They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

The Conquest: its Aftermath


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James Murray, by unknown artist, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1942. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We have reached an interesting point in our series of posts on Aubert de Gaspé’s Les Anciens Canadiens. France has been defeated and the ruling families of Quebec are returning to France, but they have to do so promptly.

After the sinking of l’Auguste, Governor James Murray gave the reprieve that had saved the d’Habervilles to all prominent French families. In fact, they would no longer be forced to return to France. Therefore, Quebec still had its seigneurs. Papineau was a seigneur, so was Aubert de Gaspé, and the Lotbinières, and others. They were Canada’s aristocrats, but after a long absence, their life in France could be humbler. If they left in a hurry, their fate could be disastrous. However, while the Royal Proclamation of 1763 benefited Amerindians, George III of England demanded the assimilation of the French.

Québec in 1774 (Google)

The Royal Proclamation of 1763

  • Amerindians protected
  • James Murray does not enforce assimilation

The Royal Proclamation created the Province of Quebec. It gave the British monarch (the king or queen) the power to buy and sell land belonging to Indigenous people. It made sure that the British would have more power than the French. Also, it attempted to assimilate the French. Through assimilation, the British believed the French should lose their language, traditions, and religious beliefs so that they would become like them.

(See Royal Proclamation of 1763, The Canadian Encyclopedia)

In other words, by virtue of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Amerindians were given a large reserve. This reserve was a wide and long strip of land west of the Thirteen Colonies. This region of North America had fallen to Britain, but it could not be home to the British living in the Thirteen Colonies. Although the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was the Amerindians’s Magna Carta, the citizens of the Thirteen Colonies looked upon George III’s document as an “intolerable act” on the part of Britain.

Moreover, while George III’s Proclamation of 1763 protected Amerindians, the French ran the risk of being assimilated, which takes us back to Les Anciens Canadiens. After the sinking of l’Auguste, not only did Governor James Murray postpone the departure of the d’Habervilles from New France, but he extended this reprieve to every prominent citizen of New France, who, as noted above, could also remain in Canada. But more importantly, James Murray did not enforce assimilation.

His willingness to allow French law and custom in the courts further alienated the merchants and led to his recall in April 1766 and he left Canada in June. Though charges were dismissed, he did not return to Canada though he retained nominal governorship until April 1768.

(See James Murray, The Canadian Encyclopedia)

The Assembly

  • James Murray criticized
  • the Quebec Act of 1774

James Murray was criticized and recalled, but he completed his term in office and, as noted in earlier posts, James Murray paved the way for Guy Carleton’s, Quebec Act of 1774. The Quebec Act was a more “intolerable act” than the Royal Proclamation. As well, it has been viewed as somewhat flawed because it was negotiated with Seigneurs, the Clergy, and bourgeois. “Habitants” were disappointed, but the French in Canada did not lose their language, their religion, their seigneurs, nor their Code Civil. The Quebec Act of 1774 is particularly significant because the French-speaking population of the former New France were granted the same rights as the colony’s English-speaking citizens, which meant that, henceforth, they could run for office.

The Colony had yet to attract English-speaking immigrants. Canada was not an attractive destination. In 1970, Margaret Atwood published the Journals of Susanna Moodie, a book of poetry in which she tries to imagine writer Susanna Moodie’s feelings about life “in the Canada of her era.” At first, in 1774, Canadiens were the majority, but a Governor could form an assembly. Immigrants arrived: Scots who lost their homes and, soon, United Empire Loyalists. A blend, however, was initiated earlier, to which Les Anciens Canadiens is a testimonial. Although New France had fallen, Cameron of Lochiel remains a brother to Jules d’Haberville and he helps him find his way in a new Canadian élite. Therefore, despite the fall of Nouvelle-France, Jules can enter a career. Furthermore, in his travels, Jules has met and loves a young Englishwoman. The two will marry.

Lord Durham’s Report

Canadiens still faced obstacles. In his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham wrote that the people of Quebec did not have a literature, nor did they have a history: “un peuple sans histoire ni littérature.” In response to John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham‘s demeaning remark, Canadiens created two literary movements: le Mouvement littéraire de Québec, the Literary Movement of Quebec, whose members congregated in poet Octave Crémazie‘s bookshop, and le Mouvement littéraire de Montréal, whose most prominent author would be poet Émile Nelligan. Aubert de Gaspé was a member of le mouvement littéraire de Québec. Les Anciens Canadiens was published in 1863. Les Anciens Canadiens is not the first novel published by a French Canadian. Phillipe-Ignace François Aubert de Gaspé, Aubert de Gaspé’s son, published L’Influence d’un livre in 1837. Aubert de Gaspé père worked with his son. So, L’Influence d’un livre may have been Philippe Aubert de Gaspé’s introduction to the world of letters. He was a born writer and his imprisonment had acquainted him with immense sorrow, but he wrote a fine novel at the age of 76.


Chapter XI/X of Les Anciens Canadiens, Légende de Madame d’Haberville (Madame d’Haberville’s Story), is the story of a mother who will not stop mourning the loss of her daughter. She sees her child in a dream or vision. The little girl is burdened by the weight of buckets filled with her mother’s tears. This innertale may reflect the grief of realistic Canadiens. They had to go on and could because they had a “bon Anglais” in James Murray, the Scottish governor of Britain’s new colony. When he listens to Monsieur de Saint-Luc‘s account of the shipwreck of l’Auguste, an unfortunate accident, James Murray commiserates. Henceforth, he will be a kinder governor.

Une grande pâleur se répandit sur tous les traits du général ; il fit apporter des rafraîchissements, traita monsieur de Lacorne avec les plus grands égards, et se fit raconter dans les plus minutieux détails le naufrage de l’Auguste. Ce n’était plus le même homme qui avait voué pour ainsi dire à la mort, avec tant d’insouciance, tous ces braves officiers, dont les uniformes lui portaient ombrage.

Les prévisions de M. de Lacorne se trouvèrent parfaitement justes ; le gouverneur Murray, considérablement radouci après la catastrophe de l’Auguste, traita les Canadiens avec plus de douceur, voire même avec plus d’égard, et tous ceux qui voulurent rester dans la colonie eurent la liberté de le faire. M. de Saint-Luc, surtout, dont il craignait peut-être les révélations, devint l’objet de ses prévenances, et n’eut qu’à se louer des bons procédés du gouverneur envers lui. Ce digne homme, qui comme tant d’autres, avait beaucoup souffert dans sa fortune, très considérable avant la cession du Canada, mit toute son énergie à réparer ses pertes en se livrant à des spéculations très avantageuses.

Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: pp. 364-365)

[General Murray turned as pale as death. Presently he called for refreshments, and, treating Saint-Luc with the most profound consideration, he inquired of him the fullest particulars of the wreck. He was no longer the same man who had carelessly consigned so many brave227 officers to their doom just because the sight of their uniforms displeased him.

What M. de Saint-Luc had foreseen presently came to pass. Thenceforward Governor Murray, conscience-stricken by the loss of the Auguste, became very lenient toward the Canadians, and those who wished to remain in the colony were given liberty to do so. M. de Saint-Luc, in particular, whose possible revelations he may have dreaded, became the special object of his favor, and found nothing to complain of in the governor’s attitude. He set his tremendous energies to the work of repairing his fortunes, and his efforts were crowned with well-merited success.]

Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 226-228)


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN


Love to everyone 💕

P.S. My last two posts were nearly erased. I’ve rebuilt both, hence the delay. I’ve added that once Louisbourg fell to Britain, on 26 July 1758, ships could go up the St. Lawrence River unhindered, which meant that Quebec could and would fall. It fell on 13 September 1759.

The French and Indian War (1754-1763)
Portrait of James Murray as a young man by Allan Ramsay, 1742. (Scottish National Portrait GalleryEdinburgh) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
4 August 2021

A Lost Paragraph


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Le Chevalier de Lévis (Photo credit: Google)


Dear readers, I apologize for attempting to update my last post. In fact, an apology is no longer essentiel because the few lines I wrote have disappeared.

