Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



, , ,


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



, , , , , , , ,


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

A Birthday Dinner & Confederation


, , ,

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)


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

Coming soon …


, , , , ,

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 ready to publish, but it is not available. read it. 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, but the King of France is Henri II who is married to Catherine de’ Medici, 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 

About Canadian Confederation


, , , ,

The Fathers of Confederation

The Fathers of Confederation by Robert Harris, 1884

Canadians have honoured Sir John A MacDonald for a very long time. However, statues of John A. MacDonald are being put in storage and one, perhaps more, has been vandalized. He was a father of Confederation, if not the Father of Confederation. So, what happened?

Macdonald, Sir John (NFB/National Archives of Canada) (Photo credit: Britannica)

First, as we have seen in earlier posts, when Canada grew westward, the White population settled on land they had appropriated from Amerindians on the basis of “conquest,” a disgraceful leftover from the “age of discovery.” Moreover, as we have also seen in earlier posts, Rupert’s Land, which Canada bought from the Hudson’s Bay Company, did not include settled land, such as the Red River Settlement, bought by the Earl of Selkirk, and lands inhabited by Amerindians.


As for Quebec, it seems it was drawn into a Confederation that also excluded it. John A. Macdonald was an Orangeman, a fraternity that was inimical to Catholics and the French. The people of Quebec could not be educated in French outside Quebec. Waves of immigrants arrived who would live in provinces other than Quebec and be educated in English. We have already discussed the school question.

This situation prevailed until Lester B. Pearson, a Nobel Laureate and the Prime Minister of Canada, established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to investigate language grievances. Co-chairing the commission were Davidson Hunton and André Laurendeau. André Laurendeau died of an aneurysm on 1st June 1968. The work of the Commission culminated in the Official Languages Act which passed into law in 1969, a year after Pierre Elliott Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada. (See Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism,

However, recognition occurred 102 years after Confederation (1867) when English had become the language spoken outside Quebec. The French had been in North America since 1534.


In short, what of such concepts as nationhood and the rights afforded conquerors and, first and foremost, what of Canada’s Confederation? If Confederation demanded that the children of Francophones be educated in English, outside Quebec, their children were likely to be Anglophones. So, what of Quebec nationalism. Separatism is usually associated with Quebecers, but it isn’t altogether québécois. Not if the children of French Canadians had to be educated in English outside Quebec and not if immigrants to Canada were sent to English-speaking communities.

Sir George-Étienne Cartier was pleased that Quebec would remain Quebec. The population of Quebec would retain its “code civil,” its language, its religion, and its culture while belonging to a strong partnership. He may have been afraid.

However, Canada has a new constitution, the Constitution Act of 1982, which Quebec has not signed.

Love to everyone 💕

Sir Ernest MacMillan, Two Skteches on French Canadian Airs

© Micheline Walker
14 September 2020

La Henriade


, , , , , , , , ,

Voltaire (portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1724)

The ostensible subject [of La Henriade] is the siege of Paris in 1589 by Henry III in concert with Henry of Navarre, soon to be Henry IV, but its themes are the twin evils of religious fanaticism and civil discord.

La Henriade,

I think the above captures the spirit of Voltaire’s La Henriade. But it also describes Voltaire who spent a lifetime combating fanaticism, injustice and superstitions. Our subject is New France in its earliest days. We wish to know what happened during the half century separating Cartier’s attempt to found a settlement and Dugua de Mons’ similar endeavour. This period has not been chronicled, but Huguenots had been involved in the fur trade. Our King is no longer François Ier, but Henri IV.

The contents of this post may seem repetitive, but they sum up Cartier’s era and Henri IV’s brief reign. More importantly, although New France has Huguenot roots, I am portraying a good king who was attempting to put away a divided Kingdom. He was assassinated in 1610.

Jacques Cartier

Many Huguenots (French Protestants) or former Huguenots, were the founders of what became Canada. Dugua de Mons converted to Catholicism in 1593, at approximately the same time Henri IV became a Catholic. As King of Navarre, he had been a Huguenot.


Nothing suggests that Jacques Cartier was a Huguenot, but he settled Charlesbourg-Royal in 1541, a settlement that ended in 1543. François Ier (Francis Ist), had commissioned Pierre de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, known as Roberval, a nobleman, to build the first French settlement in North America, but Roberval did not set sail until 1542. Although sources differ, Charlesbourg-Royal was settled, almost undoubtedly, by Jacques Cartier, rather than Roberval.

