From the lone shieling of the misty island
                Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas—
            Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
                And we in dreams behold the Hebrides. . . .
                                         —“The Canadian Boat-Song” (1829)

Alexander McLachlan's The Emigrant is more often mentioned as important or significant than discussed in detail or at length. When first published in The Emigrant, and Other Poems in Toronto in 1861, it was warmly received and closely analysed in a prominent review in The Globe, but in the present century—even immediately following its second appearance in The Poetical Works of Alexander McLachlan in 1900—its critical history has largely been one of passing mention or complete silence. One reason for this is the general decline of McLachlan's poetic stock relative to such poets as Archibald Lampman, whose collected Poems also appeared post-humously in 1900 and, in marked contrast to the mere note taken of the McLachlan volume,1 received a full and laudatory review in The Globe.2 Another reason for the relative neglect of The Emigrant is that it has tended to fall under the shadow of The Rising Village, an earlier and, in some ways, more satisfying poem about the settlement of a part of Canada. As the reviewer for The Globe said on August 16, 1861: “‘The Emigrant’ is an unfinished poem. The author tells us the rest will follow in due time. This division, however,. . . spoils in some degree the effect of unity, and both critics and readers will long to see the remainder.” With the arrival of Modernism and the New Critical demand for aesthetic unity in the middle decades of this century, the dismay over the incompleteness of The Emigrant could only intensify. Even R.E. Rashley, a critic whose Marxian leanings should have made him specially sympathetic to the working-class content and co-operative emphasis of McLachlan's poem, [Page xi] treats it merely as a fragmentary and belated “survey poem,” a “retrospective . . . of a generation's achievement with but slight narrative content.”3 Not surprisingly, Oliver Goldsmith and The Rising Village (with its “skilful use of balance and antithesis”)4 are discussed at some length in the high Modern pages of the Literary History of Canada but McLachlan and The Emigrant are mentioned only in passing.
    With the publication in the nineteen seventies of two pioneering articles by another Marxian, Kenneth J. Hughes,5 The Emigrant received the critical attention that David Sinclair's reprinting of it in Nineteenth-Century Narrative Poems (1972) had suggested that it deserves. Arguing that McLachlan and his poem belong to a “‘vulgar’” strain of Canadian writing that has found few admirers in Canada's mainly élitist and conservative critical academy,6 Hughes attempted to bring The Emigrant into the academic (and Modernist) fold by demonstrating its technical sophistication and essential unity. In Hughes’ articles in English Studies in Canada (1975) and The Journal of Canadian Poetry (1978), McLachlan, as it were, enters the seminar room and bows to I.A. Richards, but without removing the proletarian's cloth cap from his head. This was a major contribution to the recovery and reappraisal of a neglected poem and poet, as was Hughes’ less academically oriented article on McLachlan as the “Poet Laureate of Labour” (1976).7 It is no doubt partly to Hughes' credit that in his survey of Canadian Literature in English (1985), W.J. Keith allots considerable space to McLachlan, describing him as “the first notable Canadian example of what might be called proletarian verse” and proclaiming The Emigrant “a breath of badly needed fresh air in. . . mid-Victorian Canadian literature.”8
    But despite Hughes’ pleadings for its essential “completeness,” The Emigrant is incomplete and must be understood as such. In fact, it is the first instalment of “an attempt to sketch the history of a backwoods settlement” from the time of the “old pioneers. . . down to the present day” whose “concluding parts” (Preface, 2-6) were promised but never delivered and probably not written.9 This does not mean that The Emigrant is not unified by a number of factors, including the “poetic voice [that] is heard throughout the narrative,” the cast of characters who appear in several of its “chapters,” its continual emphasis on the folk-culture of its Scottish emigrants especially, and a formalistic norm—octosyllabic couplets—that does much to hold together its medley or “potpourri”10 of places, times, themes, and interspersed songs. It does mean, however, that to achieve a clear sense of the shape of The Emigrant as it has come down to us and to properly determine [Page xii] its relation to its various biographical and historical contexts, the incomplete or fragmentary nature of the poem must be accepted and, if possible, explained. Why, after chronicling in an Introduction and seven chapters “the first trials” of the pioneers and their achievement of their “first comforts”11 did McLachlan break off his poem with “Much remains still . . . to be told, / Of those men and times of old, / Of the changes in our days, / From their simple honest ways . . .” (VII, 307-310)? Why did he not publish the account of the degradation of his “backwoods settlement” by the “public robbers,” “cunning politicians,” and other undesirable types (VII, 311-318) that he promised in the “concluding parts” of The Emigrant? In due course, some speculative answers to these questions will be proposed, but, in the mean-time, the discussion will follow The Emigrant through its Introduction and seven chapters (“Leaving Home,” “The Journey,” “The Arrival,” “Cutting the First Tree,” “The Log Cabin,” “The Indian Battle,” and “Donald Ban”) in the hopes of conveying something of the unity and diversity of McLachlan’s account of the “manners and customs of the old pioneers of the forest” (Preface, 4) to the north of Lake Ontario.


In The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, published five years before The Emigrant, Charles Sangster remarks the absence in Canada of “Nymphic trains,” “hideous Gnomes,” and other supernatural creatures of European mythology whose presence might engage the sensibilities of “the pale Ideal / Worshipper of Beauty. . . .”12 Instead, Sangster finds in the landscape of the Thousand Islands ample sources of inspiration for the “wild enthusiast,” the passionate lover of untamed nature: “Isles of o’erwhelming beauty,” “crystal streams” flowing through “endless landscapes,” and “clustering Isles” over which “the softest breezes blow.” The principal source of Sangster’s remarks is a work that also lies behind many passages in The Emigrant, Catharine Parr Traill’s The Backwoods of Canada, specifically Traill’s remark that “ghosts or spirits appear totally banished from Canada. . . . Here there are no historical associations, no legendary tales of those that came before us . . .” and her resolve in the absence of “‘hoary ancient grandeur in these woods . . . [and] recollections of former deeds connected with the country . . .,’” to find “amusement and interest” in the natural world of “forest . . . [and] lakes.”13 If there was an inciting moment [Page xiii] for the Introduction to The Emigrant—indeed, for the entire poem—it may have been McLachlan’s reading of this passage, for not only does the poem begin with a paean to Canada as a “Land of mighty lake and forest . . .Where uncultivated nature” provides ample sources of inspiration and objects of affection (1-24), but it goes on to emphasize the country's lack of heroic and literary history:

Thou art not a land of story;
Thou art not a land of glory;
No tradition, tale or song,
To thine ancient woods belong;
No long line of bards and sages
Looking to us down the ages;
No old heroes sweeping by,
In their warlike panoply. . . .


Like Traill and Sangster, McLachlan was keenly aware of the absence in Canada of the kinds of history and myth that gave resonance to the landscapes of Europe and provided the inspiration for such popular and influential works as Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels, Marmion, and The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
    But while The Emigrant reveals the influence of Scott's long poems in many ways, including its treatment of the theme of the affinities between people and landscapes and in its combination of narrative and lyrical elements, McLachlan was no Tory bent on celebrating the exploits of medieval “heroes” in “warlike panoply.” Neither was he, like Traill, committed to easing the transition of middle-class emigrants from England to Canada. Nor was he, like Sangster, set on entertaining a privileged reader-ship with a combination of poetic niceties, touristic landscape descriptions, and colourfully informative celebrations of the Canadian equivalents of Scott's courageous and aristocratic heroes—Wolfe, Montcalm, the voyageurs, and Kate Johnstone, the so-called “Queen of the Isles.”14 He was a Scottish emigrant of lowly birth whose sympathies for the poor and downtrodden had drawn him well before he came to Canada in 1840 to Chartism and Robert Burns15 —to a political movement dedicated to democratic principles and to a popular poet renowned for his sympathetic treatment of working-class life. He was a tailor turned farmer who had tried unsuccessfully to work various farms in Canada West in the 1840s and [Page xiv] 1850s before settling in Erin (near Orangeville) in 1852 “to work . . . at both his tailoring and his poetry.”16 He was, in sum, a man less likely to see “heroic deeds” in knightly skirmishes and military engagements than in the haunts of ordinary people, “the cottage in the woods, / . . . [and] the lonely solitudes . . .” (35-36). “Why seek in a foreign land, / For the theme that’s close at hand,” he asks; “Human nature can be seen, / Here within the forest green . . .” (39-42). For McLachlan, as for Burns, Wordsworth, and even Scott in his less chivalric moments, poetic inspiration lay in the here and now rather than the then and there (though, as will be seen, large portions of The Emigrant focus on a landscape of the heart that resides, not in Canada as it is, but in Scotland as it was).
    Towards the end of the Introduction to The Emigrant McLachlan asserts the democratic ubiquity of poetic inspiration:

Poetry is every where,
In the common earth and air,
In the pen, and in the stall,
In the hyssop on the wall,
In the wandering Arab’s tent,
In the backwoods settlement. . . .


The word “common” here is politically charged, for it designates the “earth and air” not merely as ordinary and public but as equally available to all—a common wealth for the common people. On the basis of 1 Kings 4.33, the “hyssop” is a type of the lowly of humble. As the movable shelter of a nomad, an Arab's tent suggests a paucity of material goods. To apprehend the poetry in such things requires sensitivity and sympathy:

Have we but the hearing ear,
It is always whispering near
Have we but the heart to feel it,
All the world will reveal it.


“[W]e . . . we . . .”—the repetition of the collective pronoun draws the reader into the commonality from and for which McLachlan purports to speak, often, it transpires, with a sprinkling of Scots diction which aligns him by association with the “democratic spirit” and “reverential esteem for [Page xv] simple manhood, regardless of outward distinctions”17 that are popularly attributed to Burns.
    To the extent that it highlights this prominent aspect of McLachlan’s work, Edward Hartley Dewart’s designation of him as “the Burns of Canada”18 rings true. However, to the extent that it obscures McLachlan’s selective approach to Burns and his considerable debts to other poets, Dewart’s designation can be and has been misleading.19 Between McLachlan and Burns there were doubtless affinities born of nationality, political orientation, and similar experiences, but hardly of temperament. McLachlan was a provincial Victorian with a strong Presbyterian background tempered, perhaps from the fifties onwards, with leanings towards the occult,20 and he borrowed from his eighteenth-century predecessor accordingly, drawing abundantly, for example, on Burns’s descriptions of Scottish plants and landscapes but leaving untouched his ribald celebrations of sensual life. Burns's “gowans” (daisies) and “burnies” (rivulets) find their way into The Emigrant as do his celebrations of humble people and his condemnations of oppression, but his bawdiness and debauchery decidedly do not. Moreover, McLachlan tends to restrict his borrowings from Burns to portions of The Emigrant that treat nostalgically of Scotland and to go elsewhere for models when dealing with other places, peoples and themes—to Wordsworth, for example, when treating of the spiritual component of nature and to the Marlowe of “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” when presenting the wooing song of a “jolly hunter” to an “Indian Maid” (V, 147-174). As the editors of The Poetical Works indicate when they list Shakespeare, Coleridge, Shelley, Emerson, Tennyson, and Longfellow (among others) as poets and thinkers admired by McLachlan,21 Burns is merely a very prominent member of the chorus of writers who can frequently be heard singing cheek-to-cheek in McLachlan’s poetry.
    Dewart sees the “adaption of . . . metre to theme [as] a feature of many of . . . [McLachlan’s] poems,”22 and certainly this is evident throughout The Emigrant, not least in the Introduction where the Ontario landscape is rendered in a manner strongly reminiscent both of Longfellow’s treatment of the same region in The Song of Hiawatha and of Scott's depiction of the similarly rugged areas of Scotland in The Lay of the Last Minstrel:

“From the forest and the prairies
From the great lakes of the northland . . .
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs, [Page xvi]
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands,
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes. . . .”
    (Introduction, The Song of Hiawatha, 11-17)23

O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires!
    (The Lay of the Last Minstrel, VI, 11, 1-5)24

Land of mighty lake and forest!
Where the winter's locks are hoarest;
Where the summer's leaf is greatest
And the winter's bite is keenest. . . .

