I lie on a bed of roses?”  (Benjamin Bissell, The American Indian in English Literature of the Eighteenth Century, p. 16).  This episode of torture by thrusting the victim’s feet into fire is mentioned in several of the Spanish accounts of the conquest of Mexico, though the sufferer’s alleged comment may be more legend than fact (see Salvador de Madariaga, Herman Cortes, Conqueror of Mexico [Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1942], pp. 399–400).  John Dryden made use of the incident in his heroic play The Indian Emperor, V, ii, giving his character Montezuma these lines: “Think’st thou that I lie on beds of roses here, / Or in a wanton bath stretched at my ease?”  Howe may have derived his notion of the incident from Dryden.


around the cot    “Cot” is a poeticism for “cottage”; see Thomson, “Spring,” 683: “In some lone cot amid the distant woods . . .”


timid rabbits     Cf. Thomson, “Autumn,” 401: “Poor is the triumph o’er the timid hare!”


feat her’d tribe    A stock epithet for “birds” in eighteenth-century poetry.  The adjective varied, as in Thomson’s “aerial tribes” (“Summer,” 1121) and “weak tribes” (“Autumn,” 986).  Note also Howe’s “feather’d fav’rites” (613).


Oriflamme of France    The red banner of St. Denis was carried before the early kings of France as a military ensign.


Port Royal’s . . . wall    The original Port Royal Habitation, seven miles from the present town of Annapolis Royal, was the first permanent French settlement in Canada, established by De Monts, Champlain, and Pontgravé in 1605.  Howe is referring, however, to the second Port Royal on the other side of the Annapolis Basin, a fortified settlement that retained its French name until it was captured by the British in 1710 and renamed Annapolis Royal.  The first fort was built around 1635 by D’Aulnay de Charnisay.  For the next seventy-five years it changed hands several times, being captured and recaptured during the intermittent conflicts of the French and British for supremacy in the area.


the valiant Gaul . . . divided sway    The British government regarded Nova Scotia as a British possession, basing the claim on John Cabot’s discovery of 1497 (See the note to 313–314, above).  The claim was not recognized by France.


The alternate conquest    Sovereignty over Nova Scotia changed hands repeatedly throughout the seventeenth century, and even though the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 ceded the mainland to Britain, Cape Breton Island remained a French possession.  There the French built the fortress of Louisbourg, which was not finally captured by the British until 1758; it was not until 1763, by the Treaty of Paris, that France surrendered her possessions in what is now Canada.


fair La Tour . . . neck so fair    Charles de Menou, Sieur d’Aulnay Chamisay, the rival of Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour, in 1645 attacked La Tour’s fort at the mouth of the Saint John River when its commander was absent.  Madame La Tour, with only a handful of men, kept him at bay for three days.  On the fourth day Charnisay proposed a capitulation, which Madame La Tour accepted in order to save the lives of her men. Charnisay, however, once inside the fort and seeing that it was so poorly defended, changed his mind, pretending that he had been deceived when he proposed capitulation.  He hanged several of the survivors and forced Madame La Tour to witness the hangings with a rope around her own neck.  As Haliburton writes, “in order to degrade a spirit he could not subdue, and to give her the appearance of a reprieved criminal, he forced her to appear at the gallows with a halter round her neck” (An Historical and Statistical Account, I, 59).

655 ignominious     Shameful, disgraceful.

gallant d’Anville’s fate    In 1746 a large fleet sailed from France under the command of the Duc d’Anville with orders to retake and dismantle the fortress of Louisbourg, which was in the hands of the British, then to capture and garrison Annapolis Royal, and finally to take Boston. D’Anville finally reached Chebucto harbour (Halifax) with less than half his fleet, the remainder having been disabled, scattered, or lost in a storm off the Azores and further reduced by another storm off the Nova Scotian coast. According to Haliburton, “his health was so much affected that he died suddenly on the fourth day after his arrival; the French say of apoplexy, the English of poison” (Historical and Statistical Account, I, 127).  At Chebucto hundreds of the French soldiers and sailors died of the pestilence; Haliburton writes that the French buried 1130 of their comrades there.


