Canadas "first and only author"1 by his own assessment, John Richardson (17961852) spent much of his life frustrated by his contemporaries failure to acknowledge his literary accomplishments. He argued that Canada alone among nations offered no honours to its writers, and in a bitter message to future generations, he asked that "should a more refined and cultivated taste ever be introduced in the matter-of-fact country in which I have derived my being, its people will decline to do me the honor of placing my name in the list of their Authors. I certainly have no particular ambition to rank among their future men of genius, or to share in any posthumous honor they may be disposed to confer upon them."2 In death as in life, Richardsons wishes have been denied, and he is now honored not only as an important nineteenth-century journalist and historian but also as the major novelist of pre-Confederation Canada, and the first Canadian-born novelist to achieve international recognition.
If Richardsons Wacousta (1832) now has a secure place in the canon of English-Canadian fiction (with peripheral attention paid to his seven other novels), no one has made related claims for his stature as a poet. In his "Preface" to the first edition of Tecumseh; or The Warrior of the West (1828), Richardson stressed that the poem was "the production of a Soldierof one who aspires not to the high pinnacle of poetical fame,"3 and later readers have seen little reason to revise this assessment. In the first book devoted to a study of Richardsons life and work, William Riddell wrote of Tecumseh that
Two years after the publication of Tecumseh, Richardsons only other volume of poetry appeared. Identified on its title page as "a satirical trifle," Kensington Gardens in 1830 (1830) owes a good deal to Lord Byron in its attempt to satirize the cavaliers and ladies of London. The conclusion to Richardsons single canto of fifty-eight stanzas promises further comment and disclosures in subsequent cantos unless the poets muse should fall victim to "some snarling critic or reviewer, / Who pins her to the earth with iron skewer."5 The absence of any continuation of the poem suggests that the poet himself might have come to share Riddells later judgement that "Richardsons muse was essentially Musa pedestris and he was wise to restrict himself to prose thereafter."6
To the extent that more recent criticism has paid any attention to Tecumseh, it has been largely to place the poem in biographical and cultural contexts useful for an assessment of Richardsons career. Carl F. Klinck notes that Tecumseh was Richardsons first book, and "probably the first book of verse by a Western Ontario author," and the "first literary account of the naval battle at Put-in-Bay and the subsequent defeat of the British at the Moravian village"7 during the War of 1812. Klinck then identifies the literary and cultural contexts within which the poem has been placed:
Desmond Pacey also stresses that Richardsons poem is "a verse narrative of Indian warfare in the manner of Byrons Childe Harold" but adds that if Richardson "had hoped to emulate Byron in waking up to find himself famous, he must have been gravely disappointed."9 David Beasley finds the influence of both German Romanticism and Richardsons personal sense of injustice in the depiction of Tecumseh,10 while Leslie Monkman considers the poem in relation to other constructions of the Indian as hero in English-Canadian literature.11 More recently, Dennis Duffy echoes earlier evaluations in finding Tecumseh a "lurid turgid epic in Byronic ottava rima" whose primary interest lies in the way in which its "pseudo-Miltonic horrifics, its dire prophecies, and bizarre combats presage the melodrama of Wacousta."12
Arguments for the interest of Tecumseh in relation to Wacousta and Richardsons later novels are easily supported. Wacoustas focus on the ruse of the lacrosse game used by Pontiacs forces in attacks on the British forts at Detroit and Michilimackinac in 1763 finds its first expression in Richardsons work in the second canto of Tecumseh. Here Tecumseh emerges as a "Redeemer" of the "stain" associated with an earlier generations killing of the inhabitants of Fort Michilimackinac, and grotesque images of Indian warfare as a conflict of "hellish fiends" tearing "quivering limbs" in order to drink "the reeking gore" anticipate similar sensationalism in Richardsons fiction. Familiar oppositions of civilization/ wilderness, order/anarchy and fact/fiction give rise for both poet and novelist to characteristic patterns of imagery focused on day/night, sound/ silence and idyllic pastoral versus martial epic. In both Tecumseh and Wacousta, the subversion of such binaries is an important part of the unsettling experience of reading narratives apparently so wedded to obvious conventions associated with period and genre.
Richardsons career-long attempt to give poetic and mythic value to the "truth" of history begins with Tecumseh, and the distinct expectations of the readers whom he addressed in Canada, Great Britain and the United States must be acknowledged in any reading of his attempt at epic narrative. Derek Walcott suggests that "provincialism loves the pseudo-epic,"13 and after the poem was first published in London in 1828, Richardson held it in sufficiently high regard to justify substantial reconsideration and revision when he prepared a second version for the Brockville New Era in 1842. The present edition of Richardsons final revision, the first since its appearance in the New Era, argues for further consideration of Tecumseh as both literary and cultural artifact.
Born in Queenston on the Niagara frontier, John Richardson was the son of Robert Richardson, an assistant surgeon with the Queens Rangers at nearby Fort George, and Madeleine Askin, the daughter of a woman "who had been in Detroit during the siege of the British garrison by Ponteac [sic]"14 in 1763. Most of Richardsons childhood was spent in Amherstburg, Ontario, after his father was named surgeon to the adjacent garrison at Fort Malden in 1802. His mother died in 1811, and a year later, at the age of fifteen, he began the military career that he would intermittently pursue for the next twenty-five years by enlisting as a gentleman volunteer with the 41st. Regiment of the British Army, then engaged in war with the United States.
No experience or event had a greater impact on Richardsons life and career than the War of 1812, and throughout his life he would recall shaking hands with Tecumseh before the beginning of the Battle of Moraviantown in 1813.15 In that same battle, Richardson was captured by American soldiers and, after a year as a prisoner of war in Kentucky, returned to Canada in October, 1814. In the following summer he sailed to Europe to join the forces opposing Napoleon. Upon arrival, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, although the Battle of Waterloo had been fought while he was crossing the Atlantic. After a brief interval as a half-pay officer, Richardson was assigned to the Queens Regiment and posted to the West Indies where he spent the next two years; in 1818 he returned to England as a half-pay lieutenant. Relatively little is known of the next decade of his life, but during this period he began his career as a writer.
Although by his own account Richardson wrote Tecumseh in 1823, the first publication that can definitely be attributed to him consists of five articles published in the New Monthly Magazine between December,1826, and June, 1827, as "A Canadian Campaign, By a British Officer." "Intended rather as a private memoir than a relation of the incidents of the war,"16 these articles comprise, nevertheless, an account of the War of 1812 from its beginnings to Richardsons release at the end of the war. The "Preface" to the first edition of Tecumseh acknowledges that "many of the notes ... betray its Author to be that also of the Canadian Campaign, several passages in both being written nearly in the same words,"17 and the New Monthly articles remain linked to the poem when Richardson revises and reprints both in 1842.
