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"Even in this Canada of ours" : suffering, sympathy, and social justice in late-Victorian Canadian social… Fiamengo, Janice Anne 1996

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"Even in this Canada of Ours": Suffering, Sympathy, and Social Justice Late-Victorian Canadian Social Reform Discourse by JANICE ANNE FIAMENGO B. A., The University of British Columbia, 1986 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1988 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY ( ^ / B R J T ^ H COLUMBIA April 1996 © Janice Anne Fiamengo, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of ETn l^lSfv The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date April g g , DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T Social historians have identified in late nineteenth-century English Canada a passion for social reform, largely initiated and organized by white, middle-class, Protestant Canadians, and designed to teach Canadian society greater compassion, equality, and humanity. Responding to the changes wrought in a rapidly industrializing, expanding nation, social reformers hoped to alleviate the suffering caused by social hierarchies, particularly the physical distress of the working poor and the stifling confinement of middle-class women. During this same period, a developing nationalist discourse insisted that Canada, for reasons of its youth, political institutions, climate, and racial composition, was already far in advance of other nations in its superior tolerance, egalitarianism, and sympathy for the weak. The tensions, accommodations, and contradictions resulting from the intersection of nationalist and reform discourses is the focus of my study. Although the social concerns of this period have been the subject of a number of recent sociological and historical studies, very little attention has been paid to social criticism in English-Canadian literary texts. To remedy such neglect, this study examines the social problem novel in the context of a broad range of non-literary texts, such as addresses to the Royal Society, social reform essays, political editorials, and reports to reform organizations. I analyze how these texts together produce, contest, or defend an ideal of Canada as a classless, just, and harmonious New World nation. To examine this problematic and productive conjunction of nationalism and social criticism, I give close attention to three novels that form the centre-piece of my study: Agnes Machar's Roland Graeme. Knight (1892), Joanna Wood's The Untempered Wind (1894), and Amelia Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls (1895). Reading these three novels as representative in their discursive strategies, I conclude that the social problem text took on the task of generating compassion among the educated and influential middle classes for the socially marginal in Canadian society: the poor, the intemperate, the fallen, and the transgressive. In these texts, compassion depends on the representation of undeserved, Ill decorous suffering. Through such representations, these novels are engaged in two processes of definition. They define appropriate objects of philanthropic intervention at the same time as they define the nature and the boundaries of the sympathetic Canadian community. Social problem literature constructs ideal figures deserving hitherto-denied inclusion in this community, but invariably these narratives also identify and expel those who fall outside the community's bounds. Thus, social problem discourses reveal some of the fundamental cultural debates of the period and give us insight into the creation and consolidation of a hegemonic humanist ethic that continues to dominate representations of Canada and social justice today. iv T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements INTRODUCTION Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four CONCLUSION Critical Context Questions of Genre Methodology Rationale Outline of Further Chapters Nationalism, Uncertainty, and Narratives of Inclusion The Construction of Canada Literature and Nationalism The Publishing Industry in Canada Social Reform and Social Control Maternal Feminism and Social Reform Sympathy and Social Investigation in the Writing of Agnes Maule Machar Introduction and Context The Sympathetic Community Investigation Fear Sympathy and the Fallen Woman in The Untempered Wind Introduction and Context Social Constructions of the Fall Determinism and the Sympathetic Narrative Reading, Representation, and Woman's Desire The Reciprocal Ideal Degeneration Disciplining the New Woman in Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls Introduction and Context The Search for Love and the Construction of Femininity Displacement, Discipline, and Anglo-Saxon Domesticity Class, Compatibility, and the Urban Threat The Question of Literary Value Directions for Further Work iv 1 4 18 22 25 27 32 37 57 65 67 70 79 82 91 111 129 147 148 157 162 168 178 188 208 209 216 232 249 267 277 Works Cited 283 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Probably every thesis writer experiences periods of despondency and self-doubt; at these times, only the support and encouragement of sympathetic readers carry one through. Professors Egan and Ricou have been generous and patient throughout the process: I have valued their constructive criticism of content and kind pruning of stylistic atrocities. I would probably not have begun, much less finished, a Ph.D. without my supervisor's calm, steady belief in my abilities. Professor KroTler's directions, good humour, and faith have been sustaining. Throughout the course of this project, I have participated in two thesis groups, the members of which have provided rigorous criticism, much-needed perspective, and timely props to my self-esteem. For their countless hours of careful reading and astute critical engagement, I thank Professor Egan again, Jenny Lawn, Liz McCausland, and Peter Wilkins. Gabi Helms was part of one thesis group, and also deserves special thanks for proof-reading the entire manuscript—and losing sleep into the bargain-at a particularly stressful stage of its completion and of her own work. (Any remaining typos are entirely my own additions). I would probably not have managed my oral defence successfully without the probing and at-times merciless "practice oral" so kindly participated in by Gabi Helms, Ameen Merchant, Jeff Miller, and Lesley Ziegler, who showed themselves to be extremely intelligent examiners. I am also grateful to Scott McFarlane for helping me to clarify my thinking on theoretical issues pertaining to my thesis. Personal thanks for their love and nurturing are due to my parents, Helen and Vince Fiamengo, and to my dear friends Lesley Ziegler, Sook C. Kong, Ameen Merchant, and Donna Kurek. Special thanks to Clare Hauer for listening to long digressions on Foucault and for understanding when the thesis was off limits for discussion. INTRODUCTION •1 I take the title for this study from an essay by Agnes Maule Machar entitled "Voices Crying in the Wilderness" (1891). Published in The Week, the essay is a defence of the American radical Episcopalian Father J. Huntington, whose Georgite ideas had been attacked by George Grant, Principal of Queen's University and a friend of Machar's, when Huntington toured Canada that year.1 In supporting Huntington together with Salvation Army leader General Booth, Machar criticizes the discrepancy between Christian teachings and contemporary urban-industrial conditions, particularly the injustice that the employed must consider themselves fortunate if they can 'make both ends meet' in a bare subsistence; if their cramped bodies have a roof that will keep out the rain, walls that will afford some adequate protection from the winter's frost, and a floor not charged with hidden germs of disease; an ideal by no means frequently realized even in this Canada of ours. (169) The idea and its manner of expression are characteristic of Machar, as is particularly that final phrase; and the phrase is especially pertinent to Anglo-Canadian social reform writing in general. As an expression of regretful truth-telling, the phrase is suggestive of Protestant social reformers' ambivalence, tendency to qualify, defensiveness, and nationalistic preoccupations. With that phrase, Machar both recognizes the existence of social problems in Canada and emphasizes Canada's special status as a place potentially free of injustice and social ills, establishing Canada as an attainable ideal even as she acknowledges the nation's failures.2 Like many of the writers I have encountered in my 1 For an overview of the controversy, see Cook 1985, 186-90. 2 The phrase is also potentially ironic. In his discussion of patriotic verse in Our Intellectual Strength and Weakness. J. G. Bourinot quotes from a Mr. Edgar's national song entitled "This Canada of Ours": Strong arms shall guard our cherished homes When darkest danger lowers, And with our life-blood we'll defend This Canada of ours, Fair Canada, Dear Canada, This Canada of ours. (1893, 26) 2 research for this study, Machar struggles with the question of how one could express love for one's country and criticize it at the same time; for many reformers of the last two decades of the nineteenth century, both of these expressions were urgent. I became interested in the subject of social reform writing through my reading in late nineteenth-century Anglo-Canadian social and intellectual history, which revealed an aspect of Canada's past that I had not previously known: a generation struggling to influence the nation's destiny and to bring Canada into line with the ideal, expressed by Machar, of a nation without suffering. Historians have defined the progressive reform movement as one of the defining features of the period. Carol Lee Bacchi contends that "a reform spirit characterized the age" (1983, 7-8). The title chosen by Richard Allen for his study of the Social Gospel identifies the movement as a "social passion" that swept through churches, benevolent institutions, schools, and reformatories (1971). Ramsay Cook has called the social reformers of late-Victorian Canada "the regenerators" to distinguish both the religious underpinnings and the far-reaching nature of the reforms these visionaries sought to implement (1985, 3). The late nineteenth century saw a significant growth in reform organizations, largely in response to the dislocations and social transformations of industrialization and urbanization; at the same time, reformers acted in response to the perceived need to create healthy, productive citizens for the newly created nation. Whether the reform impulse deserves the adjective "progressive" has been much debated among social historians over the last fifteen years. Bacchi, for one, defines the movement as conservative, as an anxious and self-protective response to perceived social disintegration: "[tjemperance, the Canadianizing of the foreigner, the battle against prostitution, the campaign for compulsory education, the desire to rescue delinquents—all reveal a common desire to restore a degree of control over society and chiefly over its deviants" (1983,9). This dissertation as a whole is an extension, elaboration, and interrogation of Bacchi's influential assessment in the realm of representation; rather than focusing on specific historical phenomena, as Bacchi does, I examine the social reform movement as a set of 3 discursive practices3 aimed at building an imaginary version of the Anglo-Canadian nation state. What kind of nation "this Canada of ours" would be, and which people qualified for citizenship, are the central questions my study attempts to answer. In my research, I was interested to discover whether this preoccupation with shaping Canada's destiny and defining the nature of its society found expression in the novels of the period. I was particularly interested to see whether women writers were as involved in producing this literature as they were in organizing and staffing reform organizations. While philanthropic and suffrage activity provided one of the few opportunities for women to enter the public sphere, novel-writing provided "a platform for the dissemination of ideas about society" at a time when "almost all other intellectual occupations were closed to them" (Dean 1991, 7). I began to read in the period, and discovered how little criticism exists on this body of writing. Although my main focus is the novel, I also give a great deal of attention to non-literary texts because I am interested in the relationship between the novel and its contexts, which I find in the essays, reports, and speeches of social purity activists, medical inspectors, religious leaders, social welfare advocates, political economists, temperance crusaders, Social Gospel writers, civic reformers, and cultural commentators. My first chapter examines the ways that Canada was being defined as a nation, and how the relationship between literature and the nation was conceived and represented. The three chapters of literary analysis are organized around three novels: Agnes Maule Machar's Roland Graeme. Knight (1892), Joanna E . Wood's The Untempered Wind (1894) , 4 and 3 In my use of the term discourse. I refer to a sub-language (medical science, philanthropy, social science, religion) and the manner in which it delineates a subject and organizes how it can be talked about. In the words of Lynette Finch, a discourse is "a particular understanding and a particular way of speaking about, acting upon, organizing and reacting to" a subject (1993, 2). Discourses not only determine what their subjects mean, but also what is meaningful in relation to the subject. The reference to discourse does not suggest that there is no reality outside of language, but rather that language systems determine how people apprehend their reality. My interest in the language of various literary and non-literary texts is not, then, to judge them as true or distorted reflections of reality, but rather to understand how these discourses contributed to and supported one another in the production of a number of interconnected subjects, including Canada, the labour question, the woman question, sexuality, and "the race." 4 Dates are important for any study with a historical focus. In cases of novels and studies that have been reprinted, my decision has been to provide their original publication date both in my text and in my Works 4 Maria Amelia Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls (1895). Because these three novels are read more as representative than as unique literary texts, the discussion includes references to other contemporary writers, including Lily Dougall, Albert Carman, Marshall Saunders, Sara Jeannette Duncan, Maud Petitt, and Grant Allen. This thesis is not intended to be a definitive study of particular novelists or a history of social reform writing. Neither is it a study of the material conditions of writing and publishing in nineteenth-century Canada, a worthy subject requiring another dissertation.5 Rather, it uses these three novelists, and to a lesser degree, their contemporaries, to initiate a new perspective on what I refer to as the social problem novel in English Canada.6 My purpose is to examine the social problem novel in the context of emerging Anglo-Canadian nationalism(s) and national self-definition (s). I argue that social reform writing both contradicts and supports Anglo-Canadian nationalist ideology, and that an examination of the texts from this period reveals certain important features about the self-constitution of English-Canadianness in the late nineteenth century, a period witnessing both an increased concern about the problems and possibilities of nationhood and a burst of writing by Canadian authors.7 Critical Context In her article on pioneer women autobiographers, Helen Buss refers to the dominance of the Frygian motif of the frontier in Canadian literary criticism,8 particularly in criticism of Cited list, even if I have not consulted the original edition. The year of reprint is listed after the title. Additional publication information refers to the edition I have used. 5 Susan K. Harris' assertion that social criticism in nineteenth-century literature "had to be covert if [the authors] wanted to sell," underlines the importance of understanding the literary marketplace to contextualize the novels (1993, 267). Lamentably little information is available about the conditions under which the texts in my study were written and published. I acknowledge my study's inadequacy in this respect and applaud the crucial archival work being carried on by such critics as Gerson (1992). 6 Consensus regarding terminology has not been reached. Carrie MacMillan uses the term "problem novel" (1993,172), Shirley Samuels refers to "reform literature" (1992, 5), Deborah Carlin refers to "discourses of reform" in her title and "philanthropic fiction" in her article (1993, 207), Carole Gerson employs the term "social novel" (1989, 132), and Frank Watt titled his influential study "The Literature of Protest" (1965). I use "social problem novel" for literary texts that explain and propose solutions for social problems. 7 Gordon Roper notes that the volume of fiction produced by Canadian writers rose significantly after 1880 (1976, 275). 8 See Northrop Frye's "Conclusion" to the Literary History of Canada (1965). 5 the nineteenth-century novel (Buss 1990, 123). This body of criticism, the tendency of which is to convert specific literary texts into instances of a monolithic and trans-historical Canadian mind-set, theorizes confrontations between the individual and "an alien continent" filled with "the unknown, the unrealized, the humanly undigested" as the central fact of Canadian literary consciousness (Frye 1965, 217, 220). In fact, Frye does discuss many kinds of literature outside of these parameters, specifically the literature of protest, but his most evocative metaphors concern the now famous "garrison mentality" and the image of the immigrant or visitor to Canada as being "swallowed" by the land (225, 217). The most obvious descendants of Frye in this respect are Margaret Atwood in Survival (1972) and Gaile McGregor in The Wacousta Syndrome (1985),9 who extend Frye's provisional remarks that "[i]n the Canadas, even in the Maritimes, the frontier was all around one, a part and a condition of one's whole imaginative being" into a prescriptive and totalizing literary roadmap (1965, 220). Buss does not dispute the validity of such a critical project except to point out that, "once accepted as the only valid one," it "misleads and misdirects the act of reading" (1990, 125). In addition, as Nina Baym (1985) has pointed out in the American context, the idea of the confrontation between the individual and an alien (or liberating) environment is an essentially masculinist one that tends to align women with either nature or stifling social convention;10 it also largely fails to account for representations of community in literary texts. Thus I would extend the insights of Buss and Baym to suggest that this focus on the individual/land configuration has contributed to the neglect of that aspect of Canadian literary history with which I am here concerned. As it is defined by the literary academy, nineteenth-century English-Canadian literature has rarely been associated with the social problem novel. Rather, the writers 9 In addition, Buss points out the indebtedness to Frye of D. G. Jones' Butterfly on Rock (1970), John Moss's Patterns of Isolation in English-Canadian Fiction (1974), and Margot Northey's The Haunted Wilderness (1976), and notes McGregor's unacknowledged precursor in Robin Matthews' "The Wacousta Factor" (1978). 1 0 The myth of American literature, Baym argues, "narrates a confrontation of the American individual, the pure self divorced from specific social circumstances, with the promise offered by the idea of America" (1985,71). 6 connected with the late-Victorian Canadian novel tend to be writers of the historical romance (William Kirby, Gilbert Parker); the frontier adventure story (Ralph Connor, Martin Grainger); or the social comedy (Sara Jeannette Duncan, Stephen Leacock).11 The social problem novel has been little studied because it has generally been assumed not to exist, or to have an existence unworthy of notice. The studies that do exist have tended to over-simplify and to homogenize the novels, either through dismissing them for their failure to engage fully with the problems of Canadian society, or by celebrating them as confused but well-intentioned precursors to mature feminist or socialist writing. As texts repaying full and critical study on their own, they have been almost entirely neglected.12 F. W. Watt and Mary Vipond, though providing excellent research, both focus on the inadequacies of Canada's early social problem literature. In his article on "Literature of Protest," Watt identifies a strong "conservative tradition which is mainly responsible for the 1 1 "The Kinds of Fiction," by Gordon Roper, Rupert Schieder, and S. Ross Beharriell, in the Literary History of Canada (1976) does mention the novel of ideas or of social criticism as one among its seven kinds of fiction; in listing these novels, the article misidentifies Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls as "a melodrama of a young woman who goes to Paris to paint, marries a Frenchman, and is deserted by him" (324). In fact, Dorothy goes to Paris to find work; presumably, Roper was confusing Fytche's novel with Duncan's A Daughter of Today, published the previous year. Mary Jane Edwards' "Novels in English: Beginnings to 1900" in The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature addresses the predominant fictional genres of the nineteenth century, designating historical romance as "perhaps the most popular" and also including "humorous sketches and novels, domestic romances of high society, animal and other tales for children, and adventure stories" (1983, 567). The summary regrets that "the circumstances that allowed these early Canadian writers to publish internationally militated against their being able to develop a Canadian fiction in English that dealt subtly with serious themes of national cultural significance" (567-68). Edwards discusses Frances Brooke's Emily Montague (1769), John Richardson's Wacousta (1832), Rosanna Leprohon's Antoinette de Mirecourt (1864), and William Kirby's The Golden Dog (1877) as examples of "works of Canadian fiction that did at least isolate important Canadian themes and play with their significance" (568). In A History of Canadian Literature (1989), William H. New discusses the literature of the second half of the nineteenth century in terms of six general categories. The English-Canadian novelists and genres that receive substantial treatment (i.e. more than a sentence or two) are the following: documentary romance [Rosanna Leprohon, John Richardson]; historical tales [William Kirby, Gilbert Parker]; sentimentality, satire and social reform [Nellie McClung, L .M. Montgomery, James DeMille, Sara Jeannette Duncan]; social and literary resistance [Ralph Connor]; nature stories [Charles G. D. Roberts, Ernest Thompson Seton]; sketches of reality [Stephen Leacock]. Agnes Machar is mentioned twice, both -times in lists, once as the writer of "romantic tales and sketches" (99), and once, misidentified, as "the Salvation Army Novelist" (112). Joanna Wood receives a single sentence; none of her novels is named (106). Amelia Fytche is not mentioned at all. 1 2 From this sweeping denunciation of academic neglect I exempt the critics to whom I am indebted in this study, particularly Gerson (1983) for her work on Agnes Machar, MacMillan (1980) for her Introduction to the reprint of Kerchiefs, and Barbara Godard (1992) for her article on Joanna Wood. I am also appreciative of Lorraine McMullen's (1986) article on Lily Dougall and the ground-breaking preliminary work of MacMillan, McMullen and Elizabeth Waterston in Silenced Sextet (1993). 