Montreal Gazette, 30 October 1880, page 5.
Twenty-fifth annual concert of the Caledonian Society
The beautiful new Queen’s Hall contained a goodly audience last night, the occasion being that annual event which never fails to excite interest not only among the descendants of Auld Scotia, but amongst our citizens generally, the Halloween Concert of the Caledonian society. The entertainment provided on these occasions has always been a good one, but that of yesterday evening was perhaps of even a higher class than any which have preceded it. The presence of Mr LH Frechette, the poet laureate of the French Academy, added greatly to the pleasure of the evening, but even without that incentive to attendance the eloquent address of the Rev Dr Stevenson and the admirable musical and literary programme provided were in themselves sufficient to repay the audience richly.
Shortly after 8 o’clock the strain of “Hail to the Chief” were heard, and headed by the pipers in Highland costume playing the inspiring air, the President and guests entered and took their seats on the platform. Mr Robins, President of the Caledonia Society, took the chair, and amongst the invited guests around him we noticed Messrs FB McNamee, President of the St Patrick’s Society; Mooney, Irish Protestant Benevolent Society; Wilson, Irish National Society’ Mr LH Frechette, Mr H Gault, MP; MP Ryan MP; Thos White, MP; Alex McGibbon, CO Perreault, Vice-consul of France; WO Munderloch, German Consul; Rev Mr Fleck, Rev AJ Bray, Rev Dr Stevenson, Mr H Beaugrand, Prof Moyse, Mr WS Walker, Mr Porteous, GTR, and others.
Owing to unavoidable circumstances Miss Schemir of New York was unable to appear. Mrs E Otis Rockwood, at a short notice, very kindly her place and in such a manner as to win the decided approval of the audience. Miss Maggie Barr’s singing of Scotch ballads was delightful, and thoroughly justifies the appellation given her on the programme of “sweetest of Scottish ballad singers.” Mr Stuart played his violin solos capitally, Mr Mather Porteous sang with much taste, and Mr Maitland proved himself a good Scottish vocalist. Mrs T Chas Watson read well, as she always does, and was deservedly applauded, and Mr Hilton acted most efficiently as accompanist to the singers.
The programme as a whole was as follows, the addresses, which appear at intervals, being subjoined:-
Song – “Gae Bring my Guide auld Harp Anee Mair”….. Riddell.
Song- “Robin Adair,” Burns.
Miss Maggie Barr
Song – “thy Sentinel Am I”…. Watson
Mr Mather Porteous
Song – “Caller Herrin”….
Mrs E Otis Rockwood
Violin – Selection of Scottish Airs…
Reading – “Henry of Navarre” …Mucaulay
Mrs T Charles Watson
Address….. Louis Honore Frechette, Esq
Song- “Auld Scotland, I love thee”….Park
Song- “Doun the Burn, Davie Lad” …Crawford
Miss Maggie Barr
Concertina Solo (by Special Request) – Mr Maitland
Song- “Jamie” …. Molloy
Mrs E Otis Rockwood
Song – “A Warrior Bold”… Stephen Adams
Mr Mather Porteous
Reading- “Curfew Must not Ring To-Night”
Mrs T Charles Watson
Duet – “A Crooked Bawbee”… Burns
Mr Maitland and Miss Maggie Barr
Song- “A Man’s a man for a’ That”… Burns
Auld Lang Syne
God Save the Queen
The President stated that night which though not Halloween, was yet in the arrangements of that concert representative of Halloween, had always been looked forward to by the members of the Caledonian Society with considerable interest, and not only by them, but by all classes of their Scottish citizens and not merely on account of the talent always brought forward in producing a successful gathering, but also by reason of the old songs of the old land, with their grand old melodies, wakening memories of the various phases of social life in their father land. The power of reawakening that which had been embalmed in the memories, those pleasing associations, were linked with these Halloween concerts, and they ministered in a pre-eminent degree to the delight of their Scottish people, as was evidenced by the enthusiasm which they displayed at the songs of their native land, the scenes of their childhood and their youth. Throughout the programme for that evening’s concert, whether readings, or music, English or Scotch, there breathed the genuine spirit of poetry, for the Scottish people recognized the power of the poet, for the influence of the poet over the social life of nations had been in the words of Louis Honore Frechette (loud cheers)- “Everywhere had the poets marched in the forefront of the great social movements which had lifted humanity from the pre-historic obscurity to the promised land of modern civilization.” In addition to their usual monthly meetings, they had three festivals; one of the Burns Anniversary, when they had in addition to the Scottish haggis and other viands so amply supplied by the host of the St Lawrence Hall, songs and sentiments, and addresses from the Rev James Roy, the Rev AJ Bray, and Professor Moysey of the McGill University. The second was their annual gathering for the games, at which the Governor General, the Lieutenant-Governor, the ex-Lieutenant Governor, Mr Macdonald, Mayor Rivard, and many other leading citizens were present, and seemed to be quite pleased to be present, and seemed to be quite pleased to be present, so that they seemed to be all.” Auld John Thompson’s bairns.” (Applause). Their third celebration was that of Halloween, which they were then celebrating. Their society had lost nothing of its prestige but rather gained in its influence. Although national in its name, it was not concerned with either bigotry or uncharitableness; it recognised neither caste nor class, for with it “the rank is but the guinea stamp, the man’s the go’und for all that.” (Applause) Any true hearted honest citizen of Scottish descent had access to