The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay (1856) by Charles Sangster (1822-1893) is probably the most intriguing poem written in pre-Confederation Canada. There are two principal reasons why the hundred and ten Spenserian stanzas that compose the Kingston poet's description of a river journey from Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay to Trinity Rock are of enduring interest, despite their unevenness and occasional bathos.l The first is that the "revelation of God in the silent northern wilderness" which concludes the poem and which represents, for Gordon Johnston, "the true basis of Sangster's claim to be called the Father of Canadian Poetry"2 remains for the reader an affective experience, an authentic response to the North that echoes forward in the Canadian continuity to the work of Duncan Campbell Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Al Purdy and others. The second reason for the poem's continuing appeal is that the troubled and searching love relationship between the poet-speaker and the mysterious "Maiden" who accompanies him on his journey remains engagingly "obscure" and "tantalizing" 3--pregnant with allegorical possibilities that do not fully declare themselves. As Sangster may well have intended, the love-interest in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay engages by its mystery, involving the perplexed reader in a journey which, while partly a sight-seeing tour through some of the most picturesque and sublime scenery in all of Canada, is primarily a quest for revealed "Truth" (1249), a search with an ever-present and hazily-defined teleological destination that provides the poem with its ostensible raison d'être and much of its intellectual interest. It is the hope of the present Introduction that, by placing The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay in its biographical, religious, literary, and historical contexts, light may be cast on various aspects of the poem, not least on its interrelated and enduringly engaging treatments of the Canadian landscape and "Human Love" (1262).




1856 was an annus mirabilis for Sangster. In mid-summer he saw The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems published through a printer in Auburn, New York, and in early fall he married Mary Kilborn in Kingston, Canada West.4 At the time of his marriage, Sangster was thirty-four years of age and his bride was twenty-one. Apart from the fact that Mary Kilborn, who would die of pneumonia in 1858, was a Kingston woman, little is known about her, let alone about her character or her relationship with the poet. Yet The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems was published, and probably mostly written, at a time when a good deal of Sangster's emotional and spiritual life must have been concentrated on his courtship and marriage. It is therefore hardly surprising that the volume contains many poems that are concerned with "Human Love," several of them personal in nature and--if it is permissible to draw an inference from their second-person singular pronouns and present tense--probably occasioned by the poet's bride-to-be. Unfortunately, the two poems that can be said with almost complete certainty to be addressed to Mary Kilborn, "The Name of Mary" and "Mary's Twentieth Birthday," divulge little about the relationship other than that, though capable of making Sangster's heart rule his pen, it did not overrule his conviction, delivered in his solemn birthday homily, that man's time on earth must be spent in "Purity," "Goodness," and "Truth" if the Christian Hope of Heaven is to be achieved.5 An examination of Sangster's other lucubrations on human love and related subjects in the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay volume substantiates what is hinted in the `Marian' poems--that the poet was for the most part a conventional and Christian Victorian with a preachily repressive distrust for man's `lower', earthly, nature and a sublimely elevated respect for 'higher,' spiritual, things.

As might be expected, Sangster's dualism led him to a mortal fear of passion ("A human Niagara," "sin's dread electricity," "Reason's eclipse" are among his descriptions of "Uncurbed Passion")6 and an ascetic disdain for pleasure ("whose only use," he says in "Let Them Boast as They Will" is to teach "the wisest / . . . to abstain . . .")7. Less predictable, though understandable in a man who has decided to marry rather than to burn, is Sangster's fervid desire to find the pattern of a personal yet spiritual love that would be compatible enough with Christian ideals to be continued in a Christian after-life:

Shall we not meet in heaven, love,

   And know each other there?

Endearing thought! . . .


But shall we know each other there,

   In that elysian clime?

Consoling thought--to live--to love

   Through never-ending time!

Hope points to such a God-like gift . . . .8

The similarity between Sangster's hope for a personal love that persists "Beyond the Grave" (the title of the poem just quoted) in a Christian heaven and that of Dante Gabriel Rossetti in such poems as "The Blessed Damozel" and "The One Hope"9 is remarkable and--since there is no evidence of an influence operating in either direction between the two poets--probably explicable as a function of their shared reading of such authors as Dante and Petrarch (both of whom are explicitly mentioned in "The Name of Mary") and the Philip James Bailey of Festus (which is the subject of a sonnet in the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay volume) in environments which, though geographically separate and greatly different, were nevertheless permeated by the same, formative Victorian ideas and ideals. It almost goes without saying that a sanctified, earthly love such as Sangster envisioned in 1856 was inconceivable for an orthodox Christian of the mid-Victorian period outside the bounds and bonds of--to quote the marriage service of the Anglican Church in which the Canadian poet was married--the "excellent mystery" of "holy Matrimony."10 It also need hardly be said that many Victorian Anglicans would have found Sangster's fond hope for a continuation of human love in Heaven disconcertingly egocentric. Fortunately for the peace of a mind already given to "melancholy,"11 Sangster seems to have been unembarrassed by an awareness of his own tendency towards heterodoxy in the devices and desires of the heart.12

The fact that The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay appeared only months before Sangster's marriage to Mary Kilborn, and, moreover, culminates in an affirmation of "Human Love," renders almost inescapable and certainly plausible the allegorical, if not literal, identification of the poem's mysterious "Maiden" with the poet's future bride. Of course it would be folly to draw on such an identification for biographical purposes and to search through the poem for the facts of Sangster's relationship with Mary Kilborn. There is a critical advantage to be gained, however, in seeing the theme of "Human Love" as central rather than peripheral to The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, for to do so may permit a defence of the poem against the charge, brought by Desmond Pacey and W.D. Hamilton, that it is irredeemably "vague," thematically "diffuse"13 and sadly deficient in a "central core of meaning."14 It is ironical that Hamilton, the first critic strongly to advocate the possibility of a coherent core of meaning in the poem, omits its crucial and climactic mention of "Human Love" when he quotes its final stanza to clinch his case that "Sangster's intention" is to symbolize in the river-journey "his spirit's search for a fount of inspiration," a search which ends successfully when he "embraces the spirit of nature" (in the form of the Maiden) and becomes "a poet of nature" (as represented by Trinity Rock).15 It is also ironical that Frank M. Tierney, while recognizing the centrality of the "theme of love" in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, argues that the "Maiden" is "not physically present on the journey" but merely a projection of the speaker's "memory and imagination" (this despite his request that she "Lean on [his] bosom" [1256] in the final stanza), and concludes, in a baffling echo of Hamilton's thesis, that at the end of the poem the "`Maiden' . . . is . . . gone, his one love unified in eternity," leaving the poet merely with the "aesthetic joy" of "the creation of [his] poem."16 Tierney's view of the "Maiden" as an imaginary figure who "seems sometimes absent but most often present"17 occasions such readings as the following:

Stanza I establishes the absence of the "Maiden". Stanza II, however, is a direct statement to her in the convention of a prayer to the Muse for inspiration and guidance in the creation of his poem; thus, through the absence of the Maiden in stanza I, and the prayer to her in stanza II, the form is revealed as internal monologue, although there are many instances in the poem where a listener appears to be present; but this apparent presence is a function of the speaker's imagination as he constructs their spiritual journey from separation to union.18

Perhaps the conclusion to be drawn from all this is that a confused poem (a “highly undisciplined . . . welter of confusion”19 is Hamilton’s description) is bound to call forth confusing interpretations.

Since there are a number of points in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, most notably the crucial stanza CVI (of which more in due course), where the status of the "Maiden" and the events surrounding her are unclear, it may not be possible fully and finally to clear the poem of the charge of confusion. Yet the argument should be made, and made consistently, that Sangster's poem is a coherent piece of work, that--as will be argued here--its overall movement and major concerns are dictated by the theme of "Human Love" --by the poet-speaker's search in the company of a "Maiden" (whom he sometimes contemplates and sometimes addresses) for a revelation of the "Truth" that will reconcile the different kinds of Love that he finds at conflict in his own being and, by harmonizing his attraction to Woman, Nature, and God, provide a firm foundation for the marriage, the mystery of holy matrimony, towards which the conclusion of the poem points.



 The opening stanza of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay introduces the theme of the poet-speaker's love in a more complex way than might first appear:

There is but one to whom my hopes are clinging,
As clings the bee unto the morning flower,
There is but one to whom my thoughts are winging
Their dove-like passage through each silent hour:
One who has made my heart her summer bower.
Feeling and passion there forever bloom
 For her, who, by her love's mysterious power,
 Dispels the languor of my spirit's gloom,
And lifts my dead heart up, like Lazarus from the tomb.

The first thing to notice here is that Sangster's love is at once singular and self-centered: it is directed towards "one" woman who, he asserts (three times, and with no fewer than five uses of the word "my"),20 constitutes the sole focus of his "hopes," "thoughts," "heart," "Feeling and passion." Both intellectua121 and passionate, the poet-speaker's love for his monna innominata is obsessive to the point of uxoriousness (the sin of Adam, of course, and also of Samson, who appears later in the poem). It is also spiritually and emotionally renovating, lightening the speaker's melancholy spirit and gladdening his heart in a manner that he compares with the raising of Lazarus, a reference that has an evident and important double-valency: on the one hand, a negative--because blasphemous--suggestion that the lady's "love" is God-like in its "mysterious power," and, on the other hand, a positive--because reconciliatory--suggestion that the "mysterious power" of the lady's love partakes of the miraculous, redemptive and, indeed, "mysterious love of God."

It is the power of love to regenerate and spiritualize, to inspire intimations of immortality and to counteract the effects of original sin, that provides the basis for the poet-speaker's appeal to the beloved in the second stanza to become the inspiratrice of his transcendental journey down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay (roughly equivalent here to "earth" and "heaven"):  

   Maiden! from whose large, intellectual eyes,
   My soul first drank love's immortality,
   Plume my weak spirit for its chosen skies,
   'T would falter in its mission without thee.
   Conduct its flight; and if its musings be
   Oft'ner of earth than heaven, bear awhile
   With what is native to mortality:
   It dare not err exulting in thy smile:
Look on it with thine eyes, and keep it free from guile.


With a recognition of the similarity of gesture between this stanza and the invocation of Urania in Paradise Lost, I, 1-26 comes an awareness of the very un-Miltonic, because dualistic (and, again, uxorious), quality of the poet-speaker's attitude to the "Maiden" at this point in the poem: his elevation of her to the status of an aid to transcendence and his implicit contrast of her purity and spirituality to the sinfulness and "mortality" of the rest of creation. Far more Dantean than Miltonic in its approach to both woman and the world, the stanza reveals the poet-speaker's expectation (which is not radically modified until the final few stanzas of the poem) that, under the tutelage of the "Maiden," he will eventually transcend earthly matters, but that, in the meantime, he will find himself concerned more often than not "With what is native to mortality." In the event, this proves to be the case as the pair sails from Kingston through the Thousand Islands, and the poet-speaker, as yet unchastened by the influence of the "Maiden," chronicles the progress of their "love-fraught" (19) boat along the "amorous current" (23) and under a "passionate sun," noticing as he does so an erotic cornucopia of things "native to mortality": "The silver-sinewed arms of the proud Lake, / Love-wild, embrace each islet tenderly, / The zephyrs kiss the flowers when they wake / At morn . . ." (37-40).