Jacques Cartier left France in 1541, a year before Roberval sailed for the New World. Jacques Cartier met Roberval, near Newfoundland, but refused to turn around to assist Roberval, as the King had requested. Jacques Cartier was not a nobleman, but he is the explorer who discovered Canada and named it Canada, after Kanata, its Amerindian name.

Francis 1st, King of France, did not ask Jacques Cartier to build a settlement. As we know, the person he commissioned was Pierre de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, a nobleman. This may have been an affront to Jacques Cartier who had discovered “Canada.” Jacques Cartier lost 35 men during the first winter he spent at Charlesbourg-Royal, pictured above. By 1543, the settlement was abandoned. Then came a seemingly inactive period spanning nearly a half-century, but was it?

Henri IV

The settlements that survive are Dugua de Mons’ Port-Royal and Quebec City. As a noted, Champlain founded Quebec City, as Dugua’s employee. In fact, he and Mathieu da Costa were Dugua’s employees. So, Mathieu da Costa, the first Black in Canada, may have co-founded Quebec City, as an employee of Dugua de Mons. Mathieu de Coste is also Canada’s first linguist and he died in the settlement he co-founded. He was a free Black.

Had he not been a fur-trader, it is very unlikely that Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit could have built a trading-post. The Huguenots had been fleeing the Wars of Religion. Henri IV reigned from 1589 to 14 May 1610, when he was assassinated, and events do not suggest that during his reign Henri IV encouraged the growth of Protestantism. As we know, he signed the Édit de Nantes promoting religions toleration.

at the end of the Wars of Religion, [Henri IV] abjured Protestantism and converted to Roman Catholicism (1593) in order to win Paris and reunify France. With the aid of such ministers as the Duc de Sully, he brought new prosperity to France.


When Henri IV died he had yet to finish unifying France and, given Richelieu’s concept of absolutism, Huguenots would have to convert. Richelieu’s notion of absolutism required that all French citizens practice the same religion. As conceived by Richelieu, absolutism consisted of one religion, one language, and one King. When the Siege of Larochelle began, so did the Anglo-French War of 1627-1629. England was defeated and the Edict of Nantes, revoked in 1685, unleashing a reign of terror a Voltaire could not accept.

Acadie had just begun, when Marc Lescarbot wrote and published his Histoire de la Nouvelle-France. He had been in Acadia for one year, 1607-1608. He also produced a play, le Théâtre de Neptune, in Port-Royal. His History of Nouvelle-France is not a bad history. On the contrary. It is a good story. But Nouvelle-France consisted of one settlement, or habitation: Port-Royal that was about to crumble to be reborn again. The picture above features Lescarbot reading his play. The artist is William Jefferys (photo-credit:

Would there ever be a King of France so loved that a young Voltaire would praise him in long cantos, or “fictions” “drawn from the regions of the marvelous” (Voltaire, 1859)? There wouldn’t, except in “fictions.”

Sources and Resources

Musing on Champlain & New France (9 May 2012)
The Encyclopædia Britannica
La Henriade is an Internet Archive publication
La Henriade is a Wikisource publication

Love to everyone 💕

© Micheline Walker
9 September 2020

New France: Huguenot Roots


, , , , , , ,

Richelieu at the Siège de La Rochelle by Henri de la Motte

Not for more…

Not for more than half a century did France again show interest in these new lands.


Paris vaut bien une messe. (Paris is well worth a Mass.)
Henri IV

Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit and Samuel de Champlain did not travel to North America until 1599, and we have discovered that these men were Huguenots. Despite the Edict of Nantes, L’Édit de Nantes, an edict of toleration granted by Henri IV of France in 1598, Huguenots, French Protestants, could not escape persecution. Let us explain. Henri IV of France had been a Huguenot as King of Navarre. He converted to Catholicism to be crowned King of France. He is reported to have said that “Paris vaut bien une messe” (Paris is well worth a Mass). He was assassinated in 1610, and Huguenots were no longer safe in France.

The Siege of La Rochelle

The Siège de La Rochelle, which took place in 1627-1628, is abundant proof that Huguenots were endangered. According to Wikipedia, 22,000 citizens died of starvation at La Rochelle. La Rochelle had a population of 25,000. However, some escaped. Two or three of my Bourbeau ancestors hid in the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, waiting to sail to New France. In 1627, the Catholic Company of One Hundred Associates would rule New France, but it did not persecute New France’s Huguenot population. Huguenots left New France or converted to Catholicism when the Edict of Nantes was revoked on 22 October 1685. They fled to the United States.

