Explanatory Notes

These notes have three purposes: to identify or explain words and phrases which might be obscure or difficult for present-day readers of Tecumseh, to supply information relating to the historical contexts of the poem and to give some indication of Richardson’s indebtedness to a tradition of heroic poetry manifested most obviously in echoes of Milton and Byron. In those cases where Richardson supplied a note in the first edition which is missing in our 1842 copy text, the following explanatory notes incorporate Richardson’s 1828 commentary. In the fifteen instances where Richardson has notes on the same passages in both of the earlier editions, any significant 1828 amplifications are included with our commentary on those notes.

Some of the biographical sources on which we have drawn include the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the Dictionary of National Biography, the Dictionary of American Biography, the Encyclopedia Britannica and The Canadian Encyclopedia (2nd ed. 1988). Quotations from Milton and Byron are from Merritt V. Hughes’ John Milton. Complete Poems and Major Prose (Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1957) and Jerome J. McGann’s Lord Byron. The Complete Poetical Works (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980). Sources particularly helpful in elucidating references include the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (1937) and, of course, the Oxford English Dictionary. For information on the Indian individuals and tribes identified in the poem, we are particularly indebted to Volume XV, Northeast, of the Handbook of North American Indians (1978). In addition to an authoritative entry on Tecumseh by Herbert C.W. Goltz in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the best sources of information on Tecumseh are Benjamin Drake’s Life of Tecumseh, first published in 1841 and C.F. Klinck’s Tecumseh: Fact and Fiction in Early Records (1978). For details of events in the War of 1812, we have looked not only to Richardson’s account of the actions of his own division but also to recent studies such as Pierre Berton’s The Invasion of Canada. 1812-1813 (1980) and Flames Across the Border. 1813-1814 (1981).

The notes are identified in relation to the text by canto, stanza, and line numbers. Particular words and phrases are noted only once unless the context significantly alters the meaning in subsequent appearances.


Tecumseh, A Poem in Four Cantos   In Tecumseh’s first edition published in London in
1828, Richardson could attempt to heighten the exotic appeal of imperial frontiers with an initial sub-title identifying his Shawnee hero as "the warrior of the west." For readers of the poem fourteen years later in the New Era of Brockville, Canada West, the idea of "west", however, carried very different geographic associations, and Richardson sensibly chose to delete the first sub-title while retaining a second sub-title, "a poem in four cantos." Perspectives on Tecumseh as "warrior" must also have differed significantly for Richardson’s 1842 readers from those of his initial London audience. British readers of the 1820s could still conjure up distant images of noble savagery, but for Richardson’s Canadian readers fourteen years later, images of Tecumseh as warrior were part of the immediate and documented history of the War of 1812.

Born c.1768 near Springfield, Ohio, Tecumseh was involved in Shawnee resistance to American expansion in three separate battles in the 1790s. After the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, he became chief of a band of Shawnees who moved to various locations in Ohio and Indiana before settling in Greenville, Ohio, in 1805. As his younger brother Tenskwatawa, assumed a more influential role as The Prophet (see note to I,241), Tecumseh was able to politicize the religious movement associated with his brother by pushing it towards a commitment to resist further white expansion into Indian territory. He consistently argued for a position based on common ownership of Indian lands, thereby frustrating the strategy of American agents eager to negotiate agreements with individual chiefs and bands.

After arguing this case with Governor Harrison at Vincennes, Indiana, in the summer of 1810, Tecumseh was recruiting allies among tribes further south when Harrison marched on Prophetstown on the Tippecanoe River and successfully goaded the forces gathered there under the leadership of Tecumseh and The Prophet into an ill-advised attack. The Battle of Tippecanoe on June 7, 1811, left Tecumseh’s ranks decimated and demoralized, but by the summer of 1812, he had rebuilt his numbers to about 1,000 men and had allied himself with the British in the war declared by the United States on June 19, 1812.

In April, 1813, Tecumseh joined his forces with those of Major-General Procter in the siege of Fort Meigs. This campaign was unsuccessful, but an American relief force was captured when approaching the fort and several hundred prisoners were taken. Both contemporary reports and subsequent historiography differ on the complicity of Procter in the subsequent killing of many of these captives by the Indian forces, but all agree that the massacre was halted as soon as Tecumseh arrived. A second siege at Fort Meigs in July also failed, with the British and Indian forces suffering heavy casualties.

In the battle that serves Richardson as a focus for Canto I of Tecumseh, the defeat of Commander Barclay’s naval force on Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, left the forces of Tecumseh and Procter isolated from their supply lines in eastern Canada. Thus, Procter, apparently without consulting the Indians, ordered the desertion of the British base at Fort Amherstburg and a retreat from the encroaching American land forces under General Harrison. Having opposed the retreat, Tecumseh insisted that a stand be taken near the village of Moraviantown, and in the ensuing battle on October 5, 1813, he was killed. His death ended the last attempt to organize an effective Indian confederacy to resist white expansionism south of the Great Lakes.

Canto First.

I,1 sweet  highly agreeable or delightful. See also Samuel de Champlain’s identification of Lake Huron as la mer douce and Etienne Brûlé’s description of Lake Superior as la mer douce du nord.
I,1 day  The Battle of Lake Erie or the Battle of Put-in-Bay was fought on September 10, 1813. Prior to this battle the American naval forces were based in Erie where they were blockaded but not attacked by the British while the fleet was expanded to ten small vessels—the two largest being the Lawrence and the Niagara. The British not only allowed the construction of reinforcements to the American fleet but also permitted Commodore Perry to cross the Erie sandbar (a passage made possible only by the removal of guns and equipment from the heaviest vessels) and to sail west on Lake Erie to Put-in-Bay on August 12, 1813.

Alarmed by the strength of the American forces, Commander Barclay left Fort Amherstburg on September 9 with a fleet of six vessels headed by the Detroit and the Queen Charlotte and on the following day engaged the Americans in battle. As Richardson’s poem indicates, just when the defeat of the Americans seemed imminent, Commodore Perry left the St. Lawrence to take command of the Niagara and successfully turned incipient defeat to victory. British casualties in the battle were forty-one killed, ninety-four wounded; American casualties were twenty-seven killed, ninety-six wounded.

Tecumseh takes some historical licence with the battle’s setting by locating it off the harbour of Amherstburg at the head of Lake Erie. In fact, the battle took place in the middle of the lake, about fifteen miles from Fort Amherstburg and about ten miles from Perry’s temporary base in Put-in-Bay. The poem also compresses the events of the engagement into a single day rather than separating the departure of the British fleet from Amherstburg on September 9 and the actual battle on September 10.

