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MONTCALM AND LÉVIS.
THE Abbé Casgrain is a veritable as by his discovery. To complete this product of his race, his tongue, his re- collection, he has had copies made of ligion, his locality. When he writes, he the documents filed in the Ministry of writes as a Frenchman, as a French the Marine and Colonies and that of War Canadian, as a Catholic, and he writes at Paris, and this series alone comprein the French language. In every one hends nineteen huge volumes in folio. He of these capacities he deserves well of has made abstracts from the collections his race, his tongue, his religion, and in the national archives and the princihis country. To him the Celts are the pal Parisian libraries, as well as from embodiment of everything good in the those in the provinces and in the posTuranian stock, and of these no race session of private families. In his colequals the French, and of the French lection are the writings of Bougainville no branch approaches the Canadian, which treat of Canada, his journal and preserved from the contamination of correspondence; and these constitute two the world in the remoteness to which it great folios of eleven hundred and eightyhas been assigned by the special care of four closely written pages. From the Providence. Perhaps, too, of this chosen little town of Foix among the Pyrenees, people, none are quite equal to those where he brought Jaubert's letters to along the lower St. Lawrence, or, more light, to the British Museum and Public particularly, those dwelling upon the Record Office, and to the libraries and chilly side of Cape Diamond.
government offices of the United States, It is not only his people who owe to say nothing of those of his own counhim much; the students of colonial his- try,
try, - wherever, indeed, anything beartory, the readers, the writers, all are ing upon that portentous epoch was to be indebted to him. He is indefatigable, found, he has delved untiringly and to enthusiastic. What he says of Park- good purpose. man's tirelessness and painstaking may
This brief résumé of what one colbe said of his own: he crosses rivers lector has done shows what a man can and lakes to locate a stockade; he trav- do who is really in earnest; it conveys, erses seas to make sure of a manuscript. too, an adequate realization of the labor His latest labors would be well worth and research of which this latest of his recording. In 1888, while in France, he works, Montcalm et Lévis,' is a result, unearthed eleven volumes of manuscript, and of the value that can be put upon containing the journal of Montcalm, the his statement of facts. It may be said, journal of Lévis, the correspondence of in brief, that this great collection of these two generals, as well as that of materia historica· has enabled him to Vaudreuil, Bourlamaque, Bigot, and a correct some errors, to dissipate many crowd of other officers, civil and mili- obscurities, to cast upon the annals side tary, the reports of divers expeditions, lights which illuminate the story and and the letters and official papers of even modify its character, and has perthe court of Versailles of the epoch of mitted him accurately to weigh divers 1755-60. He did more: he induced contradictory and contending assertions the Quebec government to take upon it- and to settle disputed points. Nothing, self the publication of these documents, it would seem, could stand in the way he overseeing the task; and the world
1 Montcalm et Lévis. Par l'Abbé R. H. CASwill thus benefit by his sagacity as well
Quebec : J. Demers et Frère. 1891.
of a connected, continued, and accurate motives which animate men and which statement of facts; nothing could mar
very soul of the colony. The the completeness and harmony of narra abbé adds that he would be still more tion. There is no room left for error severe were he to criticise Montcalm and save that made by the original writers, Wolfe, the latest production of the hisor that to which fallibility of judgment torian ; thus leaving us to infer that the and passion and prejudice may expose
lack of spiritual qualification so painfully the historian : his reflections and his apparent in Mr. Parkman's early work decisions are all that should remain is still more so in his late one. subjects of appeal.
The abbé, however, has ventured furIn 1885 the Abbé Casgrain concluded ther; he himself has essayed the part of his notice of the life and works of Fran- historian, and historian of the very pecis Parkman with the assertion that the riod which the New Englander is fresh true history of Canada was yet to be from recounting. He tells the same story written in the English language. In over again, and we have reason to exseeking the reasons for this conclusion, pect his presentation of the subject to we are led to his observations upon The be in an altogether different light, and Old Régime in Canada, where, though surrounded by another atmosphere ; for the criticism be glowing in everything here we have a writer who cannot help relating to style, to the conception of comprehending his subject, inasmuch as the subject and disposition of matter, he has the principles which belong to an to the enthusiasm of the writer, his con order of things the Bostonian does not scientious adherence to the truth, and admit; here we are to behold those suhis equally conscientious toil and pa- pernatural motives which animate men, tience, the critic denies to the historian and which were the very soul of the the possession of certain qualifications colony ; here will be rejection of all that without which he cannot even compre- pertains to present existence, and achend his subject. Mr. Parkman, says the ceptance of that which relates to a betabbé, seems to reject everything which ter world and our future destiny only; does not pertain directly to the present and men and things, thoughts and deeds, life, everything which is connected with will be examined and judged from a a better world and with our future de point of view not natural and human. stiny. He examines and judges all - It must be granted that what is grandmen and things, thoughts and deeds — est, most generous, and most heroic in from a purely natural and human point the Canadian past does not suffer at the of view. Therefore his gaze does not Canadian historian's hands, even though dwell upon the finest side of Canadian it requires argument to prove its existhistory; but that which is greatest, most ence and iteration to set it forth ; but generous, and most heroic in this coun as to the rest one remark will suffice, try's past either utterly escapes him, or there is not a trace of a higher life at best but skims the surface of his or of loftier principles than those which mind. In brief, Mr. Parkman, in his are revealed in the pages of the rationcritic's eyes,
is a rationalist, and conse alist ; no supernatural motives animate quently, however picturesque and vivid the unmistakably earthy Canadians; we may be his account of those who exhibit breathe no rarer atmosphere, we quaff faith as the mainspring of their deeds, no purer streams, and, to our great reit is not possible for him to grasp the lief, the point of view is quite natural real character of a people upon whose and human. From beginning to end annals, at almost every page, is to be there is a total absence of everything found the imprint of those supernatural which could suggest that the Canadians
were animated, in assisting at the re- of, opposition to, or criticism of the forduction of Fort William Henry, for ex- mer, and the constant recognition of the ample, by any spirit more mystical than American work as the point of approach that which possessed this fortification's or departure. When Parkman intones, unfortunate defenders, unless we find it
“ Their Dieskau we from them detain, in the pious Lévis attributing that das- While Canada aloud complains, tardly success to the interposition of the And counts the numbers of their slain, Holy Ghost.