7 building of the nation of Canada as it is today" and explains the failures of protest literature as owing to the strength of this conservative tradition (1965, 473). According to Watt, the "exigencies of nation building" largely quelled any elements of protest and resistance in the literature written in the period following Confederation (475). Because his essay is an overview, Watt cannot give detailed attention to individual texts, but the general impression conveyed in his study is of a self-satisfied and painfully simplistic body of work. Watt's tradition, however, is almost exclusively male (he gives a glancing reference to Agnes Machar), and understands protest only as criticism of industrial capitalism, giving no attention to explorations of the Woman Question in fiction of the period. Vipond's "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" (1975) presents an astute analysis of the treatment of class relations and the industrial problem in social gospel fiction. Yet the article devotes only very cursory treatment to the three novels it examines (Machar's Roland Graeme. Carman's The Preparation of Ryerson Embury [1900], and Ralph Connor's To Him That Hath [1921]) contenting itself with general plot summary and character description ("[e]ach character in the novel embodies a lesson [34]") and thus simplifying the ideas and representational strategies in the texts. Commenting that "an examination of the beliefs and goals of Canadian social Christians tells us more about the hopes and fears of the middle class than it does about the condition of the working class," Vipond then proceeds to dismiss Social Gospel fiction, arguing that it "served to reassure their middle class readers that social harmony was not lost forever; that all that was needed to restore peace and tranquility was personal commitment to Christian principles" (33). Although recognizing the contradictions in Machar's portrayal of solutions to labour unrest, Vipond does not see these as productive or as leading to greater complexity of presentation, agreeing with Watt that Machar's novel is '"essentially a romantic story of high society'" with a message of "moderation, goodwill and noblesse oblige" (35). Vipond also seems to misinterpret the significance of the cooperative factory that Graeme intends to establish at the novel's conclusion, reading it as "a throwback to the methods advocated by the British 8 Christian Socialists of the early 1850's" rather than connecting it, logically, to the Knights of Labour, on whose movement the book is partly based (35-36). Although Machar certainly was influenced by the British Christian Socialists, particularly the writer Charles Kingsley, Vipond's comment ignores the novel's contemporary historical context and serves to deepen, even while she laments it, the novel's conservatism. Other criticism of Canadian writing of the period, particularly of women's writing, is apologetic in tone. For example, the title of McMullen's edited collection Re(dis)covering Our Foremothers (1990) suggests a desire for connection that forecloses critical rigour or reading against the grain. Many of the essays in this collection, though excellent as resources for work on lost or marginalized writers, engage in uncritical celebration of the women authors being reclaimed, emphasizing to the neglect of all else the positive proto-feminist qualities of the writers. Similarly, Gwendolyn Davies' "The Literary 'New Woman' and Social Activism in Maritime Literature, 1880-1920" (1994) aspires to reclaim Maritime women writers as heroic foremothers of contemporary feminism. I will look at Davies' article in some detail because it seems to be representative of much of the critical work on nineteenth-century women's writing. Although the article is well-researched and thoroughly scholarly, a lack of critical rigour in its feminist approach leads to inadequacies in its presentation of the social importance of the body of work under examination. Commenting that New Woman characters in literature "reflected the intellectuality and independence afforded women by new opportunities in education and the professions," Davies approaches the New Woman as a straight-forward reflection of current social realities rather than as one of the discourses contributing to her representation (234). Davies evaluates the impact of such writing in terms of gender politics alone; because she interprets any foray of women into the public sphere as liberating for them and subversive of the dominant order, she assesses the fiction and poetry of the 1890s as "an act of negotiation, knitting the separate sphere to the public one in an alliance that claimed social good as much as women's rights as part of their intention" (235). Davies does not 9 explore the nature of the "social good" these women authors envisioned, nor does she consider any of the other discourses (Canadian nationalism, racial purity, social science, superintendence of the poor, and so on) that intersect with and shape the discourse of maternal feminism. In addition, Davies too simplistically connects the act of writing with subversion/rebellion, failing to interrogate the social mechanisms that enabled a woman's writing (and the woman writing) to serve rather than subvert the status quo. Although she judges Amelia Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls as flawed "in its pacing and melodrama," Davies nonetheless is uncritical in her praise of the novel's "pertinent social observation" (239). In stressing women writers' successes, their progressivism, and their unity of purpose, she fails to interrogate the elements of social control in feminists' programs for social reform. A notable exception in this regard is Gerson, whose A Purer Taste (1989) examines in detail the cultural significance of fiction in Victorian Canada and devotes a substantial chapter to the social problem genre. Gerson connects the dearth of novels of contemporary social analysis to problems of nationhood, finding that "Canadian fiction from this period reflects a country that was struggling to conceive of itself as a place, had little notion of its identity as a society, and shrank from the intimate self-examination practiced by Trollope, Thackeray, and Eliot" (132). As a result, fiction exploring the connections between individuals and the social, political, and economic structures that determine their existence is rare; what does exist is halting, tentative, and evasive in its self-critique. Certainly the daring associated with fin de siecle fiction in England is strikingly absent from Canadian novels, even those that deal explicitly with labour and sexuality.13 Gerson accurately notes that "[t]he social and economic complexity of the contemporary city, so dominant a feature of international fiction of the last century, is virtually absent from Canadian writing before the First World War; when a Canadian author did choose to describe middle- or working-class urban life the setting was usually deflected to Britain or the United States" (140). 1 3 Gerson's witty summation is that "[l]abour strife and illicit sexuality timidly entered Canadian fiction in the 1890s, more than half a century after they had become familiar subjects in international writing" (134). 10 The purpose of my study is not so much to take issue with Gerson's evaluation, for although our critical practices differ, our conclusions are similar. Rather, my purpose is to subject the process whereby Canadian novelists foreclose on self-criticism to a more detailed scrutiny than it has hitherto been given. It is to find in the failure or limitation of Canadian reform discourse a subject of study in itself and to take Gerson's accurate measure of Canadian reticence and digression concerning social problems as a starting point rather than a conclusion. I would, however, qualify Gerson's assessment in one sense. Whereas Gerson sees bourgeois writers as completely withdrawing from the imperative of the social analyst to expose, assess, and analyze the impact of social injustice on individual human beings ("Far from challenging accepted values, Canadian critics and novelists perceived literature as a medium for reinforcing prevailing norms" [132]), I attempt a more nuanced-though ultimately no less evaluative—reading. That is, I recognize that narratives of resistance and critique are often incoherent, and believe that there may be moments of resistance in a text that is otherwise entirely supportive of dominant structures of thought. A text's subversiveness may be so inextricably intertwined with its conservatism as to make separating the two seemingly opposed strands an impossibility. In keeping with this recognition, my study focuses on the contradictions and ambiguities in Canadian fictional and non-fictional representations of suffering and social ills. In my study, I focus on the dominant representations of the issues of labour and gender reform; the voices I study are those of well-educated, white, middle-class literary women and men who published in the accepted organs of national opinion. My intention in doing so is not to reinforce the idea of an uncontested, univocal tradition of white liberal humanist ideology. Rather, it is to find in the Anglo-Saxon, bourgeois hegemony of nineteenth-century reform discourse the contradictory and often contested sources of the very muddied reform tradition at the base of the respectable Left in Canadian political and social discourse today. 11 I also contest what seems to be the embarrassment of the Canadian critical establishment about the incoherence and sentimentality of late-nineteenth-century Canadian reform literature. In this respect, I find instructive the lack of embarrassment demonstrated by critics of more fully-established but equally incoherent literatures such as that of the sentimental tradition in American literature. Jane Tompkins has initiated a fruitful and ongoing period of renewed interest in the sentimental and reform literature of nineteenth-century America with her book Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction. 1790-1860 (1985). In her ground-breaking reassessment of the American literary canon and literary value, Tompkins argues for the study of works of literature as "agents of cultural formation" (xvii). Resisting the literary establishment's assertion that great literature transcends the particular time and place of its creation, Tompkins makes the startling claim that "a novel's impact on the culture at large depends not on its escape from the formulaic and derivative, but on its tapping into a storehouse of commonly held assumptions" (xvi). Thus Tompkins chooses to focus on works of literature that offered "powerful examples of the way a culture thinks about itself (xi). Because there has been no equivalent reconsideration of nineteenth-century Canadian literary history, I will recapitulate the terms of the Douglas-Tompkins debate to indicate its structuring influence on my thinking about the political effect of sentimentalism in social problem discourse. In The Feminization of American Culture (1977), Ann Douglas initiates the first sustained reconsideration of nineteenth-century sentimental fiction in America. Douglas links the rise of the sentimental novel in America to that nation's rapid industrial modernization and expansion, and the attendant division of American society into a competitive public sphere and a domestic private realm, with its devaluation of female labour and identity. Examining sentimental ideology's replacement of an intellectually-rigorous and self-disciplined Calvinist theology with an infantile piety and self-indulgent emotionalism, Douglas writes acerbically of sentiment's steady descent towards modern mass culture in its "exaltation of the average," its use of emotional excess as therapy, and 12 its diluted, vacuous Christianity (4) . Speaking unsympathetically of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Douglas ventures that "if 'camp' is art that is too excessive to be taken seriously, art that courts our 'tenderness', then Little Eva suggests Christianity beginning to function as camp" (4) . For Douglas, sexual difference not only underwrites the distinction between the great and the mediocre, between those authors willing to confront "the more brutal facts of America's explosive development" and those who sheltered behind "sentimental peddling of Christian belief for its nostalgic value," but in fact gender is at the very heart of the distinction between the serious and the trivial: "Thoreau, Cooper, Melville, and Whitman wrote principally about men, not girls and children, and they wrote about men engaged in economically and ecologically significant activities" (6). For women to have written at all about the world in which they found themselves placed, it would seem, was for them always already to fail to write what mattered. Douglas' central criticism of the literature of sentiment is its hypocrisy. For Douglas, American sentimental literature is damagingly complicit in the evils it protests (as other literature of protest is not). Sentimental fiction is inescapably a part of the culture it condemns, "a way to protest a power to which one has already in part capitulated" (12). In an oft-quoted passage, Douglas points out that "Little Eva's beautiful death, which Stowe presents as part of a protest against slavery, in no way hinders the working of that system" (12). Douglas' reading of sentimentalism as "an inevitable part of the self-evasion of a society both committed to laissez-faire industrial expansion and disturbed by its consequences" is acute and, I would argue, not entirely inaccurate (12). However, in elaborating this thesis over the next three-hundred pages of text, Douglas achieves a certain clarity of focus at the expense of breadth of vision. Determined to read all sentimental writing of the period through her admittedly partisan lens, Douglas cannot articulate differences between various writers, nor the variety of forms that sentimental ideology could take. For Douglas, "sentiment" is a singular, despised monolith, and its women 13 promoters at once victims of social forces beyond their control and powerful agents manipulating that society. Douglas' underestimation of the potential plurality of sentimental ideology leads to inconsistencies in the condemnation she levels at sentimental writers. For instance, she expresses skepticism about narratives of women's suffering and male violence: "[ejven the determinedly moderate Sarah Hale, chief exponent of the doctrine of the feminine sphere, could occasionally describe the relation between the sexes in terms whose fierce extremism initially leaves a modern reader puzzled and disoriented: Man the murderer and woman the mourner" (47-8). While documenting in some detail the steady erosion of women's position in American culture as industrialization accelerated (her containment within a domestic sphere increasingly segregated from significant economic activity, her exclusion from participation in politics, and so on), Douglas yet dismisses Hale's "conspiracy view of history" which saw women positioned in a world "dominated by a sex hostile to it" (48). Similarly, she expresses distaste for the "narcissistic rage" that fills Harriet Beecher Stowe's later novels (247). At the same time, she blames women for active complicity in their own disempowerment, citing their assertions of contented submission as proof of women's capitulation to "the system of flattery which served as the rationale for the American woman's economic position" (62). Douglas does not consider that these expressions of conformity might contain a coded anger; she characterizes them as "ludicrous and painful" (63). Even when confronted with rather clear examples of at least potential feminist subversion (Harriet Farley's assertion that women must "do good by stealth"), Douglas dismisses the import of Farley's words as unconscious: "[o]n the other hand, she was, of course unconsciously, suggesting something faintly subversive in its connotations" (71, emphasis mine). Douglas' determination to fit every text she discusses into the meta-narrative of teleological development, or rather descent-the "triumphant drift toward a consumer and mass-media society"-betrays the strain of imposing a single pattern 14 on a heterogeneous collection of texts (253). Douglas' study depicts women writers as at once entirely passive and entirely culpable. Tompkins engages directly with Douglas' assertions and with patriarchal neglect, arguing that sentimental novels should be understood "not as degraded attempts to pander to the prejudices of the multitude, but as providing men and women with a means of ordering the world they inhabited " (xiii). Rejecting the portrayal of sentimental writers as "self-deluded" and unwitting "apologists for an oppressive social order," Tompkins asserts, quite audaciously, that "the popular domestic novel of the nineteenth century represents a monumental effort to reorganize culture from the woman's point of view" and, further, that "in certain cases, it offers a critique of American society far more devastating than any delivered by better-known critics such as Hawthorne and Melville" (124). Arguing against the claim that sentimental fiction is divorced from the realities of "political and economic oppression," Tompkins asserts that "domestic fiction is preoccupied, even obsessed, with the nature of power" (160). Her answer to Douglas' accusation of complicity on the part of American women is astute: "[t]he fact is that American women simply could not assume a stance of open rebellion against the conditions of their lives, for they lacked the material means of escape or opposition. They had to stay put and submit. And so the domestic novelists made that necessity the basis on which to build a power structure of their own. Instead of rejecting the culture's value system outright, they appropriated it for their own use, subjecting the beliefs and customs that had moulded them to a series of transformations that allowed them both to fulfill and transcend their appointed roles" (161). As the previous quotation reveals, Tompkins' argument is not so very different from Douglas', but her point of view and emphasis have fundamentally altered, so that the ethic of submission is understood as a counter-strategy for women, an appropriation of an economically and politically imposed condition for women's unique political purposes. Sentiment can be seen as a way of countering men's material power with women's spiritual power. Much of Tompkins' analysis of sentimental fiction focuses 15 on the alternative definition of power it holds out. She also expresses her recognition that "while the sense of power and feelings of satisfaction that the religion of domesticity afforded were real, not just imagined, they were bought and paid for at an almost incalculable price" (172). Tompkins argues that an implicit recognition of this price is encoded in the novels' emphasis on the suffering of the sentimental heroine, whose pain at "learning to conquer her own passions is the central fact" of her existence (172). For Tompkins, the novels provide a "catharsis of rage and grief that registers the cost of living according to that model" (173). Her point here seems to be similar to that expressed by Patricia Meyer Spacks in Desire and Truth, when she argues that "even when a novel tells a story of efforts towards conformity . . . its revelation of the efforts' costs may indicate a counter-message" (1990, 111). Both Spacks and Tompkins suggest that resistance in the sentimental novels can only be read as unconscious, something which can never be voiced and can only be read into the text's testimony to the pain of (an otherwise totalized) submission. Perhaps Tompkins has too fully accepted Douglas' judgement of the sentimental novels, responding defensively with an alternative monological reading that secures for the texts a set of fixed and coherent ideological