Adam Kidd (c. 1802-1831) has long enjoyed a limited but tenacious reputation as the most colourful and controversial poet of Pre-Confederation Canada. In his History of English-Canadian Literature to the Confederation (1920), Ray Palmer Baker, taking literally a remark in Kidds Preface to The Huron Chief, and Other Poems (Montreal, 1830), described the poet as so vitalized by the influence of Byron that he had injured himself by falling over a cliff with all that open carelessness which is . . . peculiarly the product of poetic feeling. . . . 1 This ludicrous image of Kidd was not dispelled until 1958 when Carl F. Klinck, in an article in the Queens Quarterly that provided the basis for his discussion of the poet in the Literary History of Canada (1965)2 demonstrated that the fall and injury mentioned in the Preface to The Huron Chief is not literal but metaphoricala veiled allusion to an unfortunate encounter (more of which in a moment), not with a hill, but a man. . . . More recently, Kidds seemingly irrepressible reputation for hazardous flamboyance has found expression in the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (1983), where Mary Lu MacDonald tells the story of how a footnote to The Huron Chief resulted in a public thrashing3 for the poet on a street in Montreal. Yet despite Kidds notoriety among scholars of Colonial Canadian writing, very little attention has been paid to The Huron Chief, and Other Poems. One reason for this is that, although copies of the volume are available in some libraries in Canada and elsewhere, there has not been a modem edition of Kidds work to make it accessible to students of Canadian literature. It is the aim of the present volume to remedy that situation, not merely by making The Huron Chief available to a larger audience, but also by placing Kidds title poem within a framework that will facilitate its further study and discussion.
From the little that is known about Adam Kidds life, some facts pertinent to an understanding of The Huron Chief are worth presenting. Born in Ireland in c. 1802, Kidd may have come to North America (perhaps initially to the United States) as early as 1818, becoming sometime in the mid-eighteen-twentiesby which time he was resident in Quebec4 a candidate for the Church of England priesthood. For an undocumented reason5 which seems, however, to have had something to do with his fondness for Indian women (or, perhaps, women generally),6 Kidd fell afoul of the superintendent of his divinity studies, the Venerable Archdeacon George Jehoshaphat Mountain, and was rejected as unsuitable for the Anglican ministry. (Archdeacon Mountain, it must be noted, was a member of the famous ecclesiastical Mountain family: his father was the first Bishop of Quebec, his brother was the Rev. S. J. Mountain of Cornwall, and he himself was subsequently the third Bishop of Quebec.) Apparently in 1828-1829 and in 1830-1831 Kidd travelled extensively in the United States and Upper Canadathen, of course, the western frontier of the Canadian Coloniesprobably gathering material for the The Huron Chief, and Other Poems and for the projected volume on The Tales and Traditions of the Indians that he mentions in his Preface (l. 49). That second volume was never published because early in July, 1831 Kidd was dead, virtually unmourned and hardly missedexcept in such newspapers as the Canadian Freeman whose sympathies were Irish and radical.7 These facts are pertinent to The Huron Chief for the compound reason that they reveal Kidd to have been, not a member of the dominant Anglo-Scottish ruling class of the Colonies, but an unofficial voice, a radical Irishman with an elective affinity for the mistreated native peoples of North America and a personal grudge against the presiding religio-political order in Lower Canada. Not only do these temperamental affinities and disaffinities dictate many of the thematic and metaphysical concerns of The Huron Chief but they also have technical and formalistic ramifications in a long poem which, particularly when considered in conjunction with Kidds Preface to The Huron Chief, and Other Poems, can be seen as a distant and fascinating precursor of more recent Canadian poems of the hinterland orientation.8
A quotation from Walter Paters Greek Studies provides a good point of entry into a discussion of the assumptions and tendencies that underlie The Huron Chief and link Kidds poem and Preface with later works in the Canadian continuity. Pater is describing the centrifugal . . . tendency" that he finds in certain strains of classical Greek literature and philosophy, but his observations are also applicable to a variety of Canadian works from the Colonial past to the postmodern present. He writes:
In Kidds day, and, indeed, prior to the Second World War, poetry written in Canada assumed as a social and sacred centre outside itself the sceptered isle10 of Great Britain, specifically England and Scotland and their secular and ecclesiastical institutions. A few writers, those of the centrifugal . . . tendency" (or hinterland orientation), attempted to fly . . . from the centre" in the manner described by Pater, but the vast majority of poets from the Thomas Cary of Abramss Plains (1789) to the A.J.M. Smith of The Book of Canadian Poetry (1943) remained essentially centripetal in their tendencies and British (or baseland) in their orientation. Since such loyalties must be understood simultaneously in their political, religious and poetic ramifications, it follows that the assumption of British centrality in social and sacred matters brought with it a privileging of the literary models and aesthetics that were sanctioned by British overculturethe heroic couplet, the picturesque aesthetic, the Shakespearian sonnet, Tennysonian blank verse, Eliotic metaphysicalism and so on. Happy Britannia! exclaimed the Canadian Oliver Goldsmith in 1825, the seat of arts, / The home of fairest forms and gentlest heart . . . 11 Thus it was that in 1833 when Thomas Carlyle issued in Sartor Resartus the command to put down Byron and pick up Goethe12 all right-minded readers and poets in Britain and the colonies obeyed his injunction and, as evidenced, for example, by Archibald Lampmans moralistic hostility to Byron in the 1890s,13 continued to do so for the remainder of the century.
One poet of the nineteenth-century counter-culture who would not have heeded Carlyles command had he lived to hear it was Adam Kidd. In his Monody on the Shade of Lord Byron in The Huron Chief volume Kidd attacks the Dean of Westminster for refusing the remains of the immortal BYRON a small spot among the tombs of his literary countrymen14 and in The Huron Chief itself, in what may be the poems best-known stanza, he constellates his defiant love of the immortal BYRON and his vitriolic hatred for the ecclesiastical Mountains (who had defended the refusal of the Church of England to allow Byron . . . to be buried in Westminster Abbey 15) around an outspoken attack on the Churchmans rant. Not fortuitously, the stanza also contains a reference to sides of iron that may well encompass both Oliver Cromwell, old Ironsides himself, the scourge of Ireland, and George Ironside (1760-1830), the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Amherstburg, Upper Canada, from 1820 to 1830:
This stanza implicitly locates Kidd on or beyond the peripheries of Lower Canadas official culture, sniping, as it were, at the representatives of its social and sacred centre. To be sure, it is a long way from Kidds dissenting position to the radical centrifugalism of the most extreme postmodern writers, but there is in The Huron Chief, as will be seen, a hostility and resistance to the centre that echoes forward in Canadian writing to such comments as the following by Robert Kroetsch:
Just as Kidds championship of Byron is an aspect of his resistance to the official culture of the centre, so too is his choice of other poetic mentors and modelsmost notably his dedication of The Huron Chief, and Other Poems to Byrons controversial friend (and autobiographer) Thomas Moore, the author of, amongst other things, the lyrical expressions of patriotic feeling that constitute Irish Melodies and the oriental tales of various peripatetic narrators that constitute Lalla Rookh. That one of Kidds principal debts is to Moores Poems Relating to America, a series of occasional poems and verse epistles (many of them explicitly critical of American official culture), is as consistent with his decentering tendencies as his choice of a footnote to an Ossianic fragment as an epigraph to The Huron Chief and, indeed, as his debts to such episodes within Byrons canon as the innocently erotic and edenically insular affair of Juan and Haidée in Don Juan, II and III and the meeting on a mountain between Manfred and the Chamois Hunter in Manfred, I and II. Behind all of these choices and debts is something of the same centrifugal resistance to pre-determinacy and restrictive order which led Byron to think of Don Juan as a poem in which nothing [is] plannd17 and prompts Kroetsch to seek ways of resist[ing] entrapment.
