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.
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 mine. It 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.
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.
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.
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.
One could not divide the thirty acres between all male children. One male child was expected to become a priest, but other male children needed land and could not move to Ontario. After Confederation, the population of Canada, except Quebec, had to be English and Protestant. Orangists prevented French-speaking Canadians from settling elsewhere. They could no longer be educated in French. That was a disaster.
To earn a living, many Québécois moved North and cleared land. They had to “faire de la Terre” make land. Some tried to settle in or near Sudbury, Ontario. The school question surfaced. However, some went to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. This area was located in eastern Ontario, but it became part of Quebec, where the landless found land they could clear. The Church favoured “making land.” This is what le curé Labelle, an influential parish priest, suggested to the landless. It was a patriotic choice.
When people are hungry, they look for a place to earn a living. In the colony’s early days, New France had a business class consisting mainly of Huguenots. Champlain was a Huguenot. Quebec had very few skilled businessmen. They left Quebec in 1685 when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes (1598). They had to leave New France because Cardinal Richelieu started building absolutism. In Richelieu’s opinion, the requirements for French absolutism were one King, one language and one religion. He established la Compagnie des Cent-Associés, the Company of One Hundred Associates.
The Seigneurial System
The Seigneurial System had not been genuinely abolished in 1854. The habitants who had not bought their thirty acres had to pay rent à perpétuité permanently. This was a form of slavery: debt bondage. In 1935, the Québec government created the Syndicat national du rachat des rentes seigneurial, or SNRRS (National Commission for the Repurchase of Seigneurial Rentes). The SNRRS would pay the habitants‘ debt in part.
Louis-Alexandre Taschereau is credited with helping eradicate the habitants‘ debt. Payments were required when Duplessis was the premier of Quebec.
This is a picture of an old Quebec City. It has its cathedral. Every little town in Quebec had a magnificent church. However, in the days of New France, most of the population lived on each side of the St Lawrence River, on narrow but deep land tracts called Seigneuries. Quebec consisted of seigneuries, a feudal system. The Seigneur collected “rentes” (rent) and the Church, la dîme (tithe). There were three main cities: Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal, each located on the North bank of the St. Lawrence River. During the winter, one could travel on thick ice from one of the cities to another. One used a cart and horses. When summer came, boats could be used. However, there was a road, le Chemin du Roy/Roi.
The Seigneurial system survived until 1854, but it had been established in 1627. This was a “peau de chagrin.” La Peau de chagrin(1831) is the title of a novel by Honoré de Balzac. The peau (skin) grows smaller and smaller and its owner runs out of luck.
Similarly, thirty acres grow smaller and smaller with each generation. The children have to find a job. When the system was abolished, censitaires were given a choice. They could purchase their thirty acres or pay rent for life. Le Seigneur did not lose anything, but those who paid a rente were impoverished. The amount renters had to pay was enormous:
In 1928, an inquiry launched by the Bureau de la statistique du Québec (Statistics Québec) showed that rentes were still being collected in 190 seigneuries (for a total capital value of $3,577,573). The annual payments made by nearly 60,000 families amounted to more than $200,000.
When an « habitant » (usually a farmer) saw the priest arrive, he wanted to hide. He knew it was time to pay the tithe. Quebec literature tells this drama in Ringuet’s Trente arpentsand other novels. (See Canadiana.2, one of my pages.) The Internet kept my writings. Would you believe I have been an influencer?
I will end close on these words. United Empire Loyalists were given large lots, while our little habitants could not survive on the ancestral acres. This led to a massive exodus to the United States. Nearly one million French-speaking Canadians left Canada. He did not speak French. My grandfather did. His wife stayed in Canada, living in an old house between the railroad and the river. The men in the train threw what they could, so the one cast iron stove had something to burn.
Louis Hémon’sMaria Chapdelaine (1913) depicts the three choices of French Canadians. Go north, clear the land, work as a voyageur, or move to the United States. My father could not remember his father. So, my mother found where he lived, and we travelled to Massachusetts. The trip was a great success. We met a wonderful man and his wife and continued to go to Athol two or three times a year. He told us never to judge a man unless we had walked in his moccasins.
My grandfather had seven cats and a large dog. He also had a cow and une basse-cour, a yard for the hens. He married the woman who sold him her property. She was in charge of the house.
I cannot use the Block editor. I’m old and have health issues. There is nothing I can do. However, I need my posts back, because many have content I require. Not all are in Word and I have changed computers twice.
