Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan

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Testing

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.

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The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn

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Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020
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Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings

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

Background

  • 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.

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L’Avare (www.gettyimages.fr)

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]

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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]

Doublings

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]

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

Comments

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]

Conclusion

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

RELATED ARTICLES

Molière

Commedia dell’arte

Farce

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 toutmoliere.net 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

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[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

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L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (liveauctioneers.com)

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016
WordPress

Quebec Folklore: Celtic Roots

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La Chasse-galerie par Henri Julien, 1906 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been editing older posts and have noticed that some videos feature singers and fiddlers who let their feet dance. There are similarities between Celtic music and French Canadian folklore. Nicolas Pellerin dances: podorythmie.

French Canada also has fiddlers, as do many cultures, as well as legends. La Chasse-galerie is one such legend. Honoré Beaugrand wrote its finest telling. It is rooted in French legends. I will look for translations or retell the legends.

In the area of folklore, our best source could be the Voyageur Heritage Community Journal & Resource Guide (WordPress).

Les Rencontres Esca, Nicolas Pellerin & Les Grands Hurleurs
Nicolas Pellerin et Les Grands Hurleurs La Lurette en colère

© Micheline Walker
23 October 2020
WordPress

Would that Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine …

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Paysage à Québec
Marc-Aurèle Fortin Paysage à Québec (Galerie Alan Klinkhoff)

Baldwin and LaFontaine: Union

The victory of the Reform Party on 24 January 1848 was one of the most significant in Canadian history.

Baldwin, LaFontaine and Responsible Government, The Canadian Encyclopedia

English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are not incompatible. Lord Durham suggested an assimilative Union, but Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, the Reformers, mapped out a genuine union.

Therefore, would that Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine had been alive when Confederation occurred. Confederation had French-speaking opponents, but several French Canadians wanted to join Confederation and Sir George-Étienne Cartier had good reasons to persuade his province to enter into a strong partnership: Confederation.

But …

When the ancestral thirty acres (trente arpents) could no longer be divided or were too expensive to puchase; when, moreover, there was no prospect of employment in Quebec, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 French-speaking Canadians and Acadians left for the United States. Le curé Labelle asked farmers to go north and make land (faire de la terre), but many couldn’t. This period of Canadian history is called the exodus.

When Québécois fully realize the harm John A. Macdonald inflicted on 1) Amerindians, 2) French Canadians, and, to a large extent, on 3) English-speaking Canadians, they must stay calm. All must stay calm.

We have a future to build, and it must be built harmoniously.

About Covid-19

A word on Covid-19. Quebec and other Canadian provinces have entered the second wave of the Covid-19 crisis. Let us protect one another and make sure that people do not resort to suicide. Losing one’s position is a terrible affliction, but this is a crisis and governments must help. People are afraid. My little area of Quebec is a pale yellow zone, but that will probably change. Quebec City, Québec’s capital, is the current epicentre of the pandemic in this province. However, it seems Covid-19 will not spare anyone. I’ve been indoors since early March. It isn’t good. Yet, I pity those who must go out. Let us help one another.

A few novels tell about the exodus and the many obstacles French Canadians had to face. These are:

I have written posts about all four novels. Besides, these are novels I have taught. As you know, my teaching-load was very wide: six areas. It was all but lethal. I also created language-lab components.

L’Appel du Nord by Jack Warwick (Érudit series)
Textes de l’Exode (David Hayne‘s article)
Le Développement des idéologies au Québec by Denis Monière (Érudit series)

Love to everyone 💕

Les Charbonniers de l’enfer chantent Le Combat de la Danaé

© Micheline Walker
22 Octobre 2020
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Canadiana Pages

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Pine Island, Georgian Bay by Tom Thomson (1914–1916) (Google Images)

I was writing a post that was erased. So I will be brief. I have started to edit my Canadiana pages: 1 and 2. To a significant extent, literature is written in a context. It may not be a clear product of its time nor a clear product of an author’s life, but it doesn’t stand in a void. For instance, there are elements such as intertextualité, archetypes, genres, modes, themes, and an author and his time.

The two pages listing posts on French Canada contain the title of literary works reflecting the history of French Canada. They require a little dusting. Much has happened since 2012, when many of these posts were written.

Let me locate my two pages.

Canadiana.1
Canadiana.2

This music, by Alexander Glazunov, was used in a series of television programmes. I remember loving Glazunov and the television programme.