positions. Relying on a rather simple gender division of oppressed and oppressor which fails to see women as part of the power system that contains them, Tompkins adopts Douglas' characterization of the ethic of submission at the heart of the novels rather than reading them as sites of ideological struggle. Confident that rage "cannot be named as such in Warner's novel" though its "force is felt nevertheless in the deluge of the heroine's tears," Tompkins conceives of the texts as shaped by a single and seamless discourse, rather than as an arena where conflicting discourses play out struggles that are resolved to greater or less degrees in various texts (173). Tompkins also fails to address one of the central issues in Douglas' thesis, which concerns the meaning of these novels for feminist readers today. Tompkins' emphasis on the texts as specific historical and cultural documents makes "no apologies" (to echo one of 16 her chapter titles) for the aspects of the novels which are almost unreadable today. In this sense, despite her interest in understanding "what gave these novels force for their initial readers" and her admittedly partisan positioning as "a woman in a field dominated by male scholars," Tompkins' is a curiously disengaged criticism (xiii, xiv). She acknowledges that it is specifically not her intention to "criticize the social and political attitudes that motivated these writers" as if understanding the texts in their contemporary contexts abrogates the need to understand them in our own (xiii). As such, her project risks becoming merely the reverse of Douglas', a partisan celebration of the texts Douglas belittles. Moreover, although she defines sentimental fiction as a "political enterprise, halfway between sermon and social theory," Tompkins is at times indifferent to the political implications of the literary texts she examines (126). For example, Tompkins refers with seeming approval to The American Woman's Home, a treatise on domestic economy written by Isabella Beecher Stowe and her sister Catherine, to prove that the domestic project was not "a turning away from the world into self-absorption and idle reverie," but was rather "the prerequisite of world conquest" (143). She quotes the following passage as an example of the active and outward-looking "imperialistic drive" which "flatly contradicts the traditional derogations of the American cult of domesticity as . . . self-immersed and self-congratulatory" (144): . . . ere long colonies from these prosperous and Christian communities would go forth to shine as "lights of the world" in all the now darkened nations. Thus the "Christian family" and "Christian neighborhood" would become the grand ministry, as they were designed to be, in training our whole race for heaven. (144) Concerned to rescue the middle-class American woman writer from gender-biased charges of narcissism and intellectual bankruptcy, Tompkins fails to comment on the ideological 17 import of such a passage for the people of the "now darkened nations," preferring to read the passage as innocently triumphant. In her determination to reverse the judgements of a "male-dominated scholarly tradition," Tompkins appears to accept some of its hierarchical values, and thus fails to interrogate the racist basis of this "blueprint for colonizing the world" (123, 144). Tompkins' account of the "cultural work" sentimental fiction sought to carry out is here blind to the material effects of such discursive strategies not only upon the middle-class women whose hegemony it tried to establish, but on the peoples over whom it sought to erect its empire. As critics have subsequently argued, Tompkins focuses primarily on the meaning of sentimental and sensational fiction for white, middle-class America, evaluating it as evidence of a culture thinking about itself rather than as evidence of that culture consolidating its dominance over others. Reading Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans as a drama about miscegenation fears and the problem of cultural conflict, Tompkins concludes lamely that Cooper's novel constitutes "a drama whose purpose is to work out the rules of coexistence that make human society possible in the first place" (119). The use of the word "coexistence" in the context of white conquest of aboriginal territory perhaps begins to suggest the extent of Tompkins' indifference to the violent-in this case genocidal-mastery practiced by such narratives, despite their passages of generous nostalgia for the passing of a way of life. 1 4 In response to Tompkins, feminist critics influenced by post-colonial theory, such as the essayists in Samuels' The Culture of Sentiment, have focused on the "double logic" of sentimentalism's nationalist project, as it simultaneously "produces and contests" the culture of which it is a part, focusing "on the particular circumstances of policies concerning gender, race, and ethnicity, and often on the involvement of women as objects or agents of these policies" (1992, 4). Although there is currently much debate about the value and meanings of this literature, there can be little doubt of the cultural importance of the debate or the centrality of 1 4 For an excellent analysis of the omissions in Tompkins' study, see Laura Wexler's "Tender Violence" (1992). 18 the sentimental tradition to nineteenth-century American life and letters.15 A similar debate over the importance of nineteenth-century sentimental literature in Canada has not yet occurred outside of a few reclamatory studies, first because of the lack of a clearly defined nineteenth-century Canadian literary canon against which revisionists could battle, and also, relatedly, because of the reluctance of literary critics to engage in a dismantling of the notion of canon. Robert Lecker argues in the Introduction to Canadian Canons that "[w]e have shied away from theorizing about why certain Canadian authors or texts are 'major,' or 'minor,' or seldom mentioned at all," and although this assessment has been vigorously debated by Canadian critics, its accuracy for nineteenth-century Canadian literature is difficult to contest (1991, 6). My study of the social problem novel argues that Canadian literary history does include social problem novels that are worthy of more study than they have hitherto received, and suggests one of the possible approaches that could be taken to this body of texts. I am not arguing that these novels are lost classics blindly neglected by twentieth-century critics; in fact, I avoid canonical arguments. Rather, I claim that the social problem novel in Canada is a genre worthy of study because it reveals some of the fundamental cultural debates of the period and gives us insight into the Canadian nation in the process of creating and sustaining a hegemonic culture. Questions of Genre My study is not a genre study, although I frequently refer to the sentimental narrative techniques employed by the authors I examine; it might be argued that all of the novels I study are socially-concerned sentimental novels. In their own day, however, and subject to a different mode of investigation, they might well have been classified differently. Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls has gothic elements entirely lacking in Machar's Roland 1 5 Critical studies participating in the debate have included Fred Kaplan's Sacred Tears (1987); Joyce W. Warren's (ed.) The (Other) American Traditions (1993); and Karen Sanchez-Eppler's Touching Liberty (1993). 19 Graeme, while the rural realism of Wood's The Untempered Wind distinguishes it quite emphatically from the other two novels. I am less concerned with clarifying a form called the sentimental novel than with investigating how sentimental techniques and ideology operate in novels with very different forms and styles. I examine sentiment primarily as a rhetorical strategy that operates across different genres and is intended to arouse pathos through the aesthetic presentation of distress. Such writing—fictional and non-fictional— seeks to create sympathy for unmerited suffering in the belief that the reader's textual experience "can intimately affect the living one" (Todd 1986, 4). All of the writers I am looking at joined certain features of the sentimental novel-primarily the display of suffering and some use of stock romance plot elements such as coincidence and melodrama—with a concern for the realistic representation of contemporary social life. These novels are not realistic in the terms that define the classic Victorian novel of representational realism: they tend to rely on character "types" rather than complex, fully-developed and individualized characters; they employ elaborate and sensationalistic plot devices rather than observing the narrative laws of probability, causality, and economy; and they contain passages of overt didacticism that interfere with the novelist's obligation to observe rather than instruct. What joins the novels, and links them to the non-fictional texts studied here, is their strong pedagogical function. Although this literature was intended to refer to the real world in which readers lived, its mode of reference was not necessarily mimetic, for its concern was the underlying truth of human emotions and actions. Having referred above to sentimental ideology, I will briefly define what I mean by the phrase, although upcoming chapters will elaborate its meanings. As a way of understanding the world, sentimentalism privileges human connection above all, and posits the equality of all human hearts. In theory, then, sentimentalism is a radically democratic vision of human society, its ostensible purpose being to affirm a common humanity for all people. In his study of the sentimental novel in eighteenth-century France, David Denby describes the sentimental ethos as follows: 2 0 Sentimental literature represents the discovery, and above all the popularization and repeated celebration of the humanity of the excluded, and as such is part of the global project of Enlightenment humanism. What the sentimental text enacts is the recognition of the universal category of humanity in each individual case of suffering encountered. (1994, 96) Nineteenth-century social reform writing is sentimental in its concern to address the nature of community: the stories it tells are about threats to community, the loss of affective ties, the conditions under which sympathy can flourish, the regeneration of the social, the means of accommodating differences in society, and ultimately the relationship between individuals, their community, and the nation. Joanne Dobson accurately comments that "[t]he sentimental imaginative mode is not confined to a specific genre" but is rather "a specific type of imaginative energy" and defines it "as an imaginative mode . . . manifesting itself in narratives privileging affectional ties . . . and language usage designed to address the primary vision of human connection in a dehumanized world" (1993, 171). In its concern to influence behavior and to guide social change, social reform writing sought to develop or sustain in the reader capacities for feeling, particularly for empathy with fictional protagonists; this emphasis on emotional identification is crucial to an understanding of what Tompkins has called, from her subtitle, the "cultural work" of the literature under consideration. Such writing aimed to teach, but to teach in a particular way: through the emotions. Thus, it aimed for popularity through the reliance on melodramatic and sensationalistic plot elements-startling drama, coincidence, misrecognition, hidden connections, extreme situations-even while it claimed, directly or indirectly, to be representing contemporary life. This element of readerly pleasure should not be underestimated, and the romance features of the novels in my study should not be regarded as mere generic hangovers. By placing their didactic messages about a recognizable world within seductively romantic narrative patterns, the authors sought to accomplish what a sermon would, but more effectively: to transform the subjectivities of their readers, to 21 create a certain way of seeing Canada and social problems through the appeal to sentiment, and thus to make possible a certain vision of the Canadian community that could be brought about not through legislation or overt political action, but rather through cultural consensus. The authors did not address a pre-existing Canadian public about their society; rather, the authors sought to constitute that public and that society. Through the production of consent, these texts contribute, I argue, to cultural hegemony, to the predominance of certain cultural ideas and values over others. By appealing to emotions and guiding readers' identification with certain characters and situations, these texts functioned in the manner described by Bruce Curtis in his description of the relationship between humanistic pedagogy and the construction of a loyal citizenry in pre-Confederation Upper Canada: "Humanization" was a pedagogical device which involved the development of the capacities for feeling and moral behavior. While these capacities were ethically and aesthetically pleasing to school reformers, they were also political instruments for the development of new modes of self-regulation. The "moral" attitude which this pedagogy sought was a way of relating to others and also an ethically-founded acceptance of and affection for existing political forms. (1987, 57) With Curtis, I argue that social reform writing also has a specific teaching function; it both records and reproduces the process of reconstructing the ethical subjectivities of Canadian subjects. Literature's representational systems express ideology, creating a certain orientation towards the social problems it represents and creating in the reader an appropriate responsiveness. These novels sought to intervene in various cultural debates, to influence how people thought and acted, and through narratives of the movement from disorder to harmony, to present compelling visions of successfully-functioning communities. Because such communities are never entirely secure, the novels also enact, variously, fantasies of containment, border policing, and cultural purification. 22 Methodology In my research for this study, I drew my material primarily from three literary periodicals: the Canadian Monthly and National Review (1872-78), which later became the Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly and National Review (1878-82), "provided a forum for the best minds of the decade," according to the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (1983,457); The Week (1883-96) inherited the mantle of the Canadian Monthly, and "was the main vehicle for the work of the major poets and essayists of the Confederation period" (457); and Canadian Magazine (1893-1939) took over this function in the 1890s. These three journals were the major literary and political periodicals of the period 1875-95, and saw themselves as upholding a tradition of literary standards, genteel taste, and informed opinion. I rely mainly on Canadian Monthly for the last half of the 1870s, The Week for the 1880s and the Canadian Magazine for the 1890s. In addition, I have taken advantage of collections such as Paul Rutherford's Saving the Canadian City (1974) and Ramsay Cook and Wendy Mitchinson's The Proper Sphere (1976) to gain access to the variety of pamphlets, speeches, and reports on subjects of urban, social, and national concern. I follow recent critics such as Nancy Armstrong (1987), Mary Poovey (1988), Mariana Valverde (1989), and Amanda Anderson (1993) in attempting not only to contextualize literary texts with social and historical documents, but to integrate literary and socio-historical analysis thoroughly, employing a flexible analytical strategy and reading a wide variety of texts in addition to the novels I examine: news items, editorials, Royal Society speeches, scientific treatises, House of Commons debates, reports of women's organizations, and social reform essays. In doing so, I do not mean to suggest that literary and non-literary texts are the same. But although I recognize their differences, I tend to downplay generic distinctions in order to analyze the representational strategies the texts share; my study examines how very different texts work together to construct complex discursive phenomena. As Valverde argues, "[w]ithout ignoring the distinctions among 23 different types of texts, one can shed new light on complex social constructs by reading texts against the grain" (1989, 171). The texts that I examine here fit well together for a number of reasons. They share assumptions about audience and rhetorical strategy. Written by and appealing to a primarily middle-class, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and socially-concerned—though by no means radical—audience, these texts are shaped by the belief that audiences could be moved to right action through powerful persuasive appeals. I have chosen to look at literary journals rather than newspapers partly for the sake of coverage, but also because I have been less interested in specific items of news than in opinion on the state of the nation and its problems. Opinion, as such, is also in abundance in the novels I examine. Oblivious to the incipient modernism that found expression in fin de siecle experimentation with fictional forms, these novels eschewed stylistic innovation and sought clarity for their moral and social messages in passages of overt didacticism. The editorials, reports, essays of literary criticism, political tracts, and social investigative texts are also crucial to this project because they state explicitfy what the novels sometimes reveal only implicitly. Rutherford argues from his study of late-Victorian newspapers that editorial essays from the period reveal the "firm foundation of shared myth" upon which debates about Canadian issues took place (1982, 156). According to Rutherford, these editorials "elaborated a series of mythologies of nationhood which sometimes challenged but usually justified the existing or emerging patterns of dominance in the country at large" (156). The evidence of the non-fiction is intended to highlight what may appear to be only suggestive references in the fiction; similarly, I am interested in reading the non-fictional texts as if they were novels, attending to the complex symbolic systems they create. I avoid using a background/foreground model to discuss the literary text and its non-literary discursive context because I recognize that it is the whole range of texts that make up an interdependent cultural formation such as social reform. By studying the Canadian social reform novel in the context of other reform and nationalist 24 discourses, we can more clearly examine how they participate in establishing a certain consensus about the meanings of Canadian nationhood. By using the term "consensus," however, I do not intend to suggest that the social and moral reform texts I refer to in this study were part of a single, homogeneous movement. Rather, reformers were an exceedingly diverse group, a broadly based coalition made up of church people, temperance activists, educators, social scientists, women's groups, civic leaders, politicians, and philanthropists.16 They had varying platforms, goals, and beliefs.17 Similarly, the writers I examine would certainly not have identified themselves as part of a single movement, or as writing a certain genre of literature. Machar and Wood would probably have agreed upon very little had they ever spoken, and it is unlikely that they ever did. But they did share a consciousness concerning the need for changes identified by them as progressive. Social reform writers positioned themselves against what they defined as an outmoded view of human affairs, identified variously with orthodox Christianity, laissez-faire capitalism, traditional gender mores, and an older, feudal order. They saw themselves as connected with the emergence of a new social order, one of greater compassion, equality, and humanity. That these discourses often worked within the very terms that they contested should not cause their dissenting status to be ignored. They protested a world view that accepted domination as an inescapable fact, saw suffering as divinely ordained, and accepted the existing gender and economic orders as natural. Thus, even as I return to the limitations in the reforms 1 6 Samuel Clark et al. identify three inter-related though distinct social reform movements in late Victorian Canada: the Social Gospel, the suffrage movement, and the temperance movement (1975, 41-42). However, such an emphasis overlooks the existence of other equally significant movements such as the Sabbatarians, foreign missionary societies, home mission organizations, civic reform leagues, and prevention of cruelty societies, among others. Given the fact that membership in these organizations was often overlapping, and that many single organizations-trie National Council of Women of Canada, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the Young Women's Christian Association, for instance-did work on all these fronts and more, such distinctions between movements are difficult to maintain. 1 7 For an example of the diversity of the political goals of one strand of the reform movement, see Glenn J. Lockwood's "Temperance in Upper Canada as Ethnic Subterfuge" (1993). Lockwood examines the ethnic conflicts at the origins of the temperance movement in Upper Canada in the 1830s. Here, Loyalist settlers and Scottish immigrants used temperance societies to organize politically in opposition to Orange Irish Protestants who had flooded the area. Lockwood argues that temperance organizations offered immediate moral authority for attempts to regain status and political power, and provided a structure to oppose to the political activities of the Orange League. 