I had modified the paragraph that precedes the conclusion. I wrote that, ironically, Cameron of Lochiel’s decision to a refuse a promotion that would not allow him to help the d’Habervilles reinforced James Murray’s conviction that their “sovereign” could not do without the services of so loyal and grateful an officer. Cameron of Lochiel richly deserved a promotion. He is the hero in Aubert de Gaspé‘s Anciens Canadiens.


I also wrote that I would be closing my post in the not-too-distant future. My memory plays tricks on me. I will resume my career as an artist. I do watercolours, sanguine, drawings… Once in a while, I will dip the brush in my coffee instead of the water, but it does not affect the coffee. I really do not know what will happen to me. Nor do doctors. I can still function but I make spelling errors, repeat myself, etc.

Fortunately, scientists have now determined that Covid-19 attacks the brain and they have started to map out the harm inflicted by Covid-19. Forty-five years ago, no one knew. For 15 years, I did not dare tell anyone that I could not attend meetings that took place in the evening, or go out, whatever the event. In 1991, a Spect scan revealed a seriously slow rate of perfusion of blood to the brain and extensive damage. I was not expected to do anything anymore.

I tried to return to work. However, a new Chair, who wanted to avenge the dismissal of a colleague, would not look upon me as a full-time member of the Department. For four years, I taught on a part-time basis. I re-entered the classroom after he resigned. However, once I resumed my duties, my workload kept growing. I was teaching in several areas of learning. I fell ill and made decisions that I regret.

James Murray was a good man and Cameron of Lochiel, the bon Anglais. It seems that the only person who would harm the citizens of New France and the Amerindians who lived among them was Jeffery Amherst.

I will quote Wikipedia:

Amherst’s legacy is controversial due to his expressed desire to exterminate the race of indigenous people during Pontiac’s War, and his advocacy of biological warfare in the form of gifting blankets infected with smallpox as a weapon,notably at the Siege of Fort Pitt. This has led to a reconsideration of his legacy. In 2019, the City of Montreal removed his name from a street in the city, renaming it Rue Atateken, from the Kanien’kéha Mohawk language. The town of Amherst, Nova Scotia is controversially named for him, as is the town of Amherstburg, Ontario.

(See Amherst, Wikipedia)

It seems there is a rotten apple in every basket.


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN

Jeffery Amherst (Google)

© Micheline Walker
1st August 2021

The Shipwreck of the Auguste, cont’d


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Vaisseaux français en feu ou capturés au Siège de Louisbourg en 1758. This image is also known as a depiction of the life of Sir Admiral George Young. (Google)
Burning of the French ship Prudent and capture of Bienfaisant, during the siege of Louisbourg in 1758Richard Paton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Le Puissant Protecteur / The Powerful Protector

  • Monsieur de Saint-Luc arrives at the d’Haberville’s home
  • He survived the sinking of the Auguste
  • Jules’s father learns that Cameron de Lochiel is helping the family

Chapter XIV/XIII of Les Anciens Canadiens‘ also spelled Les anciens Canadiens, is very long. However, the superior of the Hospital, Jules’s aunt, allows Cameron de Lochiel to see Jules d’Haberville. The friendship is renewed, but Jules’s father will not accept that Jules’s aunt forgave Cameron de Lochiel. Cameron of Lochiel is Arché, Jules’s best friend, but Arché fought in the British Army when Jules fought in the French army.

In Chapter XV/XIV, entitled Le Naufrage de l’Auguste (The Shipwreck of the Auguste), an exhausted survivor comes to the d’Haberville’s door. At first, no one can recognize this emaciated figure with a long beard, but le capitaine d’Haberville can tell that the voice is that of Monsieur de Saint-Luc. After Monsieur de Saint-Luc says that the Auguste sank, he surprises le capitaine d’Haberville by telling him that the d’Haberville’s return to France was postponed because Arché, Cameron of Lochiel, intervened on behalf of his friends, which is a revelation he can substantiate.

Sais-tu, d’Haberville, dit M. de Saint-Luc en déjeunant, quel est le puissant protecteur qui a obtenu du général Murray un répit de deux ans pour te faciliter la vente de tes propriétés ? Sais-tu à qui, toi et ta famille, vous devez aujourd’hui la vie, que vous auriez perdue en toute probabilité dans notre naufrage ?
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 357)
[“Do you know, D’Haberville,” said M. de Saint-Luc at breakfast, “who was the friend so strong with Murray as to obtain you your two years’ respite? Do you know to whom you owe to-day the life which you would probably have lost in our shipwreck?”]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 222-223)

When le capitaine d’Haberville learns he is still furious at Arché.

– Non, dit M. d’Haberville ; j’ignore quel a été le protecteur assez puissant pour m’obtenir cette faveur ; mais, foi de gentilhomme, je lui en conserverai une reconnaissance éternelle.
[“No,” said Captain D’Haberville. “I have no idea what friend we can have so powerful. But whoever he is, never shall I forget the debt of gratitude I owe him.”]

– Eh bien ! mon ami, c’est au jeune Écossais Archibald de Locheill que tu dois cette reconnaissance éternelle.
[“Well, my friend, it is the young Scotchman Archibald de Lochiel to whom you owe this eternal gratitude.”]
– J’ai défendu, s’écria le capitaine, de prononcer en ma présence le nom de cette vipère que j’ai réchauffée dans mon sein!
[“I have commanded,” almost shouted Captain D’Haberville, “that the name of this viper, whom I warmed in my bosom, should never be pronounced in my presence.” And the captain’s great black eyes shot fire.]
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 357-358)
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 222-223)

When all is told, Monsieur de Saint-Luc and le capitaine d’Haberville are soon reconciled. They were childhood friends. and War, the duties of officers, separated the former friends. Jules and Arché have resumed their friendship.

Arché’s men burnt down the d’Haberville’s manoir, and Captain D’Haberville now looks older than his age. He has fought in many conflicts between Amerindians who were friends of the British, the Iroquois confederacy, and the Hurons-Wendats, the Wyandot people, allies of the French. These wars were taxing, but we find confirmation of the wars the French entered when Champlain fought on behalf of Amerindians, the Wyandot people. It began in 1609. In Les Anciens Canadiens. Mon oncle Raoul is running the seigneurie, not his exhausted brother.

Cameron of Lochiel and James Murray

  • Arché is offered a promotion by James Murray
  • Arché will resign
  • Monsieur de Saint-Luc and James Murray

In fact, Arché would have resigned had James Murray not allowed him to help his friends. During the Battle of Sainte-Foy, Arché demonstrated to James Murray that he was an extraordinary Highlander. Arché knew the terrain, the lay of the land, and he spoke French.

But to save his friends from a hasty departure, Arché has told James Murray that he would resign unless he could protect his friends. Those who had to sell their belongings hurriedly lost nearly everything.

Capitaine de Locheill, lui dit alors Murray en lui présentant le brevet de ce nouveau grade, j’allais vous envoyer chercher. Témoin de vos exploits sur notre glorieux champ de bataille de 1759, je m’étais empressé de solliciter pour vous le commandement d’une compagnie ; et je dois ajouter que votre conduite subséquente m’a aussi prouvé que vous étiez digne des faveurs du gouvernement britannique, et de tout ce que je puis faire individuellement pour vous les faire obtenir. 359
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 359)
[“‘Captain de Lochiel,’ said Murray, handing him the brevet of his new rank, ‘I was going to look for you. Having witnessed your exploits on the glorious field of 1759, I hastened to ask for your promotion; and I may add that your subsequent conduct has proved you worthy of the favor of His Majesty’s Government, and of my utmost efforts on your behalf.’]

