Reviews Volume 3

1922 Canadian Historical Review  
Press. 1921. Pp. xii, 539. THis long and ambitious work, which was hardly completed when the author died in 1916, aims at telling the story of exploration and discovery in both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles from the beginning up to the present time. Part I, which deals with Arctic explorations, contains naturally much that touches ma the geographical aspects of Canadian history. It contains accounts of the voyages of the Northmen, of Frobisher and Davis, of Baffin and Hudson, of Hearne and
more » ... ckenzie, of Ross and Franklin, of Amundsen and Berniermto mention only the most outstanding of the explorers who have contributed to the making of the map of northern Canada. The attempt to include, within the covers of a single volume, an account of the work, not only of these explorers, but of other Arctic explorers as well, and, in addition, the whole story of Antarctic exploration, has imposed on the author a brevity and succinctness which makes the book at times reminiscent of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle. One result of this brevity is that the author is occasionally too dogmatic. One would never guess, for example, from his pages that there was any doubt or controversy over the location of Vinland: Karlsefni had discovered America. His first land was what is now called Baffin Land, his next the coast of Labrador, and the Vinland of Leif is the east coast of Newfoundland (p. 415). It would be pleasant to be able to settle insoluble historical problems in this way with a mere ipse dixit. The fact, however, that the book was not revised by the author before his death, and that one or two chapters were actually unfinished, disarms criticism. Possibly, had he been able to prepare his manuscript for the press, and had he been able himself to revise the proofsheets, Sir Clements Markham might have made many changes. As the book stands, it is the result of enormous labour and much erudition, and serves to give the reader a view, within reasonable scope, of the whole history of the Polar Regions. It should be added that through the pages of the book are interspersed many admirable maps and charts. PROBABLY no period has been examined more thoroughly than that of the American Revolution. A separate biography has been written even of nearly every secondary figure in the great struggle. Every campaign has been studied exhaustively. Travellers such as Benjamin Lossing have visited the places connected with the history and described not only the events of the past but the conditions existing at the time of the visit. Collections have been issued of the writings of such persons as Washington, John Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison, who sat in the Continental Congress. A vast literature lies open to the student. But it is a rather odd fact that, until now, no attempt has been 'made to give as full a record as possible of the proceedings of the Continental Congress under whose authority the struggle was conducted. There is a bald official record of the Congress, but it lacks colo,ur. Not only were the sessions held in private, but the members were under a pledge of secrecy even in talking to their friends. In their most private letters they were guarded and sometimes they apologized •or the necessary lack of candour. The only possibility in our time of giving life to the proceedings of the Congress was to collect from letters, journals, and any other conceivable source, anything of value that was recorded at the time about the Congress. This Dr. Burnett, with an industry and a method beyond praise, has now done. The result will be six portly volumes telling the story of the Congress from its beginning, when in it sat the best men in the colonies, to the later days when, forlorn and discredited, it ceased to exist, to the relief of the new nation which it had brought into being. This first volume contains much of interest in regard to the history of Canada. During the period covered (to July 4, 1776), we have fulminations against the policy of the •)uebec Act, followed by the outbreak of war with Great Britain. Then came the decisio• of Washington that, since British naval power could use the St. Lawrence and make •)uebec and Montreal a perpetual menace to the lines of the Hudson, the occupation of Canada was vital to the American cause. The twofold and ultimately disastrous invasion of Canada followed. Meanwhile, however, the British were driven from Boston and, until their capture of New York later in the year 1776, they had no foothold, south of Canada, on the coast of what is now the United States. And when the British were preparing for great and, as they were to prove• successful efforts to occupy New York and Philadelphia, Congress, on July 4, 1776, -Friday, June 03, 2016 