Explanatory Notes


The primary purpose of these Explanatory Notes is to identify and elucidate words and phrases which might be obscure to modern readers of Tecumthe, to put the poem in its literary context, and to provide biographical and historical background not found in the Introduction. Quotations from the poetry of Sir Walter Scott are taken from The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, with a Sketch of His Life, ed. J. W. Lake. (Philadelphia: J. Crissy, 1834) and are cited by canto and stanza number only. The references to George Heriot’s Travels Through the Canadas are to the original London edition (1807; rpt. Edmonton: M.G. Hurtig, 1971); references to Jonathan Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768 are to the second London edition (Printed for the author, 1779); and those to Isaac Weld’s Travels through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797 are to the second London edition (J. Stockdale, 1799). Various volumes of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (hereafter DCB) served as the basic reference tool for the biographies of Tecumseh, The Prophet, Brock, the Longmore family, and others. Other Tecumseh sources were Benjamin Drake’s Life of Tecumseh (1841; rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1969) and Carl F. Klinck’s Tecumseh: Fact and Fiction in Early Records (Ottawa: Tecumseh Press, 1978). Tecumseh, of course, also appears in the books consulted on the War of 1812. These latter were: J. M. Hitsman, The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965); Arthur Bowler, The War of 1812 (Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973); and Morris Zaslow (ed.) The Defended Border: Upper Canada and the War of 1812 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1964).

The Argument


The Argument. This word is used in the eighteenth century sense of a summary of the subject matter of a book. See Introduction, xx, and note to Argument, 221-25 below, for a discussion of the provenance of the Argument.


Shawanees  A tribe of the Algonquin family. The name means "southern." The Shawnees were present in the Cumberland River Valley in Tennessee in the seventeenth century, and gradually moved north and west under pressure of white settlements. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they were located in Ohio. Today the remaining Shawnees reside in Oklahoma. They were at the centre of the resistance to white settlers.


second-sight  The supposed ability to "see" a future event or to "see" a distant place as if it were present.


the Prophet  Tecumseh’s younger brother (1775?-1836), leader of the movement to reject all white contact. His Indian name was Tenskwatawa. The name "the Prophet" was given to him by the Americans he opposed. It signifies one who speaks for any deity, one who foresees, or an inspired interpreter of the will of a deity. The extent of his influence on the historical Tecumseh has not been established (see also, note 32, xxxvii).


chief  The word used by whites to designate the male head of an Indian tribe. The Scottish use of the word chief and chieftain to designate the head of a clan is echoed throughout Tecumthe by the use of these two words to describe Tecumseh, and thus to link him to the heroes of Scott’s romances.


hostilities  In this case, not a full-scale war, but something more like modern guerrilla warfare. Following the American Revolution, Americans were determined to push their boundaries westward into Indian territory, a movement which had been prohibited under British rule. Between 1790 and 1795 the Indians lost three battles against the American army and were forced to give up most of the Ohio Valley. About 1805 the Shawnees settled near what is now Greenville, Ohio, because the Prophet said that he had been ordered by the Great Spirit to do so. For the same reason, they moved to Tippecanoe in 1808. About 1807 Tecumseh began to rally all the Indians in the area against the Americans, who responded by trying to divide the tribes and conquer each separately. The Americans suspected the British of encouraging Indian resistance. While Tecumseh was absent, William Henry Harrison, governor of Ohio, attacked Tippecanoe, destroyed the village, and scattered the Shawnees. See also I, 221-55.


back settlers  People who settled new areas further from the Atlantic Coast, thus, in back of the settled states.


Indian mode of warfare  A method which was based on ambush and surprise. See Heriot’s description of Indian warfare when the natives succeed "by endeavouring through stratagem to take advantage of the enemy, by falling upon them suddenly, when divided into hunting parties, when occupied in cultivating the fields, or when wrapped in profound sleep. The success in these predatory excursions depends on the secrecy of their march, and on using every means without being themselves exposed to view, to discover the detached parties of the tribe which they propose to attack" (Travels, p. 448).


Wabash  A river which flows south through Indiana and Illinois into the Mississippi.


