EDITORIAL NOTES


 

The purpose of these notes is threefold: to explain and identify words and phrases that might be obscure to modern reader, to call attention to allusions to other writers classical and contemporary, and to elucidate where possible the historical and biographical context of each poem. Attempts have also been made to provide information about published versions of particular poems to facilitate comparisons. The notes are meant to complement the Introduction where an overview of the scope of Strachan’s poetry is provided. Unless otherwise indicated, quotations in the notes are from standard or definitive editions. In addition to the many works cited in the Introduction (most notably Strachan’s Documents and Opinions and Spragge’s The John Strachan Letter Book), extensive use has also been made of the Oxford English Dictionary and other reference books including Encyclopedia Britannica, Columbia Encyclopedia, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Dictionary of National Biography, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Dictionary of Scots, as well as numerous specialized works on English, American, and Canadian literature, history, and anthropology.

An Elegy

This poem appeared in The Port Folio (21 March 1807: 189-91) with stanza 13 deleted and other minor emendations.

John Strachan (b.1778) was the youngest of a family of five, which included Margaret (b.1765), Rachel (b.1767), James (b.1773) and William (b.1775). William died in Jamaica of yellow fever, a tropical virus disease with fever and jaundice.

4

fondness In the manuscript Strachan has replaced "friendship" with "fondness." Strachan had entertained hopes that his brother William would help to finance his university career. However, William sailed for Jamaica without fulfilling his promise. "Resentment inflamed my soul" wrote Strachan in his autobiography, but apparently all was forgiven and the brothers parted on good terms.

10

plait To braid or intertwine.

13

gambols The sportive movements of children.

19

glade Sunny clearing in a wood, also fig. a gleam of hope.

26

Two lustres finished in the Western Isles Strachan wrote in his autobiography: "At last in the month of March, 1799, I engaged to go to Upper Canada to teach. The promises were great, I was advised by some of my friends. The prospect of an academy being established and of being made mathematical teacher were great incitements. My expectations are always too sanguine. They were in this as in my other things miserably disappointed when too late" (DO 12-13).

29

beauteous fly The butterfly is symbolic of the immortality of the soul both in classical and Christian iconography.

33

Scotia’s shore Scotland. In both his poetry and prose Strachan expresses nostalgia for his homeland.

39

the tragic pest The tropical virus described as the yellow fever in the epigraph.

42

fierce Maroons In 1655, Jamaica fell from Spanish into British hands. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the British were consistently harassed by the Maroons (from the Spanish Cimarron meaning "wild, untamed"), armed and organized freed slaves who operated from the thick woods and mountains.

47

Fallacious hope Mocking expectation.

53

shade Ghost or spirit of the deceased.

67

Pericles Athenian statesman (c. 495-429 BC) who interrupted those weeping at his death bed to remind them of the most worthy of his achievements: "It is that not a citizen in Athens has been obliged to put on mourning on my account."

 

To learn and play of old . . . 

 

In 1799, Strachan came to Upper Canada to teach the children of Richard Cartwright, (1759-1815) Kingston businessman, judge and author. Examinations at Strachan’s "School" in Kingston were open to the public and he often made his own poetry part of the oral examinations. As Strachan indicates, two versions of the poem appear in the manuscript. Only the latter version as altered by Mr. Cartwright appears above, though changes have been indicated.

As delivered by John Robinson One of Strachan’s most promising students, John Beverly Robinson (1791-1863) later became part of the Strachan household at Cornwall and a strong bond beyond that of merely pupil and teacher was formed between the two. Robinson went on to become an influential lawyer, politician, and judge.

 

9

vile lash Strachan preferred milder punishments such as making an offender wear his jacket inside out. The cane was reserved only for the most serious offences.

11

Cutler’s pelf Property pilfered or stolen, vegetable rubbish or weeds; possibly a reference to the writings of Manesseh Cutler (1742-1823), a New England clergyman and educator then receiving great accolades for his writings on botany and other subjects. Cutler was also active in the Ohio Company of Associates which purchased a great tract of land in present day Ohio. In a tract written to encourage settlers to come to the region, Cutler writes:

Besides the opportunity of opening a new and unexplored region for the range of natural history, botany and the medical science, there will be one advantage which no other part of the earth can boast, and which probably will never again occur—that, in order to begin right, there will be no wrong habits to combat, and no inveterate systems to overturn—there is no rubbish to remove, before you can lay the foundation. The first settlement will inbosom many men of the most liberal minds—well versed in the world, in business and every useful science. Could the necessary apparatus be procured, and funds immediately established for founding a university on a liberal plan that professors might be active in their various researches and employments, even now in the infancy of the settlement, a proper use might be made of an advantage which will never be repeated.(An Exploration of the Map of Federal Lands, 20-21).

14

Charles the Great Charlemagne (742-814) Frankish King, who initiated an intellectual renaissance during his reign. Though Charlemagne could not be considered educated by later standards, he showed great taste for learning.

18

a cross A mark made in place of a signature by an illiterate person.

23

Alcanor "Alcanor saw and reached, but reached in vain/His helping hand, his brother to sustain." (Aeneid 9.672)

26

Horace (65-8 BC) Latin lyric poet and satirist.

29

Lacedemon’s king Agesilaus, king of Sparta who, though lame, was a brave and successful general.

32

Alexander Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), one of the greatest generals in history. He carried his head bent slightly upwards and to the left, a pose that has been variously attributed to congenital tortocollosis, compensation for imperfect vision in one eye, and plain affectation.

42 

merry entertaining wag A mischievous boy.

45

Stanhope’s scheme Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694-1773), 4th Earl of Chesterfield, wrote Letters to his Son (1779) and Letters to his Godson (1800), guides to manners and the art of worldly success.

51

The first version concludes with the following couplets:

Thus learning, when sound, great wisdom insures
And always to life new pleasure procures.
It curbs and directs the sallies of youth,
Prompts them to virtue and guides them to truth.

 

A Task Impos’d by M.E. 

 

M.E. Margaret Hickman England, born October 21, 1777, daughter of Captain Poole England and sister to one of Strachan’s students. Strachan fell in love with her, addressing her in his poetry as Laura, but his lack of financial resources may have hindered the courtship and Margaret married Jacob Herchmer in York, July 1, 1803 (Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records 31: 222-23).

 

1

Pandora In Greek mythology, the first woman on earth. Zeus (Jupiter or Jove in Roman mythology) gave her a box which she opened, letting out all the evils which have since afflicted humankind. Hope alone remained in the bottom of the box.

3

Jove Jupiter, King of the Gods in Roman mythology.

7

immur’d Imprisoned.

21

harbinger Something or someone whose presence announces the approach of another. Strachan celebrates friendship hoping love is soon to follow.

24

alloy Inferior metals mixed with one of greater value.

45

noxious Harmful, unwholesome.

55

venial Pardonable, not serious.

61

Thrice happy sure is he Cf. Horace Odes 1.8.17 "Thrice happy and more are they whom an unbroken bond unites and whom no sundering of love by wretched quarrels shall separate before life’s final day."

 

The Day

 

"The Day" appeared in The Port Folio, Part I. (28 February 1807: 143-44) and Part II. (7 March 1807: 158-59) with the following note:

The pedantry of the following rhapsody will, perhaps, find an excuse in the reading it displays. And I am sure that an attempt to extract amusement from a very irksome task, if it does not meet the general taste, will please those of your readers who are employed in the education of youth.

Despite his reputation as a seminal educator in Canada, Strachan was not always fond of the task. In his Autobiography, he describes his reluctance, as a young man in Scotland, to pursue a courtship because it might condemn him to a life of teaching, and thwart his other aspirations. "All would be blasted by such an engagement. Shall I be obliged to teach all my life even without the hope of escaping, Forbid O Heaven" (DO 9-10).

The title "The Day" refers to the descriptions of Strachan’s day as a school master, but may also be an allusion to a column entitled "The Day" which appeared regularly in The Port Folio.

 

6

A sluggard never gain’d a prize Strachan had a carefully worked out scheme of rewards and demerits to encourage achievement in his students. Two older boys, called censors, were chosen each week to look after discipline and to enter any breaches of it into a daily and weekly register.

18

bears dislike the wood Strachan notes in the margin that "several bears had been seen on the road some of which were killed by the people."

22

John In the published version, a footnote reads, "The servant boy."

30

Samian host Likely soldiers of the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea.

35

Wilson’s door Probably a reference to Rev. John Wilson of Kingston. The name was changed from Kirbie, a reference to Kingston merchant John Kirby (1772-1846) whose nephews John and William Macaulay were students of Strachan’s.

40

here’s a boat Kingston, on the shores of Lake Ontario, was a port to ships coming up the St. Lawrence. The school master’s attempts to delay the inevitable are interrupted by the arrival of the mail.

41

Dic Richard Cartwright Junior (d. 1811), son of Richard Cartwright (1759-1815). He and his brother James (1786-1811), "two excellent brothers" whom Strachan counted among his most promising students, were to die of "consumption" in 1811.

45

Rosamund (1140-1176) Mistress of Henry II of England, reportedly poisoned by Queen Eleanor.

47

Dunstan Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (924-988), English abbot who initiated major monastic reforms and was accused of practicing the black arts. Strachan describes one of his notorious encounters with the Devil.

49

Old Nick The Devil.

53

Mary Probably Mary Magdelen Cartwright (1796-1839), sister to Dic and James, or Mary England, whose sister Margaret was the object of Strachan’s romantic attentions. Curiously, all the names of Strachan’s female students were changed to male names in the published version. "Mary" was changed to "Robert," probably a reference to Robert Macaulay.

53

gabble Jabber, rapid and unintelligible speech.

54

rabble A disorderly crowd, a mob.

56

Caesar argues might and main In the margin Strachan notes "Vid Ceasar’s speech in Sallust." Greek historian Sallust (86-34 BC) offers a version of Caesar’s oration on the mode of punishing the conspirators:"So far as the penalty is concerned, I can say with truth that amid grief and wretchedness death is a relief from woes, not a punishment that it puts an end to all mortal ills and leaves no room either for sorrow or for joy" (The War with Catiline 51.20).

59

libra In Latin, Libra means pound weight, thus the abbreviation lb.

61

Nepos gives the Roman praise Roman historian Cornelius Nepos (100-25 BC) writes of the wealthy Atticus (109-32 BC) that he was "friend to all and supporter of none" (Life of Atticus 8.4).

71

Terence paints a droll disease In Act 4, scene 2 of The Eunuch Latin playwright Terence (195-159 BC) describes the lovesick Phaedria.

80

Madam Goose Probably a reference to Mother Goose, a fictitious old woman reputedly the source of nursery rhymes first published in 1781.

84

Jason The hero of Greek myth who went in search of the Golden fleece.

84ff.

What Ovid’s florid lines contain Ovid describes the efforts of Medea to return Jason’s father Aeson to youth in his Metamorphoses Book 7, Fable 2.

92

vervain, hellebore and snot Strachan altered the ingredients described in Ovid to match his rhyme scheme. Vervain and hellebore are herbs once valued for their medicinal properties. In the published version, "snot" was replaced by "soot."

93

Luna The moon.

96

eke Also.

96

rake A worthless cur dog, that has come to mean a man of loose habits and an idle dissipated man of fashion (Johnson’s Dictionary).

103

Aeson The father of Jason, whose life was restored by Medea.

112

honest Gay "Honest" John Gay (1685-1732), English poet and dramatist, best known for The Beggar’s Opera, who also wrote two books of verse Fables (1727,1738).

113

A Roman had two sons In Satire 3 (2:168ff) Horace tells of advice Servius Oppidius gives to his two sons Aulus and Tiberius when dividing his estate. Strachan compares the two brothers to his students Dic and James Cartwright (see note 41 above).

133

sycophant A servile flatterer; a toady.

137

Tacitus vile wars relates In his Germania or The Earliest Beginnings and the Land of the Germans (AD 98) Roman historian Tacitus (AD 55-117 ) describes German martial customs. "They take their wounds to mother and wife, who do not shrink from counting the hurts or demanding a sight of them; they minister to the combatants food and exhortation." Wounds in the back imply cowardice.

150

snuff Preparation of pulverized tobacco taken by sniffing it into the nostrils.

152

Burnet’s copious tracts Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715), Bishop of Salisbury wrote the six volume History of My Own Time (1724-34) and the three volume History of the Reformation in England (1723-24).

154

A little ease from Swift Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), English satirist best known for Gulliver’s Travels (1726).

161

the Mantuan Bard In the Aeneid (7.56) Vergil, the poet from Mantua, tells the tragic tale of Turnus, the accepted suitor of Lavinia of Latium who is pursued and eventually killed by Aeneas.

168

the woman’s eggs ain’t right Strachan’s note in the margin reads "Questions in algebra." In 1809 Strachan published A concise introduction to practical arithemetics for the use of schools, a mathematics textbook in which similar questions appear.

178

valiant Drake Francis Drake (1540-1596), first Englishman to circumnavigate the world (1577-80).

181

Atlas A Titan who was condemned to carry the universe on his shoulders for all eternity.

183

the silly monk Kosmas, also spelled Cosmas, was an Alexandrian monk who developed a detailed Christian cosmology in the middle of the sixth century in which he stated that the earth, the footstool of the Lord, is a rectangular plane resting on the flat bottom of the universe and that the sun does not travel below the earth at night, but is hidden behind the higher regions to the north. In the published version, Strachan notes: "See Robertson’s dissertation on India."

195

Galileo Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian astronomer whose support of the Copernican view of the solar system led to a trial for heresy before the Inquisition in Rome. He recanted but was reported to have said beneath his breath "Nevertheless it does move," a reference to the movements of the earth around the sun.

200

sol The sun in Roman mythology.

206

terra Latin for earth.

226

arrant Downright, utter, notorious.

253

Hannah Hannah Cartwright (1792-1812), sister to Dic and James who was later described by Strachan in a letter to his friend Dr. Brown as "the most amiable and beautiful young woman that I ever saw and a particular favourite of mine" (DO 42). In the published version Hannah was changed to William in reference to William Macaulay (1794-1874) Strachan’s student who went on to become a Church of England clergyman.

256 

The Rambler speaking there of oats Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) defines "Oats" as "a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." Between 1750 and 1752 Johnson contributed essays to the periodical The Rambler.

265

Dull Gillies’ milk and water style John Gillies (1747-1836), Scottish historian, author of The History of Ancient Greece (1786).

266

Mad Heron’s undiscerning file John Pinkerton (1758-1826), published Letters of Literature (1785) under the assumed name of Robert Heron. It contains an eccentric scheme to reform the English language.

271

Scriblerus, Dryden, Swift or Pope The Scriblerus Club, an English literary club formed by Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift and others in 1713 produced "Memoirs of . . . Martinus Scriblerus" which appeared in Pope’s prose works in 1741.

278

Some hours to kill with musty Greek In Pursuits of Literature, a work which Strachan used as a model for A Dialogue, Mathias writes:

I would with a peculiar emphasis and earnestness request young men of fortune, ability, and polished education, not to cast off the study of the Greek writers, when they leave school, or the university. A few hours devoted to this study in every week will preserve and improve their knowledge of it, which will animate the whole mass of their learning, and give colour to their thoughts and precision to their expressions (280).

279

mathematics deep but rare When in his seventies, Strachan wrote: "Sometimes I think I should have cultivated Poetry—sometimes Mathematics. And yet looking at things around me there is much to produce admiration" (Strachan to Thomas Duncan, 12 May 1855).

281 

a page of Locke John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher, founder of British empiricism, author of Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises on Civil Government (1690).

286

absent friends Strachan to Dr. James Brown 25 August 1799 on his departure from Scotland: ". . . yet tho’ I leave my country with the greatest indifference I leave my Friends with the most sincere regret" (DO 13).

298

human life’s a vapour James 4.15 "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

 

A Dialogue

 

In 1796, while a parish school master in Denino, Scotland, Strachan was offered a position as assistant to Dr. James Brown, professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. The prospect of a university career delighted Strachan, but the opportunity was withdrawn when Brown decided to retire instead. It was a setback that was to haunt Strachan for years, and was a motivating factor, along with his "curiousity to see foreign parts" (DO 13), in his move to Upper Canada. His bitterness at his inability to get ahead in his homeland was partly fueled by what was known as the plurality debate. By the end of the eighteenth century, there was a growing consensus that the demands of parish ministry were too great to allow ministers to simultaneously hold both a pastoral charge and a university chair. A greater number of quality applicants for positions in the university also made pluralities appear unnecessary and unfair. The question of "double charges" was hotly debated among the Church of Scotland’s two leading factions, The Moderates and the Evangelicals or Popular party. Though Strachan claims in his end notes to have written A Dialogue "merely for amusement," he has clearly set himself the serious task of criticizing the clergymen and academics of Scotland over this and other issues.

