« PreviousContinue »
French than the French themselves in all but name, dwell in amity together. Forest, river, mountain, picturesque hamlet, and broad, wellcultivated fields combine to form a prospect than which the world holds no fairer; and dominating all, firmly fixed on her rocky height and nestling round its base with the river at her feet, sits Quebec, the most ancient, the most captivating, the most historic city on the continent, vibrant with the eager throbbing life of the new world, yet full of the charm and quaintness of the old. It is in these picturesque and historic surroundings that the British and French Canadians, ignoring the animosities of the past, are together building up one of the great nations of the earth. Here shorn of their cruelties and oppressions are being re-enacted under our eyes from day to day the events which followed the Conquest of England by William of Normandy, when Saxon and Norman amalgamated to form the English race as it exists at this hour. The process then was a slow one, and centuries passed before the fusion of the two peoples was complete. Nor does Canada offer a wide contrast in this respect. One of the features of the problem in Quebec that strikes one most forcibly is the tardiness with which the two peoples who inhabit the province are mingling. In aims and aspirations, and in loyal co-operation towards the common end the British and French are as one, but the racial streams flow on apart, just as when two great rivers join in a common channel many a mile must be followed before the signs of their separate sources are lost, and the mingled waters course onward undistinguishably together. The French have absorbed Fraser's Highlanders, but the more prepotent Anglo-Saxon preserves himself apart. Perhaps the greatest obstacle is language. This stands up between the peoples of Quebec as an impassable barrier at the impressionable age when the chances of fusion are most favourable, and mixed marriages are of comparatively rare occurrence. There is a side to this question which is of deep interest to anyone who cares to look into the future. The French-Canadians are one of the most prolific peoples in the world. Their birth rate surpasses even that of Russia, while that of their coheritors of the soil of Canada tends year by year to follow the declining scale which prevails at home in England. If the tendency which is at present so obvious continues to prevail, the predominant strain in the Canadian race of the future will undoubtedly be French. Less than a generation ago there were indications that emigration to the United States would absorb the surplus French-Canadian population. Latterly, however, this tide has turned. The development of Canada affords ample scope for the energies of all her children, and the sons of the ‘habitant' when they leave the parental homestead go west instead of south, and lend their stout arms to dig the mines and cut the lumber of Ontario, or break the prairies of the North West. The situation is one of which no man can see the end, but whatever its outcome Englishmen now have no fear that the French-Canadian will wish to sever the British connection. They are Canadians first, and they have every reason to be proud of their nativeland, but they are true Imperialists, and prize as highly as any people under the flag their place in the British Empire. An incident which came under my notice last autumn brought this home to me convincingly. I had the privilege to be one of the officers of a detachment of Volunteer Artillery which went to Canada last July to engage in military competitions with the Canadian Militia. For a portion of the visit we were quartered in the citadel of Quebec. During our stay the officer commanding the fortress was a French-Canadian, and I never met an officer who was prouder of the uniform he wore. An ancestor of his had fought under Montcalm in the defence of Quebec. We discussed that great event, and he, not I, was warmest in the expression of the view that what happened there was best for Canada and her people. Together we went over the Plains of Abraham, and were mutual in our regrets that the battlefield whereon the army in which his forefather had fought and that to which he himself now belonged had gained imperishable glory, was so much neglected. Little, in truth, has hitherto been done to commemorate the great events which occurred on this fair terrain a century and a half ago. On the Plains of Abraham a tall pillar, with the simple legend
marks the spot where the hero fell. A couple of miles out of Quebec along the leafy Ste. Foye road, at the spot where the April snows were dyed with the blood of both armies, an iron column surmounted by a statue of Bellona, the gift of Napoleon III. (then Prince Napoleon Bonaparte), stands with the inscription ‘Aux Braves,” in commemoration of the soldiers of both armies who died in the Second Battle of the Plains. In Quebec a common memorial WOL. XXV.-NO, 145, N.S., 6
records the name and the fate of the two commanders who died on the same fatal September 13, 1759. It bears the following inscription:
MORTEM WIRTUS COMMUNEM
The battlefield has not only been entirely neglected, but it is disfigured and disgraced by the presence of a common gaol erected on its sacred soil, actually between the spot where Wolfe received his first wound and that where he breathed his last. Other almost equally inappropriate buildings, including a factory, desecrate the scene. It is now proposed to remove these, and to render the site worthy in some degree at least of the men and the events associated with it. The time for this has been fittingly chosen. This month Quebec will celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of her foundation by Champlain on the site of the ancient Indian village of Stadacona.