Presiding over the beginning of the Thousand Islands section of the The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay is the "Spirit" (64) or "Genius" (94) of "Beauty," a figure whose ancestry may lie, not only in comments on the beauty of the thousand Islands by John Howison, George Wharburton and William Burr (more of which later, and see Explanatory Notes, 35), but also in Oliver Goldsmith's allegory concerning "The preference of grace to beauty" in The Citizen of the World, the work which, with the Bible (and by Sangster's own admission), "constituted [his] library for many years."22 The "region of beauty" (a place of "pleasure without end") and the "valley of the graces" (a realm of "simplicity and nature") that comprise the "two landscapes"23 of Goldsmith's allegory correspond to the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay in Sangster's poem, the former conveying the speaker and the maiden, initially at least, through a region of sheer "pleasure" and picturesque beauty, and the latter conveying them ultimately towards revelation amid the "simplicity" of "sublime nature."24 It may also be that the structure and movement of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay was influenced by a second allegory in The Citizen of the World: a treatment of philosophical enquiry in which an "adventurer" under the guidance of various "angelic beings" attempts to travel from the "valley of ignorance" to the "Land of Certainty"25 (in Sangster's terms, from the limitations of "mortality" to the revelation of "Truth"). Whatever his sources (and, needless to say, the Bible with its broad progression from the Old Testament to the New should not be disregarded as an influence even on the structure of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay), it is clear that Sangster, though he praises "Beauty" with considerable facility in the "Lyric to the Isles," can no more be content with mere "Beauty" than with "ignorance"; indeed, he is quick to pair "Truth and Beauty" in stanza VIII as the objects of "worship . . . in [his] soul" (95) and, in ensuing stanzas, to describe a distinctly Christian Book of Nature complete with "psahny waves" (97), "summer matins" (122), and the "joyous caroling" (127) and "choral hymn" (129) of bird song, and to praise the "stars" in the "outspread scroll / Of heaven" as the guardians of his "Victor-Soul above Earth's prison bars" (98-102). As was the case with Milton earlier, the echoes of Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth in the Thousand-Islands section of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay (see, for examples, Explanatory Notes, 59, 95 and 102) serve to indicate Sangster's borrowings and departures from his poetic predecessors, most notable in the latter category being his characteristically Victorian repudiation of Romantic heterodoxy and aestheticism in favour of a Christian approach to man and nature. As the London National Magazine put it in a review of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems: "there is much of the spirit of Wordsworth in [Sangster], only the tone is religious instead of being philosophical . . . ."26

Sangster's natural theology, his desire to look through nature up to nature's God, permits his poet-speaker to perceive a violent "Tempest" (174) as a manifestation of Divine "Power" (217), as a sublime experience that "fills [his] overburdened brain" with unsurpassable "joy" (184-187) and prompts him to elicit from the Maiden a "Hymn to the Lightning" stressing the "Immensity" of God and the "insignific[ance of] Man" and affirming the eternal life to come in the "After-Plan" (216-219). Here, very clearly, the Maiden is fulfilling her role as a chastening guide in the poet-speaker's quest for revelation. As he himself says after she has sung her "Hymn to the Lightning": "Thine eyes my grosser thoughts remove, / . . . thy sweet voice doth give my spirit wings . . ." (223-224). The conclusion of the storm is marked by the appearance of a "gorgeous rainbow" (272; an allusion surely to the rainbow that God placed in the sky after the Flood). It also coincides with the arrival of twilight and the movement of the boat out of the Lake of the Thousand Islands (see Explanatory Notes, 37, 148, and 283).

As they move into the St. Lawrence proper, the lovers are smiled upon by Hesper (Hesperus, Venus), a planet associated here with both transformation and resurrection ("a chrysalis that has burst its tomb" [286]). Moreover, they are bathed in "moon-beams" that seem to blend "earth and sky . . . into one, / Even as [the lovers'] hearts' deep virtues . . . unite, / Like meeting pilgrims at the set of sun . . ." (288-291). Almost as strong in these lines as the sense of a unification of high and low, heavenly and earthly, sacred and profane, is the sense (particularly in the image of the pilgrims meeting at sunset) that a day and a human life contain analogous movements towards a "meeting" which is only fully and finally possible after death, and then only to those who have led a life of virtue. In the ensuing stanza "Mild Evening" is likened to a "pensive Vestal Nun" (293) and "True Love" is paired with "Virtue" (298), and in the "Twilight Hymn" that follows it, the approach of darkness is the occasion for meditation on the feelings of "Hope .... Joy, and Love" (314) that are promoted by the approach of darkness and death. Among God's many gifts, the "Twilight Hymn" concludes, is the "Peace" that "brings repose / To the calm Twilight of the Soul," easing the passage from "life's close" to "heaven's goal" (322-325).

Although the poet-speaker is thus able to face the coming of night as he journeys down the St. Lawrence with equanimity, the descent of the rapids (XXXV-XXXVII) which soon follows heralds his movement into a darker realm of personal experience, a realm characterized by a dread of failing to achieve unity with the Maiden. Not for the first or last time, the poem at this point raises large questions about the identity of the Maiden and the nature of the speaker's relationship with her. Is she a woman whom he has "worshipped" from afar with a "pure passion" (454-455) since first encountering her in Montreal during his "Boyhood" (434) or is she a more recent friend whom he fears will remain as distant from him as has the Montreal girl (who in this reading is, of course, someone other than the Maiden)?27  In any case, it is quite clear that what he desires is to be united with the Maiden ("How long / Will my lone spirit wander through the throng / Of human hearts until it lives in thine?" [455-457], he asks) and, concomitantly, that what he fears is separation from her. To call this portion of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay a journey through the dark night of the soul would be inflationary; nevertheless, it is evident that in the night-section of his journey, the poet-speaker's fear of separation from the Maiden takes up a central position in the narrative, occasioning assertions of the strength of his affection for her (458-460, 476-477) and complaints about her failure to return his love (461-472). As well as prompting allusions to two famous pairs of unhappy and ill-fated lovers--Hamlet and Ophelia (527) and Romeo and Juliet (586)--the poet-speaker's turbulent feelings are reflected in his responses to the passing scenery of the St. Lawrence--his fear of separation from the Maiden in such lines as "Here stands a maiden cottage all alone, / There the low church extends its gleaming spire" (488-489) and his longing for unity with her in such images as the "bright spires reposing on [the] breast" (500) of an old building in the Edenic village of Varennes. As if to tease her companion and assure him of her devotion, the Maiden responds to his request to "sing [him] one of [her] pleasing madrigals" (530) by telling in "The Whippoorwill" the story of a betrayal and reconciliation in love that indicates a certain sophistication and independence on her part in the realm of relations between the sexes. "'Absent loves are all the fashion!"' (555) proclaims a jilted yet resilient Jeannie in the third stanza of "The Whippoorwill," but towards the end of the madrigal the same Jeannie is described less than flatteringly as "silly" and "Little" (577-578) when she unquestioningly forgives her lover's infidelity and holds "her mouth up like a flower, / That her bee might sip his fill . . ."(579-580). Nevertheless, "The Whippoorwill" ends on a note of reconciliation and even exorcism as the "doleful" bird that gives the madrigal its title ceases its "solitary . . . cry" (523) and, in the stanza that follows, the poet-speaker observes that the "inconstant moon has passed behind a cloud" (586).

This allaying of the fear of separation proves to be as temporary as the figure in which it is embodied implies. Certainly, several expressions and reflections of the poet-speaker's hoped--for unity and felicity with the Maiden can be found in the ensuing stanzas, none more audacious, surely, than the image of the "One graceful column" that commemorates "WOLFE and MONTCALM" (604-610) in Quebec and none more affective, perhaps, than the empathetic account of the religious and domestic contentment that seems to characterize the "cheerful homes" (649) of the habitants on the Île d'Orleans (LV-LVIII). But as the moon begins to shine more brightly on the scene (663) and the boat moves downriver from the he d'Orleans (676-678) towards, appropriately, "CAPE TORMENTE" (709), the poet-speaker's fear of being parted from the Maiden reappears to find anguished expression in "Parting Song." An analogy in the opening stanza of this "Song"--"Rivers meet and mix forever, / Why are we, love, doomed to sever?" (687-688)--indicates that, at this juncture at least, the two rivers of the poem's title are emblematic of the individual entities of the lovers whose eternal union on earth and in heaven the poet-speaker so earnestly desires. Although the precise nature of the "fiat" (691) that could separate the lovers is unclear in "Parting Song" (it could be "spoken" by a parent, or a priest or anyone who knows a cause, or just impediment, that could prevent the union, or it could even emanate from the speaker himself),28 the very thought that it might become a reality is utterly darkening ("Not a star is shining o'er us; / . . . the heav'n of love is clouded" [696-697]) and deeply disturbing ("In my brain a fire is burning . . . my nerves . . . / Are re-strung to desp'rate madness!" [701-704]). "Parting Song" ends with the declaration that "our hearts shall not be broken!" (708) but, of course, it will take more than a mere assertion to pull the poet-speaker back from the abyss into which his "anguish" (689) has plunged him.

So it is that well beyond Cape Tormente, as the boat continues to move past scenes indicative of sanctified human love (the "sacred" "Homestead" of the "faithful Habitant" [LX-LXI], for example, and the "heavenly tranquillity" suggested by the he aux Coudres [LXV]), the poet-speaker once again expresses his hopes and fears, now in a stanza composed of short, almost antiphonal, statements:  

   Our spirits are as one. The morning, love,
   Will part us. We have lived an age to-night.
   Love is immortal. Hope is from above.
   Sit nearer to me, for thine eyes are bright
   With tears. There is a fairer land in sight.
   Our love is sphered with truth. Eternity
   Will crown that love, if we but love aright;
   If Love be Truth, indeed. Soft-eyed one! we
   Must seek beyond the veil what here can never be!


Here again is Sangster's ideal of a personal love which, if aligned with right and identified with "Truth," will transcend the separations that are "native to mortality" in the "fairer land" of "Eternity." The fact that the stanza just quoted is introduced as an empathetic explanation of a "sigh" (797) of the Maiden whose "tears" are remarked at its centre, seems to permit the inference that she does not, as yet, share the poet-speaker's emerging (though still otherworldly) vision of eternal love. This conjectured doubt could be the occasion for the Carlylean tale beginning two stanzas later of an unnamed "man"--an exemplary figure, and, perhaps, also an objectification by the poet-speaker of his own spiritual history--whose loss and recovery of "Faith" (833) prompts observations about analogous movements from "Darkness" to "Light" (842-843), "Error" to "Truth" (838-840), "Evil" to "Good" (840-841), sickness to "Health" (851-852), and from "Life," through "Death," to revelation (835-836). That the discussion of these positive developments occurs at the point in the poem where night turns into day and the boat turns from the St. Lawrence into the Saguenay is one of many indications in the poem of Sangster's allegorical intent and architectonic skill--his use of temporal cycles and Canadian geography to give shape and substance to his theme of "Human Love."

With the arrival of morning light comes the "Paean to the Dawn" that marks the beginning of what may be called the epithalamic movement of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay: the poem's enactment of a wedding procession and a marriage service in the cathedral of northern nature. With references to the prelapsarian "Love, that at the primal waking / of the Dawn in Eden's bowers, / Wandered through the Garden . . ." (863-865) and--as these lines alone indicate--echoes of celebrations of such Love by Milton, John Keble and others (see Explanatory Notes, 853-902 and following), the "Paean to the Dawn" calls on the "Blessed light of early Morning" (873) to illuminate what is dark in the lovers by filling them with "the love that comes from heaven, / With the hope that soars on high, / That [their] faults may all be shriven, / As [the light's] splendors fill the sky" (877-880). To an extent Romantic in his consecration of human love (Byron comes to mind, as does the older Catherine's view of love in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights,29 Sangster is also conventionally Christian in his association of ordinary light with divine light in the "Paean to the Dawn" and, subsequently, in his typological interpretation of the "triumphant Sun" as a "Royal Witness" to the "existence of the Eternal One!" (912-914). That the heavenly and the earthly, the sacred and the profane, are moving increasingly towards harmony is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the figure that immediately follows the "Paean to the Dawn," an epithalamic likening of the "morn wait[ing] for the sun with flushed cheek" to a "maid-wife waiting for her wedded lord" (903-904). It is a comparison that, in concert with "the songs of birds" (905) accompanying the dawn, appropriately recalls the Song of Songs. Little wonder that the poet-speaker ascends the Saguenay in growing confidence that "No rocks can bar the way / Where Love and Hope lend wings to human clay . . ." (1071-1072) and in growing certainty that "When human hearts unite" the "trace / Of Eden that yet lingers in the heart . . ." (1080-1082) is discovered.30

But despite the poet-speaker's evidently secure conviction that God's "Presence thrills / All Beauty as all Truth" (960-961), one thing prevents his happiness from being complete: the Maiden has apparently not yet committed herself to him. "Oh! give me the love of your woman's heart" (1086) he asks in the poem's final interspersed "Song," 

Then the Sun of Hope
Up Life's gleaming cope,
The true Genius of Love would roll,
And dark night no more
Would obscure the shore
Where beckons Love's mystic Soul.