Very obviously consistent with the resistence to entrapment and enclosure that Kidd shares with many postmodern adherents of the centrifugal or hinterland orientation is the urge towards freedom and openness that is evident in both the spatial preferences and the poetic stance of The Huron Chief. Referring in the Preface to The Huron Chief, and Other Poems to the other pieces in the volume as a group of miscellaneous poems . . . wntten for amusement, during the leisure hours necessarily abstracted from a long round of professional studies, Kidd goes on, in the passage taken literally by Ray Palmer Baker, to allude enigmatically to the termination of his study of divinity as being the result of an accidental fall from the cloud-capped brows of a dangerous Mountain, over which [he] had heedlessly wandered, with all that open carelessness which is so peculiarly the characteristic of poetic feeling (Preface, ll. 40-42). When visualized spatially, the difference between a long round of professional studies and the open carelessness . . . characteristic of poetic feeling amounts to a distinction between entrapment (encirclement) and freedom (openness), between, on one hand, a baseland orientation claustrophobically conceived and, on the other, a hinterland orientation enthusiastically affirmed. Moreover, Kidds aggressive account of the termination of his divinity studies echoes forward in Canadian poetry to the intense dislike of academic institutions expressed by many low-modern and postmodern writers, many of whom insist on their own autodidactism as a means of suggesting that they have escaped the net of formal discipline and are, therefore, more likely to write a poetry that is untutored, child-like, even savage. It goes without saying that a poet of the baseland or centripetal orientation will harbour no such misgivings about the education and disciplining of intelligence. On the contrary, such poets as the Goldsmith of The Rising Village and the Lampman of The Story of an Affinity exhibit a profound interest in formal education as a means of directing youthful energy into socially-acceptable channels: for Goldsmith and Lampman, as later for A.J.M. Smith and Jay Macpherson and Robin Skelton (amongst others), a successfully completed course of humanistic studies, provides proof of the disciplined intelligence that is necessary to perceive and to create ordered patterns, to make a Cosmos of miscellany.18 In contrast, Kidd and other writers of the hinterland orientation are less interested in recreating a cosmic order than in honouring a miscellaneous reality: not only are the Other Poems" in The Huron Chief volume a miscellaneous grab-bag of occasional pieces (including an Impromptu), many of which are addressed to friends and enemies, but also, and more tellingly, The Huron Chief itself is a dramatic poem (Preface l. 22) of mixed and competing forms, genres, and voices. In this, as in much elseincluding its Western setting, its avowed openness, its rejection of circles and centresThe Huron Chief anticipates such works as Kroetschs Field Notes and Michael Ondaatje s Billy the Kid.
Whereas a writer whose fundamental tendencies are centripetal or centrist, whose primary orientation is towards the European baseland, will view with distrust or even fear the freedom and apparent savagery of North America (think, for example, of the Susanna Moodie of Roughing It in the Bush), the writer of the hinterland orientation will tend to embrace the democratic and Amerindian elements of the New World with a fervour directly proportional to his dislike of what Kidd calls Europes pomp (l. 319). True to expectations engendered by the circumstances surrounding his dissent / descent from the Mountains, Kidd refers to Europeans and their customs in The Huron Chief as artificial, polished, cold, mawkish, studied, and, consequently, less interesting than Indian people and customs. With the Indian, he asserts, the pure feelings of the heart are the only guide in the happy hour of his playful activities" (l. 98n.). In such comments can be heard echoes that resonate forward in time to the preferences of more recent writers of the hinterland orientation for, say, Huizinga over Lévi-Strauss, Heracitus over Plato, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner over the The Idylls of the King, Dada over Vorticism, Derridean deconstruction over Frygian megacriticism. It is not the aim here to list the likes and dislikes that have characterized the centrifugal and centripetal tendencies at different times and places in Canada but simply to point out the continuity of attitude that links Kidd and The Huron Chief to other Canadian writers and works belonging more or less to what, for shorthand purposes, is being called the hinterland orientation.
In a manner consistent with that hinterland orientation, Kidd is at pains in his Preface to emphasize the spontaneous as well as the unacculturated origins of The Huron Chief. A poem of such length can scarcely be free from errors, he tells his readers unapologetically, particularly, when written, without much opportunity for correction, on the inner rind of birch bark, during my travels through the immense forest of America (Preface ll. 15-17). A preliminary point to be made about this quotation is that, despite its conventional aspects, Kidds acknowledgment of the inevitability of errors" in a poem of such length permits the recognition that a centrifugal tendency has always existed in the long poem per se, simply because the longer a poem becomes the more unlikely it is to achieve consistency or unity in execution, voice, effect and so on; with length, come errorsslippages which, willy-nilly, undermine any claims an author might make to control and authority. That Kidd was not especially troubled by such slippages and their consequences becomes evident in the second part of the quotation where he outlines a compositional stancewriting en route as it were, or from a point in motionwhich permits a myriad of visions but few revisions. The tape recorder would later appear as a medium for preserving the relatively unpremeditated and unpostmediated thoughts of the hinterland travellers of the immense forests19 and open roads of America and Canada. The practice and work of David McFadden (A Trip around Lake Huron) and John Moss (Bellrock) come to mind. In Kidds case, the inner rind of birch bark testifies to the comparatively unacculturated and naturalthe raw rather than the cookedquality of poem that he evidently considered to be to some extent both of and about the Canadian bush and its native peoples. It would be misleading, of course, to claim that The Huron Chief exhibits, almost a century before its time, a fully developed poetics of process or purposelessness. Nevertheless the unpolished and improvisational qualities that Kidd attributes in part to his mode of composition are evident in The Huron Chief, not merely in the poems frequently undistinguished diction and technique (Kidd, it must be conceded, was a poet of limited talents), but more tellingly in the shabbiness and inconsistencies 20 of a meandering, Odyssean21 narrator who, like his immediate ancestor in Poems Relating to America, wanders / wonders along the banks of Lakes Huron and Erie recording as he goesfor that is Kidds romantic fictionthe unpredictable sights and sounds of the wilderness. In short, there is tension in The Huron Chief between purposelessness and purpose; the poem (written, note, in the past tense) is ostensibly a record of the spontaneous movement and unpredicted interruption of the thoughts and observations of a narrator who is experiencing a process of discovery, but, at the same time, it is a reasonably well-planned dramatic and didactic presentation of a limited number of ideas and polaritiespolarities such as European corruption versus Rousseauian innocence, vox ecclesiae versus vox christi, terroir versus pays den haut, the poising Mountain of the divinity school in Quebec versus the natural mountain of which Skenandow proclaims himself Chief in the frontispiece to the volume.
Since Kidds fundamental affiliation is with mountain rather than Mountain, hinterland rather than baseland, earth rather than world,22 it is hardly surprising that he begins The Huron Chief by locating his solitary narrator in relatively unEuropeanized space, in a natural landscape of groves . . . plants, [and] waters (l. 12). Conceiving himself as a wanderer undisturbed and free (l. 13), the narrator detects only beauty and harmony in the landscape, not, it will transpire, because only beauty and harmony exist there but because these and related qualities (pleasure, peace, Edenic bliss) are all that initially and idealistically he wishes to perceive or recognize: Nor heard a sound, he says (quoting almost verbatim from Moores Poems Relating to America save wood-doves cooing, / Or birds that tapped the hollow tree, / Where owlets sat, their play-mates wooing (II. 4-6). As will be seen, the hollow tree" and the owlets, figures whose vaguely sinister properties go unremarked by the idealizing speaker, are subjected later in The Huron Chief to a radical, Amerindian transvaluation. By the third stanza of the poem, the narrators idealism is already being called into question by the conditional phrasing of his interpretation of the significance of his surroundings (italics added):
In hinting at the deceptiveness of appearances and the uncertainty of perception, the words Seemed and As if cast doubt on the tenability in this environment of the narrators purest dream" that in this spot alone he may dwell forever with one kind heart, enjoying scenes of bliss together and with No tyrant hand to check [their] love (l. 32). At this point there breaks into the narrators fanciful (and perhaps Celtic) longings for fairy bliss (l. 35) the disruptive and disturbing sound of an Indian woman singing of sorrowsorrow caused by the incursions of the white man: the hand of the white man has brought desolation/ Our wigwams are plundered, our homes are no more, sings the Indian woman, And MORANKA, the glory and pride of the Nation, / Died bravely defending the Indians shore (ll. 65-68).
As the attentive reader / listener will doubtless have observed, Kidd reinforces the changes of voice in The Huron Chief with corresponding changes in form. Whereas the narrator begins the poem by speaking in an octave stanza rhyming aabcbcdd that superficially resembles the ottava rima of Byrons Don Juan (but, in fact, has more in common both technically and spiritually with the ababccd stanza of Thomas Grays Hymn to Adversity and Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude), the widow of Moranka sings her lament in a form suggestive of Byrons Hebrew Melodies or Moores Irish Melodies, particularly and appropriately, in the former, The Destruction of Sennacherib and, in the latter, Oh! Breathe not his Name. With this last formal choice comes an early clue for the reader that, just as the Mountain Demon (l. 796) is the devil in Kidds wilderness Eden, so the real heathens in the Canadian wilderness are for him the white men. With the shift in voice and form from the white narrator to the Indian widow comes also for the reader a potential recognition of the relativity of perception. What to the narrator had appeared to be merely a hill of green, a place for a Council-fire (l. 24) or, more congenially, for a personal fantasy, now appears to be for the Indian widow a burial mound, complete with the axe and bow (ll. 69, 72) of the dead Moranka. Evidently recognizing that he is in the presence of what can easily be described as an anthropological or archaeological site, Kidds narrator steps behind a little pyre (l. 77) and begins observing (or excavating), what hitherto for him has been the buried life of North America. There is, of course, a family connection between the Amerindian and archaeological orientation of The Huron Chief and later works as diverse as Kroetschs Gone Indian, John Newloves The Pride, and Christopher Dewdneys Palaeozoic Geology of London, Ontario (not to mention works by Pablo Neruda, William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson and others), and the point to be made here is that, whereas the writer of the baseland orientation tends to be oblivious to the non-European and presettlement history of his place, the writer of the hinterland orientation will tend to be less amnesiac with regard to the history of the land and the Indians: not for him the socially-constructed oblivion23 of the Oliver Goldsmith of The Rising Village or the Stephen Leacock of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, both of whom consign Indian history and the landscapes past to the outer darkness that surrounds the fifty year histories of their little towns.24 Such considerations will seem remote from The Huron Chief unless it is recognized that any writers sense of historyindeed, his very memoryis at least partly contingent on the social institutions that he accepts as central25 Once this is recognized, then it can be seen that when Kidd fell from the cloud-capped brows of his dangerous Mountain, when he began to feel contempt for the social institutions at the centre of his world, he fell out of one view of history, one set of memories, and towards anothertowards because, like Miltons Satan26 he was powerless to think himself completely free of the assumptions that dictated even his centrifugal rebellion.
