The Plains of Abraham
- the defeated
- Jules’s anger
The French and Indian War (1754-1763) started with the assassination of Louis de Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, on 28 May 1754. The incident grew into the Seven Years’ War and also sparked the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). It has also been suggested that this event developped into the French Revolution. Aubert de Gaspé repeats that the defeated are forever defeated and situates the battles in the realm of the “relative.”
The juxtaposition of one murder and a world war makes one feel a little dizzy. The disproportion is enormous, but incidents have led to years, if not centuries, of conflicts.
Un grand capitaine qui a égalé de nos jours Alexandre et César, n’a-t-il pas dit : « Quel est celui qui n’a jamais commis de faute à la guerre? » Vae victis !
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 314)
[A great general, who has equaled in our own day the exploits of Alexander and of Cæsar, has said: “Who is he that has never made a mistake in battle?” Vae victis!]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 188-199)
Si le marquis de Montcalm eût remporté la victoire sur l’armée anglaise, on l’aurait élevé jusqu’aux nues, au lieu de lui reprocher de n’avoir pas attendu les renforts qu’il devait recevoir de monsieur de Vaudreuil et du colonel de Bougainville ; on aurait admiré sa tactique d’avoir attaqué brusquement l’ennemi avant qu’il eût le temps de se reconnaître, et d’avoir profité des accidents de terrains pour se retrancher dans des positions inexpugnables ; on aurait dit que cent hommes à l’abri de retranchements en valent mille à découvert ; on n’aurait point attribué au général Montcalm des motifs de basse jalousie, indignes d’une grande âme : les lauriers brillants qu’il avait tant de fois cueillis sur de glorieux champs de bataille, l’auraient mis à couvert de tels soupçons.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 315)
[Had Montcalm been victorious he would have been lauded to the skies, instead of being heaped with reproaches for not awaiting the re-enforcements which would have come from De Vaudreuil and De Bougainville. We would have praised his tactics in hurling himself upon the enemy before the latter had had time to establish himself. We would have said that a hundred men behind cover were equal to a thousand in the open. We would never have imputed to General Montcalm any jealous and unworthy motives. His shining laurels, gained on so many glorious fields, would have shielded him from any such suspicions.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 199-200)
Chapter XIV is a long chapter. Aubert de Gaspé repeats that the defeated are forever defeated and blames Louis XV, but discreetly.
However, in the same chapter, he brings Arché and Jules together. Jules is wounded and angry. Arché succeeds in finding him in an hospital. Jules and Arché fought under enemy flags, but both young men have did their duty as soldiers. Orders came from serious commanders. Arché is a precious Highlander, an élite regiment. When he realizes that the French are winning at the Battle of Sainte-Foy, fought on 28 April 1760, under the Chevalier de Lévis and James Murray, he takes his men to safety. He has lived in Quebec City and traveled to Jules’s father’s seigneurie. So he knows the terrain.
Jules’s first reaction echoes Marie’s, a “sorceress.” Jules refers to the future.
« Garde ta pitié pour toi-même : tu en auras besoin, lorsque tu porteras dans tes bras le corps sanglant de celui que tu appelles maintenant ton frère ! Je n’éprouve qu’une grande douleur, ô Archibald de Locheill ! c’est celle de ne pouvoir te maudire ! Malheur ! malheur ! malheur ! »
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: p. 323)
[“Keep your pity for yourself, Archibald de Lochiel. You will have need of it all on that day204 when you shall carry in your arms the bleeding body of him you now call your brother!”]
Cameron of Locheil (XIII: 203-205)
– Défendez-vous, monsieur de Locheill, vous aimez les triomphes faciles. Défendez-vous ! Ah ! traître ! À cette nouvelle injure, Arché, se croisant les bras, se contenta de répondre de sa voix la plus affectueuse :
– Toi aussi, mon frère Jules, toi aussi tu m’as condamné sans m’entendre !
Les Anciens Canadiens (XIV: pp. 324)
[“Defend yourself, M. de Lochiel; you, who love easy triumphs, defend yourself, traitor!” At this new insult, Archie folded his arms and answered, in a tone of tender reproach: “Thou, too, my brother Jules, even thou, too, hast thou condemned me unheard?”]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 204-205)
However, as Arché leaves Jules, Jules presses his hand. Arché will then ask to speak to the superior of the hospital. She is Jules’s aunt. At first, she cannot find as suitable a composure as she wishes, but she listens to Arché carefully, weighing every word and will allow him to see Jules.
We are in 1760, three years before the Treaty of Paris 1763. Everything depends on what Jules calls un coup de dé (p. 338), a throw of the dice. But Arché says that, whatever the outcome of the war, he plans to return to Canada and live near his friends.
– Dans l’un ou l’autre cas, dit de Locheill, je ne puis, avec honneur, me retirer de l’armée tant que la guerre durera ; mais advenant la paix, je me propose de vendre les débris de mon patrimoine d’Écosse, d’acheter des terres en Amérique et de m’y fixer. Mes plus chères affections sont ici ; j’aime le Canada, j’aime les mœurs douces et honnêtes de vos bons habitants ; et, après une vie paisible, mais laborieuse, je reposerai du moins ma tête sur le même sol que toi, mon frère Jules.