No, I will not post again. It is driving me to tears. At 76, one can be a little fragile. My posts were my main activity. I need them to finish a book on Animals in Literature. It’s a short textbook I wrote for my students. There was no textbook. I also wish to keep a record of all I have written. These posts remain my intellectual property and have provided information to the internet.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (I caught the H1N1 virus in early 1976) has damaged my brain (short-term memory, concentration, fatigue and minor strokes [paralysis, vertigo, double-vision, headaches]). I may forget or repeat words.
My best advice to WordPress is to give people a choice of editor and never kidnap posts. Please return all of my material to me. They are my intellectual property. Content and form are inextricably linked. I will get a new printer and print all relevant posts (the voyageurs, fables, Canadiana, etc).
I was fooled into relinquishing my tenure at StFX University, so my pension does not allow unessential purchases. I am experiencing difficulty settling into this apartment. It requires repairs and books must be removed. It has one bedroom only. Given the above, encephalomyelitis and advanced emphysema, I have genuine limitations.
Please return my posts. They would cost a lot of money to purchase, but I can’t continue. I can’t operate my Smartphone. It seems I need a man.
We are all the same, but we differ in little yet important ways.
I thank you for the good years. I live alone, away from my community. So, my blog was important. It was my job. My computer is failing me. A technician came over who said it was fine. I cannot use my mouse.
P.S. If writing an article drives me to tears, it’s over.
Publishing “The Negro-Spiritual” was difficult. First, my computer is on the blink. A technician came and told me that all was right. But it isn’t. At any rate, yesterday’s post was sent to trash twice and I had to rebuild it. I had a copy of the text and my images, but finding images is now more difficult. No human being would do this to me. The Classic editor was more useful to me. I felt I was being punished and after a day’s labour, I was crying like a child. At that cost, my career is definitely over. My brain was damaged because I caught the H1N1 virus, in February 1976. I developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. In 1991, it was found that the rate of perfusion of blood to my brain was too slow and that the damage was significant. It has affected my memory, but not my intelligence. I am lucid.
As you know, I made a mistake. I left Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where I owned a lovely blue house across the street from the Campus. I was overworked and fell ill. I had no strength left. The insurance company agent was asked by her doctor, the one she hired, to please tell me not to sell my house or make important decisions until I had recovered. I would recover. She didn’t say a word.
I had presented a doctor’s note, but it was not taken seriously. No one replaced me. After a short rest, I returned to work. In the eyes of the Insurance Company’s employee, by returning to finish the year’s assignment, I proved that I was an imaginary invalid. The Company stopped paying benefits. I therefore decided to return to work asking for a normal load. I was fooled into relinquishing my tenure.
I never recovered from losing my career and access to a research library. No one would buy my apartment because the purchaser could not take a mortgage. Life is very humble.
In the meantime, I write posts and try to make my apartment beautiful. It’s a bit expensive and help is difficult to find during a pandemic. Workers do not all wear their mask. It cannot be seen, but the virus kills.
But let us return to Blacks. If the Blacks, who were often captured by Blacks and ended up in the bottom of a slave ship to be sold to plantation owners who could be very cruel, they needed a promised land. Death becomes a promise. One enters eternal life. This is something I can understand as I have often wished to commit suicide to end the pain.
As for the Blacks being black, it tells nothing about their personality and their qualities. In fact, I am reminded of a legend in Quebec, and perhaps elsewhere, about the beggar at your door. According to the legend, he may be Jesus in disguise. So, one must feed him and give him a bed. The legend is Notre Seigneur en pauvre (Our Lord as a poor man). I discussed it elsewhere. Sir Ernest MacMillan set it to music. For my part, I wrote a song. The music resembles the negro–spiritual, but the words are about the beggar, or Our Lord as a poor man. And it is a love song.
The song has three parts. The first and the third are sung, but the middle is for wind instruments preferably. It is entitled “The Beggar.” The melody is intricate and it is for an excellent singer.
There came a beggar to my door. A man I’d never seen before. I let him in, He’s been here since. The Beggar is King. No…I’ll never let him go, I’ll never let him go.
(INSTRUMENTAL) mostly improvised
I told my mother my father ’bout the beggar; I told my brother, my sisters ’bout the beggar. They said: The’re law…yers, The’re doc…tors, Drop…the beggar. (Drop is a very long and high note) But, I will never let him go… But, I will ne…ver let him go… But, I will…ne…ver…let…et him go (syncopated)
(INSTRUMENTAL I – IV – I)
In short, yesterday, I wanted to change the video I had chosen. I preferred the video I had discover.
The singer is Maescha Brueggergoshan, and the pictures turn the post into something more coherent and almost poetical.
I wish Maescha would learn my Beggar. I had a lung illness just before Covid-19. I could not speak for three months and lost two thirds of my lungs. My voice has returned, but I can’t sing.