I,2 Erie’s  The name Erie is Iroquois in origin and was apparently used to identify an Iroquoian tribe living on the south shore of the lake. The name was taken by early French explorers to mean "cat" and thus the lake was identified by them as "Lac du chats."
I,3 wanton  Unrestrained, sportive.
I,5 Devastation  In personifying various abstractions associated with the destruction of war, Richardson follows the tradition of Greek mythology that saw Ares, as God of War, accompanied by a train of attendants including Discord and Strife.
I,6 Bellona  In Roman mythology, the goddess of war. In Greek mythology, Enyo, the goddess of war who walks beside Ares. Accompanying her are Terror, Trembling and Panic. Cf. Byron, The Curse of Minerva, 285-286: "The banner’d pomp of war, the glittering files, / O’er whose gay trappings stern Bellona smiles. . . ."
I,6 slake  Allay by satisfying.
I,7 human gore  Cf. Byron, The Curse of Minerva, 297-298: "the field is fought, the battle won, / Though drench’d with gore, his woes but begun . . ." and, in conjunction with the ensuing line, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 390: ". . . dy’d thy mountain streams with Gothic gore. . . ."
I,9 bark  Any small sailing vessel.
I,11 spark  Young man whose elegance sets him apart from the "bronzed tar."
I,11 tar  Sailor.
I,13 streamers  Long narrow flags or pennants.
I,13-15 hark! / The boatswain pipes  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pigrimage,II, 158-161: "Hark, to the Boatswain’s call, the cheering cry! / While through the seaman’s hand the tackle glides; / Or school-boy Midshipman that standing by / Strains his shrill pipe. . . ." The boatswain is the ship’s officer who takes charge of sails and rigging by having sailors summoned to their assigned duties with a whistle; see I, 51.
I,16 gale  In the nautical sense, a strong wind; in the literary sense, "a wind not tempestuous, but stronger than a breeze" (Johnson’s Dictionary).
I,17 they  The Americans under Commodore Perry.
I,18 the English shore  The harbour of Amherstburg.
I,19 the angry Lion  Heraldic emblem of Great Britain; as "king of beasts" on earth, the opponent of the sky-borne eagle later associated with the Americans.
I,20 sea-god’s  Greek Poseidon or Roman Neptune.
I,21 gallant band  Cf. Byron, The Seige of Corinth, 864: "The remnant of his gallant band. . . ."
I,24 inur’d  Accustomed, hardened.
I,24 alarms  Call to arms.
I,25 glaive  Sword. Cf. Byron, "The Episode of Nisus and Euryalus," 361: "Quick from the sheath his flaming glaive he drew. . . ."
I,26 They  The Americans.
I,30 the fleet behind  The British ships unable to set sail from Fort Amherstburg harbour due to insufficient wind.
I,34 gale  Now a wind of at least considerable strength but as late as the eighteenth century, a gentle breeze.
I,36 the Chieftain’s hail  Commander Barclay’s order. Robert Heriot Barclay (1786-1837) was born in Scotland and entered the Royal Navy at age 11. He fought with Lord Nelson’s forces at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and critically injured his left arm in a battle with a French convoy in November, 1809. When assigned to service in North America in early 1813, Barclay was initially named Acting Commander of all British naval forces on the Great Lakes. In mid-May, Captain Sir James Lucas Yeo was named Commander, and Barclay was sent to Lake Erie as senior officer in that naval command. He reached Amherstburg in mid-June and took charge of six vessels, some still under construction and ill-equipped. After the defeat of the British force in the Battle of Lake Erie, Barclay was briefly held captive by the Americans but released on Commodore Perry’s recommendation. In fact, the rival leaders became mutual admirers. Cleared in a court martial of any impropriety in discharging his duties during the Battle of Lake Erie, Barclay, nevertheless, saw the loss tarnish his prospects in the British navy, and not until eleven years after the battle was he promoted to post rank as a captain.
I,39 chase  Object of pursuit.
1,40 pant for combat  Cf. Byron, Manfred, II, ii, 175: "Forebears to pant for death. . . ."
I,41 shrinking foe  The Americans.
I,43 Their sails  The British sails.
I,43 clew’d  Furled or, in this case, unfurled by the lower or aft corners of the sails.
I,46 They  The British.
I,46 bar  A bank of sand or silt across the mouth of a harbour.
I,49 bugle shrilly sounds  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, II, 166: "His bugle-brief the blast—but shrilly blew. . . ."
I,53 front  Foremost line.
I,57   sulphureous mists  From the sulphur used in the manufacture of gunpowder. Cf. Byron, "Elegy on Newstead Abbey," 60: "And dart destruction, in sulphureous showers. . . ."
I,59 curling volumes  Smoke. See I,68 for "thick wreathing smoke."
I,60 flood  A body of flowing water.
I,67 deadly fray  Assault, attack, fight. Cf. Byron The Corsair, III, 149: "While baffled, weaken’d by this fatal fray. . . ."
I,68 wreathing smoke  Cf. Byron, "The Dream," 34: "Scatter’d at intervals, and wreathing smoke. . . ."
I,72 ruffled  Roughened, disordered.
I,72 warrior’s grave  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, II, 814: "Save o’er some warrior’s half-forgotten grave. . . ."
I,75 Mars  Roman god of war.
I,76 sanguinary car  Bloody chariot; see III,1 for Apollo’s "flaming car."
I,78 stern Havoc  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, II, 119: "Stern Alaric and Havoc on their way. . . ."
I,81 But hark Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, III, 195: "But, hark—that heavy sound breaks in once more. . . ."
I,82 Din of arms  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 4: "And hear the din of arms no more. . . ." Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, I, 668: "Clash’d on their sounding shields the din of war. . . ."
I,91 delusive  Deceptive.
I,92 eking  Increasing.
I,95 fell carnage’  Deadly slaughter’s.
I,97 red-cross band  The British; the reference is to the Cross of St. Andrew on the flag of the British troops.
I,99 Victory sheds her radiant beam  Cf. Byron, "Ode (From the French)," 66: "Victory beaming from her breast. . . ."
I,102 reck  Think of, know.
I,103 star-deck’d standard  The Stars and Stripes; in the first edition, the adjective is "eagle", and Richardson provides the following note: "The Detroit, on which Captain Barclay had hoisted his flag, was, in default of the usual ship-guns, indiscriminately armed with those taken from the forts for the occasion, and were of various calibers—two twenty-four pounders, eighteens, twelves, nines, and, if I mistake not, even sixes. They were all long guns, and so well served, that, soon after the engagement commenced, the American commodore, to whom Captain Barclay found himself immediately opposed, was compelled to strike, having only eighteen effective men left. The boats of the fleet were so much injured, however that it was found impossible to take possession of the prize."
I,105 Vain hope  Cf. Byron, "To Caroline," 38: "Vain Hope! the gay delusion’s past. . . ." Cf.Milton, Paradise Lost, II, 234: "The former vain to hope. . . ."
I,107 engines  Cannons, guns.
I,111 crimson tide  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 24: "Or roll the crimson tide of war. . . ."
I,113 Barclay, like a branchless trunk  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "This gallant but unfortunate commander, had already lost one limb in fighting the battles of his country. Soon after the Saint Lawrence struck, he received a severe wound in his only remaining arm, which disabled him during the rest of the action."
I,116 mien  Expression, bearing or aspect.
I,120 burning indignation  Cf. Byron, "Childish Recollections," 319: "Would make that breast, with indignation, burn. . . ."
I,121 Each gallant ship  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "Having myself fallen into the hands of the Americans, three weeks after this unfortunate affair, I was conducted to the harbour in which the united and shattered fleets still lay, in the same state as at the close of the engagement. Being permitted to visit my friends on board, I had an opportunity of witnessing the devastation of that sanguinary day. The decks were literally filled with wounded sufferers—every mast of the Detroit had been carried away—half the guns were dismounted, and the bulwarks completely shattered—nay, it was absolutely impossible to place the hand upon that side which had been exposed to the enemy’s fire, without covering part of a fracture, either from grape, canister, round, or chain-shot. In fact, it would be difficult to conceive a more desperate spirit of defense or conquest than that which must have actuated the contending parties."
I,135 The wounded ships  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "It was at this critical period of the action, when the different commanders were either killed or disabled, that the two principal ships, the Detroit and Queen Charlotte, rendered unmanageable from the injury sustained in their rigging, fell foul of each other; and although every attempt was made by the surviving officers to remedy the evil, and bring the opposite broadsides to bear upon the enemy, exertion proved vain; and the God of battles seemed, for once to have opposed himself to the successes of those who had so often ranged themselves beneath his protecting arm."
I,137 compass  Contrive.
I,143 rude  Coarse, rugged.
I,144 impress  Impression.
I,145 the hostile Chief  Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819) was born in Rhode Island and joined the navy at age fourteen. On February 8, 1813, Perry was named commander of the American naval forces on Lake Erie and, in August, took command of ten small vessels, the largest being the Lawrence and the Niagara. After his victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, Commodore Perry assisted Major-General William Harrison in taking possession of Fort Detroit and Fort Amherstburg by transporting American troops across the lake. He also joined Harrison as aide-de-camp to the American commander-in-chief at the Battle of Moraviantown. Six years later, Perry died of yellow fever in Venezuela, but his victory on Lake Erie had ensured that Americans negotiating the Treaty of Ghent at end of the War of 1812 were able to make good their claims to the entire north-west of the United States.

Richardson provides the following note for these lines in the first edition: "While those two ships in which were centered the hopes of the little squadron, lay in this unfavourable position, using every possible means to extricate themselves, and fighting the few remaining serviceable guns with a resolution worthy of a better fate, Commodore Perry, who had finally abandoned the Saint Lawrence, and hoisted his flag on board the Niagara (a vessel of the same force, armed also with thirty-two pounders, and scarcely touched in the action), now bore up, under any easy press of sail, and discharged his battery with effects into the unfortunate wrecks. Waring [sic] immediately, a second and equally destructive broadside followed, and rendered further resistance unavailing. The guns were nearly now all unserviceable— those at least of the only battery which could be brought to bear; the different barks lay like logs on the water, and the helplessness of the crews could only be surpassed by the gloom which obscured each brow, when the inevitable order was given to strike."