In the intervening years, Richardson published two novels set in French gambling houses: Ecarté, or The Salons of Paris (1829) and Frascatis, or, Scenes in Paris (1830), and the two novels that, along with Tecumseh, Richardson would advertise as "the series of CANADIAN WORKS"18: Wacousta; or, The Prophecy: A Tale of the Canadas (1832) set in the British forts of Detroit and Michilimackinac during Pontiacs attacks in 1763, and The Canadian Brothers; or, The Prophecy Fulfilled. A Tale of the Late American War (1840) set at Niagara during the War of 1812. In this later novel, Tecumseh appears as "one of those daring spirits, that appear like meteors, few and far between, in the horizon of glory and intelligence, in execution."19 Despite the recognition that the publication of Wacousta brought to him, Richardson returned to active military service in July, 1835, by enlisting in the British Auxiliary Legion formed to support the Queen of Spain against the threat of civil war. Although he was promoted to the rank of captain and later to that of major, Richardsons return to military life was not an unqualified success, and several later books detail his sense of injustice in the face of intrigues and incompetence among his superior officers.
After an absence of twenty years, Richardson returned to Canada in the spring of 1838. Commissioned by the Times of London to write a series of articles on political affairs in Canada, Richardson lost this contract when his sympathies with the new Governor-General, Lord Durham, increasingly conflicted with the editorial stance of the Times. Richardson had come to Canada hoping for an official appointment which would remove his financial worries, but in his pursuit of such a position over the next decade, he repeatedly encountered difficulties reminiscent of his personal mititary history in Spain, difficulties attributable in part to his own irascible personality. In the absence of a government pension, he attempted to make a living as a writer by contributing to periodicals such as the newly established Literary Garland in Montreal and by several attempts to establish weekly newspapers in Brockville (The New Era, or Canadian Chronicle, 18411842), Kingston (The Canadian Loyalist and Spirit of 1812, 18431844) and Montreal (The Weekly Expositor, 1846).
In these periodicals, Richardson serialized several of his own works including a revised and expanded version of his earlier account of the War of 1812 now published in fifteen installments of the New Era in 1842 under the title "Operations of the Right Division of the Army of Upper Canada During the American War of 1812." These articles were collected as a book, War of 1812. First Series, in July, 1842, the first of a projected three-volume series. Here, Tecumsehs death is seen as "the destruction of all that was noble and generous in savage life,"20 but the dream expressed in the "Preface" of a series of school texts which would educate Canadian students on "the gallant deeds performed by their Fathers" was not fulfilled. Only this first volume was published during Richardsons lifetime, but the reprint of this book edited by Alexander Clark Casselman in 1902 under the title, Richardsons War of 1812 with Notes and a Life of the Author presented the first extended scholarly consideration of his career.
When Richardsons long-awaited government appointment finally arrived in May, 1845, it brought little relief to him. His tenure as Superintendent of Police on the Welland Canal lasted less than a year and was filled with disputes, charges and counter-charges. Relieved of his duties, Richardson prepared for publication a volume of autobiography, Eight Years in Canada (1847), in which he examines both his own career from 1838 to 1847 and the colonial administrations of that period. As he recalls his return to the site of the Battle of Moraviantown in 1840, Richardson once again honours the memory of Tecumseh: "There was no one who could point out to me the grave of the indomitable warrior who had sealed his faith to England and his unbending determination to avenge the great and manifold wrongs of his oppressed race, with his hearts blood, and I felt deeply disappointed. I had known Tecumseh well."21 In 1848, Richardson made his last trip to the landscapes of his childhood and published an account of his visit as "A Trip to Walpole Island and Port Sarnia" in the Literary Garland of January, 1849. Reprinted by A.H.U. Colquhoun in 1924 under the title Tecumseh and Richardson, the narrative includes Richardsons account of an interview with an associate of Tecumseh who relates "the only authentic account of the great warriors death."22
In search of literary opportunities not evident in Canada, Richardson apparently left his homeland in October, 1849, and spent the rest of his life in New York City. There he published his last four novels, several short stories, and a new edition of The Canadian Brothers (with references hostile to the United States excised) as Matilda Montgomerie (1851). On April 1, 1851, Richardson delivered a lecture to the New York Historical Society entitled "Incidents of the War of 1812 Embracing Particulars as Connected with the Death of Tecumseh" with one newspaper reporting that "the narrative was of more than ordinary interest, and commanded almost breathless attention throughout."23 In February, 1852, three months before his death, Richardson gave another address on the same topic in the New York Society Library Rooms.
Embittered by the failure of his countrymen to acknowledge his claims as a man of letters, Richardson died on May 12, 1852, and was buried in an unmarked grave. In Westbrook, the Outlaw, a novel serialized in 1851 and published in the year after his death, Richardson, not surprisingly, saw Canada as a "semi-barbarous province, which, even at the present day, when affecting a position among the nations of the earth, cannot boast in literature of three native authors, while it compels even those to court a strange soil for the harvest that awaits the man of talent and application in every portion of the civilized world."24
Richardson spent less than half of his life in Canada and self-consciously addressed at least three distinct national audiences. He reiterates his frustration at being forced "to court a strange soil" when commenting in 1851 on the publication of The Canadian Brothers as a sequel to Wacousta: "Some few years ago I published in CanadaI might as well have done so in Kamtschatkathe continuation, which was to have been dedicated to the last King of England ...."25 Aside from its Siberian hyperbole, the passage reveals the irony of Richardson writing in New York of his attempt to interest the sovereign of Great Britain in a Canadian novel, and suggests the complexity of his search for an audience in this North Atlantic triangle.
As an example of early British responses to Tecumseh, later commentators have often cited a reviewer for Londons Literary Gazette who observed that "of Tecumseh we can only say that the feeling which prompted it is better than the execution. The Notes are exceedingly interesting." The apparent harshness of this dismissal is softened, however, by the recognition that the reviewer was considering Tecumseh along with three other volumes of poetry and found all of them lacking:
That a poems popularity can be directly linked to the particular audiences and literary fashions is suggested by another British reviewers comment that Tecumseh "cannot be appreciated in England from a want of acquaintance with its hero." While arguing that "the author has treated his subject with skill," this reviewer confirms Richardsons difficulties " in attracting notice to the memory of a brave and honourable savage whose name should not die in England."27
Richardsons failure to find an audience for his poem in England can be explained, in part, by changes in literary fashion. Hoxie Neale Fairchilds classic survey, The Noble Savage. A Study in Romantic Naturalism (1928), notes that in England "the history of the Noble Savage from 1810 to 1830 is in the main the history of a dying convention."28 Thus, while Richardson could pay tribute to Thomas Campbells "beautiful and affecting"29 Gertrude of Wyoming (1810), his own poem of Indian heroism and warfare on the western frontier appeared too late to benefit from the enormous popularity and the literary vogue produced by Campbells narrative of conflict in Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Fairchild argues that Campbells Gertrude is "the best English poem in which the Noble Savage plays an important part,"30 and in it Richardson could have found a precursor for his fascination with the power of landscape, his use of the conventions associated with a pastoral Golden Age, his documentation in supporting notes of evidence and sources and, of course, his location of Tecumseh within that tradition which constructs the Indian as "noble savage" in order to raise questions about the values of other societies.