The Seasons, Op 67: Autumn.

Portrait of Glazunov by Ilya Repin, 1887 (Google Images)

© Micheline Walker
18 October 2020
WordPress

Maps of Canada

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The Jack Pine, by Tom Thomson (1916)

1. The Quebec Act, 1774

New France fell to Britain in 1759 (Quebec City), 1760 (Montreal), and by virtue of the Treaty of Paris, 1763. The Quebec Act (1774) gave French-speaking Canadians a status that approximated the status of English-speaking Canadians. The Governor of Canada was Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester.

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The Quebec Act, 1774

2. The Constitutional Act, 1791

After the American Revolutionary War, the United Empire Loyalists moved to Canada. The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the large province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Most of the inhabitants of Upper Canada spoke English. In Lower Canada, the majority of Canadians were French-speaking (Canadiens). English-speaking newcomers also settled in Lower Canada. The Eastern Townships would be home to a large number of English-speaking Canadians. But many French-speaking Canadians felt Lower Canada was their land.

Both the citizens of Upper Canada and Lower Canada rebelled in 1837-1838. The Crown levied money from its British North American colonies.

The Constitutional Act, 1791

3. The Act of Union, 1840

Lord Durham investigated the Rebellions of 1837-1838. He recommended the union of the two Canadas. He hoped English-speaking Canadians would outnumber French-speaking Canadians.

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The Act of Union, 1840

4. Confederation Onwards

The Purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company transformed Canada into a large territory.

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Confederation, 1867 +

5. Canada, as it is

Map of Canada
Canada (2020)

Love to everyone 💕

© Micheline Walker
15 October 2020
WordPress

Canada’s First Prime Minister(s)

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Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine


In his Report on the Affairs of British North America, or Rebellions of 1837-1838, John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham‘s main recommendation was the Union of the two Canadas. In a large Province of Canada, it was hoped that the English-speaking Canadians would become a majority. However, no sooner was the Act of Union passed (1840) and implemented (1841) than two gentlemen, Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, started to create a bilingual and bicultural Canada. As well, when Louis-Hyppolyte LaFontaine first addressed the Assembly, he spoke French and then switched to English. One of Lord Durham‘s recommendations was that the language of the Assembly be English. Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine’s use of French was not opposed and it created a precedent. When Confederation was signed, the languages of Parliament would be English and French. He would be Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine.

A Responsible Government

Moreover, in 1848, Lord Elgin asked Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine to form a ministry that would be a responsible government. In the meantime, Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine had been mapping a bilingual and bicultural Province of Canada. Both retired in 1851.

In other words, Canada had a responsible government 16 years before Confederation was signed. Confederation was the crowning event in a quest that began when the large Province of Quebec was divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. However, in 1867, French-speaking Canadians signed a document, the Constitution of Canada, Confederation, that precluded their living outside Quebec, if they wanted to be educated in French.

Confederation: Rupert’s Land

Another precedent rooted in the Act of Union, and the most unfortunate for French-speaking Canadians, was Lord Durham’s hope that French-speaking Canadians would become a minority in the large Province of Canada. The Province of Canada was a short-lived administration. It lasted a mere sixteen (16) years, which did not allow English-speaking Canadians to become more numerous than French-speaking Canadians.

However, matters would differ after the B.N.A (British North America) Act (1867) was passed. The B.N.A. Act federated Ontario (Canada West), Quebec (Canada East), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Once the Confederation joined the four provinces purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada could stretch from sea to sea, which it did. British Columbia was promised an intercontinental railroad, a promise that brought it into Confederation, on 10 July 1871. By the turn of the century, the province of Quebec had become one of nine (9) provinces, and, with the addition of Newfoundland (1949), it could become one of ten (10) provinces. where French-speaking Canadians could not be educated in French. The above is somewhat repetitive, but beginning in 1837-1838, English Canadians and French Canadians sought responsible government, not division.

After Confederation, Quebec was one of a handful of provinces and soon the only province where French-speaking Canadians could be educated in French. Until 1998, Montreal had its Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal. It was founded in 1951 as a replacement for the Montreal Protestant Central Board. (See Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, Wikipedia.) Quebec has been officially unilingual since 1974, under Robert Bourassa (Bill-22), but, despite its status, English-speaking Canadians residing in Quebec can live a lifetime without knowing French.