I,149 broadsides  Simultaneous firing of all of the guns on one side of a ship of war.
I,154 fortune  In Roman mythology, Fortune is the first-born daughter of Jove and is associated not with luck or chance but with destiny.
I,156 bulwarks  The extension of the side of a ship above the level of the main deck for the protection of people on the deck.
I,158 infuriate  Maddened, enraged. Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, VI, 486: "Dilated and infuriate shall send forth. . . ."
I,159 The fatal word  The reference is to surrender.
I,162 A thousand naked Warriors wildly spring Cf. Byron, Parisina, 157: "A thousand warriors forth had leapt. . . ."
I,163 aching sight  Cf. Byron, "Epitaph, on a Friend," 9: "Thou still hadst lived, to bless my aching sight . . ." and "Childish Recollections," 42: "To dazzle, though they please, my aching sight. . . ."
I,175 wert  Was.
I,189 drooping spirits  Cf. Milton, Comus, 812: "Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight. . . ."
I,199 shade  Shadow, unsubstantial image.
I,208 deplore  Lament, weep for.
I,209 moveless Warrior  Tecumseh.
I,210 steep  Landform with an almost perpendicular face or slope.
I,212 Pre-eminent  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, VIII, 279: "In goodness and in power preeminent. . . ."
I,215 burning thoughts  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 1261: "But could not, for my burning brow. . . ."
I,219-220 the veil / Of his dark brow  Cf. Byron, "The Death of Calmar and Orla, An Imitation of Macpherson’s Ossian," 50-51: "‘Calmar has fallen by the steel of Lochlin: he died with gloomy Orla; the chief of the dark brow. . . .’"
I,232 spoilers  Plunderers, pillagers.
I,237 phalanx  Troops ranged in order, as for attack.
I,241 the Prophet  Tenskwatawa (1775-1836), Tecumseh’s younger brother, experienced a series of visions in early 1805 from which he emerged as the self-appointed deliverer of his people. His success as religious leader initially overshadowed the achievements of Tecumseh, and the new settlement established by them at the mouth of the Tippecanoe River in 1808 was known as Prophetstown. After the defeat of the Indians led by the Prophet at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811, his influence as a religious leader waned— in part because of his assurances to Indian warriors that his power would protect them from American bullets. In 1813, the Prophet was present at the siege on Fort Meigs and at the Battle of Moraviantown, but he never regained influence as a leader. After the War of 1812, he was awarded a small pension by the British government and ultimately died in Kansas in 1836.
I,247 partage  Share.
I,251 the battle’s gage  Something thrown down as a token of a challenge to combat—here, the war-cry itself.
I,256 Guile and Rapine  Personified abstractions associated with the destruction of war as in I,5.
I,256 despoil  Plunder.
I,261 living but to die  Cf. Byron, Cain, I, i, 110: "But live to die. And, living, see no thing. . . ."
I,262 Oppression  Cf. Byron, The Prophecy of Dante, II, 133: "Against Oppression; but how vain the toil. . . ."
I,264 deign’d  Condescended to give, vouchsafed.
I,267 rout  Disorderly retreat on the part of a defeated army or body of troops.
I,270 fain  Gladly, willingly.
I,271 dash’d the laurel  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 301: "Here Folly dash’d to earth the victor’s plume. . . ."
I,273 the Chieftain of the snow-white crest  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "During the latter part of his life, Tecumseh was generally distinguished by a large plume of ostrich feathers, the whiteness of which, contrasted with the darkness of his complexion, and the brilliancy of his black and piercing eye, gave a singularly wild and terrific expression to his features;—it was evident that he could be terrible."
I,282 hecatombs  Originally a public slaughter of one hundred oxen to the Greek gods; any sacrifice of many victims.
I,291 Uncas  See Note 59 in Notes to the Introduction.
I,295 liquid plain  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, IV, 455: "Into a liquid Plain, then stood unmov’d. . . ." Also Byron, Cain, II, i, 187: "Enormous liquid plains. . . ."
I,297 speechless anguish  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, III, 478: "But speechless all, deep, dark, and unexprest. . . ."
I,304 fierce conflict  Cf. Byron, Sardanapalus, III, i, 303: "From the outward wall the fiercest conflict rages. . . ."
I,306 mantle  A loose sleeveless cloak.
I,307 measur’d  Regular, uniform.
I,316 the Genius of the night  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV, 604: "Pass not unblest the Genius of the place. . ." and IV, 1389: "Expanded by the genius of the spot. . . ."
I,317 evening’s Queen  The moon as associated with Diana or Artemis as lunar goddess. Cf. Byron, The Curse of Minerva, 34: "The Queen of Night asserts her silent reign . . ." and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 809: "While on the gay dance shone Night’s lover-loving Queen. . . ."
I,326 throbbing head  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 1125: "This breaking heart and throbbing head. . . ."
I,329 stillness of the night  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 121: "It breaks the stillness of the night. . . ."
 I,336 deem  Think.
I,337 dark and thoughtful brow  Cf. Byron, The Bride of Abydos, I, 112: "thus held his thoughts their dark career . . . ," and Lara, I, 94: "His brow fell darker, and his words more few. . . ."
I,346 barks  Canoes, birch-bark canoes; see I,9 for variant usage.
I,347 skiff  Small light boat.
I,347 strand  Shore.
I,349 lighted brand  Flaming torch.
I,350 keel  Boat or vessel.
I,354 roe-buck  Not the smaller European and Asian roe-deer but the North American white-tailed deer.


Canto Second.



  form’d to dight  Formed into array.