Votre Excellence sait que je dois beaucoup de reconnaissance à cette famille, qui m’a comblé de bienfaits pendant un séjour de dix ans dans cette colonie. C’est moi qui, pour obéir aux ordres de mon supérieur, ai complété sa ruine en incendiant ses immeubles de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. De grâce, général, 360 un répit de deux ans, et vous soulagerez mon âme d’un pesant fardeau !
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 360)
[Your Excellency is aware how much I owe to this family, which loaded me with kindness during my ten years’ sojourn in the colony. It was I who, obeying the orders of my superior officer, completed their ruin by burning their manor and mill at St. Jean-Port-Joli. For the love of Heaven, general, grant them two years, and you will lift a terrible burden from my soul!’]
Cameron of Locheil (XIV: 224-225)

– Je suis heureux, monsieur le général, répondit de Locheill, que votre recommandation m’ait fait obtenir un avancement au-dessus de mes faibles services, et je vous prie d’agréer mes remerciements pour cette faveur qui m’enhardit à vous demander une grâce de plus, puisque vous m’assurez de votre bienveillance. Oh ! oui, général, c’est une grâce bien précieuse pour moi que j’ai à solliciter.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 360)
[“‘I am most glad, sir,’ answered Lochiel, ‘that your recommendation has obtained me a reward far beyond anything my poor services could entitle me to expect; and I beg you will accept my grateful thanks for the favor, which emboldens me to ask yet one more. General, it is a great, an inestimable favor which I would ask of you.’]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 223-224)

– Capitaine de Locheill, fit le général Murray d’un ton sévère, je suis surpris de vous entendre intercéder pour les d’Haberville, qui se sont montrés nos ennemis les plus acharnés.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 360)
[“‘Captain de Lochiel,’ said Murray severely, ‘I am surprised to hear you interceding for the D’Habervilles, who have shown themselves our most implacable enemies.’]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 224-225)

– Que Votre Excellence, reprit de Locheill avec le plus grand sang-froid, daigne accepter ma résignation, et qu’elle me permette de servir comme simple soldat : ceux qui chercheront, pour le montrer du doigt, le monstre d’ingratitude qui, après avoir été comblé de bienfaits par toute une famille étrangère à son origine, a complété sa ruine sans pouvoir adoucir ses maux, auront plus de peine à le reconnaître dans les rangs, sous l’uniforme d’un simple soldat, qu’à la tête d’hommes irréprochables.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p. 362)
[“‘Will Your Excellency,’ repeated Archie coldly, ‘be so good as to accept my resignation, and permit me to serve as a common soldier? They who will seek to225 point the finger at me as the monster of ingratitude, who, after being loaded with benefits by a family to whom he came a stranger, achieved the final ruin of that family without working any alleviation of their lot—they who would hold me up to scorn for this will find it harder to discover me when buried in the ranks than when I am at the head of men who have no such stain upon them.’ Once more he offered his commission to the general.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 224-226)

This is an exceptional exchange: brief, to the point, and polite.


On 8 September 1760, Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, the Governor of New France, signed the capitulation of Montreal. He had advised the Chevalier de Lévis not to claim a French victory at the Battle of Sainte-Foy. After the loss of Louisbourg, a fortress located on L’Isle-Royale, the current Cape Breton Island, the French knew that Nouvelle-France would fall. British ships could enter the St. Lawrence River unhindered. (See the Siege of Louisbourg, Wikipedia.) But British Governor James Murray would be kind to the French. After l’Auguste sank near Louisbourg, the nobility was given a two-year reprieve. In fact, no family had to leave. Furthermore, although the Royal Proclamation of 1763 protected Amerindians, it ordered the assimilation of the French in Canada. James Murray “allow[ed] French law and custom in the courts.” He, therefore, paved the way for Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester‘s Quebec Act of 1774.


« Quel est celui qui n’a jamais commis de faute à la guerre ? » Vae victis !
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 314)
[“Who is he that has never made a mistake in battle?” Vae victis!]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 198-199)


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN (video)

The Battle of Quebec 1759
Montcalm by C. W. Jefferys

© Micheline Walker
30 July 2021

Reconciliation & the Shipwreck of the Auguste


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Siège de Louisbourg en 1758. Guerre de Sept Ans. Vaisseau le Prudent en feu et vaisseau le Bienfaisant capturé. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Plains of Abraham

  • the defeated
  • Jules’s anger
  • Reconciliation

The French and Indian War (1754-1763) started with the assassination of Louis de Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, on 28 May 1754. The incident grew into the Seven Years’ War and also sparked the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). It has also been suggested that this event developped into the French Revolution. Aubert de Gaspé repeats that the defeated are forever defeated and situates the battles in the realm of the “relative.”

The juxtaposition of one murder and a world war makes one feel a little dizzy. The disproportion is enormous, but incidents have led to years, if not centuries, of conflicts.

Un grand capitaine qui a égalé de nos jours Alexandre et César, n’a-t-il pas dit : « Quel est celui qui n’a jamais commis de faute à la guerre? » Vae victis !
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 314)

[A great general, who has equaled in our own day the exploits of Alexander and of Cæsar, has said: “Who is he that has never made a mistake in battle?” Vae victis!]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 188-199)

Si le marquis de Montcalm eût remporté la victoire sur l’armée anglaise, on l’aurait élevé jusqu’aux nues, au lieu de lui reprocher de n’avoir pas attendu les renforts qu’il devait recevoir de monsieur de Vaudreuil et du colonel de Bougainville ; on aurait admiré sa tactique d’avoir attaqué brusquement l’ennemi avant qu’il eût le temps de se reconnaître, et d’avoir profité des accidents de terrains pour se retrancher dans des positions inexpugnables ; on aurait dit que cent hommes à l’abri de retranchements en valent mille à découvert ; on n’aurait point attribué au général Montcalm des motifs de basse jalousie, indignes d’une grande âme : les lauriers brillants qu’il avait tant de fois cueillis sur de glorieux champs de bataille, l’auraient mis à couvert de tels soupçons.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 315)

[Had Montcalm been victorious he would have been lauded to the skies, instead of being heaped with reproaches for not awaiting the re-enforcements which would have come from De Vaudreuil and De Bougainville. We would have praised his tactics in hurling himself upon the enemy before the latter had had time to establish himself. We would have said that a hundred men behind cover were equal to a thousand in the open. We would never have imputed to General Montcalm any jealous and unworthy motives. His shining laurels, gained on so many glorious fields, would have shielded him from any such suspicions.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 199-200)

Chapter XIV is a long chapter. Aubert de Gaspé repeats that the defeated are forever defeated and blames Louis XV, but discreetly.

However, in the same chapter, he brings Arché and Jules together. Jules is wounded and angry. Arché succeeds in finding him in an hospital. Jules and Arché fought under enemy flags, but both young men have did their duty as soldiers. Orders came from serious commanders. Arché is a precious Highlander, an élite regiment. When he realizes that the French are winning at the Battle of Sainte-Foy, fought on 28 April 1760, under the Chevalier de Lévis and James Murray, he takes his men to safety. He has lived in Quebec City and traveled to Jules’s father’s seigneurie. So he knows the terrain.

Jules’s first reaction echoes Marie’s, a “sorceress.” Jules refers to the future.

« Garde ta pitié pour toi-même : tu en auras besoin, lorsque tu porteras dans tes bras le corps sanglant de celui que tu appelles maintenant ton frère ! Je n’éprouve qu’une grande douleur, ô Archibald de Locheill ! c’est celle de ne pouvoir te maudire ! Malheur ! malheur ! malheur ! »
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 323)

[“Keep your pity for yourself, Archibald de Lochiel. You will have need of it all on that day204 when you shall carry in your arms the bleeding body of him you now call your brother!”]
Cameron of Locheil (XIII: 203-205)

And later:

– Défendez-vous, monsieur de Locheill, vous aimez les triomphes faciles. Défendez-vous ! Ah ! traître ! À cette nouvelle injure, Arché, se croisant les bras, se contenta de répondre de sa voix la plus affectueuse :
– Toi aussi, mon frère Jules, toi aussi tu m’as condamné sans m’entendre !

Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: pp. 324)

[“Defend yourself, M. de Lochiel; you, who love easy triumphs, defend yourself, traitor!” At this new insult, Archie folded his arms and answered, in a tone of tender reproach: “Thou, too, my brother Jules, even thou, too, hast thou condemned me unheard?”]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 204-205)

However, as Arché leaves Jules, Jules presses his hand. Arché will then ask to speak to the superior of the hospital. She is Jules’s aunt. At first, she cannot find as suitable a composure as she wishes, but she listens to Arché carefully, weighing every word and will allow him to see Jules.