9:23:31 AM -IP Address: I•EVIEWS OF BOOKS 69 took the irrevocable step and passed the Declaration of Independence. The leaders of the Revolution rarely lacked self-consciousness. Abraham Clark of New Jersey, Who joined in the Declaration, writes grandiloquently, "I am among a Consistory of Kings"; and he called the Congress "the greatest Assembly on earth." John Adams wrote that "the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhdps, never was nor will be decided among men." It is singular that, in spite of the painting by Trumbull in the Capitol at Washington, depicting the scene, the Declaration was apparently not signed at the time by the members present. Already the jest was current that the revolutionists must hang together or hang singly, but they signed singly as occasion offered, when, weeks later, the Declaration had been engrossed. It was signed even by members who had not been present at its adoption. In such ways does the cynical jade of history pour scornful ridicule on popular traditions. The signing of the Declaration, like Wolfe's repeating of Gray's "Elegy", has got into the wrong place in the popular mind. It does' not greatly matter. What mdtters is the filling in o,f sober background in great epochs, and this volume plays its part in this useful work. The Continental Congress faced two great problems-the determining of the relations of the colonies with Britain and the carrying on of the war. Pervading the writings here is a deep sense of responsibility, a ebnviction that a vital issue is involved, and a resolve to go on without feeling any panic because of apparent failure. The background is very obviously the late eighteenth century. In spite of a serious effort to move to Hartford, because of its nearness to the scene of conflict in New England, the Congress continued to sit in Philadelphia until, in 1777, the British took that place. John Adams describes houses there as "grand", "spacious", and "elegant"; he is lodged at the most "genteel" tavern in America, and coaches drawn by "four beautiful horses" are driven by Philadelphia magnates. Congress sits from nine to three nearly always and sometimes on to four or even six, with the result that the members complain o• overwork and lack of exercise. John Adams describes his day: "We go to Congress at nine, an•d there we stay, most earnestly engaged in debates upon the most abstruse mysteries of state, until three in the afternoon; then we adjourn, and go to dine with some of the nobles of Pennsylvania at four o'clock, and feast upon ten thousand delicacies, and sit drinking Madeira, Claret and Burgundy, till six or seven, and then go home fatigued to death with business, company, and care. Yet I hold it out surprisingly" (p. 00). Them is much admiration of the eloquence not only of speeches and sermons, but also of prayers. The chaplain, Mr. Duch6, opene'd the Congress in 1774 with a prayer "which it was worth riding one hundred miles to hear." Thoi•gh an Anglican, he "pr'ayed without book about ten minutes so pertinently, with such fervency, purity and sublimity of style and sentiment . . . that even Quakers shed tears." This scene reminds us inevitably of Oliver Cromwell and his fellow officers praying together at Windsor before they took the momentous decision which brought Charles I to the block. Already Patrick Henry was holding that the tyra'nny of George III had dissolved all 'government in the colonies and brought that "state of nature" on which a new structure might'be built. We wonder whether Henry was thinking of Rousseau and the social contract. Certainly the members were examining the foundations. The difference between Freemen and Slaves, it was said, lay in the fact that Freemen ,were not bound to submit to the arbitrary will of another. There was from the first much debate about Canada. Washington, described in 1774 as tall with a rather hard face, "a very young look and an easy soldier-like air and gesture" (p. 28), was from the first convinced that the side which held Canada would win the war. This feeling was fortified by the passion against the Quebec Act, setting up arbitrary government and the Roman Catholic faith at Quebec. It was believed that the French would welcome deliverance from the yoke of Britain. When Washington was at Cambridge, holding Gage shut up in Boston, he planned two expeditions, one open, the other secret. There is bare mention of Benedict Arnold's secret adventure, but we hear much of that of Schuyler and Montgomery. With Montreal taken, came the exultant belief that Canada was secure. A Canadian convention should be called to send delegates to Congress. In any case Britain had no right, it was said, to hold all of Canada. I-fad not colonial soldiers done much of the work of conquest? The Canadian horizon soon clouded. Montgomery's army was illdisciplined and