25 proposed or suggested by these writers, their oppositional status should not be forgotten. Claims for the humanity of the poor, no matter how self-interested, were different from a perspective that dismissed the poor as abstract ills, as many laissez-faire accounts did. 1 8 The novels are often confused, but their confusion is less a literary flaw than a representation of the conflicting discourses of their period. Rationale It would be tempting to condescend to history through the reading of Anglo-Canadian literature, to find its obsessions with national purity, Canadian destiny, and domestic morality evidence of a regrettable, but safely distanced, cultural neurosis; but such has not been my intention in this study. In fact, far from reinforcing a notion of historical development as a progressive movement away from repression towards the empowerment of the women's and labour movements, my research has made me aware of the often depressing circularity of history and of the way in which contemporary debates are often disturbingly similar to those of one hundred years ago. I have also become aware through my reading of the narrowness of the terms of discussion about women and the poor, how even when writers establish opposing positions in a debate, they seem to be speaking the exact same language. My work has made me realize how dominant conceptual frameworks—the notions of the social organism and bourgeois domesticity, for example-work to constrain what and how it is possible to think at any period in history. I have also been reminded, in attending to systems of classification and definition in reform discourse, of the way in which binary opposition, particularly that between the deserving and the undeserving, continues to structure discussions of social injustice. Although I do not argue that an understanding of nineteenth-century discourse can free us from the discursive 1 8 For example, an item in The Week for Jan. 13, 1887, speaking of the problem of housing for the poor, conflates poor people with abstract evils, commenting that "[n]othing apparently would cure the evil but the extinction of the low population itself, the extinction, in other words, of idleness, misfortune, vice, intemperance, and crime" (110). Because this item is unauthorized and anonymous, it appears under "Item" in Works Cited. All subsequent items/notes are referenced in the same way. 26 constraints of our own period-for the appeal to freedom fails to understand that such formulations enable speech as well as limit it—I do maintain that such analysis can foster at least a certain critical vigilance about one's own rhetorical and political strategies. In my study of these novels, I follow Tompkins in focusing on the similarities between the various discourses I study, particularly the connections between the novels and the social reform essays whose ideas they take up in narrative form. I argue not for the literary value of the novels I study, but for their cultural value as illuminating documents. Thus my main focus is, like Tompkins' "the strands that connected a novel to other similar texts, rather than . . . the way in which the text might have been unique" (1985, vx). I do not argue for the originality of the literary texts under discussion, but instead investigate what they shared with other texts of the same period. At the same time, I attempt in my discussion to emphasize the power of narrative and of the emotional appeal of such works in disseminating their social messages. Although my study of literary and non-literary texts by and about women is concerned exclusively with the writing of well-educated, white, middle-class women, my approach focuses insistendy on the intersection of gender ideologies with those of class, race, and ethnicity. At the risk of appearing to seek to justify my exclusions, I would argue that class and race analyses should not be confined to the study of women of colour and working-class women. Such compartmentalization weakens feminist scholarship by ignoring the structuring force of race and class ideologies in privileged white women's lives and discourses. My study explicidy focuses on the ways in which an emancipatory discourse of gender often relied on overtly oppressive class and race agendas, and thus, my study of the formation of feminine and feminist identities in social problem discourse is deliberately interrogative rather than celebratory. 27 Outline of Further Chapters Chapter One demonstrates how inextricably the reforms associated with the Labour Question and the Woman Question-as diverse as the issues were—were bound up with the idea of the nation. As Goldwin Smith expressed it in an article on "Female Suffrage," "[t]he very foundations of society are touched when Party tampers with the relations of the sexes" (1874, 68). Arguments about women's social position were framed as arguments about the kind of society Canada should be. Commentators on both sides of the Woman Question debates asserted that Canada's national existence was intimately tied to the position of its women. Mrs. Parker, in "Woman in Nation-Building," stressed the simultaneity of the birth of feminism and nationalism as a very positive element in Canada's development: "[i]t is worthy of note and to us a good augury of the future, that contemporaneously with the enlargement of woman's educational advantages in Canada, have been felt the first fluttering heart-beats of a national life, and we have a conviction that the first happy event is to have a powerful influence over the other" (1890, 459). Discussions of labour issues similarly evoked fears of general anarchy and national collapse as well as "dream[s] of social revolution."19 Indeed, a strong sense of national destiny was attached to reform issues. After Wilfrid Laurier yielded to petitions for a national plebiscite on prohibition, the president of the Nova Scotia Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), confident that victory for the temperance forces was near, declared jubilantly that "[t]he world is turning to our country today, with great interest for a solution of the Liquor Question. It is nearer a solution with us than anywhere else on earth" (qtd. in Mitchinson 1979, 157). Social critics understood their various reform proposals as part of an overall project of national improvement. While conservative writers often linked socialism and feminism as twin evils threatening the national body,20 social 1 9 I take the phrase from the title of an article outlining a Utopian vision of class and gender relations, "A Dream of Social Revolution" by A Member of the Toronto Athanaeum Club (1881). 2 0 Bystander, the author of "Papers by a Bystander: 2" commented of communism, for example, that "it assails the whole existing order of things religious, political and social, not excepting the relations between the sexes" (February 1879, 237). 28 critics were beginning to identify capitalist patriarchy as the common structure of oppressive class and gender relations. Cook quotes John Clark Murray, a liberal Presbyterian professor at McGill, who asserted in an 1872 speech that '"there are two great social problems of which our time is called to attempt a solution: the one refers to the question of capital and labour, the other to the position of women in society'" (1985, 180). The central character in Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls declares that "'[w]oman suffrage and labor problems are the only questions which can rouse enthusiasm in the masses'" (159). Although it would be misleading to suggest that gender and labour reform were the only important social issues of the period under consideration, Victorian Canadians certainly considered them to be central to national well-being. Chapter Two focuses on Machar's Roland Graeme but also discusses her essays on poverty, temperance, and compulsory education in the Canadian Monthly and National Review and Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly. I examine Machar's work as an example of the fantasy of class harmony at the heart of much late nineteenth-century Canadian writing about the working poor and the problems of industrialization. Machar's novel examines the role of the church in modern society and the relationship between Christian conduct and social duty regarding labour unrest and urban poverty. Roland Graeme draws heavily on British depictions of labour problems and the need for a new ethic of cooperation as a solution to the ruthless and divisive individualism of laissez-faire capitalism, combining reform Darwinian social theory with traditional evangelicism, particularly in its vision of the special role of women philanthropists in helping the poor and in easing class tensions. In this context, the novel relies on a discourse of spiritual regeneration and human sympathy as the source of social progress that sits uneasily alongside its more radical commitment to labour union activity and governmental regulation of industrial conditions. At the same time that its pedagogical model of sympathy has clear roots in an English tradition stretching back to the eighteenth century, the novel also has a specifically New World focus that insists on Canadian difference from England, such that 29 the English model Machar adapts-which valorized middle-class care for the poor in opposition to aristocratic neglect and/or wastefulness—is appropriated to define the virtues of Canada as a whole, as a nation of freedom, possibility, and sound management, a nation balancing between Old World corruption and American disorder. In the end, the novel closes off social critique through a celebration of Christian patience and a nostalgic retreat from the industrial center, and this final representation is strongly suggestive of a nostalgic longing for Canada as agrarian paradise emphasizing health, purity, and benevolent paternalism. At the same time, as I hope to show, the tidy resolution offered by Christian piety and benevolence is at points questioned by the narrative itself, evidence, as I take it, of the novel's awareness of the limitations of its own ideology. Chapter Three discusses Wood's The Untempered Wind in the context of a pervasive and flexible "rhetoric of fallenness" in Victorian culture, in which the figure of the fallen woman organized not only discussions of sexuality, but also more general Victorian concerns with identity, agency, and community (Anderson 1993, 1). Although not as overdy concerned with national issues as is Roland Graeme. The Untempered Wind explicitly connects the social body and the female sexual body in a narrative revealing just how fundamentally connected "the social evil" was to questions of national and racial destiny. I argue that the novel manipulates definitions of fallenness and purity so that sexual experience and innocence need not occupy antithetical positions, and thus seeks to redefine the community in the novel as fallen and its fallen woman as pure. The novel, I argue, works not only to bring the fallen woman to a position within the sympathetic community, but actually to make her the centre of this community. It establishes sympathetic authority for its heroine by removing her from the discourse within which she was spoken about. In the portrayal of Myron and Homer, Wood attempts to suggest alternative modes of identity and relationship based on recognition, affiliation, and negotiation rather than opposition and hierarchy. In addressing an audience of women readers, moreover, Wood appeals to a similar model of sympathetic community. In 30 rejecting legalistic definitions of innocence and guilt, Wood appeals to the "natural" as an alternative discourse ennabling her heroine to escape moralistic condemnation. It can do so, however, only on the basis of a new set of rigid and punitive exclusions to replace those it has rejected. Thus, although the novel begins by interrogating the social construction of fallenness—showing how the definition of purity relies upon, and actually creates, the category of fallenness for its own self-definition-the novel ultimately establishes a new series of oppositions to vindicate its heroine, oppositions that intersect with contemporary Anglo-Canadian concerns about racial health, physical strength, and norms of reproductive heterosexuality. Chapter Four examines Fytche's Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls in the context of prevalent debates about the New Woman in fiction, the naturalness of the gender order, and the relationship between the domestic and social realms. I show how two very different readings of the novel are possible. The first exposes gender inequality as a social construction by demonstrating how every aspect of the heroine's experience is shaped by the fact of her gender, shown to be a disabling social reality. As such, the novel provides an indictment of women's economic and emotional dependence. The second reading shows how the first reading can work only if it ignores the function of class and race as structuring components in the narrative; in fact, the novel's gender-subversive critique is displaced onto a conservative race- and class-based text in which criticism of Dorothy's mistreatment serves to reaffirm the moral superiority of Anglo-Saxon bourgeois domesticity. This second reading also recognizes that if Dorothy's prolonged psychological suffering and humiliation can serve as a vehicle for critique of an unjust gender order, it can also serve as a warning to women about the consequences of violating that order. Such confusion or doubleness in the text is both a feature of discourses on gender in the period and specifically related to the novel's imperialist-nationalist agenda, in which attempts to define Canadian femininity clash with the novel's feminism. This chapter also reiterates some of the points made in Chapter Two by showing how concerns 31 about the dangers of the city for women override the novel's concern with gender relations per se. CHAPTER ONE "A land in which there is room for all":1 Nationalism, Uncertainty, and Narratives of Inclusion In her Introduction to The Culture of Sentiment. Samuels argues that nineteenth-century American sentimentality is essentially a "national project" concerned with "imagining the nation's bodies and the national body" (1992, 3). In this chapter, I not only follow Samuels' lead in focusing on the relationship between (Anglo-Canadian) nationalist and social reform writing, but also suggest that the connections between nation-building and social reform are at least as intimate and complex in the case of English Canada as they are for America, though they have been less studied. Perhaps it is generally true that sentimentally-charged writing flourishes during periods of national conflict, transition, and unease. Certainly in late-nineteenth-century English Canada, the nationalist project absorbed a great deal of cultural energy because of Canada's extreme youth and the fragility of its national status. As a result, the Labour Question and the Woman Question were very much tied up with what became known as the Canada Question. Social problem discourse became one of the arenas in which debates about Canada's future were staged. What is most significant, for my purposes, about the period under discussion is that national consolidation and the search for cultural identity coincided with "large-scale changes in the nature of society" (Clark et al. 39). Even during the depression of the 1870s and 1880s, the economy maintained a yearly growth rate of four percent; the period saw accelerating industrialization and ruthless competition among capitalists. Although the beginnings of the labour movement can be traced to the 1850s or even the 1840s, the economic recession of the early 1870s brought labour conflict to the forefront of public consciousness.2 Large-scale industrial expansion was propelled by the National Policy of 1 The quotation is taken from "Current Events," (Aug. 1874) Canadian Monthly and National Review. 147. 2 Consciousness of industrial development stretches back to Isaac Buchanan's formulation of producer ideology. Isaac Buchanan was a Hamilton merchant, railwayman, and politician whose formulation of an industrial policy for the Canadian colony stressed the common interests of employers and workers. It 33 1879, which raised tariff barriers on imported goods and thus sought to stimulate Canadian industries to rapid and steady growth. By the 1880s, Canada was experiencing the negative effects of urban industrialization; as a result, the decade witnessed increasing consolidation among the members of the working class, culminating in the solidarity that emerged from Toronto's railway strike of 1886. The women's movement was also gathering strength. The first women's suffrage organization—disguised as a literary society—was founded by Emily Stowe in 1877,3 and various reform bodies, particularly the WCTU, carried out repeated petitions, delegations to governments, and demands for plebiscites on suffrage throughout the 1880s and 90s. Despite the persistence of an ideology associating women with motherhood and domesticity, a significant number of women were moving into the public sphere: working-class women into factory work, and middle-class women into voluntary philanthropy and professional careers. Industrial-capitalist expansion and increasing agitation and uncertainty concerning women's rights and gender identities intersected with the national search to establish a coherent vision of the nation. Developing nationalism was thus not only inflected by, but actually constituted in, what was arguably the most dramatic period of social change in Canadian history. This particular congruence of historical features leads, as I will show, to a curious passion for reform mixed with a marked conservatism, and establishes the period 1870-95 as a time of profound contradictions and ideological incoherencies that have persistently affected Anglo-Canadian culture and the climate for debates about social issues up to the present time. attacked the non-producing middlemen in the economic system, such as the bankers, speculators and absentee landlords, and linked national interest with employment. Producer ideology championed the twin causes of currency reform and tariff protection. This ideology was a cornerstone of the Canada First movement, the new Nationalism that began to affect the colony (Kealey and Palmer 1982, 178-79). However, from the early 1870s on, expanding industrial development made it increasingly difficult to champion the mutual interests of capitalist and worker. Class divisions and antagonisms were becoming impossible to ignore. One of the most significant events in nineteenth-century Canadian working-class history was the Toronto printers' strike for the Nine Hour Day in 1872. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, class relations became increasingly strained. 3 See Edith M . Luke's "Woman Suffrage in Canada" (1895). Catherine Cleverdon, whose The Woman Suffrage Movement in Canada (1950) is the standard historical source, cites Luke's essay as her authority, but seems to mistake the date of the Toronto Women's Literary Club's inception as 1876. 34 One can identify a vexed relationship between literature and culture in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The literature, together with all cultural productions in general, is preoccupied with defining and shaping "Canadianness." The 1890s in particular was a decade both of intense nationalism-anticipating Laurier's comments about Canadian supremacy in the new century-and of anxiety and speculation about Canada's political, economic, and social future. Canada was, in Gerson's words, "a society preoccupied with the task of nationmaking" (1989, x). The rise of social reform writing coincides with the discursive development of the Canadian nation state, and this coincidence creates certain unique rhetorical problems for writers attempting to address social conflict. Anglo-Canadian nationalist discourse of the period 1870-95 constructed an egalitarian and harmonious New World nation, free of the gender, racial, and class conflict of her English parent and her American neighbour at the same time that Canadian social reformers were noticing and documenting the presence of disharmony-domestic violence, extreme poverty, labour unrest, immigrant slums-in central Canada's burgeoning cities.4 The perceived need to fashion a language to describe these and other social problems which did not disturb nationalist ideology led to particularly Canadian forms of evasion, displacement, and outright contradiction that continue to plague contemporary liberal reform rhetoric, with its insistence on the essential soundness of Canadian institutions and preference for criticizing other nations' problems. Publishing conditions resulted in further ambiguities over Canadianness for the Canadian writer.5 Because markets for Canadian books were extremely small (the Canadian market was one-tenth that of the American), authors usually needed to appeal to an American as well as a Canadian audience; this 4 In emphasizing Canada's insistence on its social difference from Great Britain, I do not mean to suggest that in fact Canada's urban conditions were as bad as those in the mother country. As Linda Kealey points out, although Canada also experienced a depression in the years following 1873, "the dimensions of the resulting poverty and unrest were far greater in Britain, especially in metropolitan areas like London" (Introduction to Parr 1979, 169). Rather than denying that economic and social conditions in Canada may have, in certain respects, been better for working people and for women, I am interested in the cultural work that such representations were made to do. 5 Machar published simultaneously in Montreal and New York; Amelia Fytche and Joanna Wood published in Boston and New York respectively. 