The War of 1812

The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.

Thomas Jefferson in War of 1812, the Encyclopedia Britannica

Yet, English speaking and French speaking Canadians had acquired a sense of identity sooner than Lord Durham had expected. To a significant extent, the Act of Quebec (1774) had put French Canadians on the same footing as English-speaking citizens of the colony. My best example would be the War of 1812. Amerindians fought for their waning freedom. Tecumseh joined the group. Richard Pierpoint assembled a Coloured Corps. He was born a free man and would die a free man. As for French Canadians, they had been conquered some 50 years before the War of 1812, yet, the Voltigeurs, under the command of Major Charles de Salaberry, proved a fine regiment.

Bataille de Châteauguay, 1813 by Henri Julien (1852 – 1908). During the Battle of Châteauguay, de Salaberry (centre) led local fenciblesmilitia, and Mohawk warriors against American forces. From a lithograph published in Le Journal de Dimanche on June 241884. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conclusion

It saddens me that an effort was made to impede French-speaking Canada’s growth, but New France had been a colony, and Britain was a colonist. The inhabitants of planet Earth share affinities that override ethnicity, which is the story Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine told us and which is one of the finest Canadian stories.

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

Rebellions of 1837-1838 (Wikipedia)
Rébellions de 1837-1838 (Wikipedia)
various entries

Bibliography

1 Monière, Denis. Le Développement des idéologies au Québec, Montréal, Québec/Amérique, 1977.
2 Proteet, Maurice, directeur. Textes de l’exode, Guérin littérature, collection francophonie, 1987.

Love to everyone 💕

Les Voltigeurs “play” Calixa Lavallée‘s Ô Canada (1880), Canada’s National Anthem. Basile Routhier wrote the French lyrics.

© Micheline Walker
14 October 2020
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Micheline’s Microsoft Account

Silkscreen for rare 1949 Mural Scrolls by Joan Miró

Microsoft will disconnect me on 15 October 2020. No, I can’t remember my password. My memory is failing me and Microsoft is a monopoly. They have suggested I purchase Office 365 once again. But I can no longer purchase Microsoft Office. That will not work. They will still ask for my smartphone number which is disabled. I cannot operate a smartphone. I need a cell phone for seniors. I have been up until 4 o’clock in the morning trying to remember. I have a phone number: 819 791-2447, if my memory serves me well.

I would like them to phone me until I purchase a cell phone I can operate. Smartphones will not work for me. I’m at a loss with technologies. I’ll have to purchase a phone for seniors.

My friend John sent me an email. He says I must return my hair to a dark colour. It was jet black. My hair and my face do not match. I’ve aged slowly. That picture is the real me. I’m not even wearing make up.

There is more to say about Confederation. Precedents influence a new constitution. The Constitution of 1867 is online. Article 93 and 133 of the Constitution stem from precedents. They were repeated in the Act of Union (1840/1841).

Given that I am long-winded, paragraphs were eliminated from the post I published yesterday. It doesn’t harm the post and the current length probably means that it will be read be very few people.

Lord Durham resigned his position because his report was criticized by Parliament.

I had also written that the Rebellions of 1837-1838 have been classified as Atlantic Revolutions. These include the French Revolution, the American Revolutionary War, and the European wars of 1848. These were rebellions against oligarchies (the few ruling the many) or colonial powers helping themselves to money levied in the Colonies.

The most violent event stemming from Lord Durham’s report is the terrorist branch of the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec). Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau put an end to what could have generated more violence. Prime Ministre Pierre Elliott Trudeau was an extraordinary leader. That unfortunate event is known as the October Crisis.

I have inserted my latest posts on Quebec in Canadiana 1. It’s a page.

My posts can be very long.

Conclusion

We cannot change the past, but we have a future we can shape.

© Micheline Walker
7 October 2020
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About Confederation, cont’d

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Le Patriote par Henri Julien, 1904

British North America as a Colony of Britain

Let me open this post by saying that the Constitution of 1867, or BNA Act, Confederation, was an act of Britain’s parliament. Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), as well as the Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) were colonies of Britain. The Rebellions of 1837-1838 opposed Canadians and the Crown, not English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians.

