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A CURIOSITY OF LITERATURE.
CANADA is happy in the possession of two literatures, each
marked by peculiar characteristics, and both possessing many points of excellence. The French literature of Canada is far more copious, certainly more polished, of older origin and wider range than the English. When those parts of the Dominion now chiefly settled by English-speaking people were a wilderness, the province of Quebec possessed several seats of learning, a gay, and, for those times, a wealthy capital, where the manners of the polished days of Louis IV. lent many charms to social intercourse. While the religious professors were remarkable for their heroism in the cause of Christianity, the Seigneurs who had transferred their fortunes from France to the banks of the St. Lawrence gave a tone of chivalry to a people remarkable to this day for politeness and all the hospitable virtues. Under these favorable circumstances, French Canadian Literature flourished, and asssumed a national character at a time when an English book was a curiosity in Quebec. In its poetry and songs, wedded to music of singular beauty, is French Canadian Literature most remarkable; and it is to be regretted that the great mass of our English speaking fellowcountrymen are ignorant of the richness and variety of the works of French Canadian writers. An effort, however, has been made by several contemporary authors in both languages to introduce, as it were, the two peoples to each other. So far, their success has, of course, been limited; but it may be hoped that the spread of education, the diffusion of wealth, and consequent leisure, will, before many years, lead to a more cordial recognition of the claims of both languages. Amongst those who have endeavoured, and not without success, to unite the two sections through the means of their writers, I may mention the Hon. Mr. Royal, Secretary of State in Manitoba, formerly editor of La Riviere Canadienne, Mr. Benjamin Sulte, Mr. G. T. Lanigan, Mr. Le Moine, Mrs. Carroll Ryan and others, whose translations have appeared during the last ten years in periodicals published in both languages.
In the pursuit of this pleasing task a peculiar circumstance occurred, which affords an instance of a curiosity in translation rather remarkable. Mr. Sulte, in studying Shakespeare, was struck with the beauty of the thought contained in the thirtysecond Sonnet, and made an imitation of it in French, which he
published, overlooking, however, to mention that it was borrowed from Shakespeare, whose Sonnet is as follows:
Catching the spirit, without imitating the language of this beautiful Sonnet, Mr. Sulte rendered it as below:
These lines fell into the hands of Mr. Lanigan, who being touched with the sweetness of the ideas, and believing it original to Mr. Sulte, translated it back into English, giving it a new birth in the following beautiful lines.
Beloved, if death should, in the winter years,
And call our young life's summer back to thee.
With some great man's heart-stirring melody
And say "His muse was young as yet
More years had loaded down the limb.
And honor never to grow dim,
In this literary episode, we have a Shakespearian Sonnet reproduced with wonderful beauty and freshness after passing through the unavoidable mists of a foreign translation. Mr. Lanigan's genius unwittingly complimented itself, while paying tribute to that of his friend Mr. Sulte.
Ottawa, August, 1873.
DOMINION BALLADS-No. 4.
SISTER HELEN OF ST. AUGUSTIN.
A LADY young and fair to see;—
The old cathedral town of Meaux ;-
Her robes, of fabric rich and rare,
Gems lit the lustre of her hair
And shimmered on her neck and wrists;
The bridal veil in filmy furls
Fell to her satined feet adown,
And on the ebon of her curls
The colored lights wove warp and woof
By unseen choristers was sung,
The white-robed boys grouped round the priest, The grey nuns clustered round the bride,
And when the bridal music ceased
The vows are ta'en, the deed is done,
The sieur sleeps in Fort Royal
And still the world wags.
School Days in the Dominion.
BY E. LAWSON FENERTY, ESQ., HALIFAX, N. S.
A WEEK had slipped away pleasantly enough since Phil became
an inmate of the Groves; during this time he had made such progress with his studies, and more especially had proved himself so apt at learning some games and so proficient in others as to have taken great strides towards making his school life pleasant; in other words, he was already becoming very popular with his fellows. Strickland coming at the same time and about the same age, often wondered how it was that Phil was not tormented: he knew or at least his cousin had told him, that on first coming to the school every boy was chaffed more or less, and personal experience amply confirmed it in his case; but to his benighted mind it was hardly clear how Phil escaped; but the fact remained.