We have discovered that our men were Huguenots and that they could be persecuted in France, despite the Edict of Nantes. As noted above, L’Édit de Nantes was an edict of toleration signed by Henri IV. Yet, Henri IV, a beloved King, was assassinated by a victim of religious fanaticism.

Failed Settlements

It was thought that Jacques Cartier, who took possession of Canada in the name of the King of france and named it Canada, did not found a settlement. But he did. He founded Cap-Rouge near Quebec City. It was a failure, but the remains of the settlement have been rediscovered. It seems that Francis 1st did not know about this brief settlement.

In 1541, King Francis 1st commissioned Jean-François de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, a nobleman, to establish a settlement in the land Cartier had discovered. Cartier would merely accompany Roberval to North-America. However, Cartier left in 1541 and arrived in North America on 23 August 1541, a year earlier than Roberval. He met Roberval, on 8 June 142, but did not accompany him as the King had requested.

The King had given Roberval two missions. He was to found a settlement and was also asked to convert Amerindians to Catholicism. Roberval could convert Amerindians into Catholics because he was a Protestant or had converted to Protestantism. The settlement he founded did not survive. So, Roberval returned to France. He was not chastised by the King, but he and other Huguenots were murdered leaving a meeting of Protestants.

The Wars of Religion

So, France’s bitter Wars of Religion all but prevented settling Acadie and Canada, New France’s two provinces. A few years ago, I contacted Britannica to say that Dugua de Mons was a Protestant and that he, not Champlain, was the father of Acadie. Could its scholars investigate? Britannica modified its entry and scholars went on to determine that Quebec City was founded by Champlain, but that he was Dugua’s employee.

Acadie fell to Britain in 1713, by virtue of the Treaty of Utrecht, but Acadians had not left. In 1755, a large number of Acadians, sources vary from 1,200 to 11,500, were forced into ships that went in different directions. Family members were separated and so were young couples who were engaged to be married.

Longfellow told that story in Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, an epic poem published in 1847. Acadians have transformed Longfellow’s Évangéline into Acadia’ heroine. Évangéline is alive. According to one’s sources, the name Acadie is derived from an Amerindian word, or from Arcadia.

Redeeming Myths

  • deported Acadians
  • Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow told not only Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, but he also wrote about Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie, a Protestant, who was French and an Abenaki Chief. Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie’s story was told by Longfellow in Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Castine, Maine was named after Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie, baron de Saint-Castin. (See Castine, Maine,

Scholars have now established that Champlain settled Quebec City under the supervision of Dugua de Mons. New France would be a Catholic colony, but it has Huguenot roots.


Love to everyone 💕

Lucie Therrien chante Au Chant de l’alouette

© Micheline Walker
5 September 2020

The First French Settlement in the Americas


, , ,

Pierre Dugua de Mons

Henri IV of France

In 1599, Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnenuit and Samuel de Champlain traveled to North America on behalf of Henri IV, King of France and Navarre, also called le bon roi (the good King). Henri IV wanted France to harvest the rich pelts it could find in Northeastern America. Henri also asked Du Gua de Mons to create a settlement in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada. Officially, Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) is the first French settlement in North America. It was settled in 1604, four years before Champlain settled Quebec City. However, to be precise, Tonnetuit’s trading post was the first French settlement in North America, and it was located in the present-day Québec, one of the two provinces of New France. The other was Acadie. Henri IV had been a Protestant, a Huguenot, and so were the above-mentioned explorers.  

Louis XIV in 1643, prior to becoming king, by Claude Deruet

Huguenots, a popular term used since 1560 to designate French Protestants, some of whom became involved in the Newfoundland fishery and Canadian fur trade, and in abortive colonization attempts in Canada (1541-42), Brazil (1555) and the Carolinas (1562-64).

Huguenots, The Canadian Encyclopedia

Champlain was a secretive Huguenot, but Pierre Dugua de Mon(t)s wasn’t. As for Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit, his occupation, fur trading, was that of a Huguenot. So, if his trading post was the first French settlement in the Americas, the very first French settlement in the Americas was a Huguenot settlement. In fact, although Champlain did not reveal his religious affiliation, he founded Quebec-City in New France’s Huguenot times. But matters changed in 1627. New France was governed by the Company of One Hundred Associates and its first shareholder was Cardinal Richelieu.