L’A.A.N.B. est une loi du Parlement britannique, il ne résulte pas de la volonté des peuples du Canada, mais de la volonté d’appropriation d’un appareil d’État par la bourgeoisie canadienne.”
[The BNA Act is a law of the British Parliament, it does not represent the will of the people(s) of Canada, but the will, on the part of the Canadian bourgeoisie, to take over the Government.]

Denis Monière1

So, I repeat, the Rebellions of 1837-1838 did not oppose English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. Canadians rebelled against the Crown and the Canadian bourgeoisie: the Family Compact and the Château Clique.

Lord Durham’s Investigation & Recommendations

After the Rebellions of 1837-1838 (Lord Durham), which occurred in both Upper Canada (Toronto) and Lower Canada (Montreal), John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham (Lord Durham) was asked to investigate matters. He spent about five months in Canada devoting two weeks to an investigation of Upper Canada. He nevertheless produced a Report on the Rebellions and made recommendations. There were many, but they can be summed up as follows:

  • the Union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada,
  • a responsible government for Canada, and, a matter often omitted,
  • the use of English in the Assembly.

The Act of Union was passed in 1840, and implemented, in 1841. Upper Canada and Lower Canada became the Province of Canada and remained a colony of Britain.

The British intended that this policy would facilitate assimilation of the French, but the French, led by such astute reform leaders as Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine, took advantage of divisions among the English-speaking legislators by allying themselves with the reformers from Canada West to push for responsible government and to make themselves indispensable for governmental stability.

See The Union of Canada, the Encyclopædia Britannica.3

However, Robert Balwin and Louis-Hippolyte faced opposition.

Realizing he [Sydenham] had almost no support in Lower Canada (at this time Canada East), he reorganised electoral ridings to give the Anglo-Canadian population more votes, and in areas where that was infeasible, he allowed English mobs to beat up French candidates. Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine was one such candidate who suffered from Sydenham’s influence; Lafontaine eventually left Canada East to work with Robert Baldwin in creating a fairer union for both sides. The new constitution, after being carried through the colonial parliaments and ratified by the House of Commons, came into force on 10 February 1841. It led ultimately to the great confederation of 1867.

See Baron Sydenham, Wikipedia.

Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine were friends. In fact, Robert Baldwin arrange for Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine to run for office in in York (Toronto) and La Fontaine won his seat.

Matters changed when three or four provinces of British North America confederated. The Province of Canada had been Upper and Lower Canada, which explains the conflicting totals of three and four. Moreover, when Confederation was passed, the Province of Canada became Ontario and Quebec, which delighted George-Étienne Cartier. French Canadians were fond of their Lower Canada whose inhabitants were not exclusively French-Canadians. Wolfred Nelson would be a mayor of Montreal.

In short, what I wish to stress is that English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians have seldom, if ever, attacked one another. Yes, as noted above, Lord Sydenham “allowed English mobs to beat up French candidates.” (See Lord Sydenham, Wikipedia). Louis Riel pushed back the armed surveyors ready to divide the Red River Settlement, bought by the Earl of Selkirk. But, truth be told, Canadians were not enclined to attack one another. There have been tensions between linguistic groups and a few bad moments, but in 1837-1838 patriots and patriotes were Canadians fighting Britain. They were led by William Lyon Mackenzie, in Upper Canada, and by Louis-Joseph Papineau, a Seigneur in Lower Canada. Papineau was also the leader of the Parti canadien. The party was the first political party in Canada and was first led by Pierre-Stanislas Bédard.

However, the Rebellion was more severe in Lower Canada. It appears the British were forwarned and Louis-Joseph Papineau, the leader of the Parti canadien, led ended up leading the patriotes. Papineau was very articulate

Defeat

  • hangings and exile
  • Un Canadien errant

However, the rebels were defeated. At the conclusion of the Rebellions many were saddened. Several patriots or patriotes were hanged or exiled. Both William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau fled Canada. In 1842, Antoine Gérin-Lajoie composed Un Canadien errant. Few songs express in so poignant a manner the profound grief of the exiled. Editor and author Eugène Achard suggested that the song could be the National Anthem of Acadians.2 Acadians agreed. As well, for French-speaking Canadians, the Act of Union was a loss. French Canadians, called Canadiens, were quite comfortable in their Lower Canada, a land where they were a majority, but shared with people of different origins. The Act of Union took it away. It created a large Province of Canada were French-speaking Canadians were expected to become a minority and be assimilated.

