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Jan 24 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, January 24, 1902

Ralph and de Blowitz

It is a curious thing that within two or three days of each other two of the greatest names in journalism should have passed into history, those of M. de Blowitz and Julian Ralph. And perhaps the most curious thing about it is that it is doubtful whether anything but death could have brought about the association of the two men in anyone's mind. The one by the fairy light of his artistic imagination made us see busy street and bristling battlefield, as we had never seen them before, and in a way that showed a rare instinct for humanity and drama. The other revealed for his readers the dark secrets of war office and council chamber, with the mind of a statesman and a strategist. We will recall the name of one with pleasure, of the other with awe.

The name of de Blowitz will live in the history of the newspaper as the originator of the editorial dispatch, the man who once for all time demonstrated the fact that a situation can be better sized up by the man on the spot than the man in the office. The correspondence of de Blowitz in the London Times would constitute a political history of Europe for the past thirty years such as is not at the present time obtainable in book form. From Paris he covered the continent - and the world - and Europe awaited his opinion with a certainty that if it were not agreeable, it would at any rate be a positive view plainly and incisively expressed by a man of extraordinary knowledge of public questions. His dispatches were without fear and always breathed a loyalty to England and the international interests which the journal represented has so long and notably conserved. He believed in his profession, and did a vast amount to dignify it. He bearded kings in their palaces and foreign ministers in their chancelleries, while smaller celebrities of every sort in every land furnished "copy" for the Times through his Paris office. At first he went to them; later on they came to him. Again and again did he distance all his competitors with early information about important political movements, and he was a faithful watch dog for the British nation upon the Continent, who, while he was always listened to and respected, incidentally aroused many ugly hates. His strictures upon the French Government under the Third Republic, which was never to his monarchial tastes, made him the object of bitter enmities in Paris. The animosity felt in some quarters of his daily attacks upon the French nation would have led to his expulsion from the country if Berlin had been his post, and to something much worse if he had lived in South Carolina.

But the man, whatever his faults and malices, knew European political relations as few, if any, of his contemporaries do. He had the American sense of news, the French piquancy of style, with much of the British character for stolidity and self-confidence in looking at a subject. He was a journalist and nothing else. He has left no lasting monument in the way of books for a long lifetime of incessant and un-wearying literary activity. But a journalist who does his duty well day by day will, perhaps, need no other memorial than comes from his own sense and the sense of his fellow-men that he has had a part in giving direction to the history of his time.

How J.J. Hill Left School

The deep interest that is taken in the doings of Mr. J.J. Hill, the railroad king, by the people of both Canada and the United States calls to mind a story once told of him by the Rev. Dr. Weatherald, father of Miss Weatherald, the well known Canadian poetess.

Dr. Weatherald a good many years ago was a school master in the little Rockhill Academy down in Southern Ontario, and among his pupils - one of the bigger boys - was J.J. Hill, whose father's farm was near by, and a young Indian who claimed relation to the celebrated Brant.

These two young men were by no means scholars, as that term is applied to-day, but still they were bright when it came to talking about things that interested them. "But," said Dr. Weatherald shaking his head, "the times when these boys were interested came, but very seldom, and on the whole they looked upon the schoolhouse more as prison than an institution erected for their own good."

And this was proven to be only too true, for after the boys had attended the academy a little over a year they made up their minds to run away, and so making their plans, off they started. The young Indian was lost track of, but Hill turned up in St. Paul where he became an employee of an express company. The remainder of the story of Hill's many successes is too well known to bear repeating.

Maori M.P's

The name of one of the four Maori M.P's just elected in New Zealand revives historical reminiscences. He is Hone Heke. Nearly 60 years ago there was a great fighting Maori chief by that name, a fanatical opponent of the British colonization of New Zealand. On one occasion he literally drove the British into the sea, capturing a fortified settlement and compelling military and civilians alike to take refuge on ships in the harbor. The British soldiers roughly Anglicized his name into "Johnny Hickey," and hence arose a legend that he was really an Irishman in the guise of a Maori.

The Maori M.P's are now a superior and well-educated class. Their predecessors of the sixties and seventies were decidedly unconventional and primitive in their tastes and habits. It was nothing unusual to see one of them stroll into the House with a section of a shark protruding from his pocket, and judging from the exodus of white members in this vicinity, the shark had not recently been caught. As they knew only their own language each sentence of their speeches had to be translated by an official interpreter, and this was a dreary business.

A Curious Survival

One of many curious customs which mark the visits of the judges to provincial assizes is that observed at Newcastle-on-Tyne. The mayor always makes the following speech to the judges on circuit: "My lords, we have to congratulate you upon having completed your labors in this ancient town, and have also to inform you that you travel hence to Carlisle, through border country, much and often infested by the Scots. We therefore, present each of your lordships with a piece of money to buy therewith a dagger to defend yourselves."