their shatter’d ships . . . Bedford’s placid wave    Some of d’Anville’s ships were sunk in Bedford Basin, the inner harbour of Halifax. Before the remnants of the fleet left the harbour, according to Haliburton, “one of the ships of the line, which had been so much injured as to be unfit for service, together with several fishing vessels, a snow from Carolina, and a vessel from Antigua, were either scuttled or burned” (An Historical and Statistical Account, I, 129).


the Bard of Auburn’s . . . strain    Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village, which laments the sad fate of the village of Auburn.


that fatal day . . . torn away    Howe’s long passage on the expulsion of the French Acadians in 1755 describes one of the most tragic events in provincial history.  By “that fatal day” he probably means September 10, 1755, when one of the main deportations occurred in the Minas Basin region, although the expulsion took place over a period of several weeks.  On July 25 of that year the Governor and Council of Nova Scotia decided to expel the Acadians from the province and transport them to several of the other English colonies along the Atlantic seaboard.  The refusal of the Acadians to take an oath of allegiance to the British crown, and various other factors, led the government to view the Acadians as a threat to the safety and stability of the province, especially because they greatly outnumbered the small British population.  The expulsion and resettlement of the Acadians has naturally been the subject of much historical controversy.  As Naomi Griffiths observes, “Many of the works which have appeared about the Acadian deportation are informed with a driving demand to assign guilt and innocence in the matter. Yet the reality is much more complex and much more human than such explanations would suggest.  What happened in 1755 was the result as much of immediate individual choices and of personal action as it was of past traditions and of the concatenation of official government policies and international pressures” (The Acadians: Creation of a People, p. 50).


southern vales    The Acadians were despatched to Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Connecticut, but also to some southern states, primarily the Carolinas and Georgia (see Griffiths, The Acadians, p. 65, and Haliburton, An Historical and Statistical Account, I, 183).  The phrase “a southern clime” actually occurs in the Acadian petition quoted by Haliburton (I, 195).  Howe’s emotionally charged rendering of the expulsion is in agreement with the general tenor of Haliburton’s discussion: “Upon an impartial review of the transactions of this period, it must be admitted, that the transportation of the Acadians to distant colonies, with all the marks of ignominy and guilt peculiar to convicts, was cruel; and although such a conclusion could not then be drawn, yet subsequent events have disclosed that their expulsion was unnecessary.  It seems totally irreconcilable with the idea, as at this day entertained of justice, that those who are not involved in the guilt shall participate in the punishment; or that a whole community shall suffer for the misconduct of a part” (I, 196).


aged temples . . . are bow’d    This line might possibly be read as referring to churches being razed, but Howe is thinking of the foreheads of aged Acadians bowed to the ground in grief and perhaps in prayer.


waft    Express as though sending through the air.


While far and wide . . . loved to play    Many Acadian villages were burned by order of Governor Lawrence, in the belief that the Acadians must be deprived of anything that could afford them shelter; they would thus be forced to board the awaiting ships in order to survive.  According to Haliburton, “In the District of Minas alone, there were destroyed two hundred and fifty-five houses, two hundred and seventy-six barns, one hundred and fifty-five out-houses, eleven mills, and one church . . .” (An Historical and Statistical Account, I, 178).  Haliburton’s description of the scene after the fires had destroyed the houses, especially the detail of the abandoned dogs, was clearly in Howe’s mind: “The volumes of smoke which the half expiring embers emitted, while they marked the site of the peasant’s humble cottage, bore testimony to the extent of the work of destruction. For several successive evenings the cattle assembled round the smouldering ruins, as if in anxious expectation of the return of their masters; while all night long the faithful watch dogs of the Neutrals howled over the scene of desolation, and mourned alike the hand that had fed, and the house that had sheltered them” (I, 180–181).


essays    Attempts, with the idea of tentativeness.

