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in every text-book; nor G. F. Matthew, of St. John, nor Prof. Bailey, of Fredericton. The officers of the Geological Survey are among our leading prose-writers—the present director, Dr. George M. Dawson, is known throughout Europe and America as the writer of important works on the geography, geology, and natural history of the Dominion, and he, as well as Dr. Robert Bell, Dr. Whiteaves, Prof. Macoun, and others, have enriched Canadian literature by numerous contributions to scientific publications.
The set toward the study of the natural sciences was not so dominant in the other cities of Canada, but Prof. Chapman and Dr. Coleman, of Toronto, are among our writers on chemistry and geology, and Dr. James Douglas, now of New York, is a writer of authority on all questions of metallurgy and mining. We must count among our writers, though now connected with Harvard University, Dr. Montagu Chamberlain, a New Brunswicker who has written extensively on the ornithology of Canada and on the Abenaqui and Malicete Indians of his native Province; and Ernest Seton Thompson, born in Toronto, but now residing in New York, who has written for the government of Manitoba upon the ornithology and mammalia of that Province. Sir James Lemoine and C. E. Dionne have published studies of the ornithology of Quebec; and the late A. N. Montpetit's work, “Les Poissons d'Eau Douce,” is an illustrated octavo volume of ichthyology of the same Province.
Any notice of the prose-writers of Canada would be very imperfect without mention of Dr. Sterry Hunt, who was not only a chemist, geologist, and mineralogist of wide reputation, but a graceful and accurate master of English style. His contributions to these sciences extend over the transactions of learned societies in Europe and America, and many
of them were translated into French, German, and Italian. He was born in Connecticut, and the last few years of his life were spent in New York, but all the strength of his manhood was spent in Canada and devoted to Canadian subjects. His chief works are “Mineral Physiology and Physiography,
,” “Mineralogy According to a Natural System," “A New Basis for Chemistry," and a volume of “ Chemical and Geological Essays.” His life-work is stamped with rare originality and has left its impress on the sciences he followed.
Almost while I write, a Canadian well known for his contributions to scientific periodicals and as the leader in the movement for the appraisal of literature has stepped into the front rank of popular expositors of science. The handsome volume, “Flame, Electricity, and the Camera," by George Iles, is not merely a vivid exposition-it is an original explanation of the rationale of the rapid progress of science during the last years of the century, and of the causes of the accelerating speed of its advance.
I had hoped to say a few words about some of those strong prose-writers who in the greater newspapers wield more influence over the Canadian mind than most of the writers of books; but time will not permit. Not all our newspapers have succumbed to the scrappiness of newsiness. Thoughtful and finished editorials in dignified style may yet be found in number sufficient to send a note of sweeter reason through the din of political strife. It is in Canada as elsewhere; the sands are strewn with the wreck of ventures of purely a literary papers free from the ties of party or sect.” Such were the “ Week” and the “Nation,” and many others; but, although it is abundantly clear that literature alone cannot support a newspaper,
the greater newspapers have depart
ments, sacred from intrusion, where reviews are faithfully given and questions of pure literature are discussed.
And here let me pause to regret the loss of the excellent literature which lies dead in our dead magazines. From 1824 literature has never been without a witness in our land. Some magazine, French or English, has stood as a living witness that we are not made to live by bread alone, and afterward fallen as a dead witness that bread also is necessary in order to live. This is a subject by itself and would require a separate paper to elucidate it fully.
Finally we reach the region of belles lettres, sometimes called pure literature,” and here we encounter a strong contrast between the English and French sides of our community. There are many volumes of causeries, mélanges, revues, essais, in French. Buies, Routhier, Marchand, Chauveau, and all the French writers of note are represented in this class. Such writing in English has seldom been pub lished in the form of books.
I remember a book called “ Trifles from my Portfolio," by Dr. Walter Henry, a retired army surgeon, published at Quebec by Neilson in 1839. The doctor had been stationed at St. Helena while Napoleon Bonaparte was confined there, and he had some interesting things to say about that. There were other army experiences, but his experiences in salmonfishing took up a good share of the two volumes. Writing of this class will, however, be found abundantly in the contributions to the Saturday editions of the leading newspapers of the large cities. Much of it is exceedingly good, and while we read with pleasure the weekly contributions of Martin Griffin, John Reade, Bernard McEvoy, or George Murray, we feel regret that so much learning and cleverness should be in 80 ephemeral a form. I am glad, however, to recall in this
connection Dr. Alexander's “Introduction to the Poetry of Robert Browning.” For critical insight and appreciation the volume is worthy of remark.
One name must always be remembered when we take account of Canadian letters, and that is the creator of the inimitable Yankee peddler, “ Sam Slick.” Judge Haliburton unconsciously created a type to be as well known as Sam Weller, and while he was intent only upon quizzing his fellow Nova Scotians in the columns of a Halifax
he woke up to find himself a favorite among the literary people of London.
But literature, in the opinion of the majority of the present day, consists mainly of fiction. More than three fourths of the books taken out from the public libraries are novels, and the world in its old age is going back to the story-tellers. Nor are we able to endure the long novels which held our parents in rapt attention. The stories must be shorter, and the more pictures the better. This last phase of literature is cultivated by all our younger writers, and, while the task is too extensive for anything but most imperfect performance, a few words on this branch of my subject are necessary.
One remark only I venture to make in the way of criticism, that, while in science we have produced some few men who stand in the very front of their respective subjects, we cannot boast yet of a novelist who has taken rank with the great masters of the craft, and none, perhaps, who have attained to the very forefront of the second class; but then it few years since we made a beginning.
We cannot commence our review of Canadian fiction with the "History of Emily Montague,” published in 1769. Even if it was written at Quebec the authoress was an Englishwoman not a permanent resident; nor even with “ St. Ursula's Con
vent," for, although that story was publshed at Kingston in 1824, no one seems to know who wrote it, nor does there appear to be a copy now in existence.1
We must commence with Major Richardson's “ Ecarté,” published in New York in 1829. In 1833 he published “Wacousta,” a tale of Pontiac's war. It is really a good novel and contains an excellent picture of the siege of Detroit. The same author published at Montreal “The Canadian Brothers," in 1840, and afterward four or five other novels in New York. In 1833 two members of the Strickland family, Mrs. Moodie and Mrs. Traill, came to Canada and settled near Peterborough. They kept up their literary activity during their lives. Mrs. Moodie wrote many books, and from 1852 to 1860 she produced a number of fair novels. At the same time Mrs. Leprohon was writing stories. Her first novel appeared in the “ Literary Garland ” in 1848, and she followed it with a number of others.
The Hon. P. J. 0. Chauveau, in 1852, led the way in French novel-writing with “ Charles Guérin,” and was followed in 1863, in “Les Anciens Canadiens,” by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, which has recently been translated and published in New York. It is thought to be the best FrenchCanadian novel, although it was its author's first book and was written when he was past seventy. Then followed Bourassa, Marmette, Beaugrand, Gérin-Lajoie, and others, but no important work was produced.
I do not recall anything in English of note until 1877, when William Kirby published" Le Chien d'Or.” This was
Kingsford (" Early Bibliography," p. 30) observes that "it is stated " that Miss Julia Beckwith, of Fredericton, wrote this book. The same statement has been repeated as a certainty in a recent issue of the “ Montreal Star." No evidence of this has, however, been adduced. Dr. Kingsford never saw a copy of the book, and I have never met anyone who has seen it. Our knowledge of it is derived from a contemporary review.