Strachan models his dialogue after Pursuits of Literature, written by satirist and Italian scholar Thomas James Mathias (1754-1835) and published anonymously from 1794-1797. In his preface to the Fourth Dialogue Mathias writes:

It was not intended merely to raise a smile at folly or conceit; but it was written with indignation against wickedness, against the prostitution of superior talents and the profane violence of bad men. . . . In it there are no imaginary subjects. I have raised no phantoms of absurdity merely to disperse them; but the words, the works, the sentiments, and often the actions of the authors are before us. It may be known hereafter from this poem, how we wrote and thought in this age, and not unfrequently how we conducted ourselves (270-71).

Strachan’s Dialogue, like The Pursuits of Literature, contains copious notes which as Mathias explains

are not always merely explanatory; they are (if I have been able to execute my intention) of a structure rather peculiar to themselves. Many of them are of a nature between an essay and explanatory comment; and they contain much matter in a little compass, suited to the exigency of the times (282-83).

Strachan’s own notes to A Dialogue appear at the end of the poem.

 

1

Perisus sleeps Following the pattern set by Mathias who presents his satires as a dialogue between the Author and Octavius, Strachan presents a dialogue between Persius and Cornutus. Aulus Perisus Flaccus (AD 34-62) was a Roman satirical poet who exposed to censure the corruption and folly of Roman contemporary life, contrasting it with the ideals of the Stoics and of earlier Rome. His satires were edited by his friend and mentor Stoic philosopher Lucius Anneaus Cornutus (flourished AD 54-68). Cornutus bids the satirist awaken and address the corruption of the times.

4

Attack the cruel Nero Cornutus was banished by Nero in AD 66 or 68 for having disparaged the emporer’s projected history of the Romans in heroic verse.

5

In the margin Strachan wrote: "This poem not quite consistent. Cornutus first asks Perisus to attack the literate and afterwards reproves him for so doing."

6

Poet’s rod A symbol of office and power.

8

Our Monarch’s virtues George III was then in power in England.

9

learning’s sons expose In his prefatory note, Strachan states his intention to expose "the supine negligence of the greater number of Professors." He describes his own education at Kings College, Aberdeen as less than ideal: "the advantages I reaped were few. I acquired some taste for study and collected a considerable mass of indigested knowledge" (DO 8).

10

By Decius guided Decius (AD 201-251), Roman emperor who instituted the first organized persecution of Christians throughout the Empire. Strachan equates Decius with the author of The Pursuits of Literature, the satire he takes as his model.

11

the anglian shore Mathias focuses his satire on the writers and thinkers of England, while Strachan turns his attention to Scotland.

13

Priapus In Greek religion a god of animal and vegetable fertility, associated with lechery. "An Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus . . . " published by Richard Payne Knight (1750-1824) was severely censured by Mathias.

14

Lewis’ Monk At the age of twenty, Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818) published The Monk; a Romance (1795) which Mathias condemned as "offensive and scandalous" (245). The "indecency" of the work provoked many protests and in the second edition Lewis expunged the most objectionable passages.

16

These Northern climes an equal scourge demand Cornutus insists that a satirist must be found to do for Scotland what Mathias has done for England.

18

smooth Reduce faults and irregularities.

18

bands Organized groups of people with a common object, often of a criminal nature.

19

Priestley’s glorious name Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), English clergyman, political theorist, and physical scientist, most famous for his discovery of oxygen in 1774, but a prolific writer on a variety of controversial subjects. According to Mathias "He writes on all things, but on nothing well" (48).

20

Parr’s extending fame The many works of Samuel Parr (1747-1825) are also criticized by Mathias: "I lament and am indignant, when I think of such a scholar as Dr. Parr, and the waste of erudition and talents" (452).

21

Shall I the Popish liberty oppose In 1791, the Roman Catholic Relief Act sponsored by William Pitt (1759-1806) repealed most of the civil disabilities experienced by Catholics in Great Britain. In 1793, the army, the navy, the universities and the judiciary were opened to Catholics. In Pursuits of Literature Mathias objects vehemently to the Catholic Emancipation, referring to Roman Catholicism as "that superstitious corruption of Christianity" (20).

35

Glorious truth disdains such foes to dread In his prefatory note, Strachan insists that Mathias’s "virulent attack on the Papists is unmerited" and goes on to applaud Pitt’s efforts on their behalf.

39

No more of tests Any law that made eligibility for public office depend upon profession of the established religion was called a test act. The Test and The Con-Test were political periodicals founded in 1756, in favour of Henry Fox and Pitt respectively. In Scotland a test act of 1567 made profession of the reformed faith a condition of public office, but only those engaged in education were required to make profession. Strachan rejects the subjects satirized by Mathias, and restricts himself to the "humble scope" of Scotland’s academic community.

43

Dull Heron John Pinkerton (1758-1826), Scottish antiquary and historian often published under the assumed name of Robert Heron, the surname of his mother. His Letters of Literature (1785) contains a proposal for a reform of the English language: "The great secret of writing melodious English is surely to draw into view every possible word which may terminate with a vowel" (240). If Pinkerton’s plan to use "a for all plurals instead of the s" (249) is adopted, "clouds" become "clouda" (261). Pinkerton also proposes changes to the Greek alphabet, objecting to those letters which "hurt the eye very much" (270). Among his other works noted for pomposity are"The History of Scotland" (1797), and "Dissertation on the Origin and Progress of the Scythians or Goths . . . " (1787) in which he attempts to prove the inveterate inferiority of the Celtic race, including Scottish highlanders.

45

Stewart with boldness muds his master’s stream Dugald Stewart (1753-1828), Scottish philosopher who is considered to be a transmitter of Thomas Reid’s influence (see note 63 below) rather than an originator.

46

Gloomy Erskine John Erskine (1721-1803), theologian who published Theological Dissertations (1765) and Letters on the Loss of Children and Friends. He was a leader in the Evangelical Party.

47

Thomas Robert Thomas (d.1811), minister at Abdie who published The Cause of Truth, containing, besides a great variety of other matter, a REFUTATION OF ERRORS in the Political Works of Thomas PAINE [. . . ] In a series of letters, of a religious, moral, and political nature (1797) which contains the passages that follow:

It as certain as anything in our history, that the original settlers in this island could not have a right of possession to all of it; for being few in number they could occupy a part only. It is equally certain, that the tribes who came after them, contended with them about their possession, and certainly had a right to possess any parts that were unoccupied and unappropriated. . . . It is not justice, which creates the right of conquest, but necessity, as necessity urges the validity of this right, it has been and, for the sake of mankind, for the prevention of the perpetual effusion of human blood, it ever must be admitted as valid.
     And those two causes, the bribing of some, and the entertaining of all, at elections, would produce, all over the kingdom, scenes of idleness, dissipation, intemperance, and corruption, which are now almost wholly confined to some of the boroughs. (181)

48

Mansfield David Murray, 2nd Earl of Mansfield (1727-1796), diplomat and statesman, presented Thomas with his living at Abdie in 1795. Thomas had intended to dedicate The Cause of Truth to him, but he died before the book reached publication in 1797, so Thomas dedicated it to his successor. Mansfield appears in the list of subscribers at the front of the book, suggesting his support of the opinions it contains.

51

Rotheram John Rotheram (1751-1804), professor of Natural Philosophy. His publications include "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Nature and Properties of Water" (1770) and "The sexes of plants vindicated" (1790).

54

Dr. Hill George Hill (1750-1819), leader of the Moderate Party of the Church of Scotland for 30 years, and professor of Greek. He was esteemed as a model of pulpit eloquence.

55

Leland’s arguments John Leland (1691-1766), author of "A View of the Priniciple Deistical Writers that have appeared in England in the last and present century" (1754-56).

56

But waddle slow Brown, hanging at their tale William Laurence Brown (1755-1830) contributed to the fifth edition of Leland’s work "An appendix, containing a view of the present times, with regard to religion and morals . . . "

60

Campbell George Campbell (1719-1796), Professor of Divinity, Marischal College, author of A Dissertation on Miracles (1776), Translation of the Gospels (1789) and Philsophy of Rhetoric (1800).

62

Keith and Brown George Skene Keith (1752-1823) miscellaneous writer and agriculturist, edited George Campbell’s (the "Dr. C." of Strachan’s note 9) posthumously published "Lectures on Ecclesiastical History" (1800) appending a memoir of its author. He also published a volume of sermons The Character of Jesus Christ (1785). Strachan respected William Laurence Brown, though not all of his work.

63

Reid Thomas Reid (1710-1796), Scottish philosopher, founder of the common-sense school of philosophy which had considerable influence in England and the U.S. during the 19th century, and Author of Inquiry into the Human Mind (1764).

64

chock To check the motion of with chocks, blocks of wood.

64 

Dunbar James Dunbar (d.1798), author of Essays on the History of Mankind in Rude and Cultivated Ages (1780).

65

Smith Adam Smith (1723-1790), Scottish social philosopher and political economist, author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), the first major work of laissez-faire economics.

66

Leechman William Leechman (1706-1785), clergyman, published Sermons (1789). His sermons also appeared in The Scotch Preacher (1775).

67

Home Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782), lawyer, agriculturalist, and philosopher, author of Sketches of the History of Man (1774).

68

Blair Hugh Blair (1718-1800). Editions of his sermons enjoyed extraordinary popularity, some even being translated into several languages.

69

Gibbon Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), historian, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88).

69

Hume David Hume (1711-1776), Scottish philosopher and historian, author of The History of England (1754-62).

70

Robertson William Robertson (1721-1793), Scottish historian, author of History of Scotland (1759), and History of America (1777).

75

Hunter John Hunter (1745-1837) classical scholar who produced editions of Sallust (1796) and Horace (1797). Apparently, the article entitled ‘Grammar’ in the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, though not written by Hunter, was in large measure constructed from his teaching. Hunter was also an accomplished horticulturist, and a potato called after him, the Hunter kidney, was long a favorite in Scotland.

76

Gleig George Gleig (1753-1840), contributor to the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and on the death of the editor in 1793 was engaged to edit the six remaining volumes, xiii-xviii. The two supplementary volumes were written almost entirely by him. Clearly Strachan’s opinion of his methods was not widely shared, as he later became the Bishop of Brechin.

77

McKay Andrew Mackay (1760-1809), mathematician who contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica (third edition, 1797) articles on "Navigation," "Parallax," "Pendulum," "Projection of the Sphere," "Shipbuilding," and "Tactics." His career began as a keeper of the observatory on Castle Hill, Aberdeen.

78

Hamilton Robert Hamilton (1743-1829), political economist and mathematician, author of Introduction to Merchandize (1777) who in 1779 was appointed chair of Natural Philosophy in Aberdeen University, but made an arrangement with Mr. Copland, professor of mathematics to exchange classes until 1817.

79

Adam’s Alexander Adam (1741-1809), author of Roman Antiquities; or An account of the manners and custom of the Romans . . . designed chiefly to illustrate the Latin classics. His Summary of Geography and History appeared in 1794, expanded from a small textbook which he had printed for the use of his pupils ten years previously. His last work was a Latin Dictionary for the use of schools (1805).

79n

Kennet Basil Kennett (1674-1715), author of Romæ Antiquæ Notitia, or The Antiquities of Rome 8 vols. (1696).

80

Ferguson Adam Ferguson (1723-1816), forerunner of modern sociology, author of Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) and the three volume History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1773).

82

Carlisle Alexander Carlyle (1722-1805), minister at Invenesk and friend to many literary celebrities including Hume and Smollett. Strachan is probably referring to A Sermon on the death of Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hales, with an address to the congregation suited to the circumstances of the times (1792), but the title of an earlier sermon The Justice and necessity of the war with our American colonies examined (1777) gives a clue to Carlyle’s stand.

83

Robison John Robison (1739-1805), Professor of Natural Philosophy, Edinburgh, author of "Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe."

84

Hunter Andrew Hunter (1743-1809), professor of Divinity, Edinburgh. Prominent member of the Evangelical party of the church, and an active member of several literary and theological societies.

84n

socinians One of a sect founded by Lælius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the 16th century, who denied the divinity of Christ, or one who adheres to their beliefs.

84n

Owen or Baxter John Owen (1616-1683), master of Calvinist theology and Richard Baxter (1615-1691), author of over one hundred books of Christian literature including "Saint’s Everlasting Rest."

85

Davidson David Davidson (1750-1825). "He was reputed the most popular preacher in Dundee of his time" (Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae 322). He married Janet Sword in 1776.

87

McPherson Professor of Oriental languages and Greek about whom no further information could be discovered.

88

Harry Hill In 1786 Harry Hill (1762-1820) was appointed minister at the Parish of Dunino where Strachan began his teaching career and was appointed Professor of Greek in University of St. Andrews (21 October 1789). At the age of 40 he married Margaret Borthwick, daughter of an Edinburgh banker, in 1802.

89

Rory Roderick McLeod, Professor at Kings College, Aberdeen where Strachan attended. Strachan mentions him with disapprobation in his Autobiography.

89n

Gregory David Gregory (1661-1708), mathematician and astronomer who developed many of the theories of his uncle James Gregory (1638-1675), the first exclusively mathematical professor of University of Edinburgh.

89n 

Desagulier’s system John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744), natural philosopher, admired by Newton, popular lecturer and prolific writer. A System of Experimental Philosophy proved by Mechanics (1734) was published in his name by Paul Dawson, but was disavowed by him.

89n

Shaftsbury’s essay Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), English philosopher and member of the House of Commons. His essay "Enthusiasm" on the balance of the passions appears in Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711).

89n

Pope’s "Essay on Man" Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet. An Essay on Man (1734) is a poetical summary of contemporary philosophical speculation.

91

Proteus Burke In Pursuits of Literature, Mathias refers to Joseph Priestley as "Proteus Priestley," suggesting that he differs from the Proteus of antiquity because Priestley is "continually obtruding his oracles upon the public, without any compulsion at all, upon every subject which can, or which cannot be known" (48). Edmund Burke (1729-1797), English political writer and statesman wrote on a variety of subjects ranging from his Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756) to his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).

92

Suwarrov Aleksander Vasilyevich Suwaroff (1729-1800), Russian military commander notable for his achievements in the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-91 and in the French Revolutionary Wars where his success against French forces in Italy made him a hero to those opposed to the French Revolution.

92

the Turk In "A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly in answer to some objection to his Book on French Affairs" (1791) Edmund Burke writes:

The King of Prussia was bound by no treaty, nor alliance of blood, nor had any particular reason for thinking the emperor’s government would be more mischievous or more oppressive to human nature than that of the Turk; yet on mere motives of policy that prince has interposed with the threat of all his force, to snatch even the Turk from the pounces of the imperial eagle. If this is done in favour of a barbarous nation, with a barbarous neglect of police, fatal to the human race, in favour of a nation, by principle in eternal enmity with the Christian name . . . if this be done in favour of the Turk, shall it be thought either impolitic, or unjust, or uncharitable to employ the same power to rescue from captivity a virtuous monarch . . . (256-57).

93

as Gilpin did when riding post to Ware In William Cowper’s ballad "The Diverting History of John Gilpin" Gilpin mounts a horse with a mind of its own:

Said John: It is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
And I should dine at Ware.

94

Garnet Thomas Garnet (1766-1802) published "Observations on a Tour through the Highlands . . . " (1800).

95

Copland Patrick Copland (1749-1822), naturalist and Professor of Natural Philosophy, Marischal College who was noted for the pains he took to form a collection of models and other apparatus suitable for a museum of natural philosophy.

97

Falstaff Like Shakespeare’s character, Wilson was known for his convivial spirit.

99

mountebank A swindler and charlatan; historically an itinerant quack appealing to an audience from a platform [from the Italian, to climb on a bench].

99

Scot Robert Eden Scott (1770-1811), chair of Natural philosophy and philosopher of the "common-sense" school, appointed regent at age 18.

101

Young Beattie James Hay Beattie (1768-1790). Following the footsteps of his father, Dr. James Beattie, James was appointed as an assistant professor in the chair of moral philosophy and logic in 1787 when he was not quite nineteen. Three years later he died of a fever.

103

Oglivie William Oglivie (1736-1819) described in an obituary in the Times (23 Feb. 1819) as "one of the most accomplished scholars of his age" had a reputation as a learned classical scholar and advocate of common property in land. Aberdeen University owes its Natural History Museum founded in 1775 to his efforts.

105

Cook John Cook (1739-1815), Professor of Moral Philosophy, St. Andrews.