We are in 1760, three years before the Treaty of Paris 1763. Everything depends on what Jules calls un coup de dé (p. 338), a throw of the dice. But Arché says that, whatever the outcome of the war, he plans to return to Canada and live near his friends.

– Dans l’un ou l’autre cas, dit de Locheill, je ne puis, avec honneur, me retirer de l’armée tant que la guerre durera ; mais advenant la paix, je me propose de vendre les débris de mon patrimoine d’Écosse, d’acheter des terres en Amérique et de m’y fixer. Mes plus chères affections sont ici ; j’aime le Canada, j’aime les mœurs douces et honnêtes de vos bons habitants ; et, après une vie paisible, mais laborieuse, je reposerai du moins ma tête sur le même sol que toi, mon frère Jules.
[“In either case,” said Lochiel, “as long as the war lasts I can not honorably resign my commission. But when peace comes, I propose to sell the poor remnant of my Highland estate and come and establish myself on this side of the water. My deepest affections are here. I love Canada, I love the simple and upright manners of your good habitants; and after a quiet but busy life, I would rest my head beneath the same sod with you, my brother.”]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 212-213)

That is also Jules’s wish, but he has military obligations. Once he has fulfilled his obligations, he will return to Canada.

The Battle of Sainte-Foy by George B. Campion, watercolour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Shipwreck of The Auguste

Many upper-class families traveling back to France abord the Auguste died at sea. Chapter XV/XIII is entitled: Le Naufrage de l’Auguste, The Shipwreck of the Auguste. Among victims were Charles-René Dejordy de VillebonLouis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye, and Louis de la Corne, Chevalier de la Corne.

L’Auguste (1758 ship) was a full-rigged sailing ship that sank at Aspy Bay, Cape BretonNova Scotia in 1761 while carrying exiles from the fall of New France.

(See Auguste, Wikipedia)

In Aubert de Gaspé’s novel, Monsieur de Saint-Luc survives to tell about the unfortunate event. Those who escaped death were helped by Amerindians:

Nous nous traînâmes ainsi, ou plutôt je les traînai pour ainsi dire à la remorque (car le courage, ni même les forces ne me faillirent jamais), jusqu’au 4 de décembre, que nous rencontrâmes deux sauvages. Peindre la joie, l’extase de mes compagnons, qui attendaient à chaque instant la mort pour mettre fin à leurs souffrances atroces, serait au-dessus de toute description. Ces aborigènes ne me reconnurent pas d’abord en me voyant avec ma longue barbe, et changé
comme j’étais après tant de souffrances. J’avais rendu précédemment de grands services à leur nation ; et vous savez que ces enfants de la nature ne manquent jamais à la reconnaissance. Ils m’accueillirent avec les démonstrations de la joie la plus vive : nous étions tous sauvés. J’appris alors que nous étions sur l’île du Cap Breton, a trente lieues de Louisbourg.

Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p, 355)

[“Thus we dragged ourselves on, or rather I dragged them in tow, for neither courage nor strength once failed me till at length, on the 4th of December, we met two Indians. Imagine if you can the delirious joy of my companions, who for the last few days had been looking forward to death itself as a welcome release from their sufferings! These Indians did not recognize me at first, so much was I changed by what I had gone through, and by the long beard which had covered my face. Once I did their tribe a great service; and you know that these natives never forget a benefit. They welcomed me with delight. We were saved. Then I learned that we were on the island of Cape Breton, about thirty leagues from Louisbourg.”Thus we dragged ourselves on, or rather I dragged them in tow, for neither courage nor strength once failed me till at length, on the 4th of December, we met two Indians. Imagine if you can the delirious joy of my companions, who for the last few days had been looking forward to death itself as a welcome release from their sufferings! These Indians did not recognize me at first, so much was I changed by what I had gone through, and by the long beard which had covered my face. Once I did their tribe a great service; and you know that these natives never forget a benefit. They welcomed me with delight. We were saved. Then I learned that we were on the island of Cape Breton, about thirty leagues from Louisbourg.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 221-222)

A little later, Monsieur de Saint-Luc tells le capitaine d’Haberville, that his family owes a postponement in their returning to France to Cameron de Lochiel, which sounds fictional. James Murray, however, was very good to the people of a defeated New France to the point considering settling in Quebec. (See James Murray, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography). There are descendants of seigneurs in Quebec and Canada. Louis-Joseph Papineau was a seigneur.


If one juxtaposes the Battle of Jumonville Glen and the fall of the New France, the gap is dizzying. But “brothers” who fought on opposite sides, are brought together. All bodes well for the future. Aubert de Gaspé has brought to his a redeeming symmetry. Nouvelle-France falls but it consigned to memory of its people, and it is reborn.


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN

The video I am using is about the Battle of Quebec, but this battle is not the Battle fought at the end of December 1755, at an early battle during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)


Love to everyone 💕

Danaé (Danaë) et la pluie d’or, par Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639) Cleveland Museum of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
27 July 2021

An Update: the French and Indian War


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Lt. Col. Washington on horseback during the Battle of Monongahela — Régnier 1834


Dear readers, I had to rearrange my post on the Battle of Jumonville Glen. I added quotations I could no longer find when I finished writing on the Jumonville Skirmish, and I deleted repetitions. I did not rewrite my post.

After the action, Washington retreated to Fort Necessity, where Canadien forces from Fort Duquesne compelled his surrender. The terms of Washington’s surrender included a statement (written in French, a language Washington did not read) admitting that Jumonville was assassinated. This document and others were used by the French and Canadiens to level accusations that Washington had ordered Jumonville’s slaying.

The Battle of Jumonville Glen, Wikipedia

We will never know whether Washington admitted Jumonville was assassinated. Coulon the Villiers, Coulon de Jumonville’s half brother may have written the confession.

There is information that may never be disclosed. Monceau, the man who escaped, did not see the assassination. So, we do not have a witness. Monceau ran to newly-built Fort Duquesne. However, I found quotations I could no longer locate when fatigue “hit.” I have now retrieved the information I required.

We will never know irrefutably what happened at Jumonville Glen. However, Coulon de Jumonville was assassinated. There was, seemingly, an ambush, a skirmish, and a massacre. George Washington was only 22 years old. He recovered, but always remembered the battles of the Ohio Country. Coulon the Villiers, Coulon de Jumonville’s half-brother, avenged Coulon de Jumonville‘s murder. Fort Duquesne (1754) had just been built and so had Fort Necessity (1754) and Washington was defeated at Fort Necessity. The British were also defeated at Battle of Monongahela (1755), but it was a disorderly battle and a massacre.


Sources and Resources

Love to everyone 💕

The Ohio Country after the French and Indian War.

Last Words on the Battle of Jumonville


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Jumonville Glen (sv Wikipedia)

Writing the Battle of Jumonville Glen was very difficult. I had conflicting sources. For instance, I could not determine whether Coulon de Jumonville was killed as the skirmish ended, or later, at Fort Duquesne.

Moreover, my text kept being revised (dialogs). So, I nearly destroyed the post. It seems that Coulon de Jumonville was killed by Tanacharison.

Our only certainties are that Jumonville was killed. Was it immediately after the skirmish or later, at Fort Duquesne. Moreover did Tanacharison kill Jumonville, and where.

I should have mentioned that George Washington (February 1723-December 1799) was only 22 at the Battle of Jumonville Glen. Tanacharison was 54. He died soon after Jumonville Glen, an ambush and skirmish. It is now called a skirmish.

My conclusion is that wars are absurd. The people of New France are still fighting to retain their identity. As well, France lost the Seven Years’ War. Yet, the starting-point was an ambush.

Moreover, my memory is deteriorating. I am perfectly lucid, but it may take me a few minutes to indicate the page or segment I am quoting and I may repeat a word or a sentence. I make spelling errors. So, I will be closing my weblog in the not-too-distant future or discuss fables, or write shorter posts. However, that an ambush should lead to wars, including a world war, is disorienting. So is an entry stating that Washington started the wars. As noted above, Washington was 22 or 23 years old, probably 22, in 1754.