35 situation created obvious difficulties for the writer and reader of novels describing particular social issues and complicates questions such as whether a writer is being reticent or merely practical in setting her novel of labour unrest in America. Representing Canadian social problems was a literary enterprise fraught with difficulties. The peculiarly Canadian features of what I am describing result, in part, from the fact that Anglo-Canadian nationalist discourse was developing at precisely the same time that social reform fiction was being written. While the contradictions of sentimental ideology are to be found in American literature of roughly the same period,6 these contradictions are heightened in the case of Canada because Canada did not possess a nationalist discourse of hegemonic status; Canada's very nationalism was itself only an emergent and still somewhat oppositional discourse. By this I do not mean only that in content it opposed itself to something else—to other versions of the nation or to colonial dependency, for example-but that even to speak of Canada as a nation, regardless of the content of the speech, was to assert an argumentative proposition. American writers feared for their nation's future during the period of the American civil war, but at least America had been a nation, with a well-established national identity. Most writers about Canada, despite the confident bravado of their rhetoric, would have been aware of themselves as arguing for the existence of Canada rather than simply describing its a priori attributes. Debates raged over whether there was even such a thing as national sentiment, of whatever kind, in Canada. Canada's national status was by no means assured in the late nineteenth century, and thus to write of Canada as a nation was a tenuous and uncertain business. Canada's reform writers, while addressing the problems of the nation, were also engaged in constructing the nation itself rather than writing against an already-constructed version of it. 6 Sentimental literature in both America and England flourished earlier than in Canada; Tompkins, for instance, locates it in the period 1790-1860. Critics of English literature such as Armstrong (Desire and Domestic Fiction. 1987) and, more recently, Beth Fowkes Tobin (Superintending the Poor. 1993) locate "[fjhe middle-class struggle to find positions of power and authority" in the sentimental fiction of the latter half of the eighteenth and the first part of the nineteenth centuries (Tobin 1). 36 The fact that consensus had not yet been achieved about Canada-politically, culturally, philosophically, racially-might have resulted in the proliferation of oppositional or alternative discourses about Canada. Instead, in fact, it meant that oppositional discourses were cautious, conservative, and tentative, in part because such protests could have meaning only in the context of a particular version of Canada. In addition, the political and economic turmoil of the 1880s and early 1890s reinforced Canadian conservatism. Carl Berger identifies at this time a "deeply felt need to create a cohesive national heritage" (1970, 99). While the historical romance has generally been recognized as responding to this need for myths of origin, for tradition, for a celebration of Canadian history and ancestry, the social problem novel has not been understood in this context; it should be. This uniqueness in Anglo-Canadian reform discourses is both a governing hypothesis and an open-ended question throughout my study. It would take an extensive comparative analysis to determine whether the discourses of social purity, moral regulation, and social reform contained more pan-national similarities than national differences. Certainly, the reform movements associated with the late-Victorian period in Canada were not unique: for instance, Australia, America, and England had social purity societies similar to those in Canada.7 Finch finds in social scientific investigation of this period a distinct rhetorical homogeneity, which she calls "a feature of rational thought" and ascribes to the cultural pervasiveness of Enlightenment ideals throughout Western Europe, Britain, and the former British colonies (1993, 32). Valverde also comments on the difficulty of defining the specificity of Canadian social reform movements (1991, 16). Anthologies such as Samuels' The Culture of Sentiment suggest that very similar rhetorical strategies operated in American texts on social problems such as slavery, labour unrest, and women's emancipation. Heather Roberts' history of New Zealand women novelists, Where Did She 7 L. Kealey characterizes the reform movement of the late nineteenth century as "North American in character," and explains that, socially and economically, "the concerns were similar in Canada and the United States" (1979, 3). 37 Come From? indicates that the New Zealand sentimental romance of the late nineteenth century explored similar concerns with women's changing roles, heterosexual relations, and social purity issues such as temperance (1989, 9-36). Discussing the impact of imperialism on Victorian-Canadian reform movements, Barbara Roberts comments that while "the Canadian experience was unique, its broad outlines were shaped by the economic and social conditions of colonial nation-building under capitalism" (1979, 200). My sense is that while the same discursive patterns appear in other literatures of the nineteenth century, their precise configurations, particularly in their relation to the nation, are different. Although I lack sufficient comparative research to come to conclusive results, my study of Anglo-Canadian texts has led me to speculate that small but significant inflections in the discourse allow us to identify in the Canadian texts an element setting them apart from English, American, and other colonial sources, an element derived from the intersection of nationalist and reform ideologies, in which Canada is represented as a pure, northern nation combining a British heritage of order and decency with New World freedom, potential, and racial destiny. The Construction of Canada Anglo-Canadian nationalists never claimed that nationalism would arise spontaneously from the soil of British North America or from its people, that Canada as an imaginative entity would simply come into existence along with its political creation. If it were to exist at all, Canadian nationalism would be the laboriously-achieved effect rather than the cause of the union of the British North American colonies in 1867. In 1869, Robert Haliburton lamented the want of national spirit attending Confederation, complaining that "the august convention at which our constitution was framed, created as little excitement among the masses, as they would feel in the organization of a joint stock company" (1869, 1). As Berger points out, "the very achievement of Confederation stimulated a debate on the future of the new nationality" that repeatedly stressed the need to create a national feeling (1970, 38 82). Promoters of nationalism knew that the idea of Canada had to be actively conceived and promoted; the creation of an Anglo-Canadian nationalist consciousness was an enterprise requiring deliberate and sustained effort. Canadian nationalism had to be made, through the representation of Canadian history, the defence of Canadian political institutions, the celebration of Canadian national figures, the affirmation of Canada's abundant geographical splendors and natural resources, and through many other—broadly literary—endeavors. Although the union of 1867 had created a Canadian nation state in fact, it was only beginning to exist as an "imagined community," to borrow Benedict Anderson's title phrase (1991), and most commentators linked this fact to Canada's status as a colony. Although Canada had evolved to a position of independence regarding internal affairs, it had no voice in international matters such as foreign relations or trade agreements. For a rapidly-developing country, such "voiceless submission" to Britain was unacceptable (Cuningham 1880, 242). J. W. Longley declared that "distinctive national life will never be realized in Canada as long as it is a mere British Colony" (1882, 147). But criticisms of the British connection that limited Canada's development as an autonomous nation were always balanced by fears of American aggression, which had been revived during the Civil War. Canada's economic depression of the following years (from 1873 onwards) and increasing tensions between French and English Canadians, as a result of the Northwest Rebellion and the execution of Louis Riel, revealed the fragility-and many felt the unworkability—of the new union: "Twenty years after Confederation, there was a good deal of concrete evidence in support of those who predicted Canada's collapse; there was only faith on the side of those who defended it" (Berger 1970, 4). Reviewing George Bryce's A Short History of the Canadian People (1887) in The Week. G. Mercer Adam expressed both his fears about Canada's future and his sense of the purpose of a national history, regretting that the book had failed "to set before the reader the perils which have long beset Confederation, and is silent on those discordant elements . . . . which detract 39 from the homogeneity of the nation, and menace the path of the Canadian people" ( 1887, 341). For many writers, the project of consolidating the future and creating a national consciousness took on the urgency and rhetoric of a religious quest. Lamenting provincial divisions in Canada, Carter Troop, writing in The Week for April 21, 1887, declared that Canadians needed "something higher and better to bring us together in spirit and in fact, if we as a people would work out our own salvation" (331). His own writing was clearly intended to initiate the nationalist quest he called for: "[w]e Canadians have much to inspire us with faith both in ourselves and in our country," he wrote, "and our need is that we should feel this, that it should take possession of our souls, that it should wax strong and become a living and active power amongst us" (332). In an article for The Week of January 20, 1887, Sara Jeannette Duncan bemoaned Canadian lack of appreciation for and confidence in Canadian culture and called for a renaissance, declaring, with characteristic irony, that "[w]hat we need in Canada more than the readjustment of the tariff or the total extinction of the Catholic population, more than the defeat of the present Government or the victory of the present Opposition, more than annexation or independence or imperial federation or any amendment to the British North America Act-is a renaissance" (120). As early as 1865, Henry J. Morgan consecrated his Sketches of Celebrated Canadians to the work of national consolidation, declaring that he wrote out of "[a] just pride, an intense love of our native country, and an ardent hope and desire for its future greatness" (viii). It certainly seemed necessary to summon "intense love" to defend the idea of Canada in the face of significant political, economic, and geographical difficulties. Vox Clam wrote in the Canadian Monthly that "[w]hat every one knows is that Canada's position is at present most unsatisfactory; that it is embarrassing to the Mother Country, and that, under it, Canadian interests are everywhere at a disadvantage" (1879, 330). Ruminating on "The Future of Canada," Longley complained that despite Canada's rich resources and enterprising population, it "has no national status at all, and no Canadian . . . 40 is able even to conjecture what its future is to be" (1882, 147). Granville Cuningham began an essay entitled "Federation, Annexation, or Independence?" with the assertion that "the position in which this country at present stands to the rest of the world, is not a permanent position" (1880, 242). Cuningham's title points to the three distinct positions articulated in response to concerns about Canada's present status: independent nationhood, annexation by the United States, and closer ties to England through imperial federation. Proponents of independent nationhood, such as William Norris in the Canadian Monthly (1880), wanted to remove the last legal and psychological vestiges of colonialism, prophesying a new strength and unity for Canada once freed of the bondage of the colonial mentality. Proponents of autonomy were inspired by the vision of continent-wide national existence that Confederation had made possible; the possibility of expansion to the west, with its vast territory and rich natural resources, seemed to guarantee future prosperity and influence. As Norris insisted, though, "[h]alf a continent cannot be settled and peopled by a colony" (113). But for many political commentators, Canadian independence in the context of economic weakness was not a real option. Sir Francis Hincks, believing that "the inevitable consequence of separation from Great Britain must be the adoption of Republican institutions," launched a defence of the imperial connection as indispensable to Canada's welfare, attacking Norris for naivete and short-sightedness (1881, 402). Not all Canadians rejected outright the idea of union with the United States, though most commentators viewed it with mixed feelings. While regretting the death of a national dream, Carroll Ryan believed that "undoubtedly our condition would be vasdy improved thereby in a material sense" (1879, 410). And while union with the American Republic held material benefits, Ryan argued, it was almost inevitable under Canada's present conditions as he described them: "[cjircumscribed by climate, hemmed in by artificial boundaries projected in defiance of geographical limitations, with nothing but a fading tradition to separate the inhabitants from a great progressive kindred people, the dream of Canadian nationality, or even the 41 perpetuation for any length of time of British supremacy in North America, appears in the light of sober judgment one of the wildest chimeras that ever haunted the political imagination" (409). In reaction, many nationalists turned to the imperial tie as a defence of Canada's unique history and traditions as well as for an answer to her economic problems. As Berger has argued, imperialism can be understood as "one form of Canadian nationalism" rather than as a slavish colonial hangover in opposition to nationalism (1970, 259). Benjamin Tayler, in an often sarcastic response to Norris,8 asserted that Imperial Federation "place[s] us on a surer footing and safer foundation than independence" (1880, 396). Canada First (1868-75), organized by Col. George Taylor Denison, Henry Morgan, and the Ontario poet Charles Mair, sought to promote a strongly Anglo-Protestant national consciousness. Despite assertions of connection with Britain, the imperialists were by no means colonial in the modern, pejorative sense of the term; on the contrary, they insisted that Canada was a unique country in many ways superior to Britain. Denison, for example, imagined the center of empire shifting to Canada's unspoiled land; the Colonel's borderline-obsessive concern with imperial defence was founded on his conception of the healthy and virile farmers of Canada compensating England for her enfeebled and sickly factory-workers. Although the group was short-lived, its vision of Canada's interests and future stature was to have a lasting influence on the forms of the Canadian national imagination, as Duncan's idealistic Lome Murchison in The Imperialist (1904) would attest. While fearing absorption by an aggressive, powerful, and expansionist America to the south, and desiring to join with Britain as an equal partner in the Empire, Canadians were nevertheless faced with evidence of the diminution of British interest in the colonies. Since the formal loosening of political ties in the 1840s, official policy and general 8 Commenting on Norris' suggestions for a Canadian flag, Tayler begged leave to "advise the writer, in all friendliness, to open up communication with the numerous Central and South American States, and offer to supply them with new devices for flags after every successful revolution," finally suggesting for Canada's coat-of-arms "the beaver, dressed Ma John Bull, having a green feather and a white lily twined in its hat (the latter being of Canadian manufacture, of course) playing the Canadian National Anthem on a Scotch bagpipe" (396). 42 sentiment reflected a view of the colonies as economic liabilities rather than valued partners, and the Washington Treaty of 1871 between Britain and the United States, in which Britain made substantial concessions to the States in fisheries and the navigation of the St. Lawrence, showed that Britain was more interested in appeasing America than in protecting Canada. As a result, the Canadian future seemed precarious indeed. The anonymous author (G. H. M.) of one of numerous articles on "Canada's Future" (The Week. November 3, 1887) commented on the title that "[tjhis subject is so completely surrounded with enigmas and latent elements that anything beyond mere conjecture is at present next to impossible" (783). As the 1880s wore on, continuing depression was understood to be proof that the National Policy of Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservative government-principally its introduction of tariff protection for Canadian products—had failed; the collapse of Canada seemed a real possibility. In response to these severe economic difficulties, the Liberal Party in 1887 adopted a policy of free trade with the United States, known as unrestricted reciprocity. Again, many observers predicted that such an economic agreement would ultimately lead to Canada's assimilation by the United States. As a defensive reaction, the Imperial Federation League established branches in Canadian cities in 1887 and 1888. Yet a significant group of Canadians began to see continentalism of some form as the only practical option open to the foundering dominion. Thus, Goldwin Smith turned from the nationalism of the Canada First movement to espouse continental union in Canada and the Canadian Question (1891) as the kind of honourable federation existing between England and Scotland, to which the imperialist George Parkin (who called himself the Evangelist of Empire) responded with yet another defence of the tie to Britain, in Imperial Federation (1892). The narrow victory of Macdonald's National Policy in 1891 did little to quell the enduring sense of crisis. The point of this condensed historical overview is to stress the intensity of the preoccupation with Canadian destiny during this period and also to assert the plurality of the visions of Canada in circulation in the two decades following Confederation; it is a 43 period characterized by many competing nationalisms and conflicting representations of Canadian destiny. Thus even as I go on, in this chapter, to provide an overview of some of the ways in which Canada was being imagined in this period, it is important to remember that this discursive entity was a mobile and provisional one, its affiliations, allegiances, and emphases shifting according to specific historical and political circumstances. Even with this proviso, it is possible to make a few generalizations about Anglo-Canadian self-representation during this period, for despite the still pervasive perception of Canada as a land without an identity (itself an interesting representational strategy signifying both Canada's famed moderation and grandiose claims to pan-national status), English Canadians in the twenty-five years following Confederation created a rich stock of images and ideals to form the lasting features of a still-recognizable Canadian national character. Then as now, Canadians tended to define themselves negatively, in opposition to Old World social decay and also to American turbulence and disorder. Thus a representative current affairs article in the Canadian Monthly and National Review9 contained commentary on world affairs that invariably stimulated reflection on Canadian identity. Evidence of "[t]he evil memory of slavery" in the United States led to general reflection on the necessity of racial "fusion" for "political unity and equality" (112). (Canadians frequently congratulated themselves on being free from American racial problems: arguing for Canada's coming political supremacy over America, Norris predicted that "[a] hot-bed progress among alien and half-assimilated people will surely accelerate the end" of American dominance [1880,118].10) In the same issue of the Canadian Monthly, the publication of a pamphlet on court etiquette by a Professor Fanning becomes the occasion for discussion of the nature of community in Canada, which is egalitarian, 9 "Papers By a Bystander" (Jan. 1879), Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly and National Review. 1 0 An item in The Week for December. 16,1886 devoted a lengthy summary to Josiah Strong's enumeration of the perils facing the American Republic, listed as "Immigration, Romanism, Mormonism, Intemperance, Socialism, Wealth, and the City," and took the opportunity to add a few Canadian observations on sources of corruption and decline, such as the laxity of American divorce laws (37). 