105n

Strachan quotes from Act II, scene ii of Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd. The following are definitions of the Scots vernacular:

dauted wean Fondled or spoiled child.
tarrows Complains.
feckless Silly.
orp To weep with a convulsive pant (Strachan misquotes        this as "carp", to complain pettily).
greet Shed tears.
lave The rest, the others.
syne Then, since.
scart To scratch.

109 

Burns Robert Burns (1759-96), celebrated Scottish Poet published Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786). When he failed as a farmer he moved to Dumfries, where he held a position as an exciseman. Mathias writes: "That all the noble and learned Chemists of the North could not discover, in the whole table of affinities, a more sympathetic ink for a poet than that of an Exciseman, may raise something between a smile and indignation in the less enlightened children of the South" (441).

110

Blacklock Thomas Blacklock (1721-1791), Scottish poet who lost his sight at age six after an attack of small pox. He was mentioned by Johnson to Boswell (5 Aug 1763).

111

Sweet Ramsay Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), Scottish poet and literary antiquary, a pioneer in the use of Scots in contemporary poetry. The Gentle Shepherd (1725), a pastoral comedy, is his most famous work (see note 105 above).

112 

Ferguson Robert Ferguson (1750-1774), Scottish poet and leading figure of 18th century revival of Scots vernacular writing, chief forerunner of Burns. After a head injury caused by a fall he went insane and died in the Edinburgh asylum at age 24.

119

Dundass Henry Dundas (1742-1811), First Viscount Melville, lawyer and politician who acquired the art of public speaking in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. His control of Scottish politics earned him the nickname "King Harry the Ninth." He was elevated to the peerage in 1802 becoming Baron Dunira. Strachan’s spelling of his name is consistent throughout and appears not to have been coincidental.

120

He dines Possibly a mispelling of deigns, "thinks fit."

127

cit Short for citizen. "An inhabitant of a city, in an ill sense. A pert low townsman; a pragmatical trader." Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language.

131

Gleig see note 76 above.

133

Couts Robert Coutts (1772-1803) became the minister at Brechin in 1798. His Sermons on Interesting Subjects appeared in 1806.

133n

Mr. Hannah Robert Hanna (1754-1828), minister at Stracathro.

135

Great Hill George Hill (1750-1819), clergyman and professor, was leader of the Moderate Party in the church of Scotland for many years.

136

Harry’s weather cock The relationship Dr. Hill maintained with Dundas allowed him to wield considerable power.

137

Martine Samuel Martin, (1740-1847) minister at Monimail, received his Doctor of Divinity from St. Andrews 16 April 1798. He published several sermons and A Poetical Epistle, addressed to the Princess of Wales on her Reception in Britain (1795) and An Epistle in Verse, occasioned by the Death of James Boswell of Auchinleck (1795).

137n

tempora mutantur The latin phrase translated in full as "Times change and we change with them" was popularized by John Owen (1560-1622) in his Epigrams though it had appeared earlier in Harrison’s Description of Britain (3.3.99).

137n

wise men of Gotham Village in central England. Stories of the ridiculous doings of the villagers were collected in the Merry Tales of Gotham and are thought to have arisen in the efforts of the townspeople to appear to be fools in order to prevent King John from living in their town or establishing a highway through it.

149

The heedless minister a war proclaims When the advent of the French Revolutionary Wars brought threats of invasion, William Pitt (1759-1809) established military coalitions against France (1793, 1798) which were unsuccessful on land, while the British navy was successful at sea.

159n

Kettle and Forest Scottish villages in the vicinity of St. Andrews. Strachan was schoolmaster at King’s Kettle prior to coming to Canada in 1799.

162

cloy the Monk See note 14 above.

162

shame Rochester’s verse John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), lyric poet and satirist who wrote frankly about sexuality and voluptuous living in such poems as "The Maimed Debauchee."

163

venial Pardonable, excusable; not mortal.

165

Siren In Greek mythology, winged creatures whose singing lured unwary sailors onto the rocks.

170

Knox John Knox (1505-1572), Scottish religious reformer, founder of Scottish Presbyterianism. Under his direction a confession of faith was drawn up (1560) abolishing the authority of the Pope and condemning all creeds and practices of the Catholic Church.

175

the sons of good St. Peter Saint Peter is considered to be the first bishop of Rome, and the Pope and other church leaders his successors.

176

mitre The tall head-dress worn by bishops and abbots as a symbol of office. Strachan later turned from his Scottish Reformed background to the Anglican Church where there was better opportunity for advancement.

177

Arnot Robert Arnot (1745-1808), minister at Ceres, became Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews in 1792 and was presented the ministry at Kingsbarns by the Earl of Crawford in June of 1800 after a complaint to General Assembly against his holding both offices was dismissed. He married Helen Barclay, widow of David Melville in Ceres in 1772. His son William was born in 1774.
     As a result of the pluralities debate between those who believed the demands of parish ministry were too great to allow ministers to simultaneously hold both a pastoral charge and a university chair, and those who did not, the case of the Kingsbarns presentation to Robert Arnot in 1800 drew widespread attention. Two Presbytery members appealed, but George Hill took up Arnot’s defence in the Assembly of 1800.

182

raiment Clothing. See 1 Timothy 2.8.

186

kirk A church. More specifically the church of Scotland as distinct from the church of England or from the Episcopal Church of Scotland.

194

lib’ral Bell Andrew Bell (1775-1828), minister at Crail from 1790 onward.

197

Regents In the Scottish universities, one of several instructors forming part of the teaching staff of a college.

201

synod A church council, specifically a Presbyterian ecclesiastical court above the Presbyteries and subject to the General Assembly.

203

Cupar cattle The parish of Cupar-Fife belonging to the Priory of St. Andrews.

206

Simony The act or practice of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices or emoluments. George, Earl of Crawford, had presented the living at Kingsbarns to Arnot in 1796, but Arnot met with opposition because the parish was six miles distant from the University.

209

Paul’s a liar See note 221 below.

213

Hill George Hill argued on Arnot’s behalf.

217

alban White from the Latin albus.

219

cures Parishes or other spheres of spiritual ministration.

221

the laborer’s worthy of his hire In 1 Timothy 5.17-18 Paul writes:

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (KJV)

223

Brown William Laurence Brown (1755-1830), theological writer who became a conspicuous and influential member of the General Assembly, sympathizing mainly with the reforming party in the church. He was appointed Chair of Divinity in Marischal College and later principle.

227

McCulloch Robert McCulloch (1740-1824), minister at Dairsie in the Presbytry of Cupar. An example of his "honest zeal" was that "For twelve years previous to his decease, he had his coffin prepared that he might not be forgetful of his latter end." (Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae). His Lectures on the Prophecies of Isaiah were published in 1791.

231

Audacious Cook George Cook (1772-1845), minister at Laurencekirk, second son of John Cook, Professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews. He went on to become a leader in the Moderate party and produce numerous publications, none of which were in mathematics.

231n

chapels of ease Chapels built for the convenience of parishioners who live far from the parish church.

234

Presbyters In the Espiscopal church a priest; an elder in the Presbyterian church.

235

Boggie Robert Bogie (1739-1802), minister at Logie, who was presented by George III. His brothers and sister were well connected. His account of the parish of Logie in Sinclair’s Statistical account is very prosaic.

237

Hunter see note 84 above.

238

Moncrief Sir Henry Moncreif Wellwood (1750-1827), one of the most influential ministers in Edinburgh and a leader in the Evangelical party. In 1793 he was appointed Chaplain to George III.

238 

Johnston David Johnston (1734-1824), called the "Bonnie Doctor" by his parishioners because of the Doctor of Divinity he received in 1781. In 1793 he was appointed Chaplain in Ordinary to George III.

247

wags A facetious person, a joker.

255

worldly The hand writing is not entirely clear.

257

Rowland Hill Hill (1744-1833) preached in open air meetings and prisons and was repeatedly refused orders because of his unorthodoxy. He was active in the Religious Tract Society and in home missions.

258

Ewing sincere Greville Ewing (1767-1841) resigned his charge and his connection with the church of Scotland in 1798 to become involved in missions. He was associated with the Haldane brothers, James (1768-1851), minister of the first Congregational church in Scotland and Robert (1764-1842), religious writer active in home and foreign missions. In 1812, Strachan, under the pseudonym "Common Sense", published Hypocrisy Detected which is described in the National Union Catalogue as "a diatribe, in rhyming pentameters with copious footnotes, against Robert Haldane, James Haldane and Rev. Greville Ewing, who seceded from the Church of Scotland to found and finance various missionary projects with congregationalist tendencies."

258n

Rate A Scottish preacher, possibly related to Eneas M. Rate, author of "Dr. Witherspoon the first powerful exposer of moderatism. . . the causes of the two seccessions from the Established Church. . . and of the present movement for the overthrow of the Churches of Scotland and England" (1874).

260

quids British slang for one pound sterling or chewing tobacco.

281

tinsel Superficial brillance or splendor. Showy, gaudy, flashy.

282

ghostly Following the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost.

293

Vain Sinclair John Sinclair (1754-1834) became a baronet 14 February 1786. He published the eleven volume Statistical Account of Scotland which was a compilation of reports submitted by the clergy of the different parishes. In the early volumes he included guidelines that would ensure the reports were submitted in a format he could use without changes.

298 

threaten an embrace In the account of the Parish of Denino in Sinclair’s Statistical Account submitted by Mr. William West, Session Clerk and Schoolmaster, the following appears in an explanation of the derivation of the parish name:

The simple consideration of its standing in the immediate vicinity of a large and deep den, where, in right opposition to it, two huge rocks seem to threaten an embrace over the perennial stream below, appears to have naturally suggested the name Denino; or, in other words, the Village on the Den. (11. 352-53)

Among the other "curious expressions" employed by Mr. West is his reference to the school house as "a very crazy edifice" (363). Strachan financed his education by working as parish schoolmaster at Denino, four miles outside of St. Andrews.

299

cat call A squeaking instrument or kind of whistle used especially in play-houses to express impatience or disapprobation. Originally Strachan had written "a coral rattle."

300

prattle Childish chatter, inconsequential talk.

300

The poem ends here in the manuscript, but in his end notes Strachan proposes a plan for further dialogues.

 

Verses written August 1802 . . .

 

1

Ionia Region on the northern portion of the coast of Asia Minor, including the northern islands of the Cyclades, occupied by Greeks who had migrated across the Aegean Sea in prehistoric times. The development of early Greek literature and philosophy is credited principally to the Ionian Greeks.

7

The sister arts Any two related arts, but usually poetry and painting.

8

science Knowledge.

9

bulwarks Fortifications, ramparts, breakwaters, sea-walls.

11

Parian marble Marble from Paros, an island in the Cyclades, famed for a white marble that was highly valued by the ancient Greeks for statuary.

14

Jove A poetical name for Jupiter, the highest deity of the ancient Romans. By echoing the Hebrew Jehovah, the word Jove suggests the equivalence of the supreme deities of the Roman and Christian religions.

15

verdant lawns Open spaces of grass-covered (verdant: green) land.

16

Ceres Roman goddess of agriculture.

18

dales Valleys.

18

swain Poeticism: young man, peasant, rustic, lover.

19

purling Murmurings, eddying, trickling.

20

Naiads In Greek mythology, the beautiful female personifications of springs, rivers, and lakes.

20

lave the glassy tide Swim in the smooth and reflective water.

23

the city built Among the twelve major cities to emerge in Ionia were Ephesus and Chios.

25-38

Persia’s king . . .  Darius (c. 550-486 BC), King of Persia from 521 to 486 BC, suppressed a revolt in the Greek cities in Ionia in 499-494 BC and thereafter attempted to punish the mainland Greeks for their role in the rebellion. His efforts ended in the Greek victory at Marathon (see note 37) in 490 BC.

32

Neoclus’ gallant son Themistocles (c. 528-462 BC), Athenian statesman and naval commander responsible for the decisive victory against the Persians at Salamis (480 BC). Foreseeing that the Persians would send another stronger force against Greece after their defeat at Marathon, he made plans to evacuate Athens and prepared for naval battle. Curiously, he was later exiled from Greece and made his home with Artaxerxes I, son of Xerxes of Persia, who made generous provision for him.

37

Marathon Plain north of Athens where the Athenians defeated a Persian army in 490 BC.

39-50

Salamis . . .  Xerxes . . .  In the straits between the island of Salamis and the western coast of Greece, the Greek fleet defeated the Persian fleet under Xerxes in 480 BC. The son of Darius, Xerxes was king of Persia from 486 to 465 BC. He inherited his father’s mission of punishing the Greeks for their support of the Ionians. After initial victories in 480 BC on sea (Artemisium) and land (Thermopylae) he was defeated on both sea (Salamis) and land (Plataea) in the following year.

43

hoary Greyish-white with age, old.

56

Solon Early (c.640-558 BC) Greek statesman and poet. One of the traditional Seven Sages, Solon enacted many economic and political reforms in Athens, including the abolition of serfdom and slavery for debt. He is credited with laying the grounds for democracy.

61

deck with palms In ancient times, branches of the palm tree symbolized victory or triumph.

62

Nile In 1798 a British fleet under Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated a French fleet in Aboukir Bay off the coast of Egypt. The defeat of the fleet that had brought Napoleon Bonaparte’s army to Egypt at the Battle of the Nile placed insuperable difficulties in the way of the French ambition to establish an empire in the East.

62 

Camperdown In 1797 a British fleet under Admiral Adam Duncan defeated the fleet of the Batavian Republic (the Dutch Netherlands) off Camperdown on the coast of Holland, thus putting an end to the invasion of Ireland which had been planned by the Dutch and their French and Spanish allies.

63

Abercrombie During the assault on the French army in Egypt that followed the naval Battle of the Nile, Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734-1801) was mortally wounded. In 1795-96, as commander-in-chief of the British forces in the West Indies, he had seized several islands and settlements, including Demerara, Grenada, and Trinidad—hence the reference to "Ind" in Strachan’s footnote (see 65, below).

65

gallant Wolfe British General James Wolfe (1727-1759) was mortally wounded while leading his troops to victory on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. This battle on Sept. 13, 1759 was decisive in securing British control of France’s Canadian possessions.
     In an endnote, Strachan gives credit to Richard Cartwright for this line and the one that follows:

These two are Mr. Cartwright’s.
The 65 and 66th lines were first:

Thus fell Beotia’s chief she had no more,
And gallant Wolfe on Laurence rocky shore.

And then again into these:

Thus fell the Youth whom Britians still adore,
The Gallant Wolfe on Laurence rocky shore.
The first through Ind gave rule without control;
The second stretch’d it to the Northern pole.

which was again changed into what they are in the poem.

66

the great hero of the Theban name Epaminondas (c. 420-362 BC), the Theban commander who died at the Battle of Mantinea, a crushing defeat of the Spartans by the Thebans. Thebes was the principal city in Boeotia (Strachan’s "Beotia" [65n.]).

69

haughty Louis Probably Louis XV (1715-1774), the King of France during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), a principal issue of which was the struggle between Britain and France for supremacy in Canada, India, and elsewhere. In Canada under Wolfe and in India under Robert Clive, the British "sunk th’ambitious hopes" (74) of the French and, after the Treaty of Paris (1763) that ended the War, became the supreme European power in the colonial arena. It is also possible, however, that Strachan’s reference is to Louis XVI (1754-1793), whose reign (1774-1793) saw a revival of French naval power and colonial ambition (see the note to 80-84, below).

75-76

civil discord . . . Western shore The American War of Independence, which began in 1775 (the Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill) and ended, for practical purposes, in 1781 (the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown) and, in formal terms in 1783 (the Treaty of Versailles).

80-84

. . . coming war . . .  Either (or both) a longer or a shorter view of history may be behind this passage. In 1778, France openly allied itself with the Americans against the British, providing crucial assistance to General George Washington at Valley Forge and establishing a naval presence off the American coast. In 1779, Spain allied itself with France and the Americans against Britain, and in the summer of 1779, a combined French and Spanish fleet took control of the English Channel. In 1780, Britain declared war on the Batavian (Dutch) Republic, which had resisted the right claimed by British ships to search vessels on the high seas and to confiscate enemies’ goods found aboard them. A reprise of these allegiances and alliances occurred in 1797 when the Dutch, (again, since 1795, an ally of France), the Spanish (also and again, since 1796, an ally of France), combined with the French to attempt a great naval attack on Britain. This was prevented by the defeat of the Dutch fleet off Camperdown (see the note to 63, above) and the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent in 1797. The "Gauls" (French) were later defeated at the Battle of the Nile (see the note to 63, above) and elsewhere. An overture for peace between Britain, France, and their allies was made by Napoleon in 1799. A preliminary peace was signed in October, 1801 and a definitive treaty—the Treaty of Amiens—in March, 1802.