Where the crane her course is steering;
And the eagle is careering. . . .
    (Introduction, The Emigrant, 1-4, 19-20)

It is as if McLachlan has deliberately combined aspects of Longfellow and Scott to create a Scottish-North-American style, a manner suitable to both his Canadian landscape and his Scottish pioneers. Since the brief history of British settlement in Canada is his theme, McLachlan ignores both Longfellow's Indian references (“‘Ojibways . . . Dacotahs . . . Shuh-shuh- gah’”) and Scott's emphasis on ancient history (“Caledonia! . . . Land of my sires!”) and concentrates instead on the natural features of an environment in the process of development, an Ontario in which “the gentle deer are bounding, / And the woodman’s axe resounding . . .” (21-22).
    Astutely observing the alternation between full and catalectic (or truncated) octosyllabics in the opening movement of The Emigrant, Hughes relates this “contrapuntal pattern” to the natural rhythms and contrasts described in the lines.25 But, of course, the alternation of longer and shorter lines in the passage is also, as a glance back at the lines from The Song of Hiawatha and The Lay of the Last Minstrel will reveal, an alternation of Longfellow and Scott, North American and Scottish. Besides being appropriate to McLachlan’s natural and human subject-matter the “contrapuntal pattern” of the opening of The Emigrant lends to the verse a variety26 that keeps at [Page xvii] bay the soporific effects of Longfellow especially and, in so doing, provides a further reason for admiring the intelligence and creativity exercised by the Canadian poet in the selection and “adaptation” of his forms and models.

Chapter I. Leaving Home.

The first chapter of The Emigrant is set, not in Scotland, but in Canada. It begins with an invitation from the “very last” of the “old pioneers” to sit on a “stone, / With . . . gray moss overgrown . . .” and “talk about the past . . .” (I, 1-4). By comparison with its obvious antecedent in the “stone walls grey with mosses, /. . .by some neglected graveyard”27 which the reader/listener is invited to contemplate in the Introduction to The Song of Hiawatha, the mossy stone of The Emigrant is less artificial or constructed and more in and of the land. As he attends to the Old Pioneer, the listener will be in contact with his place as well as with his past, and aware, too, perhaps that—like moss on stone—the early pioneers have succeeded in adorning the surface and softening the angles of primeval Canadian nature for the benefit of future generations. In The Emigrant, as earlier in The Rising Village and later in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town,28 the past that matters—the past of the Europeanized baseland—consists of “Half a century” or “the space of fifty years” (I, 21-16),—that is, roughly the three generations assumed to be necessary to bring a “backwoods settlement” to thriving maturity. One feature of that maturity is a desire and need to preserve the history of the settlement’s growth, an urge to remember forward from the pioneering to the present generation the great hardships and heroic efforts involved in reaching and settling a new land. This is the task assumed by writers of the post-pioneering period in various parts of Canada from Goldsmith in the Maritimes to Grove on the Prairies. In The Emigrant it is performed by McLachlan for the Toronto area through the medium of the Old Pioneer, a surrogate for the poet and the spokesman of an earlier generation whose lineage lies in such repositories of personal and collective memory as Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and Scott’s Last Minstrel.
    Predictably, the burden of the Old Pioneer’s remarks on the mossy stone is the permanence of memory in face of the transitoriness and mutability of life. “Men,” “meteors,” and the events of “fifty years” have “Gone like shadows all away” proclaims the Old Pioneer in preacher-like tones, but on this the precise anniversary of his departure from Scotland, he can recall [Page xviii] “Every circumstance” of his leave-taking for, as he says, “There are things in memory set, / Things we never can forget . . .” (I, 11-28, 87-88). As in most actual or fictional accounts of the departure of emigrants from their native land, the Old Pioneer dwells especially on the sadness involved in leaving a beloved landscape, dear friends, and close family.29 The time of his departure—a “lovely morn in spring” (I, 43)—is well chosen both for its historical veracity (most emigrant vessels left Britain for North America in the spring) and for its symbolic appropriateness as a time of new light and new life. Soaring above the Old Pioneer as he prepares to leave the Cart valley in McLachlan’s native Renfrewshire is a “lark” (I, 44), a bird that might simply be an emblem of the emigrant’s high hopes if it were not also a “Type of the wise who soar, but never roam, / True to the kindred points of heaven and home”30 and, thus, a comment on the dubious wisdom of his departure for the New World. All around him are flowers—the blue bell, the gowan, the cowslip, and the primrose— whose names are nearly synonymous with Britain and whose rootedness in their native soil provides another reminder of the sources of vitality from which the emigrant will soon be separated.

    In one of the most resonant passages in the poem, the Old Pioneer extrapolates his affection for the flora and fauna of Scotland into a statement of the affinity between man and nature:

For oh! there is a nameless tie,
A strange mysterious sympathy,
Between us and material things,
Which into close communion brings
Our spirits with the unseen power,
Which looks from every tree and flower.

(I, 59-64)

There are two reasons why these lines bring to mind analogous passages in Wordsworth, Shelley, Emerson and other Romantic and post-Romantic poets. The first is the strong sense of hermeticism conveyed by such phrases as “mysterious sympathy” and “unseen power.” Not only do these phrases smack of Romantic pantheism (and specifically of such poems as “Tintern Abbey” and “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” see Explanatory Notes, I, 59-64), but in so doing they suggest that by the time he published The Emigrant in 1861 McLachlan may well have been flirting with occult ideas. The other reason why the passage and the lines that surround it recall [Page xix] Wordsworth and others is that they are written, not in the strident trochaic tetrameter of the Introduction, but in a graceful iambic tetrameter that is close in form and pace to the iambic pentameter of The Prelude, The Recluse, “Tintern Abbey,” and other poems. McLachlan may even have found a specific model for the Old Pioneer's parting description of the Scottish landscape in Wordsworth's “Extract from the Conclusion of a Poem Composed in Anticipation of Leaving School” which also treats of “Dear native regions” and the persistence of “local sympathy” in iambic tetrameter couplets.31
    After treating Scotland’s mountain scenery in the same stately and appropriate form as a source of sublime “awe” and “ecstasy” (I, 69-86), the Old Pioneer turns from the natural to the human world. As he does so McLachlan shifts and lightens the mood of the narrative with a brief return to the trochaic tetrameter which is the formalistic norm of The Emigrant. Notice how the absence of the final unstressed syllable in the following catalectic lines deprives them of the soporific sing-song effect of Longfellow’s untruncated octosyllabics:

                        Stíll I sée the véry spót,
                        Close beside our lowly cot,
                        Where my grandsire old and gray,
                        Blessed be his memory,
                        While upon his staff he bent,
                        Thus he blessed me ere I went.

To judge by McLachlan’s fine commemorative ode, “My Grandfather and His Bible,” as a young man in Scotland he was heavily and oppressively influenced by the “stern” and “misdirected” but nevertheless “grandly sincere” religious teachings of his maternal grandfather, an “old patriarch” who communed spiritually with the “old Covenanters” (extreme Presbyterians) and poured freely on anyone who would listen to the wisdom contained in his massive Haweis Bible.32 Are the next hundred or so lines of The Emigrant “simply,” as the editors of The Poetical Works state, “the address of this grandfather to ... [McLachlan] on [his] leaving for Canada ...”?33
    Even if they are, this does not preclude the possibility that McLachlan drew part of the inspiration for what his editors call “A Grandfather’s Blessing” from another of the major sources of The Emigrant, John Galt’s Lawrie Todd; or the Settlers in the Woods (1830), a tedious but influential [Page xx] novel-cum-emigrant-guide set in the United States and written, of course, by the enthusiastic promoter of colonial development and sometime director of the Canada Company who founded Guelph, Ontario in 1827. Shortly after arriving in North America, Galt's hero opens a small pocket Bible and, with his “thoughts . . . running on . . . home [in Scotland] and the kind old man [his ‘pious’ father],” lights upon the words “‘My son forget not my laws,’ and . . . read[s] on to the end of the chapter—the 3rd of Proverbs.” “Now, reader,” says Todd, “if thou art a believer in a particular Providence,. . . take thy Bible and. . . read that chapter, and say if it was a vain enthusiasm which made me . . . look upon it as a divine instruction how to shape my course.”34 Apparently McLachlan took Todd’s advice, for, beginning with his “‘O my son, / I’d have thee to remember’” (I, 101-102), much of the grandfather’s sermon to the Old Pioneer derives in word and spirit from Proverbs 3 and similar biblical sources. One example will suffice to illustrate the point:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean
not unto thine own understanding.

(Proverbs 3.5)

Trust not in knowledge, small indeed
Is all that we can gather
But always ask the guidance of
The universal father.

(I, 171-175)  

To Solomon’s advice the Old Pioneer's Polonius-like grandfather adds a Shakespearean and contemporary flavour with discussions of the limitations of secular philosophy (I, 163-174) and the importance of things “not taught at college” (I, 175-178).
    A notable and intriguing feature of the wise saws and modern instances of the Old Pioneer's grandfather is their use of commercial terminology in the realm of conduct. “[B]e sure and leave, / A margin for reverses . . .” (I, 113-114), he says at one point, and at another “Something or other is withheld, / To bring the balance even” (I, 133-134). As much to be expected from the grandfather as these commercial-spiritual metaphors is his advice to “Have aye some object in your view, / And steadily pursue it . . .” (I, 139-140), for the sensibility on display here is one steeped in the Protestant work ethic and its conception of worldly success as an index of divine [Page xxi] favour. No doubt many emigrants of the Scottish-Presbyterian persuasion in particular drew comfort and motivation from the combination of material and spiritual success promised by the work ethic, and, like Lawrie Todd, found an enlighteningly self-interested justification for religious observance and charitable endeavour in the advice of Proverbs 3.9-10: “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty. . . .” Yet, given McLachlan’s Chartist sympathies and the reservations expressed about Alexander Sutherland in “My Grandfather and His Bible,” it seems unlikely that “The Grandfather’s Advice” in The Emigrant is to be taken without a large pinch of salt as a code of conduct for life in the New World. As “My Grandfather and His Bible” makes clear, McLachlan viewed even his own grandfather as a Scottish type, a “hero . . . o’ lang syne” who “stood for truth” but in a misguided and self-deluded way that could be damaging. According to Charles W. Dunn in Highland Settler; a Portrait of the Scottish Gael in Nova Scotia, a respect for “the proverb, or, to translate the Gaelic term literally, the ‘old-word’”35 was part of the folk-culture of Scotland that emigrants brought with them from home. Such reverence persists in The Emigrant, but, as will be seen, the substance of the “old-words” given to the Old Pioneer's grandfather does not stand alone or unmodified in the poem as, in Lawrie Todd's words once again, an “instruction how to shape [a] course” in Canada.

Chapter II. The Journey.

In the good ship “Edward Thorn,”
We were o'er the billows borne,
A motley company were we,
Sailing o'er that weary sea.

(II, 1-4)

By suggesting a further autobiographical element in The Emigrant, the opening lines of the poem's second chapter add credence to the identification of the Old Pioneer's “grandsire” with McLachlan’s own grandfather. Twice in the same year that the poet emigrated to Canada (1840), the Edward Thorn made the crossing from Greenock to Quebec, the first time leaving on April 2 and arriving on May 19 and the second leaving on July 15 and [Page xxii] arriving on September 11.36 (If the account of the Old Pioneer’s departure in spring also has an autobiographical component, then it would appear that McLachlan was on the earlier of the Edward Thorn’s two voyages.) But with its “motley company” and “weary sea,” the “‘Edward Thorn’” of The Emigrant is more than the ship in which McLachlan crossed the Atlantic: it is the “microcosm”37 of a new society and, as several echoes of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” beginning with the “weary sea” of the fourth line, intimate, a vessel carrying its passengers towards momentous events in strange places. “[O]ur ship was a type of the world,”38 says Lawrie Todd of the emigrant vessel in Galt’s novel, and, very likely, this comment, coupled with the use of a quotation from Coleridge's poem during an ocean voyage in Galt's second novel of pioneer life, Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants (1831),39 helped to shape McLachlan's account of the trans-Atlantic voyage in The Emigrant.
    “Among the passengers” on the Providence in Lawrie Todd are “both odd and curious characters,” including several motivated by the “revolutionary fever . . . then [in the 1790s] raging on sea and land” and several others of “diverse religions, and of no religion.”40 Although they show few signs of the religious differences apparent on the Providence, the passengers on the “‘Edward Thorn’” are nevertheless a diverse group with varying reasons for leaving Britain for Canada:

Many from their homes had fled,
For they had denied them bread;
Some from sorrow and distress,
Others from mere restlessness,
Some because their hopes were high,
Others for—they knew not why,
Some because they longed to see
The promised land of liberty.