44 inclusive, and merit-oriented. The attempt to generate interest in court etiquette is significant enough to prompt a vigorous defence of Canadian social equality, with the author exclaiming that "[t]he experiment of inoculating a community of the New World with Old World formality and servility is not only curious in itself, but important as the probable precursor, should it succeed, of a more serious attack on democracy, both social and political" (1879, 119). Yet the British-American dynamic within which Canada maintained a balance also afforded positive affiliations: as an item in The Week for August 11, 1887 declared, "[w]e are very far from being British, equally far from being American, yet we are willing to defy the charge of being unduly puffed up when we assert that some of the best qualities of both are assimilated in the Canadian character" (596). Anglo-Canadians often aligned themselves with Americans as New World children of the Old, more vigorous and healthy than Europeans; Longley borrowed American rhetoric to describe the "free-born Canadian, who has always enjoyed a universal freedom as broad as the sky, and has imbibed from infancy a notion of equality" (1882, 153). At the same time, Canadians emphasized their allegiance to Britain. "In cherishing her connection with the Parent State," Alpheus Todd declared, "Canada has retained the inestimable advantage of stable Christian government, which affords to individuals the utmost possible freedom consistent with wholesome restraints upon the excesses of democratic opinion or the license of profanity" (1881, 530). This status as obedient rather than rebellious offspring enabled Canadians to emphasize the stability, traditionalism, and orderliness of Canada. Sometimes these apparently contradictory affiliations came together, as in Nicholas Flood Davin's contention that Canadians "have the best form of government in the world, at once the freest, the most Democratic and the most Conservative" (1881, 491). While most nationalists continued to emphasize Canada's British heritage, they began to forge a distincdy Canadian discursive identity based on Canadian geography and the productive features of colonial experience. In this self-representation, Canada was the physical and the cultural embodiment of 45 progress, health, and morality: Canadian national character was understood to correspond to the pure air, sparkling water, and snowy peaks of the vast country. This idea of Canada was both temporal and spatial. Nationalists promoted history as a record of material and cultural advancement that positioned Canada as the very principle of progress, reorganizing the past, present, and future through its teleological narrative. Longley declared Canada to be "in the very vanguard of moral enlightenment and political freedom" (1882, 147). Berger paraphrases the rhetoric of the period in terms of this progressivism, asking who "could deny the progressive tendency of history when, to use the language of the day, cities stood where only two generations before the redman and his wigwam prevailed?" (1970, 109-10). The narrative of progress justified British colonization of North America and the disempowerment of and attempted genocide of native peoples. It also positioned Canada in reference to a future of almost unlimited growth and prosperity. Predictions concerning Canada's future population, for example, were often exaggeratedly dramatic. Estimating that Canadian numbers would soon eclipse those of Great Britain, nationalist historians imagined a Canadian giant entering upon a period of international distinction. Norris asserted that Canada "has come into existence at a grand period of the world's history. Humanity, on this continent, has advanced beyond the evils of the old civilization. Feudalism, slavery, and extreme ignorance and poverty, have never been known to any extent among us, and we shall never be handicapped by them" (117-18). The result would be that "[a]s power steps from the disorganized grasp of the United States, it will fall to Canada as her natural right" (118). In the following confident statement on the role of "Woman in Nation-Building," Parker argues that Canada is both free of the social problems that beset older nations and better equipped by history and geography to combat them: Canada, our beloved land, favored of God in her broad rivers, immense lakes, exhausdess fisheries, illimitable forests and mineral wealth, of boundless extent; with a territory large enough for the homes of 46 40,000,000; free from the blighting evils that afflict and torment older lands, with the opportunity to graft upon our young national stock the best elements of the four or five nationalities that claim kinship with us; why should not Canada lead the world to-day, in all that makes for human progress. (1890,465) As Parker's celebration makes clear, Canadian physical spaces were also appropriated to this story of progress. The snowy mountain peaks, the rugged forest regions, the waters of Canada's lakes and rivers, and the wide open spaces of the Western prairies, all became figurative signs and literal causes of the healthful vigour, self-reliance, moral courage, and spiritual purity necessary in the citizenry of a great nation. The invigorating Canadian climate was held to be conducive to serious thought and moral elevation. Such a climate produced all of the character traits most valued by Christian Protestant ideology and most needed in a new country aiming at world prominence: strength, virility, love of freedom, thrift, energy, and moral earnestness. Such traits in turn were associated with Northern races in general, particularly the Scandinavian peoples from whom the Anglo-Saxons were descended, enabling the argument to be made that Canadian racial stock would combine with the climate, environs, and settler experiences to produce a noble race indeed.11 This relation between climate and ability appeared natural and indisputable when posed by Haliburton in the form of the following rhetorical question: "[i]f climate has not had the effect of moulding races, how is it that southern nations have almost invariably been inferior to and subjugated by the men of the north?" (1869, 2). The Canadian winter was particularly mythologized in this context, providing the anchor for a range of arguments about Canada's glorious national destiny.12 It was 1 1 Berger notes that "[t]he adjective 'northern' came to symbolize energy, strength, self-reliance, health, and purity, and its opposite, 'southern,' was equated with decay and effeminacy, even libertinism and disease" (1970, 129). 1 2 This representation was by no means unanimous. In "Canada's Difficulties," for example, Roswell Fisher argued that Canadian geography and climate posed significant obstacles to national progress, asserting that "[a]s it is usually, and I believe truly, held that the human race attains its greatest vigour and energy in the temperate zone, it is obvious that we cannot hope for our population at the best more than the vigour of the people of that zone" (1880, 523). In addition, the Canadian climate meant barriers to 47 appealed to as a natural barrier to disease (Davin claimed it to be "a clime in which miasma cannot live," [1881, 491]) and to invasion by undesirable classes and races; it would discourage the settlement of paupers and lower races, particularly blacks but also Southern Europeans. Speaking of the poverty in urban centers in Britain, for example, the author of "Papers By a Bystander: 2" in the Canadian Monthly declared "[tjhere is no use in talking about sending the sufferers here. Farm labourers we should welcome if they are hardy enough to bear the climate of the North-West" (February 1879, 236). In addition, national unity would be another result of such a climate, for the French and English would be united by its common hardships and benefits. Such an argument always appealed to the fact that most of the French settlers in Canada were from northern France: Brittany and Normandy. And because the Normans were descended from the Scandinavian conquerors who had also invaded Great Britain, then Canada could be the northern arena for re-uniting a long-separated race. French fears of absorption were justified in the rhetoric of harmoniously reintegrating the Anglo-Saxon race.13 Such visions of racial unity were predicated upon a vision of Canada as an essentially agrarian nation; nationalists of the imperialist branch valued the French for their perceived conservatism, attachment to the land, and resistance to industrialization. Haliburton's address to the Montreal Literary Club, published as The Men of the North And Their Place in History (1869), locates a mythic origin in Europe and imagines migration to an empty land, arguing that Canadians are heir to the mantle of dominance held by the northern peoples of Europe, that in fact they were that people, "all the original elements of the British race" once dispersed and now re-collected (9). Haliburton emphasizes that the Canadian winter guaranteed the moral and physical predominance of (white, Anglo-Saxon) Canadian people, arguing that "[a]s long as the north wind blows, and the snow and the sleet drive over our forests and fields, we may be transportation, more money spent on the necessities of life, and a shorter growing season for agricultural products, among other disadvantages. 1 3 Interest in the complex racial make-up of the Anglo-Saxon people, and its implications for Canada's national destiny, was widespread. An article by John Reade in The Week reports on scientific investigation establishing a racial correlation between the "eskimaux" of Canada and the "ancient cave-men of Britain" to establish Canada as the arena for a recreation of British stock (1887,480). 48 a poor, but we must be a hardy, a healthy, a virtuous, a daring, and if we are worthy of our ancestors, a dominant race" (10). Haliburton objected to the name of the Dominion, for it meant, as far as he could discover, "the land of nothing," suggesting that Canada might be what it most certainly was not, a "nameless race of savages, who have no past which we can recall with pride, and no future which we can work out for ourselves and our children" (10). The alternative to national pride for Haliburton was a terrible absence equated with barbarism and exclusion from history, precisely what Canada had been won away from. Thus he wanted to change Canada's name to Norland and to re-imagine it entirely within an epic narrative of origins pre-dating Columbus: Canadians were the Northmen of the New World, the heirs of the Norse voyagers who had discovered the New World "long ages before the days of Columbus" (10). Although the tradition he evoked was masculinist and explicidy military, Haliburton yet managed to stress its superior domestic qualities, claiming that the Northern races are distinguished for their "chivalry and valour," particularly their respectful treatment of women, and asserting that "domestic love and affection find only a congenial home in the North" (11). The mythological importance, in nationalist discourses, of winter and the north as both physical and spiritual terrain is emphasized in the title of Machar's Marjorie's Canadian Winter: A Story of the Northern Lights (1892), a novel for children that neatly links the themes of Christian mission, national character, and physical geography discussed above. The novel describes the Canadian adventures of a thirteen-year-old American girl, Marjorie Fleming, who spends a winter with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Montreal while her father travels for his health. While stressing the many affinities between Canadians and Americans-particularly their common Christian heritage-the novel ultimately distinguishes Canada by locating it within an evangelical and missionary narrative of the "Light that shineth in darkness." This light, first introduced in a story read to Marjorie by her editor father, is both a reminder of individual Christian duty to struggle for one's own and others' spiritual regeneration, and a metaphor for Canada's national 49 destiny. That Canada is the story of the light in the darkness is made clear through the novel's representation of British and French colonization of the New World. Accounts of Marjorie's first tobogganing and skating experiences are interspersed with stories told by her uncle and a family friend about the Jesuits and their suffering at the hands of the Indians. In these episodes, Machar rewrites Francis Parkman's History of the Jesuits for children, such that the harsh northern geography and the savage inhabitants combine to make Canada the testing ground for Christian heroism and martyrdom. The narratives stress the ignorance and barbarism of the first inhabitants of North America-who are metaphorically linked to the people scattered throughout the dark parts of the world-in contrast to the piety, pity, and courage of the missionaries. In the process, the novel tells two complementary—if widely divergent—stories of origin, one presenting a vision of native peoples' joyful reception of Jacques Cartier as recognized saviour and the other describing the missionary settlements as beleaguered outposts of civilization amidst a ferocious, undifferentiated physical and human savagery. By narrating such stories always in the context of the whiteness of the Canadian winter, the novel seeks to blur religious and cultural tensions between French and English into an overarching racial destiny, and to locate a strong, singular Canadian identity in a heroic past characterized by the subduing of the wilderness and the Christianizing of the savage. The fact that Machar published this overtly nationalistic children's novel in the same year as Roland Graeme, her novel about the Labour Question, suggests the close alliance between social problem discourse and national self-representation. Similarly, landscape is directly linked to the transformation of the heroine-from emancipated self-assertion to social purity—in Lily Dougall's The Madonna of a Day (1895). Having fallen from a train travelling through the British Columbia mountains, and now in danger from a gang of ruffians, the desperate heroine is yet awakened by the beauty of nature to a desire to "strive for something absolutely noble" (59). In her revulsion from her past life of selfishness, the mountains both prompt and symbolize her change of heart: 50 "[t]he light was beginning to touch the tops of the other hills; they too, pure and white, pointed upwards, and the great peak rose colossal and glittering, as it seemed, into the very sky" (59). The heroine imagines a spiritual and social destiny for herself that is appropriate to the purity and aspiration of the mountain peaks: "[s]he knew now that never, never again could she see a man degraded from man's estate without knowing that women might have held him up, nay, rather, exalted him, had women been pure enough to do the work that was given them to do" (270). The connection between Anglo-Canadian national identity and progressive reform was an intimate one. Whereas other nations could refer to centuries-old traditions, revolutionary glory, or cultural, material, and military superiority as the basis for national pride, Canada repeatedly claimed recognition on the basis of its greater humanitarianism and its sympathy for the oppressed. In the early 1870s, Canada defined itself as the haven for the oppressed worker of England, and this characterization was to continue for the next twenty years, even as economic recession and unemployment meant that Canadian cities began to resemble their British counterparts far more than had ever been expected. The pages of the Canadian Monthly and National Review refer to Canada as a classless land, free of strife and promising prosperity to all. The following "Current Events" article of August, 1874, represented Canada as a land free of ghosts, debts, and unjust privileges: To the labourer, desperately struggling to improve his condition through industrial wars and political uprisings in the old world, we may safely say, leave that narrow heritage, the domain of the privileged few, burdened with the debts, darkened with the shadows, haunted by the spectres of the past, where of every man's earnings a large part goes to maintain the luxury of the lord of the soil, or to pay for wars waged in quarrels now extinct, and in the interest of a class: come to a land in which there is room for all, which is owned by those who till it, where every man receives the full fruit of his 51 own toil, where the past has bequeathed no legacies of evil to the present-the ample, bountiful, and unencumbered freehold of the people. (147) In this representation, Canada's lack of history is an asset, releasing the Canadian labourer into a future of unlimited vistas, both geographically and metaphorically. Commentators also insisted that Canada was remarkably free of the gender conflicts that were disturbing England and America during this period, arguing that Canada's women occupied a privileged position of such respect and freedom that Canadian women were not even interested in suffrage. The moral purity of Canadian women was celebrated by many commentators as both source and evidence of Canadian national advancement. Canadian institutions were lauded for granting women unequalled freedom and political power while protecting them from the abuses suffered by women in other countries. Articles such as the Canadian Magazine's expose of "Foot Distortion in China," by Archie Stockwell, devoted pages of detailed description to this "infamous and barbarous" custom, directing concerned attention to the mistreatment of foreign women as evidence of Canadian progress (1894, 115). Such evaluations of the position of women in Canadian society explicitly linked women's emancipation with Canadian difference from the corruption and rigid hierarchy of Old World cultures. In his article on "The Canadian Girl," Hector Charlesworth defined male brutality as a quintessentially Old World characteristic, asserting that "[d]eep-rooted in the character of every English bred man lurks the idea that his wife is his chattel" and that "[tjhe wife-beaters are all Englishmen" (1893, 189). He also connected women's social advancement with New World racial and cultural superiority, conjecturing that "the admixture of the liberality of the Scotch, the generosity and chivalry of the Irish, with the English customs, and the assimilation of the best social traits of many nations which is now going on in Canada, has had something to do with this happy result" (189). Canadian women, Charlesworth noted with approval, were naturally more independent, self-reliant, and assertive than English women were, and Canadian men demonstrated a parallel 52 lessening of aggression and tyranny, such that the Canadian heterosexual couple was developing into the ideal model of domesticity and harmony. Such a sentimentalized version of Canadian gender roles Charlesworth then connected back to the general freedom of Canadian social institutions, arguing that "[t]he absence in Canada of rigid caste regulations, the diminution of that toadyism to superiors and tyranny to inferiors characteristic of England, and, above all, the freedom from restraint in education, has bred a Canadian independence and breezy self-reliance that assimilates poorly with the English desire to dominate" (189). In Charlesworth's representation, Canada is presented as naturally suited to movements for social reform, and yet so fundamentally egalitarian as to have no need of them. Greater sympathy for the weak, the outcast, the helpless, and the fallen comes to be seen as the defining feature of Canadian culture. John Langmuir argued that the level of a nation's humanity could be gauged by "the systems designed by a country to supply the needs of its moral, mental, and physical defectives, and of its dependent classes generally" and judged Ontario favourably for its well-developed charity, reformatory, and prison systems (1880, 239).14 James Whitman similarly comments on the large number of charitable institutions in Halifax as evidence of that city's enlightenment and humanity: There is perhaps no city on the continent or elsewhere, of its size, that can boast of better, or a greater number of charitable institutions than Halifax. Its far famed Asylum for the Insane, on the Dartmouth shore, is an object of commanding interest and aspect, not only upon entering the harbour, but from almost any elevated portion of the city; and its extent... speaks 1 4 Langmuir concludes his essay on "The Asylums, Prisons, and Public Charities of Ontario, and Their System of Management" by commenting favourably on Ontario's commitment to its dependent population: That the Province is fully alive to the importance of the interests involved in the system is shown by the fact that during the past decade, she has founded and erected at an expense of nearly two and a half million dollars, three hospitals for the insane, an asylum for idiots, two institutions for the deaf and dumb and the blind, a central or intermediate prison, a reformatory for women, and a refuge for girls, which, along with the institutions established prior to Confederation form one of the most complete, charitable and correctional systems on the continent. (246-47) 53 volumes for the charity which provides a home so munificent for such unfortunates. The institution is worthy of an article itself, but of course the space of our present paper precludes more than a passing reference. So it may be said of the Asylum for the Poor, and the other numerous houses of refuge, of which, I understand, there are some twenty of different kinds, each accomplishing a vast amount of good in the silent God-like manner of charity, called, truly, the greatest of all Christian graces. (1897, 426) If charity is "the greatest of all Christian graces," then it would seem from the multiplicity of discourses celebrating Canadian benevolence that nineteenth-century Canada was God's country indeed. It is hardly necessary to add that the repeated declarations of Canadian humanity and sympathy for the oppressed conflict with the conservatism and often extreme punitiveness with which Canadian legislators and social groups treated their population of beggars, fallen women, political radicals, inebriates, and law-offenders. It seems undeniable that wheat prices, tariff questions, and party politics occupied the average Canadian far more than did Magdalen Institutions or philanthropic home visiting. But my point is not so much the disjunctions between Canadian self-representations and social reality-although they provide an interesting sub-text-but rather the extent to which what was institutionally and socially marginal was central to the culture's mythology. What matters is that the mythology of Canada as a land with "no agitators, because we have no grievances," in Davin's words, was taken up and used in the most serious debates about the country's future (1881, 491). To a large extent, social reform writers saw themselves as extending rather than contesting these dominant representations of Canadian society. Canadian social reformers' characterization of their time and their nation as one of vasdy increased compassion is reflected in its textual deployment of scenes of compassion for suffering as paradigmatic expressions of national spirit; in their descriptions of the ideal community, nationalist and ' reform discourse tended to claim moral authority through appeals to emotion, particularly 5 4 the emotions of pity and benevolence.15 Thus reformers participated in what Samuels has called "a culture of sentiment" (1992, from her tide).16 The key features of this culture were reformers' confidence in the natural goodness of the human heart and their faith in progress. Faith in every human being's capacity for good and his or her fundamental teachability had a powerful influence on Canadian intellectual and social life; this faith recurs in discussions of religion, political economy, morality, the family, education, criminality, and social ethics, and contributed powerfully to public confidence in reform movements. Leaders of new religious movements, directors of reformatories, asylums, and benevolent institutions, women philanthropists and charity workers, and supporters of woman suffrage all expressed their belief in human goodness and perfectibility and in Canada as the nation most suited to facilitate such developments. In such contexts, the criminal became one of the favourite figures around which these ideas about justice, sympathy, and regeneration were expressed. In "The Criminal of Creation," Lewis Ray asserted that it was environment, not innate depravity, that led men to commit crimes, and linked criminality to suffering, arguing that "degradation and vice 1 5 For an overview of the philosophical and scientific basis of the emphasis on feeling, see Janet Todd's Sensibility: An Introduction (1986) on efforts by the second Earl of Shaftesbury, David Hume, and Adam Smith to link morality and emotional sensation. Shaftesbury posited an innate moral sense in human beings and understood goodness as the ability to perceive the beauty of virtue. Hume rejected the ethics of rationalism, arguing that passion alone had the power to move one to act for good. Smith continued Hume's ideas in his investigation of the formation of moral judgements through sympathy, arguing that sympathy "derives from an imaginary spectator within, who allows us to change places with a sufferer and put his or her interests before our own" (qtd. in Todd 27). 