Hurons  A confederacy of four tribes that, in the seventeenth century, lived near Lake Simcoe in present-day Ontario. They were great traders and agriculturists. As a nation, they were effectively destroyed by the Iroquois. Some of those who survived settled at the village of Lorette, near Quebec City, where Longmore would have observed them. Heriot describes the village of Lorette and its inhabitants (see Travels, pp. 80f.).


war in Canada  The War of 1812. The Americans declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812. General William Hull, who was also governor of Michigan, invaded Canada on July 12.


clanship  The basic unit of tribal organization. The Shawnees, for example, were divided into five groups with up to twelve clans in each. The clans were named for various animals. Inheritance was through the father’s line. The four Huron tribes were divided into clans in which inheritance came through the mother’s family.


invasion . . . Erie  Hull attacked Sandwich, part of present-day Windsor, Ontario. The settlement was located on the Detroit River, which flows into Lake Erie.


surprise . . . corps  The American forces under Brig.-General James Winchester, attempting to retake Detroit with a force of nine hundred men, successfully attacked the garrison of a small outpost at Frenchtown on January 18, 1813. However, the British commander, Major-General Henry Procter counterattacked on January 22. Winchester’s troops were not quite surprised and had time to defend themselves, but suffered about four hundred deaths. The remainder of the force were taken prisoner.


Procter  Major-General Henry Procter (1763-1822), the British commander at the losing battles of Fort Meigs, Fort Stephenson, and Moraviantown. He was the object of John Richardson’s scorn both in the poem Tecumseh, or the Warrior of the West, and in his prose account of the war, War of 1812. First Series. Containing a Full and Detailed Narrative of the Operations of the Right Division of the Canadian Army. Procter was court-martialed at Montreal in December 1814. He was absolved of any reproach in his personal conduct, but found negligent and deficient in his handling of the retreat, reprimanded, and sentenced to a suspension from rank and pay for six months. In Zaslow, The Defended Border, an article by Katherine B. Coutts, "Thamesville and the Battle of the Thames," pp. 114-20, takes a position even stronger than Richardson’s. Victor Lauriston’s, "The Case for General Procter," pp. 121-29, presents arguments in Procter’s defense, blaming Procter’s superiors. In The Incredible War of 1812, p. 241, Hitsman, a military historian, sums up Procter as the only British officer who "managed to blunder consistently." See also, DCB VI, 616-18. The DCB gives Proctor as an alternative spelling of the family name, and it is spelled both ways in the Argument (50, 142).


Fort Meigs  An American fortification near present-day Perrysburg, Ohio.


investment  To invest, in a military sense, means to besiege.


relieve  To relieve, in a military sense, means to break a siege.


sortie  The term for a quick dash by a besieged garrison, trying to break out.


secure the lives of prisoners  To protect them, to prevent the Indians from killing them.


Sandusky  A town in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, opposite Pelee Island.


The quotation is from Tecumseh’s speech to Procter as recorded in Robert Breckinridge McAfee’s History of the Late War in the Western Country (Lexington, KY: Worsley and Smith, 1816), pp. 372-73. See also John Richardson, War of 1812, ed. Alexander Clark Casselman (Toronto: Historical Publishing Co., 1902), pp. 205-06 for a variant of McAfee’s version of the speech.


ground hogs  This animal, indigenous to southern Ontario, makes its home by burrowing into the ground.


bush fighting  Attacking an enemy in small groups from behind trees etc., rather than in the open.


flotilla A small fleet of boats.


Matthew Elliott (1739?-1814) had been influential in bringing Indian support to the British side in the war. There are many differing views of his activities throughout his long life in North America. See DCB V, 301-03 for a carefully balanced biography.


Indian superintendent  The government official designated to deal with all matters having to do with Indians.


spirituous liquor  Distilled alcohol—whiskey, rum, etc.


presentiment  Premonition.


author of all their woes  Cause of all their troubles.


dress . . . feet  The frock was a tunic, made of animal hides; the "leggins" which were leggings wrapped around the leg from ankle to knee, would also have been made of hides; the moccassins were footwear made of hides. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 291: "The habiliments of the Iroquois consist of several pieces, being a kind of tunic, an apron, a robe calculated to cover the whole, and shoes for the feet. The apron is made of skin well dressed, or of European cloth; it passes under the body and is fixed on either side by a girdle which surrounds the waist. It is usually of sufficient length to fold over at each end, and to hang downwards. The stockings, or leggings, are of skins sewed on the outside, having beyond the seam a double selvege of three inches in breadth, which guards the limbs from being injured by brushing against the underwood [sic] and boughs, in passing through the forests. . . . These leggings have no feet, but enter into the shoes made of soft leather, generally of deer-skin, and frequently neatly embroidered with the quills of porcupines, stained of different hues." Heriot, describing Indian dress for Europeans, uses English rather than native terminology.


cloathing  Clothing.


naval efforts of the Americans on Lake Erie  On September 10, 1813, the Americans, under Capt. Oliver H. Perry, defeated the British fleet, under Commander Robert Barclay, at the Battle of Lake Erie (sometimes referred to as the Battle of Put-in-Bay). As a result, the Americans controlled communications by water on the Western Great Lakes.