(II, 5-12)

To Galt in Lawrie Todd, as to Traill in The Backwoods of Canada, a ship bound for the New World is a type of Noah's ark that will come to ground in a world which offers the promise of a new start in relatively pristine circumstances.41 To McLachlan the voyage to Canada is a journey akin to that of the Israelites from their Egyptian captivity to the “Promised land” (Canaan). Diverse as they are in background, motivation, and temperament, the emigrants on the “‘Edward Thorn’” are presented, not only as a [Page xxiii] “microcosm” of society, complete with a teacher, a politician, a poet, and a soldier, but also as a cohesive and patriarchal “company” or “brotherhood”42 with a common destination and purpose—“To form a backwoods settlement” (II, 28; emphasis added).
    The reason for this very probably lies in a component of one of the principal sources for the central chapters of The Emigrant that would have appealed strongly to McLachlan’s belief in social cooperation. In its Canadian sections, Bogle Corbet focuses increasingly on its hero’s relationship with a “society” of working-class and politically radical emigrants who, “on quitting Scotland, had agreed to live in a community” in Canada. Consisting of “[f]ive decent douce [i.e., sober and respectable] families”—a “party, with . . . wives and children . . . of thirty-one souls”—this society of emigrants has followed Bogle Corbet “by a ship from Greenock to Quebec.”43 Among them are a “brisk carpenter named Andrew Gimlet” and an “old man” named James Peddie “whom they called captain,”44 the model perhaps (with the so-called Colonel Jocelyn of the same novel)45 for McLachlan’s “General John, the mechanician” (II, 15). While clearly based on Galt’s “society,” McLachlan’s “motley company” is more inclusive and international. As well as including a poet (and another surrogate for McLachlan), “Little Mac, the jocund singer” (II, 18), it includes a somewhat Falstaffian46 Englishman called “fighting Bill from Kent” (II, 21) and various other cameo “portraits” of the kinds of “conceited, . . . blustering, and . . . hypocritical, as well as . . . wise, . . . persevering” people who comprise any community. “Hence,” observes the reviewer in The Globe, “the reader not only finds in the poem beautiful descriptions of scenery, and just views of the hard toils of men in the wilderness, but, also, and not seldom, striking descriptions of human passion and conduct, which affords scope for representing the ludicrous and mean, as well as the grand and pathetic, as they rise from the emotions of the heart.” In addition to being more diverse than the “society” in Bogle Corbet, the company in The Emigrant is also more egalitarian and democratic, for, whereas the group in Galt's novel places itself under the almost feudal leadership of the squirarchical Corbet in order efficiently to build a community in Canada, McLachlan’s emigrants subordinate themselves to no such leader and, in this respect, represent more truly the “brotherhood of man.”
    As the “‘Edward Thorn’” makes its way across the Atlantic, the thoughts and activities of its “motley company” turn on two main axes: the “deep distress” that has caused many of them “To seek a home beyond the wave” (II, 39, 42) and the abiding affection that they feel for their native Britain. [Page xxiv] These feelings find expression in two songs, the first a satirical ballad from another Englishman, “Tom, the politician” (II, 16), and the second a farewell song to Scotland from “Little Mac, the jocund singer.” Tom’s song, “Old England is eaten by knaves . . .” (II, 47-70), is framed by expressions of affection for its author’s “country and race” and suggests overpopulation (“too many spoons for the broth”) as the reason for emigration. To this Malthusian point, it adds as further causes of England's woes the heartless and self-interested activities of the “squire,” the “Justice,” and the “Bishop,” a catalogue of establishment types that smacks of Thomas Carlyle’s social criticism, particularly in its characterization of the country land owner as a figure committed more to “preserving his game”47 than to considering the needs of the poor. Little Mac’s song, “Farewell Caledonia . . .” (II, 88-160), is preceded by a Burnsian description of “Scotia’s” natural features that recalls in form and content, and with an inkling of tedious repetitions to come in the poem, the Old Pioneer's earlier account of his version of such famous Scottish farewell songs as “Lochaber No More” and “MacCrimmon’s Lament,” a “piece . . . but too well known,” according to Scott, “from its being the strain with which the emigrants from the West Highlands and Isles usually take leave of their native shore.”48“Farewell Caledonia . . .” is less morose than these classics of Scottish plangency, however, partly because its brisk rhythms and strong rhymes have a buoying effect reminiscent of Tennyson’s “Go not, happy day . . .,” one of the cheerier songs in Maud (and, as it happens, one of the few poems by Tennyson with North-American content).49“[A] great admirer of Tennyson,”50 McLachlan may have thought the alternating trimeter and dimeter lines of “Go not, happy day . . .” appropriate to the bitter-sweet mood of Little Mac's song, the third stanza of which achieves a nice balance between happy reminiscence and sorrowful acceptance:

How bright were my mornings
    My evenings how calm,
I rose wi’ the laverock,
    Lay down wi’ the lamb;
Was blithe as the lintie
    That sings on the tree,
And licht as the goudspink
    That lilts on the lee;
But tears, sighs and sorrow [Page xxv]
    Are foolish and vain,
For the heart-light o' childhood
    Returns not again.

(II, 113-124)

“[L]averock” (skylark), “lintie” (linnet), and “goudspink” (goldfinch)—all of these British birds appear in poems by Burns and all of them, like the Scottish place-names elsewhere in the song (and in The Emigrant as a whole), were obviously calculated by McLachlan to evoke the Scotland of the heart, an earthly paradise of identity that has been lost by the emigrant Little Mac and has already become what it perhaps always was, more literary and imaginary than actual or real.

Chapter III. The Arrival.

The most surprising thing about Chapter III, considering that in 1840 McLachlan himself arrived in Quebec and made his way to a bush farm in Canada West, is the extent to which it derives from written sources. Scarcely a line in the account of the journey to the shores of Lake Ontario in “The Arrival” is not indebted to some degree to one or more of the principal prose sources of The Emigrant: Lawrie Todd, Bogle Corbet, The Backwoods of Canada, and 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. Since some of McLachlan’s debts to Galt and Traill have already been placed on view and more will be discussed in due course, it seems appropriate to concentrate here on the levies that the poet makes on Weld in “The Arrival,” most obviously in his account of the birds of Canada West, which reads in part:

Then came a change of scene,
Groves of beech and maple green . . .

Lovely birds of gorgeous dye,
Flitted 'mong the branches high,
Coloured like the setting sun,
But were songless every one; [Page xxvi]
No one like the linnet gray,
In our home so far away. . . .

.     .     .

Some had lovely amber wings,
Round their necks were golden rings;
Some were purple, others blue,
All were lovely, strange and new;
But although surpassing fair,
Still the song was wanting there;
Then we heard the rush of pigeons,
Flocking to those lonely regions;
And anon when all was still,
Paused to hear the whip-poor-will. . . .
                    (III, 89-90, 93-98, 105-114)

The first portion of the passage is little more than a versification of Weld’s comments on “Virginian Birds” in his letter from Monticello of May 1796: “the birds in America are much inferior to those in Europe in the melody of their notes, but they are superior in point of plumage. I know of no American bird that has the rich mellow note of our black-bird, the sprightly note of the sky-lark, or the sweet and plaintive one of the nightingale.”51 The second portion of the passage derives from Weld's comments in the same place on the “remarkable . . . plumage of . . . the blue bird and the red bird,” his observations elsewhere about Passenger pigeons in Lower Canada,52 and his description of the song and habits of the whip-poor-will, a bird which, as argued in another place,53 also found its way from his Travels into The Rising Village. But, unlike Goldsmith, Cornwall Bayley and, on the very subject of birds, Traill, McLachlan does not argue with Weld when he denigrates and patronises things North American. On the contrary, the description of birds in The Emigrant is an endorsement and elaboration of the traveller's account. Indeed, where Traill rises to the defense of Canada's birds against the charge that they lack melody,54 McLachlan goes further than Weld and characterises them as “songless” and “wanting” in “song.” The difference is an important one because it highlights the extent to which McLachlan is bent, not on helping British emigrants to accommodate themselves to Canadian reality like Traill, but on emphasizing the disparities [Page xxvii] between Britain and Canada and, through these, the alienation and displacement experienced by emigrants moving from Europe to North America.
    But McLachlan does not always follow Weld straightforwardly in “The Arrival.” On at least two occasions he uses passages in the Travels as points of departure—spring-boards, as it were—for his own imaginative flights and ideological plunges. During his “Journey through the Woods” from Buffalo Creek to the Genesee River in New York in October, 1797, Weld refers to the English theorist of the picturesque William Gilpin and observes that “were a painter to attempt to colour a picture from . . . [the American woods in the fall] it would be condemned in Europe as totally different from any thing that ever existed in nature.”55 Probably inspired by this foray into aesthetics, and more intent even than Weld on highlighting the exotic nature of sights and occurrences in the North American forest, McLachlan refers, not to Gilpin, but to Salvador Rosa, the Italian painter whose works often contain groups of bandits and scenes of violence which, in concert with the rugged landscapes surrounding them, generated for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century viewers the feeling of pleasurable horror associated with the sublime:

Singing thus we circled round,
All beyond was gloom profound,
And the flame upon us threw,
Something of a spectral hue;
’Twas a scene so wild and quaint,
Salvator would have loved to paint. . . .

(III, 69-74)

In a realm even more remote from Britain than Salvador’s Italy, the emigrants become for a moment the gothic and ghostly stuff of exotic art. Surrounded by darkness and “circled round” their campfire, they are an ordered and ordering presence, the hub from which a new society will radiate, a geometrical shape which is piquantly attractive (“quaint”) rather than frightening because—to quote Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of the Jar”—it draws the “slovenly wilderness” into a human and artistic pattern that will soon have dominion everywhere.”56
    A second point of departure for McLachlan in “The Arrival” may have been Weld’s gentlemanly comments in his Travels on the “diversion” to be had in North America in “shooting pigeons,” “[d]oves and quails, or partridge.”57 Two of these “game” birds are mentioned in McLachlan’s very [Page xxviii] moving equivalent of Weld’s sporting observations: the shooting by “bold Bill from Kent” of a “lovely hind” that had “Suddenly . . . / Started up and snuffed the wind . . .”:

Instantly bold Bill . . .
Through its brain a bullet sent;
The creature made a desperate leap,
With a cry so wild and deep,
Tried to make another bound,
Reeled and sank upon the ground;
And the sound the rifle made,
Woke the herd within the shade,
We could plainly hear them rush,
Through the leaves and underbrush,
Fled afar the startled quail,
And partridge with her fan-like tail,
Whirring past with all her brood,
Sought a deeper solitude.

There the gentle thing lay dead,
With a deep gash in its head,
And its face and nostrils o'er,
Spattered with the reeking gore,
There she lay, the lovely hind,
She who could outstrip the wind,
She the beauty of the wood,
Slaughtered thus to be our food.

(III, 121-142)

Part of the effectiveness of this passage derives from McLachlan’s skilful use of the initial and terminal stresses of his catalectic tetrameter lines to accentuate the actions of the deer and birds (“leap,” “Tried,” “bound,” “Reeled,” “Woke,” “rush,” “Fled,” “Whirring”) and to emphasize the bloody pathos of the deer’s death (“dead,” “gore,” “Spattered,” “Slaughtered”). Once again, McLachlan's ability to tailor his manner to his matter is abundantly evident.
    Another notable feature of the killing of the “lovely hind” is its double ideological valancy. On the one hand, the instantaneous slaughter of a wild deer for food shows the freedom of the emigrants from the game-preserving [Page xxix] squires and laws of Britain; on the other, it is an act that reveals the emigrants as a destructive and disruptive presence in the “forest free” (III, 25) of Canada. Perhaps more than McLachlan consciously intended, the pathos surrounding “bold”(!) Bill’s deer-slaying raises questions about the morality of the emigrants’ displacement of the existing natural order in Canada, as also does the word “‘Invaders’” at the outset of Orator John’s rehearsal later in the poem of the classic, Providential justification of colonization:

“Invaders of the ancient woods,
These dark primeval solitudes,
Where the prowling wolf and bear,
Time unknown have made their lair,
We are God-commissioned here,
That howling wilderness to clear,
Till with joy it overflows
Blooms and blossoms like the rose!”