1 6 from Samuels, ed. The Culture of Sentiment (1992). Sentiment has a long and complex history in eighteenth-century thought. For information on the social context and contested meanings of sentimental fiction in eighteenth-century England and France, see G. J. Barker-Benfield's The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (1992); David Denby's Sentimental Narrative and the Social Order in France. 1760-1820 (1994); John Mullan's Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (1988); Todd's Sensibility (1986); Ann Jessie Van Sant's Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context (1993); and Anne Vincent-Buffault's The History of Tears: Sensibility and Sentimentality in France (1991). Although the perspectives of these studies differ, all see the culture of sentiment as an aspect of Enlightenment thought linked to developing middle-class hegemony. Barker-Benfield focuses on the function of sentimentality in creating a consumer culture through its celebration of domesticity and in aiding the development of an appropriate climate for an emerging capitalist order. Todd places sentiment in the context of a number of social phenomena, including the changing economic and cultural situation of women, as well as interrelated developments in religion, philosophy, and science. Vincent-Buffault, examining the situation in France, traces "a slow passage from sensibility to sentimentality" (in which the latter term is distinctly pejorative while the former is not) throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (1991, ix). 55 are the natural results of punishment and pain" and that "wickedness is only anguish and despair in a hardened and concentrated form" (1881, 185). For Ray, the relief of suffering was the only solution to crime. M, the anonymous author of "Crime and its Treatment," condemned former and existing methods of punishment as "radically vicious," laying out a proposal for prison reform that relied on faith in men and women's potential for radical regeneration (1877, 166). M. argued for a new understanding of society modeled upon the affective family, and employing a social welfare paradigm stressing the responsibility of the state to care for its citizens, and owing "a more intimate and tender regard" for "the poor, the weak [and] the obtuse" (166). In listing the principal features of an ideal prison, including authority, rigor of regimen, industry, and instruction, M. emphasized that "finally, there must be tender sympathy, stooping to the lowest, recognizing angelic possibilities therein, and seeking to lift up and save" (171). This belief in the possibility of refashioning human selves is reflected not only in Canadians' fascination with reforming institutions and projects of all kinds, but also in their fictional and non-fictional representations of the solutions to social problems, in which becoming truly Canadian often involves a fundamental ethical transformation. In The Regenerators. Cook has dealt at length with the importance of Protestant Christianity in reforming discourse. References to Canada as God's land, and to reformers as God's soldiers against vice, were neither superfluous nor, in reformers' minds, exaggerated, and such references indicate the significant intersections between religion, nationalism, and social reform. Religion provided many women reformers with irrefutable justification for unconventional activity.17 The late-Victorian period was a time when reformers turned away from theological abstraction to argue for Christianity as the material 1 ' For an overview of the relationship between philanthropy, religion, and imperialism in late-nineteenth-century English Canada, see Ruth Compton Brouwer's New Women for God (1990), an examination of women's intense involvement in the Canadian Presbyterian mission in India. Brouwer argues that foreign mission work was a vital outlet for women's energies in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, providing opportunity for "a vocation and . . . a larger life than any they could contemplate in Canada" (4). Useful as an overview, this study lacks an awareness of post-colonial approaches to her subject matter. 56 practice of social justice.18 The Social Gospel movement, which brought together the concern for social justice with the privileging of emotion in religious thought, was part of a long tradition of religious reform that opposed the stern Calvinism of the seventeenth century, offering instead a "sympathetic God and a corresponding view of humanity" (Barker-Benfield 1992, 71).19 The concern with directing religious emotion to contemporary social problems connected the reconstruction of society with the reformation of traditional religious doctrine and practice. Some moral philosophers, such as W. D. LeSueur in "Morality and Religion," abandoned Christianity altogether, finding the moral basis for human action in natural sympathy, men's "just and benevolent feelings" (1880, 166).20 This faith in the sympathy that every human being possessed inspired confidence in the possibility of reducing, if not eliminating, human evil. Thus the period that saw the growth of religious skepticism and doubt was also an age of heightened belief in social progress.21 1 8 As Cook has argued, this movement was also in part a response to the profound intellectual crisis orthodox Christianity was undergoing (1985, 7-64). This crisis was ignited by the publication of Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859 and its implications for the biblical account of creation and man. Another major religious crisis stemmed from historical biblical criticism, which had originated in Germany early in the century, and which raised questions about the authorship and even the authenticity of certain books of the Bible. These scholars insisted that biblical texts had to be understood in their historical context and were not necessarily accurate: they certainly could not claim divine inspiration. One of the ways that Liberal Protestantism accommodated such attacks, then, was by insisting on the spirit rather than the letter of Christianity: as Machar and many others argued, the practical application of Christ's teaching was more important than subtle points of doctrine. For example, in "Modern Theology and Modern Thought," Machar defined religion in opposition to "theory or creed, which is intellectual belief as "the living principle of action which has been the main spring of so many lives" (1881, 297). 1 9 In an article he wrote for the Canadian Monthly on the relationship between human physiology and moral character, Daniel Clark characterized the new religious thought in the following, somewhat amused, manner: The doctrine of total depravity is not insisted on with that positive vehemence with which it was once asserted. It is now often put in an apologetic way, with a tendency to give a poor sinner or heathen credit for disinterested acts of natural goodness and benevolence. ("1881, 347). 2 0 LeSueur went further than Social Gospel reformers in valuing feeling over doctrine, asserting in "The Future of Morality" that "[a]ll the grace would vanish from an act, say of hospitality, if it were visibly inspired by fear of heaven, or if it were in any way dissociated from the natural human sympathy which it ought to express" (1880, 76). 2 1 For a discussion of the role of religion in shaping culture and nationality, see John Grant's A Profusion of Spires: Religion in Nineteenth-Century Ontario (1988), especially 170-203, and William Westfall's Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ontario (1989). For a full treatment of the often uneasy relationship between "critical inquiry and moral affirmation" in Anglo-Canadian intellectual discourse, see A. B. McKillop's A Disciplined Intelligence (1979, ix) and his Contours of Canadian 57 Literature and Nationalism The age was also one of literary nationalism. As Roper notes, the late Victorian period in Canada was "a time of talk and writing about the need of a native literature to body forth a new nation" (1976, 277). Many Canadian literary journals, such as the Canadian Monthly and National Review and the Canadian Magazine, were designed to further Canadian interest in cultural matters and to counter the flood of American periodicals;22 during the period 1875-95, Canadian literature was perhaps as much commented upon as practiced. Commentators on Canadian literary activity posited a direct correlation between national consciousness and literary development, lamented or justified Canada's failure to produce a great national literature, and consciously predicted—or anxiously called for—significant cultural achievements in the near future. Gerson characterizes this period in terms of a search, alternately hopeful and despairing, for a national literature perceived to be integral to national character (1989, 8-12). The writing of J. G. Bourinot throughout the last two decades of the century is one example of the obsession with documenting, analyzing, explaining, and predicting the relationship between Canadian material conditions, political developments, intellectual progress, and literary output, all justified by the belief that, as Berger phrases it, "[a] native literature was both an infallible signal of the development of a national consciousness and the chief source of its nourishment" (1970, 50).23 Duncan, Thought (1987). McKillop details the attempts by intellectuals and church leaders to accommodate the Protestant crisis in faith. While McKillop, Grant, and Westfall provide excellent overviews of Victorian-Canadian intellectual history, my study owes its principal debt to the research of social historians such as Valverde and McLaren. In other words, my study is less concerned with the intellectual and theological spheres than with the discursive realm of the social. 2 2 The periodicals of the day frequently had mission statements explaining the close connection perceived to exist between the periodical press and national culture. J. Gordon Mowat wrote loftily on "The Purpose of a National Magazine" for the Canadian Magazine that the periodical intended "to stimulate and afford expression to the higher thought and tastes of a people, to bring the country's best thought, under the most favourable circumstances and in the most attractive form, before the best classes of the country's readers~the classes upon whom the shaping of the political, social, intellectual and even industrial future of the nation most largely depend" (1901,166). Mowat comments on magazine literature from America and England that it is fine, but "does not meet the national needs" (167). 2 3 Bourinot argued in 1881 that Canadian literature was on the verge of a new growth and period of expansion because of "the greater opportunities of leisure and culture" made possible by political and economic developments in the country (234). He made a direct connection between Canada's political 58 arguing against American piracy of foreign authors in the Washington Post, asserted that "literature is not only the measure of a people's progress [but] is also the means of their further advancement" and that "[t]he production of books therefore has direct relations to the public good" (qtd. in Tausky 1978,102). Commentators alternately celebrated and lamented the (non)existence of Canadian literature. Troop, inclined to take a gloomy view of Canada's colonial existence, claimed that "to this want of national life and feeling must in large part be attributed our literary feebleness and the paucity of ideas which Canadians have contributed to the thought of the world" (1887, 331). An anonymous review in "Our Library Table," The Week, of Sarah Anne Curzon's verse-drama Laura Secord. the Heroine of 1812. commended the piece as a contribution to national culture, commenting that "[w]e cannot have too much of that spirit of inquiry, that spirit of lively, healthy interest in national subjects, that is ever the sign of an increasing literature" (1887, 759). The sense of national urgency meant, as I have previously indicated, that the general debate over realism and naturalism that took place in England during this period never produced in Canada the mass of experimental fiction that constitutes that country's fin de siecle legacy. In Britain, arguments about what fiction should represent, how responsive it should be to new discoveries in science and psychology, and how candid about sexual relations, were taken up in the novels themselves, which dealt in taboo, the overthrow of convention, decadence, and sexual experimentation. As Elaine Showaiter has demonstrated, British New Woman fiction was associated with experimental fictional destiny and her dawning cultural strength, suggesting that the national spirit emanating from great political institutions would also animate literary production: In this land there is a future full of promise for literature as for industry. Our soil speaks to the million of poor in the old countries of the world of boundless hope. Here there is no ancient system of social exclusiveness to fix a limit to the intellectual progress of the proletariat. Political freedom rests on a firm, broad basis of general education. . . . As our political horizon widens, and a more expansive national existence opens before us, so must our intellectual life become not only more vigorous, but more replete with evidences of graceful culture. (234) In 1893, when he spoke to the Royal Society of Canada (later published as Our Intellectual Strength and Weakness). Bourinot was still predicting significant literary achievements by Canadian authors, looking forward to "the Canadian Scott, or Hawthorne, or 'George Eliot,' or Dickens of the future" and declaring that "the progress in the years to come will be far greater than that we have yet shown" (1893,45). 59 forms and a diverse range of sexual possibilities for men and women (1991, 38-58). But while English critics worried that lack of realism in regard to sexual matters was effeminizing the virile English population,24 Canadian critics almost universally regarded sexuality in fiction as debased and debasing, and as inappropriate to the Canadian environment and historical situation. As in all other matters, Canadian products had to be purer than those of either England or the United States. In the debates about the kinds of literature best suited to represent and to sustain a national culture that raged in Canadian presses, anything approaching Zola-esque naturalism was condemned as immoral, and even what we would now call the classic realist text came in for censure by some critics. The debate between realism and romance illustrates assumptions about the relationship between national development and literary genre. Balancing precariously between the potentially immoral escapism of sentimental romance and the imitation-inspiring grittiness of realism, many commentators asserted that historical fiction was particularly suited—and safe—for an emerging literature, and called for a Canadian Sir Walter Scott or George Eliot to contribute to the moulding of a healthy, moral citizenry.25 In "The Lamps of Fiction," Goldwin Smith found in Scott that perfect combination of realism and idealism that made great art, arguing that although "[t]he materials of the novelist must be real.. . they must pass through the crucible of the imagination" because the literary artist "is not a photographer, but a painter" (1881, 70). Writing in The Week. Barry Dane asserted that, as a colony, Canada could not hope to produce a fully-fledged national literature of the stature of Britain's, and should not even try to; instead, the Dominion should aim at what might in generations to come nourish such a literature: "[w]e 2 4 The English critic Elizabeth Linton, for example, complained in the New Review symposium on "Candour in English Fiction," published in 1890, that the "present system of uncandid reticence" resulted in "the queer anomaly of a strong-headed and masculine nation cherishing a feeble, futile, milk-and-water literature-of a truthful and straightforward race accepting the most transparent humbug as pictures of human life" (qtd. in Ardis 1990, 33). 2 5 For a comparative overview of Scott's critical reception throughout North America, see Eva-Marie Kroller's "Walter Scott in America, English Canada, and Quebec" (1980). For a discussion of the Canadian response to George Eliot, and particularly the parallels between Eliot's and William Kirby's historical fiction, see Kroller's "George Eliot in Canada" (1984). Kroller notes that the historical novel was generally considered by critics to be "the most suitable model for a budding national literature" (1984, 313). 