Proctor  Alternative spelling of Procter. See note 50, above.


obstinate engagement  A battle fought with great determination.


pathetic  Full of pathos: producing the emotion of pity, sympathy, or sadness.


His speech   See the note to 88-89, above.


wampum  A belt on which beads were strung in a pattern which recorded historical events. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 353: "They use on the most serious and important occasions, belts of wampum, or little sticks, to remind them of subjects which they are to discuss, and there by form a local memory so unerring, that they will speak for hours together. . . . "


The version of Tecumseh’s speech quoted in McAfee’s History of the Late War in the Western Country concludes: "Our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them" (373).


harrangue  Harangue, an impassioned formal speech. The Oxford English Dictionary shows the word spelled with two "r"s in the middle of the eighteenth century. The modern spelling, with one "r" appears at line 207 below. Cf. Heriot, Travels, pp. 352-53: "their harangues frequently abound with luminous points. Nor is the eloquence of some of their orators destitute of that force, that consciousness, that nature, and that pathos, which the Greeks formerly admired in the Barbarians; and although it appears not to be sustained by action, which is sometimes a violation of the propriety of language, although they use few gestures, and seldom raise or vary the modulation of their voice, they appear to be penetrated with the force of every thing they utter, and rarely fail to persuade."


Thames  A long shallow river, never very wide, that meanders through south-western Ontario, eventually emptying into Lake St. Clair. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 180: "The river la Tranche, or Thames, disembogues its waters on the south-east side; its banks are varied by natural meadows and tracts of woodlands."


spot  Moraviantown, near present-day Thamesville, Ontario. Named for a colony established by the Moravian missionary David Zeisberger in 1792.


open files  With space between each soldier, in contrast to close files, in which the men were positioned almost in a solid line. Open files allowed each man more maneuverability.


The version of Tecumseh’s speech given in McAfee’s History of the Late War in the Western Country ends with the words quoted at 172-74, above.


regulars  Soldiers of the British army, enlisted for extended periods, who might be sent to fight anywhere in the world; in contrast to the militia which was made up of citizens recruited locally for short terms of military training and defense.

Note to the Argument  This paragraph has been the cause of much confusion for literary historians. The material, with some excisions, was indeed printed on pp. 338-59 of the work cited, a book which was published anonymously in England in 1823. The Argument does not appear to have been published in any Canadian periodical, except the Canadian Review where it preceded the poem, as it does here. This final paragraph was, however, missing from the Review. Longmore’s comment could be interpreted to mean that he himself, behind a cloak of anonymity, was the author of the Lucubrations, or else that it was the work of a friend who had allowed him to reprint it. A ravelin is a military fortification . Use of the word as a pseudonym would suggest that either Longmore or a brother officer in the Royal Staff Corps was the author. Since Longmore never acknowledged the work in later years, as he did with The Charivari and Tales of Chivalry and Romance, it seems more likely that he was not the author, although "Humphrey Ravelin" was almost certainly someone he knew personally. For a more extended discussion of the pros and cons of authorship, see "George Longmore: A New Literary Ancestor," Dalhousie Review, 59.2 (1979), pp. 281-82, and Carl F. Klinck, "Some Anonymous Literature of the War of 1812," Ontario History, 49.2 (1957) p. 49.


Introductory Stanzas



Memory  Longmore refers both to his own childhood memories and to Mnemosyne (Memory), the mother of the Muses in Greek mythology.


parent Earth  The land of his birth.


Clime  A poetical form of the word climate, here used to refer to a region or realm.


titanic  Gigantic, colossal. The Titans, in mythology, were a family of giants who were the children of heaven and earth. In the battle for control of heaven they were ultimately overthrown by Zeus.


flood  River.


gloomily  Gloomy.


strain  Poetic word for melody—hence the poet’s "song."


heavenly Nine  The Muses, inspirers of learning and the arts. In Greek mythology, they were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Clio is the muse of history; Thalia of comedy; Melpomene of tragedy; Euterpe of music; Terpsichore of dancing; Urania of astronomy; Erato of erotic poetry; Polyhymnia of the sublime hymn; and Calliope of epic poetry.


fairy visions  Magical, insubstantial, fleeting memories of the past.