(IV, 89-96)

The obvious source of the emigrants’ commission is Genesis 1.28 (“And God . . . said unto them . . . replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over . . . every living thing . . .”), but its best gloss comes from the Prolegomena to Evolution and Ethics, where Thomas Huxley could almost have been thinking of Orator John’s vision of the displacement of the “‘wolf and bear’” by the “‘rose’” and Bold Bill’s shooting of the “lovely hind.” “The process of colonization,” writes Huxley, “presents analogies to the formation of a garden which are highly instructive. Suppose a shipload of English colonists [is] sent to form a settlement. . . . They clear away the native vegetation, extirpate or drive out the animal population, so far as may be necessary, and take measures to defend themselves against the re-immigration of either. In their place, they introduce English grain and fruit trees; English dogs, sheep, cattle, horses; and English men; in fact, they set up a new Flora and Fauna and a new variety of mankind, within the old state of nature.”58
    Figurative as Orator John's “‘rose’” may be, it is the imported kin of the “eglantine” (V, 24) that adorns the emigrants’ log cabin later in the poem and of the dog, “swine,” “sheep,” and “cattle” that they subsequently protect during the “visits” of “re-immigrat[ing]” “wolves” (V, 75-103). As they sit around the campfire on the evening of the first day of their journey to Lake Ontario, McLachlan’s emigrants sing of the “greenwood shade” of the [Page xxx] Canadian woods as a refuge from the “din,” vice, poverty, and squallor of the cities in their native Britain (III, 30-69). “Oh! God, I would rather be / An Indian in the wood, / And range through the forest free, / In search of my daily food,” concludes one of the verses of their song. “O rather would I pursue, / The wolf and the grisly bear, / Than the toil of the thankless few . . .,” begins the next. And the song concludes: “The desert place is bright, / The wilderness is fair, / If Hope but shed her light, / If Freedom be but there.”
    As would-be settlers in the backwoods, the emigrants have embarked on a course that will lead them, not only to destroy and displace the very things that their song romanticizes, but also to recreate and re-experience many of the social woes from which they are hoping to escape. When Chapter III closes, they have not yet laid low the first tree of the greenwood shade, let alone seen the arrival of “Speculators,” “cunning politicians,” and the rest in their settlement, but they have killed one animal and driven many others away in search of “deeper solitude.” Little wonder that at the conclusion of “The Arrival”—at the end of a beginning that is also the beginning of an end—the Old Pioneer sounds a note of ubi sunt whose reverberations extend outwards past human companions dead and gone to an environment altered beyond recognition and with results that are at best mixed. That the emigrants “Hail . . . with joy” their destination on the shore of Lake Ontario, not with dawn’s new light, but with “declining day” (III, 144-145), is but one of many suggestions in the chapter that the progress of emigrant civilization in Canada can be viewed in a darker light than the one chosen by the Old Pioneer as he looks out on what was once a “secluded bay”:

Then it was a lonely scene,
Where man’s foot had never been.
Now it is a busy mart,
Filled with many a thing of art,
And I love to sit and trace,
Changes that have taken place;
Not a landmark does remain,
Not a feature seems the same;
My companions, where are they?
One by one they dropped away,
And of all I’m left the last,
Thus to chronicle the past.

(III, 148-160)
[Page xxxi]

Where man's foot had never been”? In less time than it takes to draw a curtain over an unpleasant view, this line simultaneously erases the native peoples from the lands occupied by the emigrants and quells any anxieties that the descendants of those emigrants might entertain about their rights in the land. As in Isabella Valancy Crawford’s Malcolm’s Katie (which may owe a debt to The Emigrant in this, as in other, regards),59 McLachlan avoids conflict between white and Indian rights in land by sending his settlers into a “landscape in which the red man has never set foot.”60 Before the arrival of the emigrants on the “lonely scene” trees must have fallen in the forest but they were evidently unremarked and inconsequential. The first fallen tree that really matters is the one cut by the emigrants to initiate their settlement.

Chapter IV. Cutting the First Tree.

On their arrival at their “promised lot” on the shores of Lake Ontario, McLachlan’s emigrants immediately set to work building what the Old Pioneer terms a “humble tent” (IV, 9) and Galt in Lawrie Todd variously calls a “hut,” a “wigwam,” a “shanty,” and a “temporary house, in which all the emigrants could be accommodated, until proper dwellings were erected. . . .”61 Like these quotations, the event at the centre of Chapter IV comes from Galt’s two novels of pioneer life, where the account of the “ceremony of cutting down the first tree in the market place-to-be of [the new settlement] of Judiville”62 in Lawrie Todd provides the precedent for the parallel event in Bogle Corbet. “After we had felled the first tree,” says Corbet, “I proceeded pretty much to the plan in which Mr. Lawrie Todd . . . did with Judeville [sic].”63
    Not as unimaginative in his imitation of Galt as Corbet is of Todd, McLachlan manipulates and transforms the shanty-building and tree-cutting incidents in Lawrie Todd into occasions for thought and debate about the implications and future of the new settlement on Lake Ontario. In Judeville, the thunderous fall of the first tree has the unequivocally positive effect of “banish[ing] the loneliness and silence of the woods forever.”64 In The Emigrant, the appearance of the settlers’ shanty performs the parallel but less appealing function of scattering the area’s wild creatures in all directions, leaving the emigrants aesthetically poorer and the reader once again aware of their disruptive effects: [Page xxxii]

And the wild duck floating by,
Paused, and with a startled cry,
Called her scattered brood to save,
Then she dived beneath the wave;
And the crane that would alight,
Screamed at the unlooked for sight,
And like a bewildered thing,
Lakeward bent her heavy wing;
And the stag that came to drink
Downward to the water's brink,
Showed his branching head, and then
Bounded to the woods again.

(IV, 15-26)

Down, up, away: these are the directions in which the indigenous creatures of Canada must flee if they are to avoid being drawn like the “lovely hind” into the deadly vortex of European settlement.
    Unable, obviously, to do more than stand and passively resist the onslaught of the pioneers are the trees, “stubborn facts” (IV, 28) whose destruction constitutes the first step in the creation of a permanent settlement. To create a “shanty” or “tent” little more than “bark”65 and “green boughs” (IV, 10) is required. To build a “log cabin” (V, 1) tree trunks are necessary, and fresh ones at that—not the “rotten log” (IV, 42) upon which Lazy Bill sits as his companions set to work felling a “sturdy elm” (IV, 29). As McLachlan evidently understood, trees stood and fell at the centre of pioneer life in Canada, both physically and metaphysically. “’Twas a kind of sacrament,” says the Old Pioneer of the cutting of the first tree,

Like to laying the foundation,
Of a city or a nation;
But the sturdy giant stood,
Let us strike him as we would,
Not a limb nor a branch did quiver,
There he stood as straight as ever.

(IV, 34-40)

To raise a human order the settlers must raze a natural one. Their heroism is that of a collective David doing battle with a sylvan Goliath. Where an individual settler “awkward at the axe” (IV, 27) would have faced almost [Page xxxiii] impossible difficulties, a group can succeed with relative ease and speed. When they “gaze . . . upon the sight” of the fallen elm “With a consciousness of might; / And . . . cheer . . . as when a foe / Or tyrant is laid low,” the emigrants become aware for the first time of their power as a group to perform the acts of pioneer heroism that are necessary to lay the foundations of “a city or a nation.”
    During and after the felling of the “sturdy elm” three of the emigrants deliver themselves of philosophical and political speeches that are connected in one way or another with the tree or with wood. Least constructive of these is the speech of Lazy Bill from where he lolls on his emblematically “rotten log” (IV, 45-68). Delivered in “doleful accents” (IV, 44), it is the speech of a fatalist who has “‘groaned upon the loom’” as a weaver (and like a Fate), and become convinced that people are essentially powerless to influence such changes as may, or may not, occur in their lifetime. “‘[W]e'll never fell that tree!’” he concludes at precisely the moment when the tree refutes his position by beginning to fall. Especially when they work energetically together, people are clearly far from powerless to effect changes in the external world and in their own lives.
    More positive and constructive is the speech of Orator John, a rousing paean to “‘honest manly toil’” (IV, 111) that is delivered, appropriately (and with a reference to political stump-oratory)66 from atop the “stump” (IV, 86) of the fallen elm (IV, 89-152). Sternly Protestant in his emphasis on a Providential design that is fulfilled by “‘Perseverence,’” “‘determined will,’” and, above all, hard “‘Work,’” Orator John argues that man can be master of himself, his environment, and his destiny. Likening the fallen elm to “‘Cæsar slain’” by Brutus in the name of Republican Rome, he sees in its felling an heroic example of the kind of hard work and communal effort which, when combined with right reason and personal abstention, will lead to divine favour and its earthly evidences. “‘He who'd be a patriot now,’” he concludes (echoing the cadences of John Bunyan's “Who would true valour see . . .”),67

“Sweat, not blood, must bathe his brow;
Like a patriotic band,
Let us all join heart and hand,
Joying in each other's success,
Winking at each other's weakness.
Let us use but common sense,
With industry and temperance, [Page xxxiv]
And God’s blessing can be got,
Even for the asking o’t;
And with these we'll hardly miss
Health and wealth and happiness.”

(IV, 141-152)

In arguing that Orator John expounds a “doctrine of individual success” that isolates him from the group in “his self-sufficient individualism,”68 Hughes surely ignores the communal emphasis of his speech—his stress on a group effort (“Let us all join heart and hand . . .”) directed towards material and spiritual ends that can be enjoyed by everyone (“. . . we'll hardly miss / Health and wealth and happiness”). If this is “early capitalism”69 as Hughes argues, it is an early capitalism tempered by mutuality and the empathy, tolerance, reason, and self-control that are necessary to prevent it from becoming cruel, selfish, and unrestrained.
    The third and final speech in “Cutting the First Tree” is a “parable” of utopia that McLachlan puts into the mouth of “doubting John the teacher” (II, 13). Any or all of three reasons are possible for this match of speaker and speech: (1) it emphasizes the lack of consensus among the emigrants concerning the programme propounded by Orator John; (2) it provides a cautionary frame for the utopian vision enunciated in the speech itself; and (3) it suggests a scepticism on the part of Doubting John himself about the ability of the emigrants to found a society based, as he would wish, on the spirit of co-operation just demonstrated in the felling of their first tree. In any case (or combination of cases), the parable that Doubting John quietly expounds by the fallen elm (IV, 159-224) concerns an agrarian society in the distant past that is communistic and non-commercial in its principles and operations. In contrast to the selfish, amoral, mannerless, competitive, money-grubbing, and essentially savage society that Doubting John sees in the contemporary world, his “‘happy band’” of “‘long ago’”

. . . had every thing in common;
No one said this is mine own—
Money was a thing unknown;
No lawgiver and no pelf,
Each a law was to himself.
They had neither high nor low,
Rich nor poor; they did not know
Such distinctions ere could be, [Page xxv]
Such was their simplicity.

(IV, 168-176)

For Doubting John, this utopian society provides the blueprint for the society that the emigrants should “try” to create in Canada. In his eyes, the felled tree becomes emblematic of a world fallen from grace into commerce, a world that might yet be redeemed—and the conditional is Doubting John’s own—by a return to the “‘proper way’” of his “‘happy band’”:

“Like the tree we've now laid low,
We might conquer vice and woe;
I can see no reason why
We might not unite and try,
Like those simple men of old,
To redeem the world from gold;
Each for all, and all for each,
Is the doctrine that I preach;
Mind the fable of the wands,
’Tis a fact that always stands;
Singly, we are poor and weak,
But united, who can break.”

(IV, 213-224)

The nub of the doctrine that Doubting John preaches—“‘Each for all, and all for each’”—may derive specifically from Marx (“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”), but, of course, it has resonances in the ideas and statements of many communistic thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece (“One for all, and all for one we gage”) and in Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers (“All for one, one for all, that is our device”). Aesop’s fable of “The Four Oxen” contains a similar sentiment (“United we stand, divided we fall”), as does his “‘fable of the wands’” or “The Bundle of Sticks” (“Union gives strength”).70 The society that the emigrants “might” “try” to create in Canada has many precedents with one thing in common of which even Doubting John seems certain: the importance of mutual support in securing for the “‘poor and weak’” strength and prosperity.
    A large part of the inspiration of Doubting John’s concluding use of “‘the fable of the wands’” obviously came from a speech given by Galt to Bogle Corbet to persuade his Glaswegian emigrants to stay in Canada rather than [Page xxxvi] go to the United States. “‘Many of you . . . must have heard the story of the old man and his sons with the bundle of sticks,’” says Corbet,“—apply it to your own case. If you separate . . ., you will soon find yourselves as weak as each of the several sticks when the bundle was loosened—but if you adhere to each other, your united strength will effect far more with less effort than your utmost separate endeavours.”71 As illuminating as the debt of The Emigrant to this speech and the surrounding incident in Bogle Corbet are McLachlan’s departures from Galt—his pluralistic presentation of political and philosophical options to the emigrants (as to the reader) and his concomitant refusal to place his settlers in the position of following a leader whose power over them comes, as it does in Corbet’s case, from money as well as merit. Yet Corbet’s speech and leadership do receive the reasoned assent of his Glaswegian emigrants and, moreover, the women in the group play a part in their discussion and decision72 that is quite out of the question in a poem where only one woman is named and none is characterized other than by marital status. Perhaps because McLachlan’s aim was to expound in a literal way the brotherhood of man, The Emigrant manages to be in different places both patriarchal and egalitarian. If women do not figure prominently in McLachlan’s bundle of sticks, neither does he place a would-be squire at its centre. To judge by the chapter that opens with the close of Orator John’s speech, that special position is occupied by the children and young people who will grow up in the settlement created by the emigrants. What, after all, is a log cabin but a large bundle of sticks shaped so as to shelter and protect a family?