disobedient. There was lack of "hard" money, in a word of gold and silver, and the Canadians resented the offering to them of the paper money already on its down grade to worthlessness. Then, on t[ae last day of 1775, came the tragedy of Montgomery's failure and death before Quebec. Only slowly did the news reach Philadelphia. But on January 18, 1770, it was proposed in Congress that the members should wear mourning for Montgomery during a month, that there should be a public monument, and a memorial service with a sermon. The monument was to come from France at a cost of not more than three hundred pounds. The funeral oration was delivered some weeks were thought to be interwoven with every part of the Oration which were displeasing to the Auditory. It was remarked that he could not even keep their attention. A Circle of Ladies, who had seated themselves in a convenient place on purpose to see as well as hear the Orator, that th'ey might take every Advantage for the Indulgence of Griefe on so melancholy an Occasion, were observed to look much disappointed and chagrined" (p. 365),. So incensed was Congress at the tone of the oration that it refused to order it to be printed. Censorious John Adams called it "an insolent performance". Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which came out about the same time, was assuredly a vigorous corrective. With matters going badly in Canada, Franklin was chosen as the Chief member of a committee to go there. Not only his wisdom and experience but his knowledge of French and of France led to his selection. "The Unanimous Voice of the Continent is Canada must be ours; Quebec must be taken," said John Adams. With Franklin was to go Chase of Maryland and Charles Carroll of Carrolton. Adams wrote of Carroll: He has a Fortune as I am well informed which is computed to be worth Two hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling. He is a Native of Maryland, and his Father is still living. He had a liberal Education in France and is well acquainted with the French Nation. He speaks their Language as easily as ours; and what is perhaps of more Consequence than all the rest, he was educated in the Roman Catholic Religion and still continues to worship his Maker the Rites of that Church. In the Cause of American Liberty his Zeal Fortitude and-Perseverance have been so conspicuous that he is said to be marked out for peculiar Vengeance by the Friends of Administration; But he continues to hazard his all, his immense Fortune, the largest in America, and his Life. This Gentleman's Character, if I foresee aright, will hereafter make a greater Figure in America. His abilities are very good, his Knowledge and Learning extensive (p. 354). Carroll's brother, a priest, was also to go, And to command the army in Canada was to be sent Charles Lee, the general who ranked next to Washington in the public eye as a soldier. The only result in Canada was failure and, with this sinister cloud darkening in the north, Congress took the finally decisive step. Individual colonies had voted for independence. Massachusetts, the s•e'ne of war, was for independence at an early date, and John Adams records his growing objection to the use of the terms "colony" and "mother country". But the middle colonies had seen no war and were still for reconciliation, while the southern states were monarchical in feeling and dreaded the excesses of democracy.. The tide was, however, -Friday, June 03, 2016 9:23:31 AM -IP Address: 72 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW irresistible. On July 2, 1776, Congress voted unanimously, not by individuals but by states, for independence, and, on July 4, the formal declaration w•s made which broke up the older British Empire. From the proceedings of the Congress it seems clear that, for the time at least, the political difficulty could have been solved short of independence, had it not been for the resentment aroused by the shedding of blood. Each side could say, of course, that the other began it, but the new-made graves lay in colonial soil and were a perpetual text for homilies on the cruelty and bloody-mindedness of the British ministry. No one in Congress seems to have thought it possible that Canada should remain outside the so-called Continental Union. Most of the colonial traders who had sought fortune in Canada were on the side of revolution. It is one of the paradoxes of history that, had Canada been more completely anglicized in 1776, it would probably to-day be a part of the United States. The French element did not save Canada to Britain by any feats of arms; but they proved a non-conductor to those currents of opinion which brought even the monarchical south into the republic. GEORGE M. WRONG t A History of Minnesota. By WILLIAM WATTS FOLWELL. In Four Volumes: Volume I. Saint Paul: The Minnesota H•storical Society. 