Montmorenci  The falls of Montmorency, north of Quebec City, where the river of the same name enters the St. Lawrence. Wolfe built a redoubt there in 1759 which was used again in 1775 and in 1812-14. Longmore probably visited the site as a boy. Cf. Heriot, Travels, pp. 76-77: "The waters . . . [are] powerfully impelled in their course, insinuate themselves between the strata, dissolve the gypsum, and tear the horizontal rock, which gives way, in fragments of various sizes, yielding to the rushing violence of the sweeping torrent. Somewhat below, the banks on each side, are cloathed [sic] with trees, which, together with the effect produced by the foaming currents, and the scattered masses of stone, compose a scene, wild and picturesque. From hence, taking a south direction, the stream is augmented in velocity, and forms a cascade interrupted by huge rocks; and at a distance further down, of five hundred yards, a similar effect is produced. After thus exhibiting a grateful variety through its course, the river is precipitated in an almost perpendicular direction, over a rock of the height of two hundred and forty-six feet, falling, where it touches the rock, in white clouds of rolling foam, and underneath, where it is propelled with uninterrupted gravitation, in numerous flakes, like wool or cotton, which are gradually protracted in their descent, until they are received into the boiling, profound abyss below.
     Viewed from the summit of the cliff, from whence they are thrown, the waters, with every concomitant circumstance, produce an effect awfully grand, and wonderfully sublime. The prodigious depth of their descent, the brightness and volubility of their course, the swiftness of their movement through the air, and the loud and hollow noise emitted from the basin, swelling with incessant agitation from the height of the dashing waters, forcibly combine to attract the attention, and to impress with sentiments of grandeur and elevation, the mind of the spectator. The clouds of vapour arising, and assuming the prismatic colours, contribute to enliven the scene. They fly off from the fall in the form of a revolving sphere, emitting with velocity, pointed flakes of spray, which spread in receding, until intercepted by neighbouring banks, or dissolved in the atmosphere."


convulsive  Irregular, surging movement of the water when it has passed over rocks and falls. See the quotation above.


Diamond Cape  Cape Diamond, the high cliff which was the distinguishing mark of the town of Quebec when seen from the St. Lawrence.


Abraham’s Plain  On the height of Cape Diamond; the scene of Wolfe’s defeat of Montcalm.


Wolfe  Major-General James Wolfe (1727-1759), who was killed in the victorious battle of the Plains of Abraham, defeating the French under Montcalm. See DCB, III, 666-73.


fane  A temple, or a flag or banner. Either meaning is appropriate here.


Poesy  An archaic form of the word poetry.


Zephyrus  In Greek mythology, the personification of the west wind.


awful  Producing the emotion of awe in the viewer.


embowering  Sheltering or enclosing in an idyllic shady nook.


where the loud . . . celestial glow  See note to 49, above.


gulph  An eddy, a whirlpool, or any profound depth.


Iris  In Greek mythology, the goddess who acts as messenger for the gods, and who produces the rainbow as the sign of her movement through the skies. Hence, Iris is used as a name for the rainbow.


cheat  False illusion.


minstrelsy  A minstrel entertained with music and story-telling, consequently the word refers to the poet’s works and their relationship to readers. The idea of minstrels would have had an additional meaning for Longmore, since Sir Walter Scott makes extensive use of minstrels as narrators in his long poems. Here, Longmore, as the poet, transforms himself into the minstrel who will recount a Canadian metrical romance in the manner of Scott.


Fancy  Imagination.


lyre  A stringed musical instrument used to accompany songs, and as a symbol for lyric poetry. In Scott’s poetry, minstrels and bards are always portrayed with a lyre.


Plenty  Prosperity.


Memory  To be remembered by others.


Canto I



Savage grandeur  Wild, sublime scenery (see Introduction, p. xxx, and the note to Argument, 49).


Godhead  The essence of the Divine.


pompous  An allusion to the Roman empire and its pomp.


save  By means of conversion to Christianity.


tributary tide  The Wabash River is a tributary of the Mississippi. See Scott’s Rokeby (II, iii), "But many a tributary stream," and Heriot’s description of the St. Lawrence River, with its "tributary streams" (Travels, p. iii).


varied scenes  Picturesque scenery; see Introduction, p. xxx.


This description of natural youth growing up in "the wilds" is in direct contrast to the poet’s description of his own childhood in Quebec City; the development of a "natural man" is thus set against the development of a "civilized man." Cf. Heriot, Travels, pp. 271-72: "In many situations on the continent of America, the human race is found to approach nearer to a state of nature, than in any part of the ancient world. The condition of some of its inhabitants seems but little removed from that of the animals which range the gloomy and boundless woods. Man may here be contemplated, either emerging from a rude state of liberty, or united into small communities, or in a state of comparative civilization." Heriot also observes that, among natives "talent consists in swiftness of foot, in being skilled in the chace [sic], in conducting a canoe with dexterity, in the science of warfare, in ranging the forests, in living on little, in constructing cabins, in cutting down trees, and in being able to travel hundreds of leagues in the woods, without any other guard or provision than the bow and arrow" (351).