I inserted a source, but I could not separate the source and videos it shows. It is a learned source and the gentleman we hear does not throw stones. The link is the Jumonville Skirmish, but I am now shown Error 404 and information given readers is in French. If one speaks French, the site is available. I’ll search again. The following link may take a reader to information. One mut pay.

George Washington in the French & Indian War on Vimeo

Washington was ordered to remove the French from the Ohio Country, which may have given him latitude.

Aubert de Gaspé is not a Malraux. Nor is he a Camus. But Aubert de Gaspé is pointing out the absurdity of war. France lost New France and New France lost its motherland. These consequences are not glitches. The Battle of Quebec 1775 was an early battle during the American Revolutionary War.

Many seigneurs were sent back to France, but Aubert de Gaspé was not. He had descendants.

Through his novel Aubert de Gaspé suggests that one can adjust to changes. Jules did. Aubert de Gaspé also suggests that the enemy may be one’s adopted brother. Jules and Arché are reunited. It is as though, the seigneurs of New France had been in the military. Jules’s father looked old because he had fought battles.

The George Washington in the French & Indian War on Vimeo is a fine link. So is Tanacharison. No one looks very good, except Aubert de Gaspé. I have ordered two books so I can learn more.

Sources and Resources

Bluhm, Raymond K.. “Battle of Jumonville Glen”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 May. 2021, Accessed 25 July 2021.
Jumonville Glen Skirmish · George Washington’s Mount Vernon

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The French and Indian War (1754)

© Micheline Walker
25 July 2021

The Battle of Jumonville Glen


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Charles Willson PealePortrait de George Washington, 1772.


The Battle of Jumonville Glen

  • George Washington goes to the Ohio Country
  • George Washington travels with Tanacharison, the Half King

It is difficult to tell what happened at the Battle of Jumonville Glen. First, it was not a battle; it was an ambush. Yet, it started the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which in turn, started the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), a global conflict and a defeat for France. Tanacharison (1718-1754), an angry Mingo (Iroquoian Amerindian), also called the Half King pressed George Washington (1732-1799) into joining him and attacking a French encampment Amerindians had spotted. When they reached the encampment, Tanacharison brutally murdered an innocent French captain, Coulon de Jumonville, standing next to George Washington, thus starting the French and Indian War (1754-1763) which led to the arbitrarily considered last and lost Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and which also led to the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763), or the defeat of France.

Aubert de Gaspé keeps repeating that the defeated are forever defeated and then says, in full, that at the Treaty of Paris 1763 (“trois ans après”) Louis XV abandoned France’s colony in North America. The Battle of Sainte-Foy was a French victory, but the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, a short confrontation, was deemed the last and lost battle of the French and Indian War (1754-1763) when in fact the last battle, the Battle of Saint-Foy, fought on 28 April 1760, was a French victory. “Nonchalant” Louis XV tossed the Battle of Sainte-Foy aside, turning a victory into a defeat. Not necessarily. Coulon de Villiers could avenge his half-brother’s assassination, However, by 1759, could France reinforce its troops in New France. France was losing the Seven Years’ War.

La Nouvelle-France, abandonnée de la mère patrie, fut cédée à l’Angleterre par le nonchalant Louis XV, trois ans après cette glorieuse bataille qui aurait pu sauver la colonie.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: page 321)

[New France, abandoned by the mother country, was ceded to England by the careless Louis three years after the battle.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 202-203)

Tanacharison tries to return his wampun & the ambush

December 1753

In 1753, the French started to build forts in the Ohio country and were driving out British traders. Therefore, Virginia  lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie sent George Washington (1732-1799) to these forts to demand that the French vacate. On his journey, Washington stopped at Logstown to ask Tanacharison, the Half-King, to travel with him. Tanacharison agreed to return the symbolic wampum given to him by French captain Philippe-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire. Tanacharison also traveled with George Washington to meet with Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, the French commander of Fort Le Bœuf. Neither Chabert de Joncaire nor Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre took the wampum back, and the French did not leave the Ohio country, at least, not then. 

So, we know why Washington was in the Ohio Country. He had been asked to drive the French away.

27 – 28 May 1754

On 27 May 1754, Tanacharison learned of a French encampment. He urged Washington to ambush the French and Washington agreed.

On 28 May 1754, “[a] company of colonial militia from Virginia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, and a small number of Mingo warriors led by Tanacharison ambushed a force of 35 Canadiens under the command of Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.” (See Battle of Jumonville Glen, Wikipedia).

I have not been able to determine whether Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie authorized the “ambush” that took place on 28 Mary 1754. But in 1753, George Washington was asked to tell the French to leave the Ohio Country.

Questions: the Jumonville Affair

  • Who started the Jumonville affair?
  • Who killed Jumonville?
  • a battle, a skirmish or an ambush …

In the Wikipedia entry on Tanacharison, one can read that Tanacharison, the Half King, started the French and Indian War (1754-1763) which would develop into the Seven Years’ War, an international conflict. (See Tanacharison, Wikipedia.)

Questions do arise? For instance, who initiated the offensive, an ambush, that took place on 28 May 1754? Was it George Washington or Tanacharison, or was it a joint decision by George Washington and Tanacharison? More importantly, as noted above, had Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie authorized the ambush of an encampment of 35 Frenchmen? In Wikipedia’s entry on Robert Dinwiddie, it is stated that Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie started Washington’s military career. In one of the videos embedded in my last post, George Washington opened fire. This could be the case. In fact, if Jumonville did not have a gun, or, if a gun was not at hand, should Washington have shot at Jumonville? Robert Dinwiddie is credited with having started George Washington’s military career. Not quite.

“Washington was heavily criticized in Britain for the incident. British statesman Horace Walpole referred to the controversy surrounding Jumonville’s death as the “Jumonville Affair” and described it as ‘a volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America that set the world on fire.'” (See Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, Wikipedia.)

Jumonville Glen has been called a battle and the Jumonville Skirmish, but it was an ambush, and Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville was murdered. George Washington took Tanacharison to the Ohio Country. However, it seems, that Tanacharison took George Washington to ambush Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. Whether Virginia Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie authorized this second event cannot be ascertained. It also seems that Jumonville and a few Frenchmen were killed or wounded and that all of them, but one, were captured. Moreover, Jumonville may have been killed at Fort Duquesne. When Washington surrendered, if he surrendered, he admitted that Jumonville was assassinated. But, as mentioned above, this may not be true.

In fact, “[t]he exact circumstances of Jumonville’s death are a subject of historical controversy and debate.” (See Battle of Jumonville Glen, Wikipedia.)

It seems that Canadiens seigneurs were the military in New France. Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville was a seigneur. Seigneuries had been given to members of the Régiment de Carignan-Salières who wanted to remain in Canada. They arrived in 1665. Nouvelle-France was often attacked by Iroquois, who were allies of the British in North America. Canada had its French and Indian War 1754-1763), its French and Indian Wars (1688-1763), inter-colonial wars, and it also had its Beaver Wars or Guerres franco-iroquoises. In the early 1750s, the French were building forts in the Ohio country. Forts were trading-posts and fortresses.


So Aubert de Gaspé comments on the inanity of wars. But in North American, a war was waged that was a tinier war than the Seven Years’ War, but it was absurdism at its peak. Nouvelle-France fell. Jumonville was not a battle, whether it took place at an encampment or in Fort Duquesne, and the French won the Battle of Saint-Foy. I feel as though I were reading an early draft of Malraux‘s Condition Humaine (Man’s Fate, 1933), or Camus, all of Camus.