After listening to the lament of the Indian widow and stepping behind [her] little pyre, Kidds narrator proclaims to the astonished reader: Nor shall my heart here now deny it / I saw, I loved the lonely one, / Because she loved her Hero gone! (l. 80). Although barely credible, this determined affirmation of what, in Kidds day, was the socially-objectionable affection of a white man for an Indian woman clearly represents an explosive moment in the poem. Predictably, it also exhibits in its rhetoric a tension between, on the one hand, the centrifugal tendencies of the narrator and, on the other, the centripetal pull of his society: at the same instant that he expresses his spontaneous affection for the Indian widowI saw, I loved the lonely onethe narrator echoes the famous statement of Julius CaesarI came, I saw, I conquered. Although the aim may have been to replace the rhetoric of imperialism with the language of love, the centrifugal thrust of this displacement is partially compromised by the centripetal force of the allusion itself. Many such tensions and compromises are evident in The Huron Chief, from the Indian widows reference to the sun as Sol (l. 60) to the narrators use of the moral authority of Christianity to characterize the supposedly natural virtues of the Indians: for example, when the Huron Chief himself appears, he is likened to a Saint divine (l. 160) and when the narrator describes the Indian encampment it is, by turns, a type of Eden and a type of Heaven (l. 398). While these and similar references reveal Kidd to be centrifugal in his argument against the need to disseminate Christianityto propagate the gospelamongst the people who already possess moral and spiritual qualities that are equal or superior to those of the Christians, they are also locked into the rhetoric and assumptions of Christianity and, in that sense, powerfully centripetal. There is a siege of contraries in The Huron Chief that is contingent upon Kidds radical Romanticism and liberal Christianity and that is paralleled in Kroetschs discovery in himself of a cognate contradiction between a longing for influence and an insistence on discontinuity.27
Before judging Kidd too harshly for his contradictory loyalties or for his failure to think himself outside his European and Christian assumptions, it is worth recalling the question posed by Edward Said in Orientalism: How does one represent other cultures? What is another culture?28 Is it ever possible to think or to write outside the discourse of ones own culture? In fairness to Kidd, it must also be observed that he was himself acutely aware of the difficulties that inhere in any attempt to represent one culture in the language of another. In a note to the Indian widows song he quotes the Moravian missionary, the Rev. John Heckewelder, to the Rousseauesque effect that the Indians speak with the eloquence of nature, aided by an energetic and comprehensive language, which our polished idioms cannot imitate (l. 65n.). And in introducing the song itself the narrator states, in another borrowing from Moore, that he heard soft words of sorrow swelling, / Like these (l. 38)the Like implying both similarity and difference.29 Sympathy for Kidds position and practice may also be enlisted by a recognition that, whereas most early Canadian poets tended, as R.E. Rashly points out, to subordinate native materials to their verse rhythms (for instance, scanning móccasin moccásin because the movement of the line requires it,30) Kidd was more prepared to honour the claims of the existent: In these four last stanzas, he notes apropos a speech by the Huron Chief, I have been obliged to sacrifice harmony, in order to preserve, as much as possible, the peculiar, short, pithy phrases generally used by the best Indian orators. It is the matter, not the sound, that I wish to communicate (l. 1594n.). Kidds concluding comment in his Preface that The Huron Chief will shortly be translated into their respective tongues, by SAWENNOWANE, and other chiefs (ll. 56-58) could be said to typify his unfortunately unrealized commitment to overcoming the limitations of his own discourse.
Following his avowal of love for the lacrimose Indian widow, the narrator of The Huron Chief experiences a conflict between a strong desire to share her sorrow and a stronger realization that it would be madness to intrude on her solitude and destroy her mourning (ll. 121-128). No sooner has he resolved" [his] steps to take, / Along the windings of the lake (l. 130) than chance or coincidence intervenes in the form of the Huron Chief SKENANDOW to ensure the continuation of his engagement with the Amerindian materials. Now the very presence in the poem of a Huron Chief bearing the name of Skenandow, the famous Oneida Chief who died in 1816 (that is, about two years before Kidds arrival in North America) injects a further element of indeterminacy into The Huron Chief: can it be that the divinity student who fell in the Preface from a dangerous Mountain is not the same as the itinerant narrator who encounters the Chieftain of this mountain (l. 141) and who, nevertheless, rails twice in the poem proper against the Mountain Demon? Not only does the presence of Skenandow (and later of Tecumseh and others) in The Huron Chief subvert the readers assumption of a straightforward identity or discontinuity between author and narrator but it also pushes towards undecidability the question of the poems historical context: is it set at the end of the War of 1812 (when Tecumseh, who in fact survives the action of The Huron Chief, was of course killed) or is it set in the 1820s (when Archdeacon Mountain was in ascendancy in Lower Canada)? That such questions are not amenable to the either . . . or solutions of ordinary common-sense but, on the contrary, force the reader towards an acceptance of the possibility of both . . . andthe poems narrator is both the poet and a persona, the poems context is both the past and presentmay be taken as further evidence of Kidds centrifugal tendencies, of an unsettling and expansive quality that opposes itself to the closed, rational taxonomies characteristic of the centripetal thinking of the baseland.
In the portion of The Huron Chief that precedes the introduction of Skenandow, the narrator (as for convenience this Introduction will continue to call him) is depicted not merely as a wanderer, but also as a man who is inclined to give freely of his love; indeed, while contemplating the Indian widow, he allows himself to notice some wild bees on the wing, / Flitting around leaf to leaf, / In all the luxury of roving (l. 100) and to compare these to the tender youth who when loving is never satisfied to stay, / With the rose, even one short day (l. 104). As has been argued elsewhere,31 an orientation towards openness in landscape, freedom in love, and unconstrainedness in thought or action frequently issues in Canadian literature in free or loosened forms. Up this trail there is a new world to be possessed . . . in which men may go hither and yon as they please, writes Emily Murphy in Seeds of Pine, It gives my feet a staccato movement to think of it.32 Your love is not free love / And your verse is not free verse says A.J.M. Smith in Etude in a Minor key.33 Ride off any horizon / and let the measure fall / where it may says John Newlove in Ride Off any Horizon.34 Although Kidd is nowhere as explicit as Smith in connecting experiential and formalistic freedom, he includes in the exchange between Skenandow and the narrator several tantalizing indications that, like Murphy and Newlove (and, of course, Ezra Pound), he recognized a connection between new thoughts and new rhythms. For example, when the Chief first addresses the narrator in The freedom of his gentle speech (l. 226), he offers to guide [his] wandring feet" through the wild, untravelled hills" for, as he says, This is not the white mans way, / Another path we soon shall meet" (l. 140). And when the narrator later answers the Chief in a similarly gentle manner he affirms that his affections run as free, / As yon clear stream, adding that here before I [His] feet have never dared to tread" (l. 178). While it would be folly to concentrate too seriously on the aesthetic possibilities of all these feet, there is a serious formalistic point to be made about the exchange between Skenandow and the narrator, namely that, when the narrator replies to the Chief, he relinquishes the octave stanza of his earlier ruminations and speaks instead in the long ballad form of Skenandows speechturns, as it were, from the way of the white man and the baseland to the way of the Indian and the hinterland. Although the European associations of the ballad form do, to an extent, compromise this symbolic and symbiotic shift, it must be conceded that Kidd exercised considerable intelligence in assigning to Skenandow and then to his narrator a verse pattern remarkable for its simple dignity, some would say its associations of primitive sincerity and openness.35
When the conversation between Skenandow and the narrator is interrupted by the apparently unscheduled emergence from the wood of an Indian youth singing another plaintive melody (l. 196) there is a repetition of the disruptive pattern that characterizes The Huron Chief and a continuation of Kidds association of ballad forms with native speakers, for although the youths song is presented in sixains (aa2b3cc2b3), this curious, heterometrical stanza can be seen as an extension of ballad metres.36 It is a form reminiscent of Robert Herrick (in, for example, A Ring Presented to Julia) and may have been intended by Kidd to suggest in its singera SIOUX warrior who can both express a Pure, genrous love" for a maid, revered and wield a battle-axe . . . When honour call[s] him to the field (l. 236)something like the cavaliers combination of tenderness and military prowess. (It probably goes without saying that Herrick would provide a relatively congenial mode for an Irish radical if only on account of his opposition to Cromwells Puritans.) With the cessation of the youths plaintive lament for the maid TA-POO-KA, whom he believes is dead!forever gone! (l. 224), Skenandow explains (once again in ballad metre) that the pair were star-crossed lovers: A fathers mandate had declared, / That she must be anothers bride (l. 258). Rather than marry the aged Chief (l. 285) selected by her father, Ta-poo-ka had chosen to commit suicide and had plunged within the foaming surge! (l. 300) of Lake Huron. There, ever since, says Skenandow, the spirit-bride . . . In her canoe, is seen to glide, / Across the curling waters brim (l. 304). While this story of a maddening love that would rather face death than dishonour has its stock and melodramatic elements, it nevertheless must have appeared to Kidd to derive from Amerindian sources (see the explanatory note to l. 238f.); moreover, it continues the commitment of The Huron Chief to treating Indians as complex people with credible emotions, a commitment vastly different from the dismissive treatment of them in baseland-oriented poems like The Rising Village, where savage tribes and savage beasts (the repetition of the adjective is not fortuitous) are disposed of early in the account of how, By patient firmness and industrious toil, / [The settler] retains possession of his soil.37 Where Goldsmith sees only savage tribes Kidd conceives the Huron, Sioux and other races as named and historical collectivities whose members have, in Saids words, narratable life histories.38