The proposal for the consecration of the Plains of Abraham as the main feature of the Tercentenary Celebrations has touched a chord which thrills through the whole Empire of which Canada is such a glorious part. It has found a warm and responsive echo in the French Republic and in Canada's near neighbour, the United States of America. Every portion of the Empire is joining in the movement, and France and the United States are sending ships and soldiers to join our own in paying tribute to the memory of the great dead. The United States, as well as France and ourselves, has a right to participate in the consecration of the heights behind Cape Diamond. Her sons have also shed their blood and laid their bones within the shadow of Quebec, first as loyal colonists under Wolfe and later as gallant enemies under General Montgomery, who died a soldier's death on the banks of the St. Lawrence.
His Majesty King Edward has given his warm approval and support to the project, and, as mentioned above, the Prince and Princess of Wales will take part in the ceremony of dedication. The details of Earl Grey’s noble proposal are simple and direct. His suggestion is that the Plains of Abraham shall be purchased from the present owners, that the present buildings which disfigure the battlefield shall be removed, and the plains put in a shape which will gratify the historic sentiment of British, French, and Americans alike. A museum is to be erected on the field, where the relics and the records of the past will be stored, and, lastly, the famous Dufferin Terrace, the most magnificent promenade in the world, is to be continued along the edge of the cliffs overhanging the St. Lawrence to the place where Wolfe's forlorn hope scaled the heights, and thence along the road over which he marched his men before they deployed in battle formation, across the battlefield of Ste. Foye, over the picturesque heights of St. Charles, which look out over the valley to the mountains beyond, and so back to Quebec through the St. John's Gate.
Earl Grey has also suggested that a figure of the Angel of Peace should take the place of the magazine on the extreme edge of Cape Diamond, so that the first object the emigrant or the visitor will see as he sails up the St. Lawrence will be the outstretched arms of the figure of Peace welcoming him to the new land. These are admirable and well-conceived proposals, which if carried out, as they certainly will be, will awaken and inspire the most generous sentiments and recollections. They will not unworthily commemorate the great and fruitful deeds which men of heroic mould in days gone by sealed with their blood; they will create new bonds of amity and friendship between England and France, and establish a fresh community of sentiment between the two older nations and the two great peoples which have sprung from their loins on the other side of the Atlantic.
R. J. MACHUGH.
THE BOOK ON THE TABLE.1
If those who speak with authority on the subject are to be trusted, we have never been more near to a friendly understanding with Nature. There is a way in particular, neither difficult nor very arduous, by which we may quickly learn all that is essential to know of her. We must set aside inherited fears of darkness and our degraded love of roofs and walls, and, provided with pillows and a few rugs, commit ourselves bravely to a night out on some sheltered English lawn in summer time. So, in the dark and silent hours when the heavens are nearest to us, personality—as one of Nature's devotees has expressed it—glides into the stream of cosmic existence and the fellowship of all existences within the universe is made real and significant to the initiated mind. Beautiful it is after these hours of enlightened sleep to rise with the sun, our hearts new made, innocent and kind as Nature herself. Not for all, however, such cleansings of the spirit. Nature, like other ladies of high estate, has, it seems, her fastidious preferences, rigid laws of approach, and methods of avoidance. The townsman who could not, if he would, sleep upon a lawn clearly knows her not; nor the labourer who, living by toil on land and sea, dreads nothing so much as the breath of Nature in places where he sleeps; nor the sportsman who surely is but a hired servant, else would he not write essays upon her charms ? Thus Nature, friendly and amenable as she is, grants access to a favoured few only, and they rejoice in her as a possession not merely lovely but exclusive. Meanwhile here and there a sportsman breaks silence and tells us strange things of this gentle beneficent Nature of ours. Let us hear what Colonel Patterson, for instance, has to say of the fellowship of all existences as observed from the branches of a tree in the wilds of East Africa. “It was a calm and perfect night, such as can be seen only in the tropics . . . the economy in description is tantalising, but the writer has other occupation on hand than to register picturesque impressions. In these still
* The Man-Eaters of Tsaro, and other East African Adventures, by Colonel J. H. Patterson.