1921. Pp. xix, 533. IT is difficult to realize that until the end of the eighteenth century, and indeed for some years after that, the history of Minnesota was part of the history of Canada. Minnesota was first explored in the seventeenth cen.tury by explorers from New France; it was, during the whole of the eighteenth century, exploited almost exclusively by Canadian furtraders; and, although British authority was finally withdrawn {rom it by Jay's treaty in 1794, the Union Jack still flew for twenty years afterwards over the trading-posts of the North West Company within its boundaries. The first three chapters of this first volume of the History of Minnesota which Dr. Folwell, the president emeritus of the University of Minnesota, has undertaken, do little more, therefore, than cover a particular phase of the history of Canada; and in the chapters that follow there are constantly recurring passages which have a distinct interest for students of Canadian history. Seldom has local history been presented in a more attractive and scholarly way than in Dr. Folwell's pages. Though apparently not a professi,ona! historian (for he began his academic career, it seems, as a professor of mathematics), he has all the necessary equipment of an historical writer. His style is clear and picturesque; he marshals his materials with masterly precision; and into his copious footnotes there -Friday, June 03, 2016 9:23:31 AM -IP Address: THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW hearted attempt to Anglicize and Anglicanize the French Roman Catholics of Lower Canada. The story of the Royal Institution for the Advancement Of Learning, which too long ,controlled the endowment of McGill, is one which reflects cred,•t neither on the statesmanship of the Home government, nor on that of the Church of England authorities in Lower Canada. Lack of discernment of the signs of the times and undignified personal squabbles mark the history ot[ McGill's benefaction from 1813 to 1855. But instead of a vivid and sympathetic history, we are too often put off by Professor MacMillan with vague references to "numerous other differences of opinion" (p. 98), or to descriptions of narrow-minded ecclesiastics as "men of far and clear vision, of unfaltering cc•urage and unwavering faith." The well-known opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in the early nineteenth century to the proselytizings of the Royal Institution and similar attempts to Anglicanize them is thinly disguised as "opposition from one s•ection of the community" (p.,18). But while Professoy MacMillan has not seized the opportunity of writing a definitive histoYy of McGill, the volume is a fitting memorial of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of this great institution. New York: Published by the Author. 1921. Pp. ii, 126, iii-v. Bo•u these books are contributions of original value to the history of that famous scarlet-coated force which, after keeping the King's peace for nearly half a century on the prairies of the Canadian West, passed out of existence in 1920 as "the Royal North-West Mounted Police", and became merged in "the Canadian Mounted Police". The story of the North-West Mounted Police is one of the shining pages of Canadian history, and anything which serves to throw light on it is welcome. Mr. MacBeth's book, which is the more ambitious of the two, aims at telling the story of the R.N.W.M.P. from first to last. As a hi•tory, it can hardly be said to supersede the semi-official history of the force, entitled The Riders of the Plains, published by Mr. A. L. Haydon in 1910, to which, indeed, it seems to be indebted in no small measure, and without acknowledgment. The style Of the book is in places popular, not to. say colloquial; at other times it is rhetorical and grandiloquent. Superlatives are'piled up with unnecessary frequency: one would have out by Tracy to subdue the Iroquois.' His native ability, chiefly contributed, as with most men of distinction, from the mother's side, was brought forward, as usual, by the happy combination of opportunities and circumstances. Notable among these was the opportunity afforded of residence for a time in English-speaking families, and'especially his association with a Scottish Presbyterian family, which enabled him to acquire unconsciously a knowledge of the inner life and sentiments of another race than his own; thus furnishing a solid foundation for subsequent relations with his fellow-citizens of British descent. Thus was nourished also that native spirit of freedom and equality which became so fundamental a motive in his public life, and which, because so greatly needed and so sorely tried, was the basis of his chief contribution towards Canadian national life. Further opportunities for developing his personal tastes and social and national sentiments were furnished