Marilyn Butler has observed that "to a remarkable degree, the favourite location of English poetry in the second decade of the nineteenth century becomes the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, the route to India."31 Although Richardsons emphasis on "the warrior of the west" may have failed to redirect the attentions of his English contemporaries, his poem finds a more congenial context in the poetry of Canada and the United States in the wake of the War of 1812. Francis Scott Keys "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the best-known survivor of the patriotic impulse evident in American poetry after the war, but G.H. Orians also notes the prominence of metrical romances celebrating the strongly nationalistic feelings of the era.32 In the decade following the signing of the Treaty of Chicago in 1820, American poets produced dozens of long poems on Indian leaders and conflicts in the style of Sir Walter Scotts octosyllabic romances, usually offering a similar blending of historical and fictional characters.33 If the transitions from Highland chieftain to Indian chief, from claymore to tomahawk, and from Scottish border warfare to American frontier conflicts could be effected easily, American imitators of Scotts national romances had to reconcile the impulse to cast the Indian as hero with nationalistic celebrations of a Euro-American culture on the same soil. With the defeat of Tecumseh and the signing of the Treaty of Chicago, the Indian as threat was sufficiently removed to permit poetic romanticizing. As Louise K. Barnett notes, a concern with the tragedy of the Indians plight could be seen as "a legitimate manifestation of nationalism, for from that tragedy, what promised to be the greatest example of Western civilization took its being."34 In their search for a usable past, white Americans could cast indigenous cultures as the romanticized ruins of the newly confident United States.
While Richardson identified himself to his English contemporaries in 1828 only as "an English officer," his address to his Canadian audience, in the prospectus for Tecumseh, echoed the stance of American contemporaries in its emphasis on his own nation and on nation-building. The prospectus printed in both Upper and Lower Canada in late 1828 and early 1829 announces in its headnote that the "English officer" is the "author of the Canadian Campaign" and that he "is himself a Canadian." Richardson hopes
Identifying Tecumseh as an "Epic Poem" in this prospectus, Richardson places his poem in a tradition dating back to Cadwallader Coldens History of the Five Indian Nations (1727) where Homeric comparisons offer contexts for comprehending the North American Indian. This tradition gained strength in the United States after William Tudor argued in the North American Review in 1815 that Indian cultures "possessed so many traits in common with some of the nations of antiquity, that they perhaps exhibit the counterpart of what the Greeks were in the heroick ages."36 To cast the Indian as Homeric warrior was to construct a past for North Americas emergent nations by presenting an alternative to both the idealized sentiment associated (and dismissed) by Richardson with Chateaubriands Atala (1802) and Renée (1803) and the barbaric savages of most captivity narratives.37
American poets most frequently chose to look back several generations in their quest for Indian heroes, but their Canadian counterparts in the 1820s focused on a more immediate past, specifically, on Richardsons hero, Tecumseh. Four years before the first publication of Richardsons poem, "Tecumthé. A Poetical Tale, in Three Cantos" appeared in the second number of the Canadian Review and Literary and Historical Journal published in Montreal. Now identified as the work of George Longmore,38 "Tecumthé" (the spelling is an attempt to indicate Shawnee pronunciation) traces the leaders career from the massacre of his people on the Wabash River to his death at the Battle of Moraviantown. Eleven introductory stanzas address "Fair Canada" as the land of the poets birth, and the poems declared intention is to honour both Tecumseh and Longmores homeland. Tecumsehs role in Adam Kidds The Huron Chief (1830) is to serve as historical correlative for Skenandow, the fictional hero of the poem. With a band of warriors, Kidds "Napoleon of the West"39 saves Skenandow and his people from defeat and helps them to take several captives. At the council at which the fate of the captives is debated, both Tecumseh and Skenandow argue for mercy, and both serve as models of idealized humanity within Kidds primitivistic vision. A suggestive contrast to the perspectives on Tecumseh emerging from the poems written by Kidd, Longmore and Richardson in the 1820s can be seen in a three-page "tale" written by an Indiana woman and reprinted from the New York Mirror in the Canadian Magazine and Literary Repository in August of 1824. "The Infant Tecumseh" relates an anecdote of the Shawnee warrior at his fathers grave on his third birthday resolving to avenge the death of his father at the hands of whites whose "souls are dark in treachery": Mother, he exclaimed, give me my hatchet and lead me to the villages, I will drink their blood, I will consume their race. "40
By the early 1840s, American interest in the Indian and more particularly in Tecumseh had increased under the influence of publications such as Henry Rowe Schoolcrafts Algic Researches (1837), George Catlins Letters and Notes on Manners, Customs and Conditions of the North American Indians (1841) and James Fenimore Coopers return to the material of the "Leatherstocking Tales" in The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841). Tecumsehs former rival and the American hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison, was a successful candidate for the presidency in 1840, and a year later Benjamin Drake published the first book-length biography of the Shawnee leader, Life of Tecumseh (1841). In the following year, G.H. Colton published one of the best metrical romances of the era under the title Tecumseh; or, The West Thirty Years Since (1842).
Having established the New Era, or Canadian Chronicle in 1841, Richardson could reasonably anticipate that his Canadian readers would share American interest in Tecumseh when he reprinted his poem in July and August of the following year. The title of the paper referred to the changes introduced by Lord Durhams "Report," particularly the union of Upper and Lower Canada which was proclaimed in 1841; Richardson perhaps hoped to capitalize on an enhanced sense of nationalism in publishing revisions of both his account of the War of 1812 and Tecumseh. Advertising the five volumes of Wacousta and The Canadian Brothers for five dollars in 1842, he offered to complete "the series of CANADIAN WORKS" with the offer of Tecumseh at half-price. No surviving evidence suggests that this attempt by Richardson "to infuse a spirit of National Literature into his native land" was any more of a success than his plan to place the last copy of the first edition "under the foundation stone of the Monument to be erected to that celebrated Warrior."41 The monument to Tecumseh was not built, the New Era ended with the issue publishing the final canto of Tecumseh, and Richardsons poem was acknowledged throughout the rest of the century only through the four-stanza excerpt printed by W.D. Lighthall in Songs of the Great Dominion (1889) under the title "Tecumsehs Death." Having failed to find an audience for the poem in his own time, Richardson might have felt some vindication in Lighthalls decision to represent his poem not in the anthologys section on "The Indian" (along with an excerpt from Charles Mairs closet drama, Tecumseh) but instead to include Richardsons poem in the section entitled "The Spirit of Canadian History" along with a note observing that Richardsons "evidence in all matters pertaining to the chiefs death must be accepted as conclusive."42
Throughout his career, Richardson stressed the realism of works which more obviously evoked associations with the conventions of historical, gothic and sentimental romance. In an 1851 preface, he isolated two "objections ... urged against Wacousta as a consistent talethe one as involving an improbability, the other a geographical error"43 and carefully defended his text against these charges. The "Preface" to the first edition of The Canadian Brothers stresses that the agreement of King William IV to have the book dedicated to him recognized that the book "from its historical character, was deemed of sufficient importance not to be confounded with mere works of fiction."44 With similar pride, Richardson reproduced in Eight Years in Canada an 1828 letter from Captain Robert H. Barclay praising Tecumseh for "speak[ing] the truthan ingredient not always to be found even in an epic poem, founded on facts."45 In the "Preface," Richardson insists:
For Richardson, the autonomous visionary imagination of "high romanticism" is to be subordinated to the conventions of realism associated with historiography and biography, and the first words of the poem are "It is in truth." Complementing this insistence on verisimilitude in Richardsons fiction are the resources of romance, but in Tecumseh, he looks to epic as he explores the "facts" of history.