That the Maiden is effectively absent from the narrative between the "Paean to the Dawn" and the "Song" just quoted (which immediately precedes the arrival of the boat at "CAPE ETERNITY" [1120]) is explicable in terms of the epithalamic matrix of this portion of the poem. Arriving in the body of the church (the upper reaches of the Saguenay) as it were by separate ways, the bride and groom do not (re-)encounter one another until they are at the chancel rail (Cape Eternity), where they give their troth to each other in the sight of God and at a little remove from the altar (Trinity Rock), towards which they will later ascend with the priest. Although this doubtless puts the equivalencies between the Saguenay landscape and the marriage ceremony too boldly, it may help to explain, not merely the virtual absence of the Maiden from the penultimate stage of the poem's epithalamic movement (LXXVI-XCIV; and the corresponding feeling of meditative anticipation in these stanzas), but also the definite sense in the final portion of the poem that there is an intentionally ecclesiological dimension to Cape Eternity ("Like a God . . . / Holding communion with the distant cope . . ." (1121-1122) and Trinity Rock ("Its anatomic form, and triple crown / . . . far above the earth's unrest.. ." [1206-1207]).

The final test of any reading of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay must be its success in explaining the events of the poem's conclusion--stanzas C-CX--set in the vicinity of Capes Eternity and Trinity. Preceding these climactic stanzas are crisp statements which, to an extent, summarize the dilemmas experienced by the poet-speaker from the beginning of the poem. On the one hand, these statements are about the Divine origin (and, therefore, integrity) of all creation ("He . . . who flushed the daisy built the world. / All things come perfect from His Master-hand" [1137-1138]) and about the power of sublime nature to draw the mind of Man--the "supremest of the works He planned" (1143)--towards his Creator (1137-1146). On the other hand, the statements are about the insignificance of Man in relation to sublime nature ("How . . . [puny] he seems, when thrown / In . . . contrast to a work like this"[1144-1146]) and about the ability of earthly pleasure to bring about the destruction of virtue ("unsuspecting Innocence, beguiled / By Pleasures . . . that pierce the enamel of its dreams" [1161-1163]). With his mind thus pulled by external nature towards God and by human nature towards sin, the poet-speaker engages in Stanza C in a process of ratiocination akin to that of Adam at the Fall but premised on the same Victorian dualism and natural theology that have been with him from the outset: 

Love lures me evermore to Woman's arms,

But here I kneel at Nature's hallowed feet!
Love fills my being with a calm, replete,
But regal Nature sets my spirit free
With grateful praises to God's Mercy seat.


Very obviously, the solution to the poet-speaker's dilemma, the way out of the trap of either/or, lies in a reconciliation of the conflict in his mind between profane love--the "Love" that "lures [him] . . . to Woman's arms--and sacred love--the "Love" of "God" through external "Nature." In the remainder of the stanza and in the ensuing one, a concordia discors emerges when the poet-speaker, by affirming a bond of human nature (literally, "Nature" writ small), succeeds in harmonizing attractions that now appear to him, not as opposite, but as related and comparable: 

   Yet nature binds me closer, love, to thee:
Ev'n as this dreamy Bay, in sweet felicity,


   Woos both the sun's light, and the cool shade
   Of the umbrageous woods to its embrace.


What enables the poet-speaker ("this dreamy bay") to love both God ("the sun's light") and "Woman" ("the cool shade") is a recognition that human love when "pure [and] deep" is divinely inspired:  

   What deep imaginings of Peace pervade
   [The Bay's] heavenly repose, as Nature's face
   Peers down, in mild, unutterable grace,
   Like a calm Student seeking Pearls of Thought
   In some fair Beauty's mind, where he can trace
   Through her warm slumber, how her soul is fraught
   With pure deep Love, by heavenly inspiration taught.


The "heavenly repose" of Trinity Bay, the "unutterable grace" of Nature (perhaps specifically Trinity Rock), and the "heavenly inspiration" of a "pure deep Love"--all these phrases speak of an interfusion of nature by grace which, as the poet-speaker now fully realizes, places in sanctified harmony the attractions towards God, "Nature" and the Maiden that he had earlier perceived as being in conflict. 31

With an achieved understanding in the cathedral of northern nature of the sanctity of a human "Love" that is "pure," the poet-speaker experiences a rush of verbal icons ("Strong, eager thoughts," he says, "come crowding to [his] eyes . . ." [1182]), and envisages Trinity Rock, the "Monarch of the Bluffs" (1185), as "the great Samson of the Saguenay" (1187), a figure which, the context suggests, is Samson restored by God's grace and, like the poet-speaker himself, stronger than ever before. What follows now is a dumbfounding. Confessing that his "lips are mute," that he "cannot speak" his thoughts, the poet-speaker--consistent with the body of Eastern and Western mystical thinking that sees silence as the most effective expression of awe--acknowledges that "'T'were best [his thoughts] should not break / The Silence, which itself is ecstacy / And Godlike Eloquence . . ." (1196-1198). Yet for Sangster, as for Carlyle, silence is not an end but a means: it is "the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thence-forth to rule."32 It is to this emergence--to the bringing into life of a love that is at once inclusive and multifaceted (a love of God, and of the "Godlike" in Nature, and Woman)--that the final few stanzas of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay are given over.

After a stanza devoted to Cape Trinity in which he likens the streams cascading down the Rock's surface to "tears of Gladness [on] a giant's face" and its "triple crown / Of granite" to "Truth made manifest" (1200-1208), two similes that are clearly expressive of an overflowing of joy at the completion of his quest for revelation, the poet-speaker breaks the silence to deliver what is surely a central speech and a major crux of the poem: 

Let us return, love, for the goal is won.
Here, by this Rock, 'tis doomed that we must part,
And part forever; for the glorious Sun
Of Love, that quickeneth my earnest heart,
Shines not for thee, alone.


The poet-speaker's surprising assertion in these cryptic lines that he and the Maiden must "part forever" seems to stem from a conviction on his part that, since his love has been expanded to include God, Nature, and Woman, it can no longer be directed--as it was in the opening stanza of the poem ("There is but one to whom my hopes are clinging . . .")--exclusively towards one person. Once the "glorious Sun" of a comprehensive "Love" has shone for the poet-speaker he sees his earlier perceptions of his "love"--both the emotion and the beloved--as narrow and delusive, as a "Dream" to be punctured and a ghost to be exorcised by the light of a new dawn ("young Phoebus"):

The Dream of Art

   That calms the happy Student's sweet repose,
   Is like our Dream of Love--the first swift dart
   Shot by young Phoebus from his chamber, goes
Like lightning through his vision's blooming heart of rose.
   Already thou art gone, with one last look
   Of love from those exalted eyes of thine,
   That cheered me as we read from nature's book
   Together, and partook of the divine
   Ambrosial draught of love's celestial wine.


Here, as in much Victorian poetry and fiction (including Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, which looms quite large in the background of Sangster's poem), 33 a love founded on youthful, Romantic assumptions and conceived as too merely precious, frivolous, and intoxicating (and notice the lower-case "nature," "divine," and "love" in the preceding quotation) is shown as insufficient to rule "the daylight of Life." (It should also be noticed that in "The Name of Mary," Sangster admits to despising "The sighing of a certain varlet, / Werther," an epitome for Carlyle of mis-spent youth.)34 Once the poet-speaker's romantic "love" has been displaced, dream-and ghost-like, by the light of common day and comprehensive "Love," it / she can be replaced by a "love" that is mature, "earnest" (like his own "heart" in stanza CV), and eminently Victorian:

Another earnest being at my side!
Not her whose Girlhood's dreamy love was mine;
Not her whose heart Affliction's fire has tried;
Not her of the Artistic soul, and stately pride ...


The first line of this passage can be taken literally to mean that a hitherto unmentioned woman--one of two or more on the boat 35--has now appeared on the scene to take the place of the Maiden. A less jarring and more plausible approach to the line is to see it as a description of a transformation either (or both) within the Maiden herself (she has become "Another . . . being," a different person, as a result of a spiritual conversion) or in the poet-speaker's perception of her (he now sees her as "Another" like-minded "being "whose new-found earnestness echoes his own). In both cases, the implication is that the Maiden has, after all, shared the poet-speaker's revelation at Cape Trinity, and that, in their common outlook and new maturity, they are fully compatible with one another.

The bright ideal of Love that is articulated and celebrated in the four remaining stanzas of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay is unmistakably Victorian in its humanistic emphasis on utility, action, faith, and the perfectibility of man: 

Loved-one! I hear

   The voice within syllabl'ing words that bind
   Our souls, and blend them for a nobler sphere
   Of usefulness and action--year by year
   Ascending in the scale of being, far
   Above the trifling mind's obscure career,
   And mounting to Perfection, like a star
For whose triumphant flight heaven's crystalline gates unbar.


The "words" that the poet-speaker hears spoken by the "voice within" may well be those of the marriage ceremony, a possibility that accords well with the epithalamic aspect of this portion of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and, indeed, with the poem's concluding stanzas where Sangster, perhaps remembering Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion wishes that his "willing voice [could] find words" to "free the sleeping echoes" from the Saguenay landscape so that "Silence" itself would "utter vow for vow" and animate the "resounding woods" (1238-1239, 1245, 1249). The poem's final stanza, which follows an affirmation of the inseparability of "Truth," "Love" and "lofty purpose" (1249-1253) in the lovers' relationship, may now be quoted in full:

   All, all is thine, love, now: Each thought and hope
   In the long future must be shared with thee.
   Lean on my bosom; let my strong heart ope
   Its founts of love, that the wild ecstasy
   That quickens every pulse, and makes me free
   As a God's wishes, may serenely move
   Thy inmost being with the mystery
   Of the new life that has just dawned, and prove
How unutterably deep and strong is Human Love.


As Sangster doubtless knew, the phrase "new life" occurs in the bidding prayer of the Anglican service of Holy Communion, which newly-married couples are enjoined to receive either at or shortly after their marriage. It is to be found elsewhere in the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay volume in "Love's Morning Lark" (the poem that follows "Mary's Twentieth Birthday"), where the speaker, after informing his "Maiden" that she will play lark to his morning, asks that his "being . . . find rest" in her "soul" and his "new life be Music-born."36 It may also lie behind the title of another love poem in the volume, "Love's New Era," which celebrates the joyful advent of a personal love.37 Such echoes within Sangster's first volume seem to give credence to the identification of the monna innominata of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay with Mary Kilborn. But the circumstantial evidence for this biographical connection, however convincing, should not obscure the literary ancestry of Sangster's inspirational "Maiden" in figures such as the Beatrice of Dante's Vita Nuova (The New Life) and the Pilgrim of Byron's Childe Harold, figures whose allegorical function and fictive dimension ensure that they can never fully be "class'd / With forms which live and suffer . . . ."38 Since these words come from the conclusion of Childe Harold's Pilgimage, the work that provided the primary poetic model for The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, the logic of the discussion seems to indicate a redirection of attention from the theme of "Human Love" in Sangster's poem to its literary background and formalistic components.




