Richard Parkes Bonington (25 October 1802 – 23 September 1828: aged 26) was a Romantic landscape painter who enjoyed painting coastal scenes. So the content of his paintings may lead one to believe he was influenced by the Dutch masters, which could well be the case. He learned the watercolour techniques of Thomas Girtin (a name probably derived from the French Guertin) an artist of French Huguenot descent and a rival of J. M. W. Turner. Turner was influenced by Flemish art. At any rate, we see the sailboats and windmills of the Netherlands. However, Bonington also produced a series of historical scenes and illustrated Sir Walter Scott.
The painting above is minimalist, uncluttered, somewhat monochromatic and the composition is extraordinary. The ships, the focal point, are positioned along a low horizontal line, intersected by a slightly oblique line that drops from the brightest area of the painting, the nearly white unshadowed water. The shores lead the eye to a vanishing point hidden beyond the sails. And then we have the sky, an immense backdrop.
In fact, Bonington and Delacroix travelled together to Bonington’s native England and became interested in the burgeoning fashion of painting historical scenes, a fashion exemplified by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites, but also put to use by French Romantic painters, including Delacroix and Bonington. Bonington’s watercolours were very popular with the French public. He therefore sold many, which enabled him to travel to Picardy and to Flanders. These destinations may also help explain Bonington’s choice of content: French coastal scenes reminiscent of Flanders.
Bonington showed at the famous Paris Salon in 1822 and in 1824. In 1824, he showed with John Constable and Sir Thomas Lawrence, yet won a Gold Medal. He was 22 at the time and life was promising, but tuberculosis would soon kill him. He died when he was 25, just shy of his 26th birthday. It is therefore somewhat surprising that he should have been so influential. On the one hand, he brings to mind the Dutch masters, but his paintings nevertheless herald imprecise impressionism or impressionistic imprecision. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica,
[a]s a master of the Romantic movement and as a technical innovator in oil and watercolour, Bonington was influential in England and France. His gifts as a draftsman were high; as a colourist, good. He also showed his talent in the new medium of lithography, illustrating Sir Walter Scott.[i]
First thing this morning, I listened to the News on Radio-Canada, the French-language CBC. The news was not pleasant. I heard that lawyers and jurists were now protesting against Bill 78, a law deemed a violation of our cherished freedom of speech. It had turned into a Crusade.
The Crusades were “God’s war” (Christopher Tyerman),[i] but wait a minute. As David Hume wrote, the Crusades are
the most signal and most durable monument of human folly that has yet appeared in any age or nation.[ii]
“The Lord is a man of war.” (Exodus 15:3)
First, the time may have come to take God out of the Crusades. The Crusades were a human endeavour. Second, if one takes the view expressed by David Hume, one might come to the conclusion that the last hundred days have been an “assault on reason,” (Al Gore), were it not that the students were manipulated into breaking a lot of rules and, at times, laws, existing laws, not Law 78. There have been several arrests, which is regrettable.
I believe the lawyers and jurists will soon return to their offices and comfy homes or run the risk of looking ridiculous. Nothing worse could happen to them.
Let us see what the papers and the television have to offer of this subject.
As PhD students, my husband and I lived in France for a year. We rented a house in a village in Normandy, but we went to Paris often. At the time, living in Paris was not expensive, so we also had a Parisian nest: a studio. I loved our studio because it faced a courtyard. We could not hear the traffic and we could see the inner garden.
Sundays were magnificent. We would go to Mass at Notre-Dame and then visit the Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux: flowers and birds. I remember small birds that looked like little monks. We would then go and look at the books. There is nothing quite like the bouquinistes de Paris. The books were always wrapped, so I wondered whether or not we would find printed pages once we removed the paper.
(please click on the picture below to enlarge it)
We bought flowers. My husband enjoyed giving me flowers and I enjoyed the fact that he enjoyed giving me flowers. We had lunch on boulevard Saint-Michel and watched the people and their dogs go by. I fell in love with all things French.
We often went to the theater. I was writing a PhD thesis on Molière, so we attended performances of Molière’s plays. We also saw films and visited museums. While I was scrutinizing the Mona Lisa, the real Mona Lisa, a lady complained that it was much too small a painting. She was so disappointed.
The pictures above were made during the twenties, by a British illustrator: Henry Matthew Brock. They were used for teaching purposes. The twenties happened such a long time ago that they have now become once upon a time…
(You may wish to go directly to Menuhin playing Mozart)
There were more demonstrations this weekend, but it appears the students will now talk with the Premier, Monsieur Jean Charest, and his new Education Minister, Michelle Courchesne. It appears, in other words, that the government is about to make the students a new offer.
As I have already written, the students were puppets in these events and they are the sons and daughters of puppets. In the 1960s, the Quebec Government threw religious orders out of the province’s schools and hospitals, the Séparatiste movement grew and everybody was promising a better deal. But that better deal was a mirage.