So affected is the narrator of The Huron Chief by Skenandows emotional yet reticent telling of the tale of Ta-poo-ka and the Sioux warrior that his eyes fill with admiration for the holy man (ll. 313-314). Once again overcome with empathy, he asserts That Europes pomp [hed] quick resign, / To dwell within [the Chiefs] groves of pine (ll. 319-320). The suggestion in these lines of a transference of affection for place from Europe to Amerindia is formalistically developed in the ensuing movement of the poem by a transference of the heroic couplet from the Europeanized baseland where it is usually and fittingly found in early Canadian poetry, to the spot on which Skenandow stands. The movement begins by connecting the Huron Chief with two other representatives of active virtue: poor GOLDSMITH (whose Irishness, as well as his championship of peasant farmers, would have recommended him to Kidd) and Goldsmiths Traveller (whose itinerancy, as well as his commitment to doing good, would have appealed to the poet). In couplets remimscent of The Deserted Village, Kidds narrator compares the Indians habitat to the unenclosed landscape of our happier fathers, / Before the plans of arti.e. before the whig gardening of privatization (in both senses of that ugly word) of Britainhad made of Beautys shades a barren scene (l. 332). The movement is too long to be quoted in full, but its final paragraph may serve here to illustrate Kidds conviction that the Canadian hinterland is a place where men are free, where natures plan is an authentic reality and where the shifting system[s] of social man have had no impact:
Whereas the Tory and order-loving Goldsmith of The Rising Village sees Britain as a controlled and hierarchical realm in which all things have their own, their proper place,39 the radical and oppression-hating Kidd of The Huron Chief looks to natures relatively planless plan as a source of peace, freedom and good: for him, as for Blake earlier and Whitman later, unenclosed or unchartered spacesdemocratic vistasare associated with freedom from social and religious repression.40 Or to put the matter less spatially: Kidd stands with Rousseua41 and Shaftesbury rather than with Hobbes or Burke in his belief that man is innately good, that proof of his innate moral sense resides in his ability to respond sympathetically to his fellow man and to live harmoniously in the natural world.
When with deepest feeling (l. 344) the eminently Shaftesburian Skenandow resumes his conversation with the equally Shaftesburian narrator, he fondly invites him to share / the Indian wigwam for the night (ll. 353-354) and the two move off, guided by the moon, towards a dark grove of lofty pine, / Where oft the wild deer rambles . . . / Or loves in silence to recline (ll. 362-364). Although not yet the open road or the rumbling railway or the carefree highway that has provided a location and a metaphor for the hinterland orientation from Bliss Carman through Al Purdy to David McFadden and beyond, the winding path (l. 377) now followed by Kidds picaresque narrator is nevertheless an unforeknown way that takes him in the direction of untrodden regions and naive discoveries. More specifically, it is a sinuous way that leads to an Indian village in the depths of the forest, a village centered, not on a garrulous tavern or an Anglican church like Goldsmiths, but on a bright fire gay where the children of the forest play (ll. 399-400). There is an important change of place here that may give pause for thought. While the narrator has hitherto been moving in fits and starts through open and unacculturated terrainacross the plain (l. 227) as he says at one pointhe now enters, in the form of the Indian village, a space that almost demands to be described paradoxically as a circle with a centre (the fire) but no circumference. In fact, the more Eucidean and organic figure used continually by Kidd in reference to Indian camps and shelters is the grove or bowerthe open inclosure (l. 643n.) that offers the hinterland temperament a desirable combination of cover without claustrophobia, protection without entrapment: Oh! what a circle now appears, / Where smiling joy each moment cheers (ll. 541-542); My raptured soul delights to trace, / The charms which beauty round discloses (ll. 1061-1062). There is, of course, a continuity between Kidds unenclosing groves" and bowers (two words, note, that contain an enclosed yet open vowel) and the open-windowed and open-doored houses that have become almost as ubiquitous in postmodern Canadian poetry and criticism as the explicit affirmation of openness in thought and form.
As the narrator and the Chief enter the Indian village they are greeted by yet another / Indian melody, this time a song of welcome and praise for Skenandow that begins with a borrowing from another hinterland (highland) oriented poem of chiefs and clansthe Boat Song in Sir Walter Scotts Lady of the Lake. It is at the end of this melody, in an italicized reference to a Peace-tree (l. 427) planted by Skenandow, that Kidd begins his transvaluation of the images presented in the opening stanza of The Huron Chief. There, it will be recalled, various birdswood-doves, woodpeckers, and owletswere constellated about a hollow tree. Here, it is learned in the text and in a note, The Five Nations always express peace by the metaphor of a tree (l. 427n.). What Kidd effectively does in his pointed reference to the Peace-tree and his explanatory note is to resituate the tree image in what for the white reader and the narrator is an unfamiliar context of significance. The implications of this are two-fold. In an obvious way, the revelation that a tree is for the Indians a metaphor of peace forces a recognition that the hollow treeat the beginning of the poem foreshadows the narrators discovery that the apparent peacefulness of the Canadian forest is an empty delusion, a lifeless form that has been deprived of its heart by the treachery and rapaciousness of the white man. In a less obvious way, the discovery of the significance of the tree metaphor for the Indians serves, in a manner entirely consistent with Kidds centrifugal tendencies, to decentre the interpretational context of the poem by situating its images in an alternative and, for Kidd, preferable field of discourse.42 It would probably be going too far to label Kidds practice in The Huron Chief as deconstructive, yet it can be observed that his use in the poem of idiosyncratic, aggressive, and destabilizing footnotes (and, indeed, of a similarly directed Preface) constitutes a strategy which can without difficulty be related to the practice both of earlier poets who have proved amenable to deconstruction (for example Coleridge and Shelley) and of later writers who have more consciously articulated its techniques (for instance Derrida and Kroetsch).43
From such considerations the reader will turn with either dismay or delight to rejoin Kidds narrator in the Indian encampment whereand a couple of allusions to Nietzsche and Huizinga may help to make the transition less discontinuoushe witnesses a resonantly dionysiac and ludic dance in which the Indian youths apparently experience joys excess and evidently exhibit all the sweet charms of playfulness (l. 466). It is during this dance that the narrator begins to feel what a clerical contemporary, the Rev. Job Deacon, perceived as a perverted attraction to a Squaw (see Explanatory Notes, l. 655); in fact, what he feels is, by his own account (I loved KEMANA over well), an excessive, Othello-like love for a woman of another race, a love that can be described as hinterland-oriented, not merely because it exceeds the bounds of reason and decency (so at least Deacon thought) but also because it issues in an enraptured privileging of the present and a selective forgetfulness of the past. Claiming that all his woespresumably his troubles with Archdeacon Mountainseem quite forgot (l. 486), the narrator almost represses these experiences in the Lower Canadian baseland and remembers instead his boyhoods days in Ireland where, Ere thought, or reason, took command, / [He] strayed with heart as light as feather (ll. 495-496). In an ensuing meditation on time itself, the narrator regrets the whig or progressivist tendency to evaluate times past in relation to a supposedly wiser present, a present which disapproves of hours gone by Till every moment of the past, / Seems fool, or madman, to the last (ll. 507-508). What Kidd seems in essence to be regretting is a rationalizing and moralizing approach to time: conceiving both post-meditation and pre-meditation as the enemies of joy, he implies that the most enjoyable temporal state in which to exist would be a, continuous and non-evaluative presentthe phenomenological now of which Frank Davey speaks in regard to King of Swords.44 Kidds preference for the here and now over the then and there is consistent with his overall orientation towards the hinterland and with his subsequent discussion of the Muse, a figure who, for him, can take the poet on uncontrollable flights of digressive fancy (a property congenial to the centrifugal orientation) but who, when earthbound, becomes all fair and mild, / MNEMOSYNESS enchanting child (a figure congenial to the baseland orientation, with its emphasis on memory45). Not surprisingly, Kidds hinterland-oriented narrator finds relief from his meditation on MNEMOSYNES enchanting child in a further contemplation of the subject at handthe Chief, his clan (l. 529) and, above all, his beloved Kemana, a flesh-and-blood woman who, more than the ambiguously centrifugal/centripetal Muse, promises her lover what he most desires: a Lethean escape from the sorrowful burden of the past and a complete immersion in the happy experience of the green present.