Chapter V. The Log Cabin.

The most immediately striking thing about “The Log Cabin” is the substantial and complex form of the chapter’s title poem (V, 1-36). Expanding into the margins and sectioning off the page like no other poem in The Emigrant, the four eight-line stanzas describing the log cabin are as rectilinear and interlocked as the building that they describe. Mortised together, as it were, by an interstanzaic rhyme,73 they are written in a rhythm—a hushed and unhurried anapestic tetrameter—that recalls Thomas Moore’s “Ballad Stanzas,” another poem about a “cottage” set in a “‘lone . . . wood’”74 which, according to a “tradition” mentioned by Galt in Bogle Corbet, was composed under a tree on the north shore of Lake Ontario.75 [Page xxxvii]
    But while McLachlan follows Moore in mentioning the solitude and “‘peace’” to be found where “the foot of the wayfarer seldom comes [near] . . . ,” the emphasis of his poem does not fall with “Ballad Stanzas” on rural retirement and romantic love; rather, the emphasis in “The Log Cabin” is on the mainly happy sounds and effects of British civilization in the wilderness. In Moore’s poem, the poet is clued to the existence of a cottage in the woods by a graceful and silent column of smoke, and the only sound that he hears is a “woodpecker tapping . . . [a] hollow beech-tree.” In McLachlan’s poem, “the ringing sound of . . . [an] axe” announces the presence of the log cabin to a passing “savage” whose “heart . . . is tamed” by the warm welcome given to him by the settlers’ children. (Like their counterparts in the incident in The Backwoods of Canada from which the second stanza of “The Log Cabin” clearly draws its inspiration, these children once “gaze[d] in affright” at an Indian hunter but now “meet him with . . . delight.”)76 The flora and fauna mentioned in “Ballad Stanzas”—the “elms,” the “woodpecker,” the “beech-tree,” and the “sumach”—are indigenous to North America and non-agricultural. This is also true of the opening stanzas of “The Log Cabin” (“deer,” “wolf,” “bear,” “hemlock,” “pine,” “ash,” and “eagle”). But in the third stanza of McLachlan’s poem there are also imported and agricultural plants (“eglantine,” “corn with its silver tassel”), and in its final stanza wild nature has been transformed into a safe playground for the settler’s children, one of whom has visited a similar transformation on indigenous culture by making a birch-bark canoe as a plaything:

And close by the cabin tho’ hid in the wood,
    Ontario lies like a mirror of blue,
Where the children hunt the wild duck’s brood,
    And scare the tall crane and the lonely mew;
And the eldest has fashioned a light canoe,
    And with noisome glee they paddle along,
Or dash for the cliff where the eagle flew,
    Or sing in their gladness the fisherman’s song,
Till they waken the echoes the greenwoods among.
                                                                      (V, 28-36)

In a way that the word “noisome” appears to disapprove, the settlers have brought a human presence to the wilderness, transforming the landscape into a “mirror” and an echo-chamber for the activities of their children. A [Page xxxviii] realm once dominated by predatory animals like the “wolf” and the “eagle” is well on the way to becoming, as the saying goes, a good place to raise children, albeit rambunctious ones who have yet to conform to the Victorian ideal of being seen but not heard.
    The two verse paragraphs that follow “The Log Cabin” describe the expansion of the settlement and the arrival of winter. In the first of these, such lines as “Rough logs over streams were laid, / Cabins built and pathways made . . .” (V, 41-42) derive from the section of Bogle Corbet in which the emigrants have yet to move into their own cabins and are living in a communal “sheltering-house,”77 a structure elided by McLachlan in favour of the more homey “little log cabin” of the chapter’s title poem. When he turns to describe the transition from summer to winter in the second verse paragraph, McLachlan draws slightly on Weld and extensively on Traill, expanding on a passage in The Backwoods of Canada to produce a curiously Coleridgean image of the sun during Indian summer. “Just at the commencement of the month (November),” writes Traill, “we experienced three or four warm hazy days. . . . The sun looked red through the misty atmosphere, tinging the fantastic clouds that hung in smoky volumes, with saffron and pale crimson light. . . .”78“And the heavens were swathed in smoke,” runs the equivalent passage in The Emigrant, and “The sun a hazy circle drew, / And his bloody eye looked through” (V, 64-66). In both of these quotations, as in William Wilfred Campbell’s well-known “Indian Summer” (“Along the line of smoky hills . . .”),79 the words “smoke” and “smoky” refer, of course, to a mist that has the dark appearance of smoke. No more than Traill did McLachlan or Campbell credit “the notion entertained by some travellers, that the Indian Summer is caused by the annual conflagration of the forests by . . . Indians inhabiting the unexplored regions beyond the large lakes. . . .”
    When winter comes it brings a mixture of trials and pleasures to the settlers. On the negative side of the ledger are the terrifying visits of upwards of “fifty” wolves whose “savage eyes, / Flash . . . like fire-flies” (V, 93-94), an image as indigenous as it is graphic. On the positive side (and notice the cheerily alliterated trochees) are “mánÿ mérrÿ méetïngs” around a “roaring fire”—“Social gatherings, [and] kindly greetings” (V, 105-106) of the sort described by Weld as characteristic of the long winters in Lower Canada. But whereas Weld’s French Canadians “beguile the time” with “music, dancing, and card-playing,” McLachlan’s less effervescent and frivolous English and Scots settlers sing songs and tell stories, as do their literary ancestors on “rainy, do-nothing days” in Lawrie Todd. “On these occasions, [Page xxxix] they were wont to assemble in the large shed to tell stories and sing songs for a pastime,” says Galt’s hero, adding in his usual self-congratulatory way: “It was to me they were indebted for the suggestion, that every one should tell a story either of himself or some adventure that had taken place within his own knowledge. . . .”80

    In The Emigrant a parallel importance accrues to McLachlan's surrogate, Little Mac, who, instead of telling a story like Todd, sings two songs. The first of these picks up the romantic component of Moore’s “Ballad Stanzas” that was largely omitted from “The Log Cabin” and adds to it an egalitarian dimension. As one stanza will show, the result is rendered in a form reminiscent again of the ecstatic portions of Tennyson’s Maud:

But give me the cabin,
    Tho’ far, far apart;
I’ll make it love’s dwelling—
    The home of the heart.
With some one to love me—
    Joy’s roses to wreathe;
With no one above me,
    And no one beneath.

(V, 139-146)

Following this, Little Mac’s enthusiastic audience requests the song of the “jolly hunter . . . / Who . . . / Wooed and won the Indian Maid” (V, 148-150). This turns out to be a frontier version of Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (“Come live with me, and be my love . . .”)81 with additions from a variety of other sources, including The Song of Songs, Wordsworth’s “Lucy” poems, and perhaps Keats’s Endymion. “O come my love! O come with me! . . . My pretty bounding fawn!” exclaims the Jolly Hunter, “I’ll deck thy hair with jewels rare— / Thy neck with rich brocade. . . . Then come, my love, O come with me . . . Sweet flow'ret of the shade, / And of my bower thou'lt lady be— / My lovely Indian Maid!” (V, 151-174). Clearly this song is fanciful, and more than a little out of tune with The Emigrant as a whole in its celebration of material frippery, but it seems to strike a serious note in its presentation of love as a power that can conquer even social and racial barriers, albeit by assimilating a natural (and erotically appealing) Indian woman into a sophisticated and wealthy white society. Amor vincit amerindiam. [Page xl]
    To this point in Chapter V the songs and stories by the fireside have come from the more-or-less youthful emigrants, and their focus, naturally enough, has been on either the recent past or the romantic future in the North American environment. When the turn of the “elder ones” (V, 175) comes in the final part of the chapter the focus shifts—again, naturally enough—to the more distant past in Britain, to stories of “the days when they were young” and to “ballad rhymes— / Histories of other times; / Of manners past away, / Living in the minstrel’s lay . . .” (V, 177, 181-185). References are made to “Gil Morice” and “Chevy-Chase,” two ballads contained in the anthology that probably provided the basis for McLachlan’s knowledge of ballads and “balladical lore” (VII, 20), Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. To the elder pioneers, as apparently to McLachlan, the “Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, and Other Pieces of Our Earlier Poets” (to quote Percy’s subtitle) are the very “soul of poetry” (V, 194). Grounded in feeling and “void of art” (V, 191), ballads are memorable because affective and uncontrived, qualities to which, more than likely, McLachlan himself aspired in his own work in the “balladical” mode, a category that includes much, if not all, of The Emigrant, not to say his canon as a whole. Put baldly, ballads are the poetry of the people and it was a poet of the people that McLachlan wished to be.
    The “ballad of the Gipsy King” that is given to “old Aunty Jane” (V, 198-260) at the close of Chapter V is an imitation ballad of the sort being composed in England at this time by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, and others. A composite of traditional ballad motifs drawn primarily from two poems, “The Gypsy Laddie” and “Little Musgrave,” it is typical of the tamer Victorian imitations of old ballads in two notable respects: its muting of suggestions of sexual impropriety in its sources and its (corresponding?) retention of a modicum of graphic violence. Whereas in “The Gypsy Laddie” a lady deserts her husband for a gypsy, in “The [B]allad of the Gypsy King” she merely leaves the home of her father, Lord Semphill (another element of The Emigrant drawn from the poet’s native Renfrewshire). As in “Little Musgrave,” the errant lady is gorily killed in McLachlan’s poem but by mistake rather than design, and without the sadistic violence of the original (where Lord Bernard “cutse her pappes from off her brest” and her “bloode / Run[s] trickling down her knee”).82 No Rossetti or Morris (let alone Swinburne) bent on confronting his Victorian readers with the extremes of sex and violence, love and death, McLachlan offers up the “mournful tones” of “The [B]allad of the Gypsy King” as an emotional experience of the sort that once made “tears . . . fall like rain” (V, [Page xli] 199-197) and may yet similarly affect those who, in the words of the Introduction to The Emigrant, “Have . . . but the heart to feel it. . . .”

Chapter VI. The Indian Battle.