Behind Richardsons poetic commitment to history is, of course, Sir Walter Scott. Building on the achievements of Thomson, Gray, Macpherson and Chatterton in exploring the literary possibilities of aboriginal Scottish and Welsh cultures, Scott galvanized interest in the collision of cultures and epochs at the same time as he forged historical myth. His influence as historical novelist on Richardson, whether directly or through the early novels of James Fenimore Cooper, has often been noted, but I.S. MacLaren is unique in pointing to Richardsons indebtedness to Scotts early metrical romances, specifically The Lady of the Lake (1810).47 MacLarens interest is in Richardsons debt to Scotts poem for models of particular images and episodes in Wacousta, but Tecumseh recalls the centering of each of Scotts early poems on a conflict between political entities (Scotland and England in The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1808), or the Scottish throne and the Highland clans in The Lady of the Lake), and his use of appended notes to amplify the impression of historical or geographical verisimilitude in the poems.
G.H. Orians argues that Scotts enormous popularity after 1810 would have had little impact on American writers "had not the demand for the illustration of American themes been intensified by the War of 1812 and the new feeling of nationalism in the wake of that struggle. Animated with earnestness of purpose they turned to Scott rather than to Byron for a model of poetry celebrating national aspirations and spirit."48 If Scotts pragmatic optimism found many American echoes in the period after the war, only Longmores "Tecumthé" approaches that tone in the poetic constructions of Tecumseh as hero in Canada in the 1820s. Both Richardson and Kidd honour Byron in their poems and register his more pessimistic view of the possibility of reconciling either past and present or indigenous tradition and Euro-American "civilization." Stuart Curran stresses the influence of Scotts poems on Byrons Oriental tales such as The Giaour (1812), The Bride of Abydos (1813) and The Corsair (1814), by observing that "the exotic Mediterranean settings superficially conceal how very similar Byrons geography is to Scotts, with the same border between cultures, ideologies, religions, the same rough heroism asserting itself where law cannot reach, the same codes of vengeance...." What distinguishes Byron, however, is his determination "to plumb depths his fellow poet and countryman had covered over,"49 exploring a more threatening universe of injustice, insecurity, and uncertainty. While Wacousta is Richardsons consummate Byronic hero, Tecumseh clearly anticipates the central proposition of the later work that "man, naturally fierce and inexorable, is alone the enemy of his own species."50
By adopting the ottava rima stanza, Richardson acknowledges not only the influence of Byron but also the stanza of Italian Renaissance epic. The sheer difficulty and complexity of using the stanza in a long narrative poem in English suggests something of the daring of his own poetic endeavour and the complexity of the cultural context into which Tecumseh is projected. Years later, Richardson would cite Lord Durhams "Report" in the epigraph to Eight Years in Canada: "When we transport the institutions of England into our colonies, we ought at least to take care beforehand that the social state of the colony should possess those peculiar materials on which alone the excellence of those institutions depends in the Mother Country."51 Tecumseh sets out to present the Shawnee leader as an epic hero who easily equals "those peculiar materials on which alone the excellence" of that literary institution had developed in European culture.
Curran observes that "the romance revival, by its intensity and by the popularity of the new poetry that accompanied it, has marked the period from 1790 to 1825 indelibly with its name. Yet the truly amazing phenomenon during this time is the proliferation of epics in England, which is unique in the history of Western literature."52 Among the influences on this vogue was the prominence of new editions of Miltons Paradise Regained in the 1790s, and, as Curran notes, an attendant emphasis on the Jesus of Paradise Regained as "the last epic hero in the British tradition."53 Richardson could find a model for the four-part structure of his own "brief epic"54 in Paradise Regained, but he could hardly portray "the warrior of the west" (as Tecumseh was designated in the poems 1828 sub-title) as the Shawnee embodiment of Miltonic passive fortitude.
Writing of Tecumseh in his historical account of the War of 1812, Richardson observes of his hero that
What the poem must negotiate is the refusal to present Tecumseh exclusively either as savage Homeric warrior or as the Christ-like Redeemer with which Milton had replied to a European tradition of epic as the poem of martial power. Against reductive either/or formulations, Richardsons poem insistently argues for a both/and construction yoking savagery and civilization, martial prowess and passive fortitude, without attempting to impose facile reconciliations.
While Richardson stresses the historical verisimilitude of his poem, Tecumseh attempts much more than its authors various historical accounts of his hero and the War of 1812. As Karl Kroeber observes, "the essence of the historical method is research, research to discover factual truth. The essence of the epical method lies in its imposition of an imaginative ideal upon the facts of history."56 In its ottava rima stanzas, its four canto division, and its announcement of itself as epic, Tecumseh is rigorously centripetal in its allegiances to a European baseland,57 as it attempts to construct an "imaginative ideal" from the historical Tecumseh. It is Richardsons sub-title in the first edition that announces a centrifugal movement away from assumptions of British centrality. For many of his American contemporaries, that movement was towards the generation of a new national myth on the moving western frontier. But Richardsons "west" is at best a setting for fatalistic acceptance rather than nationalist affirmation. The pastoral episode of Canto II depicts a paradise decisively lost, and Richardson could find no adequate substitute in American myths of new Edens to justify the destruction of the old. Tecumseh enacts the closure of form associated with epic but resists the assumption that such closure mirrors a cohering of society. Both the poems manifest weaknesses and its perceptible strengths may best be apprehended by reading it as an exercise in "articulating west,"58 a meditation on the tension between order and disorder, myth and history, in their poetic, political, and religious manifestations.
The propensity of pastoral and epic to imply each other serves Richardson as a central organizing principle throughout Tecumseh, and the justaposition of opposing orders which are inextricably bound together remains a basic construct through each canto. Any reader unfamiliar with historical accounts of the Battle of Lake Erie could be forgiven for having some difficulty in tracing a clearly outlined sequence of events in Richardsons first canto. Instead, Tecumseh presents the battle as an elemental conflict in which "silvery lake" (2), "wanton sunbeams"(3), and "slightest breeze" (4) give way to "crimson tide" (111), "crashing broadsides" (149), and "thick sulphureous mists" (57).
Recurring images of mist, shadow, smoke and noise insist on the absence of clear identifications of the opposing parties and the setting in which they fight. Thus, from the silence of the landscape in the poems opening lines and the music of the British boatswain-piper in the second stanza, the poem moves to "one general cry / Of hatedespairof woe and agony" (7980) composed of the "wild sounds" (91) and "ceaseless roar" (95) of battle. As Tecumsehs warriors arrive in stanza twenty-one to learn the outcome of the battle, the smoke of cannon-fire has replaced the mists of dawn, and "all is night / Where late the battles roar was heard to ring, / And friends and foes one universal cloud / Enwraps and veils, as in a silvery shroud" (165168).