II,7 martial strains  Cf. Byron, "Translation from Anacreon. To His Lyre," 7: "But still, to martial strains unknown. . . ."
II,7 evening’s early close  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 317: "Along the brink at Twilight’s close. . . ."
II,10 uncouth  Awkward, ungraceful in form.
II,13 bay  Put-in-Bay, site of the Battle of Lake Erie.
II,43 blooming bowers  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 1220: "Where bloom my native valley’s bowers. . . ."
II,44 coy  Shy, modest.
II,49 How sweet . . .  Richardson provides the following note to the first two lines of this stanza in the first edition: "During the summer months, in Canada, this is a favourite occupation with the Indians, whose light canoes glide along the surface of the waters with almost noiseless velocity. They are lighted by the bark of the birch tree, steeped in gum or pitch, which, placed at the prow of the little vessel, enables the spearsman to distinguish the fish as it rises to the surface of its element, attracted by the dangerous fascination of the glare. _ The Indian, remarkable for his adroitness in the use of the spear, seldom fails to secure his prey; and numbers of various fishes are taken in the course of an evening. When several are employed in this nightly warfare, and the absence of the moon occasions a deeper gloom over the atmosphere and waters, the effect is singularly interesting and striking."
II,54 finny tribe  School of fish; one of the most frequently cited examples of "poetic diction" in English poetry.
II,55 meteors  Torches.
II,58 glowing maidens  Cf. Byron, Don Juan, II, 776: "But gazing on each glowing maid. . . ."
II,61 askance  With a side glance.
II,63 hoary  Ancient, venerable.
II,64 calabash  Dried hollow shell of a gourd used as a container.
II,73 play the ball  The game is lacrosse.
II,78 hellish smile  Cf. Byron, Manfred, I, i, 242: "By thy cold breast and serpent smile. . . ."
II,79 hellish fiends  Cf. Byron, "The Devil’s Drive," 239: "For they looked like little fiends in their own little hells . . ." and Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, 2, 504: "Man had not hellish foes. . . ."
II,97 buskin’d  Wearing thick-soled lace boots or half-boots.
II,114 machecoti’s  Richardson provides the following note to this line in the first edition: "The machecoti is a loose garment, worn girt around the loins of the women, and resembling a petticoat. It is usually of cloth, bound with ribands; and is regulated, in regard to colour, by the caprice of the wearer. When covered with small silver brooches, which are much prized by the natives, it is considered the most decorative part of the female dress."
II,116 the Eternal’s hold  The heavens or sky.
II,131 deed of blood  Cf. Byron, "The Episode of Nisus and Euryalus," 231: "‘Now,’ cries the first, ‘for deeds of blood prepare. . . .’"
II,136 panther  Cougar.
II,141 hapless foe  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, VI, 785: "This saw his hapless Foes. . . ."
II,142 unhousell’d  Not having received Holy Communion.
II,142 gory field  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 15: "Turn’d feebly from the gory plain. . . ."
II,145 heath  Open, uncultivated ground.
II,148 blood-stain’d fields  Cf. Byron, The Siege of Corinth, 55: "Triumphant in the fields of blood. . . ."
II,150 their wonted lay  Their usual song.
II,151 And naught is heard . . .  Richardson provides the following note to this line in the first edition: "The notes of this bird, seldom seen, and scarcely ever caught, even by the Indians, are singularly wild and melancholy. I have never met with it but on the banks of Lake Erie and adjoining rivers. Its plaining voice is to be heard only at night, and always more distinctly when the canopy of heaven is unclouded, and the pale moon-beams, playing on the motionless bosom of the water, attest the calm of universal nature. It pronounces the word whipperwill (each syllable of which is articulated in the most emphatic tones) in so extraordinary a manner, that the most interesting impressions arise to the mind; and the heart naturally attuned to the enjoyment of solitude, may linger on those sweet banks, forming images of happiness, and indulging in every voluptuous sentiment of the soul, until the star of morning, in discontinuing the blended magic of the scene, awakens to miserable reality, and demonstrates but too faithfully that our fairest perceptions, and most exquisite sensations in life, are but the fleeting visions of a faithless dream."
II,151 rill  Small stream or brook.
II,153 climes  Regions, climates.
II,154 hapless  Unfortunate, unlucky.
II,156 rank Oppression hovers to despoil  Cf. Byron, The Prophecy of Dante, IV, 125: "In rank oppression in its rudest shape. . . ."
II,164 glittering blade  Cf. Byron, The Island, I, 71: "Full in thine eyes is waved the glittering blade. . . ."
II,172 pathless wood Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV, 1594: "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods. . . ."
II,177 wampum  Cylindrical beads strung in belts as currency, ornament, or for symbolic purposes; see III, 113: "the wampum pledge."
II,178 calamut  Calumet; a long ornamented tobacco pipe used among North American Indians on ceremonial occasions, particularly as a token of peace.
II,180 the Fox and Lion  Lion as in I, 19 identified with Great Britain; Fox probably identified with the United States; the fox is commonly identified in medieval commentaries with the wiles of satanic adversaries.
II,183 dogs of Rapine  OED cites beasts of rapine as beasts of prey. See also Julius Caesar, III, i, 273 for "the dogs of war."
II,187 consuming grief  Cf. Milton, "Psalm 6," 14: "Through grief consumes, is waxen old and dark. . . ."
II,194 heaving wave  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, I, 10: "Whose soul would sicken o’er the heaving wave. . . ."
II,195 Anon  Soon.
II,198 lave  Wash, bathe.
II,202 winds  Makes his way by a twisting route.
II,203 gaudy  Glaringly bright.
II,207 captive chains  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV, 143: "Starts from its belt—he rends his captive’s chains. . . ." Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, IV, 970: "Then when I am thy captive talk of chaines. . . ."
II,224 wanton  Play heedlessly.
II,230 member  Limb or organ.
II,234 ear of Night  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 13: "And vex’d with mirth the drowsy ear of Night. . . ."
II,239 secret woes  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 841: "And dost thou ask what secret woe. . . ."
II,241 pale corse  Corpse.
II,254 bosom’s fire  Cf. Byron, "L’Amitié est L’Amour Sans Ailes," 43: "My bosom glows with former fire. . . ."
II,258 house  Household, dynasty.
II,264 Cropp’d  Taken by Death as "Grim Reaper".
II,266 briny sluices  Poeticism for tear-ducts.
II,270 lonely breast  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 932: "By all forgotten, save the lonely breast. . . ."
II,277 clammy  Cf. Byron, The Two Foscari, IV, i, 191: "There’s death in that damp, clammy grasp. . . ."
II,301 gleaned  Discovered.
II,302 compeers  Companions, comrades.
II,303 his shade  Uncas’s spirit.
II,307 port  Deportment, bearing.
II,324 palsied  Trembling from muscular deterioriation.
II,329 wrapt  Rapt, deeply engrossed.
II,329 converse  Conversation, communication.
II,330 fell  Cruel, ruthless, destructive.
II,330 front  Forehead.
II,344 deep despair  Cf. Byron, "Elegy on Newstead Abbey," 47: "To roam a dreary world, in deep despair . . ." and Manfred, "The innate tortures of deep despair. . . ." Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, I, 126: "Vaunting aloud, but rack’t with deep despair. . . ."
II,344 blackest night  Cf. Milton, "L’Allegro," 2: "Of Cerberus and blackest midnight born. . . ."
II,345 lightning’s flash  Cf. Byron, Mazeppa, 408: "When launch’d, as on the lightning’s flash. . . ."
II,348 tortuous  Twisting.
II,348 sheets of fire  Cf. Byron, Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, III, ii, 421: "Which, like the sheeted fire from heaven, must blast. . . ."
II,349 swoln  Swollen.
II,350 Attest  Testify to.
II,355 generous brave  Cf. Byron, Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, V, i, 379: "The truly brave are generous to the fallen. . . ."
II,356 recreant train  Cowardly followers.
II,359 barb  Arrow-head.
II,366 blasted  Ruined.
II,367 British Chief  Henry Procter (c.1763-1822); Born in Ireland, Procter entered the British Army in 1781. In the summer of 1812, General Brock sent Procter as Lieutenant-Colonel to become commanding officer at Fort Amherstburg and as commander of the western front, Procter was successful in leading one thousand British, Canadian and Indian forces to a victory over General Winchester’s army in the Battle of Frenchtown on the River Raisin on January 20, 1813. Promoted in June, 1813, Procter then suffered the series of reversals that culminated in the defeat of his forces by the army led by General Harrison at the Battle of Moraviantown on October 5, 1813. Procter’s plan to withdraw from Fort Amherstburg in order to extend American supply and communications lines, while also keeping his own troops away from Lake Erie, was the subject not only of violent disagreement from Tecumseh and others at the time of the engagement but also of a great deal of subsequent criticism, much of it generated by Richardson. In December, 1814, Procter was court-martialled and suspended without pay for six months. He remained in Canada until the autumn of 1815 when he returned to England and lived in semi-retirement until his death seven years later.
II,372 massy  Bulky, dense.
II,378 haughty crest  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 256: "His Christian crest and haughty mien. . . ."
II,389 Gorgon  One of three daughters of the marine deities Phorcys and Ceto in Greek mythology, also known as Medusa; her monstrous appearance was made more threatening by snakes replacing hair and by eyes which could transform people into stone with a glance.
II,390 bier  Stand on which a corpse is placed.
II,397 various’  Variously.


Canto Third.