their society, and he was going to say “If he be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, Barbarian or Scythian.” They recognized no sects in religion, no parties in politics in the qualifications for membership; neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Jacobite nor Hanovarian; they could sing with the Ettrick Shepherd or Bonnie Prince Charlie for the love of the music and of the poetry, but they also could say with Robert Burns that he who, in certain emergencies, “would not sing God Save the King, should hang as high as the [illegible].” (Applause) But they were blamed by some people as being so swiftly clannish; the Caledonian Society was the most cosmopolitan society in the city; they had upon their platform from time to time English, Scotch and Irish orators, and one of the Englishmen about two years ago, at their Burns Anniversary delivered one of the most eloquent addresses that every yet delivered on a Caledonian platform- he referred to the Rev Dr Stevenson (applause) and they had these that night as a [illegible] who once possessed this land, one whom the most gifted sons of France had delighted to honor, the poet laureate by the French Academy, Mr Louis Honore Frechette (Loud applause). They were proud to have him with them there, both as a Canadian and as a Frenchman. In the old war times France was oftentimes the ally of Scotland, and in these times of peace, and in this land of Canada they should join hand in hand with their French Canadian fellow citizens in the common cause, that cause which was stamped in the history and literature of Scotland and of France, and on the pages of the political religious and social history of Canada. (Applause) Let the sons of Scotia emulate the poet Laureate of the French Academy, and stand in a noble rivalry of intellectual achievement; let them also seem with him to make classic ground of this Canada of ours, and let them pray that come it might as come it would, the day when “man and man the world o’er shall brithers be and a’ that.” (Loud applause.)
The President introduced Mr Frechette in a few cordial words.
Mr L Frechette, who was loudly applauded, then spoke as follows:- Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, although far from being equal to the task imposed upon me, I nevertheless feel in duty bound to offer my thanks to the officers of your association for their courtesy in inviting me to address a few words to this distinguished and brilliant assemblage. It flatters one, personally, and as a French-Canadian I feel particularly gratified. It is not customary with our national and literary societies to invite persons of different origin- unless it is as officers of sister societies – to take an active part in the programme of a celebration like this. The exception made in my favour this evening, is not of course due to my personal merit and ability; but I see in it a most encouraging symptom for the future; a consoling evidence that the four races who have been called by providence to work the destinies of this great and beautiful country of ours, are every day more and more impressed by a spirit of union. (Cheers) I see in it a peremptory proof that we understand better and better every day that patriotism makes it a sacred duty for us to live and work together as one great family, if we want to enter seriously the path which leads to public prosperity and national grandeur. (Cheers) It shows that some of us, at least, foresee the inevitable fact that sooner or later one day will come in Canada when there will be no more French, English, Scotch or Irish, but only one gallant people called the Canadian nation. (Loud Applause) Not that any one of us, ladies and gentlemen, will have to repudiate or forget the glorious traditions of his Mother country. Oh! No! we can never be too proud of the luminous track which our respective forefathers have left in the history of the world and civilization. It would be a crime not to remember it. But that national pride, so noble and so natural, must become for every branch of the Canadian nationality a source of generous emulation. All the good and sound qualities which characterize each of them must, like different precious metals, amalgate together in a strong and brilliant ensemble, which will become as the soul and distinctive feature of the new community whose foundation we have been entrusted with. (Cheers) And, ladies and gentlemen, no better ground could have been selected for an illustration of this desirable fusion than that chosen to-night – the literary and artistical ground. This is a field where all nationalities can proclaim their heroes, and boast of them freely without wounding the feelings of other people; for the great writers and the great writers and the great artists never shed blood, and never founded their fame on the humiliation of others; but devoted their lives to raise the imperishable but peaceful monuments to the genius of their race and humanity at large. Victor Hugo, Walter Scott, Burns, Byron, Thomas Moore, Dante or Schiller; these heroes –although bearing so strangely the stamp of their Mother lands- do not exclusively belong to any of them, but their glory is a legacy of which every nation of the world has a right to claim a part. A great poet, a great artist honours his native country, but his works and genius are cosmopolitan, and belong to humanity. All the greatest literary men of the world were more or less humanitarians and humanists. (Cheers) Take Robert Burns for instance. No one more than the sublime peasant of Ellisland ever so vividly reflected the character of lofty independence, of noble generosity and patriarchal hospitality which so highly distinguish the sons of old Scotland – the sons of old Scotland.
