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160
[LITERATURE
CANADA

fame, but their absorbingly interesting journals are none the less an essential part of the literature of the country.

Barring the work of Francis Parkman, who was not a Canadian, no history of the first rank has yet been written in or of Canada. Canadian historians have not merely lacked so far the genius for really great historical work, but they have lacked the point of view; they have stood too close to their subject to get the true perspective. At the same time they have brought together invaluable material for the great historian of the future. Robert Christie’s History of Lower Canada (1848–1854) was the first serious attempt to deal with the period of British rule. William Kingsford’s (1819–1898) ambitious work, in ten volumes, comes down like Christie’s to the Union of 1841, but goes back to the very beginnings of Canadian history. In the main it is impartial and accurate, but the style is heavy and sometimes slovenly. J. C. Dent’s (1841–1888) Last Forty Years (1880) is practically a continuation of Kingsford. Dent also wrote an interesting though one-sided account of the rebellion of 1837. Histories of the maritime provinces have been written by Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Beamish Murdoch and James Hannay. Haliburton’s is much the best of the three. The brief but stirring history of western Canada has been told by Alexander Begg (1840–1898); and George Bryce (b. 1844) and Beckles Willson (b. 1869) have written the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Much scholarship and research have been devoted to local and special historical subjects, a notable example of which is Arthur Doughty’s exhaustive work on the siege of Quebec. J. McMullen (b. 1820), Charles Roberts (b. 1860) and Sir John Bourinot (1837–1902) have written brief and popular histories, covering the whole field of Canadian history more or less adequately. Alpheus Todd’s (1821–1884) Parliamentary Government in England (1867–1869) and Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies (1880) are standard works, as is also Bourinot’s Parliamentary Procedure and Practice (1884).

Biography has been devoted mainly to political subjects. The best of these are Joseph Pope’s Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald (1894), W. D. le Sueur’s Frontenac (1906), Sir John Bourinot’s Lord Elgin (1905), Jean McIlwraith’s Sir Frederick Haldimand (1904), D. C. Scott’s John Graves Simcoe (1905), A. D. de Celles’ Papineau and Cartier(1904), Charles Lindsey’s William Lyon Mackenzie (1862), J. W. Longley’s Joseph Howe (1905) and J. S. Willison’s Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1903).

In belles lettres very little has been accomplished, unless we may count Goldwin Smith (q.v.) as a Canadian. As a scholar, a thinker, and a master of pure English he has exerted a marked influence upon Canadian literature and Canadian life.

While mediocrity is the prevailing characteristic of most of what passes for poetry in Canada, a few writers have risen to a higher level. The conditions of Canadian life have not been favourable to the birth of great poets, but within the limits of their song such men as Archibald Lampman (1861–1891), William Wilfred Campbell (b. 1861), Charles Roberts, Bliss Carman (b. 1861) and George Frederick Cameron have written lines that are well worth remembering. Lampman’s poetry is the most finished and musical. He fell short of being a truly great poet, inasmuch as great poetry must, which his does not, touch life at many points, but his verses are marked by the qualities that belonged to the man—sincerity, purity, seriousness. Campbell’s poetry, in spite of a certain lack of compression, is full of dramatic vigour: Roberts has put some of his best work into sonnets and short lyrics, while Carman has been very successful with the ballad, the untrammelled swing and sweep of which he has finely caught; the simplicity and severity of Cameron’s style won the commendation of even so exacting a critic as Matthew Arnold. One remarkable drama—Charles Heavysege’s (1816–1876) Saul (1857)—belongs to Canadian literature. Though unequal in execution, it contains passages of exceptional beauty and power. The sweetness and maturity of Isabella Valency Crawford’s (1851–1887) verse are also very worthy of remembrance. The habitant poems of Dr W. H. Drummond (1854–1907) stand in a class by themselves, between English and French Canadian literature, presenting the simple life of the habitant with unique humour and picturesqueness.