Sad to say, the narrators experience through Kemana of New joys, unfeltunseen before (l. 566) comes to an end when Skenandow, in a lengthy, elegiac speech on his own vanished youth and impending death, reminds him that Times hand lies heavy (l. 599) on the Indian and white man alike. Indeed, the Chiefs elegiac speech could be said to initiate the series of excursions into hinterland history (his-tory), into the days that live but in tradition (l. 668), that comprise the ensuing sections of the poem. A reference to the remnant of [his] tribe (l. 613) at the close of the speech calls forth in a footnote a gruesome, historical reminder of the destruction of the Indians through disease, bigotry and cruelty of the white man (l. 613n.). Meanwhile, in the poem proper, the purest feelings of devotion (l. 628) on the face of the Chiefhis devotion . . . / By Natures God alone directed, / Beyond the pressure of control (ll. 644-645)calls forth from the narrator an antisacerdotal meditation on Adams presacerdotal prayer alone with God (l. 637) after the Fall. And the following morning finds the narrator and his chosen guide, ALKWANWAUGH, setting forth on a journey Along the Lakes smooth, shelving side (l. 663), a journey during which the narrator (though not the reader) hears an oral history of the glories of the Huron race from the late seventeenth century to this very date of life (l. 680). (It is worth opening a parenthesis to observe that in a lengthy, authenticating footnote at this point in the poem Kidd names the Indian sources of his information about the distinguished warriors and . . . traditions of different tribes, adding that such information is handed from father to son in much the same way as the tales and exploits of Ossian . . . among the Irish [l. 673n.].) The climax of Alkwanwaughs account of Indian history occurs with his recitation, predictably in ballad metre, of a famous speech by the great Mingo Chief Logan, who became an enemy of the white man only after his wives and little children . . . were basely murdered . . . by Colonel Cresap and his Christian followers, whom he had long befriended (l. 736n.). For the narrator, the joy from other days that comes with the recitation of Logans proud and fearless speech offers only a brief respite from the dark confusion / Of gloomy images (l. 767) in his sorrowful present. The sense in these and other lines of nearly exhausted possibilities for happiness is not dispelled by the almost desperate way in which the narrator turns in ensuing lines back to a somewhat ambiguous naturea lovely wood . . . Where beautybeauty [only] seems excelling (l. 774)as the only remaining anodyne for his real sorrows and woes (l. 770). It is as though the commitment to the present and to the existent which in the main characterizes The Huron Chief has effectively precluded the narrator from finding either in the romance of history or in the abstraction of nature a satisfactory means of transcending his sense of gloom and doom.
The fact that Logan and Cresap are historical figures who hailed from south of the border is one indication (and perhaps the increasingly tenacious unhappiness of the narrator is another) that the movement and focus of the poem has for some time been towards the southeast, which is to sayominously from Kidds hinterland perspectivetowards the more settled portions of Canada and the eastern United States. As if to confirm the ominous significance of this shift, the song that the travellers hear as they pass along the St. Clair River towards Lake Erie, a song sung by a passing Indian in anticipation of rejoimng his wife, ends forebodingly with a prayer to the Spirit of the great and free to Protect us from the white mans laws (l. 842). After themselves passing through the Unfolding and varied (l. 849) scenery along the shores of Lake Erie, the travellers arrive at a lovely bay" (l. 869) where another song, this one sung by A voice as softdivinely sweet / As summer winds (ll. 879-880), meets The listning ear. To the deeply suspicious narrator, this enchanting song brings dark thoughts of Syren spells to lure away / The heart to some unthought of danger (ll. 887-888). His anxieties are unwarranted, however, for as any student of romance will have already guessed, the songs singer turns out by coincidence to be Ta-poo-ka and the narrators guide to be her Sioux lover. Formalistically, Ta-poo-kas song points again to Kidds intelligent handling of form: it is presented in the Venus and Adonis stanza, the same form that, interestingly enough, Joseph Stansbury uses in To Cordelia, another poem of yearning for an absent lover and a distant land.46 Moreover, Ta-poo-kas song is one of Kidds most sustainedly successful pieces of writing, and the meeting of Ta-poo-ka and Alkwanwaugh one of the best achieved moments in his very uneven poem; listen to the modulations of A looka pauseand then a start, / Quick as the impulse of the heart . . . (ll. 955-956). Certainly finely conceived and well expressed wrote Deacon beside this stanza in his copy of The Huron Chief.
For a time it seems that the sorrowful story of Ta-poo-ka and Alkwanwaugh will have a comic ending: preparations for the marriage of the happy two (l. 1124) proceed under the direction of the Chief who had adopted Ta-poo-ka as his daughter after her rescue from Lake Huron by three kind Chippewas (l. 992), and on the morning of their marriage Skenandow himself arrives to join the cheerful wedding party (l. 1222). In these renovating circumstances the narrator once again indulges in corrosive attacks on European corruption (ll. 1245-1250) and Christian Creeds-men (l. 1251) and once again compares in favourable terms the Indian world to Eden and to Heaven. At one point for example, he comments that he can see in the Indians world of peacea world of love/ A type of all that dwells above (ll. 1241-42) and, at another, he observes that The scenethe placethe happy hour remind him much of MILTONS bower: / Where the first parent of mankind / Conducted Evewith beauty blushing, / And feelings pure, and unconfined (ll. 1044-1047). As foreshadowed by this reference to Paradise Lost, the notes of The Huron Chief turn to tragic when a foul intrusion (l. 1294) of Christian, and probably American, white men results, not merely in the destruction by fire of the peaceful forest home (l. 1338) of the Indians, but also in the death of numerous people, including Alkwanwaugh (by violence) and Ta-poo-ka (of heartbreak). Nor are the parallels with Paradise Lost limited to the destruction of an Edenic world and Edenic love. As even the trinitarian reference to the three kind Chippewas intimates, Kidd consistently in the latter movements of The Huron Chief aligns the Indians with the unfallen angels and the Christians with the cohorts of Satan: the battle in the forest thus becomes a type of Miltons War in Heaven; the Napoleon of the West (l. 1317n.)that is, Tecumsehwho arrives in time to Decide the horrors of the fight (l. 1322) in favour of the Indians becomes a type of Christ; and the Christian foe-men, three (l. 1357) who are captured by the Indians at the end of battle become a demonic version of the Trinitya type, perhaps, of Miltons unholy trinity of Satan, Sin, and Death. Abdiel-like in his role as the one just white man on the scene, the narrator speaks a seditious, anti-centrist version of the truth when, as night falls on the days unholy crime (l. 1363) against humanity, he explicitly associates Missionary evils with hell/ And all the crimes with it connected (l. 1374).
There is one further allusion to Paradise Lost in The Huron Chief that is worth noticing, if only because it occurs in one of the poems most imagistically rich and metaphorically subtle stanzas. It is a stanza spoken by the narrator sometime after the crackling flames of the forest fire have ensured that the beasts can no longer recline (l. 1327) in what he had fondly conceived as the peaceable kingdom of Canada:
Surrounding the allusion in the third line of this stanza to the consequences of the Fall in Paradise Lost, IX, 782-784 (Nature from her seat / Sighing through all her works), are images that suggest the usurping presence of the white man and its destructive effects: the mountain that was once the sacred precinct of Skenandow is now surmounted by the emblem of the the United States (and notice the sarcasm of fearless47) and the stream that was once the emblem of hinterland freedom is now a sadly broken and literally falling shadow of its former self. The destructive effects of the Christian foe-men are also evident in the condition of the hollow tree. Moreover, the owlets have grown into mature screech-owls whose boding song speaks of death and destruction yet to come. Foreshadowing the death of Skenandow in particular are the tendrils of wild grape, the plant which, in the final stanza of the poem, the narrator will associate with the holy shrine" of the noble HURON CHIEF (l. 1658). Finally, it is worth noting that, like the concluding stanza of The Huron Chief, the stanza just quoted (and, indeed the ones surrounding it), consists of two quatrains rhyming ababcdcd, a form that is appropriate here for two reasons: for a balladic quality that reflects the narrators elegiac sympathy with the Indians and for a split of broken quality that reflects its imagistic and metaphoric content.