A similar emphasis is developed through the repeated use of epic apostrophes at the beginning of several stanzas (V, IX, XI), serving less as a device to shift the focus of Richardsons narrative than as a way of stressing the readers plunge into a scene of chaos and confusion. The deities presiding over this scene are personified abstractions of Devastation (5), Murder (58) and Havoc (106), and the Roman deities of war in both their female and male incarnations, Bellona (6) and Mars (75). The choice of this confusing opening in medias res with the battle for naval supremacy on Lake Erie may seem idiosyncratic given that Tecumseh was not even present, but its appropriateness can be justified, nevertheless, on both historical and thematic grounds. The defeat of the British at Put-in-Bay effectively doomed Tecumsehs dream of using the conflict with the United States to ensure a protected future for his own people. That the Shawnee leaders prospects should be determined by events out of his control complements Richardsons fascination with both individuals and nations living amid contradiction and paradox.
The poems recurring use of a decisive break at the mid-point of the ottava rima stanza intensifies the impression of evenly balanced opposites. Thus, the first stanza begins with the beauty of dawn on a silvery Lake Erie, followed by four lines depicting the ruin of both natural and human worlds by war. The balanced description of the British in the second stanza and the Americans in the third introduces a related structural dynamic.
Richardsons "thousand naked Warriors" (162) not only dramatically introduce the third political element involved in the war, but as they await the result of the battle, the warriors also encourage the narrator to meditate on the relation of uncertainty and hope, loss and desire. Pastoral longing as an antidote to the horror of epic warfare is central to this meditation:
Richardsons warriors are not, however, the pastoral children of Chateaubriand as his "Preface" to the first edition makes clear. Their response to the defeat of the British owes nothing to the idyllic fictions of Atala and René: "Then burst, as from the inmost depths of Hell, / The savage war-cry, and deafening yell" (183184).
This demonic context for the introduction of Tecumseh in stanza XXVII finds reinforcement in the Miltonic echoes of "Say who that moveless Warrior ..." (209), and Tecumsehs initial portrait owes much to Miltons Satan. "A monument of strength" (212) with "eagle vision ... [which] seems to dart beyond the bounds of space" (223224), Tecumseh, like his literary predecessor, is subject to "those burning thoughts which mark the soul of flame / Feverd and restless in its thirst of fame" (215216). When avenging the wrongs suffered by his people at the hands of Americans, Tecumseh "like a demon of the waters rose" (230), and he is compared to both "panther" (250) and "wild mammoth" (233), as Richardson plays on a European primal fear of the most notorious aspect of North American Indian warfare:
While insisting on Tecumsehs preeminence as epic warrior, Richardson turns in stanza thirty-three to his role as peacemaker and as protector of the pastoral "verdant beauties of the glowing West" (275).
Significantly, the stanzas deleted from this canto in the 1842 version of the poem are those returning to echoes of Miltons Satan with "arm gigantic ... / like some vast towering branch / of a tall pine" (Stanza 36, 1828). Gone are images of Tecumseh "gorgd with victims and with human blood" (Stanza 36, 1828), his hand "red with recent slaughter" (Stanza 38, 1828), swearing "to immolate / Fresh ranks" (Stanza 38, 1828). Missing too is a poetic tour de force in which Richardson explicitly projects his hero into a mad, demonic world of engulfing hatred:
As an alternative to such emphasis on Tecumseh as epic warrior, the 1842 Tecumseh moves swiftly to justify the savagery of Indian warfare as an inevitable response to a history of betrayals and broken treaties.
If the past is a history of bloody human failure, the arrival of the ahistorical Uncas at stanza thirty-seven pushes the poem towards contemplation of the future.59 "His Fathers sole born, and his Nations pride" (292), Uncas will play a doomed Ascanius to his fathers fusion of Aeneas and Turnus. As Uncas waits for his father to speak, the pastoral potential of "the West" reasserts itself in "those plaintive sounds from rustling leaf, / Which, in the boundless forests of the West, / So frequent woo the wearied soul to rest" (310312). There is no escape, however, to any accessible locus amoenus, and Tecumseh, as figure of contemplation, now enters the poem as an agent of action, in setting the direction for an attack on the American victors over the British.
As the pastoral associations of "the West" give way to the epic intentions of Tecumseh to confront "the foe eternal of our land" (335), the poems images explicitly conjure up a "phantasmagorical border country ... a dual universe in which worlds collide as well as coincide"60:
The final words of the canto, "surrounding gloom," not only reply to the silvery light of the poems opening lines but also anticipate the failure of Richardsons hero in subsequent cantos to find release from "his stubborn grief" (308)in either pastoral retreat or epic engagement.
The second canto of Tecumseh opens, as does the first, on the shores of Lake Erie, but by changing the setting from dawn to evening, Richardson initiates the emphasis of the canto on decline and death. After the narrators five-stanza meditation on the defeat of the British and the triumph of "War, stern War, accursed and abhorrd" (22) over "Heaven-born Peace" (38), the poem repeats the confusion of its opening by proceeding directly to a long apostrophe to the lake by an "aged chief" who is identified only nineteen stanzas later.61 Beginning with pastoral "scenes of yore" (121) populated by blushing lovers engaged in innocent dances and harmless games, these stanzas suffer an abrupt shift in tone as reflections on lacrosse lead to memories of the 1763 massacre at Fort Michilimackinac. This digression serves as preparation for the introduction of Tecumseh as "Redeemer" (85) of this "stain" on the history of his people. If a "Warrior" (85), he is also the embodiment of mercy, repentance and atonement. As quasi-Christian soldier, Tecumseh briefly restores pre-lapsarian peace to his people, but conflict with encroaching whites inevitably destroys this pastoral interlude.
Tecumsehs most explicit commentary on the relation of Indian and Euro-American perspectives appears in the second last stanza of the chiefs ubi sunt reflections:
This stanza succinctly outlines the poems controlling perspective on warfare in insisting that Indian and Euro-American differ only in the "forms of war." Tecumseh, however, differs from both Indian allies and white antagonists in rejecting "cold deliberate, systematic, cruelty" (Note II2). The poem stresses that "war he delighted in" (Note II2), but his acts of clemency and charity reveal him as "a savage but in hue and garb" (360). In a reverse pattern, the cruelty displayed by the Americans at the end of the poem reveals them as "civilized" only in the same regard.