In addition to the major features of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay that quite evidently derive from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage--its pilgrimage motif, its touristic component, and its Spenserian stanza form39--there are several less conspicuous aspects of Sangster's poem that are indebted to its principal English model. For example, the stanzas describing the storm on the Lake of the Thousand Islands and the descent of the rapids on the St. Lawrence in the early portions of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay probably owe part of their inspiration to parallel passages in Childe Harold (with contributions also from Shelley's Alastor),40 and Sangster's descriptions of the barrenness and sublimity of the Saguenay fjord also seem partly to derive from Byron's poem 41 Moreover, it is as difficult to doubt the indebtedness of Sangster's conception of the sublime Saguenay to Byron's famous description of the mountain-like "Vastness" of St. Peter's in Rome (where the "mind / Expanded by the genius of the spot . . ." finds "enshrined [Man's] hopes for immortality . . .")42 as it is to deny the strong verbal echo of Byron's "My Pilgrim's shrine is won, / And he and I must part"43 in the crucial stanza (CV) that initiates the conclusion of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay. But Sangster is not unselective in his borrowings from Childe Harold; he chooses a female rather than a male as a travelling-companion on his spiritual journey and, like Byron in his final canto,44 he rejects the option of allotting large portions of his narrative to his fellow "Pilgrim." Nor does he import Byron's pervasive theme of political liberty, preferring instead--and in 'a dutifully Canadian fashion--merely to emphasize in passing the element of harmony between the two founding races of British North America: "WOLFE and MONTCALM . . . One graceful column to the noble twain / Speaks of a nation's gratitude . . ." (604-611) 45 In the same way that individual and local concerns are apparent in the themes of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, Sangster's decision to intersperse songs and lyrics at intervals throughout his poem in a manner reminiscent less of Childe Harold than of such poems as Bailey's Festus and Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake 46 could well reflect a recognition on his part of one of his personal strengths as a poet: the facility with song forms and musical rhythms that prompts Pacey to observe that he "might have had his greatest success as a librettist of light operas."47

But while Sangster's gifts might conceivably have found fulfilment in light opera, the evidence of the songs and hymns in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and elsewhere suggests that they were nourished in rather different ground--in a soil composed of a variety of secular and religious sources, from the nature lyrics and "Melodies" of Byron, Thomas Moore and other Romantic poets ("Lyric to the Isles," "Vanished Hopes") to the sacred hymns and children's verses of Isaac Watts, John Keble and other nineteenth-century Christian writers ("Hymn to the Lightning," "Whippoorwill") whose sources, in turn, are the sacred texts and poems known directly by Sangster: the King James version of the Bible, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and Psalter, Paradise Lost.48 On one occasion at least--Sangster's rendition of profound loneliness and despair in a rollicking anapestic rhythm reminiscent of Byron's "The Destruction of Sennacherib"--his special combination of musical rhythms, religious terminology, personal feeling, and secular love courts bathetic disaster:  

I've supped with depression and feasted with sorrow,
   The hot tears of anguish have withered my heart;
And now, death might strike down my last hope to-morrow,
   Not one tear is left me to deaden his dart.


On other occasions, however, Sangster's musical propensities combine with his religious romanticism to produce complex and aesthetically satisfying results, a case in point being "Twilight Hymn," which treats of themes commonly found in Romantic poetry and Victorian hymns in a stanza form (ababcdcd) that admirably draws together its religious and personal components (see Explanatory Notes, 302-325).

To read and re-read The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay with an awareness of the verbal universe from which the poem derives is to become increasingly aware of the understandable and intriguing unevenness of Sangster's assimilation of his literary influences in his first published volume. An economical way of illustrating the Canadian poet's by turns creative and less creative use of his literary models is briefly to examine instances of the very different presences in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay of Wordsworth and Shelley (whose longest poem, The Revolt of Islam, is also, as it happens, written in Spenserian stanzas). When Sangster writes, in stanza XXXIX, "Beneath me, the vast city lay at rest; / Its great heart throbbing gently, like the close / Of Day" (429-431) and asks, in stanza C, "Is there a soul so dead to Nature's charms, / That thrills not here in this divine retreat?" (1164-1165), the reader hears clear echoes of Wordsworth's sonnet "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802" (see Explanatory Notes, 429-430 and 1164-1168) without being convinced either that the sonnet is being echoed for the purposes of allusion or that its attitudes, ideas, and tropes are being reworked in a creative manner. In this instance, Sangster's use of his model is relatively uncreative: perhaps because his own approach to the external world is too similar to that of Wordsworth (especially the topographical Wordsworth of The River Duddon49 and the anglican Wordsworth of the Ecclesiastical Sonnets), the Canadian poet does not always reshape the materials that he appropriates from his English predecessor, but simply re-uses or re-applies them in a different environment. By contrast, and perhaps because Sangster shared with many Victorians a hostility to Shelley's neo-Platonism, xstheticism, and `effeminacy,'50 the Canadian poet uses Adonais in a relatively creative manner, as the following stanza (XII) illustrates. Many aspects of the stanza recall Shelley in general and Adonais in particular: its form is, of course, Spenserian; its mood is elegiac; its flower--the "violet"--is a favourite of the English poet's; and even the punctuation of its opening line is reminiscent of stanzas in Adonais. But on the whole, the stanza shows that Sangster has learned lessons from his model and then applied them to subject--matter which, though conventional enough, becomes increasingly his own as the stanza proceeds:

   The Spring is gone--light, genial-hearted Spring!

   Whose breath gives odor to the violet,
   Crimsons the wild rose, tints the blackbird's wing,
   Unfolds the buttercup. Spring that has set
   To music the laughter of the rivulet,
   Sent warm pulsations through the hearts of hills,
   Reclothed the forests, made the valleys wet
   With pearly dew, and waked the grave old mills
From their calm sleep, by the loud rippling of the rills.


In addition to revealing a Sangster capable of creative acts of importation and adaptation, this creditable stanza indicates that Byron's Childe Harold did not provide the sole model for the Spenserian stanzas of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay but, rather, represents one source--albeit the centrally important one--from among the many that Sangster, at his best, approached with discerning intelligence and energetic creativity.

Nowhere is Sangster's discerning and energetic, intelligent and creative, use of his sources and resources more evident than in several of the stanzas that describe the Saguenay estuary and its surroundings in the latter part of the poem.  One such stanza, number XC, is worth quoting in full and discussing in detail if only because it shows Sangster placing a figure borrowed on a lesson learned, not from a romantic, but from Shakespeare at the service of an attitude and a landscape that are very much of his own.  The stanza describes an isolated "dwelling" seen at a distance during the journey up the Saguenay:

   Slumbering at the base of two high rocks,
   It looks like Patience at the feet of Death.
   Or, fancy it some grave magician's box,
   Which, opened, wafts a pestilential breath
   Of subtlest essence, permeating through
   Their granite pores, sapping all life beneath,
   And robbing their bald summits of the blue
And rich aerial tints, where the tall cedars grew.


The first of the comparisons in this stanza derives from a description of Olivia in Twelfth Night, IV, iv, 117-118--"She sat like Patience on a monument, / Smiling at grief . . . "--but with a significant twist:  whereas Olivia in her triumph over "grief" resembles a personification of Patience on a funeral monument, the human "dwelling" on the Saguenay sits at the feet of an ecological "Death" that it appears to have caused through pollution. In its very complexity and awkwardness, this first comparison / allusion intimates what the immediate introduction of an alternative ("Or, fancy it . . . ") confirms:  that Sangster is seeking the ways and means of articulating his perception of man's destructive effect on the Canadian environment.  What he then brings forward are a couple of death-related puns ("grave," "wreath"), an allusion to Pandora (whose "box," of course, let forth a plague of disease and evil on the world), and a reference to alchemy ("subtlest essence"), a deeply suspect science and philosophy from Sangster's Christian perspective.  (Interestingly, enough, Duncan Campbell Scott, Lawren Harris and other heterodox writers and artists would in due course reverse this field by perceiving the Canadian North as a site of occult spirituality.) While the tactic of advancing more than one comparison or simile to describe a single phenomenon here and elsewhere in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay may owe something to the practice of Shelley,51 the final lines of the stanza show Sangster applying a lesson in the elegiac that he has learned from Shakespeare's "Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang"52: ". . . bald summits . . . where the tall cedars grew." Neither in its debts to Shelley and Shakespeare nor in its apparently original tropes (including its description of the northern "rocks" in terms-- "pores," "bald"--usually associated with the human organism that Sangster sees as destroying them as if from the inside) can stanza XC of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay be judged other than intelligent and creative and, to that extent, intellectually and artistically satisfying.

Much of the same can be said of stanza LXXIX, a portion of the poem that is often mentioned as an illustration of what Donald Stephens calls the "more precise" descriptions and "less stodgy" rhythms that characterize the poem after the poet-speaker "leaves the St. Lawrence . . . and begins to sail up the Saguenay."53 After an initial image of the "blessed light" rolling "Along the sterile mountains," the stanza employs the syntax and imagery of repetition and monotony to surround and set-off lines that vividly evoke the starkness and harshness of the North:  


Pile on Pile  

   The granite masses rise to left and right:
   Bald, stately bluffs that never wear a smile;
   Where vegetation fails to reconcile  
   The parched shrubbery and stunted trees  
   To the stern mercies of the flinty soil.
   And we must pass a thousand bluffs like these,  
Within whose breasts are locked a myriad mysteries.  



The central lines in this passage are surely among the most descriptively accurate and technically appropriate in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay. The accent on the second syallable of "parched," the word that Sangster wants because it means shrivelled either by heat or by cold (and in this environment by both), could almost be said to emphasize the inability of the "shrubbery" (a word that in some pronunciations lacks the second syllable that the rhythm strictly demands) and of the "stunted trees" to measure up, as it were, to preconceived notions of trees and poetics. It is as if the life forms of the Saguenay, the ancestors of Purdy's "Trees at the Arctic Circle" ("the dwarf trees of Baffin Island"),54 are demanding a reshaping of aesthetic expectations and  poetic form in accordance with their diminutive size, their scanty but persistent existence. The ensuing line--"To the stérn mércies" finds the poet-speaker asserting, albeit with difficulty, the Providential scheme that he wishes to find at work in the life-negating North. In this stanza and others like it, the lessons that Sangster has clearly learned from the many descriptions of mountain scenery in Romantic poetry from Byron's Manfred to Shelley's "Mont Blanc" are unobtrusively put at the service of a Northern landscape that has even yet to find fully satisfying expression in English-Canadian poetry.


One more stanza from the Saguenay portion of the poem may be quoted to illustrate further Sangster's subtle adaptation to the Spenserian stanza to reflect the characteristic of the Northern landscape. It is a stanza (LXXXII) in which the poet-speaker shows clearly his allegiance to the aesthetic of the sublime55 in allowing the "unimaginable wildness" of the Saguenay region to direct his thoughts towards God:


   Over the darkening waters!  on through scenes
   Whose unimaginable wildness fills
   The mind with joy insatiate, and weans
   The soul from earth, to Him whose Presence thrills
   All Beauty as all Truth.  These iron Hills!
   In what profusion did He pile them here,
   Thick as the flowers that blossom where the rills
   Chant to the primal woods.  Year after year
In solitude eternal, rapt in contemplation drear . . . .


For Sangster, a pre-Darwinian Christian, nature's "profusion" is not extravagance for the purposes of survival and her forms are not manifestations of the gradual evolution of the cosmos.  In his eyes, the external world is a constant reminder of God's power and generosity--the visible evidence of an all-pervasive and "Omnipotent Design" (929).  Formalistically, Sangster's expression of his Christian beliefs in Stanza LXXXII becomes most interesting at the alexandrine, when the usual six feet of the final line of the Spenserian stanza are extended to seven éáó  ("In sólitude etérnal, rápt in cóntemplátion dréar") in a mimetic response to the enormous length of time being described, and where the impetus generated by the elision of `they are' at the comma carries the reader centrifugally forward to the next stanza and the next, which are given over almost entirely to one long sentence treating of the immense past of the hills whose dreams of the "old years" (966) and "long ages" (975) the poet-speaker can only dimly imagine. As even the phrases just quoted indicate, much of the effectiveness of stanzas LXXXII-LXXXIV derives from Sangster's effective use of long vowels (especially o and a) both to emphasize the seriousness of his theme and to reflect the extensive nature of the geographical and temporal realities that he is attempting to describe.

Before proceeding to some general and final comments about the form and genre of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, two more stanzas, this time from the opening section of the poem, may detain us for a moment as instances of Sangster's strengths and weaknesses of expression. The enjambement between the two stanzas (a device used here and elsewhere in the poem to reinforce a sense of movement) effectively obviates the possibility of quoting them individually.

  Red walls of granite rise on either hand,

  Rugged and smooth; a proud young eagle soars

  Above the stately evergreens, that stand

  Like watchful sentinels on these God-built towers;

  And near yon beds of many-colored flowers

  Browse two majestic deer, and at their side

  A spotted fawn all innocently cowers;

  In the rank brushwood it attempts to hide,

While the strong-antlered stag steps forth with lordly stride,

  And slakes his thirst, undaunted, at the stream.

  Isles of o'erwhelming beauty! surely here

  The wild enthusiast might live, and dream

  His life away. No Nymphic trains appear,

  To charm the pale Ideal Worshipper

  Of Beauty; nor Nereids from the deeps below;

  Nor hideous Gnomes, to fill the breast with fear:

  But crystal streams through endless landscapes flow,

And o'er the clustering Isles the softest breezes blow.     