There remains only to consider the final movement of The Huron Chief, the tragic denouement that devolves from the diabolical behaviour of the Christian white men, three who were captured by the Indians and, as the discussion rejoins them, are Fast pinioned to [a] bas-wood tree (l. 1460). Although the youthful heroes (l. 1483) amongst the Indians are in favour of executing the coldunfeelingChristian whites (l. 1492) as an act of appeasement, the older Chiefsfirst Tecumseh and then Skenandowargue persuasively for their release on the resonantly Christian-humanist grounds that they may repent (l. 1538) and that Perhaps [their] wives and children mourn (l. 1580). Asking of the three whites only that they no further roam, / To rob the Indian of his home (l. 1594), a merciful and forgiving Skenandow unbinds their blood-stained hands (l. 1589) and releases them from the tree (l. 1595)an act which symbolically reasserts the significance of the tree as a metaphor of peace (l. 427n.) rather than destruction, liberty (l. 1596) rather than bondage. When the departure of the white men is followed by the departure of TECUMSEH and his heroes (l. 1611), the scene is set for the poems denouement: the killing of Skenandow by a direful band of white men that of course includes the three, / The captive three, of Christian feeling! (l. 1638). That the Chief manages to kill two of the three but is himself killed by the third suggests, like the survival of one representative of evil in a gothic tale (or film), that there will be no end to the treachery and destructiveness of the white man. The final, elegiac stanza of The Huron Chief may be quoted in full:
This is in no sense great poetry, but it is Kidd at or near his best, and, like other passages in The Huron Chief, it shows him capable of writing verse that is technically accomplished, imagistically satisfying and emotionally poignant. As if to confirm his hinterland tendencies towards openness, Kidd offsets the centripetal pull towards entropy and closure in his conclusion with a centrifugal glance towards poets and poems of the future. To claim that there is a sense of différance as well as of ending in the final stanza of The Huron Chief would probably be pushing the discussion too far into the critical wilderness; however, it is worth making the intertextual point that the unconstrained and indigenous plant associated by Kidd with Skenandow is the very plant chosen by F.O. Call in Acanthus and Wild Grape to designate his relatively free verse poems of the hinterland.48
The elegiac and deferential conclusion of The Huron Chief could be taken as evidence that a primary thrust of Kidds long poemif not of all early Canadian long poemsis towards the creation of the kind of social and moral awareness that makes commemoration, celebration, even lyric utterance itself, possible. The clerks and chroniclers of Canadian experiencebe it baseland or hinterland experienceare also constructors and enablers: The Huron Chief and The Rising Village must exist as conceptual entities before the single voice of the lyricist can be raised in an affirmation or a condemnation of the values that they embody. Although details of the future were, of course, hidden from Kidd, it was clearly his hope that The Huron Chief would help to create the awareness, the audience, which permits and appreciates such poems as Duncan Campbell Scotts On the Way to the Mission and John Newloves The Pride. By allowing, perhaps forcing, his reader to experience something of the collective misery, spiritual integrity, and alternative discourse of the Indians, Kidd not only called into question the assumptions of white religious and military Imperialismthat is, the belief that the savagery of the Indians justifies their conversion or slaughterbut he also placed on view the dual possibility of rejecting the white presence in North America as metaphysically evil and affirming the Indian reality as an ideal order. That Kidds narrator speaks from the divided mind of someone who is both an Indian sympathizer and a European interloper helps to explain some of the poems bathetic and neurotic qualities (not fortuitously, perhaps, a prominent word in the narrators vocabulary is half), but it does not dimimsh the deeply humane and centrifugal feeling of empathy through which the poem attempts to understand the people and places of the hinterland. The Huron Chief is a romantic poem and a polemical poem. It is also more novelistic, more myriad-minded, more attuned to the voices of Babel, than any other early Canadian long poem, with the possible exception of Isabella Valancy Crawfords Malcolms Katie. The work of a religious, a romantic, and a sexual liberalan outcast Irishman with centrifugal tendencies and a hinterland orientationThe Huron Chief contains many attitudes, emphases, and patterns which echo forward to recent Canadian poetry. It is also a poem which, for all its manifest weaknesses of conception and execution, will repay an attentive and sympathetic reading.
The First Edition
According to the letter from Q. published in The Montreal Gazette for June 7, 1830 (and reprinted in Appendix A of the present edition), Kidd was selling subscriptions for his forthcoming Poem, to be entitled The Huron Chief, as early as the fall of 1828, some eighteen months" before The Huron Chief, and Other Poems found its way to Q.s" hands late in March, 1830. The original cost of the poem, again according to Q., was half a crown on subscription, and an equal sum on delivery of the worka crown, or five shillings, in all. Attracted by the title of The Huron Chief and encouraged by an already extensive list of subscribers, many of [them] respectable, Q. paid his two and sixpence to the Poet and, presumably, settled back in pleasant anticipation to await the imminent publication of Kidds book. I heard no more of the Huron Chief until yesterday, writes Q. on March 30, 1830, when a friend put a copy into my hand.
Advertisements for The Huron Chief and Other Poems, as well as poems Extracted from Mr. Kidds forthcoming work, The Huron Chief, and Other Poems, appeared as early as June 2, 1829 in The Irish Vindicator (Montreal) and continued between July 3 and October 6 of that year in the same newspaper. Although there are variations in typeface in these advertisements, their wording is substantially the same in June and July-October with one exception: in June the volume is said to contain" about 200 octavo pages, and in July-October, 200 Octavo Pages. The following advertisement from the September 11, 1829 issue of The Irish Vindicator is typical:
While most of the information in this advertisement is accurate (The Huron Chief and Other Poems is neatly printed on fairly good paper and it is bound in hard covers), there are two obvious discrepancies between the announced and the actual volume: the latter contains, not 200, but 216 pages, and it contains, not THREE, but one engravingthe frontispiece depicting the Huron Chief himself that is reproduced and discussed below. The reduction in the number of engravings in The Huron Chief and Other Poems may have been necessitated by several factors, including the possible shortfall in subscribers that is implied by the repeated advertisement of the volume in June and September, 1829 and the apparent increase in the number of pages in the book that probably resulted from Kidds additon of materials to the volume in the course of 1829 and, very likely 1830, most obviously in the case of The Huron Chief itself, the lengthy note (l. 1589n.) quoting and discussing the first annual message of the newly-elected American President Andrew Jackson. Delivered on December 8, 1829, Jacksons speech, which, amongst other things, sets forth his plan to move the Indians west of the Mississippi River, was quoted verbatim in such Canadian newspapers as The Irish Vindicator (on December 18 and 22, 1829), and accidentally fell into [Kidds] hand, as [The Huron Chief and Other Poems] was about to issue from the press (l. 1589n.). No doubt, another reason for the delay in the appearance of The Huron Chief and Other Poems until early 1830 was Kidds decision, also apparently taken when the volume was about to issue from the press, to excise the lines addressed to the Rev. Polyphemus that he mentions in his Preface (ll. 43-46). As will be seen in detail in a few moments, the decision to drop To the Rev. Polyphemus (as the poem is called in the table of contents to the volume) necessitated the eleventh-hour printing, on substitute pages, of the three poems that in fact appear in the volume but not in its table of contents.
On at least one occasion between the inception of subscriptions to The Huron Chief and Other Poems in the fall of 1828 and the belated delivery of the poem to subscribers in March, 1830, there were evidently misgivings publically expressed about the delay, and possible non-appearance, of Kidds forthcoming work. In the Brockville Gazette and General Advertiser for March 12, 1830, Kidd replies in some length and detail to a query concerning the tardiness of The Huron Chief and Other Poems from William Buell, the editor of the nval, Brockville Recorder. Unfortunately, no copy of the issue of the Brockville Recorder (Tuesday, February 23, 1830) containing Buells query has hitherto come to light. Kidds response in the Brockville Gazette and General Advertiser has survived, however, and it is worth quoting in full, not merely for the information that it provides about the publication and distribution of The Huron Chief and Other Poems, but also for the insight that it gives into the character of its florid and rebarbative author.
Kidds assertion that The Huron Chief and Other Poems is already before the public is borne out by two items that appeared in The Irish Vindicator on February 5 and 23, 1830. The first, on February 5, may well have been responsible for Buells query in the February 23 issue of the Brockville Recorder, particularly since it was reprinted in the Brockville Gazette and General Advertiser on February 19; it reads:
The second, on February 23, states that We have seen a volume of Mr. Kidds new work, promises to review the entire in a few days (see Appendix A in the present edition) and reprints the final poem in the volume (Stanzas, Addressed to the Hon. and Right Reverend Charles James Stewart, Lord Bishop of Quebec). On the basis of these two items in The Irish Vindicator, and of the letters of Kidd to the Brockville Gazette and Q. to The Montreal Gazette, it is evident that, though dated January 25, 1830 on its dedication page, The Huron Chief, and Other Poems was published in mid-February, 1830 and distributed to its subscribers in March of that year.