Fate  A personification, representing an inexorable force, or events destined to happen.


fairy  Magical.


career  Moving at full speed.


native ease and ruder grace  Behaviour that is natural and suitable to the surroundings. The juxtaposition of "rude," which can mean clumsy, with "grace," which means the opposite, implies that the natural manner differs from the educated, sophisticated one. The word rude, in its sense of uneducated or unpolished, was often used to describe aboriginal peoples. A description which obviously influenced Longmore can be found in Heriot, Travels, pp. 318-19, "The freedom of manners, and the uncertainty of life, from the various hazards to which it is inevitably exposed, imparts to the character of savages a species of liberality, under which are couched many benevolent principles; a respect for the aged, and in several instances a deference to their equals. The natural coldness of their temperament, admits of few outward demonstrations of civility. They are, however, affable in their mode, and are ever disposed to shew towards strangers, and particularly towards the unfortunate, the strongest marks of hospitality. A savage will seldom hesitate to share with a fellow-creature oppressed by hunger, his last morsel of provision.
     Numerous are the defects which contribute to counterbalance these laudable propensities in the disposition of savages. Caprice, volatility, indolence beyond expression, ingratitude, suspicion, treachery, revenge, cruelty to their enemies, brutality in their enjoyments, are the evil qualities by which they are weighed down."


Luxury’s disease  A disease which results from living in luxury, a way of life which results in loss of energy. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 319: "They [the Indians] are, however, strangers to that restless versatility of fashion, which, while it contributes to enliven, torments at the same time a state of polished society. They are ignorant of those refinements in vice, which luxury, and superfluity, and satiety have engendered."


dome  A roof, sometimes taken to mean the entire dwelling. A reference to the birch bark shelters constructed by tribes in that region. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 283: "Wandering nations, such as the Algonquins, who remain but for a short time in one situation, are satisfied with making their huts extremely low, and with placing them in a confused manner. They generally carry with them large rolls of the bark of the birch-tree, and form the frames of the cabins of wattles and twigs stuck into the earth in a circular figure, and united near their upper extremities. Upon the outside of this frame the bark is unrolled, and thus affords shelter from rain and from the influence of the sun."


guerdon  Reward.


idols of his shrine  Idols are statues or other tangible things that are objects of worship. Most eighteenth-century writers about North American Indians, whether missionaries or independent travellers, attempted, with varying degrees of success, to describe Indian religious practices. It is now understood that most tribes believed that there was one major beneficent spirit, with a parallel evil one. Below these two were many subordinate deities inherent in animals and natural objects (such as the sun and moon here). Whites generally translated the various Indian names for the good deity as "the great spirit." The Shawnee word seems to have been Moneto.


By their strict . . . presiding star  A reference to the Indians’ method of counting the passage of time and of guiding themselves by stars when travelling at night. Cf. Heriot, Travels, pp. 482-83: "The natives of America reckon the lapse of time by nights rather than by days, and divide it into lunar months. This mode is, however, corrected by the course of the sun, whence their years are regulated, and distributed into the four seasons, and into twelve months. The solar years are destined to mark the age of man, which is denoted by the attainment of a certain number of natal days. The same turn of expression is in use respecting the sun, who is said so many times to have regained the point from whence he commences his course. The number of years to be specified is frequently marked by the name of one of the seasons, and a person is said, in reference to his age, to have survived so many winters."


past  Passed.


dun  A greyish-brown colour; dusky.


The Prophet  Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh’s younger brother, a shaman who, in response to white incursions into Indian territory, preached a return to Indian ways and a rejection of white men’s goods and ideas. The movement which he headed, from about 1805, became very powerful among the tribes west of the Appalachians. When it failed to stop white settlement the Prophet and his followers moved further and further west, while the remaining natives turned to organized resistance.


star’d  Stared.


startled  Were startled or surprised.


dismal  Gloomy, foreboding.


vapoury  Insubstantial.


night-blast  The wind at night.


The Pythian Apollo  The Greek god Apollo in his legendary and oracular connection with Delphi (Pythia). Longmore seems to have been thinking of what is now called the Apollo Belvedere, a statue of Apollo that was looted from the Vatican by Napoleon and exhibited in Paris between 1802 and 1813. It was held to represent the prime example of male physical perfection in Longmore’s day.


untutored soul  Not converted to Christianity.


