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The Young Seigneur Or, Nation-Making online

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upon cheer, while De La Lande shook the hand in his with feeling; and
the cheering, smiling, and hand shaking, lasted nearly a minute.

It ended at a story by Zotique.

"When I was a boy," - he began, in a deep, exaggerated voice, and
whirling his two arms so as to include the whole of those present in the
circle of his address. The cheers and confusion broke into a roar of
laughter for a moment, that stifled itself almost as quickly, as they

"We lived for a year in the Village Ste. Aldegonde, near to Montreal. In
the Village Ste. Aldegonde there was a nation of boys. All these boys
marched in daily to town to the great School of the Blessed Brothers.
Along the way to the School of the Blessed Brothers, many English boys
lay in wait between us and learning, and we passed certain streets like
Hurons passing through the forests of Iroquois. Often we went in large
war parties, and repeated the charges of Waterloo for hours up and down

"One afternoon I passed there alone - accompanied by a great boaster. We
behold three big English boys. We cross the street. They come
after: - get before us: - command us to stop!"

The audience were worked up into suppressed fits, for Zotique's gestures
were inimitable.

"My friend the boaster steps forward with the air Napoleonic! He sticks
out his breast like this; he shortens his neck, like this; he frowns his
brows; he glares at them a terrible look; he cries: 'I am of the
Canadian blood!'"

"And what does he do next, gentlemen?" Zotique paused a moment.

- "Runs for his life!"

The roar that followed shook the apartment. Zotique stopped it.

"But what did _I_ do, gentlemen?"

No one ventured to guess.

"I - perhaps because I was of the Dormillière blood - did not run, but
looked at the English. - We laughed all together. - And I passed along

"Messieurs, - with the exception of our excellent De La Lande, I am
afraid it is too often those who lack the virtues of their race who make
most cry of it."

The meeting now resumed its discussions.

"We require strategy!" asserted a burly, red-haired lawyer from the

"I confess myself in favor of strategy," admitted Zotique also;

"I am always in favor," said Chamilly, "of the strategy of organized
tactics, of the avoidance of useless by-questions, and of spirit and
intelligence in attack and defence."

"But you will not let us lie a little in protection of you," retorted
Zotique. "To me the moral law is to beat Picault."

"Assuredly!" the red-haired lawyer said indignantly, looking a half air
of patronage towards Chamilly, and breathing in for a steady blast of
eloquence: "It is time these ridiculous ideas which forbid us so many
successes were sent back to Paradise, and that such elections as the
present were governed upon rational principles. We cannot offer the
people directly what is good for them; because it is not what they want.
What they want, is what we must first of all assume to provide. Once in
power we can persuade them afterwards. Gentlemen, _to get into power_ is
the first absolute necessity. We cannot defeat the enemy except by
opposing to them some of their own methods. Revive the courage of the
young men by offering what they deserve - good places in case of success!
Replenish the coffers by having our army of contractors to oppose to the
ranks of theirs. If they lie, we have a right to lie. If they spend
money, we must spend it. If they cajole with figures, surely our
advantage as to the facts would enable us to produce others still more
astonishing. Human nature is not angelic - and you can never make it

"My friend," answered Chamilly, raising his strong frame deliberately,
"these are the very principles that I am resolutely determined to battle
with all my forces, I care not whether among my foes or my friends. Must
our young Liberals learn over again what Liberalism is? The true way to
enter polities is none other at any time than to deliberately choose a
higher stand and methods. Trickeries are easier and sometimes lead to a
kind of success: if our objects were sordid, we might descend to
demeaning hypocrisies, we might cheat, we might thieve, perjure, and be
puppets, and perhaps so win our way to power; we might think we could
use these to better ends, though that doctrine succeeds but rarely; - and
perhaps what we might achieve may appear to you of some value, even of
great value to you."

"Yet, no, my friends of Dormillière, your very work is to lay the
foundations of sincerity deep in this sphere, and to withstand and
eradicate the existing political evils. 'One must determine,' said a
very great man, 'to serve the people and not to please them.' If some
youth replies, 'This is a laborious, troublesome, hopeless occupation,
in which there is not reward enough to make it worth my while,' I tell
him but 'Attack it: rejoice to see something so near to challenge your
mettle, and if you meet the battle boldly so, and ennoble yourself, you
will immediately understand how to think of the ennoblement of your
people and your country as glorious.' '_Altius tendimus_! We move
towards a higher!' - The country reads our motto, and is watching what we
practise. Give it an answer in all your acts!"