93

dismal Depressingly dark, gloomy, dreary.

96

meads Meadows, fields, pasture grounds.

105

amend Repair, make better, improve.

116, 118

Science Knowledge acquired by study.

118

bewilder’d Lost in a pathless place, confused, tangled.

120

fanes Temples.

121

strains Tones, styles, modes of expression.

122

Nymph In Greek mythology, female personifications of various natural objects such as trees ("silvan": of woods).

124

Diana An early Roman goddess who was perhaps originally a spirit of the woods and wild nature and who came to be associated with the moon.

125

Pan The Greek god of flocks and shepherds, responsible for the fertility of the flocks.

129

plant instruction on Ontario’s shore Kingston is on the shores of Lake Ontario.

138

Milton An English Puritan, John Milton (1608-1674) wrote many works of poetry and prose, the most celebrated of which are Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.

139

Dryden’s lyre The poetry of John Dryden (1631-1700), the English poet, dramatist and critic, whose "calmer" works include a translation of Virgil’s Georgics.

140

Bacon Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a pre-eminent English lawyer and an influential philosopher, worked consistently for the advancement of learning. In Novum Organum, he advocated the inductive method of scientific inquiry, thus laying some of the foundations for the Royal Society (1660) and modern science.

141

Newton A seminal English mathematician and physicist, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1746) is most famous for his account of the laws of mechanics and gravitation, but he also made major discoveries in such fields as calculus and optics.

 

Epilogue

 

In his preface to "The Epilogue" Strachan describes the role given to each of his students in the public examinations held at the Grammar School in Kingston in 1802. William Cowper’s "Fable of the Mohammedans eating swine" is entitled "The Love of the World Reproved; or Hypocrisy Detected," a title Strachan would later use for one of his own pamphlets. "Hassan; or, the Camel-driver" is from the Oriental Ecologues of William Collins.

 

13

topping Superior.

49

stickle Intervene.

53

noodle Head.

56

lantern Long, thin jaws giving a hollow appearance to the cheek.

 

Dear Sir

 

Mr. Forsythe Probably Joseph Forsythe (1764-1813), a wealthy and influential merchant who, like Richard Cartwright, had close associations with the Nor’West Company, and was a supporter of the church of England.

 

5

humours The four chief fluids of the body (blood, phlegm, choler, melancholy), thought to determine a person’s physical and mental qualities.

 

For Laura’s Birthday

 

While in Kingston, Strachan fell in love with Margaret England (see notes to "A Task Impos’d by M.E."). In this poem written for her 25th birthday, and in others, he addresses her as Laura. "The name Laura (from the Greek, Laurel, "the Cloistered") may have been due to a parental objection to the then poor young tutor; or Strachan may have had in mind the poet Petrarch and his incomparable Laura." (Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records 31:222n).

 

1

Paphia A surname of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, because it was at Paphus in Cyprus that she first came to land when she arose from the sea.

1

The Graces were the Roman equivalent of the Greek charities, goddesses of charm and beauty.

4

vot’ries Devoted and zealous worshippers.

4

Jove Jupiter, chief god of Roman religion, king of gods and men, equivalent to the Greek Zeus.

6

fens Low lying marshy or flooded tracts of land.

8

zone Belt or girdle.

14

Pallas Surname of Athena, daughter of Zeus, virgin goddess of wisdom and the domestic arts, the blue-eyed maid.

18

Cyprian Goddess Aphrodite or Venus, (see note 1 above).

 

An Ode to Mr. Elmsley

 

Mr. Elmsley John Elmsley (1762-1805), judge and politician, who became Chief Justice of Upper Canada in April 1796. He was promised a promotion to Lower Canada, but withdrew his claim fearing financial loss. Despite his reluctance he was appointed anyway in May 1802, but did not sail for Quebec to take the oath of office until October.

 

10

such a friend Strachan’s friend Richard Cartwright also had a great influence upon Elmsley.

11

the Ministers Those responsible for sending Elmsley to Quebec.

17

A Partner Elmsley married Mary Hallowell in 1796.

22

The first of Cartwright’s interlineations appears after line 22:

Sis licet felix ubicumque mavis
Et memor nostri, Galatea, vivas

You are entitled to happiness wherever you prefer to be

I hope, Galatea, you will remember me in your new life.

Ironically, this quotation from Horace’s Carmina (3.27.14-15) is addressed to Galatea, a woman who is deserting her beloved to accompany her splendid new lover to the East. In context, the formal good wishes expressed in this bon voyage poem are double-edged.

25

Shakespeare William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet and dramatist of the Elizabethan period; the most widely known author of all English literature, for such plays as Hamlet and King Lear.

26

Pope Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English neoclassical poet and satirist best known for The Rape of the Lock.

29

Attic wit Having characteristics peculiarly Athenian: pure, classical, refined, delicate.

31

Cam and Oxford Cambridge and Oxford, Elmsley took his BA and MA from Oriel College, University of Oxford (1782-1789).

39

The second of Cartwright’s interlineations is from Cicero’s Pro Milone 105:

O terram illam beatam quce hunc virum exceperet
O happy land that shall give a haven to such a hero!

42

And makes that gift its choice Strachan wrote in the margin: Originally and I think better "And learns that gift to prize."

47

glistering Sparkling, glittering.

Strachan adds the following endnote:

These interlineations with some other verbal corrections are Mr. Cartwright’s. His alteration in the 6th stanza improves it. Mr. Elmsley sent his compliments in Mr. Car. letter soon after.

 

Miss Mary England’s Birthday

 

Mary England. The sister of Margaret England whom Strachan describes in the poem as "the Nymph I love." Mary later married Captain Thomas R. Fuller of the 41st regiment, July 26, 1806. Strachan "had the benefit of her good offices when things were not going so smoothly as he could have wished between him and a sister of hers, whom at the time he deeply admired" (Young, 8).

 

3

Philo From the Greek Philon "love." See Strachan’s poem to Margaret England addressed "Philo and Laura."

 

A Song for St. Andrew’s Day

 

A slightly altered version of this poem was published anonymously in The Port Folio (7 February 1807) with this introduction: "The following song was sung with great applause at a dinner given on St. Andrew’s day at Montreal."

 

2

Viands Articles of food.

4

castocks From kale-stock meaning the stalk or stem of a kail, (also spelled kale), an edible plant resembling a cabbage.

4

brose Dish made by pouring boiling water on oatmeal seasoned with salt and butter.

7

honest St. Andrew Apostle and martyr, brother of Simon Peter. Andrew was chosen as the patron Saint of Scotland because of the obscure Scottish Saint Rule who supposedly bore his relics from Patras, Greece, to Scotland in the 4th century. Rule stopped at a place in Fife, now called St. Andrew’s and built a church there, which became a centre for evangelization and pilgrimage. The Feast of St. Andrew’s is celebrated on November 30. Strachan may have made a mistake in the dating of his poem or the Feast may have been celebrated in conjunction with New Year’s festivities.

9

Kail yard Small kitchen or cabbage garden.

10

After the second stanza, Strachan has written "etc." indicating that each stanza should be followed by the refrain:

O the kail brose of old Scotland
O the old Scottish kail brose.

12

dirk Dagger of a Highlander. plaid Tartan.

13

cutty Short bonnet, a soft round brimless hat like a beret worn by men and boys in Scotland (cf. Tam-o’-shanter).

15

Dionysius Strachan is referring here not to the Greek god of fertility and wine, but to Dionysius the Elder (c. 430-367 BC), a tyrant of Syracuse who sided with Sparta against Athenian naval predominance.

17

Laconians Laconia or Lacedaemon, an ancient region of Greece of which Sparta is the capital.

19

Fingal A Scottish Celtic hero related to the Irish Finn.

23

Sea Kings of Danemark The Vikings.

31

Simple Jamie James VI, King of Scotland (1566-1625), who succeeded Elizabeth I as the first Stuart King of England (1603-1625). Though able at last to unite the two kingdoms (Scotland represented by the thistle and England by the rose) under one monarch, he was a troubled man deeply fearful of demons and the spirit world.

38

minc’d collops Steak with onions.

38

haggis A traditional Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s entrails and organs mixed with suet, oatmeal, etc. and boiled in a bag made from the animal’s stomach.

40

St. George The patron saint of England famous for his slaying of the dragon.

40

Mahoun Also spelled Mahound, a monster or hideous creature associated with the devil.

 

Scotch Composed April 1800

 

Strachan’s notes to A Dialogue make clear his admiration for Scottish poets such as Ramsay, Fergusson and Burns who led the 18th century revival of Scots vernacular. Strachan’s biographer J.L.H. Henderson describes his development as a writer: "From autobiography he turned to verse, Scots verse first as became a man who always whistled Scots, then translations from the classics, and at last playful rhymes in English" (10).

 

1

fa’ Fall.

2

Bauldy’s Perhaps a nickname for a balding man.

3

crouse Bold.

4

sic Such.

5

blink’d your een Bewitched you, cast the evil eye upon you.

6

wi With.

7

ponky Devilishly, from Puck.

8

black art Witchcraft.

9

skairt Scared.

10

wot fa weel Know full well.

11

Nick The Devil.

12

Chiel Fellow.

13

Fat What.

15

muckle mou Big mouth.

17

enow Enough.

18

wist Wit, wisdom.

21

dool Pain, grief.

25

donnart Stupid.

26 

leal True.

27

sall gar Shall make.

28

sib Kindred, of the same descent.

29

money Many.

30

rib A reference to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, and to God’s curse upon the serpent (Genesis 3.15).

32

rung Resounded.

33 

clout Cuff or blow, in contrast to the Biblical idea of offering the other cheek (Luke 6.29).

34

sair Sore.

35 

cowt Colt.

36

breeks Breeches.

38

Mess. John Probably the priest who married the happy couple.

39

air Early.

40

kin Kind.

42

blin Blind.

46

remeid Remedy.

52

ken Know.

53

swyth hussey Be gone, frivolous woman.

55

Meg Both Meg and Peg are nicknames for Margaret, meaning "a pearl." Margaret was a patron saint of Scotland.

58

guide Good.

59

craig Neck.

 

Philo and Laura

 

A Dialogue between Strachan and Margaret England, regarding the lack of progress in their courtship. Philo is from the Greek Philon meaning love. See "For Laura’s Birthday" above.

 

9

doleful swain Mournful suitor.

14 

devoirs Courteous or formal attentions.

40

Castalian spring Spring on Mount Parnassus sacred to Apollo and the Muses.

62

Hymen’s crown Hymanaeus, the god of marriage described as a beautiful youth with a torch, and a crown of flowers. Margaret England was indeed granted Hymen’s crown as she was married within six months, but not to Strachan. On July 1, 1803 she married Jacob Herchmer, an event which brought Strachan great displeasure. See "On finding that a Lady had deceived her lover . . . " below. According to Henderson, Strachan was in no position to entertain thoughts of marriage, as he had arranged for Cartwright to send half of his salary home twice a year, but practical considerations did not deter Strachan from gallantry (10).

 

To Mrs. Cartwright

 

Upon his arrival in Kingston, Strachan lived in the home of Richard and Magdalen Secord Cartwright, as tutor to their children. Even after Cartwright’s death, Strachan carried on an affectionate correspondence with Mrs. Cartwright until her death in 1827.

 

5

Philo from the Greek Philon for love, the name Strachan also uses for himself in his poems to Margaret England.

7

Mira Latin name meaning "wonderful one."

23

lambkins little lambs, term of affection for small children.

27

Her Partner The Cartwrights were married at Kingston in 1784.

27

Science Knowledge.

35

two daughters Hannah Cartwright (1792-1812) and Mary Magdalen Cartwright (1796-1839). When Hannah died of consumption in 1812, Strachan described her as "the most amiable and beautiful young woman that I ever saw and a particular favourite of mine" (Spragge 36).

36

four fine sons Richard or Dic (d. 1811) and James (1786-1811), Thomas Robison (1799-1826) and Stephen Henry (1801-1814). Tragically none of them was to attain "great future eminence." Upon their deaths in 1811, Strachan described the two eldest Cartwrights as "two excellent Brothers . . . my most favourite pupils from whom I anticipated much credit and much delight" (Spragge 36). The youngest sons would have been four and two in 1803.

48

elysian bowers In Greek mythology the fields at the ends of the earth where favoured heroes were translated by the gods, and symbolic of ideal happiness.

49

Ambrosia The food of the gods, the elixir of life.

59

The Cartwrights were to have two more sons, the only to survive beyond their twenties, twins John Solomon who became a lawyer and judge, and Robert David who became a minister. Mary, Thomas, John and Robert were placed in Strachan’s guardianship when their father died.

 

Ode

 

This poem appeared in the British American Register published in Quebec by John Neilson between January and August 1803 and catering to both French and English readers. Strachan published several poems under the pseudonym N.N. which he here reveals to be the last letters of his first and last name.
     Upon leaving Scotland in August 1799, Strachan wrote: "My departure is not embittered by any patriotic feelings, yet tho’ I leave my country with greatest indifference I leave my Friends with the most sincere regret" (DO 13). This poem suggests otherwise.

 

6

Caledonia Poetic for Scotland, from its Roman name.

7

our youthful pleasures Passages from the autobiography that Strachan wrote during his first winter in Upper Canada reveal his homesickness: "The two years which I spent at Denino were perhaps as happy as any of my life, much more so than any time since. The rest is in the womb of Providence" (DO 12).

12

Maiden feasts Probably a reference to May Day festivities in honour of Robin Hood and Maid Marian or to the Maiden, an open space near a town used as a parade ground.

14

yellow broom Any of various shrubs bearing bright yellow flowers.

17

our sweet-heart’s smile "Another circumstance which I do not yet recollect without emotion rendered Denino still more agreeable to me. I fell in love. . . . When I sat down to read I understood nothing, my reason was swallowed up in my imagination and when I awakened from my dream I often found myself in the middle of the road looking towards the place where my charmer dwelt" (DO 9).

19

present dangers Strachan’s arrival in the new world was not an auspicious one. He wrote: "Though gifted with a happy disposition and disposed to see the best side of things, I was so beat down that, if I had been in possession of 20 [pounds] I should have returned at once. My situation was, indeed desolate; for I knew not a creature" (Bethune 10).

25

Genius of the clime The tutelary spirit of a place. In his autobiography, Strachan describes a visit to Mohawk falls in New York when a winter storm forced him to delay his land journey to Canada. "The sun shone; the colours of the rainbow were reflected from the ice. The beauty of the colours and the noise of the waters made the scene highly magnificent" (DO 16). He was later to have a similar experience of the sublime at Niagara Falls.

31

the country that rejects her sons Strachan had hoped to obtain either a church or a university position in Scotland, but disappointment on both counts forced him to consider the call to North America.

41

sordid wealth Compare with Strachan’s motivations for coming to Canada. "I dreamed of riches and honour. My heart expanded and I condemned the prospects around me . . . " (DO 13).

43

Originally this line was "See lovely Milnes a rival Grace . . . "

50

crown’d with bays Bay laurels, a wreath made of bay leaves for a victor or poet.

54

grave Engrave.

61

lays Short lyric or narrative poems meant to be sung.

62

numbers Poetic meter.

63

classic rays The light of classical influence.

65

Sun-fish A large ocean fish with an almost spherical body.

 

Ode to Dr. Brown

 

This poem appeared in Strachan’s column entitled "The Reckoner" in the Kingston Gazette 21 January 1812, with the following description of its composition:

Authors have remarked the near connexion which subsists between the love of what is beautiful and sublime in the works of nature and what is beautiful and sublime in moral virtue—but what a vast difference in the degree. There is a coldness, a fleetingness in the impressions made by inanimate objects, which soon divest them of interest. But the grandeur and excellence of highly disinterested moral actions, diffuses a celestial warmth round our souls which lasts forever. The truth of this was experienced by me on a late occasion when I was in the neighborhood of the falls of Niagara. On going to see this celebrated cataract, I beheld, with astonishment, the vast columns of ice hanging at the extremities of the torrent, and reflecting most beautifully the rays of the sun. All the colors of the rain-bow were there shining with a vividness that dazzled the sight. The noise of the vast body of waters dashing over the precipice—the terrible abyss into which they fell, rendered horribly dark by the rising clouds of vapor, were calculated to excite the most awful ideas of sublimity, and yet the whole was so much softened by the rainbows as to mix something of beauty with the grandeur of the scene. After my first emotions had somewhat subsided, I recollected by some strange association of ideas which I am unable to analize, that I owed my present very respectable situation to a dear friend and benefactor who is far distant. My heart warmed towards him, and I composed my Ode.

The newspaper version contained the following epigraph: "To Dr. B_____ or To Gratitude. Written in a room overlooking Lake Ontario, January 1, 1803."