Which leads . . . lonely glen  The reference is to the ignis fatuus, or will-o’-the wisp, a phosphorescent light seen hovering or flitting over marshy ground, superstitiously considered to lead travellers astray, so that they become lost and die.


Chippawayan  A nomadic Athapascan tribe, primarily hunters, who lived in the north and west of what is now Canada during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Carver refers to them as one of the tribes he visited. Cf. Carver, Travels, pp. 60-63.


controul  Control.


entrail  Internal organs.


Wooes  Woos, courts.


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


Power . . . Beauty’s  These are allegorical forms. The image is one of a painting with Beauty resplendent in sky blue and Power, in the gold of a sunset-reflecting cloud, leaning against her.


halcyon  Calm. It was once believed that fourteen days of calm weather preceding the winter solstice occurred when the halcyon, or kingfisher, was nesting. Hence the association of the bird’s name with calm weather.


Canto II



golden car  The sun. In Greek mythology Apollo, the sun god, travelled across the sky in a golden chariot.


Autumna  Personification of autumn as a beautiful woman.


horn  A cornucopia; a cone-shaped holder of produce; a symbol of abundance.


Industry  A personification of the idea of diligent work.


Impearl  Dewdrops described as pearls.


Phœbus  One of the names of Apollo, the god of poetry and music as well as of the sun.


An implied comparison between high civilization and the natural world. The spiral column refers to grandiose monuments to heroism.


Folly  A personification of foolishness, silliness, or weakness of mind. As a separate structure, a folly is a costly and useless building begun without a reckoning of its cost. Longmore may be suggesting that the city as a whole is foolish and wasteful.


mart  Market.


Embalm’d  Balmy, aromatic and fragrant.


monarch of the day  The sun.


Hesperus  The evening star. Pale starlight is perceived by the poet as silver. In mythology Hesperus was the son of Astraeus and Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Together they were the parents of all the stars and all the winds. There is an echo here of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, I, xi: "The silver light, so pale and faint."


Echo  In Greek mythology, 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.


Eighteenth-century missionaries and travel writers describe Indians dying their bodies in black and red (and occasionally white) for ceremonial occasions and for making war. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 427: "The warriors who attend this assembly [a council of war] are painted in the most frightful and fantastical manner, and dressed in their arms." Longmore seems to ascribe the purpose entirely to the Indian’s perception of beauty.


eagle’s  The eagle feather was one of the symbols of a chief’s power, the eagle being considered as the strongest and fiercest of birds. Scott describes highland chiefs as wearing an eagle feather. Cf. The Lady of the Lake, III, xxxi.


This "War Song" as it was called in the Literary Garland (July, 1840), p.365, follows Scott’s example in the occasional use of short lines with irregular metre (see, for example, "The Dance of Death"). Ceremonial dances were described by many travellers. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 475: "The dance, among the natives of America, is not considered as a simple relaxation from the more essential duties of life, or as an amusing exercise. With them it is regarded as a ceremony of religion, and practiced upon occasions the most serious and solemn. Without the intervention of the dance, no public or private transaction of moment can take effect. It seems to operate as a charm, in rousing the natives from their habitual indolence and torpidity, and in inspiring them with activity and animation." Heriot gives a detailed description of Huron dances on pp. 82-83. A further description, pp. 477-79, reads in part, "One holds a kind of drum, another a chichicoué, or the skeleton of a tortoise filled with pebbles. Whilst they sang and made a noise with these instruments, they are joined by the spectators, who strike with sticks against pots and kettles, or dried pieces of bark which they hold before them. The dancers turn in a circuitous figure without joining hands, each making different gestures with his arms and legs, and, although, perhaps, none of the movements are similar, but whimsical, and according to caprice, yet the cadence is never violated. They follow the voices of singers by the continued enunciation of he he, which is concluded by a general cry of approbation still more elevated."


mien  Facial expression.


essay’d  Attempted, tried.


There does not seem to be any contemporary source for this description of the Prophet consulting the gods by means of fire and interpreting their wishes by the colour and movement of the flames, but the concept was not uncommon in popular superstitions having to do with omens.


Ohio  The Ohio River is a tributary of the Mississippi.