Richardsons efforts to yoke his hero with the Christ of Paradise Regained while retaining the attributes and attitudes of the Homeric epic warrior, find a complement in the combination of new world documentary and old world convention in the imagery of this section of the poem. The "aged Chief"s reflections are hardly in "simple strains" (185) as these stanzas explore not only the challenges of a difficult form in their ottava rima structure but also a loaded poetic diction of "graceful Warriors" (60) pursuing "glowing maidens" (58) on land, and a "finny tribe" (54) in the waters of Lake Erie. Yet as the contrast between stanzas XIV and XV reveals, Richardson can accompany what often seems to be a slavish imitation of the language and convention of old world forms with images documenting a new world experience. Thus, the Indian "Maid" wears a "machecoti" (114) and her "well-bleachd moccasins" are "workd in many a wild, but fair design, / With vari-colord quills of porcupine" (118 120). In such disconcerting shifts in register and tone, Richardson is either simply writing badly or demonstrating, through such radical discontinuities, his resistance to received truths relating to both language and culture.
Having left off-stage the events of the ahistorical Indian attack on the Americans planned by Tecumseh at the end of the first canto, Richardson makes the Indians response to the death of Uncas in this conflict the climax of the second. The obvious parallel between the fate of Uncas and the future of his people leaves Tecumseh isolated in both private and public spheres. Richardson, however, is less interested at this point in exploring Tecumsehs responses than in the retributive murder of an American captive at the hands of "an aged [female] fiend" who not only scalps the prisoner but drinks his blood.
A puzzling misogyny evident earlier in the poem in the casting of Murder and Devastation as female abstractions finds a biographical explanation in Richardsons note to this episode and in the third chapter of War of 1812. Significantly, the savagery of the old woman is, in War of 1812, likened to "that of a Christian mob, to whose infuriated passions a loose [sic] has been given, and who, once excited by the sight of blood know not where to set a bound to the innate and aroused cruelty of their nature."62 In Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader "redeems" such cruelty. Having already exploited the impact of grotesquely sensational imagery, Richardson can delete two stanzas from the poems first edition in which the woman as "fiend accursed" is figured as an anti-Christ in the "unhallowed rite" of drinking the prisoners blood (Stanza 14, 1828).
Richardson returns obsessively to the scene of torture and death in the cantos final stanzas. Just as Tecumseh disappeared at the end of the first canto to pursue justice in battle, he leaves this canto after a British emissary announces an incipient engagement with the Americans. Richardson stresses in the last two stanzas that it was after this departure that the torture and murder of the American prisoner took place. While the first edition adds a final two-stanza benediction on Uncas, the 1842 version offers no palliative shift in tone. Laments and tears honour the dead Uncas in Tecumsehs camp, but the poem insistently recalls the young American victim as one "who virtuous livd, and guiltless bled" (400). The Homeric light of "morns first rosi-colord streaks" (398) illuminates a world of relentless suffering and violent death.
While the first canto begins with "wanton sunbeams" playing on the surface of Lake Erie at dawn, the third canto, opening with the same setting, also exploits the language of erotic love in its portrait of a blushing Aurora welcoming a fiery Apollo "to her trembling arms" (8). Earth is also Apollos mistress and "burning blushes mark the mighty power / Of him her lover in that ardent hour" (1516). For Richardson, fully consummated love would seem to be the stuff of pastoral and of what Italian Renaissance commentaries identified with the marvellous. Thus, Apollos power "enchains all nature in its magic fold, / And fills the atmosphere with flakes of gold" (2324) in the third stanza, and this literal transformation of the landscape becomes mythic in the following stanzas. In the peaceable kingdom of this golden world on the shores of Lake Erie, wolf and deer lie together as lion and lamb, the serpent ignores the warbler, and "the fierce voracious pike" (47) ignores its natural prey. Time stops as nature "owns the universal charm, / And slumbers in inaction" (4950) under the influence of the suns beauty and power. In this southern Ontario pastoral, Richardson finds the perfection of a classical locus amoenus.
"Man alone" (51) remains untouched by this harmony, and Richardson returns to his epic action with a statement of the preoccupation that dominates all of his work:
The potential for beauty in a fallen human world is not lost on Richardsons narrator as he describes the canoes of Tecumsehs allies gathering for a council with the British, but the "peaceable kingdom" of nature in the opening tableau stands sharply separated from the human theatre of war.
The council scene which occupies the central stanzas of this canto relies for its impact on the drama arising from the differing judgments and personalities of Tecumseh and General Procter (identified only as "the Father"). The opposition can be dated back to sixteenth-century Italian commentaries on Homeric epic in which the Iliad and Odyssey reflect le forze del corpo and le virtu dellanimo respectively.63 Achilles and Odysseus become exemplary figures in this partition, but Richardsons use of the convention is perhaps closest to that of the Chanson de Roland in which Roland and Oliver embody fortitude and prudence respectively. As "warrior of the west," Tecumseh predictably dismisses Procters prudence as "base, unmanly, fear, / Which shrank from danger as the foe drew near" (159160). Only necessity forces Tecumseh to accept Procters advocacy of retreat in choosing a battleground for confrontation with the Americans: "Then be it on the Thames broad banksI yield / To riper Chieftains and more prudent Sires, / (And with the prudent there was ill conceald / The scorn which mingled with his souls hot fires)" (281284).
Not surprisingly, Procters arguments get short shrift in Tecumseh, since the scene offers Richardson the opportunity to create a poetic tour de force in ottava rima as an epic equivalent to the famous speech in which Tecumseh attacked Procters plan on September 18, 1813. Richardsons account of the events of the war in the version published in the New Monthly Magazine in 1826 simply refers to this speech, but War of 1812 presents the address in two pages of direct quotation. Although the poem and the history book assign similar sentiments in reproducing this speech, they share surprisingly little in specific details. The demand for elevated diction in epic will hardly admit a poetic variation on "We must compare our fathers conduct to a fat animal, that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted, it drops it between its legs and runs off" (War of 1812, 206).64
Instead, Tecumseh employs the speech as its central statement of the Shawnee leaders code as warrior. Its precedent lies less in Richardsons history than in the figure of the warring Satan in Paradise Lost. The latters speech to the fallen angels in Book 1 concludes: "War then, War / Open or understood, must be resolved," and the reaction to this declaration clearly anticipates Richardsons poem:
Richardsons poem offers a new world echo:
Like many of his Romantic predecessors, Richardson could easily find in Satan the true hero of Paradise Lost. If Miltons challenge was to establish Adam as an adequate alternative hero for his epic, Richardsons is to insist on Tecumseh as a warrior with Satans eloquence and strength while denying Euro-American relegations of him as demonic savage. What distinguishes Tecumseh is its insistence on violent graphic descriptions of its hero as Indian warrior coupled with an equally strong emphasis on Tecumseh not as Satanic savage, but as a fully human inhabitant of a fallen world. Just as Uncas died in order to save his fathers life, Tecumseh, as "Redeemer," will die in his attempt to protect his people. But as he contemplates meeting with his son in an after-life, Richardsons Tecumseh remains true to the code of the warrior: "Sore was the Chieftains heart, but not dismayed: / His son had perished as eer fall the brave" (363364).