Although the first of these two stanzas is by no means Sangster at his worst, it does contain a number of weaknesses that plague The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay as a whole: adjective-noun combinations that are dismayingly uninspired ("proud . . . eagle," "stately evergreens," "many-colored flowers," "majestic deer") and, in one case, even tautological ("watchful sentinels"); adjectives and adverbs that are clearly present merely to fill out the metre ("a proud young eagle," "A spotted fawn all innocently cowers"); and rhymes that sacrifice imaginative reason and perceptual accuracy on the altar of poetic form (the "cowers" that follows on "towers" and "flowers"). At many points in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay such shortcomings bring the poem to the brink of parodying the tradition of nature poetry that it so obviously seeks to continue and `ground' in Canada, suggesting that all-too-often (and the earlier instance of Wordsworth is another case in point) Sangster simply took words and phrases from the type of poetry that he sought to emulate and reassembled them within the borders of his Spenserian stanzas. This is a harsh judgement, of course, and one whose inapplicability across the full length of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay is evident even in the second of the two stanzas just quoted, which, as A.J.M. Smith has said, belongs among "Sangster's best verses."56

Stephens argues of this second stanza that in it Sangster "regretfully . . . admits the absence" of the various figures of European mythology--the "Nymphic trains," "Nereids," and "Gnomes"--in the Canadian landscape.57 Yet such a view ignores the clear emphasis and preference given by temporal sequence, poetic form, and emotional force to the stanza's final couplet. "But crystal streams through endless landscapes flow, / And o'er the clustering Isles the softest breezes blow" derives much of its effectiveness and affectiveness, not merely from a resemblance "to the graceful neo-classicism of Pope's Pastorals" (as Smith argues),58 but also from the words "endless" and "softest," where the suffixes of infinitude and superlativeness make plain Sangster's local pride and, in conjunction with other aspects of the lines (most notably, their trochaic rhythms and long or open vowels), invite the reader to contemplate the limitless expanses and freedom that are available to the poet of Canadian nature. To an extent, it is precisely because Canada is not inhabited by Nymphs, Gnomes, and other light militia of the European air that Sangster is free later in his poem to liken a bluff on the Saguenay to a "Magi" (997), a "Prophet-Scald" (1062) and "the great Samson" (1187). A world but sparsely populated is also a world waiting for the nth Adam to seed his illusions, to take his green inventory, and, in so doing, to bring into poetry and consciousness what had not been there before. That Sangster quite often merely borrowed other poets' words to map his Canadian physical and mental terrain is one of his great weaknesses; that he attempted to map that terrain at all and succeeded as often as he did is what makes him enduringly readable and important.

Two broad questions that have largely been begged so far in the discussion of Sangster's literary models and achievements in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay are those of the genre of the poem and the appropriateness of the Spenserian stanza as a vehicle for its various themes and subject-matter. To take the second of these questions first, the most obvious way in which the Spenserian stanza is appropriate to the content of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay is that it functions well, and has done so traditionally, from The Færie Queene, through The Castle of Indolence and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage to the opening section of The Lotos-Eaters, as a narrative vehicle for the adventures, stages, and scenes encountered during a journey or a quest.59 As the original example of The Færie Queene indicates, Spenserian stanzas in narrative sequence generate what Barbara Herrnstein Smith calls an "expectation of continuation"60--a forward thrust that makes them a particularly suitable medium for an account of a river-journey through the "endless landscapes" of Canada. Although intolerantly regular in rhythm and rhyme (a fact that, as has already been seen, forces Sangster at times to employ filler and contrived rhymes), the Spenserian stanza allows for considerable leeway in line division, a quality deftly exploited by the poem's travelling narrator to reinforce moments of movement (the enjambement between VI and VII has already been mentioned, and further examples can be found in stanzas III-IV and LXII-LXIII) or, as the case may be, stasis or completion (see, for example, the middle and end-stopped lines of stanzas LXX and LXXIV). Moreover, since the individual Spenserian stanza exhibits what Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker see as a paratactic quality61--which is to say, a capacity to present images as if spatially within its framing contours--it is well suited to the picturesque scenes and tableaux that the poet-speaker encounters during his panoramic journey down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay--to vignettes such as those of "Little St. Paul's Bay" ("one of the most delightful pictures on the route" [772n.]) and Les Eboulements ("A most delightful little village . . . looking like a vision of Romance or Fairy-tale [781n.]). Like the picturesque convention with which it is eminently compatible, the Spenserian stanza serves at many points in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay to set the activities and creations of man-fishing (XXXII), a "picnic party" (XXXIV) and numerous cottages, churches and villages (XLIV-XLV, XLVII)--in formal configurations that reflect and enhance the sense, particularly in the St. Lawrence portions of the poem, of a pastoral harmony between the human and the natural disorders.

Byron's observation, in the Preface to the first and second cantos of Childe Harold, that "the stanza of Spenser . . . admits of every variety"62 might seem like a comment on its affinities with the picturesque aesthetic of "Order in Variety"63 but, in fact, refers to the suitability of the form, not merely for descriptions of external reality, but for expressions of various authorial states and tones. A similar point about the Spenserian stanza is made by James Beattie in his Preface to The Minstrel, a poem that appears to have influenced Sangster64 as much as it earlier had Byron and Wordsworth. Confessing that he has attempted "to imitate Spenser" both "in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition," Beattie defends his formal choice by arguing that the Spenserian stanza "admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and language, beyond any other . . . that . . . [he is] acquainted with."65 These are points that should be well-taken, for they indicate the wisdom of Sangster's choice of the Spenserian stanza (rather than, say, ottava rima, which has a structural and associative predisposition to facetiousness and satire) as the vehicle for a poem that moves through a broad range of subjects and landscapes, and across the full spectrum of feeling between joy and dejection that is the province of the post-Romantic poet. As has been seen, one of these feelings, especially in the Saguenay portion of the poem, is the nearly inexpressible awe generated by sublime scenery. That the Spenserian stanza is as suitable for the rendition of sublimity as it is to the reflection of the picturesque is made clear by two perceptive comments on the form by different critics: the observation by Northrop Frye that, particularly in its final alexandrine, it is capable of arresting narrative and forcing the reader "to concentrate on something else"66 and the remark by Paul Fussell, dpropos Keats's "The Eve of St. Agnes" (which is echoed at least once towards the end of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay)67 that the Spenserian stanza is capable of reinforcing a shift from "noise to absolute silence."68 A certain amount has already been said about the movement to and from silence in the concluding section of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and there have also been occasions to observe the way in which the alexandrines of some of its stanzas--like the overall movement of the narrative towards an affirmation of sanctified "Human Love"--work centrifugally to direct the reader beyond the poem, beyond the words on the page, to "something else." The comments of Frye and Fussell, together with those of Byron, Beattie and Smith, thus point to the Spenserian stanza as an ideal vehicle for the themes and thrust of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, as a stanza form which, if used for the same purposes by a poet less uneven than Sangster, would have resulted in a poem as formalistically satisfying as any in Canadian literature.

The short answer to the second of the two broad questions raised earlier--the question of the genre of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay--is that Sangster's poem belongs, as its very title suggests, to the sub-species of topographical poetry that Robert Arnold Aubin has identified as the "river-poem."69 As famously described by Dr. Johnson, topographical or "local" poetry contains three component parts, each of which is amply represented in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay: "[1] some particular landscape . . . poetically described [in this case, the landscapes of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay regions], with the addition of such embellishments as may be supplied by [2] historical retrospection [Sangster's stanzas on Kate Johnston (IX-X), the siege of Quebec (L-LI) and so on] and [3] incidental meditation [his thoughts on such subjects as the `power of Song' (IXX-XXII) and the atmosphere of the Moon (XXVIII-XXIX)]."70 In using the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay Rivers as a thread along which to string the embellishments of "historical retrospection" and "incidental meditation," The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay not only falls into Aubin's category of the "river-poem" but it also announces its already-mentioned debt to Wordsworth's River Duddon sequence of sonnets and, indeed, its affinity with several other poems in the Canadian continuity that use the country's most important river in a similar manner, from Thomas Cary's Abram's Plains to Susie Frances Harrison's "Down the River" poems in Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis. Although Sangster recalls Cary and others of the baseland mentality71 in following the St. Lawrence downriver into the historied landscapes of Quebec and, in essence, towards the mother-country and parent-traditions of Britain and Europe, he aligns himself with something more elemental, and, many would say, more distinctly Canadian,72 when he turns up the Saguenay and travels into one part of what in our own century would become the physical emblem of a politically and artistically independent Canada: the North--the lone and lonely land of The Group of Seven and their literary counterparts from Duncan Campbell Scott through Smith to Purdy.

As attractive as it may be, however, such a nationalistic interpretation of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay risks obscuring from view a crucially important aspect of Sangster's poem that was examined at length in the opening stages of the present discussion: its use of landscape elements and the river journey, not primarily for political or patriotic purposes (though these do figure in the poem, as has been seen), but as metaphors for the stages in a quest for "Truth," a revelation of the sanctity of "Human Love." But while "Love," God, and the reconciliation of the two unquestionably lie at the heart of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, shaping all aspects of it into a complex and purposeful allegory, the evidence now to be placed on view indicates that Sangster's poem has touristic sources and dimensions that he seems to have sought to enhance in the early eighteen-sixties by expanding it to nearly twice its original length and into an essentially new work that does not appear to have survived except in the form of excerpts published in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Poems of Places and elsewhere (see Appendix 11 in the present edition).




If the origins of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay could be traced to one event in the realm of tourism, that event would be the maiden voyage on July 8, 1851 of the Rowland Hill, the first steamboat to make regular sight-seeing trips from Quebec down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay. The article in The Weekly British Whig (Kingston) for July 11, 1851 announcing the commencement of the Rowland Hill's weekly "Excursions to the Saguenay" may well have been written by Sangster, who had been working with the British Whig since the spring of 1850. On the strength of this possibility, which its literary components certainly do not gainsay, the article is worth quoting at some length:  

We learn with pleasure from a notice recently issued, that the steamer Rowland Hill . . . having undergone extensive repairs, and being now fitted up in an elegant and superior manner, will perform a weekly trip during the present season between Quebec, River du Loup and Cacouna, commencing on Tuesday, the 1st July: and that every other week (or oftener, if passengers offer) she will proceed up the river Saguenay, as far as Chicoutimi, visiting Ha! Ha! Bay, and other places of interest on that majestic river ....

It is now about thirty years since the river Saguenay came into modern notice, but it was not, we believe, till 1844 that "pleasure trips" from Quebec to this interesting region were attempted. Since then, there have been occasional excursions but nothing has yet been proposed on so systematic a scale as that which we have noticed above. The first point of interest on reaching the Saguenay is Tadoussac, a place we are informed which was, in the olden times, the first port of arrival for vessels coming from France to the infant colony of Canada, and where was a principal station and mission of the Jesuits;--and as regards this ancient establishment, a recent visitor tells us, nothing now remains but the stone foundations of a part of the buildings, now nearly covered by the earth; yet the mortar, as in some of the older buildings in Quebec, of the French time, is said to be almost as solid as the stone it binds together. Forty miles above Tadoussac is Ha! Ha! Bay. This noble sheet of water is said to be one of the most striking features of the Saguenay; extending about 10 miles from the main river, with a breadth of about two miles, and a depth varying from 90 fathoms at its mouth, to 20 or 30 at its head and close in shore; where surrounded by hills, the navies of England might ride in safety in its waters. Turning Cap a l'Ouest out of Ha! Ha! Bay, Chicoutimi is next reached, about 18 miles higher up. Above this place the tide of Salt water only runs about 8 miles. Here, as at Tadoussac, there is a post of the Hudson's Bay Company; and a little above the company's establishment stands the small old chapel built by the Jesuits in 1726, for the converted Indians of the Montagnais tribe. And here we may observe that for the opening up of the route we have briefly alluded to, the country is indebted to the indefatigable exertions and commercial enterprise of our respected fellow citizen, Wm. Price, Esq. The margin of this magnificent river is dotted with his mill establishments from Tadoussac to Chicoutimi . . . . The impressions of [a late] traveller on his descent from Chicoutimi to Tadoussac, as given in his journal, will convey to our readers some idea of this romantic section of the country. He says--"We rushed down from Chicoutimi to Tadoussac with the ebbing tide, between four and half-past eight o'clock, and had day light enough (but unfortunately no moonlight) to see much of the majestic scenery of the river below Ha! Ha! Bay, which we passed in the night in going up:--language seldom conveys to the mind or fancy a satisfactory impression of the grander scenes of nature; and I will not attempt to describe those of the lower Saguenay. Their natural grandeur was heightened by the closing shades of evening--the cliffs of the capes de la Trinitg, beetling over the broad, rapid and deep torent below, to the elevation of 1800 feet, and sinking plumb down 9C,0 feet below its surface, cast their huge shadows across the stream and met those of the opposite precipices, frowning upon us from an almost equal elevation . . . .Under our feet, wafting us rapidly on, we had one of the most signal triumphs of human art; on either side of us the everlasting mountains, the work of the hands of the Eternal Architect. The mind is often capricious and unaccountable in its reception of external impressions: I have lived for days in the near neighbourhood of  


   "Mont Blanc, the monarch of mountains,
   Who was crowned long ago,
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
   With a diadem of snow."