Then the Mayor produces two ancient coins, a jacobus and a carolus. The former presents to the senior and the latter to the junior judge. Apparently it is intended that the senior judge shall purchase a dagger twice the size of that purchased by the junior judge.

The question is, if they do not purchase daggers, whether their lordships have received the money under false pretences.

A Leonine Epidemic

Driven to desperation by the losses of stock as a result of the depredations of mountain lions, the ranchers and stock men of Northern Montana are organizing an immense drive, which will be, perhaps, without a parallel in Western history. The recent blizzard and intense cold have forced the animals from their mountain lairs into the valleys below in quest for food. It is proposed to have about 100 men engage in the chase, and from different points they will proceed toward a common center, which will be some mountain basin. In to this trap the lions will be driven and then picked off by the marksmen.

Nightly losses of stock are of frequent occurrence, the hungry animals attacking full-grown cattle with impunity. The lions are very powerful, and drag a carcass of a cow with ease. Recently a trapper by the name of Charles Hackett had a narrow escape in an encounter with a band of seventeen lions in the Fish River country.

While a short distance from his camp inspecting his traps the animals endeavored to surround him. By hugging the river he made his camp in safety, with the lions not more than fifty yards distant.

The Standard of Success

A poor boy, after a long struggle, gained an education, won his way to the professorship of chemistry at the University of Michigan, and, as a crowning achievement, says he has discovered seven new poisons. "Is that sort of thing success?" asks Kansans; but practical Michigan answers: "it is, as he makes a living at it."



(The editor of this column invites readers of The Herald to contribute questions of a literary, scientific or miscellaneous nature, which will be answered as space may permit. The contributor's name and address should be given, but only initials or a nom de plum will be used for publication.)

Philadelphia School Boys' Message To President Kruger

Americanus - 1. Did the address sent by the 2,900 Philadelphia schoolboys ever reach ex-President Kruger? 2. Who presented it?

1. Yes, it was delivered to him just before he left Pretoria for good. 2. It was presented by sixteen-year-old Jimmy Smith, of the messenger service of New York City. Richard Harding Davis remarks concerning its delivery, in his book, "With Both Armies:" "The message had been sent by the boys to express sympathy with a man who, at the time it was written, was fighting victoriously for a cause with which they were in sympathy. But it arrived when the cause was a lost one; and so it seemed as though the sympathy was meant for the man himself, because he had lost. It was, perhaps, not the happiest moment the boys could have chosen for saying that they were sorry for a man old enough to be their great-grandfather.'--"The picture made by Boer President and the New York messenger boy, staggering under his great roll of signatures, was a pathetic and curious one"-.."Your Excellency," stammered Jimmy Smith. It was the beginning of the oration he had rehearsed in dark corners of the deck, to the waves of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Kruger stooped and looked down at Jimmy Smith like a giant ogre. One almost expected to see him pinch Jimmy and find out if he were properly fattened for eating - but instead he took his hand and shook it very gravely. Then he turned leaving Jimmy's speech helpless in mid air. Each of us was as nervously anxious to have that speech delivered as though Jimmy were his only son. "You Excellency," he began again, in an excited boyish treble. The President stopped as though someone had tugged at his sleeve, and Jimmy rushed on impetuously: "I have been chosen to convey to you this message of sympathy, signed by twenty-nine hundred schoolboys of Philadelphia, which I now have the honor to present." Jimmy dropped his hat, and held out the box with its roll of signatures. The President fingered it, turning the roll over as he asked the Secretary of State to explain.

Coin Sinews of War

Historian, Montreal - What is the origin of the phrase or saying, coin, or money, is the sinews of war?

This saying probably originated from the works of Rabclais. In Moland's edition of Rabelsis, published by Garnier Freres, is found in one of the Frere Jean's speeches to Grandgansier, the following sentence: "Les norin des baisilles sent les pecunes."

Quebec Ship Laborers' Riots

Mercator, St. Lambert - 1. In what years was there trouble in Quebec with the Ship Laborers' Society? 2. Was there loss of life in any of the riots?