748 verdure    Green vegetation.

mothers’ shriek . . . piercing cries    Cf. “The virgin’s shriek, and infant’s trembling cry” (Thomson, “Autumn,” 1283).


flag of Britain . . . waved    The capture of Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec in 1759, followed by the surrender of Montreal in 1760, brought the French regime to an end. By the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years’ War, the French ceded Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, and Canada to the British Crown.

783 Erin’s     Ireland’s.

He toils . . . seasons yield    These lines paint an idyllic picture of freedom for Irish immigrants in Howe’s Nova Scotia but nevertheless bear some relation to reality.  The province had no official Established Church, and Irish Catholics were free to worship without facing the imposition of tithes.  Unlike Haliburton, who lamented the fact that the Church of England was not the state church in Nova Scotia, Howe thoroughly approved on principle of the diversity of religious communions.  As Donald Creighton observes, “The retreat of the Church of England before these rival communions was symbolic of the decline of English class distinctions and cultural standards amid the incurable diversity of Nova Scotian life” (Dominion of the North, p. 208).


strand    Here used vaguely for “coast” or “shore.”


that devoted band    Howe refers to the Loyalists who left the American colonies at the conclusion of the American Revolution to settle in Nova Scotia.  About twenty thousand arrived, most of them in 1783 and 1784. In a single year the population of the province was doubled.  Howe’s own attitude to the American Revolution (“its impious hand”) and to the Loyalists (“that devoted band”) is natural; his own father, John Howe, was a Loyalist from Boston, and he himself was an ardent admirer of Britain and its institutions and culture.  Of course, by no means all of the Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia were as “devoted” as Howe suggests or had actually fought “’neath [the] folds” of the British flag.  For a modern historian’s conclusions about the varied motives and attitudes of the Loyalists, see Neil MacKinnon, This Unfriendly Soil: The Loyalist Experience in Nova Scotia, 17831791 (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1986), especially Chapter 6.


Lochaber, Sydney’s sylvan pride    Lochaber Lake is a long and narrow body of water in Antigonish County.  In the 1830s it was in the County of Sydney, which included the whole eastern part of the mainland of Nova Scotia, the area now comprising Antigonish County and the eastern two-thirds of Guysborough County.


as I stood . . . ancient wood    In June, 1830, Howe had seen Lochaber Lake for the first time when on a journey from Pictou to Guysborough.   He does not describe the lake in his letters of that year to his wife, but in a letter of 1833 mentions the earlier trip (See My Dear Susan Ann, pp. 131, 133).  In his “Eastern Rambles” he describes his impressions of the lake in 1830, calling it “one of the finest scenes that Nova Scotia can present to a Traveller’s eye.”  He adds that “The Loehaber Lake owes nothing to the labors of industry and art; its beauties are its own; the scene is essentially the same that it was a hundred, or perhaps a thousand years ago . . .” (Western and Eastern Rambles, p. 190).

823 tranced    Entranced.

chaste Diana might her beauties lave    Cf. “In her chaste current oft the Goddess laves (Pope, Windsor-Forest, 209); “lave” is a common poeticism for “wash” or “bathe.”


No axe profane . . . a single bough    “You may remember that I was in love with the sylvan appearance of the Lochaber or College Lake when in this country last.  Then the ancient woods were scarcely broken upon on either margin, and the whole scene was as beautifully wild as it had been a thousand years before” (My Dear Susan Ann, p. 133; letter of September 24, 1833).  Howe adds that “Now every lot has been taken up — clearings are making and log houses are building in every direction — and in a few years more there will scarcely be a tree to be seen.”


Far down the ancient trees . . . fairy tracery    Cf. this passage in the Rambles: “Both sides of the Lake are inclosed by long ranges of hills, running parallel with it; sometimes thrown back from its shores with a gentle slope, at others, jutting out into the waters, and casting the reflection of the stately and unbroken forest of hardwood trees far down into its bosom, on the glassy and unruffled surface of which the sunbeams of a summer noon are quietly reposing” (Western and Eastern Rambles, p. 191).