I have heard in the gorges of the Jura, the echoes of a thunder-storm which was bursting against the peaks of the distant Bernese Alps;--but the impressions of grandeur were not equal to those produced as we glided on in the silences of night between the precipitous banks of this part of the Saguenay. The effect of the features of external nature, in their "hoar austerity of rugged desolation," was enhanced no doubt by the reflection that these hills


"Where silence l[ies] sublime
"O'er forests trackless since the birth of time,"


are of a barrenness that seemingly forbids the dwelling, almost the footsteps, of men, and defies the hand of cultivation. The whole descent from Ha! Ha! Bay to Tadoussac can be compared to nothing that I have ever seen, for the magnificence and extent of the Scenery, unless perhaps to the passage through the Highlands of the Hudson, if you can imagine that chain of heights continued for forty miles, and its elevation increase[d] some hundreds of feet: but Anthony's noise is no match for the capes of La Trinite, nor the Hudson for the deep rolling flood of the Saguenay."73

The question of whether Sangster wrote this or not is less important than the certainty that, as "bookkeeper and proofreader"74 (and perhaps already in July, 1851 sub-editor)75 of The British Whig, he read it, and thus knew five years before the publication of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay of at least one account of the sublimity of the Saguenay region, an account, moreover, which seems to have affected the poet to the extent that, in 1853 (see Appendix I, "Etchings by the Way," X, 260-265) he himself quotes the lines about Mont Blanc in a "Letter" from Ha! Ha! Bay.

Unfortunately, the name of the author whose "journal" is excerpted in "Excursions to the Saguenay" is not given in the article. Whoever he was, his account of the Saguenay takes its place beside two others that lie very centrally in the background of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, providing the poem with many of its scenic details and descriptive phrases: George Lanman's A Tour to the River Saguenay in Lower Canada, first published in the United States and (under another title) in Britain in 1848 and William Burr's Pictorial Voyage to Canada, American Frontier, and the Saguenay . . . , first published in Boston in 1850 to accompany one of the biggest and most influential tourist attractions in the eastern United States and Canada between 1849 and 1854: Burr's "Moving Panorama" or "Seven Mile Mirror" of the waterways between Niagara Falls and the upper reaches of the Saguenay.

The story of Burr's Moving Mirror (as he himself called it) has been told in detail and at some length by Joseph Earl Arrington in an article that is certain to appeal to anyone who is interested in the historical surroundings of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay.76 Executed in 1848 and 1849 after a sketching trip by Burr and fellow artists along the Niagara-Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence-Saguenay route, the Moving Mirror was painted on "rolls of canvas of enormous size"77 which, when unrolled in front of audiences first in New York City (between September, 1849 and January, 1850), then in Boston (between February, 1850 and July, 1851), and subsequently elsewhere in the eastern United States, gave viewers what contemporaries described as "`a continuous representation of all the interesting . . . rivers,"' "`grand objects of nature,"' "`stupendous resources,"' "`beautiful cities,"' "`beauty and sublimity"'78 on the route from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and thence down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay. Whether one of those viewers was Sangster will probably never be known,79 but what is certain from internal evidence in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay itself is that the Canadian poet had knowledge of the "lecture" or guidebook80 that Burr wrote to accompany his panorama, drawing for this purpose on two of the other prose works that furnished materials for Sangster's poem: John Howison's Sketches of Upper Canada (see, for example, Explanatory Notes, 37) and the Tour to the River Saguenay by Charles Lanman, which was mentioned a few moments ago (see Explanatory Notes, 912f. and ff.).

Not least of the influences of Burr's Moving Mirror in the late 'fifties and 'sixties was in "encouraging imitative pictorial records of the St. Lawrence waterway system "81--and, it must be added, narrative accounts in both prose and poetry of the same region. That The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay was to some extent written and published with the hope of exploiting the vogue generated by Burr for the scenery along the two rivers of its title seems more than likely. Certainly, the poem was recommended to tourists by one reviewer,82 and, more important, it had been expanded and revised by Sangster by as early as 1862 83 along lines that suggest his desire to make it more appealing to travellers. "The leading Poem [in the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay volume] does not amount to much--all the rapids are Embraced in one Stanza," he told W.D. Lighthall in November, 1888, adding that, in the expanded and revised version, the rapids "are . . . written out at length, giving each a character of its own, historical touches have been thrown in, as well as stanzas in a diversity of subjects . . . with here and there a legend, giving more diversity, and making the thing a little more worthy of the Subject, in Every way."84 (As The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay became more touristic, so, evidently, did it become generically more topographical through the inclusion of greater proportions of landscape description, "historical retrospection," and "incidental meditation.") In 1888 Sangster's ambition for the new version of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay was to reissue it as an illustrated book that would capitalize on the still strong interest in Canadian scenery and history that is typified by the Picturesque Canada volumes of the 'eighties and later; 85 as he told Lighthall in July of that year: "the Poem would make a goodly sized book, with the descriptive notes, as it is more than twice as long as the first draft, and is to form the letter press of an illustrated work on the Thousand Islands and the downward route generally as far as Ha! Ha! Bay this year or the next. My nephew Amos W. Sangster of Buffalo, who is now issuing the last number of an illustrated work on the Niagara intends to take the St. Lawrence River for his next venture, following the route I have mentioned. He is a painter and Engraver."86 Between November, 1888 and July, 1891 Sangster and his nephew repeatedly made and cancelled plans to undertake a sketching trip towards their proposed book: "We will go down together," Sangster told Lighthall, "calling at Montreal, Quebec, and other places, taking in the Saguenay as far as Ha! Ha! Bay."87

If this planned trip had taken place, it would not have been the first time that Sangster had travelled down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay. As sub-editor of The British Whig, and in the peripatetic tradition of the paper's owner and editor, Dr. Edward John Barker,88 Sangster embarked in the early summer of 1853 on an assignment that would take him by the end of the season and, as it happens, on the steamboat Rowland Hill, to the upper reaches of the Saguenay and back to Kingston. Fortunately, all but part of one of the "Letters" that Sangster wrote to The British Whig under the title "Etchings by the Way" during his travels between May and September, 1853 have survived (all were published, most under or over the initials "C.S.," in the Daily and the Weekly British Whig), and the pertinent ones are reprinted as Appendix I in the present edition. A juxtaposition of the descriptions in Letter XI of "Etchings by the Way," 142-160 and stanza LXVIII of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay of the picturesque village of Les Eboulements (on the north shore of the St. Lawrence below Quebec) confirms the authorship of the "Letters" and provides a striking instance of the sometimes very close relationship between Sangster's poetry and prose:  

All the way from Murray Bay to Eboulements the landscape is excellent, and as for variety--'tis endless. I turned to take a last look--a last fond look--at the village on the hill, which I think I spoke of in my last letter. I don't know why, except it be from its extreme beauty and its delightful site, for there is no loadstone there that I am aware of--who knows?--but this village, both on passing down the river and returning, had a charm for me that village never had before. But I was not the only one who loved to look at it; our American friends were in raptures with it, and one of them sketched it-lucky fellow!-a Lilliputian-looking village that one could almost hug for its intrinsic beauty--a something seemingly in miniature, creeping, from very coyness and innate modesty, close to the green bosom of the maternal old hill for protection, as if it were lately enticed into existence, half against its will, or brought hither from a fairy tale by one simple rubbing of some Aladdin's lamp--a little gem of a village, which, did you strike it with a stone, looks as if it might be shivered into fragments as it were a porcelain vase. So it seemed to me, that village of Eboulements.

In his note to the following stanza in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, Sangster describes Les Eboulements as "A most delightful little village . . . , looking like a vision of Romance or Fairy-tale":

EBOULEMENTS sleeps serenely in the arms

Of the Maternal hill, upon whose breast

It lies, like a sweet, infant soul, whose charms

Fill some fond mother's bosom with that rest

Caused by the presence of a heavenly guest.

How coyly-close-it nestles! how retired,

Half conscious of its charms, and half oppress'd

As with a blushing sense of being admired;

As modest as a gem, with gem-like beauty fired.


The fact that none of Sangster's principal touristic sources--neither Burr nor Lanman--so much as mentions Les eboulements can only emphasize the authenticity of the Canadian poet's response to a village that would later function like a "lodestone" for Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott.89

Perhaps the preceding descriptions of Les eboulements will convince some readers that Sangster's real talent lay less in poetry (let alone Pacey's light opera) than in descriptive prose. Be this as it may, the shape of Sangster's account of his sight-seeing trip in the summer of 1853--the mere fact, for example, that in his "Etchings by the Way" he describes in detail both his outward and his return journeys--throws into relief the structural and teleological dimensions of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, emphasizing once again in doing so that, in the published version of the poem at least, the touristic sources and elements of many of Sangster's descriptions are subordinated to his central theme of sanctified "Human Love."


The First Edition


In the March 28, 1836 issue of the The Weekly British Whig, there appeared the following advertisement:





A New Canadian Volume.


The subscriber will Publish, by Subscription, early in May, a VOLUME OF POEMS, of between 250 and 300 pages, entitled


"The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay,
and other Poems."  


Neatly bound in Muslin, and uniform with the American Editions of the Poets. Publishers, Messrs Miller, Orton and Mulligan, Auburn and New York. John Duff and John Creighton, Kingston. 


Kingston, March, 1856.


A second Prospectus, published in The Weekly British Whig between April 4 and May 9, 1956,90 repeats the information given on March 28, supplementing it with the locations of subscription lists:



Are open for Signatures at the following places

JOHN DUFF'S, CITY BOOKSTORE, MURDOCH'S MUSIC STORE, British American Hotel, British Whig Office, Commercial Advertiser Office, International Telegraph Office, and John Sangster's, Princess Street.  