The first distinctively Canadian novel was John Richardson’s (1796–1852) Wacousta (1832), a stirring tale of the war of 1812. Richardson afterwards wrote half a dozen other romances, dealing chiefly with incidents in Canadian history. Susanna Moodie (1803–1885) and Katharine Parr Traill (1802–1899), sisters of Agnes Strickland, contributed novels and tales to one of the earliest and best of Canadian magazines, the Literary Garland (1838–1847). The Golden Dog, William Kirby’s (1817–1906) fascinating romance of old Quebec, appeared in 1877, in a pirated edition. Twenty years later the first authorized edition was published. James de Mille (1833–1880) was the author of some thirty novels, the best of which is Helena’s Household (1868), a story of Rome in the 1st century. The Dodge Club (1869), a humorous book of travel, appeared, curiously enough, a few months before Innocents Abroad. De Mille’s posthumous novel, A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder (1888), describes a singular race whose cardinal doctrine is that poverty is honourable and wealth the reverse. Sir Gilbert Parker (b. 1862) stands first among contemporary Canadian novelists. He has made admirable use in many of his novels of the inexhaustible stores of romantic and dramatic material that lie buried in forgotten pages of Canadian history. Of later Canadian novelists mention may be made of Sara Jeannette Duncan (Mrs Everard Cotes, b. 1862), Ralph Connor (Charles W. Gordon, b. 1866), Agnes C. Laut (b. 1872), W. A. Fraser (b. 1859) and Ernest Thompson Seton (b. 1860). Thomas Chandler Haliburton (q.v.) stands in a class by himself. In many respects his is the most striking figure in Canadian literature. He is best known as a humorist, and as a humorist he ranks with the creators of “My Uncle Toby” and “Pickwick.” But there is more than humour in Haliburton’s books. He lacked, in fact, but one thing to make him a great novelist: he had no conception of how to construct a plot. But he knew human nature, and knew it intimately in all its phases; he could construct a character and endow it with life; his people talk naturally and to the point; and many of his descriptive passages are admirable. Those who read Haliburton’s books only for the sake of the humour will miss much of their value. His inimitable Clockmaker (1837), as well as the later books, The Old Judge (1849), The Attaché (1843), Wise Saws and Modern Instances (1853) and Nature and Human Nature (1855), are mirrors of colonial life and character.

For general treatment of English-Canadian literature, reference may be made to Sir John Bourinot’s Intellectual Development of the Canadian People (1881); G. Mercer Adam’s Outline History of Canadian Literature (1887); “Native Thought and Literature,” in J. E. Collins’s Life of Sir John A. Macdonald (1883); “Canadian Literature,” by J. M. Oxley, in the Encyclopaedia Americana, vol. ix. (1904); A. MacMurchy’s Handbook of Canadian Literature (1906); and articles by J. Castell Hopkins, John Reade, A. B. de Mille and Thomas O’Hagan, in vol. v. of Canada: an Encyclopaedia of the Country (1898–1900); also to Henry J. Morgan’s Bibliotheca Canadensis (1867) and Canadian Men and Women of the Time (1898); W. D. Lighthall, Songs of the Great Dominion; Theodore Rand’s Treasury of Canadian Verse (1900); C. C. James’s Bibliography of Canadian Verse (1898); L. E. Horning’s and L. J. Burpee’s Bibliography of Canadian Fiction (1904); S. E. Dawson’s Prose Writers of Canada (1901); “Canadian Poetry,” by J. A. Cooper, in The National, 29, p. 364; “Recent Canadian Fiction,” by L. J. Burpee, in The Forum, August 1899. For individual authors, see Haliburton’s A Centenary Chaplet (1897), with a bibliography; “Haliburton,” by F. Blake Crofton, in Canada: an Encyclopaedia of the Country; C. H. Farnham’s Life of Francis Parkman and H. D. Sedgwick’s Francis Parkman (1901); and articles on “Parkman,” by E. L. Godkin, in The Nation, 71, p. 441; by Justin Winsor in The Atlantic, 73, p. 660; by W. D. Howells, The Atlantic, 34, p. 602; by John Fiske, The Atlantic, 73, p. 664; by J. B. Gilder in The Critic, 23, p. 322; “Goldwin Smith as a Critic,” by H. Spencer, Contemp. Review, 41, p. 519; “Goldwin Smith’s Historical Works,” by C. E. Norton, North American Review, 99, p. 523; “Poetry of Charles Heavysege,” by Bayard Taylor, Atlantic, 16, p. 412; “Charles Heavysege,” by L. J. Burpee, in Trans. Royal Society of Canada, 1901; “Archibald Lampman,” by W. D. Howells, Literature (N.Y.), 4, p. 217; “Archibald Lampman,” by L. J. Burpee, in North American Notes and Queries (Quebec), August and September 1900; “Poetry of Bliss Carman,” by J. P. Mowbray, Critic, 41,