by his association with kindred spirits, especially in Montreal, where, with limited knowledge and experience, but with the rigorous logic and enthusiasm of youth, were applied the principles of freedom and reform to the social, religious, and political conditions of the time. In the second chapter some interesting extracts are given from Sir Wilfrid',s comments, at a later period, on the earlier history of the struggle for responsible government in Canada, and the attitude of Lord Durham, after the defeat of the exclusively French nationalist movement. In this we find that Sir Wilfrid had evidently not made a first-hand study of the development of events before the Union, but had simply accepted the traditional views and representations of the Papineau section. He was thus under the impression that only the French, and not the English, section of Lower Canada, had suffered repression during the racial struggles in that province between 1791 and 1838. His view of Lord Durham and his report is entirel,y coloured by these traditional views. Thus we find him in a logical mystification as to how a radical BrilSsh reformer such as Durham could be so hopelessly reactionary as regards Canada. But he ends, as our author says, by condemning Durham's policy and defending his character (Vol. I, p. 70). Yet Sir Wilfrid himself was to fight many a battle, not always successfully, and frequently misunderstood and misrepresented, in a life-long political effort to mitigate, and, if possible, subdue ultimately just that racial antagonism which Durham recognized as the curse of Canada, but which as he saw, could be settled only in Canada, and not from Downing Street. Papineau, with logical consistency as the champion of French nationalism, for Lower Canada at least, refused to the end to accept the union. Bfft after Lord Sydenham's demonstration that the union -Friday, June 03, 2016 9:23:31 AM -IP Address: pehsations. It enabled him to become thoroughly familiar with Canadian political conditions, domestic, imperial, and foreign. As leader of the opposition, from 1887, it enabled him to gain a thorough knowledge of the management of men, and to become known and appreciated by -Friday, June 03, 2016 9:23:31 AM -IP Address: arrived at, his book is full of complaints that his orders were disobeyed, and of references to what he might have accomplished had.they been carried out. This is not the place to discuss whether Mr. Stefansson is right or wrong in these statements. We have before us only his own side of the case, and doubtless there is another side which will be put before the public in due time. That such differences arose is very much to be deplored, and these and other difficulties encountered later Pp. 190. Tam is a s•mall book, but there is packed into it a great deal of firs'thand research, •ome of which le•ds to rather revolutionary results. The problem of the pre-Columbian voyages to America, and of the state of geographical knowledge in Europe wlth regard to the Atlantic before 1492, is one with which scholars have long been familiar. It i• now generally agreed that the Northmen reached North America about the year 1000; and it is known that there are rumours and legends of various voyages to •he west--in the course of which certain apparently fabulous islands were discovered--before the year 1402. But little success has hitherto attended attempts to sift fact from fancy in regard to these •hadowy mediaeval voyages; and the common view has been that, if the Northmen 'discovered America, the very existence of America was afterwards forgotten until Christopher Columbus rediscovered it toward the e.n•d of the fifteenth ce_.n_tury. It is possible that this view must now be revised. M. Henri Vignaud has recently argued that Columbus did not aim at reaching Asia, but sought in the first place to reach AntiIlia, or the Antilles, which previous navigators had already visited; and now Mr. Babcock comes forward with the suggestion that some of the so-called "legendary islands of the Atlantic"-•At. lantis, St. Brendan's Isle, the Island of Brazil, the Island of the Seven Cities, Mayda, Green Island, AntiIlia, Estotiland, the Sunken Land of Buss, and other features of the mediaeval maps of the Atlantic--had actually a basis in fact, and represented the results of voyages o• which no authentic written record remains. .Mr. Babcock brings forward the evidence of a Calatan map of about 1480, preserved in Milan and reproduced by Nordenski61d in 1802, which, he asserts, "deserves clearly to rank as the only map before Columbus thus far reported, which shows a part of North America other than Greenland"; and he inclines to the view that Brazil, which here appears in the position of North-eastern America, is' none other than the region about the 8õ9
doi:10.3138/chr-003-reviews fatcat:7oacmjugnfbsfc726xfsi5odnq