Such is the scene . . . his doings deem    Cf. “Let him [the reader] fancy such a scene as this spread out before him, with nothing above, below or around, to remind him of the bustling, busy world, save and except his own unworthy person . . .” (Western and Eastern Rambles, p. 191).  The reference to “Canaan’s height” in this passage of natural description might seem to suggest that Howe is using the actual name, either as recorded on maps or as in local use, of the range of hills along the lake, but no such name appears on maps of the area, old or new.  Therefore, he may simply be thinking of the lake region as, like the biblical Canaan, a land of promise, in this case for poor but industrious immigrants such as the settler he was to meet again on his later visit in 1833 (see My Dear Susan Ann, pp. 131–133).


rifled    Split, cleft, cloven.


For God . . . upon the waves    “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11.1).


In patient hope . . . bends&    Cf. “The patient Fisher takes his silent stand” (Pope, Windsor-Forest, 137).


But see . . . longed for goal    Thomson’s tale of a shepherd lost in a snowstorm and tortured by thoughts of his wife and children awaiting his return was almost certainly in Howe’s mind when he wrote this account of the fisherman’s nearly fatal experience.  See “Winter,” 276–321.


tis hard . . . in the eye    These lines are based upon a boyhood experience of Howe’s near his home on the Northwest Arm in Halifax: “On one occasion his new prowess [as a swimmer] almost cost the young Howe his life.  One evening, while swimming in the Arm, he got a cramp and felt he would never reach the shore. But in the words of his son Sydenham, ‘happening to glance upward his eye caught the gleam of the firelight through the window of the old cottage and the thought of the sorrow his death would cause . . . nerved him to greater effort and he struggled on till at last he regained the beach’ ” (J. Murray Beck, Joseph Howe, Vol. I: Conservative Reformer, 18041848 [Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982], 16).


Lull’d on the lap . . . never can return    Howe’s indebtedness to Thomson’s Seasons is further demonstrated by the resemblance between these lines and the passage in “Winter” (321–329) that immediately follows the death of Thomson’s shepherd:

Ah! little think the gay, licentious proud,
Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround—
They, who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth,
And wanton, often cruel, riot waste —
Ah! little think they, while they dance along,
How many feel, this very moment, death
And all the sad variety of pain;
How many sink in the devouring flood,
Or more devouring flame. . . .

Moreover, Howe picks up bits of Thomson’s phrasing from these lines (52–54) in “Spring”: “Nor, ye who live / In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride, / Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear . . .” Howe’s lines “How many weeping wives . . . never can return (931–932) also recall Thomson: “his pining wife / And plaintive children his return await, / In wild conjecture lost . . . (“Autumn,” 1157–1158).


waste    Literally a wild and desolate region; here applied rhetorically to the ocean. See Goldsmith, The Traveller, 6.

933 inured    Accustomed.
979 fraught    Furnished, filled.

Led by that ceaseless restlessness . . . all he loved    Cf. the following passage from Goldsmith’s The Traveller, 25–28:

Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view;
That, like the circle bounding earth and skies,
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies . . .

S.G. Zenchuk, in “A Reading,” pp. 68–69, associates Howe’s wandering son with the biblical prodigal son (Luke 15.11–24), “a man given to greed and waste [who] is forgiven his excesses and resolves to lead a better life,” and she therefore concludes that “The poem has now moved from an Old Testament view of bloodshed and vengeance to a New Testament one of love, tolerance and forgiveness.”  See also p. 52 of the same article.  Such a reading disregards the crucial point that the son in Acadia has not been “given to greed and waste” and has no need to be “forgiven his excesses” or to “resolve to lead a better life.”  This son deserves no moral censure; he has simply been “Led by that ceaseless restlessness of soul, / Which still points onwards to some brighter goal.”  He has been “wandering“ but has not been “prodigal.”