Dr. Brown Rev. Dr. James Brown was minister of the parish of Denino when Strachan was schoolmaster there. He was promoted to the chair of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow. "He was an excellent mathematician, and an elegant writer; but so exceedingly nervous that he was unable to perform, with satisfactory skill, the experiments required in his department"(Bethune 7). Therefore, he proposed to make Strachan his assistant, an arrangement which never came to fruition. This disappointment was a motivating factor in Strachan’s acceptance of the call to Canada. Strachan and Brown remained good friends and regular correspondents.

 

6

Iris A personification of the rainbow, considered to be a messenger of the gods, uniting gods and men.

29

Nature’s page Brown was a Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, and later at the University of St. Andrews.

30

Sicilia’s sage In the margins Strachan has written "Archimedes" (c.287-212 BC) Greek mathematician and inventor, born in Syracuse, on the south east coast of Sicily.

31

Bacon Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English lawyer and philosopher who advocated the inductive method of scientific inquiry, thus laying some of the foundations for modern science.

32

Newton Isaac Newton (1642-1727), English mathematician and physicist famous for many discoveries in mathematics, optics, mechanics and astronomy. He discovered that white light is made up of a mixture of coloured rays.

38

Nero’s rod Claudius Caesar (AD 15-68), tyrannical Roman emperor from AD 54 to 68 who became increasingly repressive, even to the point of having his own mother murdered. His executions of leading Romans led to many conspiracies.

44

nobler shell Conch shells were sometimes used as crude trumpets.

 

A Sonnet on the Prospect of Going to Cornwall

 

John Strachan was made a deacon according to the rites of the Church of England in the cathedral at Quebec, 22 May 1803, by Bishop Jacob Mountain, and was appointed a missionary at Cornwall. In June 1803 he moved into an abandoned log cabin in Cornwall, and began his ministry.

 

1

once more I change The change of locale and profession, from Kingston to Cornwall, and from teacher to priest. Three and a half years earlier he had made the journey from Scotland to Canada.

2

the task sublime From early youth Strachan seemed destined for the ministry: "My mother was desirous that one of her sons should have a liberal education, as she wished much to make one of us a minister. She thought she observed that gravity in me which was necessary in such an office" (DO 1).

Scotia Scotland.

7

St. Andrew’s Gothic walls Strachan’s work as a school master in Denino helped finance his education at the University of St. Andrews four miles away.

10

Cartwright Richard Cartwright, the Kingston merchant who, along with Robert Hamilton, was responsible for bringing Strachan to Kingston in 1799 to be a tutor for his children.

13

sanguine mind Optimistic, confident. Near the end of his life Strachan wrote:

I have also been blessed by God with a contented spirit, which though attended with strong feeling and affection, was always inclined after the most severe trials to acquiesce and settle down in due time under God’s wise dispensations . . .  (DO 279)

A Robin once too Fond of change…

 

1

Robin In his Autobiography, Strachan describes his "love of novelty" and the dream of "riches and honour" that prompted his move to North America.

9

An eagle gen’rous Richard Cartwright not only welcomed Strachan into his Kingston home, but also introduced him to a variety of influential people, and paved the way for his entry into the Anglican church. Included among Strachan’s Kingston friends and mentors was John Stuart. Both Stuart and Cartwright had lived much of their lives in the U.S. which further explains the reference to the eagle, America’s symbol.

19

His long wish’d point Though he had long aspired to a church position, even changing from the faith of his youth to accomplish it, his entry into the Anglican priesthood meant reassignment to Cornwall.

 

On finding that a Lady had deceived her lover. . . 

 

Despite an apparent understanding with Strachan, Miss Margaret England married merchant Jacob Herchmer at York, on July 1, 1803. She may have "formerly despised" Herchmer because, prior to 1803, he had fathered several children by a woman of the Credit Chippewas, one of whom was to become a Methodist missionary among the Natives. Just over a year after their marriage, Herchmer drowned in the wreck of the schooner Speedy on the north shore of Lake Ontario on the night of October 8, 1804. Margaret married again in 1809, and finally in 1823 to a clergyman in the diocese of which Strachan was bishop. She died in 1853, at the age of 76 without children from any of her three marriages.

 

5

gaming Gambling.

6

cursed This word has been changed in the manuscript to one that is not clear, possibly "blasty," meaning gusty or causing blight.

13

Perjury The breach of an oath. Six months earlier, Strachan had addressed a poem to Margaret with the wish that the "auspicious pow’rs divine" might soon grant them "bright Hymen’s crown."("Philo and Laura" 60-62).

 

Ode to the Right Reverend Jacob Mountain

 

Of all the poems in Strachan’s poetry book this one received the most revision, appearing in three different versions, and showing numerous emenddations including input from Cartwright. Only the final version "As sent to the Bishop December 9th 1803," appears above.

Jacob Mountain (1749-1825) was appointed bishop to Quebec in 1793, and made a visit to Upper Canada, where he was encouraged by a stay in Cornwall where Strachan had just been appointed. He, like Strachan, was very interested in education, and through the act of 1801, created the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning. Bishop Mountain wrote to Richard Cartwright on May 26, 1803 regarding Strachan: "He appears to be a young man of competent attainments, of fair understanding, and great modesty and worth" (Bethune 14). Strachan understood that currying the favour of the Bishop might contribute to his advancement in the Anglican hierarchy.

The Greek epigraph, from Pindar’s Olympian Ode 7, is translated:

Happy is the man whom good reports encompass.

1

the bard Probably Sir Walter Scott. His "War-Song of the Royal Edinburgh Light Dragoons" (1802) is a call to arms.

2

the war After a decade of battle on many fronts against the French, a war-weary England consented to the Treaty of Amiens March 27, 1802. All conquests were restored to France with the exception of Malta, a fact which led to the resumption of warfare. England again declared war against France in May 1803. Strachan’s poem was composed August 8th and 9th, 1803, months after the resumption of warfare in what came to be known as the Napoleonic Wars.

16

Homer The principal figure of ancient Greek literature, he is considered to be the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

24

In the first draft, the following stanza appeared after line 24:

So Famine pale and eating care,
Revenge besmear’d with clotted blood,
Ruthless fell disease with black despair,
And ghastly death—a hellish brood—
Run screaming wild through ev’ry part,
Asunder rend the stoutest heart,
Forbid the wretched to deplore
Their land that ruin’d lies, drench’d with its children’s gore.

37

cot Cottage.

45

his native shore Jacob Mountain came from his native England to Quebec in 1793.

48

In the original version the following stanza appeared at this point:

"Blest Prelate hail!" a Seraph cries,
Low bending from his azure cloud.
Thy pious travels sweetly rise,
And in thy favour witness loud.
Tis thine to calm th’ affright’d soul,
The art of darkness to control,
To counteract affliction’s blow,
To give the purest joys that mortal men can know.

50

stoles of sable hue Black vestments worn by priests.

52

Tully Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), greatest Roman orator, also famous as a politician, philosopher, and author of works on many subjects including friendship, duty, old age, and the nature of the gods.

53

prelate A church dignitary of a high order.

53

The last four lines of stanza 7 appeared in two earlier versions:

First: He bids them meekly bear the rude,
Their evil overcome with good,
With kindness teach their blushing foe
The knowledge, love, and faith, which Christ’s true
servants show.

Second: The mercy, love and truth which Christians ought to know.

55

Fanes Temples.

56

learning’s seats Strachan was deeply interested in the establishment of institutions of higher learning, and was eventually instrumental in founding what became the University of Toronto.

56

dulcet Sweet and soothing.

60

bays Wreath of laurel leaves used to honour a victor or poet.

The final stanza appeared in the following drafts:

Ten thousand Mountain’s name shall hail
When num’rous ages shall have roll’d
When many Mitred Fathers fail
His worthy deeds shall be extoll’d
The fanes that holy incense shed
The halls that science’ bounties spread
Shall strew around their Founder’s tomb
Such flowers as Victors ne’er deserved from Greece or Rome.

O Mountain raise Bright Science’ head
Our native darkness to dispel
And Fanes their sacred light to shed
That Fame may lift her noblest shell
Thy consecrated gifts to praise
While crowns of never fading bays
Enraptur’ed Gratitude prepares
And bids Canadians ever bless the soother of their cares.

At the end of the final version Strachan writes: "Those words with a cross are Mr. Cartwright’s and the two lines marked X [lines 24 and 46]. By his suggestion the 4th and 8th stanza of the first copy were left out and half of the 7th stanza as it here stands and the 8th were completely changed. They were sent to the Bishop who was much gratified and returned me thanks in a letter soon after."

 

The Pedant King, by Jones inspir’d . . . 

 

1

the Pedant King James I (1566-1625), King of England who early acquired a taste for learning and theological debate, and was responsible for the King James version of the Bible and numerous essays on literary theory, poetry and politics.

1

Jones Inigo Jones (1573-1652), earliest of England’s great architects who, working for the court of James I, was responsible for such structures as the royal banqueting hall at Whitehall. Making a clean break with the prevailing Jacobean style, his work marks the renaissance of classical design.

5

Newton A seminal English mathematician and physicist, Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727) is most famous for his account of the laws of mechanics and gravitation, but he also made major discoveries in such fields as calculus and optics.

6

A Jones was there to spread the light William Jones (1675-1749), mathematician who edited some important tracts by Newton on higher mathematics in 1711.

7

A Jones the simple Indians mourn William Jones (1746-1794), oriental scholar and judge of the high court at Calcutta where he lived from 1783 until his death in 1794. A pioneer of Sanskrit studies he was sympathetic to Indian culture. In 1780 he published "An Inquiry into the Legal Mode of Suppressing Riots."

14

A living branch of such a race Solomon Jones (1756-1822), doctor and noted Loyalist who assisted in the birth of Strachan’s children, and whose own sons attended Strachan’s school in Cornwall. "Jones was a accomplished fiddler and played the various reels and jigs which provided much of the Loyalists’ entertainment" (DCB 6.364). Among Strachan’s letters the following appears: "My dear Doctor, Mrs. Strachan says she likes you better than any body, and it is not without some hesitation that she at length excepts your Humble Servant . . . " (DO 26).

Strachan could also be addressing Robert Jones(d. 1805), a prominent doctor, poet, and "man of letters," whose daughter Helen Eliza married Cornwall Bayley on May 18, 1806 (Bentley, Canada xiv.).

 

To General Wolfe

 

This poem appeared in the Quebec Gazette June 7,1804 with the following letter dated Montreal, May 26, 1804.

          Sir,
I shared in a conversation lately, which turned upon the projected monument for GENERAL WOLFE—The company agreed that it was impossible to say more than he deserves in his Epitaph; but they wish’d it not to reflect on the nation he opposed. For it was observed, that this might not only hurt feelings, which it were better to conciliate, but detract from its elegance, since comparative praise is frequently disputable and seldom sufficiently appropriate. The two following Epitaphs avoid this imperfection, and if they possess no other merit, they have that of being written in the country that immortalized their Hero. Your correct insertion of them in your next Gazette, with or without this letter, as you find it convenient, will gratify some of your Friends. N.N.

 

1

Wolfe James Wolfe (1727-1759), British soldier who distinguished himself in the French and Indian War by leading a successful battle against the French at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec (13 September 1759). Though the British were victorious, and the battle was decisive in the fall of New France, both Wolfe and Montcalm, the leader of the French forces, were killed.
          The Latin epitaph is translated:

"Wolfe, at the announcement of the victory, died as a Theban."

In "Verses written August 1802. . ." Strachan compares Wolfe to Epaminondas (c. 420-362 BC), the Theban commander who died victorious at the Battle of Mantinea, a crushing defeat of the Spartans by the Thebans.

 

A Letter of Recommendation to Servants…

 

Mr. Shakel Probably the Mr. Shakel for whom Strachan was instrumental in procuring the appointment of master of the Grammar School in Montreal in 1818 (Spragge 185). Shakel, like Strachan, was a graduate of King’s College, Aberdeen.

 

2

Termagant A violent, turbulent, brawling, or shrewish woman, after a mythical deity often appearing in morality plays.

19

a pet Offence at being slighted, ill humour.

25

A character A character reference, a description of a person’s qualities.

 

Now the Victor wears a crown. . . 

 

1

the Victor Napoleon I (1769-1821). In May 1803, England again declared war on France. Napoleon built up an army presumably to invade England, but the invasion fleet which he assembled (1803-1805) was wrecked by storms.

7

Ocean A Titan, lord of the river Ocean, a great river encircling the earth.

8

Neptune Ruler of the sea, Zeus’s brother and second only to him in eminence. Called "Earth-shaker" he carries a trident, a three-pronged spear, with which he would shake and shatter whatever he pleased.

9

Bonaparte The family name of Napoleon I.

11

behest Command.

22

Henry’s throne The throne of England.

27

cygnet Swan.

 

A Hymn

 

Soon after his arrival in Cornwall in 1803, Strachan wrote to Dr. Brown:

Every parish in this country is to be made; the people have little or no religion, and their minds are so prone to low cunning that it will be difficult to make anything of them . . . . My flock is not numerous. A great part of my parish belongs to the Lutheran persuasion, a greater has no religion at all. A number of the people are Catholics, and plenty of Presbyterians with a few Methodists. You see I am in a pickle. (DO 25)

That a new church was being founded less than two years later was indeed progress. In the manuscript, the "Hymn" is proceeded by "A prayer said at laying the foundation stone of the Church of Cornwall, June 26th 1805:"

     Sanction Mighty God, we beseech thee, with thy approbation the work now begun in thy name. Grant that it may promote thy honor and Glory by increasing the number of thy servants and spreading the glad tidings of the everlasting Gospel. Grant that the solemnity of this day may make a deep and lasting impression upon our hearts and inspire us with that heavenly joy expressed by the Angels at the work of thy creation that, as this temple arises before thee, the temple of righteousness may arise in our hearts. And grant, O Lord, that we thy servants assembled in thy presence after praising and glorifying thy name in this house built with hands may belong to that happy number who stand before thy throne for ever and ever. And when our bodies are mingled with the dust raise up, we beseech thee Almighty Father, a succession of new generations to magnify thy name in this house of prayer till the last trumpet shall have sounded and the son of righteousness appear in the clouds with great glory to judge the quick and the dead. Hear us, O Lord, in heaven thy dwelling place and grant us an answer in peace.

St. John’s Day The principle feast of St. John the Baptist on his birthday, June 24, calculated from the Gospels as being six months before the birth of Christ. John, born of Zachariah, a temple priest and Elizabeth, cousin to the Virgin Mary, was a precursor to Christ whom he baptized as the Messiah in the river Jordan. His task was to prepare the Jews for Christ’s arrival and the New Covenant which would extend to all peoples.
     Appropriately, Strachan traces the development of the Judaeo-Christian church as described in the scriptures, from the creation of Adam, through the expulsion from Eden, the bestowal of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, the raising of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the arrival of Jesus Christ, and the fulfillment of the Great Commission "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16.15).

 

21

pinions Wings.

25

rites of early Youth The Jewish laws and customs which Christ replaced with a new covenant.

26

oblations gay The Judaic tradition of offering sacrifices was superceded by Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

27

in spirit and in truth "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth . . . " John 4.24.

29

Zion’s King Zion is symbolic of Jerusalem and the Promised Land, and for Christians of Heaven.

 

On Andrew Stuart’s Name

 

Andrew Stuart (1785-1840), the fifth son of John Stuart (1740-1811), the Anglican minister and one of Strachan’s mentors in Kingston. Approaching his twentieth birthday when the poem was written, this student of Strachan’s was on his way to becoming a lawyer, politician, office holder and author. As a lawyer, he was known both for his eloquence and his compassion. The name Andrew means "manly" in Greek.

 

Fortune The personification of luck as a force in human affairs.

7

Science Knowledge acquired by study as opposed to material wealth.

 

To Mr. Wood

 

Mr. Wood Probably Dr. George Wood, Cornwall surgeon, father of Ann McGill, later Mrs. Strachan, or possibly her brother Guy.

 

3

baleful Harmful, malignant, destructive.

 

To Mr. Blackwood on his Marriage

 

Mr. Blackwood Thomas Blackwood (1773-1842), a prominent Montreal merchant of the firm of Todd and McGill who married Margaret Grant, the daughter of John Grant of Lachine, on December 27, 1806. Among those to attend his wedding was Joseph Frobisher.

Epithalamium A song or poem celebrating a marriage.

 

5

chain of snow A fragile bond prone to melt away.

11

Parnussus A sacred mountain in central Greece associated with Apollo and the Muses, thus a symbol of poetry.

30

The Bard A poet or minstrel.