Please don’t laugh. I have been asked to customize my page, which I cannot do. Nor can I customize my social media icons. For that matter, I cannot use a Smartphone.
The Negro-Spiritual is a genre in music, created by Black slaves before emancipation, and which has endured. As you know, Frederick Douglass’ textbook was the Bible. The Bible is not easy to read but it offers a “paradise lost,” a very humble saviour who rewards those who are in pain. Such themes are precious to oppressed people. Heaven also offers winged beings: angels. They can fly, which one cannot do if one is in shackles. Uncharitable owners kept their slaves in shackles or punished them by putting them in shackles. It was extremely painful and it could break a person’s body. The word anamnesis is linked to the Negro-Spiritual. One goes back in time and remembers that there is a promised land.
The poor, or those whose life has been broken, know they will be saved. Life eternal awaits them and those who suffer often commit suicide. There is life eternal and they may be reborn. Rebirth is a central theme in world literature and the arts. Nature awakens when Spring arrives. Those who cannot read know that there is a circle and a cycle. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons makes so much sense. The fourth movement contains a restful melody. In Winter, nature rests. The music suggests a form of suspension.
John Milton’s Paradise Lostis also Paradise regained. The desperate poets of 19th-century France looked upon man as remembering paradise. He cannot, therefore, find a comfortable place on earth. Baudelaire’sAlbatroslooks clumsy on the deck of ships. Sailors laugh. In full flight, he is divine. This is a powerful image. Le Souvenir, remembering is an important theme in 19th-century French literature, beginning with Lamartine. Le Lac is an essential poem. Lamartine has lost the woman he loved. She has died, but he asks nature to remember. To be remembered is an option. My favourite line in Lamartine is:
Un seul être vous manque, et tout est dépeuplé ! (L’Isolement) [Only one being is missing, and all is gone!]
Black slaves turned to religion, mixing the music of Western Africa and Christian themes. (See Negro Spiritual, simple English, Wikipedia). It is music one sang while working. The voyageurs of New France sang as the paddled their Amerindian birch bark canoe. One had to be a singer to be hired. The favourite song of voyageurs was À la claire fontaine. It ended with the words I will never forget you: Jamais je ne t’oublierai.
The Blacks also knew French fables based on Reynard the Fox. These are told in Uncle Remus, by Joel Chandler Harris. Such narratives can be seen as African-American, because Br’er Rabbit, brother rabbit, outfoxes the Fox. He is the trickster. Yet, Uncle Remus bears considerable resemblance to Reynard, the trickster. Many Acadians deported in 1755, made their way to Louisiana. They walked through Georgia. They had lost everything. Some walked back to Acadia. However, their land had been settled by the British. I gave a paper on Reynard, in Hull, England, in 2001. I saw the tombs of my husband’s ancestors at Beverley Minster. David died in August 2001.
Black slaves found sustenance in the Bible, and created a repertoire of songs that speak to the soul. The negro-spiritual is one of the United States’ most important legacies. It is unique and expresses both despair and hope.
I wish to thank WordPress. I was between a rock and a hard place. I am using not quite, but almost, the Classic editor. Content determines the choice of an editor. I could not discuss Molière using the block editor, but I can publish a simpler post. The ribbon is above.
My dear little Belaud looked like the chartreux pictured above. However, there were more folds in his fur. He was an exquisite pet. Losing him was very painful. A chartreux’s lifespan is shorter than the lifespan of most cats.
Chartreux have not been bred. They are a natural breed. As the legend goes, Carthusian monks found these grey cats in the Middle East. They hunted rats. So the monks knew they would protect the monastery. There had been a massacre of cats that led to the black death, the plague. Cats killed rats, which helped prevent the plague. In Ireland, if someone killed a cat, there was some sort of penalty. Chartreux are very quiet and very calm.
Carthusian monks found these grey cats in the Middle East and transported several to their monastery. They were protected.
If everyone wore a mask, the number of infections caused by the novel coronavirus would fall drastically. It may be the only way to re-energize the economy.
It is also necessary for the government to ensure that people are provided with an income so they do not lose their livelihood. The cost of hospitalization due to covid-19 should also be covered. We pay taxes to be protected. Mr Trump should make sure everyone has an income.
The current situation causes stress and stress leads to illness. A weakened immune system makes an individual vulnerable. Wearing a mask should be compulsory. It’s our only protection.
If protesters claim their freedom is taken away, they should pay a huge fine. The charge would be reckless endangerment of human lives. They are also jeopardizing the well-being of the economy because the virus is kept alive.
Scarlatti – The Cat’s Fugue (L499 K30)
Anne Queffélec, piano