Sunday, May 18, 2008


Happy Victoria Day !

... and by that I do NOT mean "May Two-Four Weekend."

What an absurd lower-class & republican affectation! It IS VICTORIA DAY.

Here's a snippet from Sara Jeannette Duncan's The Imperialist which reminds us of what an event Victoria Day used to be in this Dominion:

It is hard to invest Mother Beggarlegs with importance, but the date helps me--the date I mean, of this chapter about Elgin; she was a person to be reckoned with on the twenty-fourth of May. I will say at once, for the reminder to persons living in England that the twenty-fourth of May was the Queen's Birthday. Nobody in Elgin can possibly have forgotten it. The Elgin children had a rhyme about it--

The twenty-fourth of May
Is the Queen's Birthday;
If you don't give us a holiday,
We'll all run away.

But Elgin was in Canada. In Canada the twenty-fourth of May WAS the Queen's Birthday; and these were times and regions far removed from the prescription that the anniversary "should be observed" on any of those various outlying dates which by now, must have produced in her immediate people such indecision as to the date upon which Her Majesty really did come into the world. That day, and that only, was the observed, the celebrated, a day with an essence in it, dawning more gloriously than other days and ending more regretfully, unless, indeed, it fell on a Sunday when it was "kept" on the Monday, with a slightly clouded feeling that it wasn't exactly the same thing. Travelled persons, who had spent the anniversary there, were apt to come back with a poor opinion of its celebration in "the old country"--a pleasant relish to the more-than-ever appreciated advantages of the new, the advantages that came out so by contrast. More space such persons indicated, more enterprise they boasted, and even more loyalty they would flourish, all with an affectionate reminiscent smile at the little ways of a grandmother. A "Bank" holiday, indeed! Here it was a real holiday, that woke you with bells and cannon--who has forgotten the time the ancient piece of ordnance in "the Square" blew out all the windows in the Methodist church?--and went on with squibs and crackers till you didn't know where to step on the sidewalks, and ended up splendidly with rockets and fire-balloons and drunken Indians vociferous on their way to the lock-up. Such a day for the hotels, with teams hitched three abreast in front of their aromatic barrooms; such a day for the circus, with half the farmers of Fox County agape before the posters--with all their chic and shock they cannot produce such posters nowadays, nor are there any vacant lots to form attractive backgrounds--such a day for Mother Beggarlegs! The hotels, and the shops and stalls for eating and drinking, were the only places in which business was done; the public sentiment put universal shutters up, but the public appetite insisted upon excepting the means to carnival. An air of ceremonial festivity those fastened shutters gave; the sunny little town sat round them, important and significant, and nobody was ever known to forget that they were up, and go on a fool's errand. No doubt they had an impressiveness for the young countryfolk that strolled up and down Main Street in their honest best, turning into Snow's for ice-cream when a youth was disposed to treat. (Gallantry exacted ten-cent dishes, but for young ladies alone, or family parties, Mrs Snow would bring five-cent quantities almost without asking, and for very small boys one dish and the requisite number of spoons.) There was discrimination, there was choice, in this matter of treating. A happy excitement accompanied it, which you could read in the way Corydon clapped his soft felt hat on his head as he pocketed the change. To be treated--to ten-cent dishes--three times in the course of the day by the same young man gave matter for private reflection and for public entertainment, expressed in the broad grins of less reckless people. I speak of a soft felt hat, but it might be more than that: it might be a dark green one, with a feather in it; and here was distinction, for such a hat indicated that its owner belonged to the Independent Order of Foresters, who Would leave their spring wheat for forty miles round to meet in Elgin and march in procession, wearing their hats, and dazzlingly scatter upon Main Street. They gave the day its touch of imagination, those green cocked hats; they were lyrical upon the highways; along the prosaic sidewalks by twos and threes they sang together. It is no great thing, a hat of any quality; but a small thing may ring dramatic on the right metal, and in the vivid idea of Lorne Murchison and his sister Advena a Robin Hood walked in every Independent Forester, especially in the procession. Which shows the risks you run if you, a person of honest livelihood and solicited vote, adopt any portion of a habit not familiar to you. and go marching about with a banner and a band. Two children may be standing at the first street corner, to whom your respectability and your property may at once become illusion and your outlawry the delightful fact.


As well, and despite its provenance, George Root's Just Before the Battle, Mother was sung every year at Victoria Day as an ode to The Queen, and as affirmation of the manifest Loyalty that Canada was founded upon.

Just before the battle, mother,
I am thinking most of you,
While upon the field we're watching
With the enemy in view.
Comrades brave are 'round me lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God
For well they know that on the morrow,
Some will sleep beneath the sod.

CHORUS:
Farewell, mother, you may never
Press me to your heart again,
But, oh, you'll not forget me, mother,
If I'm numbered with the slain.

Oh, I long to see you, mother,
And the loving ones at home,
But I'll never leave our banner,
Till in honour I can come.
Tell the traitors all around you
That their cruel words we know,
In every battle kill our soldiers
By the help they give the foe.

CHORUS:
Farewell, mother, you may never
Press me to your heart again,
But, oh, you'll not forget me, mother,
If I'm numbered with the slain.

Hark! I hear the bugles sounding,
'Tis the signal for the fight,
Now, may God protect us, mother,
As He ever does the right.
Hear the "Battle-Cry of Freedom,"
How it swells upon the air,
Oh, yes, we'll rally 'round the standard,
Or we'll perish nobly there.

CHORUS:
Farewell, mother, you may never
Press me to your heart again,
But, oh, you'll not forget me, mother,
If I'm numbered with the slain.


A well-known song to our Ancestors, and the reasons for it were ever clear to them.

Ah, to have lived in those days!

God Save The Queen. Long May She Reign.

2 Comments:

At 9:42 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vive la Reine! This would have cross-posted nicely at T.M.

The Monarchist

 
At 12:04 pm , Anonymous Elizabeth said...

<$BlogBacklinkSnippet$> <$I18NPostedByBacklinkAuthor$> @ <$BlogBacklinkDateTime$>

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home