40

Nymph A beautiful young woman from the semi-divine spirits of mythology.

46

lovely race People of common descent, their children.

48

connubial Pertaining to marriage.

 

To Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright

 

Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright Richard (1759-1815) and Magdelan (d. 1827) whose children Strachan had come to Canada to teach.

 

3 warble Express in song or verse.
22 balm Healing or soothing influence or consolation.
 

A Song Translated from the Gaelic…

 

Mrs. Chewitt Probably Isabella Macdonnell Chewitt, wife of William Chewitt (1753-1849), Justice of the Peace, surveyor, and commander of York Militia.

 

2

Albion Poeticism for England.

10

air Bearing or manner.

12

fancy work Ornamental sewing, embroidery.

20

Venus the Queen Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

 

How blest beyond the powers above…

 

2

Anna On Oct. 6, 1803, the year in which Strachan was in love with and was jilted by Margaret England, Ann Wood married Andrew McGill. Andrew died in 1805, leaving his young widow with a substantial annuity. The "happy day" Strachan longed for came on May 9, 1807 when he married Ann McGill.

 

A Song adapted to the tune of "Logie O Buchan"

 

This poem was published anonymously in The Port Folio March 21, 1807.

 

1

Ythan Strachan’s footnote to the published version reads "a pleasant river in Buchan." Buchan is a district in N.E. Aberdeenshire.

2

Jamie Nickname for James, meaning "the supplanter", possibly with reference to the Scottish hero, James Douglas (1286-1330), a valiant warrior.

3

sma’ Small, brief.

4

awa’ Away.

7

snaw Snow.

11

braw Brave, fine, splendid.

13

gae Gave.

14

niffer’d Traded.

15

nae tears came ava No tears came at all.

16

sooth Calm, comfort.

18

seraphs Angels.

19

ca’ Call.

23

ava At all.

 

Miles Macdonell

 

Miles Macdonell (1767-1828) was born in Scotland to a family with a long military tradition. He came to America with his father in 1773 and about 1783, settled at Riviére aux Raisins, on the Upper St. Lawrence. After sporadic attempts at farming, he pursued a military career. He was later sent to administrate the Selkirk colony against challenges from Métis and the Nor’Wester fur traders, a project about which Strachan had strong reservations. This poem describes an earlier point in his career when he sought to raise a corps of Glengarry fencibles, though without success.

 

2

camps Places where troops are lodged or trained.

4

buckler A small round shield.

5

warlike Sires His father was "Spanish John" who fought with distinction in the Spanish forces against the Austrians in the 1740’s and later in North America.

11

Scotia Poeticism for Scotland.

 

A song For the Curling Club

 

In 1807, Thomas Blackwood joined twenty other Scots in founding the Montreal Curling Club, the oldest in North America.

Curling A game similar to lawn bowls played on ice, curling is associated with Scotland where the game dates to the early 16th century. Though also played in Europe, Scotland was to promote it worldwide.

1

ca Call.

3

fa Full, with the implications of intoxication, or conceit.

8

fen To forbid. A prohibitory exclamation, used chiefly by boys at marbles in order to balk, bar, or prevent some action on the part of another.

9

curs Worthless or snappy dogs.

9

slanner Slander, perhaps slurred to suggest drunkenness.

21

Wallace William Wallace (1272-1305), leader of the Scottish people against Kind Edward I of England. His position of non-compromise made him a chief representation of Scottish popular nationalism, and the subject of epic poetry.

22

Bruces Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), chief champion of the Scottish nation in the struggle for independence, was King of Scotland 1306-1329.

22

Douglas James Douglas (1286-1330), "the Good" who fought valiantly by the side of Robert Bruce, and was knighted at Bannockburn. He was known as a heroic and loyal warrior and a brillant strategist.

22

Graham John Graham (d. 1298), warrior considered most valiant of the Scots, next to his friend William Wallace. He was slain at the battle of Falkirk.

 

A Song March 24, 1807

 

26

bane The cause of ruin, the curse.

27

Mammon Wealth, from the Aramaic word for "riches" regarded as a god with evil influence.

33

swain A young lover or suitor.

 

A Song

 

Strachan’s admiration for Robert Burns is expressed in A Dialogue. He takes Robert Burns’ Song "For a’ that and a’ that" as his model. Some parishioners may have questioned Strachan’s eagerness to partake in "social joys" in light of his vocation as a minister and missionary.

A Song Given to Mrs. McGill

 

A month and a half after this "song" was written, Strachan married Ann (Wood) McGill, the young widow of Andrew McGill on May 9, 1807. A few months later he described the event to this friend Dr. Brown:

I had almost forgot to tell you that, seeing no prospect of my ever being able to return home, I married last spring and find myself happy in the connexion. My wife has an annuity of three hundred a year during her life. She has a great share of beauty, in her twenty-second year, and as good an education as this country could afford, which by the way is not great. (DO 26)

 

6

Cupid The Latin name for Eros, god of love.

7

fleers A mocking look or speech; a sneer, a gibe.

11

Laura The poetic name he had used for Margaret England, he now transfers to Ann McGill, the new object of his desire.

16

dart The arrow of cupid.

 

My Fancy, oft roving across the wide main. . .

 

2

Scotia Poeticism for Scotland.

12

prattle Childish chatter.

 

Ode on the Birth of my First Child

 

Strachan’s first child, James McGill Strachan (1808-1870), was named for James McGill, the powerful fur trader and philanthropist whose brother’s widow Strachan married in 1807. Described as handsome, eloquent and quick-witted, he went on to become a soldier, lawyer, politician and businessman. Strachan and his wife were to have eight more children:

Elizabeth (1810-1812)

George Cartwright (1812-1837)

Elizabeth Mary (1814-1857)

John (1815-1856)

Alexander Wood (1817-1859)

Emma Anne (May-August 1821)

Agnes (1822-1839)

Emma (May-Sept. 1824)

 

5

nature Physical strength or constitution.

10

throes Violent pangs of pain accompanying childbirth.

23

ebon Short for ebony meaning black or dark.

27

buntling A term of endearment. Probably Strachan’s misspelling of "bunting," as in the Nursery Rhyme "Bye, baby bunting..." apparently meaning "plump child."

34

sire Father.

 

To Mrs. Strachan on her Birth Day

 

1

Hymen The god of marriage.

1

Cupid The Latin name for Eros, the god of love.

2

vot’ries Devoted and zealous worshippers.

 

Recollections at Sixty-Five

 

James McGill (1744-1813), merchant, office holder, politician, landowner and philanthropist. This fur trader who shared Strachan’s Scottish roots was reputed, when he died, to be the richest man in Montreal.

 

6

lustrums A period of five years named after a purificatory sacrifice made every five years in Rome following the taking of the census. In 1808, Strachan was 30, seven lustrums younger than McGill.

7

my Friend Strachan joined the McGill circle when he married Ann Wood McGill, the widow of James’ brother Andrew.

24

religion’s golden reign Like Strachan, McGill was born into the Church of Scotland and died an Anglican. In mid-life he married a Roman Catholic. Throughout his life he supported all three.

30

filial Due from a son or daughter.

31

Parent’s hand James was the second child and eldest son of James McGill, "mercator," and Margaret Gibson.

38

my Brothers John (d.1797) and Andrew (d. 1805) were partners in the lucrative fur trading business.

46

hopeless and distrest In the will that he drew up in 1811, McGill directed funds to the Montreal poor, the hospitals, and Glasgow charities.

53

love of knowledge McGill was instrumental in founding the university in Montreal that still bears his name.

 

Cold was the blast and deep the snow. . .

 

1

cold was the blast Cf. the opening lines of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lay of the Last Minstrel first published in 1805 and instantly popular. "The way was long, the wind was cold, / The Minstrel was infirm and old . . . " Strachan appears to be applying Scott’s model to a Canadian setting.

3

hoary Minstrel Probably Alexander Collachie Macdonell (1762-1842), sheriff of the Home District of York, brother-in-law to Miles Macdonell. Strachan may either be imagining Macdonell’s sentiments in old age, or the poem may have been written much later than most of the others in the collection.

5

the luckless day One of the least successful episodes in Macdonell’s relatively successful life was his association with Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk’s unsuccessful attempt to establish a Scottish colony in Upper Canada.

9

noble Selkirk’s band Macdonell was chosen to manage Lord Selkirk’s settlement near the junction of St. Clair lake and the Detroit river in 1804 (near present day Wallaceburg).

11

Baldown The settlement was called Baldoon after Selkirk’s ancestral estate which, ironically, he was forced to sell in part because of the costly failure of the colonial Baldoon.

12

marshes frown The ill-chosen site was the single biggest factor in the colony’s failure. Though the grasslands seemed suited for sheep farming, they were low, marshy, undrained, subject to flooding, and ideal for breeding mosquitoes.

14

grief and fevers The project was eventually abandoned as a failure because of malarial fevers, bad weather, and bad management. Many of the original settlers died, and the remaining were full of discontent.

15

younger son Alexander had five sons and two daughters. At least one of his sons, Allan Macdonell (1808-1888) was educated at Strachan’s Home District Grammar School at York.

23

bard Strachan is here referring to Macdonell who is uninspired by his new surroundings.

30

Minstrel’s latest lay Sir Walter Scott’s The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) after which Strachan’s poem is modelled. In his introduction Scott wrote: "The Poem is intended to illustrate the customs and manners which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. The inhabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes highly susceptible of poetical ornament."

32

The Bard Sir Walter Scott was a friend to Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, and may have known Macdonell as well.

33

Buccleugh A cleugh or ravine southwest of Selkirk, that gave the title of Duke to a leading Scott family. These character and place names are from Scott’s poem. Cf. "Nine-and-twenty knights of fame / Hung their shields in Branksome Hall" (Canto 1.3. 16-17).

36

die Colour, hue.

37

sooth In truth.

40

numbers Metrical feet, hence lines or verses.

41

Musgrave A character in Scott’s poem who engages in a duel:

Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine
In single fight, and, if he gain,
He gains for us; but if he’s cross’d,
’Tis but a single warrior lost . . . 

42

Scotia’s glory Because he celebrated Scottish history and legends in his poetry and fiction, Scott was especially dear to his Scottish readers. He was known to readers of his day as the Wizard of the North.

54

In varying cadence thus he sings Cf., the last lines of Scott’s Introduction in The Lay of the Last Minstrel: "In varying cadence, soft or strong,/He swept the sounding chords along . . . " Strachan’s poem mirrors the introduction of Scott’s poem, but ends at this point. It is tempting to wonder if a continuation is extant.

 

Verses Addressed to Mr. Jackson

 

Mr. Jackson Francis James Jackson (1770-1840), British diplomat sent in 1809 as minister pleni-potentiary to Washington where he remained until the rupture between Great Britain and the United States in 1811 which culminated in the War of 1812.

 

1

Corcyra To establish dominance over the Mediterranean, the Corinthians established colonies at Corcyra (Corfu) and Syracuse.
Proudly independent and even hostile to its mother city of Corinth, the colony at Corcyra was reduced (c. 600 BC) by the Corinthian tyrant Periander. In 435 BC it sought the assistance of Athens in a quarrel with Corinth, a primary cause of the Peloponnesian War.

5

Columbia’s Statesmen In 1790, the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of a national capitol on the Potomac river, in the federal district of Columbia, on a sight chosen by Washington.

7

cramp the Parent States The United States believed that oppressive Maritime practices during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) infringed on the rights of neutrals. They were offended by the British practice of stopping U.S. ships and impressing seamen alleged to be deserters from the Royal Navy. The conflict between the U.S. frigate Chesapeake and HMS Leopard in 1807 eventually triggered Jackson’s diplomatic mission and was one of the first causes of the war which broke out five years later.

12

Despot Any effort to hinder the British naval strength would be construed as assistance to Napoleon.

14

lour Look dark and threatening.

15

Prescription The U.S. reacted to British "interference" with the Embargo Act (1807) and Non-Intercourse Act (1809).

23

Columbia’s dastard crimes The horrors of the War for Independence in 1776 were still fresh in the mind of the "grateful nations" the Loyalists who had fled to British North America to begin a new life.

24

meed Reward or recompense.

 

A song sent to Mr. Blackwood

 

Mr. Blackwood Apparently, Thomas Blackwood (1773-1842) the Montreal fur trader whose marriage Strachan celebrates in another poem.

 

2

Henry As the battle of the Plains of Abraham which the poem describes took place in 1759, before Blackwood and Strachan were born, the poem is likely a tribute to a relative who perished for the British cause. The name Henry means "Ruler."

8

Mira Latin name meaning "wonderful one," which Strachan applies elsewhere to Mrs. Richard Cartwright. May also be a nickname for Mary.

14

weltering Lying prostrate soaked in blood.

19

Wolfe British General James Wolfe (1727-1759) was mortally wounded while leading his troops to victory in the battle of the Plains of Abraham 13 September 1759, outside Quebec City.

21

Mary The wife of the soldier who died in 1759 who is now herself nearing death. Mary is from the Hebrew Marah "Bitterness."

 

The Missionary

 

In this poem, the longest and perhaps most intriguing in the collection, Strachan gives a sympathetic portrait of the First Nations, in which a white man characterized by greed and duplicity is seen as the villain. Every effort has been made to provide a historical context for the poem, but three questions remain that cannot be definitively answered.

The Title.  In the manuscript, the page on which the poem begins is headed by the line "Wrote a Poem entitled the Missionary." Then "A song" of 12 lines written in a later hand appears ("My Fancy, oft roving across the wide main,"), followed by the long poem of 392 lines that begins "Aurora mild extends the grateful view...." Strachan may have left room between the title and the first line of the poem, thinking to add some opening remarks, but later filling it in with "A Song." The question of the missionary mandate was very much on his mind, as that was his own designation since his entry into the Anglican church. He was also deeply influenced by John Stuart, Missionary to the Mohawk prior to the American Revolution, and now Anglican clergyman in Kingston. Missionaries who knew the languages and the ways of the Natives they served, were often employed by governments as interpreters and negotiators, blurring the line between spiritual and political leadership. For many reasons, not all of which were noble, Strachan disapproved of the American treatment of the aboriginals of North America, and was intent upon revealing the duplicity which, in his opinion, surrounded that policy.

The Date of Composition  At a certain point in the manuscript, poems cease to be inscribed in chronological order, and for many, including this one, no date of composition is included. It would appear from internal and external evidence that it was written in the years leading up to or during the War of 1812. As the Loyalists prepared for battle once again, the issue of the allegiance of the First Nations, particularly of the Iroquois Confederacy known for its fierce and determined warriors, assumed enormous significance as it had before, during and after the American Revolution, the timeframe explored in the poem. In 1812, Strachan summed up the matter: "if we do not employ these people they will employ themselves" (Spragge 17).

Two other letters written in 1812 further illuminate Strachan’s thinking on these matters.

In a letter to James McGill dated November 1812 he writes:

...the Conquest of Upper Canada was determined upon by the United States. Nor can it be concealed that the importance of this country to them is incalculable—the possession of it would give them the complete command of the Indians who must either submit or starve within two years and thus leave all the Western frontier clear and unmolested. The Americans are systematically employed in exterminating the Savages, but they can never succeed while we keep possession of this country. This my Dear Sir is the true cause of the war, and so long as there is any prospect of conquering us the war will continue. (Spragge 25)

Strachan expands these thoughts in a letter to William Wilberforce, written at York and dated November 1, 1812.

As the unprovoked war declared by America against great Britain will produce some debates in the house of Commons, and introduce the question of employing Indians permit a stranger to suggest a few remarks which might not perhaps occur at the moment of such a discussion but may contribute to the formation of a just opinion.

The Indians of North America may be divided into two great classes—1st Those within our territories—2nd Those without.

1. Those within our territories. The greater number of these are such as were driven from their settlements on the Mohawk river during the American war and to whom tracts of land have been assigned in this province of Upper Canada. They must either be with us or against us. Indians, said one of their Chiefs lately, do not understand the meaning of neutrality, they know nothing but Friend or Foe. These tribes have been solicited and offered bribes by the Americans to desert from us [...] and the reason why the Americans do not succeed better in this plan of corruption is that the Indians have experienced their deceptions too often to trust them except in cases of necessity. The rule of America respecting the Indians is that "might makes right" and on this rule they act. Were this country in possession of the United States the Indians as well as the Loyalists would be deprived of their possessions— leading men in Congress have already declared this [...] When you hear of the cruelty of the Savages, think of the still greater cruelty of the Cabinet at Washington—and then think of the brave Loyalists already driven by rebellion from their native country and plundered of all they possessed for their love to the King. They are attacked in the most vindictive manner by their implacable enemies the Democrates, who now rule the United States. The Loyalists have paramount claim for affection and kindness, and as they have been left in a manner totally defenceless, it is but just to allow them the use of the means in their power. The Indians within our territories destroy none but invaders and as they join our troops they are restrained from killing any except in battles— this, however, is not the case when they act separately, but this we prevent as much as possible. Add to this the Americans employ all the Savages that they can get in the war. The reason of the smallness of their number is this. Instead of assigning them lands as we do they take them from them and drive them back into the interior. Hence very few remain within their settlements, those that do are now employed in the war against us. In fine the Indians in our territory will not be neutral if war be near them, they must have a share. Were they disposed to be Neutral the enemy would not allow them, but be incessantly employed in drawing them away from us. We must therefore keep them and encourage them, but restrain their excesses as much as possible.