Militarily, Jumonville’s brother, Captain Coulon de Villiers, “marched on Fort Necessity on the 3rd of July [1754] and forced Washington to surrender.” (See Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, Wikipedia.) The lex talionis was at work: an eye for an eye. Humanity has been avenging itself for milennia at a huge cost. Historically, the people of New France change masters overnight. I suspect that Sir Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, who passed the Quebec Act of 1774, could tell that the French, the people, did not have to be punished. It is also very refreshing to read Aubert de Gaspé who writes that:

Des deux côtés la bravoure était égale, et quinze mille hommes des meilleures troupes du monde n’attendaient que l’ordre de leurs chefs pour ensanglanter de nouveau les mêmes plaines qui avaient déjà bu le sang de tant de valeureux soldats.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 318)

[The courage of both was beyond question, and fifteen thousand of the best troops in the world only awaited the word of their commanders to spring at each other’s throats.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 201-202).


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Escarmouche de Jumonville Glen
George Washington in the French & Indian War on Vimeo
Jumonville Glen Skirmish · George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Une Colonie féodale en Amérique: l’Acadie 1604 – 17 (Rameau, Google Books)

French and Indian War

© Micheline Walker
24 July 2008

The French and Indian War & The American Revolutionary War



French and Indian War (American Revolution Podcast)

I will be separating the Battle of Quebec, fought in 1775, from battles waged during the French and Indian War. It was an early battle in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). At times, the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War overlap.

We will continue to read Aubert de Gaspé’s Anciens Canadiens. The backdrop of Aubert de Gaspé’s novel is the defeat of New France, but it happened in a multifaceted conflict. For instance, what was George Washington doing at the battle of Jumonville Glen, the first battle of the French and Indian War? Moreover, although the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 miffed future Americans, why would anyone attack Quebec City at the end of December, when it was much too cold. Canadians could protect themselves, but soldiers living in a warmer land were much too vulnerable.

Sources and Resources

Guerre de la Conquête (fr Wikipedia)
Le Siège de Québec, 1759 (fr Wikipedia)
The Conquest of New France (Canadian Encyclopedia)
American Revolution Podcast

Love to everyone 💕

The French and Indian War

© Micheline Walker
20 July 2021

The Battles of Quebec


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The Battle of Sainte-Foy by George B. Campion, watercolour.

I am writing this post for the second time. In his Anciens Canadiens (1863), Aubert de Gaspé describes the 1) Battle of the Plains of Abraham, fought on 13 September 1759. He also describes the 2) Battle of Saint-Foy, fought on 28 April 1760. At Sainte-Foy, the Chevalier de Lévis tried to recapture New France. 3) Moreover, on 31 December 1775, after the fall of New France and the Quebec Act of 1774, the American Continental Army attacked Quebec City. This battle is the only Battle of Quebec. Battles 1 & 2 took place in Quebec City, or nearby. At the Battle of Quebec, revolutionary forces were under the command of General Richard Montgomery, who was killed, and Benedict Arnold, who was wounded. “Daniel Morgan and more than 400 men were taken prisoner.” (See Battle of Quebec 1775, Wikipedia.)

We are at the very beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Future Americans looked upon George III’s Royal Proclamation of 1763 and Guy Carleton’s Quebec Act of 1774 as “intolerable acts.” Future Americans were defeated by a “motley” garrison (see Battle of Quebec, Wikipedia) under the command of Sir Guy Carleton. By virtue of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, future Americans could not settle west of the Thirteen Colonies. As well, because of the Quebec Act of 1774, Canada’s defeated French-speaking population, who lived in a very large Province of Quebec, were unlikely to join American revolutionary forces.

Hostilities : The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War (1754-1763), or hostilities between the French and their Amerindian allies, on the one side, and the British, on the other side, started in the Ohio Country. The first engagement was the Battle of Jumonville Glen (1752). A force of 35 Canadiens was under the command of Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, but Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, a Canadien and a seigneur, was assassinated. The British General was George Washington who was accompanied by the Half King.

The French and Indian War (1754-1763), or hostilities between the French and their Amerindian allies, on the one side, and the British, on the other side, started in the Ohio Country. The first engagement was the Battle of Jumonville Glen (1752). A force of 35 Canadiens was under the command of Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, but Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, a Canadien and a seigneur, was assassinated. The British General, a very young George Washington, was accompanied by the Half King or Tanacharison. A video, embedded below, suggests that Jumonville was killed by the Half King. (See Tanacharison & Battle of Jumonville Glen, Wikipedia.)

The Jumonville Affair: the Half King
Burning of the French ship Prudent and capture of Bienfaisant, during the siege
of Louisbourg in 1758Richard Paton

Engagements other than hostilities in the Ohio country are listed below:

The Battle of Carillon/Battle of Ticonderoga was quite outstanding, from a military point of view. On the French side, Montcalm and Lévis had a force of 3,600 regulars, militia, & Indians. They were opposed, on the British side, by 6,000 regulars, 12,000 provincial troops, rangers, & Indians. The French built a barrier behind branches, foliage, and other obstacles, creating an impossible terrain, and fired at the advancing troops. The Battle of Beauport or Montmorency was fought on 31 July 1759, which bode quite well for the French. But, at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, British forces consisted of 4,400 regulars and colonial rangers opposing a garrison of 3,400 men (1,900 regulars and 1,500 colonial militia and natives). Quebec fell. The battle lasted twenty minutes, and both commanders, thirty-two-year-old James Wolfe, and Louis de Montcalm, aged 47, were fatally wounded. (See Battle of Carillon, Wikipedia.)

Battle of Carillon/Fort Ticonderoga

Cameron of Lochiel, a Highlander, fought at Louisbourg (1758), at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) and at the Battle of Sainte-Foy (1760). As for Jules d’Haberville, he fought at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and at the Battle of Sainte-Foy. The former brothers will be reunited despite Jules’s inimical first reaction.

The Plains of Abraham and the Battle of Sainte-Foy

Aubert de Gaspé describes the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the Battle of Sainte-Foy. Gaspé’s numbers may not be accurate. Moreover, Aubert de Gaspé believes that the French won the Battle of Saint-Foy. So do other sources. In chapter XIV/XIII, Jules d’Haberville and Cameron of Lochiel are reunited and Aubert de Gaspé’s description of the defeated is very eloquent. The defeated are forever defeated.

Vae victis ! dit la sagesse des nations ; malheur aux vaincus ! non seulement à cause des désastres, conséquences naturelles d’une défaite, mais aussi parce que les vaincus ont toujours tort.

Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 314)

[Vae victis! says the wisdom of the nations. Woe to the conquered!—not only because of the ruin which follows defeat, but because the vanquished are always in the wrong.] 

Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 198-199)

At the Battle of Sainte-Foy, fought on 18 April 1760. The French had 5,000 regulars and militia and The British forces consisted of 3,800 men. On the British side, a total of 1,259 men were killed and 829, wounded. Three-quarters of British casualties were Fraser Highlanders. The French lost 146 men and 640 were wounded. Aubert de Gaspé views the Battle of Sainte-Foy as a French victory, but it did not tip the balance at the Treaty of Versailles 1763. France had abandoned its North American colony.

Aubert de Gaspé devotes one chapter to Les Plaines d’Abraham, it is Chapter XIV in the original French text and Chapter XIII (p. 198) in Cameron of Lochiel, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts’s translation. The Plains of Abraham therefore follows the Chapter entitled L’Incendie de la côte du sud which reveals Arché’s struggle as a soldier who is ordered to harm his Canadiens friends. However, continuity is not broken.

– Tu as vaincu, Montgomery ; mes malédictions retombent maintenant sur ma tête ; tu diras que j’ai déserté à l’ennemi ; tu publieras que je suis un traître que tu soupçonnais depuis longtemps. Tu as vaincu, car toutes les apparences sont contre moi. Ta joie sera bien grande, car j’ai tout perdu, même l’honneur.
Et, comme Job, il s’écria :
– Périsse le jour qui m’a vu naître !

Les Anciens Canadiens (XII: p. 280)

[“You have conquered, Montgomery; my curses recoil upon my own head. You will proclaim that I have deserted to the enemy, that I am a traitor as you long suspected. You will rejoice indeed, for I have lost all, even honor.” And like Job, he cursed the day that he was born.]

Cameron of Lochiel (XI: 218-219)

As a soldier, Arché is rehabilitated in the Battle of Quebec.