“Famed for martial deeds and sacred song,”
As the poet says ; the proud nation, who, as the post says again,
“Will not be, nor have a slave!”
No one did ever so boldly sing the world-renowned valour of the brave Highlanders, whose claymores so undauntedly defended the soil of old Caledonia that it is the only corner of Europe which the Romans, masters of the rest of the world, never succeeded to conquer! (Loud Cheers) Listen to these lines, so energetic in their pleasant humour:-
Thus bold independent, unconquered and free,
Her bright course of story forever shall run;
For brave Caledonia immortal must be,
I’ll prove it from the Euclid, as bright as the sun;
Rectangle-triangle the figure we’ll choose,
The upright is Chance, and Old Time is the base;
But brave Caledonia’s the hypothamuse;
Then ergo shall match them, and watch them always!
And yet Robert Burns, the patriotic ballad singer, whose noble inspirations are so strongly impregnated with the characteristics of Ossian’s native mountain, Robert Burns himself “allowed” to use an expression of our great Lamartine, “his patriotism to extend beyond races and frontiers.” And of this I want no further proof than his particular affection for the French language. French quotations and sayings are to be found at almost every page of his beautiful letters to Thompson, Ainslie and others of his friends and especially in his autobiography addressed Dr Moore. Nay, we read whole lines in French in his poetical epistle to Major Logan, which everybody is acquainted with. (Cheers) but there is nothing astonishing in the fact that the great singer of “Bonnie Jess” in his love for humanity, had a small preference for France, the sister of Scotland by origin, and her constant friend by tradition. In many a page of history do we find the two nations hand in hand on the same battle field, rivalling in peaceful and courteous tournaments, and commenting their fraternal union by royal marriages and court festivities – from the day when John Balliol and Phillippe le Bel ranged their chivalry in one phalanx under the walls of Dunbar, till the date when the son of the old Scots, who was to be James I, crossed the channel to receive his education at the Court of Charles V; from the hour when James V led to the altar Marie de Lorraine, widow of Louis I d’Orleans to make her Queen of Scotland, down to this romantic and sad period when the beautiful daughter the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots left the shores of Normandy singing –
Adieu, plaisant pays de France
Pays que je vois tant cherir,
Berceau de mon [illegible] enfance
Adieu, te quitter s’est mourir!
(Cheers) This touching sympathy between the two countries ha d its echo in the minds of the most celebrated writers; and if France [illegible] of having always been foremost in the rank of nationalities her [illegible] scholars of all kinds, her sister, Scotland, although hardly one sights in population has nothing to envy her, when she can register on the tablets of human genius names like those of Walter Scott, Campbell, Hume, McPherson, Smellet, Armstrong, Blair, Thompson, Ramsay, Hunter, MacLaurin, Gregory, Robert Burns, and so many other great minds, who have made their country illustrious in all branches of knowledge. (Applause) Some people may say the Scotch are proud. They have a right to be proud. And I know of no greater virtue than national, even personal pride, when understood in the right sense of the word. Yes, Scotchmen are proud, but when we recall to our mind those heroic deeds of the Scots of old Normans and Saxons, the marvellous campaigns of William Wallace and Robert Bruce; when our memory dwells upon those romantic times of Richard, the lion-hearted king; when we dream of those legendary heroes, Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Cedric the Fair, and of all those chivalrous characters exhumed from the darkness of old traditions by that great magician, Sir Walter Scott, we cannot by acknowledge that no pride is more legitimate than theirs. (Cheers) Let us all be proud, ladies and gentlemen; proud of our origin, of our race and mother countries. But before all, let us be proud of our beautiful Canada, the land of our birth, or the land of our choice, who has had her brilliant history also, and whose future destinies are still more brilliant, if – as I said in the beginning of these remarks- we are all ready to walk shoulder to shoulder in the right path! This will be done, I know it, ladies and gentlemen. A circumstance like this is a step in that direction. If we only understand our interest, we shall be a great and glorious nation; and our children will glory over the fact that they can retrace their origin to a set of patriotic men, who, forgetting the strifes of the past, Fontenoy, Bannockburn, Waterloo and the Plains of Abraham, heartily united their energy and good sentiments towards one generous sand noble aim- the happiness of their common country. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your kind attention and your indulgence for my broken English. (Long and prolongued applause.)