More permanent was the fur-trade. The French in Canada tended to their thirty acres, but many had to go to the countries above, les pays d’en haut. They were voyageurs or coureurs des bois. Coureurs des bois did not have a licence, so if caught, the pelts they had harvested were confiscated.

I love Pierre Chauvin’s trading post. New France would have its legendary voyageurs. They would be Catholics. But Pierre Chauvin’s trading post was a Huguenot settlement.

When Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnentuit returned to France, he left sixteen (16) men at Tadoussac. It was a settlement. Only six (6) survived.

Love to everyone 💕

Lucie Therrien chante À Saint-Malo

© Micheline Walker
4 September 2020


Blanche comme neige, cont’d


, , , , ,

Barns by A. Y. Jackson, 1926

I’ve published posts about or featuring Sir Ernest Macmillan. Sir Ernest MacMillan was, for decades, English Canada’s most prominent figure in the area of music.

Moving to Toronto

David and I had just moved to Toronto and we needed a home. While I was resting, David drove up and down the streets I liked. He saw a sign on a large tree and a lady standing by. She owned the house and she was Sir Ernest MacMillan’s niece. Yes, she would let me play the piano. I liked the little apartment very much. We moved to Walmsley Boulevard two weeks later. Andrea would be my best friend for nearly fifty years.

I have told this story, so let us hear Sir Ernest MacMillan’s “learned” version of the piece. It is learned because it has been composed and/or arranged. As interpreted by the McGariggle sisters, Blanche comme la neige belongs to folklore, or an “oral” tradition. It is as though it had yet to be composed. It is also somewhat naïve and forever renewed.

Let us return to our “learned” song. It was arranged, or composed, by Sir Ernest and is interpreted by Toronto’s Mendelssohn Choir, founded by Sir Ernest MacMillan (click on 2). We can classify this interpretation as “learned” because Sir Ernest set it to music. He also set to music “Notre Seigneur en pauvre,” a song I mentioned a few posts away. His Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs (click on 3) combines Blanche comme neige and Notre Seigneur en pauvre (Our Lord as a poor man). I do not know of a separate Notre Seigneur en pauvre. “À Saint-Malo,” French folklore, is number 4.


Blanche comme neige (28 August 2020)
Angels and Archangels: Michael, Lucifer… (30 November 2014)
Sir Ernest Macmillan: a Testimonial (9 January 2012)
Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs


Blanche comme neige (28 August 2020)
Angels and Archangels: Michael, Lucifer… (30 November 2014)
Sir Ernest Macmillan: a Testimonial (9 January 2012)

Love to everyone 💕

Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs

© Micheline Walker
30 August 2020

Blanche comme neige


, , , , ,

Leonardo da Vinci


La belle s’est endormie sur un beau lit de roses
The beauty fell asleep on a beautiful bed of roses
La belle s’est endormie sur un beau lit de roses
The beauty fell asleep on a beautiful bed of roses
Blanche comme la neige belle comme le jour
White as snow, beautiful as [the] day
Ils sont trois capitaines qui vont lui faire l’amour
There are three captains who will make love with her

Le plus jeune des trois la prend par sa main blanche
The youngest of the three takes her by her white hand
Le plus jeune des trois la prend par sa main blanche
The youngest of the three takes her by her white hand
Montez, montez princesse dessus mon cheval gris
Climb, climb Princess on top of my gray horse
A Paris j’vous mène dans un fort beau logis
To Paris, I’m taking you, to a beautiful home

Finissant ce discours le capitaine rentre
As he stopped speaking, the captain comes in
Finissant ce discours le capitaine rentre
As he stopped speaking, the captain comes in
Mangez buvez la belle selon votre appétit
Eat and drink Beauty to your appetite
Avec un capitaine vous passerez la nuit
With a captain you will spend the night

Au milieu du repas la belle a [sic] tombé morte
In the middle of the meal, the beauty dropped dead

Au milieu du repas la belle a tombé morte
In the middle of the meal, the beauty dropped dead
Sonnez, sonnez les cloches, tambour au régiment   
Ring, ring the bells, beat the drums regiment
Ma maîtresse elle est morte à l’âge de quinze ans
My mistress she has died at the age of fifteen