      2. Indians without our Territories. It is to be premised that over them we have no controul. The Indians on the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Wabash, and all along the Western Frontier have been at war with the United States for several years, not at the instigation of the British as the American government have falsely reported, but for the following reasons which they publicly assign.

  1. Because the Americans drive them from their hunting grounds.

  2. Because the American government make fraudulent purchases of their lands from Indians who have no power to sell—one or two insignificant members of a village for example.

  3. Because the American government have connived at their agents embezzling the small pittance which they give the Indians for lands.

  4. Because the American government have paid the Indians only one farthing an acre for lands which they sold immediately after for six dollars making it a most productive article of revenue and even this miserable pittance of one farthing never reached the Indians.

  5. Because the American government have established what they call trading posts in the Indian territory under the pretence of supplying them with necessaries instead of money for their lands at which posts the most scandalous frauds have taken place.

  6. Because the posts are turned into military stations at the pleasure of the American government to the annoyance of the Indians and to their ultimate subjugation.

  7. Because they are deprived of their usual supplies since the American government adopted the Anticommercial system. The non-importation, embargo, and non-intercourse laws have been very detrimental to the Indians.

  8. Because the American government neither attend to the feelings or rights of the poor Indians but as they are independent they have a right to the privileges of independent nations.

These and many other reasons were given as the causes of the war by the Famous Chief Tecumpseh to General Brock when he was lately at Detroit on his expedition against General Hull. This Indian Chief unites the most astonishing wisdom to the most determined valour—he has been employed for several years in uniting all the Indians against the Americans and, hearing that General Brock was expected at Detroit to oppose the American General Hull, he came to pay him a visit. It is very easy to lament the massacre of a family or individual, and during such a lamentation we are apt to forget that by driving a tribe from its hunting ground it must either starve or trespass upon the hunting ground of the neighbouring tribe, and a war of extermination is the consequence. Since the United States have seized upon Florida from the Spaniards they have been attacked by the Indians who complain that the Settlers are coming upon their lands. These nations are not in the territories of the United States, but the Americans go to seek them, build houses, and clear lands within their precincts and when such are destroyed they raise a noise and make it a cause of war. Indeed the American government are, in my opinion, systematically employed in exterminating the Indians, if not always by open force, at least by an insidious policy. In Kentucky the Americans shoot Indians with as little ceremony as wild beasts, and the farce of their civilizing them is the Cant of Mr. Jefferson to gain applause from foreign nations. I might enter more into detail, but I think I have said enough to convince you that the question of employing Indians is not a question of policy but of absolute necessity. Indeed, in order to gain a complete command of the Indians, the United States are exerting all their force to subdue Upper Canada.... (Spragge 21-23)

That Strachan had some cause for his point of view, particularly with regard to Jefferson’s policies, is revealed in a private letter from President Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, dated February 27, 1803.

....from the Secretary of War you receive from time to time information and instruction as to our Indian affairs. These communications being for the public records, are restrained always to particular objects and occasions; but this letter being unofficial and private, I may with safety give you a more extensive view of our policy respecting the Indians....
     Our system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment from them, by everything just and liberal which we can do for them within the bounds of reason, and by giving them effectual protection against wrongs from our own people. The decrease of game rendering their subsistence by hunting insufficient we wish to draw them to agriculture, to spinning and weaving [...] When they withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive forests, and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for necessaries for their farms and families. To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading houses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands. At our trading houses, too, we mean to sell so low as merely to repay us cost and charges, so as neither to lessen nor enlarge our capital. This is what private traders cannot do, for they must gain; they will consequently retire from the competition, and we shall thus get clear of this pest without giving offence or umbrage to the Indians. In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe and driving them across the Mississippi as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation... (Writings of Thomas Jefferson 10:369-71)

Five other events may play a part in determining the probable date of composition.

Joseph Brant, the celebrated Iroquois chief whose loyalty and military expertise were coveted by both the Americans and the British, died in 1807.

Samuel Kirkland, the Congregationalist missionary to the Oneida who had been taught the Mohawk language by Brant, and repeatedly tried to get him to abandon his loyalty to the British in favour of the colonies, died in 1808.

Thomas Campbell, a Scottish poet whom Strachan described as "the best poet of the age," published Gertrude of Wyoming which glorified the rebel Americans and vilified the Loyalists and the Indians including Brant who fought with them, in 1809.

John Stuart, the Missionary to the Mohawk from whom Strachan gathered the information for his biography of Brant (not published until 1819), died in 1811.

John Strachan, under the pseudonym Common Sense, published Hypocrisy Detected, "a diatribe in rhyming pentameters against Robert Haldane, James Haldane and Rev. Greville Ewing, who seceded from the Church of Scotland to found and finance various evangelical and missionary projects with congregationalist tendencies," in 1812. This, of course, was also the year in which hostilities were renewed between the Loyalists of British North America and the United States in a war in which Strachan played an active role.

The Identity of Rankins.  Two possibilities exist for determining the identity of the white antagonist of Strachan’s poem called "Crafty Rankins." Either he is a fictional amalgam meant to represent all those who dealt duplicitously with the First Nations or he is a real historical individual. If the latter is true, and presuming history has kept a record of his activities, an argument can be made for the following men as possible candidates.

James Rankins, whose exact dates are unknown, was a Detroit merchant and fur trader during the tumultuous years after the War of American Independence. The Detroit connection is significant as Detroit was both the location of the Ancient Council Fire of the Six Nations, and the last place to be visited by one of the central figures in Strachan’s poem, Chief John Logan, before he was killed in a quarrel in 1780. James Rankins was certainly known to James McGill and other Montreal fur traders with whom Strachan had intimate and financially rewarding connections through marriage (Strachan’s wife Ann was the widow of Andrew McGill), and may have even been in direct competition with them. He is probably the same James Rankins whose signature appears on the Treaty at the Big Miamis, between the United States and the Shawanese Nation in 1785 which, like many treaties, was accompanied by the exchange of hostages, the giving of gifts, and Native accusations of unfairness. The Shawanese chiefs wrote in a letter soon after, "we have been cheated by the Americans who are striving to work our destruction . . ." (Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections 24:26). He may also be the "Rankins" described only as a "messenger to the Indians," who is mentioned in the journals of Moravian missionary John Heckewelder (1743-1823), who was himself involved in several treaties which were ultimately detrimental to the Natives.

David Rankin was also a fur trader during this period who had family connections at Detroit, but was based at Michilimackinac, then considered the gateway to both the North West and South West fur trade because of its strategic location near Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. David Rankin’s name appears on the deed tranferring ownership of Mackinac Island from the Chippewa to King George III in 1881 which resulted in the building of a fort. This transaction was accompanied by the exchange of a seven-foot wampum belt and more than a dozen canoe loads of presents worth 5000 pounds New York currency (Armour 166). Contemporary documents reveal that in 1778, a fur trading license for two canoes was given to David Rinkin (the spelling of the name varies from document to document) with guarantors G. Phyn and James McGill (Innis 196). It appears that soon after Rankin set himself up as a competitor against John Askin who was serving as McGill’s agent at Michilimackinac. He remained at Mackinac between 1780 and 1787, though in 1785 he is described as a Montreal merchant in a bill of sale for his purchase of a negro slave Josiah Cutten (Quaife 286). Curiously, in the terms of capitulation that brought an end to the Pontiac conspiracy two decades earlier, "Pontiac specified that he must have the Negro boy belonging to merchant James Rankin for a valet!" (Peckham 140). Whether one of these men is the Rankins of Strachan’s poem is impossible to determine, but Strachan was deeply interested in the history and development of the fur trade because it directly influenced the lives of the men with whom he forged alliances upon his arrival in Canada. In fact, it was partly his concern over the fur trade that led to one of his most notorious forays into the realm of public persuasion, his Letter to the Right Honourable The Earl of Selkirk on his projected Colony on the Red River. In this letter he attacked what he believed was Selkirk’s "dark-laid scheme to ruin the trade of the North West Company" (Spragge 217).

Though there are aspects of Strachan’s poem that identify "Rankins" as a fur trader, there are other elements that suggest he may have been otherwise active in Native affairs. If the title of the poem is indeed "The Missionary," it seems likely that the central figure would be of that profession, though one with great political power. The candidate who best fits this description is Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), Congregationalist missionary to the Oneida, the Iroquois nation that occupied Upper New York state, just across Lake Ontario from Kingston where Strachan lived until June of 1812. The unflattering portrait might have prompted Strachan to disguise the name to protect himself against accusations of slander. Strachan may have chosen to refer to Kirkland by his mother’s maiden name of Perkins, disguised still further as Rankins, to suggest foulness and corruption. Among the studies that seek to sort out Kirkland’s role in American revolutionary politics and policy towards the First Nations is Barbara Graymont’s The Iroquois in the American Revolution which also makes frequent reference to John Stuart and even to Richard Cartwright, the Loyalist friends who welcomed Strachan to Canada.

A careful look at the history of this complex era reveals several reasons why Strachan might have chosen Kirkland as the villain of a poem castigating American policy towards the First Nations. Full accounts of Kirkland’s activities were published in Eleazar Wheelock’s Narratives and in regular reports to the Honorable Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge which contributed to his support.

  1. His politics. Kirkland came to establish a church among the Oneida in 1767, an arrival perfectly timed to gain power over a people threatened by war, (the French-Indian war), white expansion, famine, alcoholism, and internal factions. He soon gained the loyalty of the warriors against their own sachems or peace chiefs who recognized that the British were generally more protective of their rights. Kirkland’s support, and therefore that of the converted Oneida, came from Boston, the hotbed of the Revolution, and an alliance was forged. In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, the Indians, accustomed to dealing with the English as one people, were caught between the American influence in the person of Kirkland, and British influence of men such as William Johnson, and later his nephew and son-in-law Guy Johnson, representing the Crown. In the struggle between revolutionary and Loyalist, Kirkland’s influence was so powerful that in May of 1775 Guy Johnson insisted that Kirkland and other missionaries be prevented from returning to the field "until the difficulties between great Britain and the Colonies are settled" (Graymont 63). Later that year he threatened Kirkland for his continued meddling in political matters, stating he would "cutt off Mr. Kirkland’s head as soon as he would a snake’s" (Graymont 70).

  2. His religion. Kirkland was a Congregationalist, referred to in the States as Presbyterian, and a follower of the "New Light" teachings of Jonathan Edwards, with an emphasis on individual faith, self-discipline, repentance, regeneration and baptism. The struggle between revolutionary and Loyalist became a struggle of Calvinism against Anglicanism, the latter group represented by John Stuart, described by Chief Abraham as "our Father...who refuses to attend to any political matters" (Graymont 73), a position very different from Kirkland’s.

  3. Lord Dunmore’s War. Because of his influence over the Oneida and the Tuscaroras, Kirkland was instrumental in preventing Lord Dunmore’s War precipitated by Logan and other Shawnee from becoming a general Indian uprising. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. "A general Indian war at that time might well have forced the colonists to look to Britain for aid and have suppressed the revolutionary movement" (Dictionary of American Biography 10:433).

  4. American Revolution. Kirkland quit his mission post and became a chaplain in the American army. He directed Oneida scouts as spies against the British, and served American interests in every way possible, becoming "one of the Congress’ most effective agents in the Indian country" (Graymont 101). In 1775 he influenced many of the Six Nations toward neutrality. Washington wrote to congress in 1775: "I cannot but intimate my sense of the importance of Mr. Kirkland’s station, and of the great advantages which have and may result to the united colonies from his situation being made respectable. All accounts agree that much of the favourable disposition shown by the Indians may be ascribed to his labor and influence" (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography 3:555).

  5. Sullivan-Clinton campaign. In 1779 Kirkland served as army chaplain for the military campaign planned to curb the attacks of the Indians and Tories on the Western frontier, such as the one at Wyoming which was the basis for Thomas Campbell’s poem "Gertrude of Wyoming." At this particular sight, Kirkland declared, "Are these the fruits and effects of thy Clemency O George, thou tyrant of Britain and scourge to mankind!" (Kelsay 255). This, of course, was the same King George Strachan was to celebrate in A Discourse on the Character of King George the Third Addressed to the Inhabitants of British America in 1810.

  6. Treaty negotiations. Among the treaties Kirkland assisted in was the second treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784, possibly the setting which Strachan describes, in which the Iroquois relinquished their claim to land north and west of the Ohio River, thereby threatening the great interior fur trading lands, a point about which Strachan felt strongly because of his ties with James McGill and other fur merchants. The dissatisfaction among the Indians about this and other treaties was to contribute to continuing unrest. These territories became prey to voracious speculation which was detrimental to the Indians and the fur trade, but not to Kirkland who was given huge grants of land in gratitude for his service to the Americans.

  7. The Oneida. Ironically the very tribes who had supported the Americans at Kirkland’s behest were made homeless. He resumed his duties as missionary among the Oneida writing to his wife in 1785 that they had become "filthy, dirty, nasty creatures—a few families excepted. " (Graymont 286). In 1790 to 1792, Kirkland continued negotiations that kept the Six Nations friendly to the United States. During this time, the fears expressed by the chiefs in Strachan’s poem were to come tragically true. The Oneida and others loyal to the Americans found their villages destroyed, their people alienated and scattered, and their future dark with uncertainty.

  8. His relationship with Joseph Brant. Kirkland and Brant were students together at Eleazer Wheelock’s school in Connecticut. Brant had strong ties among the Oneida, the tribe of his first wife Peggy. Nonetheless he remained more or less loyal to the British, and to Anglicanism, despite the efforts of Kirkland and others to sway him in favour of the colonies. Brant saved Kirkland’s life in battle, and corresponded with him for many years.

  9. Liquor policy. Kirkland immediately imposed prohibition upon coming among the Oneida, but later "for reasons of military expediency, Kirkland was no longer willing that rum should be banned from the Indian villages" (Graymont 112). When Brant visited an Oneida village in 1784, he commented, "they are continually Drunk with Stinking Rum" (Graymont 286).

  10. His rewards. In 1793 Kirkland was given a charter for an educational institution which was to become Hamilton College in 1812, thereby achieving the dream Strachan had so long cherished. It was intended for both Native and white students, but as the public had lost faith in civilizing the Natives, primarily benefitted the latter.

These are the facts about Kirkland as Strachan might have interpreted them. For a more sympathetic portrait of Kirkland see The Life of Samuel Kirkland by Samuel Kirkland Lothrop (Boston: Little and Brown, 1847). Ironically, Strachan filled many of the same roles as minister, missionary, army chaplain, and advocate for Iroquois military participation, but all from a Loyalist perspective.

 

1

aurora Dawn.

3

Tarrantines Name given by Puritans to Abnaki, Algonquian tribes inhabiting New England, eastern Quebec and the Maritimes.

5

Logan John Logan (1725-1780), Iroquois leader living along the Ohio who, despite his reputation for being a friend of the whites, attacked white settlers after they had massacred members of his family, precipitating Lord Dunmore’s War. Though of questionable veracity, the speech he made in his defence became famous, and was included in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), and in Campbell’s Gertrude of Wyoming (1809).

5

spy Logan’s Native name Tah-gah-jute literally means ‘his eyelashes stick out or above’ as if looking through or over something, as in spying.

10

distant nation According to various sources, Logan’s father was a white man, taken prisoner in Canada and reared among the Indians. Logan himself was born at Shamokin, Pennsylvania, but later removed to present day Ohio.

13

Ontario’s shore Lake Ontario.

18

a slaughter’d wife and children dead Apparently it was Logan’s sister, and possibly other relatives who were murdered in 1774. His wife, who was a Shawnee woman, survived him, but no children resulted from their union.

29

wampum girdle Belts of beads made from shells were of particular ceremonial importance because they were exchanged when a treaty of peace was signed. Wampum was also used by white fur traders as currency in their trade with the Indians.

33

Rankins Possible candidates for this role include fur traders James Rankins and David Rankin and missionary Samuel Kirkland. See The Identity of Rankins above (190-95) for more details.