The Rev Dr Stevenson then addressed the gathering in an admirable address. He said that their society had hit upon the right thing in bringing together to celebrate Halloween all the varied elements of the Dominion; they had heard one of the beautiful French nationality, one whose musical French nationality, one whose musical voice and eloquent words had given a thrill to their Canadian patriotism. He was there as an humble representative of England; the Scotch element was plentifully represented, and as to the Irish that also was represented, because they were said to be fond of a practical joke or a bull, and they were celebrating Halloween when it was not Halloween at all. (Laughter) But they were blending on that occasion the various nationalities, as they were told by Mr Frechette to do, and he hoped it was an omen that out of blending a glorious nationality would grow, that would be better than any one of the races of which it was composed. In regard to Halloween he might say that Halloween was Burns, for Burns had allowed the inspiration of Halloween to rush through his veins, and mingle itself with his very blood. The Scottish nationality had expressed itself upon the history of the English speaking race in a marvellous way, the reason being that the country was classical in the noblest and truest sense. It might be said of Scotland as Dr Holmes said of England, that one-half of her dust had walked and rested on the poets, the heroes and the prophets. Scotland seemed to him to be filled with the shadows or the ghosts of the past had gone far to make the Scotch people what the Scotch people were to-day. Very strange people, too, they were in many of their characteristics, but they had written their names upon the history of the literature and enterprise of the world. In literature there was the glowing and the glorious name of Robert Burns. What gave him the hold he had and always would have upon the hearts and the imagination of men? Was it not that he was a free born product of the associations of which he spoke, the poet who had brought the world into contact with the poetry of human life? There was not a department of human thought that these associations had not touched; take Scott, who had lit up the whole country with a halo of romance, who had made Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine his own; then there was Campbell who seemed to have been somewhat neglected of late, but who was one of the sweetest singers of his time and who also sang to the tones of liberty, the advancement of the human race, and the progress of great and glorious ideas. Then in the realm of profounder thought, they had David Hume of whom Gibbon said regarding him as a historian, that “every sentence he read filled him with mingled emotions of despair and admiration” – despair, because he could not hope to equal the marvellous and matchless style, and the admiration at its wonderful beauty. Then he was, in many senses, the father of modern philosophy, for Reid, Stewart and Hamilton were his followers; and in antagonism to him had arisen Herbert Spencer and Stuart Mill. Further he had also given rise to Cousins and Renen in France, to Kant, Hegel, Schelling in Germany, and Scotland had a right to claim him as being the “father of them all.” In enterprise also the Scotchmen were ever foremost. This was due, he believed to the firmness of the Scottish character, to its invincibility of will. This was shown in the case of Livingstone , whose ashes were in Africa, but whose heart was in the grand sanctuary of the nation, as it ought to be, Westminster Abbey. That grand history which had been an inspiration in the past might be an inspiration still. He was glad to see their fellow countrymen Mr Frechette and to have listened to his wise words, they [illegible] the distinguished honor that he had received. They consisted of various elements, it was true, but every great nation had consisted of various elements. Was it not a sure and certain sign that there was a great future in store for this people? Here we had the sons of fair and beautiful France, France that sung the sons of poetry that hung around her flag the lilies of romance and of chivalry; here we had the sons of green Hein and “the harp that once through Tam’s Hall the soul of music shed “should shed it here is a happier generation; then we had the English race with its great governmental powers, wisdom and forethought. All those united on this soil of Canada would blend into something more beautiful and noble, he would not say greater than the past, but which would be the child of the mighty past and would win victories for enlightenment, liberty, human progress and the well-being of the future race. (Loud Applause)