The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems itself, together with materials in the Department of Rare Books at McGill University (the Sangster-Lighthall letters and the poet's list of "Subscriptions to `The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems,' dated "March 1856"), supply further details of the publication and sale of the book, a bibliographical description of which is given in a note.91

"My 1st Vol. published in 1856 was copyrighted by Miller Orton & Mulligan ["Stereotypers and Printers" of Auburn, New York], but was done as a job--I was really the Publisher."92 The first part of Sangster's statement to Lighthall is borne out by the copyright statement in The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems,93 and the second accords, of course, with Sangster's financing of the book through the sale of subscriptions. According to his list of "Subscriptions," Sangster raised £185. 18. 3d. from over three hundred subscribers (many of whom bought more than one book), first at seven shillings and six pence each and then at five shillings, for a combined total (with a few "Casual Sales" at less than three shillings) of about seven hundred and fifty books. 94 Notations in the "Subscriptions" list indicate that a thousand copies of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems were printed, and Sangster's comment to Lighthall in July, 1888 that he owns none but "imperfect copies"95 of his two published volumes (the other being Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics [1860]) indicates that eventually all of these were disposed of. The twenty-odd excerpts from reviews of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems that are appended to the Hesperus volume suggest that a considerable number of copies of Sangster's first book were sent for review to newspapers in Canada, England, and the United States.96

In the May 9, 1856 issue of the Toronto Daily Colonist a review of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay that is clearly based on information provided by the poet as well as on the "first sheets of [the] poem" asserts that the book will be "in the hands of booksellers for distribution before the close of the month."97 Evidently, this did not occur, however, for the "Dedication" to The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems is dated "June, 1856" and the volume was not reviewed in The Weekly British Whig until July 4, about a month behind schedule but still only some three months after the first appearance of its "Prospectus" on March 28.98

By and large, The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems was well received by the reviewers, many of whom had special praise for the title poem of the volume.99 Although confessedly biased in favour of the poet who "has been for some years engaged in the British Whig Office," the author of "Our Table" in The Weekly British Whig is not atypical in his positive yet tempered assessment of Sangster's poems, which seem to him to envince "much careful study, great taste, and very tolerable poetic powers."100 Finding "much sweetness and true poesy" in the opening lines of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, he also quotes two stanzas describing "the mountains of the Saguenay" (LXXXVII and LXXXVIII) as evidence that Sangster, "though given to the melting mood," can also "sing both loud and nobly." Before 1856 had come to an end, The British Whig also published "The Poets of Canada," an article by Thomas MacQueen which concludes with a very astute and balanced assessment of Sangster and The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay:


Charles Sangster is a poet of a different order [than Alexander McLachlan]. He has adopted far loftier models and struck the Lyre on a much higher key. His whole soul seems steeped in love and poesy, and finds utterance in expression generally eloquent, bold and musical. He is thoroughly sentimental, teeming with ideas of the sublime and beautiful, which though somewhat diffuse at times, bear evident marks of enthusiastic poetical conception. Mr. Sangster's muse loves to revel in scenery, sentiment and simile--She is essentially etherial, and the common reader who attempts to follow her, will be in some danger of getting wandered in the clouds. Still Mr. S[angster] is a poet of no mean order, and his volume is far the most respectable contribution of poetry that has yet been made to the infant literature of Canada: but he is not Canadian enough in his subjects. This is the chief objection, and it is a serious one.--The first Earl of Chatham we think, said, "Give me the making of a country's ballads and I care not who make her Laws," and there is much meaning and much truth in the saying. But the ballads would require to be well made--made to the point--made in the country and on the country, and embodying such tales, legends, scenes, feats, customs and occurrences as would truly represent the country and secure the prejudices, feelings and sympathies of her people. Surely there is sufficient variety in Canada and Canadian life, to afford material for national poetry, and had Mr. Sangster woven a simple narrative into the profusion of imagery and sentiment of his "St. Lawrence and the Saguenay," the poem might not have been more poetical or more meritorious, but it would have been more popular.--Many of Mr. Sangster's smaller pieces are really full of life and feeling, of which we will likely give our reader some specimens in future.101

As astute and balanced as this assessment is in its opening sentences, it finally judges wine (the lofty models and etherial muse of Sangster) against beer (the more popular, down-to-earth quality of "the people's poet," MacQueen's phrase earlier in the article, for Alexander McLachlan). In so doing, however, it raises the important issue of the audience and appeal of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems, particularly of the volume's decidedly not "simple" title poem. Sangster was evidently proud that "The subscription list [for his first volume] include[d] the names of the principal member of government, and the most eminent statesmen from both Houses of Parliament," 102 and it must be conceded that many aspects of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay--its elevated diction, its touristic element, its philosophical component, its "diffuse" and "sentimental" treatment of love and landscape--would appeal especially, if not exclusively, to an educated middle- and upper-class audience--the audience which, as the very existence of the present edition suggests, continues to find much in the poem that appeals and intrigues.


The Present Text


Although excerpts from The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay have appeared in numerous anthologies, from Longfellow's Poems of Places (1879; see Appendix II) to Margaret Atwood's New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, the poem has hitherto been reproduced in its entirety only three times: once in facsimile in the University of Toronto Press's Literature of Canada: Poetry and Prose in Reprint series (The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems, Hesperus and Other Poems and Lyrics, with an Introduction by Gordon Johnston [1972]); once in an anthology in the New Canadian Library Series (Nineteenth-Century Narrative Poems, edited by David Sinclair [1972]); and, more recently, in a "Revised Edition" from the Tecumseh Press (St. Lawrence and The Saguenay and Other Poems, edited by Frank M. Tierney [1984]). Basing itself, inevitably, on the first edition of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, the present text has benefitted from an awareness of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the versions of the text produced by Johnston, Sinclair, and Tierney. Neither a mere reproduction of the first edition (Johnston) nor a hybrid of the first edition and the extant new and revised stanzas of the poem (Tierney), the present text of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay most resembles Sinclair's in being emended but to a minimal degree and principally in the areas of spelling and punctuation. All departures from the first edition of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay in the present text are recorded in the list of Editorial Emendations that follows the poem.






An earlier version of portions of this Introduction was published as "Through Endless Landscapes: Notes on Charles Sangster's The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay" in Essays on Canadian Writing, 27 (Winter, 1983-84), pp. 1-34.



See George Stewart's observation in "Charles Sangster and His Poetry," Stewart's Literary Quarterly Magazine, 3 (October, 1869), 335 that the poem contains some "rough, uncouth lines" but also "much to admire and appreciate."  [back] 



"Introduction," The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems, Hesperus and Other Poems and Lyrics, Literature of Canada: Poetry and Prose in Reprint (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), p. xix.  [back]  



Desmond Pacey, Ten Canadian Poets: A Group of Biographical and Critical Essays (Toronto: Ryerson 1958), p. 23. While Pacey views the mystery of the love story negatively, Donald Stephens, "Charles Sangster: The End of an Era," in Colony and Confederation: Early Canadian Poets and Their Background, ed. George Woodcock (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1974), p. 55, takes the opposite view that the love story "whets the reader's curiosity enough to hold his attention so that he reads on."  [back]



For discussions of Sangster's first marriage, see Pacey, pp. 8 and 13 and W.D. Hamilton, Charles Sangster, Twayne World Author's Series (New York: Twayne, 1971), pp. 63-65. The Weekly British Whig (Kingston) for September 18, 1856 contains the following announcement under "Married": "On Tuesday evening, 16th September, at St. James Church, by the Revd. Mr. Rogers, MR. CHARLES SANGSTER, to MARY, Fourth Daughter of Mr. William H. KILBORN, all of Kingston."  [back]



See The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems (Kingston, CW.: John Creighton and John Duff; Nevi York: Miller, Orton and Mulligan, 1856), pp. 122-124 and pp. 196-197. Here as elsewhere in quoted materials ampersand has silently been changed to and.  [back]  



Ibid., p. 235. [back]



Ibid., p. 189.  [back]  



Ibid., p. 118.  [back]



See The Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed. William M. Rossetti (London: Ellis, 1911), pp. 3-5 and p. 108.  [back]



These phrases come, of course, from "The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony" in the The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.  [back]



See Pacey, pp. 9-10. The tendency towards melancholy, evident in many of Sangster's poems, is also succinctly illustrated by a comment in a letter to William Douw Lighthall on July 8, 1888: "I would have been the happiest of men had I never written a line of verse" (Department of Rare Books and Special Collection, McLennan Library, McGill University; hereafter cited as McGill).  [back]



But see Pacey, pp. 8-9 for Sangster's realization, in a letter to E. H. Dewart, that "`there was too much love"' in his two published volumes for them to be used "`for school purposes."'  [back]



Pacey, p. 23.  [back]



Hamilton, p. 59.  [back]



See ibid, pp. 57-59.  [back]  



These comments are from Tierney's "Revised Edition" of The St. Lawrence and The Saguenay and Other Poems (Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1984), pp. 252, 244 and 290 ns 287, 289 and 290. Hereafter this edition is cited as Tierney.  [back]  



Ibid., p. 24.  [back]



Ibid., p. 245.  [back]



Hamilton, p. 57.  [back]


This is pointed out by David Latham, "Charles Sangster," Profiles in Canadian Literature, 5, ed. Jeffrey M. Heath (Toronto: Dundurn, 1986), p. 44.  [back]  



Light is cast on Sangster's understanding of Love by "Intellectual Love," an uncollected poem published in The Weekly British Whig on December 8, 1854--that is, within the period when Sangster was likely to have been courting Mary Kilborn and composing The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay:  


Intellectual Love


She loved him for his unmined wealth of words, 

That lay in the rich mine of his brain, like pearls

That hoard their lustre in a cave o' the sea.

He had great soul--thoughts flashing in his eyes,

Like ships gem-laden on an Indian ocean

And soft-voiced messengers with gentle wings

Soared through his mind, and made him rich in fancies,

As is a miser o'er his wreath of gold.

She loved to mark the lightning of his eye,

And list the mighty thunder of his speech, 

That followed the electric fancy-storm,

Ev'n as loves the hardy mountaineer,

Trained among God's glory-haunted hills,

To trace the storm that rides the Appenines,

And bursts in fearful splendor at his feet.

She hung upon his lips, as hangs the bee

Upon the trembling rose-bud, flushed with sweets,

Like Beauty leaning forward for the kiss,

Of some impassioned lover, nectar-wild,

Quaffing his honied breath. Her finger toyed

With his long locks of gold, that lay like waves

Of yellow sun-curls dancing on the lea,

Decking the bust of ev'ning: and in each,

With true-love's spiritual, dreamy eyes,

She seemed to trace some intellectual thought

Some beauteous reflex of his glowing soul,

In which his Prophet-spirit, Titan-like,

Loomed up majestic, clothed with Virtue's robes,

And he, the Adam of her Eve-like heart,

To her eyes, seemed the embodiment of all

The sterling mental manhood of time,

A golden mouthed Chrysostom, trimmed with Truth,

And revelation of a coming age 

Replete with saving glory and deep Love.




The "autobiographical fragment" from which this remark is taken is lodged at McGill and quoted by Pacey, p. 4.  [back]



See Letter LXXXVI, The Citizen of the World, Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Arthur Friedman (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966), VI, 315f.  [back]  



Tierney, p. 251 n. 27 argues the t in Sangster's poem "attachment is associated with the St. Lawrence River which represents trade, business, and material values; [and] detachment is associated with the Saguenay River and peace, love, and spiritual values."  [back]  



See Letter XXXVII, The Citizen of the World, Collected Works, VI, 157f.  [back]  



Quoted from the "Opinions of the Press" regarding The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay that Sangster appended to Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics (Montreal: John Lovel; Kingston: John Creighton, 1860). The "Opinions of the Press" are reproduced in the Literature of Canada reprint of Sangster's two volumes and as Appendix 1 in Tierney, pp. 372-374.  [back]  



James Snyder, a graduate student in English at the University of Western Ontario, has an article in progress arguing that Sangster is accompanied on his voyage by not one but two female figures, both distinct from the Montreal girl.  [back]



As I argue in the essay cited at the head of these Notes, pp. 9-10 and 14. And cf. "Absence" in The St Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems, p. 231.  [back]  



In the "autobiographical fragment" quoted by Pacey, p. 4, Sangster makes the important statement that "All that I possess mentally has been acquired by careful reading of the best authors (chiefly Fiction), properly directed thought, and a tolerable share of industry."  [back]



Cf. the poem quoted in note 21, above.  [back]  



Latham, p. 44, puts the matter thus: "when God becomes as important as the maiden, [the speaker J acknowledges the integrity of each. The poem's final affirmation then is not a pious rejection of the maiden for God but a thanksgiving to God for . . . mature `Human Love' . . . ."  [back]  



Sartor Resartus, ed. Chafes Frederick Harrold (New York: Odyssey, 1937), p. 218.  [back]



See the quotation covered by the previous note and Explanatory Notes, 830.  [back]



The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems, p. 123, and see also Sartor Resartus, p. 135ff.  [back]  



See note 27, above.  [back]  



The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems, pp. 197-198.  [back]



See ibid., pp. 215-216.  [back]  



Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, IV, clxiv, The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron, Riverside Edition (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1905), p. 79. Hereafter cited as Byron.  [back]  



In an advance review of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay published in the Toronto Colonist and reprinted in The Weekly British Whig for May 16, 1856, the anonymous reviewer, perhaps prompted by Sangster (see also note 80, below), states that the poem is written in "the Spenserean stanza, with a slight modification, such as is used by the best of descriptive poets, Byron, in his wanderings of Childe Harold." 