A white attempt to render Tecumseh’s manner of speech. Note the use of natural images such as the oak, the appeal to ancestors, and the emphasis on bravery. In Tecumseh’s speech there is no use of "poetic" language or Western European mythology as there is in the remainder of the text. Tecumseh was actually away at the time of the massacre and is placed at the scene only by poetic license.


life-transfixing  Life ending.


gull’d  Duped or deceived, caught in a trap by deception.


snare  A string with a running loop intended for catching small birds and animals by the foot or neck.


strife  A common word in Scott’s descriptions of battles, as in the description of the Battle of Flodden in Marmion, VI, xxxiv.


deadly ball  Eighteenth century gun shot killing opponents.


untaught ear  Something they had not heard before and therefore did not recognize.


COLUMBIA  One of the allegorical names, derived from Columbus, for the United States. This sequence, to l. 288, represents the English view of American attitudes and actions with regard to aboriginal peoples.


false Prophet  In a Biblical sense, someone who claims to speak for God, but who actually leads believers astray.


Beguil’d . . . hour  Asleep and dreaming, therefore open to a surprise attack.


Slaughter  Personification of death in battle.


Revenge  Most travel writers described an instinct for revenge as being part of the Indian character. See note to I, 85, above.


tyger  Tiger.


formest  Foremost: first.


mandates  Commands.


Hesper-star  The evening star, see note to II, 65, above.


main  In effect, the mainstream of life.


Pollution  Personification of the impure and unhealthy. In Longmore’s time, the word was also used as a genteel term for masturbation.


Canto III



Where yet . . . graven there.  Brock and his second-in-command, Lt. Col. John Macdonell, were both killed during the battle for Queenston Heights. They were initially buried in a bastion of Fort George, near what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 1824 they were reinterred under the first Brock monument, which was being built as Longmore wrote Tecumthe.


Queenstown rock  The escarpment heights above what is now Queenston, Ontario. It was the site of the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812. Today, Brock’s monument, situated on the top of the escarpment, dominates the surrounding area and can be seen for miles. Heriot, in describing the various communities between Montreal and Niagara in his Travels, p. 170, also spells the name as Queenstown.


BROCK  Brigadier-General Sir Isaac Brock (1769-1812), the Administrator and Commander of the forces in Upper Canada at the beginning of the War of 1812. He was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights, successfully defending the Niagara frontier against American invaders.


fair memory  Refers back to the Introductory Stanzas and to Memory as mother of the muses and thus the source of culture.


lot  Fate.


meed  Reward.


genius  Spirit.


grot  Grotto, a cave or cavern.


dread cataract  Niagara Falls, one of the most sublime sights in the Canadas (see the notes to III, 41 and 85, below).


Titan-breathing  Sound so loud it resembled the breath of Titans. See note to the Introductory Stanzas, 21.


Niagara  Cf. Heriot, Travels, pp. 160-71, for an extended description of Niagara Falls and surrounding area, from which the following is taken: "The lofty banks and immense woods which environ this stupendous scene, the irresistable force, the rapidity of motion displayed by the rolling clouds of foam, the uncommon brilliancy and variety of colours and shades, the ceaseless intumessence, and swift agitation of the dashing waves below, the solemn and tremendous noise, with the volumes of vapour darting upwards into the air, which the simultaneous report and smoke of a thousand cannon could hardly equal, irresistibly tend to impress the imagination with such a train of sublime sensations, as few other combinations of natural objects are capable of producing, and which terror lest the treacherous rock crumble beneath the feet by no means contributes to diminish."


The beginning of the War of 1812.


ALBION  A poetical name for England. Longmore uses the word extensively in The War of the Isles when referring to England, her armies, and her generals.


Rapine  The violent seizure of an enemy’s property.


ONTARIO  Lake Ontario. The Niagara River flows between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.


fam’d cataract  Descriptions of Niagara Falls were provided by almost every European visitor to Canada, as well as by North American residents who visited the site. Certain aspects of the falls,—the noise (invariably described as thunderous), the rainbow, the mist, the sublime grandeur, and a final reference to the Creator are characteristic of many such descriptions. Variations occur only in the terms in which these aspects are described. See C. M. Dow, Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls, 2 vols. (Albany: State of New York, 1921).


endued  Endowed, given as a gift.


HURON  The lake personified.


hissing snake  North American snakes seem to have fascinated Europeans. They appear in many travel accounts. For example, Weld, Travels, II, 163-68 describes at length the varieties and habitat of the snakes found in southern Upper Canada. Carver’s Travels were famous in their day for an anecdote he recounted of an Indian who had tamed a snake (pp. 43-45). Since many people had questioned his veracity, he took pains in the second edition to indicate that the story had been told to him by a reliable witness. There are also snake images in Scott; see Rokeby, III, vi: "Thus, circled in his coil, the snake, / When roving hunters beat the brake." Snake and brake are Longmore’s rhymes here and at III, 526-27.


brake  A clump of low bushes or a thicket.