In his Preface to The Huron Chief, and Other Poems Kidd claims that fifteen hundred copies of his volume have already [been] called for (ll. 47-48), presumably through the sale of subscriptions in Upper and Lower Canada and the United States. This figure has not been verified but, if true, it would, in Mary Lu MacDonalds view, make the sales of The Huron Chief . . . more than double the recorded sales of any other pre-Confederation literary work.51
The frontispiece, and sole engraving, in The Huron Chief, and Other Poems is signed S.H. Gimber del.. As a glance at the reproductions below (pp. xxv and xxvi) will reveal, this illustration of The Huron Chief l. 141Im the Chieftain of this mountainby S.H. Gimber (del.: delineavit: he drew it) bears a striking resemblance to the lithograph of Nicholas Vincent Isawanhonhi (or Tsaouenhohi), who is almost certainly the SAWENNOWANE, of Kidds Preface, l. 57). Below the Chiefs name, the lithograph, which was printed by Hullmandel from a painting by Edward Chatfield, bears the caption: PRINCIPAL CHRISTIAN CHIEF AND CAPTAIN OF THE HURON INDIANS ESTABLISHED AT LA JEUNE LORETTE NEAR QUEBEC HABITED IN THE COSTUME OF HIS COUNTRY AS WHEN PRESENTED TO HIS MAJESTY GEORGE IV ON THE 7TH OF APRIL 1823, WITH THREE OTHER CHIEFS OF HIS NATION BY GENERALS BROCK AND CARPENTER. THE CHIEF BEARS IN HIS HAND THE WAMPUM OR COLLAR ON WHICH IS MARKED THE TOMAHAWK GIVEN BY HIS LATE MAJESTY GEORGE III. THE GOLD MEDAL ON HIS NECK WAS THE GIFT OF HIS MAJESTY ON THIS PRESENTATION. Very probably a model, if not the principal model, for Kidds Huron Chief (see the explanatory note to the poems title), Nicholas Vincent Tsaouenhohi (1769-1844) was head Chief of the Hurons at Jeune Lorette from 1811 to his death in 1844, and he did indeed visit George IV in England in 1825.52 Moreover, he spoke both English and French (and also wrote the latter)facts that accord well with Kidds observation in his Preface (ll. 57-59) that SEWANNOWANE, and other Chiefs, . . . speak and write several languages.53 In addition to the gold medal inscribed GEORGE III Gimbers engraving shares with the Chatfield/ Hullmandel lithograph of Tsaouenhohi a number of featuresthe Chiefs raised arm, for example, and several items of his clothingwhich suggest that the frontispiece to The Huron Chief may be largely based on the earlier work. It is notable that in the background of Gimbers engraving are two landscape features, the mountain and the pines, which, though they have equivalents in the lithograph of Tsaouenhohi, are accorded a prominence in the frontispiece that reflects the imagistic and thematic emphasis of Kidds poem, as of course does the depiction of the Indian village and the lake in the bottom left-hand corner of the frontispiece.
The first edition of The Huron Chief, and Other Poems was printed in Montreal AT THE OFFICE OF THE HERALD AND NEW GAZETITE with monies raised, as has been seen, by subscription. The proprietor of both the Montreal Herald and the New Montreal Gazette at this time was Archibald Ferguson,54 who also published William F. Hawleys Quebec, The Harp, and Other Poems (1829), which was advertised in The Vindicator alongside The Huron Chief throughout September, 1829. Kidds volume is bound in drab paper-covered boards with a cloth spine and a simple template inscribed KIDD | POEMS | [rule] | THE | HURON | CHIEF | [double rule]. As the advertisements in The Vindicator claim and as the Editorial Emendations in the present edition (pp. 60-62) confirm, the volume is neatly printed and relatively free from typographical errors. It is not, however, printed in octavo (as the advertisements claim), but (as a collation makes clear55) in duodecimo in sixes on royal size paper. Perhaps the most intriguing bibliographical feature of the volume as a whole is the absence of any N signatures, an absence that confirms what the discrepancy between its Contents table and its actual contents implies: Kidds last-minute suppression of what was almost certainly a libellous attack on George Jehoshaphat Mountain (To the Rev. Polyphemus) and his substitution in its place (the last two pages of M and the first seven pages of [N]) of three innocuous descriptive and religious pieces (Lines, Written on Visiting the Falls of Chaudiere, 1827, Verses, Written on Visiting the Sand-Banks on the Shores of Lake Ontario, near Hallowell, 1823 and Paraphrase of the 29th Psalm). A note to the title of the first of these reads: On consideration, it has been thought proper to substitute these stanzas, and the two following little poems, in place of the address to POLYPHEMUS, which, perhaps, was too satirical for a publication of this nature. Beside this note in the copy of The Huron Chief, and Other Poems signed John Strachan / 1830 (in the Baldwin Room at the Toronto Public Library) someoneperhaps Strachan himselfhas written: thus depriving the volume of what with posterity, would have given it some value. No doubt these sentiments, whether or not they are grounded in the authority of a Bishop of Toronto and a leader of the Family Compact, will have a ready appeal for readers unsympathetic to Kidds work. More sympathetic readers, particularly of Kidds title poem, will, however, regret the loss of To the Rev. Polyphemus for the light that it might have shed on its authors tempestuous relationship with George Jehoshaphat Mountain and, hence, on the genesis and content of The Huron Chief.
The Present Text
The present text of The Huron Chief is based on the first and (hitherto) only edition of the poemthat which appears in The Huron Chief, and Other Poems (Montreal: Printed at the Office of the Herald and New Gazette, 1830). Several copies of the first edition of The Huron Chief (from the Toronto Public, McGill University and University of Western Ontario libraries) have been examined, and no variations have been discovered amongst them. Although Kidd evidently made changes and additions to the volume in the winter of 1829-1830, he did not, it appears, make any stop-press alterations to The Huron Chief during the actual printing of his book.
The present text follows the first edition in nearly all respects. Kidds sometimes unusual and occasionally archaic spelling has been retained for its historical significance and poetic value. So too has his punctuation, though in some instances his syntax is confused and his meaning is obscured by his habitual use of dashesa device elaborated, perhaps, from his principal models, Byron and Moore, and reflective certainly of the ongoing and interruptive aspects of The Huron Chief. The very few errors of spelling, punctuation, and layout that appear in the original edition of The Huron Chief have been corrected in the present edition, and are listed under Editorial Emendations (pp. 60-61).
Notes to the Introduction
A History of English-Canadian Literature to the Confederation (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1920), p. 157.[back]
Adam Kidd: An Early Canadian Poet, Queens
Quarterly. 65 (Autumn, 1958), 496. See also Literary Activities in the
Canadas, 1812-1841, Literary History of Canada, ed. Carl F. Klink (1965; rpt.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), pp. 130-132.[back]
Kidd, Adam, The Oxford Companion to Canadian
Literature, ed. William Toye (Toronto, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press,
1983). For the correspondence concerning this thrashing, see Appendix B in the
present edition. Apparently occasioned by Kidds unflattering reference to James
Buchanan, the British consul at New York, in the note to The Huron Chief, l. 854,
the thrashing was evidently carried out by Buchanans sons, Alexander
Carlisle Buchanan (1808-1868) and Robert Stewart Buchanan (1806-1893), who were in
business together in Montreal. See A.W. Patrick Buchanan, The Buchanan Book: the Life
of Alexander Buchanan. Q.C., of Montreal, Followed by an Account of the Family of Buchanan
(Montreal: Printed for Private Circulation, 1911), pp. 234-235. Given the extensive
borrowings in The Huron Chief from the elder Buchanans Sketches (see
Explanatory Notes, passim), it is possible that plagiarism was an additional
motive for the thrashing of Kidd.[back]
In her entry on Kidd in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography,
VI (which she very kindly allowed me to read just prior to its publication) Mary Jane
Edwards notes that By July 1824 Kidd was at Quebec supporting himself, possibly as a
teacher . . . (375). Edwards also speculates that Kidd may not have come to North
America in c. 1818 but worked for six years on his parents farm in
Tullynagee (Northern Ireland) before being forced by poverty and oppression to emigrate.