      In his "Preface" to the first and second cantos of Childe Harold, Byron notes his own "attempts at . . . variations" of tone in his poem (Byron, p. 2).  [back]



See Explanatory Notes, 389-392.  [back]



See Childe Harold, IV, lxix-lxxi and IV, xx.  [back]  



Ibid., IV, clv.  [back]  



Ibid., IV, clxxv.  [back]  



See the letter to John Hobhouse that prefaces the fourth canto in Byron, pp. 53-55.  [back]


See Latham, p. 43.  [back]  



And Tennyson's The Princess, the principal model for another narrative poem with interspersed lyrics in the Canadian continuity: Isabella Valancy Crawford's Malcolm's Katie: A Love Story.  [back]  



Pacey, p. 29.  [back]



One of Sangster's earliest pieces of published verse (if not the earliest) is a "Hymn" "Composed for the Installation of the Officers of the Thistle Lodge" in The Weekly British Whig for September 7, 1849.  [back]  



As suggested in my earlier essay on The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay (p. 33 n. 30), The River Duddon might have interested Sangster for its reference, in Sonnet xiii, to the "matted forests of Ontario's shore" and influenced the Canadian poet in its expansion of the final line of Sonnet XVII to a hexameter, a characteristic of his own "Sonnets, Written in the Orillia Woods, August, 1859" (itself a Wordsworthian title) in Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics. See also Latham, p. 42.  [back]  



In "Autumn," Hesperus, p. 66 Sangster appears to feel less sympathy with Shelley than Wordsworth, seeing the former as a Romantic mountaineer and the latter engaged "in profound / And philosophic meditation, rapt / In some great dream of love towards the human race." The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay could be seen as involving, at one level a movement from the Shelleyan towards the religious Wordsworthianism of which the reviewer in the London National Magazine speaks.  [back]  



See, for example, stanzas XCII-XCIV. Tracy Ware, "A Generic Approach to Confederation Romanticism," Diss. University of Western Ontario, 1984 first drew my attention to Shelley's practice of using several similes in succession.  [back]  



Sonnet 73, The Complete Works, ed. G. B. Harrison (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948), p. 1608.  [back]  



Stephens, p. 58.  [back]  



The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, ed. Russell Brown (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986), pp. 84-85.  [back]  



In Sangster's day, the aesthetic of the sublime, which was seminally discussed a century earlier by Edmund Burke in his Philosphical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1856), was almost ubiquitous, and usually carried with it religious overtones, the "awe" experienced by a spectator in face of an overpoweringly large or otherwise impressive natural object being a reminder of God's power and man's relative insignificance. See Appendix 1, vii[i], 56-57 in the present edition.  [back]


"Our Poets: A Sketch of Canadian Poetry in the Nineteenth Century," University of Toronto Quarterly, 12 (1942-1943), 82n.  [back]  



Stephens, p. 56.  [back]  



"Our Poets," p. 82.  [back]  



See Paul Fussell, Poetic Metre and Poetic Form (New York: Random House, 1979), p. 147f.  [back]  



Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 71. See also my "The Stretching Landscape: Notes on Some Formalistic Continuities in the Poetry of the Hinterland," Contemporary Verse 11, 5 (Summer, 1981), pp. 6-18.  [back]



See Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p. 79.  [back]  



Byron, p. 2.  [back]  



This phrase is taken from Pope's Windsor-Forest, in the Twickenham Edition of The Poems of Alexander Pope: Volume I: Pastoral Poetry and an Essay on Criticism, ed. John Butt, E. Audra, and Aubrey Williams (London: Methuen; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), p. 149. Walter John Hipple, Jr., The Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1957) is still a useful guide to its subject, particularly the picturesque, which, like the sublime, was almost ubiquitous in Canada between the end of the eighteenth century and the First World War.  [back]  



See Explanatory Notes, 57 and 1262.  [back]



The Poetical Works of James Beattie (London: William Pickering, 1853), pp. 3-4.  [back]  



 "The Road of Excess," in Contexts of Canadian Criticism: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Eli Mandel, Patterns of Literary Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 131.  [back]



See Explanatory Notes, 1175-1181.  [back]  



Fussell, p. 149.  [back]  



Topographical Poetry in XVIII-Century England, The Modern Language Association of America Revolving Fund Series, VI (1936; rpt. New York: Kraus, 1966), pp. 225-241 and 377-385 (bibliography).  [back]  



"Denham," Lives of the English Poets, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1905; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1967), I, 77.  [back]  



For elaborations of the term, see D.M.R. Bentley, "A New Dimension: Notes on the Ecology of Canadian Poetry," Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, 7 (Fall/Winter, 1980), pp. 1-20 and "The Mower and the Boneless Acrobat: Notes on the Stances of Baseland and Hinterland in Canadian Poetry," Studies in Canadian Literature, 8 (1983), pp. 5-48. See also my Introduction to Cary's Abram's Plains, (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1986) and J. Mackay's Quebec Hill (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1988) for applications of the idea of a baseland mentality to two early poems in the Canadian continuity.  [back]  



Certainly, the relatively uninhabited Saguenay forces the poet-speaker to meditate on the geological rather than the human past, to confront the enormous age yet curious newness (in Euro-Canadian terms) of the Pre-Cambrian shield.  [back]  



The first part of this article, which was reprinted in the July 18, 1851 issue of The Weekly British Whig, rehearses advertisements for excursions to the Saguenay on the Rowland Hill that appear in the July 18 and 25 issues of the same newspaper, and in summer issues in ensuing years. In the summer of 1853, the Rowland Hill was joined by another vessel, The Saguenay (see The Weekly British Whig for July 22, 1853) on the same route, an obvious sign of the growing popularity of excursions to the Saguenay in the years prior to the publication of Sangster's poem.  [back]


Pacey, p. 8.  [back]  



The first evidence that Sangster occupied this position is found in the letters that Sangster wrote for The Weekly British Whig in the summer of 1853 (discussed above, later).  [back]  



 "William Burr's Moving Panorama of the Great Lakes, the Niagara, St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers," Ontario History, 51 (Summer, 1959), pp. 141-162.  [back]  



Ibid., p. 146.  [back]



Quoted ibid., pp. 146-147.  [back]  



Arrington, ibid., p. 156 notes that when the Moving Mirror was in Boston in 1850-1851 "Canadians began to visit [that city] in order to view the painted panorama of their country. On September 5 [1850] some 600 Canadians from Montreal, Quebec and other places `arrived in [Boston] .. . . "'  [back]  



He could have read this either in Burr's original version (mentioned above and cited repeatedly in the Explanatory Notes to the present edition) or in the Josiah Perham's reissue of it: Descriptive and Historical View of the Seven Mile Mirror of the Lakes, Niagara, St. Lawrence, and Saguenay Rivers . . . (New York: Baker, Godisun and Co., 1854). An associate of Burr, Perham "took full charge of the operations [of the Moving Mirror] in Boston" towards the end of 1850 and ran the operation until its disappearance from view in October, 1863 (see Arrington, pp. 157-161).  [back]  



Ibid., p. 161. The influence of Burr and Perham was, no doubt, partly responsible for the much-publicized visit of the Prince of Wales to the Saguenay in 1860.  [back]  



 "We believe [Sangster's] book is destined to create a great sensation," wrote the reviewer for the Toronto Colonist who saw a pre-publication copy of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, "and that it will be in the hands of every tourist who visits, or may have visited, the beautiful scenery he so charmingly depicts." Not only was this review reprinted in The Weekly British Whig (May 16, 1856) but it also appears in the "Opinions of the Press" regarding his first volume that the poet appended to Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics. See also Daniel Wilson's Review of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Works, first published in The Canadian Journal of Industry, Science, and Art in January, 1858, and partly reprinted in Towards a Canadian Literature: Essays Editorials and Manifestos: Volume 1: 1752-1940, ed. Douglas L. Daymond and Leslie G. Monkman (Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1984), 45-49: "The poem is manifestly designed as a companion, if not a guidebook, for the voyage to the Saguenay . . . it will make an agreeable return to the tourist for the small space it claims in his baggage . . . " (49).  [back]   



See the passage from Henry J. Morgan's Sketches of Celebrated Canadians (1862), which is quoted in the headnote to Appendix II, 1 in the present edition.  [back]  



Sangster's letter in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill is dated "Kingston 15th Novr. 1888."  [back]



See for example, George Munro Grant's Picturesque Canada: The Country as it was and is (Toronto: Belden, 1882), 2 vols. and J. M. Lemoine's Picturesque Quebec: A Sequel to Quebec Past and Present (Montreal: Dawson, 1882).  [back]  



Letter dated "Kingston 13th July 1888," McGill.  [back]



Letter dated "Kingston 15th Novr. 1888," McGill, and see also letters dated "Kingston 12th March 1889" and Niagara Ont. 14th July 1891."  [back]  



See especially The Weekly British Whig for September 17 and 24, 1852 for Letters from Barker written on the Rowland Hill during an excursion to the Saguenay. In the first of these Letters Barker quotes a lengthy description of the Saguenay from the Montreal Herald. In the second, written from Ha! Ha! Bay, he asserts that the "Saguenay [is] a river of which no good account has yet been written." See also The Weekly British Whig for July 17 and 22 for Letters from Barker during trips to Montreal and New York. It is possible that Sangster accompanied his editor on one or more of these trips. In its issues for October 20, 1854 and September 21, 1855, The Weekly British Whig contains Sangster's Letters from, respectively, Smith's Falls and Ottawa.  [back]  



See "Sunset at Les Eboulements," The Poems of Archibald Lampman (including At the Long Sault), intro. Margaret Coulby Whitridge, Literature of Canada: Poetry and Prose in Reprint (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1974), pp. 273-274 and "At Les Eboulements," The Poems of Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1926), p. 245.  [back]



The April 18, 1856 issue of The Weekly British Whig carried both a Prospectus and an article entitled "MR. C. SANGSTER'S POEMS.  NOTICES OF THE PRESS" that refers to the publication of the Prospectus in the Hamilton Spectator, Kingston Advertiser, and Amherstberg Telegraph.  [back]  



The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems is bound in dark             brown cloth ("Muslin") covered boards embossed on front, back and spine with various semi-abstract and floral designs. The spine is blocked in gold THE / ST. LAWRENCE / AND / THE SAGUENAY / AND / OTHER POEMS / [type ornament] / SANGSTER. It contains 262 numbered pages printed in Scotch Roman type faces, the poem in 10 point (long primer). The paper is wove royal rag, shows no chain lines or watermarks, and was almost certainly machine-made. Almost certainly machine-printed (Miller, Orton and Mulligan describe themselves on the verso of the volume's title page as "STEREOTYPERS AND PRINTERS"), The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems consists of gatherings of twelve. Collation: royal 12° π4 A*12 B-J12K8; $1,5 (-KS) signed, 2nd. signature with asterisk; 13211. paged [-5]6-7[8-9] 10-262[263-264] (=13211.). Title page: THE / ST. LAWRENCE AND THE SAGUENAY, / AND / OTHER POEMS. / BY / CHARLES SANGSTER. / [ornamental dash] / KINGSTON, C.W. / JOHN CREIGHTON AND JOHN DUFF. / NEW YORK: / MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN. / 1856. The dedication to the volume reads: TO / JOHN SINCLAIR, / MY FRIEND AND CORRESPONDENT / OF MANY YEARS, / This Volume is Dedicated, / BY HIS FRIEND, / CHARLES SANGSTER. / KINGSTON, C.W., June, 1856. An entry under "Casual Subscriptions" in the list of "Subscriptions" at McGill reads "J. Sinclair Quebec." I am especially grateful to E. J. Devereux for his help on the bibliographical aspects of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, and Other Poems.  [back]  



Letter dated "Kingston 8th July 1888," McGill.  [back]



"Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, BY MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Northern District of New-York."  [back]  



See also Tierney, pp. 29-31.  [back]  



Letter dated "Kingston 8th July 1888," McGill.  [back]  



See also Hamilton, pp. 63-65 and "Subscriptions," McGill for reviews of the volume.  [back]  



Quoted from The Weekly British Whig, May 16, 1856.  [back]  



The July 4 review in the "Our Table" column of The Weekly British Whig speaks of the volume being "published and partly delivered to Subscribers." The full text of Sangster's "Dedication" is given in note 91, above.  [back]


See notes 26 and 94, above for anthologies of reviews of the volume.  [back]  



The Weekly British Whig, July 4, 1856.  [back]  



The Weekly British Whig, December 11, 1856.  [back]  



Again, this is from the advance review of The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay in the Toronto Daily Colonist that is quoted in The Weekly British Whig of May 16, 1856. See notes 39 and 82, above, and the discussions to which they pertain, for indications of Sangster's presence behind this review.  [back]