III,1 Apollo  In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, brother of Artemis, and just as she was associated with the moon, Apollo was identified with the sun. Richardson uses the conventional image of the daily apparent movement of the sun as the journey of Apollo’s fiery chariot, drawn by swift horses across the sky.
III,4 ethers  Clear skies, heavens.
III,5 morning star  Any bright planet seen in the east just before sunrise.
III,7 Aurora’s  Roman name for the Greek goddess of the dawn, Eos.
III,10 The God  Apollo.
III,10 Earth  Gaia, daughter of Chaos in Hesiod’s Theogony.
III,12 Night  Nyx, daughter of Chaos in Hesiod’s Theogony.
III,17 silvery plain  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV, 578: "Her lake a sheet of silver, and her plain. . . ."
III,22 siroc  Sirocco. Richardson provides the following note to this line in the first edition: "Notwithstanding the severity of the winter in Canada, the heat of July and August is intense; insomuch that the lassitude and debility occasioned by the weather is often little inferior to that experienced during the hotter months in the West Indies. The thermometer has been known to rise as high as 100 degrees in the shade." Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 421: "Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc. . . ."
III,25 wends  Proceeds.
III,25 tide  Stream.
III,32 with Creation’s mien  Along with the changes in Creation’s features.
III,34 spray  Slender twig on tree or shrub.
III,35 tortuous  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, IX, 516: "So varied hee, and of his tortuous Train. . . ."
III,38 the Iris’ ray  Rainbow; Iris is the Greek goddess who acted as the messenger of the gods and displayed the rainbow as her sign.
III,40 e’en tho’. . .  Even if the potential victim did not feel itself secure.
III,46 sporters  Moths.
III,49-56 All nature owns . . .  The calm of nature, broken only by man, is a prominent feature of Byron’s The Giaour; see, for example, 1-67.
III,50 to the close  To the end of the day.
III,53 Chaos’  In Hesiod’s Theogony, the being representing the infinite space and shapeless matter preceding creation; father of Gaia (Earth), Eros (Love or Desire), Erebos (Darkness) Nyx (Night).
III,68 scudding  Moving swiftly on the water.
III,76 frail bark  Cf. Byron, The Island, I, 132: "And the slight bark so laden and so frail . . ." and The Island, 3, 238: "Freights the frail bark and urges to the cove. . . ."
III,78 the fortress  Fort Amherstburg; at the beginning of the War of 1812, the only British fort on the Detroit frontier; also known as Fort Malden.
III,83 Or  Either.
III,92 meet  Appropriate, suitable.
III,94 tissue  In the first edition, "series".
III,95 locust band  See the locust plague of Exodus X.
III,97 Fair shone  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 37: "Fair shone the sun on Oscar’s birth. . . ."
III,99 chaloupe  Shallop: any of various vessels used for sailing or rowing in shallow waters.
III,100 wont stations  Accustomed places.
III,101 girt  Equipped.
III,104 canvass  Discuss.
III,105 Chief  Tecumseh.
III,110 Father’s  Procter’s.
III,121 addeem  Judge.
III,130 the mutual chain  The alliance of British, Canadian and Indian forces.
III,131 as it may behove  As is incumbent upon it.
III,140 scourge  Instrument of divine punishment, i.e. the Americans.
III,142 surge  Waves.
III,150 swarthy cheek  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, I, 176: "And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue. . . ."
III,153 deign’d  Condescended to give.
III,157 arraign’d  Censured.
III,169 Ne’er do I say . . .  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "The speech of Tecumseh on this memorable day portrayed the energy of his character in the most animated and unqualified colours. It was in the true Spartan style, laconic but expressive; and there burst forth the fiercer passions of his war-like soul. The language he made use of to the General Officer presiding, when the necessity for immediate retreat was first urged, was almost literally that ascribed to him in the poem. His eye absolutely beamed with the fires of his hot soul, and the warmth and thunder of his expression could only be equalled by the indignant character of his gesticulation. His speech acted like the shock of electricity on the hearts of every chieftain present; who starting up to a man, and vociferating one universal yell, brandished their tomahawks in the most menacing manner. It was a critical moment; and several of the interpreters, who had been brought up among, and knew the Indians well, assured us subsequently, that they were at the moment under the influence of powerful apprehension. The tumult at length subsiding, Tecumseh was finally prevailed on to relinquish his original purpose, and retire to the Moravian village, where it was mutually understood the attack of the American army was to be awaited. Beyond that spot, however, he declared no earthly consideration should induce him to recede, and thither he immediately retired with his warriors."
III,177 Father of the lake  Commander Barclay.
III,184 And now . . .  Barclay was injured in the Battle of Lake Erie but not fatally wounded. See Richardson’s note for I,113.
III,199 drooping heads  Cf. Byron, "Oh! Snatch’d Away in Beauty’s Bloom, " 7: "Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head . . ." and Lara, II, 613: "Where lay his drooping head upon her knee. . . ."
III,200 fiat  Command.
III,204 thy Father  Sir George Prevost, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Canada, or possibly King George III.
III,204 glorious deed  Cf. Byron, "Translation from Anacreon. To his Lyre," 15: "Alcides, and his glorious deeds. . . ."
III,207 mighty sphere  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, VII, 355: "A mighty Sphere he fram’d. . . ."
III,209 He ceas’d  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, XI, 126: "He ceas’d; and th’ Archangelic Power prepar’d. . . ."
III,209 deaf’ning sound  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, II, 520: "With deaf’ning shout, return’d them loud acclaim. . . ."
III,226 the native empire of command  A tribute to Tecumseh’s authority as leader contrasting with American assertions of the absence of any Indian confederacy.
III,236 in the germ  In the initial stage.
III,238 term  Limit.
III,241 Famine  Procter’s supply lines became increasingly strained during the months before the Battle of Moraviantown resulting in Canadian recruits returning to their farms and Indian allies leaving when they were no longer provided with promised food-supplies.
III,243 twice five thousand  The American forces.
III,244 unguarded strand  The unprotected northern shore of Lake Erie after Barclay’s defeat.
III,248 train  Retinue.
III,252 round shot or the bomb  Musket balls or the cannon-ball discharged by a mortar.
III,257 Yclep’d  Named. Such archaisms are common in the opening cantos of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
III,261 affords  Makes possible.
III,265 the Father  Procter.
III,270 reck  Care.
III,271 their flying rear  Troops in the rear organized for rapid movement.
III,280 mutual shame  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, IX, 1043: "Took largely, of their mutual guilt the Seal. . . ."
III,285 the mighty Prophet  i.e. Tecumseh’s brother; see I,241.
III,289 Ere then ten suns  Tecumseh delivered his famous speech on September 15, 1813; Procter finally took a stand on the Upper Thames on October 5, 1813.
III,293 to speed the death-shot  Poeticism for firing a bullet from a gun.
III,301 I ween  I believe: the first use of the first-person pronoun by Tecumseh’s narrator.
III,302 sanguine  In the theory of bodily humours, associated with blood, ruddy complexion and optimism; Richardson also includes associations with sanguinary and its designation of both a delight in bloodshed and a contempt for death.
III,303 generous soul  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 803: "And all whereat the generous soul revolts. . . ."
III,305 Sire  Tecumseh.
III,307 Leader  Procter.
III,307 the sweeping fire   After burning Fort Amherstburg and the dockyard, Procter’s forces left for Sandwich on September 23, 1813.
III,316 joyous bands  Cf. Byron, "Childish Recollections," 99: "Here, first remembered by the joyous band. . . ."
III,318 quoit  Heavy ring of iron used in a game in which such rings of rope or flattened metal are thrown at a peg in the ground in an attempt to encircle it.
III,320 miner  One who excavates the ground beneath military fortifications.
III,320 saps  Digs under the foundations of a wall.
III,324 wild ruin  Cf. Byron, Don Juan, VI, 512: "Then haunting some old Ruin or wild Waste. . . ."
III,338 Chief’s  Procter’s.
III,340 little band Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 601: "Nor of his little band a man. . . ."
III,347 hollow moanings  Cf. Byron, The Bride of Abydos, II, 93: "The gust its hollow moanings made. . . ."
III,348 melancholy mood  Cf. Byron, "To E[dward] N[oel] L[ong] Esq.," 13: "Or if, in melancholy mood. . . ."
III,349 storm-birds  Probably stormy petrels.
III,350 plainings  Plaints, plaintive sounds.
III,354 much-encumbered troop  One of the criticisms levelled at Procter during his court martial hearing after the Battle of Moraviantown concerned his decision to carry an unreasonable number of personal effects in the retreat up the Thames.
III,364 fall the brave  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 549: "And must they fall? the young, the proud, the brave. . . ."
III,375 wing of Night  Cf. Byron, "Oscar of Alva," 120: "Till night expands her dusky wings. . . ."
III,376 throne of light  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, III, 612: "And hurls the spirit from her throne of light. . . ."
III,379 glittering arms  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,  I, 435: "Their various arms that glitter in the air. . . ." and The Island, IV, 290: "Their arms were poised and glitter’d in the sky. . . ."
III,384 defiled  Marched, in a line or file.

Canto Fourth.