36

siren smile In Greek mythology the sirens lured sailors to their death on the rocks by singing sweetly. Kirkland boasted of the loyalty of his Indians: "Numbers of them said they would go with me to prison or death—where I followed Christ, they would follow me" (Graymont 45).

38

common beasts of prey "In Kentucky the Americans shoot Indians with as little ceremony as wild beasts." (See Strachan’s letter to Mr. Wilberforce quoted above.)

40

silver honors Throughout the eighteenth century, silver brooches, head bands, bracelets , ear-rings and beads were lavishly worn by both Native men and women as adornments.

53

lofty trees Many of the sketches of early America, including Strachan’s own A Visit to the Province of Upper Canada in 1819 were designed to encourage immigration, describing local flora and fauna in glowing terms. "The forests produce a great variety of different woods, fit for ship and house building, and all sorts of cabinet work" (117). But any description of the New World as Eden prepares the way for "the crested snake."

63

the crimes the whites have done Logan’s experience was evidence that friendliness to whites was no guarantee of fair treatment.

66

precious gifts In almost all treaty negotiations, boatloads of presents were displayed to bribe the Indians into granting land. Gifts generally included manufactured goods of negligible value such as blankets, china, axes, calico, and even, according to one United States Government Document, "one dozen black silk handkerchiefs." Gunpowder and liquor were also invariably included.

68

louring Scowling, frowning threateningly.

73

Sachems The position of Sachem, or Peace Chief, was a hereditary office with great power. Sachems (49 or 50 in number) formed the pan-confederacy Great Council which met at Onondaga. Though eligibility was determined by heredity, actual selection was made by clan matrons. War chiefs, on the other hand, were invested with temporary power for military expeditions. After the arrival of the Europeans, war chiefs gained greater powers creating an internal struggle that was to be exploited by Kirkland and others, since it was the war chiefs who increasingly dealt with the whites.

74

Turtle Little Turtle (1752-1812), Miami chief friendly to British in youth, who later submitted to a course of acquiesence to the Americans after 1797. He joined in the treaty at Greenville, Ohio, in 1795 remarking, "I am the last to sign it, and I will be the last to break it." When Tecumseh urged the Indians in the area to join his Confederation and oppose American expansionism, Little Turtle’s influence kept most of the Miami neutral. The senior Mohawk clan was also called the "Turtle." Joseph Brant’s third wife Catherine was the daughter of the head sachem of this clan. The Iroquois confederacy over whose loyalty the English and Americans were fighting included the Mohawk, the Onondaga, the Seneca, the Oneida, the Cayuga, and the Tuscarora. Strachan may have named the chiefs in his poems not after historical individuals, but after clans or tribes to suggest the widespread suffering caused by the policies castigated in the poem.

70

this youth just rescued The Ceremony of Condolence was sometimes used to smooth the way for treaty negotiations. According to Graymont, "this ceremony was designed to revive the dead in the person of another. The name of the deceased was passed on to the one who would take his place. The departed one had thereby through this means been resuscitated and had been placed again among the living" (112).

78

ting’d with black Cutting the hair, and blackening the face of the bereaved were mortuary customs common to many tribes.

81

a fort In his letter to Mr. Wilberforce of 1812, Strachan complained that "the American government have established what they call trading posts in the Indian territory under the pretence of supplying them with necessaries instead of money for their lands at which posts the most scandalous frauds have taken place" and that "the posts are turned into military stations at the pleasure of the American Government to the annoyance of the Indians and to their ultimate subjugation."

89

Nemoshush Nemshous meaning Big River was an early name given to the Nimsewi or Comanche, nomad buffalo hunters of the Western plains, referred to as Nemosin in the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1804-6).

93

hoary With hair that is gray or white with age.

99

tobacco The tobacco plant was considered sacred and was smoked on solemn occasions such as the sealing of a peace treaty or to accompany the invocation to deities.

100

snowy spaniel The sacrifice of a white dog was part of the New Year ceremony of the Iroquois. The victim, white in color, was killed by strangulation in order not to break any of its bones, hung up on a pole, then burned in a ceremonial pyre. Kirkland’s journal, 26 Feb. 1800, relates that Joseph Brant allowed the Mohawk to hold the white dog festival, as long as it did not supersede the practice of Christianity (Kelsay 612).

102

Logan arose After the Indians were defeated in what became known as Lord Dunmore’s war, chief John Logan (1725-1780) refused to attend the peace treaty, but sent a messenger with a speech which was widely circulated and printed in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1781) and reprinted in the notes to Gertrude of Wyoming (1809). Jefferson was so moved by its eloquence that he compared it to the orations of Cicero and Demosthenes, but its veracity has since come into question.

I appeal to any white man if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and he gave him not to eat; if ever he came cold and hungry, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, " Logan is the friend of white men." I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature:—this called on me for revenge. I have fought for it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance.—For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace;—but do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? not one!

Only lines 141 to 150 of Strachan’s poem correspond with the original speech as quoted by Jefferson and Campbell. The rest appears to be a poetic rendering of the history of the First Nations since the arrival of the first Europeans with reference to the words of Mohawk Chief Sachem Tahaiadoris on 23 September 1689 (Jennings 145).

111

a chain The bond between the Six Nations and the British was often referred to as a Silver Chain in speeches such as the following by Sir William Johnson in 1748: ". . . our first Friendship Commenced at the Arrival of the first great Canoe or Vessel at Albany, at which you were much surprised but finding what it contained pleased you so much, being Things for your Purpose... you all Resolved to take the greatest care of that Vessel that nothing should hurt her Whereupon it was agreed to tye her fast with a great Rope to one of the largest Nut Trees on the Bank of the River... After this was agreed on and done you made an offer to the Governour to enter into a Band of Friendship with him and his People which he was so pleased at that he told you he would find a strong Silver Chain which would never break, slip, or Rust to bind you and him forever in Brothership together, and that your Warriours and ours should be as one Heart, One Head, one Blood etc." (Jennings 145).

116

dross refined Since dross is the scum or impurities separated from metals in melting, this is a paradox, as Logan realizes.

135

Delusion all "All was delusion, nought was truth." Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (Canto 3.9.18.) In a note to this line, Scott writes: "Glamour, in the legends of Scottish superstition, means the magic power of imposing on the eyesight of the spectators, so that the appearance of an object shall be totally different from the reality."

142 

Their faithful friend For this line and those that follow, see Logan’s speech as quoted by Campbell in note 102 above.

151

tree of Peace A passage from the Constitution of the Five Nations reads: "I, Deganawida, and the union lords now uproot the tallest pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep underneath currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace, Kayenarhekowa, be established" (Graymont 129).

154

trepann’d To be caught in a trap, ensnared, beguiled. To be swindled.

155

Ethini Among the names applied to the Cree, an important Algonquian tribe situated west of the Great Lakes, was Ethinu. Like the chief of this name in Strachan’s poem, the Cree were friendly to both English and French and were left comparatively undisturbed. However, in 1786 their numbers were reduced to less than half by small pox. They were generally described as generous and exceedingly good natured.

187

mighty God of life The chief Iroquois deity was Taronhiawagon, the Holder of the Heavens, the Master of Life.

201

kindred on the coast The Natives who first welcomed the white man to North America.

207

sacred stem Peace pipe.

211

this belt The wampum belt sometimes took the form of a symbolic sun. For people who did not have the use of writing, the wampum were devised to make a symbolic record of important affairs that were, however, open to various interpretations in contrast to the white man’s written documents.

215

hatchet sunk The phrase "to bury the hatchet" is still used to mean "make peace." See note 151 above.

235

demurs Objects to.

238

timorous Timid. Easily alarmed or frightened.

240

the chase Hunting, especially as a sport.

242

martyrs Those put to death for refusing to renounce a faith or belief. Here Strachan’s description of hunted animals succumbing to superior technology is clearly couched in language meant to parallel the tragic plight of the Native peoples, especially as their proper names were often derived from the names of animals.

244

gyves Shackles or fetters.

247

marten A weasel-like carnivore with valuable fur.

251

pois’nous rum Drunkenness was a severe problem among the Indians. From the earliest encounter between the Dutch and the First Nations on Manhattan, which apparently means in Delaware "the island where we all became intoxicated," liquor was used liberally in all dealings, making it easy for those who remained sober to cheat those who did not. A few months after his arrival in the missionfield, Kirkland set out to prohibit alcohol use among the Oneida, insisting that if they refused temperance he would terminate his mission with them (Graymont 34). Later in life, however, he came to appreciate its advantages for reasons of military expediency. He wrote to Schuyler in 1777, "Your seasonable and well adapted Speech to the Indians accompanied with the present of six Barrels of Rum, will I believe be very acceptable and do more service to our Cause than a thousand expended at Treaty with them" (Graymont 112).

263

his darling son A similar incident occurred in 1795 when Mohawk chief Joseph Brant, was attacked by his son Isaac, his child by his first wife Margaret, the daughter of Skenandon, an Oneida leader who was one of the pillars of Kirkland’s church. Strachan describes it in A Visit to the Province of Upper Canada in 1819. "The son attempted to stab the father with a pen-knife, but Captain Brant parried the blows; and, having always a great variety of arms in his room, in a paroxysm of passion snatched down a pistol, and struck the son with it on his head, (but not, as he frequently declared, with a design to kill him,) by which he wounded him badly. Much blood issued from the wound; the blood was stopped, and the young man went home to his own house. But continuing to drink and act in a riotous manner, the blood burst out again from the wound. He refused to have it bound up a second time, and bled to death. This is the best account I can give you of that fatal and unnatural accident" (167-68).

270

pois’nous draught of death Many of the great chiefs found alcohol irresistible. John Logan who had impressed the world with his eloquence became "an abandoned sot" and died in a brawl. According to Strachan, Joseph Brant’s "habit of drinking, increased, however, and hastened his death..." (A Visit to the Province of Upper Canada in 1819 168). Apparently it was Strachan’s reproach of Brant’s intemperance that first brought the two men together. "No matter how much he hated ‘stinking Rum,’ Joseph was drinking rather freely in these cheerless days [around 1805] , and of course his drinking was public knowledge. There is a tradition to the effect that a young Scottish clergyman from Cornwall named John Strachan (a Presbyterian turned Episcopalian), who sometimes preached at York, made some critical comments on Joseph’s vice in one of his sermons. Joseph heard about this, and in his rage got very drunk and went in search of the clergyman. He swore (so the story runs) that he would make ‘the—Scotch turncoat apologise wherever he found him, even if it were in church.’ He actually found the young cleric on a street in York and knocked him down and threatened to scalp him if he did not take back the offensive words" (Kelsay 640). Strachan retracted everything, but undoubtedly this experience coloured the biography of Brant he was to write years later.

288

down they sink In 1796, Jeremy Belknap and Jedidiah Morse made a report on the Oneida among whom Kirkland worked. The Native who has been introduced to civilization, they wrote, "is neither a white man nor an Indian, as he had no character with us he has none with them. If he has strength of mind sufficient to renounce all his acquirements and resume the savage life and manners, he may possibly be again received by his country men, but the greater probability is that he will take refuge from their contempt in the inebriating draught, and when this becomes habitual, he will be guarded from no vice, and secure from no crime. His downward progress will be rapid, and his death premature" (36).

305

small pox After the Revolutionary War, the remnant of the Oneida and Tuscarora nations were further decimated by small pox. Widespread sickness prevented many from attending the Treaty of Fort Stanwix which Kirkland helped to negotiate in 1784. Because of the epidemic, Brant tried to have the negotiations postponed until the Spring, without success (Graymont 273).

317

Isaac Brant’s father-in-law Isaac was a Loyalist Oneida who was a devout Christian and the religious leader of his village. He died at Niagara, after his village and home were destroyed in the American Revolution.

355

his harden’d soul After his service to the American government in the war, Kirkland resumed his missionary duties among the Oneida, but confided in a letter to his wife in 1785 that they had become "filthy, dirty, nasty creatures—a few families excepted" (286).

383

O savage monster In Campbell’s Gertrude of Wyoming Joseph Brant was referred to as "the Monster Brant," for his supposed cruelty in the massacre at Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Brant’s son John set out to clear his father’s name by proving through extensive documentary evidence that Brant was not even present, and Campbell published a lengthy apology in London’s The New Monthly Magazine in 1822. Possibly, Strachan here turns Campbell’s epithet against the white villain who he believed had corrupted Brant. In his biography of Brant Strachan wrote, "He was at one time a sincere and zealous Christian. He was afterwards corrupted by war, and bad company, but his religious impressions were never entirely effaced" (A Visit to the Province of Upper Canada in 1819 149) Even Brant who had once saved Kirkland’s life, and carried on a long correspondence with him, called him "that deep dark Presbyterian" (Kelsay 467).

383

that pile of stones Possibly a reference to the grave of Joseph Brant who died on 24 November 1807 and was buried at Burlington Bay at the head of Lake Ontario. He was later reinterred by the church he erected in the Mohawk village on the Grand River.

385

these bright Spirits Though all of the First Nations were to suffer under Western expansion, the fate of the tribes who had remained loyal to the Americans through Kirkland’s efforts was particularly tragic. While the people he had come to serve were impoverished and destroyed, Kirkland himself had attained huge tracts of land, the approbation of his government, and a secure future as founder of the Academy that became Hamilton College in 1812.

384

pois’nous draughts Joseph Brant described the inhabitants of the Oneida village he visited in 1784 as "continually Drunk with Stinking Rum" (Graymont 286), but Strachan is probably also referring to the "poison" of revolutionary politics and dissenting religion.

388

sweets of calm repose Kirkland died on February 28, 1808 and he was buried in the cemetery of the College he founded. His son was elected President of Harvard in 1810.

 

Preface for Miss Lunn’s Album

 

In June of 1812 Strachan moved to York, and within a year it was captured. Strachan played an active role in the War of 1812. In the years that followed he played an increasing role in politics, being appointed to the Executive Council in 1817 and to the Legislative council in 1820. In 1823 he was appointed President of the Board of the General Superintendence of Education, and he became more involved in the travels that took him to England, the United States and to Eastern Canada.

Miss Lunn Possibly a relative of Montreal businessman, politician and educator William Lunn (1796-1886).

Mrs. Washburn Margaret Washburn, wife of Simon Washburn (1794-1837) who attended the Kingston grammar school and served in the militia in the War of 1812. As church warden of St. James Church in Toronto, Washburn assisted Strachan in the financial campaign to have a new stone church built in 1833.

 

8

bower Lady’s private chamber, boudoir.

15

clay Physical and mortal vision, as opposed to spiritual and eternal.

17

boon A request.

18

Muse In Greek mythology, any of the nine goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences.

 

How bright the star . . .

 

2

Miranda The innocent daughter of Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

8

incarnate Clothed or invested with flesh, in human form.

 

For Mrs. Monro’s Album

 

Mrs. Monro Probably the mother of Margaret Monro who married Guy C. Wood, Mrs. Strachan’s brother, in 1822.

 

 

The Husband to His Wife

 

1

Eden The paradisal garden inhabited by Adam and Eve before the Fall, from the Hebrew word "delight."

3

liv’ry Distinctive clothing or outward appearance.

7

Zephyrs Gentle winds or breezes.

13

Clara From the Latin for "clear."

 

Love Not the World: a Sonnet

 

1

Love Not the World 1 John 2.15-17 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. . .  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

12

Syren A fabulous monster, part woman, part bird, supposed to lure sailers to destruction by her enchanting singing.

13

repine Fret, be discontented.

 

David’s Lamentation for Saul and Jonathan

 

5

Gath Home of Goliath, a town in the Philistine Pentapolis whose inhabitants are ready to rejoice at the death of Saul.

6

Beth-Shan ("House of Rest" or "House of Sha’an [the serpent goddess]") A town of Manasseh occupied by the Philistines who hand the corpses of Saul and his sons from its walls. 1 Samuel 31.10-12.

Dagon In the Old Testament, the principal god of the Philistines, a divinity in the Amorite pantheon of Mari in Mesopotamia.

9

Gilboa ("country of hills") A highland (altitude 500 m) located between the plain of Jezreel and the Jordan where the Israelites were defeated and Saul and his sons were killed.

15

Kish The father of Saul, a Benjaminite described as a man of quality.

18 

three gallant sons The three sons of Saul, the King of Israel, Jonathan, Abinadab and Melchishua were slain by the Philistines in battle.

19

Jonathan Jonathan takes the lead in the war of liberation from the Philistines, and his friendship with David arouses the jealousy of his father Saul.

20

falchion Sword.

36

lov’d passing woman 2 Samuel 1.26: "I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

40

palsied Affected with palsy, paralysed.