Minorisation and Precedents

I have been asking why Protestants could be educated in English in Quebec, while French Canadians could not be educated in French outside Quebec, thereby becoming a minority. First, there was a precedent. By joining Upper Canada and Lower Canada, it was hoped that the English would be a majority.

Minorisation didn’t happen in the Earl of Durham’s Province of Canada, but it would happen in a federated Canada. English-speaking Canadians did not choose to be a majority, but in 9 of 10 provinces, waves of immigrants were educated in English. The Earl of Durham’s Province of Canada, where French Canadians were expected to constitute a minority presaged a federation that excludes the French and the Catholics. Ironically, in 1849, Papineau championed “rep. by pop.”4

The Act of Union had set precedents to the Constitution of 1867. There would be no separate schools for French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec, (article 93 of the Constitution of 1867), but Parliament was bilingual (article 133). Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine had spoken French, a precedent. But Ottawa was located immediately next of Quebec. One crossed a bridge. Quebec would have a role to play in Ottawa, which is the path Sir Wilfrid Laurier used.

G.-É. Cartier’s “here and now”

George-Étienne Cartier liked Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy. Canadians would be included in a government he favoured. He had belonged to the parti bleu (the Liberals), but had switched to the parti rouge (the Conservatives). Confederation would protect Canadians from expansionnist Americans. As well, the clergy was on the side of Confederation. The Province of Canada had 48 French-speaking representatives, députés. When the matter of Confederation was put to a vote, 26 approved and 22 didn’t. Then came railways…

An Exchange

Conversely, French Canadians provided Canada with a mythic past. It had legends Sir Ernest MacMillan set to music. Louis Riel is a major Canadian figure, and the Canadian martyrs have become American martyrs. As well, in his Report, Lord Durham was very unsympathetic to French Canadians. They didn’t have a history nor did they have a literature. French Canadians responded by creating a literature in French, their patrie littéraire, or literary homeland. That is all well, but immigrants to Canada settled in provinces west of Quebec and were educated in English. One “does the math.”

Conclusion

A will to assimilate French Canadians underlies the Earl of Durham’s report and the Act of Union, his main recommendation. The Province of Canada is a prelude to Confederation. Statues of John A. Macdonald are in storage and, having researched this post, I suspect Lord Durham’s demeaning view of French-speaking informs both the Act of Union and the Constitution of 1867, Confederation.

But I love my Canada, from coast to coast.

Love to everyone 💕

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

Acadia (Wikipedia)
Canada (the Encyclopædia Britannica)
Uvic.ca.courses (J. M. Bliss ed., Canadian History in Documents, 1763-1996 [Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1996], pp. 49-62.)
CBC Canada: History
Lord Durham’s Report (Wikisource)

Lord Durham
John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

1 Denis Monière, Le Développement des Idéologies au Québec (Montréal, Québec/Amérique, 1977), p. 199.

2 Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Récit d’Acadie : présence d’une absence », in Édouard Langille et Glenn Moulaison, Les Abeilles pilottent,* mélanges offerts à René LeBlanc (Pointe de l’Église, Revue de l’Université Sainte-Anne, 1998), pp. 255-275.
*The title refers to Montaigne‘s opinion on education (See L’Encyclopédie de l’Agora).

3 Canada, Ralph R. KruegerRoger D. Hall and Others (See All Contributors) Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. September 29, accessed on 6th October 2020)2020)
https://www.britannica.com/place/Canada

4 Denis Monière, Op. Cit. p. 200.

5 Bourbeau-Walker, M. (2002). La patrie littéraire : errance et résistance.
Francophonies d’Amérique, (13), 47–65. https://doi.org/10.7202/1005247ar

Alan Mills sings Un Canadien errant

© Micheline Walker
6 Octobre 2020
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Strange Days

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Honfleur par Félix Vallotton, 1901 (Wikipedia)
Rocamandour 1925 (WikiArt)

First, I would like to say that I’m very sorry President Trump and the First Lady, Melania, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It is a life-threatening illness, and it happened on the eve of the election of a president of the United States. Yes, President Trump denied the illness, but so did millions around the world. Who can imagine so tenacious a virus as the novel coronavirus? It is best to believe a genuine problem has arisen, just in case. Many feel that the compulsory use of a mask is an infringement on their liberty. It’s prudence.