IV,1 waning light  Cf. Byron, "The Episode of Nisus and Euryalus," 305: "The plunder’d helmet, through the waning night. . . ."
IV,3 watch-fire’s  Cf. Byron, Mazeppa, 28: "The watch-fires in the distance sparkling. . . ."
IV,11 These, not luxurious  The soldiers, not given to luxury.
IV,20 sustain  Withstand.
IV,37 checker’d  Chequered, marked by wide or frequent variations or contrasts.
IV,44 friendship’s . . . tear  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 1249: "And what than friendship’s manly tear. . . ."
IV,48 death-wound  Cf. Byron, Don Juan, XI, 126: "The drops fell from his death-wound and he drew ill. . . ."
IV,49 Thrice happy  Cf. Byron, The Bride of Abydos, II, 643: "Thrice happy! ne’er to feel nor fear the force. . . ."
IV,51 youthful years  Cf. Byron, "The Adieu," 22: "Where grew my youthful years. . . ."
IV,54 Unrack’d  Not stretched, not tortured.
IV,58 loneness  Loneliness, isolation.
IV,69 all who dwell  Perhaps those coastal tribes speaking Eastern Algonquian languages such as the Micmac, Abenaki, or Delaware.
IV,70 those  Probably the Iroquois, referring to the five and later six-nation confederacy composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and, after the early 1720s, the Tuscarora. Corn (IV,71) served as a central focus of Iroquois agriculture and of religious ceremonials. Their homes (III,72) or longhouses represented not only places of residence but were also the symbol of tribal identity for a confederacy identifying itself as "People of the Longhouse."
IV,70 capote  Cloak of blanket cloth or animal hide.
IV,73 Huron  A confederacy of five tribes speaking a Northern Iroquoian language, the Indians whom the French identified as Hurons in the seventeenth century referred to themselves collectively as Ouendat. They occupied the country between Lake Simcoe and southern Georgian Bay. Richardson identifies the Hurons with agriculture because hunting played only a minor role in an economy based on fishing and on the cultivation of corn, beans and squash.
IV,74 Winnebago  Originally based in what is now Wisconsin, Winnebagos spoke a Siouan language. Allies of the French against the British, at first, the Winnebagos later fought as allies of the British against the Americans. Richardson’s insistence on their fierceness alludes to the stress on warfare permeating Winnebago religious beliefs and practices.
IV,75 Chippewa  At the time of first contact with Europeans, the Chippewa or Ojibwa spoke an Algonquian language and lived between north-eastern Georgian Bay and eastern Lake Superior. They now constitute the largest tribe north of Mexico. Richardson’s designation of the Chippewa as "artful" may refer to the regard held by his contemporaries for the Chippewas’ skilled use of birchbark for canoes and wigwams and of dyed porcupine quills for elaborate decorative designs.
IV,77 Sawkie  The Sauk, while linked to the Fox tribe through many cultural practices and, at the time of the War of 1812, by a formal alliance, were, however, a distinct tribal unit. Once based primarily around Green Bay, Wisconsin, they later moved southwards into Illinois.
IV,81 Munsee  A sub-group of the Delaware, the Munsee spoke a distinct Eastern Algonquian language. Once located in the valley of the Delaware River, the Munsee later spread to southern Ontario, western New York and Pennsylvania. Some Munsee-speaking Delawares preferred the designation "Christian Indians" after the establishment of the missionary settlement at Moraviantown in 1792.
IV,81 Kickapoo  Part of the Algonquian linguistic group, the Kickapoo were a major power in the Ohio Valley until they sold their land in 1819.
IV,83 Foxes’  Similarities in language and culture link the Fox to the Sauk and Kickapoo tribes. In the early nineteenth century, the Fox were based along the border of Iowa and Wisconsin. In 1812, they numbered about 2000.
IV,84 Shawanee  An unusually fragmented people, the Shawnee were never united into a single grouping. Located in the central Ohio River Valley, the Shawnee were closely related in language and culture to the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo.
IV,91 the devoted man  Richardson’s difficulty in identifying this tribe is more understandable given that the Smithsonian Institute’s "Key to Tribal Territories" in Volume XV of the Handbook of North American Indians (1978) still marks a major area as that of "poorly known tribes of the Ohio Valley and Interior." Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "Among the many ferocious tribes attached to the right division of the army, this people were particularly remarkable for their sternness of expression, and the fancifulness of their costume, being generally habited in close dresses of very white leather, extremely soft and pliant, and worked with the stained quills of the porcupine. They professed to hold existence in utter contempt, and were considered much in the same light as our forlorn hope. They were presumed to lead into action, and never to turn their backs upon their enemies; yet rather sacrificing themselves to a sentiment of glory, than actuated by a desire to benefit their party by their devotedness. A warrior of this tribe, seated at breakfast with several officers, on one occasion, after having explained the peculiar virtue of his nation, very coolly drew his knife from its sheath, and cut a piece of flesh completely out of the thigh, exclaiming, as he threw it contemptuously away, that it was for the dogs; by which expression he fully intended to convey his utter disregard of suffering or death. Notwithstanding this vaunted indifference, however, being engaged shortly after their arrival in a storming affair with the troops, the fire from the enemy’s batteries proved so warm, that they were glad to make a precipitate retreat; acknowledging, subsequently, that though they had hitherto fancied themselves the bravest men in the world, they were now willing to concede that distinction to the warriors of their Great Father, modestly reserving for themselves the second place. Being utterly unprovided with notes on America, I am at a loss to recollect the name of this tribe: this I perfectly remember, however, that it implies devoted men, by which appellation they were invariably distinguished by us from the other warriors."
IV,98 Ottawas  Part of the Algonquian language group, the Ottawa occupied territory on the Michigan Peninsula and the northern and eastern shores of Georgian Bay.
IV,99 Pottawatamies  The Potawatomi lived on the upper Michigan peninsula, spoke a distinct Algonquian language, and, in 1800, still constituted a single tribal organization. The majority of the Potawatomi villages allied themselves with Tecumseh in the War of 1812.
IV,99 Fallsowine  A derivation of the name used by the French for the Menominee (IV,93): "nation de la folle avoine" (nation of the wild rice). This designation was then corrupted to Folles Avoines and Richardson’s Fallsowine.
IV,102 sweet grass Grass growing in a marshy area to a height of about two and one-half feet; also known as sarastana odorato, holy grass, seneca grass or vanilla grass. Sweetgrass is recognized for both its utilitarian and symbolic values by a wide variety of Amerindian peoples.
IV,103 to speed  To increase the movement of.
IV,104 the Roman creed  Roman Catholicism.
IV,111 Manitou  Deity among Algonquian peoples. Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "Manitou implies, the Good Spirit. Kitchi-Manitou, the Evil Spirit."
IV,112 Chemocomon  Richardson provides the following note in the first edition: "This compound word (Anglicè, long-knife) is used by every tribe of Indians in speaking of the Americans, thus designated from the knives of excessive length with which the western settlers are invariably provided. In fact, the backwoodsmen of Kentucky and Ohio, of whom the American armies in the vicinity of Lake Erie were principally composed, differ very immaterially from the natives in their appearance. Their dress is not wholly dissimilar, and the knife and hatchet are as formidable weapons with them as they are with the Indians; while in the management of the rifle, their almost exclusive arm, they are equally dexterous with the hunter they have so successfully and unrelentingly driven from the home of his forefathers."
IV,114 dell  Valley.
IV,115 glassy deep  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,IV, 601: "Who dwells and revels in thy glassy deeps. . . ."
IV,117 steep  Slope of a hill.
IV,124 Melancholy  Cf. Byron, "The Adieu," 14: "And Melancholy pale. . . ."
IV,129 the Warrior  Tecumseh.
IV,130 cast  Fortune, fate.
IV,137 peaceful shades  Cf. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, I, 655: "Ah! that to these were given such peaceful shades. . . ."
IV,138 Sire  The "aged Chief" of II,185. Biographies of Tecumseh suggest that his actual father, Puckeshinwa, died while he was an infant.
IV,140 all-conquering fire  Cf. Byron, "Translation from the Medea of Euripides," 20: "Awakes all-consuming fire. . . ."
IV,148 the chase  Either a reference to hunting or to a chase as a game preserve.
IV,153 o’er Ohio’s flood  Across the Ohio River.
IV,154 dark Wabash’  The Battle of Tippecanoe in which the forces of Tecumseh and the Prophet were defeated in 1811 was fought at the forks of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers.
IV,166 toil  Strife, struggle.
IV,192 his  Tecumseh’s.
IV,194 truly brave  Cf. Byron, Marino Faliero, Dog of Venice, II, ii, 74: "The truly brave are soft of heart and eyes . . ." and Don Juan, VIII, 841: "To take him was the point. The truly brave. . . ."
IV,195 deep despairings  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, I, 126: "Vaunting aloud, but rackt with deep despair. . . ."
IV,198 groaning country  Cf. Byron, Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, V, i, 397: "I sought to free the groaning nations. . . ."
IV,202 prestige  Influence.
IV,206 wild desire  Cf. Byron, "Translation from the Medea of Euripides," 7: "The wild desire, the guilty flame. . . ."
IV,211 coruscations  Gleams of light.
IV,214 matin-bird  Any bird singing a morning (matins) song.   
IV,215 And Nature doffs her sable garb to meet  See III,10.
IV,221 casque  Military head-piece.
IV,230 basilisk-like  The basilisk of classical mythology is variously described as a snake, lizard or dragon; it was said to kill by its breath or look.
IV,232 orbs  Poeticism for eye-balls.
IV,234 battle’s fearful din  Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, I, 668: "Clash’d on thir sounding shields the din of war. . . ." And Paradise Lost, VI, 408: "And silence on the odious din of War. . . ."
IV,242 brands  Blades of swords.
IV,244 valiant bosom  Cf. Byron, The Giaour, 156: "Without one free or valiant breast. . . ."

instant of alarm  The Battle of Moraviantown or the Battle of the Thames was fought on October 5, 1813. After the defeat of British naval forces in the Battle of Lake Erie, all of the western peninsula of Upper Canada was vulnerable to American invasion. General Procter’s decision to retreat up the Thames was based on a continuing shortage of supplies for his own troops and on the conviction that his forces could not successfully repel an American attack at Fort Amherstburg.