[“In either case,” said Lochiel, “as long as the war lasts I can not honorably resign my commission. But when peace comes, I propose to sell the poor remnant of my Highland estate and come and establish myself on this side of the water. My deepest affections are here. I love Canada, I love the simple and upright manners of your good habitants; and after a quiet but busy life, I would rest my head beneath the same sod with you, my brother.”]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIII: 212-213)
That is also Jules’s wish, but he has military obligations. Once he has fulfilled his obligations, he will return to Canada.
The Shipwreck of The Auguste
Many upper-class families traveling back to France abord the Auguste died at sea. Chapter XV/XIII is entitled: Le Naufrage de l’Auguste, The Shipwreck of the Auguste. Among victims were Charles-René Dejordy de Villebon, Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye, and Louis de la Corne, Chevalier de la Corne.
In Aubert de Gaspé’s novel, Monsieur de Saint-Luc survives to tell about the unfortunate event. Those who escaped death were helped by Amerindians:
Nous nous traînâmes ainsi, ou plutôt je les traînai pour ainsi dire à la remorque (car le courage, ni même les forces ne me faillirent jamais), jusqu’au 4 de décembre, que nous rencontrâmes deux sauvages. Peindre la joie, l’extase de mes compagnons, qui attendaient à chaque instant la mort pour mettre fin à leurs souffrances atroces, serait au-dessus de toute description. Ces aborigènes ne me reconnurent pas d’abord en me voyant avec ma longue barbe, et changé comme j’étais après tant de souffrances. J’avais rendu précédemment de grands services à leur nation ; et vous savez que ces enfants de la nature ne manquent jamais à la reconnaissance. Ils m’accueillirent avec les démonstrations de la joie la plus vive : nous étions tous sauvés. J’appris alors que nous étions sur l’île du Cap Breton, a trente lieues de Louisbourg.
Les Anciens Canadiens (XV: p, 355)
[“Thus we dragged ourselves on, or rather I dragged them in tow, for neither courage nor strength once failed me till at length, on the 4th of December, we met two Indians. Imagine if you can the delirious joy of my companions, who for the last few days had been looking forward to death itself as a welcome release from their sufferings! These Indians did not recognize me at first, so much was I changed by what I had gone through, and by the long beard which had covered my face. Once I did their tribe a great service; and you know that these natives never forget a benefit. They welcomed me with delight. We were saved. Then I learned that we were on the island of Cape Breton, about thirty leagues from Louisbourg.”Thus we dragged ourselves on, or rather I dragged them in tow, for neither courage nor strength once failed me till at length, on the 4th of December, we met two Indians. Imagine if you can the delirious joy of my companions, who for the last few days had been looking forward to death itself as a welcome release from their sufferings! These Indians did not recognize me at first, so much was I changed by what I had gone through, and by the long beard which had covered my face. Once I did their tribe a great service; and you know that these natives never forget a benefit. They welcomed me with delight. We were saved. Then I learned that we were on the island of Cape Breton, about thirty leagues from Louisbourg.]
Cameron of Lochiel (XIV: 221-222)
A little later, Monsieur de Saint-Luc tells le capitaine d’Haberville, that his family owes a postponement in their returning to France to Cameron de Lochiel, which sounds fictional. James Murray, however, was very good to the people of a defeated New France to the point considering settling in Quebec. (See James Murray, The Dictionary of Canadian Biography). There are descendants of seigneurs in Quebec and Canada. Louis-Joseph Papineau was a seigneur.
If one juxtaposes the Battle of Jumonville Glen and the fall of the New France, the gap is dizzying. But “brothers” who fought on opposite sides, are brought together. All bodes well for the future. Aubert de Gaspé has brought to his a redeeming symmetry. Nouvelle-France falls but it consigned to memory of its people, and it is reborn.
- An Update: the French and Indian War (26 July 2021)
- Last Words on the Battle of Jumonville (25 July 2021)
- The Battle of Jumonville Glen 24 July 2021)
- The Good Gentleman (9 July 2021)
- The Order of Good Cheer (19 June 2021)
- La Débâcle/The Debacle (13 June 2021)
- Jules d’Haberville & Cameron of Lochiel (12 June 2021)
- Les Anciens Canadiens/Cameron of Lochiel (9 June 2021)
- Nouvelle-France’s Last and Lost Battle: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (24 March 2012)
- The Battle of Fort William Henry & Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans (26 March 2012)
- Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran (25 March 2012)
Sources and Resources
Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, & Britannica
Les Anciens Canadiens (ebooksgratuits.com). FR
Cameron of Lochiel (Archive.org ), Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
Cameron of Lochiel is Gutenberg [EBook#53154], Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, translator. EN
The video I am using is about the Battle of Quebec, but this battle is not the Battle fought at the end of December 1755, at an early battle during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Love to everyone 💕
© Micheline Walker
27 July 2021