As was the case with the description of the “savage . . . tamed at the sight” of the settler’s children in “The Log Cabin,” the probable inspiration for this chapter is Traill’s “Story of an Indian” in The Backwoods of Canada. Set “[s]ome twenty years ago [in c. 1816], while a feeling of dread still existed in the minds of the British towards the Indians from the atrocities committed during the war of independence,” Traill’s story concerns a widow and her children who are terrified by the “sudden appearance of an Indian within [their] log-hut.”83 Like Lazy Bill, who first sights the Indians in Chapter VI of The Emigrant and jumps to the wrong conclusion (“‘Death in any shape is horrid. . . . Oh! to think that I came here / To be roasted like a deer’” [VI, 21-24]), Traill’s widow immediately imagines “the frightful mangled corpses of the children upon . . . [the] hearth” and prepares to throw herself at the feet of the Indian “as he advance[s] toward her with . . . [his] dreaded weapons in his hands.” In “The Story of an Indian” (as in “The Log Cabin”), the Indian quickly shows himself to be a peaceful hunter and soon becomes an exotic friend of the widow’s children. In “The Indian Battle” the Indians soon prove themselves intent on doing violence to each other rather than to the settlers, who, on discovering this, set off to witness a “duel” between a Huron and a Mohawk Chief with all the “delight” of Romans going to watch gladiators fighting to the death in the Coliseum. In both places, however, the unstated point of the story is the same: the Indians were at one time a threat to white settlers in Canada, but they have long ago ceased to be so. At the end of the very garbled version of their history in Ontario that comprises McLachlan’s “Indian Battle,” the defeated Hurons (and, for all intents and purposes, the victorious Mohawks) disappear into the woods and are “seen and heard no more” (VI, 190). To judge by the amiable “savage” in “The Log Cabin” and the hospitable “Peter, the Chief” in The Backwoods of Canada, the few Indians who remain in areas settled by whites north of Lake Ontario are a thoroughly “tamed” and “childish”84 source of entertainment mainly for women and children.
    If one indication of McLachlan’s indifference to the native peoples is the lack of veracity in his treatment of their history (the defeat of the Huron by [Page xlii] the Iroquois Confederacy occurred in 1659, not “shortly after” the arrival of Scottish emigrants in Canada [VI, 2]), another is his treatment of their chiefs in entirely literary and stereotypical terms derived from Weld, Longfellow, and other sources. “Eagle,” the Mohawk Chief, is animalistic both in name and nature (“Agile as the stag was he,” “Sudden as the panther . . . Or the deadly rattle-snake” [VI, 115, 165-168]), and only the lack of a mellifluous and polysyllabic name differentiates him from Longfellow’s Megissogwan, another tall, dark, well-armed, and eagle-feathered warrior of white fears and fantasies (see Explanatory Notes, VI, 111-134). “Hemlock,” the Huron Chief, is “A model savage dark and dun, / A devil if there e'er was one,” who wears the equivalent of a melodramatic villain’s black moustache or hat: a “raven’s plume” that matches the “savage gloom” of his “eye” (VI, 127-132). Both are prepared to fight to the death for reasons that are never revealed for the simple reason that in the primitive and one-dimensional world created for them by McLachlan there are no real reasons to speak of, no complex motivations and ideas, only intense feelings such as “Hate” (VI, 107) and instinctual reactions such as those of the rattle-snake.
    This is, of course, a world far different from the one inhabited by the settlers, and surely one purpose of “The Indian Battle” is, as Hughes intimates,85 to emphasize the peaceful, constructive, and complex heroism of the pioneers by contrasting it to the violent, destructive, and simple heroism of peoples at an earlier and “savage” stage of social development. As they initially and, it transpires, unnecessarily gather together “muskets . . . / . . . pitchforks . . . a dirk” and “axe[s]” (VI, 52-55) to do battle themselves with the Indians under “old soldier Hugh . . . In his old commanding mood” (VI, 47, 50; emphasis added), the settlers are temporarily throw-backs to times and places when heroic deeds were done in the field of war rather than the field of agriculture. From the perspective that sees pioneer heroism as the true heroism, they are “mock-heroic”86 duffers whose resolve “to do or die” (VI, 65) echoes absurdly the famous final line—“Forward, let us do or die”—of Burns’s “Bannockburn” (“Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled”).87 No wonder that what they witness in the “duel” between Eagle and Hemlock is a hand-to-hand combat reminiscent, not just of Hiawatha’s fight with Megissogwon,88 but also of the violent heroism of medieval British Knights and ancient Greek and Roman heroes. It is no more fortuitous that the gladiatorial Eagle and Hemlock are described as “lordly” and “herculean” (VI, 112, 123), than it is that their “duel” recalls the joust to the death between Richard of Musgrave and William of [Page xliii] Deloraine in The Lay of the Last Minstrel.89 As the violent Lord Sempill of “The [B]allad of the Gypsy King” also indicates, the true heroes of The Emigrant are no more aristocratic than they are classical or military. They are the common people whose field of action is agricultural life and whose weapons are pitchforks and axes used for their proper purposes of clearing and farming the land.

Chapter VII. Donald Ban.

Almost as admirable as the pioneers in The Emigrant are the poem’s many custodians and creators of art, from Little Mac, the “jocund singer” of songs of farewell, affection, and political equality, to the Donald Ban—Donald the Fair—who gives his name to the final chapter. A Gael who “in his youth . . . knew each hill and vale and stream” (VII, 9-11) of his native Highlands, Donald Ban is both a minstrel versed in “balladical lore” and himself the subject of songs by “Highland bards” (VII, 7). Driven from Scotland with his family during the so-called Highland clearances—the depopulation of the Highlands by aristocratic landowners to make room for hunting and sheep90 —he lost his wife and the last of his three sons soon after arriving in Lower Canada (VII, 113-130). “Heartless [and] homeless,” he then “wandered far and near” for an unspecified period of time before finding “at least a kind of home” in the emigrants’ settlement some twenty years after it was founded (VII, 131-134). Thereafter he became Homerically and Miltonically blind and “for many years” a familiar figure in the backwoods settlements as “he wandered far and wide” accompanied by his dog Fleetwood, and dressed in Highland regalia, playing the bagpipes for dances, and telling stories of his “strange” adventures (VII, 135-190). His death in the company of his “faithful hound” (VII, 231) and the Old Pioneer is handled with a sentimentality that is abhorrent to the Modern sensibility, but to anyone with the “heart to feel” it is a moving and appropriate climax to the first part of The Emigrant. As the reviewer for The Globe said in 1861: “The character of the Highland piper is . . . beautiful in its parts; but the death scene is peculiarly tender.”
    In the sources used extensively elsewhere in The Emigrant there are two figures who appear to coalesce in the character of Donald Ban. In Lawrie Todd, the last of the stories told to beguile the time in the “large shed” comes from “an old man . . . known in the settlement as Mr. Gentleman” who also [Page xliv] owns a dog and is “evidently aged, three-score at least, for his hair . . . [is] quite white. . . .”91 Like Donald Ban a “‘forlorn man’” without family and friends, Galt’s Mr. Gentleman was forced to emigrate to North America by a combination of bad fortune and curious circumstances that provide the substance of his story, and he too hopes to spend the “‘evening of . . . [his] days in unmolested tranquility’” (McLachlan has “end his days in peace” [VII, 136]) in the settlement. Unlike Donald Ban, however (and, in this respect, similar to Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Flammond” and “Richard Cory”), Mr. Gentleman comes from a privileged class and has no apparent artistic gifts other than his ability to tell his own story. It is as an artist, a musician and singer steeped in “The legends and the lays . . . of other days” (VII, 22-24), that Donald Ban resembles his second literary ancestor: the “infirm,” “old,” and “grey” “last . . . Bard”92 of The Lay of the Last Minstrel. Both McLachlan’s and Scott’s minstrels are repositories of literary history; both are responsive to the spiritual dimension of external nature; and both conclude a life of lonely wandering and itinerant entertaining in—to quote the final section of The Lay of the Last Minstrel—a “lowly bower; / A simple hut.”93 An emigrant and a minstrel, Donald Ban is a selective amalgam of Mr. Gentleman and the Last Minstrel who represents the continuities that exist through memory and folk culture between the New-World present and the Old-World past. Donald Ban is thus more than merely an entertainer in the backwoods settlements;94 he is an agent of cultural continuity and stability whose mantle is inherited by the Old Pioneer and, behind him, by McLachlan himself, for, of course, it is the poet who assures that neither Donald Ban’s folkways nor his “little tragedy, / Will . . . wholly pass away . . .” (VII, 289-290).
    An important component of Donald Ban's story—the eviction of himself and his family from their home during the Highland clearances—serves to associate him with a man who may have been known personally to McLachlan: Donald McLeod, the author of the seminal document on the Highland clearances, a series of letters first published in book form in Scotland in 1841 as a History of the Destitution of Sutherlandshire and several times reprinted in enlarged form as Donald McLeod’s Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland: Versus Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Sunny Memories in (England) a Foreign Land: or a Faithful Picture of the Extirpation of the Celtic Race from the Highlands of Scotland. The second of these reprintings was in Toronto in 1857, after McLeod had moved to Canada in the eighteen fifties and settled in Woodstock,95 near enough to both Toronto and Erin to make acquaintance with McLachlan a [Page xlv] distinct possibility.96 Be this as it may, the description of the Highland clearances in Chapter VII of The Emigrant clearly derives from Gloomy Memories (see Explanatory Notes, VII, 53-82); indeed, the emphasis placed by McLachlan on the burning of the “old roof-tree” (main beam) of Donald Ban’s house and the felling of a “tall, lofty pine” nearby “to feed the wasting flame” (VII, 63-70) could be said to acquire its full significance only in the light of McLeod's account of the special horrors of the 1814 clearings in Sutherlandshire (the home, incidentally, of McLachlan’s stern grandfather, Alexander Sutherland). “The houses had all been built, not by the landlord as in the low country, but by the tenants or by their ancestors,” writes McLeod, “and, consequently, were their property by right, if not by law. They were timbered chiefly with bog fir, which makes excellent roofing but is very inflammable: by immemorial usage this species of timber was considered the property of the tenant on whose lands it was found. In former removals the tenants had been allowed to carry away the timber to erect houses on their new allotments, but now a more summary mode was adopted, by setting fire to the houses! . . . [T]imber, furniture, and every other article that could not be instantly removed, was consumed by fire, or otherwise utterly destroyed.”97 McLeod’s ensuing descriptions of houses “Set in flames” and “consumed” “before [their owners’] face” (the words are now McLachlan’s) by the Duke of Sutherland’s callous and sadistic minions are among the most horrifying and condemnatory in a book whose aim is to call down the judgement of history on the perpetrators of the Highland clearances. Could it be that McLachlan had McLeod in mind when he asks of Donald Ban:

Who can blame thy heart for swelling,
Who condemn the blows you gave,
To the tyrant and his slave;
Who condemn the curse that sprung,
Ever ready from your tongue;
Or the imprecations deep,
That from out thy heart would leap,
When you thought upon that day,
And the blue hills far away;
Or the tears that would o’erflow,
When you told that tale of woe.

(VII, 72-82)
[Page xlvi]

Could it even be that the name Donald Ban—Donald the Fair—alludes obliquely to Donald McLeod, whose surname in Gaelic means ‘Ugly’?
    A somewhat bathetic composite of literary and actual characters though he may be, Donald Ban is yet in his own right a memorable and sympathetic character of some depth. At the heart of his characterization are two overwhelming and understandable emotions: nostalgia for his native Highlands and regret at having been forced to leave them for Canada. As well as giving vent to his feelings of nostalgia and regret, Donald Ban’s songs (and there are two) allow him temporarily to transcend the Canada that he cannot, in any case, see in a sort of ecstasy brought on by an apostrophic evocation of the Highland landscape and the hypnotic repetition of Scottish place names. Here, for example, are the opening lines of his first song (and notice the contribution of their incantatory anapestic and alliterative rhythms to their overall, spell-like effect):

“Why left I my country, why did I forsake
The land of the hill for the land of the lake,
These plains are rich laden as summer’s deep sigh,
But give me the bare cliffs that tower to the sky;
Where the thunderer sits in the halls of the storm,
And the eagles are screaming on mighty Cairn-Gorm
Benledi! Benlomond! Benawe! Benvenue!
Old monarchs, forever enthroned in the blue,
Ben Nevis! Benavin! the brotherhood hoar,
That shout through the midnight to mighty Ben More. . . .”
                                                                      (VII, 91-100)

Both the Old Pioneer and Donald Ban himself comment on the transcendental power of his nostalgic and regretful music and songs: “he’d . . . play, / ’till his heart was far away . . . Wafted to the hills again” (VII, 85-88), says the former; and the latter: “‘often I croon o'er some auld Scottish strain, / ’Till I’m roving in the hills of my country again . . .’” (VII, 107-108). As in his “‘auld Scottish strain[s]’” so in his sleep Donald Ban overcomes his alienation from Scotland, for as he says in his second song, “in my dreams / I see the blue peaks of the lone cliffs of Jura, / And wander again by her wild dashing streams” (VII, 196-198). “Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland, / And we in dreams behold the Hebrides. . . .”98
    As he goes from settlement to settlement singing and playing his Scottish songs, Donald Ban has in essence created from his own and others’ enduring feelings for [Page xlvii] Scotland a viable social role in his adopted country, a comfortable niche similar to that occupied by McLachlan in many parts of The Emigrant and in his numerous “Scottish Portraits.”99 On more than one occasion, McLachlan received the support of the Scottish-Canadian community to whose nostalgia he catered, and there is little reason to doubt that Donald Ban, had he existed, would have received similar help from the backwood settlements to which he took entertainment, nostalgia, and transcendence.
    In his death, as in his life, Donald Ban illustrates the conservative truth of the epigraph to The Emigrant, and Other Poems, a line from one of Horace’s Epistles which translates as “they change their clime, not their mind, who rush across the sea.”100 Though “old, and blind, and maim, / . . . [Donald Ban’s] heart is still the same” (VII, 219-220) and, as he approaches death, his brain wanders to Scotland. “‘Hush! the hills are calling on me, / Their great spirit is upon me,’” he exclaims; “‘Listen! that is old Ben More . . .; See! a gleam of light is shed, / Afar from Bennevis’ head . . .” (VII, 255-260). At the moment of his death, he speaks as if returning to Scotland with his lost wife and children, “‘Never, never more to roam, / From our ‘native Highland home’” (VII, 281-282). From a Christian perspective, this can only be a delusion, but it has a logic born of Donald Ban’s character and perhaps should be taken quite seriously if at the time of writing The Emigrant McLachlan had already become the spiritualist that he certainly was in the 1870s. Is there also a hint of spiritualism in the Old Pioneer’s assertion that there were in Donald Ban “Gleams of a divinity, / Longings, aspirations high, / After things that cannot die” (VII, 292-294)? Whatever the answer, the Old Pioneer's final assessment of Donald Ban’s “soul” confirms the truth of McLachlan’s epigraph: the man may be removed from Scotland, but not Scotland from the man:

O! thy soul was like thy land,
Stern and gloomy, great and grand,
Yet each yawning gulf between,
Had its nooks of sweetest green:
Little flowers surpassing fair,
Flowers that bloom no other where
Little natives of the rock,
Smiling midst the thunder shock;
Then the rainbow gleams of glory,
Hanging from the chasms hoary,
Dearer for each savage sound, [Page xlviii]
And the desolation round.