Mais au bout de trois jours son père s’y promène
But at the end of three days her father walks by
Mais au bout de trois jours son père s’y promène
But at the end of three days her father walks by
Ouvrez, ouvrez ma tombe mon père si vous m’aimez
Open, open my coffin my father if you love me
Trois jours j’ai fait la morte pour mon honneur garder
For three days I’ve played dead, for my honor to keep

The translation above is mostly word for word, so one can understand the original French. It is a folk song and folk legend, from French Canada or France. It is only remotely related to Christmas, because Beauty is as white as snow.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Love to everyone 💕


French Cathedral, Quebec City, Mary M. Chaplin, 1839 – C856

© Micheline Walker
28 August 2020

An Enigma

I have no way of reaching you and reading comments. The toolbar is on the right side hiding the button I hit to read your posts and your comments. I wrote a post on the Duplessis Children. It is in Word. My mouse has been mostly disabled. My computer will have to be repaired or replaced. It’s a mess.

Would that I could understand. I start writing using the Classic Editor, but I am writing using the Block Editor.

My very best regards,


© Micheline Walker

La Revanche des berceaux, or the Revenge of the Cradle


, , ,

Saint Matthew by Guido Reno

La Revanche des berceaux

One wonders how Québécois would survive after the arrival of United Empire Loyalists and the loss of deported Acadians. The English-speaking population of Canada constituted a majority. How would French-speaking Canadians survive? During a period of the history of Quebec, a high birth rate provided hope. Families could number from 18 to 24 children, most of whom survived childhood. It was said of women, that they had to have their “nombre.” his high birth rate was called la revanche des berceaux, the revenge of the cradle.

In short, women toiled against odds. They were pregnant for years while husbands made land, faire de la terre. The land did not always yield good crops. As well, people lived away from their village. They attended Mass every Sunday and socialized a little after mass, on the perron. Louis Hémon told this story in his novel entitled Maria Chapdelaine. After sending his manuscript to France, in 1913, he started to walk West, but he was hit by a train, at Chapleau, Ontario. He may have been trying to meet the French Counts of Saint-Hubert, Saskatchewan.

French aristocrats tried to move to Canada. It was not a very successful endeavour, but several members of the French-speaking population of Western Canada are not descendants of Quebecers. I met many of this branch of French-speaking Canadians. Some retired in Victoria and had a good relationship with the descendants of Québécois. I nearly married a descendant of this population, but he committed suicide. They bought a large number of houses that are now too expensive. We socialized considerably and we owned a tiny church and a hall. I play the organ, so every Sunday, I went to the 11 o’clock Mass and performed.

La Revanche des berceaux was successful.

It suggested that although Anglo-Canadians dominated Canada in the 19th century, the higher birth rate in Quebec promised that French-Canadians would resist British immigration and discrimination.

(See La Revanche des berceaux,

The irony is that these children had to leave Quebec because they could not earn a living.

The Ultramontane ideology encouraged poverty. Quebecers would start to live happily once they entered eternal life. Suffering now was seen as a sign of salvation. One paid for the original sin on earth, which was comforting. All human beings have to atone for the original sin: better on earth than after death. This view can also be called Jansenism.


Ultramontanism lessened the suffering of women who bore children incessantly. God would let them enter Paradise. However, when I was a child, women had a hysterectomy. It made them sterile. My mother did not undergo a hysterectomy until we moved away from Quebec. The dead children were used as guinea pigs. A cure was found for the family’s congenital blood disease. My mother’s legs had been ruined by varicose veins. However, she believed that not having children was sinful.

Refus global and the Asbestos Strike

A manifesto, Refus global, written in 1948, and a strike, the Asbestos Strike of 1949, would end the plight of workers. Maurice Duplessis tried every aberration to end the strike. Ultramontanism had died, but Maurice Duplessis feared socialism and, possibly, communism. Workers were not killed, but the repression caught the attention of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and colleagues. One of my uncles was shot at. His brother, also my uncle, was Quebec’s top civil servant. When Maurice Duplessis died, Quebec had long been ready for its Quiet Revolution which started in 1960. The Asbestos Strike made a famous victim, the bishop of Montreal. He opposed Duplessis and had to leave for Victoria, British Columbia. Monseigneur Joseph Charbonneau was a very good person.


In Maria Chapdelaine, Louis Hémon writes that Québec will carry on forever. That may not be.

© Micheline Walker
24 August 2020