De Locheill s’était vengé noblement des soupçons injurieux à sa loyauté, que son ennemi Montgomery avait essayé d’inspirer aux officiers supérieurs de l’armée britannique. Ses connaissances étendues, le temps qu’il consacrait à l’étude de sa nouvelle profession, son aptitude à tous les exercices militaires, sa vigilance aux postes qui lui étaient confiés, sa sobriété, lui valurent d’abord l’estime générale ; et son bouillant courage, tempéré néanmoins par la prudence dans l’attaque des lignes françaises à Montmorency, et sur le champ de bataille du 13 septembre 1759, fut remarqué par le général Murray, qui le combla publiquement de louanges.

Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: pp. 321-322)

[Lochiel had cleared himself nobly of the suspicions which his foe, Montgomery, had sought to fix upon203 him. His wide knowledge, his zeal in the study of his profession, his skill in all military exercises, his sobriety, his vigilance when in guard of a post, all these had put him high in esteem. His dashing courage tempered with prudence in the attack on the French lines at Montmorency and on the field of the first Battle of the Plains had been noticed by General Murray, who commended him publicly.]

Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 202-204)


I will break here. The battles have been listed. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) and the Battle of Sainte-Foy 1760). I may separate the Battle of Quebec (1775) from the battles fought during the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

After the battles come sorrowful souls seeking redemption.


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Une Colonie féodale en Amérique: l’Acadie 1604 – 17 (Rameau, Google Books)


Love to everyone 💕

New France (Google)

© Micheline Walker
19 July 2021
updated 20 July 2021

Les Anciens Canadiens & the Noble Savage


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Aubert de Gaspé’s old manoir at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, where he wrote Les Anciens Canadiens at the age of 76.

In Chapter X/IX of Les Anciens Canadiens, monsieur d’Egmont speaks about an Iroquois who does not like a building located in New York. In the large building an Iroquois examines, “sauvages” who have not paid the white man are incarcerated and cannot therefore catch beaver pelts to repay their debt. Their hands are tied. However, I have not quoted the Good Gentleman’ full statement. The bon gentilhomme believes that civilization thwarts the human mind, in which the novel uses the myth of the Noble Savage :[1]

Une chose m’a toujours frappé : c’est que la civilisation fausse le jugement des hommes, et qu’en fait de sens commun, de gros bon sens, que l’on doit s’attendre à rencontrer dans la cervelle de tout être civilisé (j’en excepte pourtant les animaux domestiques qui reçoivent leur éducation dans nos familles), le sauvage lui est bien supérieur. En voici un exemple assez amusant. Un Iroquois contemplait, il y a quelques années, à New-York, un vaste édifice d’assez sinistre apparence ; ses hauts murs, ses fenêtres grillées l’intriguaient beaucoup : c’était une prison. Arrive un magistrat.
– Le visage pâle veut-il dire à son frère, fit l’Indien, à quoi sert ce grand wigwam?
– C’est là qu’on renferme les peaux-rouges qui refusent de livrer les peaux de castor qu’ils doivent aux marchands.

Les Anciens Canadiens (X: p. 232)

[“It has always struck me that civilization warps men’s judgment, and makes them inferior to primitive races in mere common sense and simple equity. Let me give you an amusing instance. Some years ago, in New York, an Iroquois was gazing intently at a great, forbidding structure. Its lofty walls and iron-bound windows interested him profoundly. It was a prison. A magistrate came up.
“‘Will the pale face tell his brother what this great wigwam is for?’ asked the Indian. The citizen swelled out his chest and answered with an air of importance: “
“‘It is there we shut up the red-skins who refuse to pay the furs which they owe our merchants.'”]

Cameron of Lochiel (IX: 147-149)

One can understand that Aubert de Gaspé (1786-1871) would look upon Amerindians with kindness. Le bon gentilhomme is a fictionalized Aubert de Gaspé. Aubert de Gaspé was too generous and did not realize at which point he started loaning money he did not have. Had monsieur d’Egmont not given his entire property, within ten years, one of the houses he owned would have repaid his debt in full. Authorities waited before incarcerating Aubert de Gaspé, but he was imprisoned and unable to help his two sick children. He was careless and wanted to repay authorities. However, in 1841, after nearly four years of detention, he was heard by authorities and released.

Aubert de Gaspé was not a seigneur during the years he spent in a prison. His mother was the seigneuresse de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Quebec had its nobility and many feared being sent back to France. Several died when l’Auguste, a ship, sank as a storm raged. However, Aubert de Gaspé would be a seigneur after his mother’s death. He would be the last seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. The Seigneurial System was abolished in 1854, before Aubert de Gaspé published his book (1863).

Interestingly, Aubert de Gaspé fictionalized himself as le bon gentilhomme, the Good Gentleman, the man who was too severely punished, and, as Jules, an image of innocence. It is as though le bon gentilhomme, monsieur d’Egmont, had seen Jules loan money he did not have to a person who had kicked him. To help Dubuc, Jules borrows money from Madeleine who has a debt of gratitude, but gratitude is rare.

The novel is historical and autobiographical. But it is also a cautionary tale. Le bon gentilhomme wants to tell his story to Jules, so Jules’s generosity does not lead him astray (II: pp.22… ) (I: 22-26). (Aubert de Gaspé experienced rulings that did not take into account his good character and extenuating circumstances. In 1841, Aubert de Gaspé was freed after nearly four years of detention. His conviction was not legally unjust, but it was “unfair” and disloyal. Therefore, Aubert de Gaspé uses the myth of the Noble Savage, a soul untainted by civilization. Moreover, the bon sauvage is at hand. Nouvelle-France was home to Amerindians.

Incarcerating a good man, monsieur d’Egmont, le bon gentilhomme, is discordant. Discordant is a term I have borrowed from Maurice Lemire, the editor of my copy of Les Anciens Canadiens. In Les Anciens Canadiens, the uncivilized are Europeans, not the natives of New France. One remembers the Jesuit Relations and Lahontan‘s Noble savage. Les Anciens Canadiens attacks civilized men. Montgomery who orders Arché to burn his friends’ manoir is inferior to the “Noble Savage.” Aubert de Gaspé’s fate, imprisonment, may be legal, but it is disloyal, and given his fault, detention is discordant. We can therefore situate Aubert de Gaspé’s novel among literary works pertaining to the myth of the Noble Savage. It is close to the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau viewed man in the state of nature as good, at times because of a Social Contract, but Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan pictured man in the state of nature as a horrible zoomorphic serpent.

It should be noted, moreover that the wars Nouvelle France fought with or on behalf of Amerindians were exhausting. Our visitor to New York is an Iroquois, an Amerindian confederacy allied to the British. The French were allied mostly to the Hurons-Wendats. In chapter VII/VI, le capitaine d’Haberville is described as battled wearied:

Le seigneur d’Haberville avait à peine quarante-cinq ans, mais il accusait dix bonnes années de plus, tant les fatigues de la guerre avaient usé sa constitution d’ailleurs si forte et si robuste : ses devoirs de capitaine d’un détachement de la marine l’appelaient presque constamment sous les armes. Ces guerres continuelles dans les forêts, sans autre abri, suivant l’expression énergique des anciens Canadiens, que la rondeur du ciel, ou la calotte des cieux ; ces expéditions de découvertes, de surprises, contre les Anglais et les sauvages, pendant les saisons les plus rigoureuses, altéraient bien vite les plus forts tempéraments.

Les Anciens Canadiens (VII: pp. 155-156)

[The Seigneur D’Haberville was scarcely forty-five years old, but the toils of war had so told on his constitution that he looked a good ten years older. His duties as captain in the Colonial Marine kept him constantly under arms. The ceaseless forest warfare, with no shelter,104 according to the stern Canadian custom, except the vault of heaven, the expeditions of reconnoissance or surprise against the Iroquois or against the English settlements, carried on during the severest weather, produced their speedy effect on the strongest frames.]

Cameron of Lochiel (VI: 103-105)

We meet our first Amerindian, a Huron, at Trois-Saumons River. When he arrives at monsieur d’Egmont’s cottage, he is ill. Monsieur d’Egmont and André Francœur look after him for several weeks. Four years later, when he has nearly been forgotten, he visits Monsieur d’Egmont carrying a fortune in pelts, moccassins, and other valuable products the French cherished.