See also the Irish Shield for September, 1829, where the editor, George Pepper,
notes àpropros Kidds Apostrophe to the Harp of Dennis Hampson, the
Minstrel of Magilligan, in the County of Derry" that the poem . . . was called
forth from the the authors muse, on his visiting the residence . . . of Denis
Hampson about four years ago.. .; however, see also the explanatory note to l. 494
of The Huron Chief.[back]
Macdonald in The Oxford Companion. I should like again to
thank Mary Lu MacDonald for generously sharing with me her research on Kidd.[back]
See Klinck, Adam Kidd: An Early Canadian Poet, p.497
and Edwards, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, VI. Kidds oeuvre contains
numerous poems addressed to Clara, Sophia, Mary, Susan and others, suggesting that he may
have been what used to be called a womanizer.[back]
See the Canadian Freeman for July 21, 1831, Le Canadien
for July 6, 1831, the Irish Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser for July 8,
1831, and the Kingston Chronicle for July 16 and August 20, 1831. This last item is
a poem On the Death of Adam Kidd signed Carolan which laments him as a
minstrel druid. Both MacDonald, The Oxford Companion, and Edwards, Dictionary
of Canadian Biography, give accounts of the circumstances surrounding Kidds
For discussions of the terms hinterland and baseland, see D.M.R. Bentley, A New Dimension: Notes on the Ecology
of Canadian Poetry, Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, 7
(Fall/Winter, 1980), p. 1-20, A Stretching Landscape: Notes on Some Formalistic
Continuities in the Poetry of the Hinterland, Contemporary Verse II, 5
(Summer, 1981), pp. 6-18 and The Mower and the Boneless Acrobat: Notes on the
Stances of Baseland and Hinterland in Canadian Poetry, Studies in Canadian
Literature. 8, 1(1983), pp. 5-48.[back]
The Marbles of Aegina, Greek Studies: A Series of
Essays (London: Macmillan, 1895), p. 252.[back]
In his famous speech in Richard III, II, i, John of Gaunt
also refers to England as This other Eden, demi-Paradise . . . This blessed plot . .
The Rising Village, ed. Michael Gnarowski (Montreal:
Delta, 1968), p. 41.[back]
See The Works of Thomas Carlyle (London: Chapman and Hall,
1896), 1, 153.[back]
See The Poetry of Byron by Archibald
Lampman, with a Prefatory Note by D.M.R. Bentley, Queens Quarterly, 83
(Winter, 1976), 623-632.[back]
The Huron Chief,. and Other Poems (Montreal: At the Office
of the Herald and New Gazette, 1830), p. 137.[back]
Edwards, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, VI.[back]
Labyrinths of Voice: Conversations with Robert Kroetsch,
with Shirley Neuman and Robert Wilson (Edmonton: Newest, 1982), p. 130.[back]
Poetical Works, ed. Frederick Page, and corrected by John
Jump (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 699 (Don Juan, IV, v, 6).[back]
Jay Macpherson. The Boatman (Toronto: Oxford University
Press, 1968), p. 7.[back]
An orientation towards the sublime rather than the picturesque is
predictably an aspect of the hinterland stance in Canadian writing; see also Kidds
comment in his Preface (ll. 51-54) that he has collected local descriptions of the
numerous cascades, stupendous cataracts, and majestic scenery of the country, which for
beauty and grandeur remain unrivalled in the universe.[back]
As well as dubbing Archdeacon Mountain Rev. Polyphemus (see Preface, l. 43), Kidd alludes at various points in The Huron Chief (see ll. 450 and 887) to characters and incidents in the Odyssey.[back]
See Dennis Lee, Savage Fields: An Essay in Literature and Cosmology (Toronto: Anansi, 1977) for a development and application of these terms.[back]
Mary Douglas, Edward Evans-Pritchard (New York: Viking, 1980), p. 86. Douglas is relating the work of Evans-Pritchard to that of Michel Foucault.[back]
See The Rising Village, p. 24 and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, ed., and with an Introduction by Malcolm Ross (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970). p. 58.[back]
See Douglas, Evans-Pritchard, pp. 75-90.[back]
See Kroetsch, Labyrinths, pp. 25-26.[back]
Orientalism, (New York: Vintage, 1979), p. 325.[back]
For further instances of Kidds Like technique see The Huron Chief ll. 348 and 696.[back]
Poetry in Canada: the First Three Steps (Toronto: Ryerson, 1958), p. 44.[back]
See A New Dimension: Notes on the Ecology of Canadian Poetry, Canadian Poetry, 7 (Fall/Winter, 1980), 1-20.[back]
I am grateful to Elizabeth Thompson for this quotation from Seeds of Pine (Toronto: Musson, 1922), p. 17.[back]
Quoted in Michael Darling, A Variorum Edition of the Poems of A.J.M. Smith with a Descriptive Bibliography and Reference Guide Diss., York University, 1979, p. 128.[back]
The Fat Man: Selected Poems, 1962-1972 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977), p.41.
Paul Fussell, Poetic Metre and Poetic Form. Rev. ed. (New York: Random, 1965), p. 134.[back]
Ernst Haublin, The Stanza (London: Methuen, 1978), p. 26.
The Rising Village, p. 24.
Orientalism, p. 229.[back]
For an excellent discussion of this aspect of the poem, see Gerald Lynch Oliver Goldsmiths The Rising
Village: Controlling Nature, Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews,
6 (Spring/Summer, 1980), pp. 35-49.[back]
In Through the Vanishing Point; Space in Poetry and Painting (New
York: Harper and Row, 1968), p. 153, Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker speak of
Romantic unenclosed space as rebellion against legally constituted spaces.[back]
Charles Steele, Canadian Poetry in English: the
Beginnings, Diss., University of Western Ontario, 1974, speaks of Kidd being
influenced by a Rousseauistic philosophic primitivism and comments that the
poet professed to see true order and liberty contained within the civilization of
the North American Indian rather than within that of Britain or Europe (p. 123).[back]
See Jerome C. Christensen, The Symbols Errant
Allegory, English Literary History, 45 (Winter, 1978), 644 for these words in
the context of an analysis of Coleridges The Rime of the Ancient
See Kroetsch, Labyrinths, p. 17 for some apposite
comments on the function of footnotes.[back]
In The Long Poem Anthology, ed. Michael Ondaatje (Toronto:
Coach House, 1979), p. 326.[back]
See Bentley, The Mower and the Boneless Acrobat, p.
See Bentley, A New Dimension, p. 6 for a discussion
of the formal aspects and aptness of this poem.[back]
It should not escape note that the mountain" is now
cloud-capped like the Mountain in the poems Preface.[back]
See Bentley, A Stretching Landscape pp. 6-7 for a
discussion of Calls Acanthus and Wild Grape.[back]
The minor errors of spelling and punctuation in this letter (and
in other items from newspapers concerning The Huron Chief, and Other Poems, have
been silently corrected. Kidds motto is a conflation of Horace, Satires,
II, i, 44-46, translated by H. Rushton Fairclough in the Loeb Classical Library Edition of
the Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica as follows: But if one stir me up
(Better not touch me! I shout), he shall smart for it and have his name sung
up and down the town.[back]
See the explanatory note to Preface, l. 50 for Kidd s
posthumously published piece on Red Jacket, who died on January 20, 1830.[back]
The Oxford Companion.[back]
See Marguerite Vincent Tehariolina, La Nation Huronne: son
histoire, sa culture, son ésprit (Québec: éditions du Pélican, 1984), p. 82. My
attention was called to the lithograph of Tsaouenhohi by the reproduction of it in La
Nation Huronne, p. 134. Tehariolinas ordinary-alphabet spellings of Huron names
have been followed throughout this study, and her book has been very useful in research
into the Huron background to Kidds poem. I am grateful to Georges E. Sioui
(Atsistahonra) for allowing me to read his biography of Nicolas Vincent, to be published
in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, VII.[back]
See the note to l. 673, below for evidence that Nicholas Vincent
Tsaouenhohi spoke English and Tehariolina, pp. 135-142 for evidence of his abilities in
French and Huron. Was the Vincent Sasennio (see LAbbe Lionel Saint-George Lindsay, Notre
Dame de la Jeune-Lorette en la Nouvelle-France: étude historique [Montréal: La Cie
de Publication de la Revue Canadienne, 1900], p. 265) who, in 1825, transcribed in French
a brief oral history of the Hurons, Nicholas Vincent Tsaouenhohi?[back]
See André Beaulieu and Jean Hamelin, La Presse Québécoise
des origines à nos jours (Québec: Les Presses de lUniversité de Laval, 1973)
pp. 24-29 (The Herald) and pp. 60-61 (The New Montreal Gazette and Canada
Literary, Political and Historical Register) for accounts of these two papers, and of
Fergusons connections with them.[back]
The first edition of The Huron Chief, and Other Poems has
a title page reading: THE HURON CHIEF, | AND | OTHER POEMS.| [rule] | BY | ADAM KIDD |
[rule] | [epigraph] | [double rule] | MONTREAL: | PRINTED AT THE OFFICE OF THE HERALD AND
NEW GAZETTE. | [rule] |1830. Collation: royal 12° in 6s [A]6 B-M6 [N]6 O-S6; $(-C2)
signed; 108 ll. paged [i-v] vi-xii  14-216 (108). The typeface of the Preface and the
body of the poem is 12 point (or pica) Scotch Roman. The paper is wove royal rag and
probably machine made; it shows no chain lines or water marks. The size of the pages in
the book (11 cm. x 19.2 cm.) is consistent with a duodecimo printing in sixes on
royal-size paper (61 x 49 cm. before trimming), a size in common use by newspaper printers
in Kidds day for the obvious reason that, when folded in two and trimmed, a sheet of
royal was an apt size for a newspaper. I am especially grateful to E.J. Devereux for his
help on the bibliographical aspects of The Huron Chief, and Other Poems. [back]