Richardsons critics have frequently been tempted by biographical readings of his fiction,66 and the opening stanzas of the fourth canto encourage this impulse as Tecumsehs narrator pays tribute to the friendship and esprit de corps experienced by soldiers engaged in a common cause. Desmond Pacey describes Tecumseh as "a direct reflection of [Richardsons] experiences in the War of 1812,"67 and the poets five-stanza meditation on human bonding and betrayal (seven stanzas in the poems first edition) suggests that Richardson in his mid-twenties had already formed attitudes that prevail in both his life and work:
Sorrow, malice, and injury feature prominently in the poets life, and an intense misanthropy dominates the concluding canto of his poem. "But this is not my song" (65) wrenches attention away from the narrator and back to Tecumsehs narrative. An epic list of Tecumsehs allies prepares for their leaders re-entry in the seventeenth stanza.
Death, deception and betrayal have dogged Tecumsehs efforts to reconcile the rights of his people with encroaching white settlement, but "Uncas death-pang snappd the tie / Which bound him latest to humanity" (167168). With panting rage and gnashing of teeth, Richardsons Tecumseh is consumed by his desire to avenge the wrongs suffered by his people. As the battle approaches, his Indian allies also become increasingly demonic. "Half whitehalf black, their swarthy forms they stain, / And look like hell-fiends raging to devour" (227228). The war-paint of Tecumsehs allies signals the distance traversed by Richardsons hero in moving from the role of "Redeemer" to that of the savage warrior "drunk with human gore" (300).68 With Uncas death, Tecumseh decisively crosses such a boundary; as Byrons "The Giaour" suggests: "The heart once thus left desolate / Must fly at last for easeto hate."69
The deletion of eight stanzas from the first edition at this point in the poem cannot be explained with any assurance. A first possibility is that Richardson simply wanted to shorten the poem in order to ensure that it could be concluded in what was to be the final issue of the New Era: in addition to Richardsons notes to the poem, the August 19th issue included six more stanzas than any preceding issue and lack of space may simply have required an abridgement. At fifty-six stanzas, the final canto was already longer than any of its predecessors in the first edition, and without abridgement this final canto would have been from six to eleven stanzas longer than any of its predecessors in the 1842 revision. Another factor unrelated to artistic judgment may arise from the tribute to Byron in the thirty-third stanza of the original edition. Honouring the exiled Byron as capable of a "nobler song" than his own, Richardsons poem also argues that "this soul of verse" "on Italias fair, voluptuous coast, / Doth waste his giant mind in syren lays, / Nor longer sings the deeds of other days" (Stanza 33, 1828). The reference is presumably to Byrons affair with Teresa Gamba, the Countess Guiccioli, in the years between 1819 and the poets death in 1824. The use of the present tense in this stanza suggests that Richardsons assertion that he wrote Tecumseh in 1823 is correct, but while he was prepared to let the stanza remain in 1828, he may have seen it as jarringly intrusive in its reference to contemporary events by 1842. Yet another possibility would suggest that the stanzas describing Tecumseh and his warriors simply duplicate images already established elsewhere in their emphasis on Tecumsehs hatred and the savage energy of his Indian allies.
In the battle scene, Tecumseh is "like some dark towering fiend, / With death-black eyes, and hands all spotted oer" (297298). To lodge a bullet in his American opponents chest is his "souls delight" (305), and he himself falls with "one look of hatred" (327) as he is about to scalp his adversary. Crucially, however, Tecumsehs American opponents are also "wild hell-fiends all" (335). Both the poem and Richardsons accompanying notes stress the desecration of Tecumsehs body into "a lifeless loathsome mass" (340) as a measure of the unredeemed savagery of the agents of Euro-American "civilization." Refusing to distinguish between the savagery of Indian and "Christian" cultures, the poem insists on the tragedy of Tecumseh as the destruction of a hero worthy of epic by a society that honours neither his humanity nor its own ideals.
Just as Wacousta ends with the curse of Ellen Halloway, Tecumsehs concluding stanzas anathematize those opponents of the Shawnee leader who failed to offer respect in death to his greatness as a warrior. Having stressed the grim future of Tecumsehs people through its insistence on the significance of Uncas death, the poem ends with a vision of American children in the future stinging the consciences of their fathers by relating stories of the Shawnees greatness. But story-telling assumes an audience; it is "a social transaction that cannot be understood without recognition of the contributory force of all participants in the transaction."70 As a potential agent of the rehabilitation of Tecumsehs reputation, Richardsons poem had failed to find a receptive audience in either England or Canada or in the United States in 1828. In reissuing it in Brockville in 1842, Richardson could conjoin it to his "Canadian" novels and to his projected school text on the War of 1812. Once again, however, he would be disappointed, and the complexity of his claims for his hero and of his own reflections on the human condition would await another century for reconsideration.
The title page of the first edition reads: "TECUMSEH;/or,/THE WARRIOR OF THE WEST:/A POEM,/IN FOUR CANTOS,/WITH/NOTES./ [Rule]/BY AN ENGLISH OFFICER,/[Rule]/LONDON:/PRINTED FOR R. GLYNN, 36, PALL MALL./M.DCCC.XXVIII." The verso of the title-page reads: "LONDON:/JAMES MOYES, TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE." The Dedication reads: "TO/CAPTAIN BARCLAY,/AND/ OTHER OFFICERS/SERVING WITH THE RIGHT DIVISION/OF/THE ARMY OF UPPER CANADA,/DURING THE LATE AMERICAN WAR,/THIS LITTLE VOLUME/IS INSCRIBED BY/THEIR COMPANION IN ARMS,/THE AUTHOR." The copy in the Lorne Pierce Collection, Douglas Library, Queens University, is bound in plain boards, quarter-cloth, with a price of seven shillings announced on a paper label on the books spine. The prospectus published in at least three Canadian newspapers (Kingston Chronicle, 13 and 20 December, 1828, the Upper Canada Herald, Kingston, 11, 18 and 25 February, 1829, and the Quebec Mercury, 23 December, 1828)71 announced a Canadian price of two dollars for the poem, "in boards, printed on the best paper and with the best type."
Although Richardsons "Preface" indicates that he wrote Tecumseh in 1823, he apparently did not begin arrangements for publication of the poem until early 1828. A letter from Captain Robert Barclay dated February 18, 1828, responds enthusiastically to Richardsons offer to dedicate the poem to him as the commander of the British naval force on Lake Erie during the War of 1812,72 and the prospectus dated March 1, 1828, announces that he "has adopted the suggestions, of numerous literary friends, to print the volume by subscription among naval and military men." By May 18, 1828, Richardson had completed the "Preface" for the book, and Tecumseh was first published in the six weeks between the dating of that preface and the appearance of a review in the July 1, 1828, issue of the New Monthly Magazine.
David Beasley has noted that the printer of Tecumseh, James Moyes, worked in Henry Colburns publishing empire, a conglomerate that included both the New Monthly Magazine and the Literary Gazette, a weekly which also reviewed Tecumseh. Beasley speculates that Thomas Campbell (editor of the New Monthly Magazine and author of the exceedingly popular Gertrude of Wyoming to which Richardsons notes to Tecumseh paid tribute) may have recommended Richardson to Colburn who in turn directed Moyes to print the poem.73 A more obvious link to these individuals and possible influences on the publication of Tecumseh lies in the New Monthly Magazines publication in five installments of Richardsons first narrative account of the War of 1812, "A Canadian Campaign," between December, 1826, and June, 1827, thereby both anticipating and cultivating interest in the subject of Richardsons poem.