Richardson’s dedication of the first edition of Tecumseh to "Captain Barclay, and Other Officers Serving with the Right Division of the Army of Upper Canada, During the Late American War" reflects his concern with vindicating the conduct of those serving with both the naval and land forces of the Right Division. The historigraphy of the battle suggests that the British-Canadian line broke early in the battle leaving Tecumseh and his Indian forces vulnerable to a crushing defeat. For Richardson, however, the defeat was directly attributable to a failure in leadership by Procter.

Despite their victory, the American army returned to Detroit after the Battle of Moraviantown and made no attempt to exploit the strategic advance that their victory represented. With Perry’s victory on Lake Erie and Harrison’s at Moraviantown, however, the war on the western frontier of Upper Canada was effectively over.

IV,263 horrid clang  Cf. Milton, "On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity," 157: "With such a horrid clang. . . ."
IV,266 breathe defiance  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, I, 215: "There breathe but few whose aspect might defy . . ." and Milton, Paradise Lost, II, 697: "Hell-doom’d, and breath’st defiance here and scorn. . . ."
IV,270 And speed the shot  Shot is a collective noun requiring a plural predicate in this usage; synonymous with bullets.
IV,275 Fast fall  Richardson provides the following note to this passage in the first edition: "The difficulties opposed to European troops in this irregular combat, amid wilds and fastnesses, and with an enemy to whom the woods are in some degree their native element, if I may be permitted to use the expression, can be but indifferently understood by those who have never served in America. Exposed to a deadly and desultory fire, and rendered doubly conspicuous by his glaring habiliment, the English soldier, in particular, has but little chance with the American rifleman, who, conscious of his advantage, and taking a deliberate aim, seldom fails to attain his object; while his adversary, I am persuaded, out of ten shots that he fires, discharges not three with effect. Neither his bayonet nor his discipline avail him in the least; and in the art of treeing himself, as the Americans term it, he is so little versed, that the attempt is seldom, if ever, made. In fine, an English army in the woods may be considered as so many victims led forth to unavoidable and unprofitable slaughter. It cannot, consequently, excite surprise, that in the engagement here alluded to, the enemy’s marksmen, independently of the vast disproportion of numbers, should have contributed so largely to the success of a day, which the circumstance alone of our troops being thrown into the heart of an almost impervious wood (the original plan of defence having unhappily been abandoned), was of itself sufficient to ensure."
IV,284 Assure them victims  Make them certain victims.
IV,285   forest’s maze  Cf. Byron, "The Episode of Nisus and Euryalus," 317: "But Nisus scours along the forest’s maze. . . ."
IV,289 equal  Equally.
IV,294 with gore imbued  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, II, 220: "And check the very hands with gore imbrued. . . ."
IV,301 glean’d  Discovered.
IV,302 The Chief  Colonel Richard Johnson (1780-1850), commander of a Kentucky regiment of mounted riflemen in the Battle of Moraviantown. He was badly wounded in the battle but survived to become the ninth vice-president of the United States. In the long debate about the circumstances surrounding Tecumseh’s death, Johnson was often identified as the soldier who had killed the Shawnee leader.
IV,305 soul’s delight  Cf. Byron, Don Juan, XV, 15: "Which ministers unto the soul’s delight. . . ."
IV,308 dark despair  Cf. Byron, The Corsair, I, 353: "Which not the darkness of despair can damp. . . ."
IV,313 Like the quick bolt . . .  Richardson provides the following note to this passage in the first edition: "It was towards the close of the action, when Tecumseh, covered with his own blood and that of his enemies, first recognized the leader of the Kentucky riflemen, Colonel Johnson;—he immediately fired, and wounded him in the breast, and was in the very act of despatching him with his tomahawk, when his adversary drew a pistol from his belt and shot him. The warrior fell immediately; and after several and unsuccessful struggles to raise himself, breathed his last upon a soil which may never again count among the number of her sons a being uniting one half the glowing and brilliant qualities which characterised the high, the noble, the generous, the unfortunate Tecumseh."
IV,333 The very covering . . .  Richardson provides the following note to this passage in the first edition: "Scarcely had he expired, when a band of lurking enemies sprung upon the warrior, and scalped him. Not satisfied with this, they absolutely tore the skin from off his bleeding form, and converted it into razor-straps!!! [sic] If the Indians have sometimes treated the Americans with cruelty, they, at least, were not Christians; and as for simple scalping, it has been a custom with the natives from time immemorial— the scalp being considered merely as a warlike trophy; but when men, professing themselves Christians, and calling themselves enlightened, can descend to the commission of indignities such as were offered to the body of Tecumseh, they certainly have but little reason to inveigh so bitterly against Indian barbarity and treachery; and many Kentuckian Americans have I heard boast of having obtained a part of the warrior’s skin. Yet if the ferocity by which they were actuated accorded ill with what might have been expected from a comparatively civilised enemy, it at least evinced, in the strongest possible manner, the dread in which the chieftain was held; and this very circumstance alone proves more for the character of this extraordinary man than the warmest eulogies partiality could devise. It is a circumstance not unworthy of remark, that the officer in command of the American army on this untoward day was no other than General Harrison, the man to whom Tecumseh had so often, and so successfully, been opposed on the banks of the Wabash. It is but rendering justice to the former to say, that the sentiments which he expressed when the circumstance and manner of the warrior’s death were first announced, were such as to reflect credit upon him both as a man, a gentleman, a Christian, and a soldier."
IV,336 pestilential breath  See earlier reference to the basilisk (IV,230). Cf. Byron, Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, I, 452: "Have breathed a pestilence upon us all. . . ."
IV,341 sepulture  Interment, burial.
IV,360 That Chieftain’s worth. . .  In the first edition, the line reads "That Chieftain’s worth, whose glory is his shame!"


Minor corrections or amplifications appearing in the Notes to the first edition but not in the 1842 copy-text have been cited only where they indicate a substantive change.



Notes to Canto First



nine sail  Perry’s squadron actually consisted of ten vessels.

2 by the same ball  After a colon, this note continues in the first edition: "the spot was pointed out to me on the bulwarks, on which the blood of the one, and the brains of the other, were mingled together in one melancholy and undistinguishable mass."
3 enlightened people  After a semi-colon, this note continues in the first edition: "and I have repeatedly heard him render that tribute to his personal intrepidity, which the really brave and liberal-minded soldier is ever ready to accord his foe. Nothing could testify in favour of the true character of the warrior in a greater degree, than the dread in which he was universally held by the various forces employed at different periods against him."
4 Notes on Virginia Thomas Jefferson’s one full length book: Notes on the State of Virginia (London: J. Stockdale, 1787). In the passage cited by Richardson from the sixth chapter ("Query VI"), Jefferson is quoting a Delaware chief responding to questions from the Governor of Virginia about "the Mammoth, or big buffalo, as called by the Indians."

Notes to Canto Second



The first edition supplies a much longer account of the stratagem that plays a central role in the plotting of Richardson’s Wacousta: "As the reader is, perhaps, not generally aware of the circumstance here alluded to, the following account, completely illustrative of Indian craft and invention, may not prove unacceptable:—During the original European wars in America, when the French had still a decided influence over the character and services of the natives, the latter, availing themselves of the opportunity afforded during an interval of peace, when the British garrison slumbered in security, had conceived and matured a plan for the reduction of the two important posts of Detroit and Michilimakinac [sic]. The artifice resorted to was one well worthy of the Indian character; and although the garrisons were several hundred miles distant from each other, the execution of the project was fixed for the same day. According to their custom, but in greater numbers than usual, the warriors assembled early on the morning of the day appointed, on a common adjoining the former fort, where they usually played at ball:— their guns had been cut short to facilitate their concealment, and every thing was in readiness, when, at a given signal, the ball was, as if accidentally, thrown within the walls. The request, that they might be permitted to enter for it, was instantly accorded; but no sooner were the gates thrown open than they all rushed forward for the completion of their enterprise. Greatly to their astonishment, however, and not less to their disappointment, they perceived the whole of the line under arms, and the artillerymen at their guns. It is almost needless to add, that rage and mortification were their predominant feelings. The governor had been apprised of the scheme by an Indian woman, who, grateful for certain little kindnesses shewn her by his household, formed the laudable resolution to save the unsuspecting garrison, even at the risk of incurring those torments she well knew must follow detection. It is gratifying to humanity to know, that suspicion even did not attach to her; and in her old age she was wont to speak on the subject to many of the English families in terms of the highest exultation and self-satisfaction. With the other ill-fated fortress the scheme proved but too successful; for those within had no guardian-angel to warn them of their danger. On the same day, and at the same hour, the ball was thrown into the fort, the gates of which were opened with blind and heedless confidence;—need I conclude?— the greatest part of the garrison were massacred, and the most cruel indignities offered to the unfortunate and surviving sufferers."