Chamilly's manner of uttering these words produced the only perfect
stillness the meeting observed during the evening, for the
French-Canadians have a custom of talking among themselves throughout
any ordinary debate. Their respect for Chamilly was striking.
L'Honorable listened with a smile of pleasure; Zotique looked all
loyalty: and the young men beamed their over-flowing flowing
endorsation of sentiments worthy of the Vigers, Dorions, and Papineaus,
those grand men whose portraits hung upon their walls.

As he stopped, there was a sudden movement all about. A spirit of energy
took hold on all. Zotique, posing at the head of a large table in front
of the Chair, almost at once had installed De La Lande assistant-secretary,
to do the real work of which punctilious old Maître Descarries could only
make a courageous show; had swept towards him an inkstand, shaken open a
drawer and whipped out some foolscap, and darting his cadaverous eyes from
one to another around, despotically appointed them to places of various
service, now sharply answering, now ignoring a question by the appointee,
while De La Lande scribbled his directions; and everyone was so anxious to
find some post that there was no grumbling at his heedless good
generalship. In a trice they were all being called for at various tables
and corners, which he fixed for the operations of the Committees.

The most zealous and loquacious of those who pressed forward to be given
positions of trust was Jean Benoit.

"What pig will you shear?" demanded Zotique, (looking for an instant, as
he turned to shout towards another quarter, "En'oyez done; en'oyez!")

"I take the Reveillière."

"The Reveillère is parted among three." - ("Be quiet there!")

"Well then," - grandiloquently, - "I take from St. Jean de Dieu to the
parish Church of Dormillière."

"Too much for four?" pronounced Zotique.

Spoon pressed heavily behind Benoit, and whispered something.

"La Misericoide then," said Benoit, hastily.

Zotique shouted to the Secretary: "Jean Benoit the countryside of La
Misericorde!" And to Benoit again:

"There is your committee."

But Jean would have a hand in shoving forward his admired bar-tender:
"Give monsieur something near my own."

"Cuiller - the village of La Misericorde," directed Zotique. "Now, both
of you, the chief thing you have to do is to report to us if the Bleus
commence to work there. Go; go!"

"Salut, Benoit; how goes it; how is the wife? and the father? - the
children also? I hope you are well. Comment ça-va-t-il Cuiller?" - asked

Spoon took the proffered hand with his sleepy grin. Benoit responded by
an obsequiously graceful shaking and deliberative loquacity:

"Well; well, Monsieur the Seigneur, - We are very well. The wife is well,
the father, the children also. And how is Madame the Seigneuresse? and
yourself? The crisis approaches, does it not? Eh bien, at that point you
will find Jean Benoit strong enough. I have a good heart, Monseigneur.
Once Xiste Brin said to me, 'Monsieur the Director, you have a good
heart.' Deign to accept my professions, monseigneur, of a loyalty the
most solemn, of a breast for ever faithful."

"I have always accepted your friendship, Benoit, and trusted you,"
smiled generous Haviland. "See here, Zotique, give Benoit a responsible
post. - How different must be our feelings at this priceless service of
personal affection from those of our opponents, served only for money."

"No money!" blurted Spoon. "Taurieu! An election without money?"

Chamilly, with one quiet glance, turned away to L'Honorable. "Without
'tin,' - St. Christophe, I say! - St. Laurent!"

"Keep quiet - silence, I pray thee," returned Benoit, and drew his
companion aside.

"Why did Benoit call himself Director?" Chrysler asked.

Haviland and the Honorable smiled. Chamilly answered:

"It is a weakness of his ever since he was put on the Board of our
Agricultural Society. Do not laugh, unless at the common vanity of



"Chacun son goût. Moi, j'aime mieux la nature primitive qui n'est pas à
la mode du jour mais que l'on ne pourra jamais démoder ... J'aime ce que
j'aime, et vous, vous aimez autre chose. Grand bien vous fasse - je vous
admire, Monsieur Tout-le-Monde."

- Ben Sulte

"I am going to rise before the sun to-morrow. Would you like to come out
fishing?" remarked Haviland, cheerfully, on the way home. Chrysler
signified assent.