Rapine  Seizing and taking away the property of others by force.


strand  Shore. In a poetic sense, symbolizing a country.


genial  Conducive to growth.


pinions  The sections of birds’ wings nearest the tip. Commonly, as in this instance, taken to mean the entire wing.


welkin  The sky, the upper atmosphere.


sulphury smoke  From gunpowder, which was made of sulphur, saltpetre and charcoal.


The lightnings gleam  See, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, V, xxi: "For I have seen war’s lightning flashing"


cypress wreath  The dense, dark foliage of the cypress tree came to be used in expressions of mourning. A cypress wreath would be a visible symbol of death and mourning.


Sol  The sun.


Omniscient  All-seeing and all-knowing, here as a synecdoche for God.


gore  Blood and filth.


vampire  A legendary creature that sucks the blood from sleeping people.


gale . . . lake  Storms on Lake Erie were described by many travellers who crossed from Fort Erie on the Niagara frontier to Amherstburg on the Detroit frontier by boat. The lake is very shallow and strong winds produce high waves. Weld, Travels, II, 145-47, describes several storms which considerably slowed his journey between the two ends of the lake, and Heriot, Travels, p. 177, mentions the difficulty of navigating Lake Erie.


lion-hearted  Courageous.


eagle-crested  The coat of arms of the United States, with the eagle at the top, here used as a metaphor for American power.


The Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, won by the Americans.


Fraud, and Force  Two of the traditional weapons of evil.


Twelve moons  Some Indian tribes marked the passage of time by the number of new moons which had come and gone, some by the passage of the seasons. Twelve moons would be about forty-eight weeks. Indian rhetoric was generally considered by whites to be somewhat overblown, although powerful. While the poet continues to use personification here, there are no classical allusions since Tecumseh would not have known them. See note to I, 107-12, above.


pre-concerted  Planned in advance. This line was omitted in the first edition.


Interest  A personification of the motives of the British commander in making a second attempt to convince Tecumseh of the necessity of retreat.


chart  A map.


Thames  A contrast with the English Thames would have been intended. See note to the Argument, 203, above.


parent solitude  The location of the source of the Thames River.


yellow snake  Weld, Travels, II, 163-64: "The other sort [of snake] is of a greenish yellow colour, clouded with brown, and attains nearly twice the size of the other. It is most commonly found between three and four feet in length, and as thick as the wrist of a large man."


Cynthia  Another name for Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto and sister of Apollo. He became the god of the sun, she became the goddess of the moon. In this case, the moon, personified as a goddess.


centinel  Sentinel.


marshalsye  Marshalcy. The military force under the command of a marshal. In this case, simply all the force assembled.


sun-burnt  A reference to the dark skins of the native warriors.

595, 597

"Wave" and "lave" are common rhymes in Scott.


plume  See note to II, 89, above.


magnet’s ore  The figure of a magnet irresistibly attracting iron filings is applied to the inevitability of male compulsions influencing actions.


Longmore’s description of the battle omits the fact that the British forces broke and ran, leaving the Indians unprotected. At his court-martial, Procter was charged with personal cowardice, but not convicted on that count. Much of the description—the presence of a charismatic leader, the noise and shouting, the futility of war, the bitter cost of victory—parallels Scott’s "The Field of Waterloo."


"the spirit of the storm"  The source of this quotation has not yet been identified.


envious  Malicious.


electric  In the sense of a strong force.


reliq’d  Relic as an adverb, referring to a momento of the past.




Note 2.

The first Brock monument was officially dedicated on October 13, 1824, and the general’s remains were reinterred there. That monument was destroyed in 1840 by a person who had fled to the United States in the wake of the 1837 rebellion. The monument which stands today on Queenston Heights was opened in 1853, after a public fund-raising effort. Plans for a monument to Wolfe at Quebec were prepared in 1823 as Longmore mentions, but the first monument to Wolfe was erected on the site of his death on the Plains of Abraham in 1832. In 1849 that monument, broken and defaced, was replaced by a doric column placed on a pedestal and protected by an ornamental iron fence. It is interesting that this last monument was built on the orders of Lieut.-Gen. Sir Benjamin Durban, George Longmore’s uncle-in-law and former commanding officer, in his role of Commander of the Forces in Canada. There are letters from Longmore to Durban, while the latter was in Canada, preserved with the Durban Papers in the Library of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, but the Wolfe monument is not mentioned in them.