1. Riots occurred with occasional loss of life several times between 1870 and 1880, and perhaps later. 2. On Aug. 15, 1879, two men named "Giroux" were killed and a dozen others seriously wounded. During 1879 there were in existence two ship laborers' societies, one composed chiefly of Irishmen, who would not unload ships for less than $2 per day; the other chiefly French, who would work for $2 per day. Thus the second society was undermining the first. This, together with the long-standing feud existing in Quebec City between the two nationalities, was certain to cause trouble. Now most of the Irish lived, and still live, in what is known as the "Cove," which consists of a single narrow street, beginning at the foot of the citadel and running westward between River St. Lawrence and perpendicular cliffs rising from 100 to 150 feet. This Cove extends for over two miles. It was by the use of this road that Montgomery attempted to capture Quebec December 31,1775. At the part called Wolfe's Cove; General Wolfe disembarked his troops on that memorable evening of September 13,1758. In a place of this kind one must either conquer or be annihilated; as the cliff is on one side, the river on the other. The French society, strong in numbers, imprudently resolved to show their strength by walking through the Cove in procession. So on the bright morning of August. 15, 1879, they set out, numbering 600 or 700. "I followed them as they passed through the Lower Town and approached the Cove. Before entering it, the van of the army, who carried flags, attempted to turn aside, but angry protests were made from the center, and bolder spirits snatched the flags from the former leaders, and continued the march. Further on the water police attempted to stop them, but were made to stand aside as the French moved triumphantly forward into the ominously silent and deserted Cove. As they passed along shutters were hurriedly closed and doors bolted. I had met a friend on the road, and we had now together reached the last place at which it was possible to climb the cliff. I knew that a fight would soon begin, and not wishing to participate, I began the ascent just under the citadel. Just beyond Cape Diamond the Irish were strongly posted, some on the cliff, and some on the road, variously armed with guns, pistols, raft poles (ten feet long), and a small cannon. The French passed out of sight behind the cape, and immediately the battle began. I heard the volley of guns and small arms, the singing of La Marsellaise ceased; anon the dense mass of French cause surging back, followed by the charging Irish. But some of the French stood their ground, and from our stand on the summit of the cliff we cold see these latter, when finally defeated, were made to run the gauntlet, the Irish striking them with raft poles as they passed by. Some were sheltered by Irish women, who pulled them into the houses. When the rout was complete the water police came out, and carried the dead and wounded off the field. For days afterwards the Cove Irish kept watch by day and night. Frequently parties of French approached the edge of the cliff, and threw stones down, the Irish replying with guns and revolvers. I have seen this happen frequently on Dufferin Terrace. But the native born Quebeckers did not seem to be alarmed and ladies would promenade the terrace while bullets clanged against the railings on its outer edge. But for weeks after English-speaking men who lived in French quarters of the city were in danger of assault. The militia force of Quebec, assisted by regiments from Montreal, did sentry duty for some time on the streets. Frequently groups of four or five men would appear, one of their number carrying a gun for protection. Citizens had to reply to the challenges of the sentinel, as they wended their way homewards." Such was the state of things in Quebec during the latter part of August 1879. A repetition on a small scale of its ancient sieges and battles.

H. Seton Merriman Author of Sowers

Novel Reader, Westmount - 1. Please give a sketch of the life of Henry Seton Merriman, the novelist. 2. Mention some of his works. 3. Does he write under his own name?

1, 2, and 3. The real name of his author is Henry Seton Scott. Little information concerning the life is available. An English novelist. He published the first work, "The Phantom Future," in 1889. In 1893 he published "From One Generation To Another," in the same year. In collaboration with Stephen G. Tallantyre, "From Wisdom Court" was produced by their joint labors. In 1894 Merriman wrote "The Grey Lady," and "With Edged Tools." In 1895 "The Sowers." In 1896, "Flotsam." In 1897, "The Money Spinner" and "In Kedar's Tents." In 1898, "Redden's Corners." In 1900, "The Isle of Unrest." "The Sowers" is probably as well known as any of Merriman's books, though "The isle of Unrest" has also become very popular. "The Sowers" is a Russian story, and its hero is a democratic and philanthropic Russian nobleman or prince, who tries to help the peasantry by dispensing food and giving medical advice in the guise of a doctor. He finds it best to preserve his incognito, and is known among the people as the "Moscow Doctor." Despite his efforts, tho peasants, or moujiks, grow more and more discontented, until at length they break into open revolt. They surround the prince's palace, kill some of his friends and attendants and are about to kill him when he appears among them in the garb of the "Moscow doctor." His presence of mind puts a stop to the revolt, the people now recognizing their prince as their benefactor. Throughout the pages of this book many striking statements are made concerning the present condition of Russia. It is asserted that the government owes its preservation to the fact that it is of use to everyone but the peasant. Nothing but the want of education, and consequent lack of powers of combination, it is asserted, retard the breaking out of a general insurrection. Some day the peasants will learn to communicate to each other by means of letters and otherwise. Then, when the development of railways have brought them into communication with each other, revolt will break out on a large scale.

The title, "The Sowers," is given this work because its principal characters are engaged in sowing the seeds of popular rights and institutions which will some day be established in Russia, and because of the more immediate results which appear in their own destinies.

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