At grey dawn, before it was yet quite daybreak, they were on the road.
All the houses in the neighbourhood looked asleep. Heavy dews lay upon
the grass. The scene was chilly, and a little comfortless and suggestive
of turning back to bed.

"Where are we going?" the visitor asked, trying to collect his spirits.

"To find Bonhomme Le Brun, who superintends the boating
interest. - 'Bonhomme' - 'Good Man' - is a kind of jocular name we give to
every simple old fellow. 'Le Brun' is not quite correct either. His real
name - or rather the only one extant among the _noms-de-guerre_ of his
predecessors, is Vadeboncoeur - 'Go willingly,' which the Notaries I
suppose would write 'Vadeboncoeur _dit_ Le Brun.'"

Notwithstanding the early hour they were not alone on the road. A
wrinkled woman, bent almost double, was toiling slowly along with heavy
sighs, under a sack of firewood.

"See here, madame," Charnilly called out, stepping forward to her,
"give me the sack;" which he unloaded from her back and threw over his

"You are always so good, monseigneur Chamilly," the old woman groaned in
a plaintive, palsied voice, without straightening her doubled frame.

"Is the Bonhomme at the house?" he enquired.

"I think not, sir; he was preparing to go to Isle of Ducks."

"Just where I thought," exclaimed Haviland in English. "This Le Brun is
of the oddest class - a secular hermit on the solitudes of the river - a
species of mystery to the others. Sometimes he is seen paddling among
the islands far down; sometimes seining a little, by methods invented by
himself; sometimes carrying home an old gun and more or less loaded with
ducks; sometimes his torch is seen far out in the dark, night-fishing;
but few meet him face to face besides myself. When a boy I used to think
he lived on the water because his legs were crooked, though more
probably his legs are crooked because he avoids the land. He keeps my
sail-boat for me and I let him use the old windmill we shall come to by
those trees."

The windmill and the cot of Le Brun stood in a birch-grown hollow, not
far off, where a stream cascaded into the St. Lawrence, and had worn
down the precipitous bank of earth. It was a wild picture. The gable of
the cot was stained Indian red down to the eaves, and a stone chimney
was embedded irregularly in its log side. The windmill, towering its
conical roof and rusty weather-vane a little distance off, and
stretching out its gray skeleton arms as if to creak more freely in the
sweep of gales from the river, was one of those rembrandtesque relics
which prove so picturesquely that Time is an artist inimitable by man. A
clay oven near the cot completed this group of erections, around and
behind which the silver birches and young elms grew up and closed.

No, Messieurs, Le Brun was not at home; he had gone to Isle of Ducks;
and all the blessings of the saints upon Monseigneur for his kindness to
a poor old woman. - "Ah, Seigneur!"

Chamilly took his skiff from the boathouse himself, and was soon pulling
swiftly from the shore, while as they got out upon it the vastness and
power of the stream became apparent.

From its broad surface the mists began to rise gracefully in long
drifts, moved by the early winds and partly obscuring the distant
shores, whose fringe of little shut up houses still suggested slumber.
The dews had freshened the pines of Dormilliere, and the old Church
stood majestically forward among them, throwing back its head and
keeping sleepless watch towards the opposite side. Gradually receding,
too, the Manoir showed less and less gable among its mass of foliage.

If the Church is one great institution of that country, the St. Lawrence
is no less another, - displaying thirty miles unbroken blue on a clear
day in the direction of the distant hill of Montreal, and on the other
hand, towards Lake St. Peter, a vista oceanlike and unhorizoned. In
certain regions numerous flat islands, covered by long grasses and
rushes intersected by labyrinthine passages, hide the boatman from the
sight of the world and form innumerable nooks of quiet which have a
class of scenery and inhabitants altogether their own. As the chaloupe
glides around some unsuspected corner, the crane rises heavily at the
splash of a paddle, wild duck fly off low and swiftly, the plover circle
away in bright handsome flocks, the gorgeous kingfisher leaves his
little tree. In the water different spots have their special finny
denizens. In one place a broad deep arm of the river - which throws off a
dozen such arms, each as large as London's Thames, without the main
stream appearing a whit less broad - shelters among its weeds exhaustless
tribes of perch and pickerel; in another place a swifter and profounder
current conceals the great sturgeon and lion-like maskinongé; while
among certain shallower, less active corners, the bottom is clothed with
muddy cat fish.