Second, and rather humbling, I was unable to remember my password to Microsoft, except for four digits. I had just acquired a smartphone, which became an obstacle. I had never used a smartphone and it seems the number had been disabled. They would not use an ordinary phone and the one I have has a new number. I did enter the correct number several times, but I was suddenly required to purchase Office 365. So, I started to worry. Microsoft should ask for a person’s consent before using a credit card. What if a new purchase does not cancel a previous one?

I have used the art of Swiss French artist Félix Vallotton. He was one of the Nabis, but they parted ways. L’Affaire Dreyfus may have been a source of division. (See Félix Vallotton, Wikipedia.) I should list posts I wrote in 2013.

Love to everyone 💕

Félix Vallotton

© Micheline Walker
3 Octobre 2020
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A Birthday Dinner & Confederation

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Micheline on John’s birthday, 22nd December 2019

I’m sending a photograph of me. It was taken by my friend John on his birthday which happens to be three days before Christmas. My dear friend Paulina and I drove to Magog to celebrate. We brought cake, wine and other goodies. But John insisted on cooking the meal, including his version of a French Canadian tourtière.

John has white hair, but mine is grey. Paulina’s is black. We are ageing.

As for my long absence from my blog, it was caused by a password catastrophe. My memory is not as good as it was, so passwords have become a major nuisance. I live alone, and no one else uses my computer. Would that I didn’t have to remember passwords!

Canadian Confederation

I have been working on the Canadian Confederation, but have yet to publish my post. It is difficult to understand why French-speaking Canadians could not be educated in French outside Quebec. New France was “conquered,” but did this mean that French-speaking Canadians had to be confined to one province in order to be educated in French.

However, there have been key partnerships in the history of Canada. Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, the co-premiers of the Province of Canada, were friends. The next paragraph can serve as confirmation that William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau were partners in the Rebellions of 1837-1838.

The caption below the picture of Louis-Joseph Papineau in the Canadian Encyclopedia reads:

During the Rebellions of 1837 Papineau lost control of events that he was instrumental in creating.

(courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-11075)

Once the two Canadas were united, its premiers worked together to devise a way of governing Canada.

Baldwin was the first popularizer of responsible government and one of the first proponents of a bicultural nation.

(Robert Baldwin, courtesy Metropolitan Toronto Library)

These rebellions and l’Acte d’union were steps leading to responsible government and Confederation. The purchase of Rupert’s Land was reassuring. The United States was expanding. Besides, building railroads was the business of the day.

André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton got along very well. Legend has it that André Laurendeau died because Quebec nationalists opposed his co-chairing the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. It was stressful, but did it kill him?

André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Conclusion

John’s birthday dinner was celebrated by three Canadians of different origins. These friendships are happy friendships, strong friendships.

Paul Robeson sings Un Canadien errant. The lyrics are usually attributed to Antoine Gérin-Lajoie

© Micheline Walker
26 September 2020
WordPress

Coming soon …

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Lecture de Molière par Jean-François de Troy (Photo credit: Utpictura)

My computer crashed, so I had to put it together again from scratch. It was a matter of passwords. Microsoft’s employees would not help me retrieve my password.

We are returning to Molière, but not immediately. First, we will read one more post on Confederation. It is almost ready to publish. We will read two short plays by Molière, his La Critique de l’École des femmes (1st June 1663), and L’Impromptu de Versailles (the Fall of 1663). These are often considered Molière’s “theoretical” plays, but they are performed and constitute essential reading. After reading these two plays, we will have read all plays written by Molière, but some are not presented with an English translation.

Our discussion of these two one-act plays will be followed by a reading of Madame de La Fayette‘s Princesse de Clèves (1678). You may remember that Molière depicts the harms of jealousy. Our best example is Dom Garcie de Navarre, but Amphitryon is the model most remember. In La Princesse de Clèves, jealousy precludes reciprocated love. The French wars of religion are its backdrop. Henri II is the King of France. He is married to Catherine de’ Medici, but loves his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. One of Catherine and Henri II’s sons was Henri III. He died in 1589, which is when Henri III de Navarre became Henri IV of France (La Henriade). As King of Navarre, he had been a Huguenot. He converted to Catholicism and proclaimed the Edict of Nantes (1598).

For the last few months, I have been updating my page listing Fables by La Fontaine. France has a new “site officiel” dedicated to La Fontaine, which means that links no longer take a reader to the fable under discussion.

© Micheline Walker 
20 August 2020 
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