The Face of Charles Heavysege

by Sandra Campbell

This engraving of Charles Heavysege is taken from The Canadian Illustrated News (Hamilton), 10 Jan. 1863, p. 100.   Heavysege's reputation as a pioneering poet and dramatist in British North America prompted portraits of him in both this ambitious young periodical and in its more sophisticated and long-lived counterpart The Canadian Illustrated News (Montreal) 11 (1875):245.  The later, more technically refined steel engraving is based on a photograph by the Montreal photographer Inglis, an image which is also the basis for the photograph of Heavysege reproduced in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol 99:158.

     In the more obscure 1863 engraving reproduced here, Heavysege has a brooding and sombre countenance, as if he himself were his Saul.  In "Mr. Charles Heavysege," the accompanying article, the News flatteringly described his early work and looked forward to the newly-completed Saul.  It praised his recent "Jephthah's Rash Vow" as "the manuscript poem he has read twice to public audiences in Montreal, when it was received with considerable favor."  But the Hamilton periodical's pride in Montreal's gifted adoptee seems to have perished in the magazine's own struggles for cultural survival, for the promised review of Saul never appeared.