They approached a region of this kind, skimmed along by spirited
athletic strokes, and had arrived at the head of the low-lying
archipelago just described, where they came upon a motionless figure
sitting fishing in a punt, some distance along a broad passage to the

Short blue blouse, little cap and flat-bottomed boat, the appearance of
the figure at that hour made one with the drifting mists and rural
strangeness of the landscape, and Chrysler knew it was Le Brun, and
remarked so to Haviland.

"Without doubt, Bonhomme is part of nature and unmistakable - Hola

"Mo-o-o-o-nseigneur," he sung in reply, without looking up or taking
further notice of them.

Haviland gave a few more vigorous strokes.

"How does it bite, Bonhomme?"

"A little badly, monseigneur; all perch here; one pickerel. Shall we
enter the little channels?"

"I do not wish to enter the little channels: I remain here."

They were soon fishing beside him, Chamilly at one end of the skiff
intent upon his sport. The old man's flat punt was littered with perch.
How early he must have risen! He was small of figure, weathered of face,
simple and impassive of manner.

"Good day," Chrysler opened; "the weather is wettish."

"It is morningy, Monsieur." -

"My son knows you, Monsieur," he said again humbly, after a pause.

As Chrysler could not recall his son, as such, he waited before

"He saw you at Benoit's."

Still Chrysler paused.

"On Sunday."

"A - ha, now I remember. That fine young man is your son?"

"That fine young man, sir," he assented with perfect faith.

After adjusting a line for Chrysler, he continued.

"Do you not think, monsieur, that my son is fine enough for Josephte

"Assuredly. Does he like her?"

"They are devoted to each other."

"If she accepts him then, why not? You do not doubt your son?"

"Never, Monsieur! what is different is Jean. He thinks my Francois too
poor for his Josephte, and he is for ever planning to discourage their
love. Grand Dieu, he is proud! Yet his father and I were good friends
when we were both boys. He wants Mlle. Josephte to take the American."

"Reassure yourself; that will never be. No, Bonhomme, trust to me; that
shall never he," exclaimed Chamilly.

"How did you come to know these parties, sir," he put in English. But
without awaiting an answer he continued: "Benoit is crazy to marry his
daughter to that rowdy. Benoit was always rather off on the surface, but
he has usually been shrewder at bottom. Cuiller infatuates him. He
hasn't a single antecedent, but has been treating Benoit so much to
liquor and boasting, that the foolish man follows him like a dog."

"My son has been to Montreal, - he has done business," said the Bonhomme
with pride - "he is a good young man - and he had plenty of money before
he lost it on the journey."

"How did he lose his money?"

"Some one stole it. He was coming down to marry Josephte. If he had had
his money Jean would have let her take him. - But he can earn more."

"There was a mysterious robbery of François' money on the steam boat a
couple of weeks ago," said Chamilly in English again, "I shall have to
lend him some to set him up in business here, but mustn't do it till
after my election."



The air, meanwhile, had been losing its dampness and the mist
disappearing, when Haviland drew up his rod and threw it into the boat,
and called upon his friend to turn and look at the sunrise.

American sunsets and sunrises, owing to the atmosphere, are famous for
their gorgeousness; but some varieties are especially noble. Mountain
ones charm by floods of lights and coloring over the heights and
ravines, to whose character indeed the sky effects make but a clothing
robe, and it is the mountains, or the combination, that speaks. But
looking along this glassy avenue of water, flushed with the reflection,
it was the great sunrise itself, in its own unobstructed fullness,
spreading higher and broader than ever less level country had permitted
the Ontarian to behold it, that towered above them over the reedy
landscape, in grand suffusions and surges of color.

"It is in Nature," said Chamilly, comprehending that Chrysler felt the
scene, "that I can love Canada most, and become renewed into efforts for
the good of her human sons. I feel in the presence of this," - he waved
his hand upward, "that I could speak of my ideas."

"You would please me. You said a nation must have a reason for existing
and that Canada should have a clear ideal of hers. What is the raison
d'être of Canada?"

