THE FRENCH CANADIANS
In an article under the heading “French and English in Canada,” which appeared in our issue of the 1st, “Alpha,” through a misunderstanding attributed the disparaging remarks to which he replied to the St. John Globe of Jan. the 18th, when it had only be reproduced from a Halifax contemporary, by that paper – with a refutation from the Editor in another column, which escaped our notice. We fully endorse “Alpha’s” remarks with regard to the article in the Halifax paper as that was its raison d’être.
We are sorry this mistake should have occurred, as we would not like to bear the responsibility of countenancing any act of injustice toward our contemporaries.
Below we give the opinion of the Globe with reference to the article reproduced from the Recorder:
“In another column is printed a portion of an article from a Halifax contemporary giving some facts and some speculations in regard chiefly to the French of Canada. The whole subject is one that cannot easily be disposed of in a newspaper article. By reason of their numbers, industry, wealth and ability, the French speaking people exercise a very important influence in Canada, an influence that very largely affects all the movements of the country. We believe that an acute and critical observer to-day, who would scan closely the intellectual activity and life of the French Canadian people, would find that it is moving along certain lines of independent thought more briskly than the English speaking people. Their’s is a far higher and more lively literature than the English, because it does not too slavishly follow old models. The reason it does not too slavishly follow old models is that it is a practically independent literature. It is true it uses the French language, but it is as independent of any purely French domination as the literature of the United States, using the English language, is of English domination. In Canada the French does not look for any union with old France, so far, at least, as can be observed; nevertheless there is an intense feeling for “our literature, our language, our laws.” The thought of French Canada is fully independent and for itself, for the perpetuation here of a Canadian existence in a development of French forms. Although attached by a political tie to England that tie does not in the slightest degree affect the French development and growth. The English speaking people turn to England for models in almost everything in the nature of pure thought, and in the expression of sentiments and ideas. The French Canadians develope their own ideas; the leaven is within. So far as the world of ideas is concerned they are more like the Spanish-speaking independent republics of South America than they are like a dependency. Their only colonialism is in their practical politics, their political theories are far ahead of their practices. A great many persons unthinkingly judge of them by the farmers and habitans whom they meet in the market places, but there is a cultured, learned and elegant French society in Canada, a spirited and energetic and capable body of young literary men, whose equal as a whole we have not in English Canadian literature, although we have here and there some noble aspirants. Some of these young literary men have sought honors recently in France, but that is not because they seek a union with France, but simply for the same reasons that American writers have competed with English writers: They have gone where the field is the broadest, and they have done this in the interest of a purely (French) Canadian literature. There may have been a time, (we are not sure there was or was not), when learning was neglected among the ordinary French Canadian people, but if there was such a time it is well in the past, for now cheap and well equipped colleges everywhere abound, and learning at every country cross-road stimulates the young French Canadian and inspires him to vigorous action in the race for knowledge. As for “the thorough absorption of the French element” it is a dream as this at present looks. Quite the reverse may happen. Happily, race changes, if they do not bring about armed conflict, are quite painless, and, we presume, the country will peacefully move along to its destiny.”