Mr. Campbell  Thomas Campbell, author of Gertrude of Wyoming, a Pennsylvanian Tale; and Other Poems (London: Longman,1809). Consisting of eighty-seven stanzas divided into three parts, Campbell’s poem is a narrative of domestic tragedy set in a highly idealized depiction of the Wyoming Valley of the Susquehanna River in eastern Pennsylvania. Campbell’s portrait of Joseph Brant as "the monster Brandt" and "Accursed Brandt" was based, by Campbell’s own account, on the "the common Histories of England, all of which represented him as a bloody and bad man (even among savages), and chief agent in the horrible desolation of Wyoming." When Brant’s son visited England in 1821 and requested a retraction, Campbell added the following sentence to all subsequent additions: "The name of Brandt, therefore, remains in my poem a pure and declared character of fiction." Anna Jameson reflects on both Brandt and Campbell in Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada: "Brandt, who had intelligence enough to perceive and acknowledge the superiority of the whites in all the arts of life, was at first anxious for the conversion and civilisation of his nation; but I was told by a gentleman who had known him, that after a visit he paid to England, this wish no longer existed. He returned to his own people with no very sublime idea either of our morals or manners and died in 1807. He is the Brandt whom Campbell has handed down to most undeserved execration as the leader in the massacre at Wyoming. The poet indeed tells us, in the notes to Gertrude of Wyoming, that all he has said against Brandt must be considered as pure fiction, ‘for that he was remarkable for his humanity, and not even present at the massacre;’ but the name stands in the text as heretofore, apostrophised as the ‘accursed Brandt,’ the ‘monster Brandt;’ and is not this most unfair, to be hitched into elegant and popular rhyme as an assassin by wholesale, and justice done in a little fag-end of prose?" (Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada. II, London: Saunders and Otley, 1838. pp.105-106).

     The final sentence of Richardson’s note is an addition to the 1828 version.


The first edition supplies a much longer note: "While the right division were engaged in the siege of Fort Meigs, General Clay, who was rapidly descending the Miami with a reinforcement of 1500 men, received an order from General Harrison, through the medium of a courier, despatched through the besieging lines during the night, to land and possess himself of the batteries erected on the right bank of the river, which were literally unsupported. The plan was well conceived; and had General Clay confined himself to the letter of his instructions, his success would have been complete. The batteries were taken without opposition, and the guns immediately spiked. The flying artillerymen had, however, given the alarm, and as the enemy, emboldened by the facility of their conquest, and contrary to the express command of their General-in-Chief, remained in quiet possession, two companies of the 41st regiment, under Brevet-Majors Muir and Tallon, supported by Tecumseh and a body of Indians, were despatched to repossess themselves of the ground. The assault was conducted in the most spirited manner; and the enemy were driven, literally at the point of the bayonet, from each battery in succession, one of which was carried in the most gallant and conspicuous style by Major Chambers, of the 41st, acting Deputy Quarter-Master-General, supported merely by four or five followers. The Americans were finally driven from the plain into the wood, where a sharp and destructive fire had already commenced on the part of Tecumseh. The result was, that only 150 succeeded in making their escape. About 450 prisoners were despatched under an escort, to the camp, established at the distance of a mile: scarcely had they reached it, when a number of cowardly Indians, who had borne no share in the action whatever, came up, and selecting each a captive from the throng, commenced the work of blood. An old, intrepid, and worthy soldier, in attempting to save a victim from his infuriated destroyer, received a rifle-ball in his heart. At this moment, Tecumseh, apprised of what was going on, rode up to the miserable wretches, and with an eye darting fury and dissatisfaction, raised his arm, and swore to punish each offender in the most exemplary manner, if they did not immediately desist. Even on those lawless people, to whom command and coercion were hitherto unknown, the energetic threat of the indignant warrior produced an instantaneous effect, and they retired at once humiliated and confounded; not, however, before several victims had sunk beneath their treacherous steel. Never did Tecumseh shine more truly himself than on this melancholy occasion. I have extended the relation of this affair beyond the usual limits of a note; but the interest of the scene altogether must plead my apology. To this I may add another motive,—a desire to instance a decided contradiction to the statement of "An Englishwoman," a writer very severely and properly handled in one of the Quarterly Reviews for 1821, which, by mere accident, fell into my hands a few days since. To her ungenerous assertion, that prisoners were wantonly delivered into the hands of the Indians, every officer serving in Canada can afford a most positive refutation. Let the Americans not blame us for having employed the natives: had we not, they certainly would; and on the principle of self- defence alone, the measure was one of necessity. Theirs was a war of invasion and of aggression; nor can they with justice deny, that every effort had been made by themselves to attach the Indians to their party. Had they succeeded, Upper Canada must have fallen; and unless the natives are our allies, most probably will, in the event of any future rupture."

     An Englishwoman  [Frances Wright, afterwards D’Arusmont]; Views of Society and Manners in America; In a Series of Letters from that Country to a Friend in England, During the Years 1818, 1819 and 1820.  By an Englishwoman. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, 1821. "Article III" in the Quarterly Review, XXVII (April, 1822), 71-99, reviews four volumes dealing with North American travels, Views of Society being the last considered. The reviewer begins: "The fourth and last article is an impudent attempt, we conceive, to foist into public notice, under a spurious title, namely that of an Englishwoman, a most ridiculous and extravagant panegyric on the government and people of the United States; accompanied by the grossest and most detestable calumnies against this country, that folly and malignity ever invented. An Englishwoman, with the proper spirit and feeling attached to that proud title, would blush to be thought the author of such a work." The specific passage to which Richardson refers reads: "A single extract from the Letters of the pseudo-Englishwoman will be sufficient to show the general feeling by which the writer is influenced towards England. In speaking of the affair of Frenchton [sic] on the river Raisin, a story is told of the massacre of ‘a detachment of the choicest sons of Kentucky, by the Indians under Colonel Proctor [sic], after a surrender by capitulation on honourable terms,’ which concludes thus: ‘The British commander marched off his troops, gave his prisoners in charge to the savages, and left them, with the wounded and the dying, to be tomahawked and roasted at the stake.’ A more infamous and detestable falsehood than this was never fabricated." Richardson says that this volume of the Quarterly Review "by mere accident, fell into my hands a few days since." A long account of the War of 1812 appeared in the July, 1822, issue of the same volume.


Notes to Canto Fourth


2 Minoumini  Part of the Algonquian language group, the Menominee lived in upper Michigan and later in Wisconsin near Green Bay. Although they ranged westward to the Mississippi, Richardson overstates the distance in his reference to the "remotest west." Derived from Ojibwa, Menominee is etymologically "wild rice people."

Three additional notes appear in the 1828 edition for two stanzas omitted from the 1842 text but printed in the Historical Collation accompanying the present text:

I,xl He swore, but secret . . .  "It would be difficult to describe, or even to comprehend, the feelings of the warrior, when the absolute conviction of defeat was impressed on his mind;—his natural antipathy to the Americans—the various and important consequences attached to an event so replete with advantages to the enemy, to whom the command of the lake now afforded every facility of inundating the country with troops—and the strong interest excited for the fate of the heroic, but unfortunate commander, added to the sentiment of actual veneration with which the generous though unavailing gallantry of the whole fleet inspired him,—called up all the more powerful and impetuous passions of this child of nature. The struggle was internal—not manifested by ignoble and unavailing complaint;—his was one of those countenances which require not the aid of words to divulge the emotions of the soul. He swore to avenge them, or to fall; and he fulfilled the purport of his oath to the very letter.
II,liv And though thy dog . . .  The custom peculiar to the Indian tribes, of interring a warrior with the various requisites for hunting, under the impression that he will require them at his resurrection, has, I believe, been pretty generally noticed by travellers on the northern continent of America.
II,liv For God ne’er meant . . .  Should one half of my readers feel disposed to quarrel with my ideas of future felicity, at least the fairer and better proportion will not, I trust, utterly disclaim the possibility of human love, chastened by celestial refinement, proving the rich recompense of man, after his painful and probationary sojourn.