"_To do pre-eminently well a part of the highest work of all the world!
If by being a nation we can advance mankind; if by being a nation we
can make a better community for ourselves; our aims are founded on the
highest raison d'être, - the ethical spirit._ We must deliberately mark
out our work on this principle; and if we do not work upon it we had
better not exist."

Then Haviland related to Chrysler freely and fully the comprehensive
plan which he had worked out for the building of the nation.

"First of all," he said, "as to ourselves, there are certain things we
must clearly take to mind before we begin:"

"That we cannot do good work without making ourselves a good people;"

"That we cannot do the best work without being also a strong and
intellectual people;"

"And that we cannot attain to anything of value at haphazard; but must
deliberately choose and train for it."

"Labors worthy of Hercules!" ejaculated the old gentleman.

"Worthy of God," the young one replied. The difference of age between
himself and the Ontarian seemed to disappear, and he proceeded

"The foundation must be the Ideal Physical Man. We must never stop short
of working until, - now, do not doubt me, sir, - every Canadian is the
strongest and most beautiful man that can be thought. No matter how
utterly chimerical this seems to the parlor skeptic who insists on our
seeing only the common-place, it cannot be so to the true thinker who
knows the promises of science and reflects that a nation can turn its
face to endeavours which are impossible for a person. Physical culture
must be placed on a more reasonable basis, and made a requisite of all
education. We need a Physical Inspector in every School. We need to
regularly encourage the sports of the country. We require a military
term of training, compulsory on all young men, for its effect in
straightening the person and strengthening the will. We must have a
nation of stern, strong men - a careless people can never rise; no deep
impression, no fixed resolve, will ever originate from easy-going

"Next, the most crying requirement is True Education. The source of all
our political errors and sufferings is an ignorant electorate, who do
not know how to measure either the men or the doctrines that come before
them. There is necessity in the doctrine of the State's right over
secular education. Democracy, gives you and me an inalienable interest,
social and political, in the education of each voter, because its very
principle is the right to choose our rulers. As to religious education,
that of course is sacred, where it does not encroach on the State's
right, and the arrangement I favor is that secular studies be enforced
during certain hours, and the use of the school buildings granted to
religious instructors at others."

"I notice you say true education."

"A man is being truly educated when his training is exactly levelled at
what he ought to be: - first of all a high type of man in general, and
next, a good performer of his calling. Let him have a scheme of facts
that will give him an idea of the ALL: then show him his part in it."

"Let him be taught in a simple way the logic of facts."

"Let him be taught to seek the best sources only of information."

"Let him be taught in school the falsity of the chief political

"Let him be branded with a few business principles of life in general:
such as how much to save, and where to put it, and the wisdom of

"Let him learn these three maxims of experience:"

"Gain experience."

"Gain experience at the lowest possible price."

"Never risk gaining the same experience twice."

"Seek for him, in fine, not learning so much as wisdom, the essence of

"But especially, let every Canadian be educated to see The National
Work, and how to do it."

"In short, educate for what you require and educate most for the
greatest things you require, and in manner such that everyone may be
equipped to stand anywhere without help, and fight a good battle."

"It is an Ideal Character, however, a character perfectly harmonized
with his destinies as a soul, and his condition as a citizen, that is
the most important armour in the panoply of the Canadian. Purity and
elevation of the national character must be held sacred as the snowy
peaks of Olympus to the Greek. And as those celestial summits could
never have risen to their majesty without foundations of more humble
rocks and earth; so we must lay foundations for our finer aspirations by
the acquirement of certain basal habits:"

"The Habit of Industry."

"The Habit of Economy."

"The Habit of Progress."

"The Habit of Seriousness."

"In other words the habits of honestly acquiring, keeping and improving,
all good things, material, intellectual and moral, and of dealing with
the realities of things."

"The Habit of Seriousness may seem strange to insist upon, but one has
only to mark the injury to everything noble, of an atmosphere of
flippancy and constant strain after smart language. There is nothing in
flippancy to have awe of - any one can learn the knack of it - but it is
foolish and degrading, while seriousness is the color of truth itself."

"As to the Habit of Industry, there is no other way that can be depended
upon for becoming wealthy in goods, or learning, or in good deeds.
Materially, if we can learn to employ all our available time at

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Online LibraryWilfrid ChâteauclairThe Young Seigneur Or, Nation-Making → online text (page 8 of 13)