And makes a dire complaint,” It is an unfortunate thing for him the abbé responds, who assumes a part already taken that “Je chante des François he is debarred from heightening curios
La valeur et la gloire, ity by the offer of anything novel in
Qui toujours sur l'Anglois the scene. He must take it as the other
Remportent la victoire." found it; he is forced, by the nature From certain causes we deduce certain of the case, to rely upon his more ef- effects, and we come to the irresistible fective personality, and he must make conclusion that to Montcalm and Wolfe this outweigh the advantage already pos- we owe Montcalm et Lévis, and that sessed by his predecessor. Possession is without Parkman we should not have nine points of the law in letters as well had Casgrain. as in jurisprudence, and the later work The most important feature of this is certain to be contrasted with the ear. work, perhaps, is the revelation and exlier. It must not only surpass this in position of the antipathy which existed style and in matter, but it must dislodge between the civil and military powers it and take its place as a better and a as well as between the French and the conclusive exposition of the truth. The Canadians, and the jealousy of Montaspirant's motto should not be “Until calm exhibited by a number of his suborsomething better,” but “After me no- dinates. Where internal contention and thing.” First impressions will hardly bickering are limited to personal rivalry concede to the author of Montcalm et or animosity, so long as they are suborLévis originality in conception of his dinated to the public welfare they are theme. If priority is to have force, then not subjects of history; but when they the conception is Parkman’s, the dispo- threaten the very end of the undertaking sition of material is Parkman's, and the itself which has called them together method of treatment is Parkman's; for upon the scene, they are serious indeed, where this work is not antiphonal to and their gravity makes them historical. Montcalm and Wolfe, it is one and the Such was the case during the period same thing. It has the same subject and of 1755-60, and the animosity which the same object; it has almost the same arose between Montcalm, the commander title, and it covers the same ground; its of the forces, and Vaudreuil, the gorconstitution, tout ensemble, and division ernor-general, is not to be underrated. are the same;
with the One would suppose that if ever the same ghost story. One of these works, things that are Cæsar's should be renhowever, is written in English, the other dered unto Cæsar, it is in a war to the in French; this has for its author a death. They manage these things betCanadian, that an American. The dif- ter in France - or worse. An old-time ference of race in the writers manifests jealousy of the French army, and of itself, and the stories, though similar, French influence whenever it was exare not entirely the same; while the erted in the colony, had long existed subordinate character of the later work in Canada, and Vaudreuil, a Canadian is betrayed by the recurring correction born, was the exponent of this feeling. He made it felt at Versailles before The feeling existing between the Montcalm had set foot aboard ship, and French and the Canadians at that time made it felt in such a way that the in- manifests itself in the Abbé Casgrain's structions to the new commander-in-chief work to-day. One cannot resist the concontained an injunction that his plans viction that it was written for the purand contemplated operations should al- pose of setting forth the part played by ways be first submitted for the approval the Canadians in the best light possible. of the governor-general, who had a There cannot be any objection to this ; royal letter containing this statement : on the contrary, the task is a commend“ The Marquis of Montcalm has not able one, if conscientiously performed. command of the regular troops ; he can The danger besetting a writer in such a have it only under your authority, and case is that of sinking the historian in he must be wholly under your orders.” the advocate ; but, that offense avoided, The house was divided against itself at no offering to Clio could be more pleasthe outset, and the result of this is, ing. We know that, upon our side, the the assumptions of a governor who pre- same jealousy between the regulars and posterously claims every success as his the militia existed, the same disdain of own and lays every failure upon the the provincial by the European. With shoulders of the general, and an acri- us, too, this feeling left its mark upon monious and bitter contention between history in Braddock's and Abercrombie's the elements of Old and New French defeats, and in the reluctance of differwhich would be contemptible were not ent colonies to forward men and supits consequences so very serious ; for the plies, and was recalled with such bitenemies of Montcalm (who, to judge terness, half a generation later, that it from this book, at last comprised nearly cannot be overlooked in assigning active everybody contained in the word “Cana- motives for our revolt. There is a comdians ") go so far as to insinuate that plete historical parallel in the cases of the fall of Quebec was due to Montcalm the Americans and the Canadians. The prematurely ordering the attack in order Europeans landed with a consciousness to anticipate Vaudreuil, who was hasten- of superiority, which, on being met by ing up with the rest of the army. resentment, manifested itself in disdain.