(VII, 295-306)

The effect is one of identity between Donald Ban and his beloved Highlands, an identity temporarily severed but ultimately restored. The essence of the Highlands is moveable but not changeable. “Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.”

·     ·     ·

The final verse paragraph of The Emigrant—section xiii of Chapter VII—brings the poem to an anti-climactic and provisional conclusion. “Much remains to be told” of the history of the backwoods settlement and “With to-morrow,” the Old Pioneer promises, “we'll not fail, / To resume our humble tale.” In the meantime, the listener and reader are offered an unpleasant glimpse of the corruption of the settlement from the outside by a poisonous flood of undesirable types whose principles and practices overwhelm the “simple honest ways” of the original pioneers—“quacks on spoil intent . . . public robbers, / Speculators . . . land jobbers . . . [bad] teachers . . . bogus . . . preachers . . . herb physicians, / And . . . cunning politicians.” What most if not all of these types have in common is a greedy and lazy self-interest that seeks to get more than it gives, to achieve wealth and status without the hard work, moral integrity, and communal responsibility that lie at the heart of McLachlan's co-operative and Presbyterian vision of Canada. Like the incompetent school-master in The Rising Village,101 the “smooth-coated men” in Malcolm’s Katie,102 and the treacherous suitors in both of these poems, they are the darkening edge of a nightmare which, if left uncontrolled, will destroy the dream of a fresh start and a new society in North America.
    Why, then—to return to the questions posed near the beginning of this discussion—did McLachlan not complete The Emigrant as promised? Perhaps his heart was not in the project of chronicling the demise of the “simple honest ways” of his early emigrants. Perhaps time did not permit him to complete his ambitious project. Or perhaps both of these suggestions are correct, and in a very specific way, for in 1862—within a year of the publication of The Emigrant, and Other Poems—McLachlan was appointed through the good offices of his friend Thomas D’Arcy McGee “an emigration agent for the province of Canada in Scotland.”103 As well as occupying McLachlan’s time with a trip to Scotland and lectures to potential emigrants, this appointment may well have scotched the plan of bringing The Emigrant [Page il] up to date with accounts of “quacks . . . public robbers, / Speculators” and the rest. To say the least, it would have been unseemly for an emigration agent to publish a long poem describing the venality and phoniness rampant in the sort of place he was promoting in his lectures as a destination and, indeed, describing in the same realistic but positive terms that characterize the central chapters of the first part of The Emigrant. By hard work and “steady perseverance,” McLachlan told the Paisley Emigration Society in 1862, many poor emigrants from Scotland had done more than create for themselves a good life in Canada; they had become “true heroes.” The cold of the Canadian winter is “very keen,” he informed the same group, but “the winter . . . is welcomed . . . as the most enjoyable of all the seasons of the year for out-door recreations, and visits, and reunions, and festivities of all descriptions.”104 It is as difficult to doubt that The Emigrant helped to secure McLachlan’s job as an emigration agent in Scotland as it is to doubt that, if he read aloud parts of his poem to groups like the Paisley Emigration Society, one part left unread was his concluding promise to chronicle the ascent of verminous characters and dishonest practices in his typical backwoods settlement.
    After The Emigrant, and Other Poems, McLachlan did not publish another volume of verse until 1874. Poems and Songs, which appeared in that year contains two groups of poems, “Idyls of the Dominion” and “Miscellaneous Scottish Pieces,” whose titles and contents reflect the dual identity as a “Scoto Canadian Poet”105 that McLachlan began to create for himself when he moved to Erin in the early ’fifties and brought to increasingly full expression in three earlier volumes also published in Toronto, Poems (1856), Lyrics (1858), and of course, The Emigrant, and Other Poems (1861). Of the emotional and financial rewards generated for McLachlan by this Scottish-Canadian identity, there can be no doubt. In the year of the publication of Poems and Songs, he toured Scotland lecturing on spiritualism and other topics and promoting sales of his book. Before returning to Canada he was “given a copy of Shakespeare and 24 volumes of Scott paid for by local subscribers”106 in Johnstone (Strathclyde), his birth-place in Renfrewshire. In 1890, thanks to the efforts and generosity of prominent members of the Scottish-Canadian and American community, he was honoured with a banquet in Toronto and a gift of $2,100.107 After he died in 1896, members of the same community set to work raising money for a “modest monument” by his grave near Orangeville. “[T]oday,” as his most recent biographer, Mary Jane Edwards, notes, “a plaque in the Orangeville Public Library commemorates McLachlan as ‘The Robbie Burns [Page l] of Canada.’” If there is justice in the world of spirits, McLachlan’s soul rests in the mid-Atlantic “Empearled within . . . / . . . the great sea for aye and aye”109 somewhere between the Hebrides and Nova Scotia.

The First Edition

The appearance of The Emigrant, and Other Poems was heralded by an announcement in The Globe on May 18, 1861:

Ready in a Few Days!






Toronto, May 18, 1861.

It was not until August 17, a day after the lengthy review of the volume in The Globe, that The Emigrant, and Other Poems appeared in the “New and Important Books” column of the same newspaper. “Let it not be our reproach that we shall neglect the poet, till we learn his worth from those in other lands,” wrote the Globe reviewer; “[h]e is now before us—let us heartily recognize him as one who does honour not only to the land of his birth, but also to the country of his adoption.” [Page li]
    With the publication of The Emigrant, and Other Poems by the aggressive Toronto publishers, “booksellers and importers” Rollo and Adam, McLachlan consolidated a poetic reputation that had gone from strength to strength with his three previous volumes, all similarly published in Toronto, and by increasingly prestigious houses—Cleland (The spirit of Love, and Other Poems [1846], Geikie (Poems [1846]), and Armour (Lyrics [1858]).110 Occupying several pages at the back of The Emigrant, and Other Poems are laudatory comments on McLachlan’s Lyrics by Sir Archibald Alison, Mrs. Susanna Moodie, Professor James George, and the Honourable Thomas D’Arcy McGee, as well as extensive listings of other books published or sold by Rollo and Adam, including the works of Burns, Byron, Milton, Gray, Goldsmith, and Scott. Predictably, a major emphasis of these advertisements is on books by Scots and about Scotland. McLachlan had found his niche.
    Although published and sold by Rollo and Adam, The Emigrant, and Other Poems was printed by Lovell and Gibson, a company with offices at this time in both Montreal and Toronto. Unfortunately, “there are no known business records of the Lovell & Gibson firm’s activities during the nineteenth century,”111 and none, as far as can be determined, for Rollo and Adam, so it is impossible to know how many copies of The Emigrant, and Other Poems were printed. From its appearance and construction,112 however, there is reason to assume that McLachlan’s book was printed on a steam press and, hence, in a run of at least five hundred, if not a thousand, copies. It was evidently distributed by “A. Fullarton & Co.” in “New York, London, and Edinburgh.”

The Present Text

The present text of The Emigrant is based on the first edition rather than the version of the poem contained in the posthumously published Poetical Works of 1900. The reason for this is that, to judge by typescripts and manuscripts held in the Baldwin Room in the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, the four editors of The Poetical Works did considerably more to McLachlan’s poems than “select, punctuate for sense, and put here and there a few ‘finishing touches,’ large numbers of which were indicated by himself.”113 The Appendix listing the “Changes to The Emigrant in The Poetical Works of Alexander McLachlan (1900),” which concludes this edition, suggests that in a few instances (most notably the addition of four [Page lii] stanzas in Chapter VII) McLachlan’s editors were making authorized changes but that, in the vast majority of cases, they followed the usual Victorian practice of “improving” the poem according to the dictates of their own taste. The absence of either a manuscript or a typescript of The Emigrant in the McLachlan papers in the Baldwin Room makes his contribution to the 1900 version of the poem as uncertain as his editors’ interventions and, in so doing, dictates the choice of the first edition as the basis for the present text. As will be seen from the list of Editorial Emendations following the poem in this edition, changes to the first edition in the present text are primarily in the areas of spelling and punctuation. [Page liii]