In 1978, Richardsons bibliographer, William F. E. Morley, edited a reprint of the 1828 text of Tecumseh for The Golden Dog Press of Ottawa.
With a printing press bought in New York City in December, 1840, Richardson apparently began publishing the New Era, or the Canadian Chronicle in Brockville in June, 1841.74 A prospectus announced his aims and intentions:
A journal essentially literary, and of a moderate, or juste milieu tone of politics, having for its object the ultimate good and prosperity of the Country, without undue or slavish bias towards any party, is a desideratum which cannot be more seasonably hailed than at a moment when these stupendous Provinces, emerging from the comparative night in which they have hitherto been enshrouded, are about to take their initiative among Nations. Hence the project of "The New Era, or Canadian Chronicle," [sic] which the educated of all classes of society, and especially the more intellectual portion of the community, as well as the advocates of a consistent and good government are now called upon to support. To render it accessible to all classes, the terms of Subscription to the Canadian Chronicle [sic], will be four dollars a year, payable half yearly in advance.75
A list of subscribers printed in extant issues indicates that more than half of Richardsons patrons were residents of either Kingston or Montreal; other communities represented included Cobourg, Belleville, Brockville and Toronto.
Intended as a weekly, the New Era frequently suffered delays in publication, irregularities excused by Richardson on the grounds that "as the New Era does not profess to be a News-paper, any delay which may unavoidably occur, cannot, we should hope, be of vital importance."76 Richardsons distinction between the "Newspaper" of his prospectus and a "News-paper" indicates that the New Era did not attempt to serve as a journal of weekly events; instead, the paper fulfilled its mandate as "a journal essentially literary." Usually published in eight folio pages of two wide columns each, the New Era frequently devoted its four middle pages to serializations of Richardsons own work which could then be detached and bound separately. "Jack Brag in Spain" was the first of the works of the 1820s to be printed in this format, followed by the revision of "A Canadian Campaign" as "Operations of the Right Division of the Army of Upper Canada During the American War of 1812" and, in the final four issues published between July 22 and August 19, 1842, by "Tecumseh, A Poem In Four Cantos."
Despite a motto suggesting that the New Era would deal with everything and anything (De omnibus rebus et quibusquam aliis), the paper was a highly personal forum for Richardsons current interests and previous compositions. With the exception of the prospectus for "Canadian Works" comprising Wacousta, The Canadian Brothers and Tecumseh, no advertising was carried, and in addition to the middle-page supplements, Richardson printed a twelve-issue serialization of his "Recollections of the West Indies," feature articles on current cultural and political issues such as the appointment of an Englishman to the office of Queens Printer in Canada (March 2, 1842), a Torontonians views on Canadian literature (May 13, 1842), and reviews of books such as Anna Jamesons Handbook to the Public Galleries of Art in or Near London (May 25, 1842).
Apart from Richardsons work, the New Era carried excerpts from British and American journals; one of the lengthiest of these, reprinted over four issues (June 10July 8, 1842), was the New York Commercial Advertisers account of a libel suit launched against it by James Fenimore Cooper. This suit concerned a reviewers comments on Coopers version of events in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and Richardson enjoyed the synchronicity that saw the publication of his own historical account of this battle coinciding with the trial. Thus, "Cooper and the Commercial" appeared "not as a part and parcel of our narrative, but as a leading article, forming a commentary thereon, or rather a chain of conexion [sic] therewith."77 Conveniently, this detailed account could also prepare readers for Tecumseh, the publication of which was announced in the June 24, 1842, issue "as a sort of appendix" to Richardsons serialized history.
The earliest extant announcement of Richardsons history of the war stressed that it would "embrace the several actions in which TECUMSEH was engaged with the British Troops, and will throw a light upon the character of that renowned Indian, which has never yet been thoroughly revealed to the Canadian public."78 A later article urging support of the proposed Amherstburg monument to Tecumseh recalled "the pleasure of witnessing his deeds, both of glory and of mercy in the field; and of hearing the thunder of his eloquent and impressive oratory in the council-hall."79 The revised version of Richardsons poem offered a final tribute to "the warrior of the west," and with its completion, Richardson also terminated his "short livd literary periodical"80 in order to pursue work on an amplified history of the War of 1812.
The four installments of Tecumseh appeared in successive issues July 22, 1842 (Canto I, Stanzas 121); July 29 (Canto I, Stanzas 2235 and Canto II, Stanzas 127); August 12 (Canto II, Stanzas 2841 and Canto III, Stanzas 128) and August 19 (Canto III, Stanzas 2942 and Canto IV, Stanzas 145). An abbreviated revision of the notes from the 1828 edition also appeared in the August 19 issue.
In general, Richardsons alteration of accidentals in the 1828 text diminishes as the 1842 edition moves through its four installments. Substantive changes at the level of the deletion of entire stanzas are most prominent, however, in the poems final canto. From the first canto, Richardson deleted five stanzas, from the second, four, from the third, none, from the fourth, ten stanzas plus the Byronically blank but numbered stanza 53 of the first edition. Other revisions have been noted in the historical collation accompanying the present text.
The 1842 revision of Tecumseh has served as the copy-text for the present edition because of abundant evidence of Richardson having revised the text so substantially for the New Era printing that it can be seen as having greatest authority. Thus, the substantive changes in words, lines and stanzas in this version have been accepted in the preparation of the present text.
The extent of Richardsons substantive revisions in the New Era printing has also served as a justification for accepting many of the changes in the accidentals of this versiondespite a recognition of the exigencies and contingencies relating to newspaper production which may have affected the direct intervention of Richardson in the preparation of this edition. Six main categories of revised accidentals can be distinguished in our editorial procedures in the present text. We have accepted changes in the 1842 copy- text relating to the introduction of newly italicized words, the substitution of "American" for "British" spelling for words such as honorable/honourable, and the substitution of dashes for many other forms of punctuation present in the 1828 edition. With regard to inconsistent hyphenating of compounds, we have normalized the present text, referring where necessary to the first edition. In other matters relating to punctuation, we have accepted the 1842 practice in all cases other than those where the grammatical sense of a line or sentence is demonstrably better served by the punctuation used in the 1828 edition.
One of the most obvious areas in which Richardson undertook significant revision in preparing the 1842 text of Tecumseh is in the use of upper case initial letters for a wide range of personified abstractions and for key words such as "Warrior," "Chieftain" and "Father" when these designate particular individuals or groups. The present text honours this practice but attempts to remove inconsistencies occurring from canto to canto. Where no clearly consistent pattern emerges in the 1842 text (thereby making the distinction between typographical error and authorial alteration particularly difficult), we have decided individual cases by acknowledging principles apparently directing Richardsons practice in areas where he is consistent.
All changes to the 1842, copy-text are noted in the historical collation of the first edition, the New Era edition and the present text.