Ce n’était pas le même homme que j’avais vu dans un si piteux état : il était vêtu splendidement, et tout annonçait chez lui le grand guerrier et le grand chasseur, qualités inséparables chez les naturels de l’Amérique du Nord. Lui et son compagnon déposèrent, dans un coin de ma chambre, deux paquets de marchandises de grande valeur : car ils contenaient les pelleteries les plus riches, les plus brillants mocassins brodés en porc-épic, les ouvrages les plus précieux en écorce, et d’autres objets dont les sauvages font commerce avec nous. Je le félicitai alors sur la tournure heureuse qu’avaient prise ses affaires.

Les Anciens Canadiens (X: pp. 224-225)

[“I had entirely forgotten my Indian, when about four years later he arrived at my door, accompanied by another savage. I could scarcely recognize him. He was spendidly clad, and everything about him bespoke the great hunter and the mighty warrior. In one corner of my room he and his companion laid down two bundles of merchandise of great value—the richest furs, moccasins splendidly embroidered with porcupine quills, and exquisite pieces of work in birch bark, such as the Indians alone know how to make. I congratulated him upon the happy turn his affairs had taken.]

Cameron of Lochiel (IX: 143-145)

Écoute, mon frère, me dit-il, et fais attention à mes paroles. Je te dois beaucoup, et je suis venu payer mes dettes. Tu m’as sauvé la vie, car tu connais bonne médecine. Tu as fait plus, car tu connais aussi les paroles qui entrent dans le cœur: d’un chien d’ivrogne que j’étais, je suis redevenu l’homme que le Grand Esprit a créé. Tu étais riche, quand tu vivais de l’autre côté du grand lac. Ce wigwam est trop étroit pour toi : construis-en un qui puisse contenir ton grand cœur. Toutes ces marchandises t’appartiennent.

Les Anciens Canadiens (X: p. 225)

[“‘Listen to me, my brother,’ said he. ‘I owe you much, and I am come to pay my debt. You saved my life, for you know good medicine. You have done more, for you know the words which reach the heart; dog of a drunkard as I was, I am become once more a man as I was created by the Great Spirit. You were rich when you lived beyond the great water. This wigwam is too small for you; build one large enough to hold your great heart. All these goods belong to you,’] 

Cameron of Lochiel (IX: 144-145)

Cameron of Lochiel (Gutenberg)

Le bon gentilhomme is moved to tears. Gratitude is a quality lacking in the individuals to whom he loaned money. Our Noble Savage, returns to the Trois-Saumons River carrying precious gifts: pelts, moccasins, and other goods. Monsieur d’Egmont could build a much better wigwam by selling the pelts and other riches the Noble Savage has brought. But he chooses otherwise. A priest will distribute among the needy the riches the grateful Amerindian has brought to thank the God Gentleman.

The War

Ironically, le bon gentilhomme’s cottage will be home to the d’Habervilles after their manoir is destroyed by fire and Quebec City house, destroyed. Arché’s superior, Montgomery, orders Arché to set fire to every house.

– Mais, dit le jeune officier, qui était Écossais, faut-il incendier aussi les demeures de ceux qui n’opposent aucune résistance ? On dit qu’il ne reste que des femmes, des vieillards et des enfants dans ces habitations.

[“But,” said the young officer, who was a Scotchman, “must I burn the dwellings of those who offer no resistance? They say there is no one left in these houses except old men, women, and children.”]

Il me semble, monsieur, reprit le major 265 Montgomery, que mes ordres sont bien clairs et précis ; vous mettrez le feu à toutes les habitations de ces chiens de Français que vous rencontrerez sur votre passage. Mais j’oubliais votre prédilection pour nos ennemis !

Les Anciens Canadiens (XII: pp. 265-266)

[“I think, sir,” replied Major Montgomery, “that my orders are quite clear. You will set fire to every house belonging to these dogs of Frenchmen. I had forgotten your weakness for our enemies.”
“Every house you come across belonging to these dogs of Frenchmen, set fire to it. I will follow you a little later.”]

Cameron of Lochiel (XI: 169-170)

The Noble Savage has returned:

– Voilà donc, s’écria-t-il [Arché] avec amertume, les fruits de ce que nous appelons code d’honneur chez les nations civilisées ! Sont-ce là aussi les fruits des préceptes qu’enseigne l’Évangile à tous ceux qui professent la religion chrétienne, cette religion toute d’amour et de pitié, même pour des ennemis. Si j’eusse fait partie d’une expédition commandée par un chef de ces aborigènes que nous traitons de barbares sur cet hémisphère, et que je lui eusse dit : « Épargne cette maison, car elle appartient à mes amis ; j’étais errant et fugitif, et ils m’ont accueilli dans leur famille, où j’ai trouvé un père et des frères », le chef indien m’aurait répondu : « C’est bien, épargne tes amis ; il n’y a que le serpent qui mord ceux qui l’ont réchauffé près de leur feu. »

Les Anciens Canadiens (XII: pp. 276-277)

[“Behold,” said he, “the fruits of what we call the code of honor of civilized nations! Are these the fruits of Christianity, that religion of compassion which teaches us to love even our enemies? If my commander were one of these savage chiefs, whom we treat as barbarians, and I had said to him: ‘Spare this house, for it belongs to my friends. I was a wanderer and a fugitive, and they took me in and gave me a father and a brother,’ the Indian chief would have answered: ‘It is well; spare your friends; it is only the viper that stings the bosom that has warmed it.’]

Cameron of Lochiel (XI: 176-177)


Jules and Arché (Cameron of Lochiel)’s friendship will survive the War. However, Aubert de Gaspé needed the bon sauvage. New France’s Amerindians were friends of the French, but there is no entity called the Noble Savage. It is an image and a wish. However, Amerindians have a great deal of common sense. I quite agree with the Jesuits who saw Amerindians as good persons who did not need to be converted. Yet, they continued their work as missionary and a few fell victims to the Iroquois who, as noted above, were friends of the British. La Grande-Loutre is an Iroquois. The Iroquois confederacy were allies of the British and protected by the British. The French were allies of the Hurons-Wendats and protected the Hurons-Wendats.

Aubert de Gaspé went further in the rehabilitation of the defeated French. Not only did he feature the Noble Savage, but he created Cameron of Lochiel, a Scot, whose father fought at Culloden. Arché will move to Canada and have a house built, half of wish will be Dumais’s home. He saved Dumais ‘s life who saved Archie from torture and death when the Iroquois captured him. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 will be the Amerindians’s “precedent,” and is included in the 1982 Constitution Act, Canada.

As for the Quebec Act of 1774,[2] it constitutes a “precedent” to a bilingual Canada. The French in America did not attempt to assimilate Amerindians. Monsieur d’Egmont and André Francœur have in fact left France, Europe being too civilized, to live among natives. Jules and Cameron of Lochiel will remain friends. Some of Aubert de Gaspé’s children would marry the Scots, or the English. It is not treason, but a legitimate and realistic wish to take part in the political life of Canada. Finally, persons whose origins are not the same may fall in love. The French in Quebec were happy to have escaped the French Revolution. This reaction, however, was often dictated by the clergy and the seigneurs. At any rate, Canadians must clean up a mess: Residential Schools, the remnants of Imperialism.

I will write briefly about the Battles, but I have already done so in Canadiana.1. I must include Les Anciens Canadiens‘s Plains of Abraham.


Sources and Resources

Les Anciens Canadiens ( FR
Cameron of Lochiel ( ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Une Colonie féodale en Amérique: l’Acadie 1604 – 17 (Rameau, Google Books)


[1]Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Noble savage”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Apr. 2019, Accessed 14 July 2021.
[2]Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Quebec Act”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 Jul. 2016, Accessed 14 July 2021.

Love to everyone 💕

Céline Dion chante “S’il suffisait d’aimer” (If love were enough)
The Province of Quebec in 1774.

© Micheline Walker
15 June 2021