Nor was the French army itself free There was the same contempt of the from dissension. The animosity exist regulars for the provincial way of fighting between the French and Canadians, ing, and the same refusal to recognize in it is true, could not divide the regular it the mode adapted to a country where army, which was altogether French, but there was no cavalry, field artillery, or it aggravated the invidious comparison baggage trains, nor any chance of using between Montcalm and Lévis already them if they existed. The results were whispered, and favored the enemies of the same : the French incurred Dieskau's Montcalm in his own camp.
defeat and the fall of Quebec, where hardly be said that there was a Mont- those who escaped from the field did so calm party and a Lévis party among under cover of the despised Canadians ; the regular troops, for the cool and self- and the British met with Braddock’s decontained Lévis would not permit such a feat, where those who regained Fort dangerous and unmilitary condition ; but Cumberland did so under the protection there andoubtedly existed a coterie, of of the slighted provincials. The work which it is noticeable that, while Lévis of the Abbé Casgrain clearly reveals the is lauded to the skies, Montcalm is the progress of this jealousy in the cabinet object of criticism invariably tinged with and in the field, until it culminates in censoriousness.
irretrievable disaster to the cause which brought the discordant elements into Other important features of this work conjunction.
are to be found in the effects of the famWe cannot, however, yield our entire ine, and the glimpses of social life among sympathy to the unintermitting attempts the higher classes during the sway of to attribute every success to the Cana- Bigot. An undertone of anti - Montdians, and every failure to the French. calmism runs from cover to cover. It We are willing to adınit much; but Os- would have been well, perhaps, to dwell wego was taken by French skill, Fort more emphatically and in detail upon William Henry was reduced by French the growing indifference of the court toskill; Abercrombie was repulsed by wards Canada, indifference which culFrench valor, and the victory of Ste. minated in the sneer of Voltaire. It Foy was shared by the French with the would have been better and it would Canadians, and was achieved under a have been a mere recognition of humanFrench leader. The Canadians, in fact, ity) had the author forborne to quote, throughout this war, never took a prin- and to adopt as expressive of his own cipal part, except in the affair of the sentiment, the unutterably mean obserMonongahela ; they figured only in vations in which Lévis shifts the blame subordinate parts or in minor warfare, of the Fort William Henry butchery and in these they gained the respect upon the butchered. He could learn a neither of their auxiliaries nor of their lesson in this respect from the Abbé foes. Where there was one Beaujeu Gabriel. Whatever the shortcomings of there were a hundred La Cornes. A long Montcalm and whatever the performand eventful war, during which their ance of his lieutenant, the world has not country was at stake, produced not a taken Lévis to its bosom as it has Montsingle man among them much above calm, and it will require more than one mediocrity ; not a single poet uttered a work like Montcalm et Lévis to effect a lament over Canada's downfall, nor was change now in its regard. As far as the there an annalist to record the bravery Abbé Casgrain's work is concerned, the of his countrymen. Not until the mists question whether the true history of of a century had hidden what they did Canada has been written in the French not magnify did a historian arise to tell language seems still to remain an open of their deeds.
COMMENT ON NEW BOOKS.
Poetry and the Drama. Poems of Sid- those who, with the quick sympathy of youth, ney Lanier, edited by his Wife ; with a Me- are attracted by the passionate struggle for morial by William Hayes Ward. (Scrib- full utterance which marks much of this ners.) A new edition, though there is no poetry. It is rare that one can say, Here intimation how far the book is an advance is the mastery of poetic expression, but upon the edition published in 1884. As often one can be aware of a strong spirit a collection of Lanier's verse, however, it imprisoned by words. — Is condensation so cannot fail to find its place. It is to be prime a requisite in literary art that our feared that the place will not be in a general instinctive criticism of much current verse popular regard, for the appeal which La- lies in this direction ? Here is The Highnier makes, with all his fervor, is to a some- Top Sweeting, and Other Poems, by Elizawhat small class, first of students of po- beth Akers. (Scribners.) The poems are etry, curious in the technique, and then of marked by pure sentiment and genuine