I believe this is how the story goes:
Part of the better deal has been a nearly-free education. I now know why Quebec universities started hiring very few full-time teachers. Courses have been taught by part-time teachers: chargés de cours. Some chargés de cours have not been inconvenienced by this arrangement because someone else in their household receives a normal salary.
But other university teachers have had to travel from university to university in order to earn a meagre living. This is still the case, except that many university teachers have been able to find positions outside Québec and will never come back here.
I hope the students have learned that universities in Quebec are simply beginning to align themselves with universities outside Quebec and that they rejected an excellent offer. Outside Quebec, students pay tuition fees that are at least twice the amount Quebec students have been paying.
Even healthcare was going to be better than anywhere else in Canada. Well, it is acceptable, but it is not better. That too was a mirage.
In fact, if a Québécois travels to another province in Canada, and needs to see a medical doctor, his or her Quebec health-card will not be accepted. A patient may be reimbursed the fees he or she has paid to see a doctor, but not necessarily. It is often easier simply to pay out of pocket, if one has the money, and then hope to be reimbursed.
Fortunately, the Quebec health-card is valid for stays in a hospital outside Quebec, but if a specialist looks after an hospitalized Quebec patient, the doctor will send his or her bill to the patient and this bill may never be reimbursed.
Let me explain why this is the case. There were other conferences after Confederation, 1867. However, when the Constitution was patriated, in 1982, Quebec did not sign the documents.That was unfortunate.
I have been reading about the Conferences that took place between 1864 and 1867, leading to Confederation, and I believe you may find this little post useful. There were differences and I would not be in the least surprised to learn that Ontario breathed a sigh of relief when it parted ways with Quebec. Yet discussions were conducted with a view to ensure that no conflict such as the American Civil War would tear Canada apart, which meant
that provincial imperatives would be respected;
but that Canada would constitute a solid entity, and
that it would develop an identity.
Let us look at the three conferences that preceded the BNA Act of 1867.
Charlottetown (September 1864),
Quebec (October 1864),
London, England (December 1866).
Charlottetown Conference, September 1864(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We have already read a little about the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. The Province of Canada was not invited to that particularly conference. However, upon hearing that the leaders of Britain’s Maritime colonies were meeting in Charlottetown, the Province of Canada asked to be represented.
The Maritime Colonies, the current Maritime Provinces, were convening so they could discuss how to gain greater economic and military independence from the Crown. But, having learned that this conference would take place, the Province of Canada asked to join the Maritime colonies in the hope a union would include the Province of Canada.
Newfoundland was not represented at the conference because it had been invited too late. But the Charlottetown Conference, which took place between 1stSeptemberand 9September 1864, became the first meeting of the Fathers of Confederation. Participants are listed under Wikipedia’s Charlottetown Conference entry.
Prince Edward Island was not interested in joining a union that would include the Province of Canada.
As for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in particular, they expressed considerable reticence at the idea of entering into a union with the Province of Canada. See Joseph Howe’s (13 December 1804 – 1st June 1873) The Botheration Scheme in the Morning Chronicle (Halifax), 11 January 1865. However, all parties agreed to meet a month later in Quebec City.
A second conference, the Quebec Conference, was held in Quebec City in October 1864, a month after the Charlottetown Conference. There was a total of sixteen delegates from the provinces that had participated in the Charlottetown conference. As for Newfoundland, it sent two observers. Yet delegates started drafting the Seventy-two Resolutions that would transform the various British colonies north of the 49th parallel into a country, the Dominion of Canada.
The Quebec conference started on 10October and ended on 27 October. By then, the provinces had agreed on a division of powers which, as I noted above, would avoid the kind of conflict that had and still divided the United States : the Civil War.
At the end of the Conference a proposed structure for the government was written out in the form of the ‘Seventy-two Resolutions,’ also called the Quebec Resolutions, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick agreed to join the Province of Canada.
At the Charlottetown (September 1864) and Quebec Conferences (October 1864), the Fenians (extremist Irish nationalists) had not conducted raids in Canada yet. But by December of 1866, they had attacked New Brunswick and the Province of Canada and were singing:
We are the Fenian Brotherhood, skilled in the arts of war,
And we’re going to fight for Ireland, the land we adore,
Many battles we have won, along with the boys in blue,
And we’ll go and capture Canada, for we’ve nothing else to do.
— “Fenian soldier’s song”
Education was a central issue in the discussions. But by the end of the Conference, it was agreed that Ontario and Quebec would have separate school systems. For both the Province of Quebec and the Province of Ontario, the division of the United Province of Canada into two provinces was a benefit of Confederation. These provinces were inhabited by compatible but distinct societies that had been Lower and Upper Canada. The two Canadas were joined in 1840, by virtue of the Act of Union.
However, defence had become a major issue. The Fenian raids were beginning to compromise the territorial integrity of the future Dominion of Canada. The Fenians were Irish extremists who despised the British and for whom the end justified the means: revolution, if need be. Their first raid was the Campobello Island Raid of 1866 and their second, the Niagara Raid. The British fought the Fenians at Ridgeway and Fort Erie in 1866. The same year, the Fenians also raided Pidgeon Hill (1866)