Notes to the Introduction

1 In The Globe, June 9, 1990. [back]
See The Globe, March 31, 1900. A sense of the decline of McLachlan’s poetic stock towards the end of the century can be gained from a comparison of W.P. Begg, “Alexander McLachlan’s Poems and Songs,” Canadian Monthly and National Review, 12 (October, 1877), 355-362, Donald McCraig, “Alexander McLachlan,” Canadian Magazine, 8 (April, 1897), 520-523, and James Duff, “Alexander McLachlan,” Queen’s Quarterly, 8 (October, 1900), 132-144. Begg ends his article by calling for a “collection edition” of McLachlan’s works; McCraig muses about why he should have received[d] or covet[ed]” the title of “‘the Canadian poet’”; and Duff censures his work for a multitude of sins against high art including “crudeness,” “commonness of expression,” “deficient intellectual power,” and a lack of both “culture” and “the artist’s passion for the best form.” See the “Biographical Sketch” in The Poetical Works of Alexander McLachlan (Toronto: William Briggs, 1990) and Literature of Canada: Poetry and Prose in Reprint (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), p. 20n. for Begg as one of the five editors of The Poetical Works. [back]
3 Poetry in Canada: the First Three Steps (Toronto: Ryerson, 1958; rpt. Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1979), p. 41. [back]
4 Fred Cogswell, “Literary Activity in the Maritime Provinces, 1815-
1880,” Literary History of Canada, ed. Carl F. Klinck (1965; rpt.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 120. [back]
5 “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” English Studies in Canada, 1 (Summer, 1975), 172-187 and “McLachlan’s Style,” Journal of Canadian Poetry, 1 (Autumn, 1978), pp. 1-4. [back]
6  The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” p. 173. [back]
7 Canadian Dimension, 11 (March, 1976), pp. 33-40. [back]
8 Canadian Literature in English, Longman Literature in English Series (London: Longman, 1985), pp. 29-30. In “Poet Laureate of Labour,” p. 34, Hughes describes McLachlan as the founder of democratic poetry in Canada.” [back]
9 See Poetical Works, p. 24: “McLachlan planned The Emigrant, but stopped short in executing that ambitious plan, composing so much only as the reader will find in succeeding pages. Had he but entered [Page liv] more fully into the spirit of Columbus’s new world, and especially the marvellous new world of the closing half of the nineteenth century—if he had finished The Emigrant, con amore and con spirito he might have ranked as a father of our literature. . . .” [back]
10 Keith, p. 30. [back]
11 Elizabeth Waterston, “Alexander McLachlan,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, 99: Canadian Writers Before 1890, ed. W.H. New (Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 1990), 242. [back]
12 The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, ed. D.M.R. Bentley (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1990), pp. 4-5. [back]
13 The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British America (London: Charles Knight, 1836. rpt. Toronto: Coles, 1971), pp. 153-155. [back]
14 The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, p. 6. [back]
15 See Edward Hartley Dewart, “Introductory Essay,” The Poetical
, pp. 11-12 for a tempered assessment of McLachlan’s relation and debt to Burns. For McLachlan’s Chartist sympathies, see“Biographical Sketch,” The Poetical Works, pp. 22 and 25, and the entry on McLachlan by Mary Jane Edwards in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography XII (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 661. The People’s Charter, which demanded, among other things, manhood suffrage, vote by ballot, and the abolition of property qualifications for entering Parliament, was published in 1838 and a National Convention of Chartists was held in Birmingham in 1839. The refusal of the British Parliament even to consider the Chartists’ demands led to violent riots in Birmingham and elsewhere. In 1840, the ringleaders were tried and condemned to death, though their sentences were subsequently commuted to transportation to Australia for life. [back]
16 Edwards, DCB, XII, 661. For these and other details of McLachlan’s life, I am primarily reliant on Edwards. [back]
17 Dewart, Poetical Works, p. 12. [back]
18 Ibid., p. 11 (and see note 15, above). [back]
19 See Rashley, p. 42. [back]
20 Edwards, DCB, XII, 663 states that “McLachlan . . . had become a ‘Spiritualist’ as early as 1871. . . .” See elsewhere in the Introduction and Explanatory Notes, I, 59-64 in the present edition for some suggestions [Page lv] regarding the hermetic aspects of the treatment of nature at points in The Emigrant. [back]
21 See “Biographical Sketch,” Poetical Works, pp. 26-28. [back]
22 “Introductory Essay,” ibid., p. 13. [back]
23 The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (London:
Griffith, Farran, Okeden and Welsh, 1882), p. 255. [back]
24 Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, with a Biographical and Critical Memoir by Francis Turner Palgrave (1866; rpt. London: Macmillan, 1907), p. 42. [back]
25 See “McLachlan’s Style,” pp. 3-4. [back]
26 Keith, p. 30 observes that the versification of The Emigrant “never settles into monotony.” [back]
27 The Poetical Works of . . . Longfellow, p. 256. [back]
28 See Oliver Goldsmith, The Rising Village, ed. Gerald Lynch (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1989), pp. 34-35 (“Not fifty Summers yet have blessed thy clime,/ How short a period in the page of time!”) and Stephen Leacock, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, intro. Malcolm Ross, New Canadian Library (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1931), p. 58 (some of . . . [the headstones in Mariposa] . . . are ever so old—forty or fifty years back”). [back]
29 See D.M.R. Bentley, “Breaking the ‘Cake of Custom’: the Atlantic
Crossing as a Rubicon for Female Emigrants to Canada?”
Re(Dis)covering Our Foremothers: Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Writers, ed. Lorraine McMullen, Reappraisals: Canadian Writers (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1990), pp. 97-101. [back]
30 “To a Sky-lark,” The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, 2nd ed., ed. E. de Selincourt and Helen Darbyshire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), II, 141-142. [back]
31 Ibid., I, 2. [back]
32 See Poetical Works, pp. 336-339 for “My Grandfather and His Bible” and p. 415 for Alexander Sutherland’s Haweis Bible as “one of the heirlooms of the poet’s family in Orangeville. . . .” [back]
33 Poetical Works, p. 23. [back]
34 Lawrie Todd; or, the Settlers in the Woods (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830), I, 48. [back]
35 Highland Settler: a Portrait of the Scottish Gael in Nova Scotia,
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 52. [Page lvi] [back]
36 See Explanatory Notes, II, 1 for details of the Edward Thorn itself.
Under “Port de Quebec. Arrivages” for May 19, 1840 La Gazette de Quebec for May 21, 1840 lists “Ed. Thorne, Roy, 2 Avril de Greenock, Rodge, Dean & Co. cargaison générale.” Under “Porte de Quebec. Arrivees” for September 11, 1840 the September 15 issue of the same newspaper lists “Ship Edmond Thorn, Roy, 25 Juillet de Greenook, Rodger, Dean & Co. lest [i.e., ballast], do [i.e., ditto: second voyage, like the preceding vessel in the listing].? [back]
37 Hughes, “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” p. 184. [back]
38 Lawrie Todd, I, 33. [back]
39 See Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [1831]), I, 285. Corbet’s ship is becalmed in the Caribbean Sea. That Bogle Corbet is set in part in a “weaver’s shop” (I, 37) in Glasgow would have given it a special interest for McLachlan who was both an apprentice in a “cotton mill, probably in Paisley,. . . [and] a tailor’s apprentice in Glasgow” (DCB, XII, 661). [back]
40 Lawrie Todd, I, 33. [back]
41 See ibid., I, 35-41 and The Backwoods of Canada, p. 12. [back]
42 Hughes, “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” p. 181 argues that McLachlan downplays the “nuclear family . . . in order to put an emphasis on the communal and social side of life,” the “brotherhood of man.” [back]
43 Bogle Corbet, II, 32 and 209 and III, 17 and 226. [back]
44 Ibid., III, 18 and 21. [back]
45 See ibid., III, 272-302. [back]
46 Hughes, “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” p. 185. [back]
47 See Explanatory Notes, II, 55 for a pertinent passage from Sartor
. [back]
48 The Poetical Works of . . . Scott, p. 490. [back]
49 See The Poems of Tennyson, ed. Christopher Ricks (London:
Longman; New York: Norton, (1972), p. 1066: “Pass the happy news, / Blush it through the West; / Till the red man dance / By his cedar-tree,/ And the red man’s babe / Leap, beyond the sea.” [back]
50 “Biographical Sketch,” Poetical Works, p. 27. [Page lvii] [back]
51 Travels through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 4th ed. (London: John Stockdale, 1807; rpt. New York: Johnson Reprint Company, 1968), I, 195. [back]
52 See ibid., II, 42-44. [back]
53 See “Oliver Goldsmith and The Rising Village,” Studies in Canadian Literature, 15.1 (1990), pp. 45-46. Weld’s description of the whip-poor-will is in Travels, I, 196-197. [back]
54 See The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 91 and 173 (or Explanatory Notes, III, 93-110). [back]
55 Travels, II, 313. [back]
56 Poems, ed. Samuel French Morse (1947; rpt. New York: Vintage, 1959), p. 21. [back]
57 Travels, I, 196 and II, 42. [back]
58 Evolution and Ethics, and Other Essays (New York: Appleton, 1898), p. 16. [back]
59 See J.M. Zezulka, “The Pastoral Vision in Nineteenth-Century
Canada,” Dalhousie review, 57 (Summer, 1977), 237. [back]
60 Leslie Monkman, A Native Heritage: Images of the Indian in English-Canadian Literature (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981), p. 133. See Malcolm’s Katie: A Love Story, ed. D.M.R. Bentley (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1987), p. 9: “For never had the patriarch of the herd [in the area settled by Max Gordon] / Seen . . . the plume or bow / Of the red hunter. . . .” [back]
61 Lawrie Todd, I, 188-190 and Bogle Corbet, III, 39-41. [back]
62 Lawrie Todd, II, 56. [back]
63 Bogle Corbet III, 37. [back]
64 Lawrie Todd, II, 56; but see also I, 215 for Todd’s observation that
“the first time . . . the silence of the woods . . . [did] not affect . . . [him] with sadness” was when he set out for his new and completed house. [back]
65 Ibid., III, 322. [back]
66 And, perhaps, John A. MacDonald? It is tempting to guess at other referents for the Bills and Toms of The Emigrant in pre-Confederation Canada, particularly since in “Little Mac” McLachlan seems to include himself in his “microcosm” of a new society. [back]
67 The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada (1971), No. 283. [Page lviii] [back]
68 “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” p. 179. [back]
69 Ibid. [back]
70 See Explanatory Notes, IV, 219 for fuller details of the texts possibly echoed by “‘Each for all, and all for each.’” [back]
71 See Explanatory Notes, IV, 219 for a fuller version of this speech. [back]
72 See Bogle Corbet, III, 35-36. [back]
73 The “b” rhyme (“there,” “lair,” and so on) is carried through every
stanza but the last. [back]
74 This and subsequent quotations from “Ballad Stanzas” are taken from The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore, ed. A.D. Godley (London: Humphrey Milford, 1915), p. 124. [back]
75 See Bogle Corbet, III, 4. [back]
76 See Explanatory Notes, V, 10-18. [back]
77 Bogle Corbet, III, 47. [back]
78 See Explanatory Notes, V, 64-65. [back]
79 Selected Poetry and Essays, ed. Laurel Boone (Waterloo: Wilfrid
Laurier University Press, 1987), p. 20. [back]
80 See Explanatory Notes, V, 103-122 for fuller versions of these
quotations from Weld and Galt. [back]
81 Marlowe’s poem is anthologised in Thomas Percy’s Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry: Consisting of Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, and Other Pieces, of Our Earlier Poets, Together with Some Few of Later Date, and a Copious Glossary
(1794), 4th ed. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1847), p. 58. [back]
82 Ibid., p. 213. [back]
83 See Explanatory Notes, V, 10-18 for a fuller text of Traill’s “Story of an Indian.” [back]
84 The Backwoods of Canada, p. 288. [back]
85 See “The Completeness of McLachlan’s ‘The Emigrant,’” pp. 184-186. [back]
86 Ibid., p. 184. [back]
87 The Poetical Works of Robert Burns (London: Bell and Daldy, [1839]), III, 50-52. [back]
88 In The Song of Hiawatha, IX (“Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather”), The Poetical Works of . . . Longfellow, pp. 276-279. [back]
89 In The Lay of the Last Minstrel, V, The Poetical Works of . . . Scott, pp. 36-42. [Page lix] [back]
90 Two modern and somewhat divergent accounts of the Highland
clearances are to be found in John Prebble, The Highland Clearances (London: Secker and Warburg, 1963) and J.M. Bumstead, The People’s Clearance: Highland Emigration to British North America, 1770-1815 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; Winnipeg: Manitoba University Press, 1982). The account of the Highland clearances offered above and in the Explanatory Notes, VII, 54-82 is consonant with that which is likely to have been assumed by McLachlan. [back]
91 Lawrie Todd, I, 202-203. [back]
92 The Poetical Works of . . . Scott, p. 17. [back]
93 Ibid., p. 49. [back]
94 See Dunn, p. 57, for the role of folk-culture in the life of the
transplanted Scots of Nova Scotia. [back]
95 See the “Preface to the Present Edition” of Donald McLeod’s Gloomy Memories (Glasgow: Archibald Sinclair, 1892), pp. i-ii for most of the known details of McLeod’s life. See also The Daily Colonist (Toronto), April 17, 1857 for McLeod’s appeal, dated “Woodstock, April 9th 1857,” for funds to assist with the printing of Gloomy Memories. In the October 17, 1856 issue of the same newspaper, there is a long letter signed “Briton in Canada” that discusses McLeod’s book in relation to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s. [back]
96 Of McLachlan’s familiarity with McLeod’s Gloomy Memories there can be no doubt; a footnote to the word “clearing” in “John Tamson’s Address,” The Emigrant, and Other Poems, p. 143 reads (as emended in accordance with the errata slip in the volume): “The cruelties inflicted by the Dukes of Sutherland and Athol and the Earl of Breadalbane on their poor clansmen were so revolting, that the massacre of Glencoe appears merciful in comparison. For a full account of these barbarities, perpetrated under the eye of the British Government, in the 19th century, see Gloomy Memories, by Donald McLeod, a book without literary pretension, but which reveals a tale of horror, at which Scotchmen may well blush.” [back]
97 Gloomy Memories (Toronto: Printed for the author by Thompson and Co., 1857), pp. 8-9. [back]
98 The “Canadian Boat-Song” from which these lines, and the epigraph to the Introduction, are taken was first published in the “Noctes Ambrosianae” section of Blackwoods Magazine in September 1829. For recent discussions of the controversy surrounding its authorship, [Page lx] see “The ‘Canadian Boat-Song’: a Mosaic,” comp. D.M.R. Bentley, Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, 6 (Spring/Summer, 1980), pp. 69-79. [back]
99 See The Poetical Works, pp. 284-366. [back]
100 This translation of Epistle, I, xi, 27 is by H. Rushton Fairclough in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Horace's Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica (1926; rpt. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, 1961), p. 325. For a translation of McLachlan’s day see the entry under Epigraph in Explanatory Notes. [back]
101 The Rising Village, pp. 18-21. [back]
102 Malcolm’s Katie, p. 12. [back]
103 DCB, XII, 662. [back]
104 Quoted ibid. [back]
105 This is the title under which he delivered a lecture in Scotland in 1874. [back]
106 Ibid., p. 663. [back]
107 See ibid. [back]
109 Duncan Campbell Scott, “The Piper of Arll,” The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926), p. 40. [back]
110 His two later books—Poems and Songs (1874) and The Poetical Works (1900)—were published by the even more prestigious Toronto houses of, respectively, Hunter Rose and William Briggs. [back]
111 Douglas Lochhead, “Introduction,” Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments, in Use at the Printing Office of Lovell & Gibson, St. Nicholas Street, Montreal (1846; rpt. Toronto: Bibliographical Society of Canada, 1975), p. 5. [back]
112 The Emigrant, and Other Poems is duodecimo in size and bound in red boards with an impressed design. It is printed in small pica on wove paper in gatherings of different sizes (4, 6, 8, alternating regularly), a pattern indicating the use of a steam press and a large guillotine (for cutting big sheets of paper into smaller units). In addition to McLachlan’s poems (pp. [11-236]) the volume contains several pages of advertising material (pp. [1]-14). I am grateful to E.J. Devereux for his help on the bibliographical aspects of The Emigrant, and Other Poems. [back]
113 “Editors’ Note,” Poetical Works, n.p. Much the same point is made by David Sinclair in his introductory note to The Emigrant in Nineteenth- [Page lxi] Century Narrative Poems, New Canadian Library (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972), p. 114. [Page lxii] [back]