60 cannot attain the perfection of the butterfly at once; yet we can seek out and store ourselves with that which, in after years, may lend a beauty to our maturer state" (1884, 632). Not surprisingly, Dane recommends history and romance as genres appropriate to the task of recording and celebrating Canada's past; for subject matter, he identifies the languages, religion, and culture of native peoples-called a "fast fading race"-early French setdement, the Conquest, and the 1812 war (632). In contrast, more cosmopolitan commentators claimed versions of realism as appropriate to an emerging nation. Thus The Week reprinted an article by Alice Wellington Rollins from The Critic arguing for a "heroic" realism: "[tjhe taste for the impossibly heroic, the grandiloquently virtuous, the magnificendy glorious, in fiction, has certainly departed. But the out-and-out realists make the mistake of knowing no middle course between impossible heroes and no heroes at all" (1887, 738). What was needed, Rollins asserted, was a kind of fiction that combined the heart-stirring qualities of romance with fidelity to contemporary life, resulting in a "truth that stirs the pulses and moves the soul" (738). Duncan, the voice of sane liberal thought in literary matters, also thought that the real should be balanced by the ideal. Musing on the feud between romance and realism being carried on primarily in the pages of American periodicals, Duncan sided with realism-she was an ardent admirer of W. D. Howells— while emphasizing its limitations: "[gjentlemen of the realistic school, one is disposed to consider you very right in so far as you go, but to believe you mistaken in your idea that you go the whole distance and can persuade the whole novel-writing fraternity to take the same path through the burdocks and the briars" (13 Jan. 1887, 111). Aspiring after a fusion of idealism, truth, and the just representation of the Canadian nation, Canadian novels of the fin de siecle are very different from their British counterparts. Not yet even established as literature in the new country, Canadian fiction needed to serve the cause of nationalism to justify its position in culture. Although the novel was, in most cultural commentators' minds, subordinate to poetry and to non-fiction prose such as history, philosophy, and biography, it was 61 nonetheless constrained to serve a moral and cultural purpose. While regretting that Canadian novelists seemed to be "wanting in the inventive and imaginative faculty," Bourinot asserted that they required "a higher and purer aim than the majority of novel writers of the present day" (1893, 28, 30). The author of "Books and Authors" (1896) stated that "[fjhere is a moral in everything, and it is the artist's work and duty to discover it, to reveal it, and to celebrate it so that the world may know and feel it" (1896, 389). Most Canadian reviewers and commentators took fiction's impact on the people of Canada quite seriously, agreeing that "[t]he true use of reading is to build character" (Merton and the Editor 1896, 286). Discussing a recent murder case, this article on "Our Children and their Reading" drew a direct correlation between matricide and the reading of sensational literature: "[n]o motive for the cold-blooded murder of their mother by Robert Coombes and his brother, other than that produced in the minds of the wretched boys by the pile of cheap romances and blood-thirsty tales which was found in the house at Plaistow, has been given" (282). The authors worried that "Canada and the United States are flooded to-day with a class of literature which is sense-destroying and soul-damning" (282). Moreover, it was not only moral corruption that was feared, but physical resdessness and criminality, "a taste for that which satisfied not" (283). Good literature must combat the tendency to sensationalism and fantasy, so that "[a] proper appreciation for the real, the natural and the simple" is not "destroyed by a constant vision of the unreal, the unnatural, and the complex and imaginary sets of circumstances" (283). Literary critics focused their reviews on the "arguments" that novels "work out," and sought to point out potential moral danger where they saw it. 2 6 2 6 Conservative Canadian critics found many British (and Canadian-born) authors unacceptable. The following passage from the "Books and Authors" section of The Canadian Magazine criticizes the writers of the new fiction, and suggests that morality and artistry should complement one another: It is generally conceded that most of what is called moral fiction has, in the past, been inartistic. But, as the Spectator points out, this was not because "there is some deep-seated and ineradicable hostility between the beauty and the truth of art and the beauty and the truth of morality," but because "these inartistic moral tales are inartistic only because the writers of them lack some or all the gifts that make an artist." Hence if Grant Allen, Thomas Hardy, Sarah Grand, etc., are really artistic they could produce artistic tales 62 That children's literature was meant to inculcate in their minds the notions of Anglo-Saxon supremacy, virile masculinity, and the glories of imperialism is clear from the following list of recommended tides: Where can a boy get a better idea of Harold and the battle of Hastings or the differences between the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans, than in "Wulf the Saxon?" Then think of such titles as "When London Burned," "Beric, the Briton," "Through the Sikh War," "With Wolfe in Canada," "The Dash for Khartoum," "With Lee in Virginia," "St. Bartholomew's Eve," "With Clive in India," "Bonnie Prince Charlie," "The Lion of the North (Gustavus Adolphus)," and his latest books, "A Knight of the White Cross," being a tale of the siege of Rhodes by the Order of the Knights of St. John in the time of the Crusades, "The Tiger of Mysore" and "Through Russian Snows." What delightful tales these are, and what a taste for history they engender! (Merton and the Editor 1896, 283) Literature for adults as well as children was valued for its pedagogical function: it was intended to create healthy and moral Canadian citizens and to promote a vision of national destiny.27 To this end, critics repeatedly elaborated versions of romantic realism without bringing in the immoral or the agnostic. They do not need to work out arguments showing that man is largely animal and woman wholly so, and that women lower men rather than elevate them. It is quite possible for a novel to be a work of art and yet have a sound moral at its heart, because the perfect moral and spiritual laws of the universe are expressed in whole or in part in every episode in man's life. (1896, 389) 2 7 Maud Petitt's Beth Woodburn (1897) illustrates the outlines of the debate over the function of literature in Victorian Canada. The novel's protagonist desires to be "the bright particular star of Canadian literature" but the opening pages of the novel find her engaged in an argument about what good literature is with her friend and guide Arthur Grafton (12). Arthur criticizes Bern's writing as possessing too much "sentimental gloom" (32). He encourages her instead to "bring before [her] reader such sweet little homes and bright faces and sunny hearts . . . the sweetest mission a writer has" (32). Arthur wants Beth to consecrate her writing to Christianity, but Beth holds to an idea of literature as a purely aesthetic activity separate from any didactic or reformist function. In the following exchange, Arthur finds even George Eliot's work too worldly and lacking in Christian purpose: "No; I want to be like George Eliot." A graver look crossed his face. "That is right to a certain extent. George Eliot certainly had a grand intellect, but if she had only been a consecrated Christian woman how infinitely greater she might have been! With such talent as hers undoubtedly was, she could have touched earth with the very tints of heaven!" (40) 63 characterized by truth to a moral order rather than fidelity to naturalistic detail: the "deeper truths" were more important than the mere "broad external facts of nature" (Wright 1895, 286). Book reviews praised volumes for representing "our patriotic and distinctly Canadian poems and speeches" and for providing "distinct evidence that Canada has a literature peculiarly its own" ("Book Notices" December 1893, 204; August 1893, 508). Reviewers condemned as injurious to "the morals of the community" sensational stories of "the intrigues of fast women and faithless wives" ("Current Literature" 1878, 117). In a review of Machar's career, Leman Guild praised her nationalist purpose, declaring that her poems "cannot fail in their mission to kindle in the heart of every Canadian a deeper love of country and a more earnest desire to serve faithfully and well the land of his nativity or adoption, as the case may be" (1906, 500). Although nationalism and social reform were theoretically closely allied, fictional and non-fictional literature addressing Canadian social problems was in practice deeply conflicted. The cultural imperative to represent Canada as a nation so closely identified with progressive reform movements as to be without need of them created significant problems for writers who felt it their duty to criticize specific features of Canadian society. On the most superficial level, such writers often resort to the technique of displacement, By the end of the novel, Beth has been convinced by Arthur's definition of literariness. She realizes that a novel should "bring more joy into the world . . . sweeten life and warm human hearts" (84). Eventually, she burns the one she has written for it is "filled with dark doubts and drifting fear and shuddering gloom" (94). At the novel's conclusion, Beth is the wife of a missionary in Palestine, and has achieved international literary recognition through harnessing her creative talents to her missionary purpose; she has "marked out a new line of work, and the dark-eyed Jewish characters in her stories have broadened the sympathies of her world of readers" (156). The connection between moral purpose and literary pleasure is similarly made in Marshall Saunders' The House of Armour (1897), when a comment on the unhealthy aspects of bad novel reading is placed in the mouth of a medical doctor, who asserts that romances lead to sexual immorality: "Erotic trash!" was the reply. "He crushed her in his arms"~reading from the book-"and smothered her with kisses, till terrified at his passion she was-Bah! I'll read no more. You young men read this amatory rubbish and say, 'That sounds lively,' and look around for someone to practise on. Why don't you fill your mind with something solid while you're young. Do you think you are going to limp around into drivelling old age looking for some one to crush to your breast?" (150) The doctor goes on to define good novels, which present a clear moral in palatable and easily digestible form: '"Good novels have a mission. Many a one preaches a sermon to people that never listen to a minister'" (151). 64 transplanting the problem they are addressing to a foreign locale so that it can be discussed in disguised form. Aspects of national life considered antithetical to Canadianness—labour unrest, tyranny, injustice, social hierarchy, political corruption, sexual immorality, lawlessness—are expelled from Canada and projected onto other societies. While not overtly threatening, such representations can function as warnings about and affirmations of Canadian self-identity. When problems are set in Canada, an elaborate series of qualifications often locates the source of the problem elsewhere, or deflects attention from institutions or social structures onto individuals—who are then defined as not Canadian, expelled from the Canadian community—or locates the source of regeneration at the very core of what was initially defined as the problem. Sometimes the problem itself is redefined as an excess of what in moderation would be useful and morally healthy. Because most social problem novels propose solutions to the problems they identify, their purpose is to reconstitute Canada in terms of the wholeness or purity it has lost. Sometimes these narratives are simply contradictory, both asserting and denying the existence of injustice, cruelty, and suffering in Canada. But if Canadian nationalism often interfered with the articulation of national problems, it also worked as a spur to reform, making it more urgent, more invested with national zeal. Women's mistreatment in the home or public sphere could be opposed not on the grounds of their innate rights but because their mistreatment was both a cause and a symptom of national decline. Missionary work abroad depended on stability and health at home. How could Canada bring the light of Anglo-Saxon civilization to the heathens of dark lands if it could not care for its own poor, criminal, and insane? National pride and competitive xenophobia stirred Canadian reformers to resist the encroachment of foreign disorders—labour unrest, socialistic ideas, overgrowth of urban areas, and degeneration of domestic life—that had come to symbolize the American republic and the Old World. When these problems were identified as essentially American or other, then the Canadian social reformer could oppose them in the name of nationalism. Writing about these problems in 65 Canada was not really criticizing Canada but, rather, defending its originary purity from external threats. In the late nineteenth century, the social problem novel took on the task of representing the others of Canadian society, variously identified as the criminal, intemperate, unproductive, ungrateful, deviant, or (when sexually or socially transgressive) women. Such literature either expels these disruptive elements from the community or somehow incorporates them into it. As a result, the novels are relendessly engaged in acts of classification, definition, and demarcation, separating high from low, respectable from nonrespectable, sympathetic from unfeeling, natural from unnatural, fallen from unfallen, redeemable from unregenerate, moral from corrupt, innocent from improper. By bringing certain segments of society within the imaginary boundaries of the Canadian community and by denying community membership to others, social problem discourse is an ideal site to examine the mechanisms of national or cultural self-construction. The Publishing Industry in Canada The decade of the 1890s witnessed something of a boom in Canadian fiction. The period saw a rapid expansion in the market for fiction, and literary production kept pace. Appreciative international attention began to focus on Canadian literature, and English-Canadian authors were publishing in major American centres such as Boston and New York as well as in London. But a measure of international success did not mean a strong domestic publishing industry. And although there were calls for a distinctly Canadian literature in all the periodical papers, in practice, the material conditions of publishing tended to complicate literature's relationship to Canadian nationalism in the 1890s. A number of publishing firms, based in Toronto and Montreal, began modest programs in the 1870s, but there were few large publishing houses in Canada, and those that existed 66 published relatively little fiction.28 George Parker suggests that making a living as a professional writer was a precarious business in late-nineteenth-century Canada (1985, 233-39). Writing on "Canadian Short-Story Writers," Allan Douglas Brodie commented that "the exigencies of very existence in Canada, to put it mildly, prevent native authors from making even a bare subsistence by the product of their pen alone" (1895, 335). The market for fiction in Canada was small, particularly in comparison with that in America. The population in the last decade of the nineteenth century was between four and five million people, but about one-third of these were French-speaking and a significant number were illiterate. Most fiction published in Canada appeared at the author's expense. In addition, as G. Mercer Adam noted in an article for The Week, copyright laws unfavourable to Canadian publishers were a further obstacle: "the anomalies of the literary copyright law," Adam observed, "surrender the native book-market to the American publisher" (1884,439). As a result of this situation, Canadian authors interested in making money from their writing had to interest British or, as was more frequent, American publishers in their work; few works of fiction by Canadians were published first in Canada. Many Canadian authors left Canada for the more congenial literary climates of Boston, New York, or London. As a result, their fiction had to correspond to non-Canadian demands concerning fictional setting and novelistic form. As Gerson comments, "[m]ost turn-of-the-century Canadian-born novelists who became literary expatriates either forsook their Canadian origins to write novels indistinguishable from the mass of popular British and American fiction, or constructed an image of Canada that catered to the international taste for exotic colour" (1989, 37). Even for writers who stayed in Canada, the need to interest American and British publishers in their work-necessary if their writing was to be remunerative—meant that their Canada had to correspond to popular international perceptions of Canada as a pastoral land of meadows and blossoms, as exemplified in the 2 8 A s George Parker notes in The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada, the activities of these Canadian firms are difficult to trace precisely because few of the books they published were recorded by the Library of Congress or the British Museum, and "Canadian lists were practically non-existent" (1985, 178). 67 two most popular literary forms of the day, the regional idyll and the romantic tale of French Canada.29 Social reform and social control My dissertation takes a critical approach to the social reform novels and non-fictional writings of the period, partly in reaction to the recent focus on celebratory reclamation in studies of nineteenth-century women writers, and partly for reasons of ideological commitment. I would like to stress, however, that the point of my work is not to level blame at particular writers.30 Novelists and essayists alike were constrained to write within 2 9 See Gerson's "Canadian Women Writers and American Markets, 1880-1940" (1994) for a discussion of women writers who exploited the lucrative markets for fiction and periodical literature in the United States. 3 0 Although I have found Bacchi's revisionist history inspiring as a model, I hope to avoid the tendency to monolithic dismissiveness in her work. As her tide suggests (excepting the misleading question mark), Bacchi's Liberation Deferred? The Ideas of the English-Canadian Suffragists is a skeptical and critical analysis of the Canadian suffrage movement; turning away from the feminist tradition of celebrating foremothers, Bacchi characterizes the suffrage movement as "widely dispersed and poorly organized, fragmented both by geography and ideology," and focuses on the conservative, classist, and racist aspects of the movement (35). Bacchi questions the "feminist" nature of the drive for suffrage in Canada, seeing its association with various social reform movements (the Social Gospel, temperance, child welfare, civic reform, compulsory education, slum clean-up) as evidence of a lack of commitment to women's equality. In other words, while a few committed feminists sought suffrage because of a principled belief in women's equality with men, most sought suffrage merely as a means to other ends distinct from feminist change: "[fjor the feminists, the ballot symbolized a desire to change the male's conception of woman and her function. For the social reformers, woman suffrage provided the means to implement their larger reform programme and to give woman's maternal influence a wider sphere of action" (35-36). Bacchi makes an absolute distinction between the few "feminists" of the movement (radicals who sought social revolution and questioned women's traditional roles) and the "social reformers" (conservatives who accepted separate spheres ideology). Although the distinction certainly has validity, it fails to allow for recognition of how conflicting attitudes and priorities may have operated together in single individuals or societies. Bacchi's criticism of reform-minded women is somewhat anachronistic as well, applying a contemporary liberal-feminist framework to a nineteenth-century situation. She suggests that some bright women escaped their social and political contexts while most did not, blaming the conservative reformers for the maternal feminist legacy they left to handicap later feminists. In a review essay entitled "The Ideas of Carol Bacchi and the Suffragists of Halifax," Ernest Forbes critiques Bacchi's methodology and conclusion, charging her work with reductionism, flaws in data interpretation, and a narrow focus on Central Canada (1989, 90-99). Interrogating Bacchi's assertion that the suffrage movement in Canada was largely a conservative one, as evidenced by the fact that many women supported suffrage for leverage on temperance matters and to empower their own self-serving visions of social stability, Forbes points out that the aims of women in temperance organizations were often complex and cannot be adequately summarized in Bacchi's terms. In one example, Forbes points to discrepancies between women's public statements and those recorded from WCTU meetings to suggest that the public persona women constructed for themselves may often have sheltered more radical goals, as "[successful women leaders of necessity became experts at dissimulation and deference in a male-dominated society" (94). Forbes also stresses, as Bacchi does not, the strength of the forces ranged against the suffrage movement and the resulting difficulty of articulating radical, overtly feminist positions. Anti-feminist forces grew with the movement as the fundamental transformations feminists sought became clearer to conservatives. Thus Forbes suggests that if the assertion of equal rights was modified and muffled by assertions of women's motherly duty to the race and their greater moral purity, this alteration may have occurred in response to the 68 the terms of Enlightenment discourse, which provided both the enabling framework and the nearly inescapable limit of what they could say about Canada and social problems. Therefore, there can be no question of blaming individual authors for a failure of vision or a lack of imaginative identification. Rather, I am interested in social reform writing as a language operating within certain constraints that determined how it was possible to think about a particular subject. For this reason, I tend not to focus, as literary critics conventionally do, on how individual authors have resisted or transcended the language systems within which they found themselves working. I emphasize instead their common contribution to a certain configuration of Canada and social reform. At the conceptual level, I am indebted to the work of Foucault on the operation of disciplinary mechanisms in modern society, and I take a suspicious approach to the discourse of benevolence in nineteenth-century social reform. I follow Foucault in recognizing in Enlightenment discourses of humanitarian reform the increasingly invasive control of bodies and subjectivities in the service of modern forms of power. In Discipline and Punish. Foucault uses Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon as both a specific architectural embodiment and a metaphor for the modern disciplinary apparatus whose effect was to produce in the person under observation "a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power" (1979, 201). The shift in power's forms, as Foucault observes it, is dramatic: from being located in the body of the sovereign, it virulence that equal rights demands provoked. As Forbes notes, anti-feminist forces rallied in the 1890s. The suffrage bill was defeated in the Nova Scotia legislature in 1894 and opponents of woman suffrage "launched a campaign of ridicule against both the doctrine of women's rights and its proponents" (94). That women supported suffrage less vocally in the 1890s can be read as "not an abandonment of feminism but a pragmatic shift of emphasis to goals which enjoyed some hope of achievement in the near future" (98). Forbes offers a useful corrective to Bacchi, but his argument raises further questions focused on his strategy of reading past women's own statements about their reform goals and aspirations. Surely the entire corpus of women's statements of maternal feminism cannot be dismissed simply as the donning of a publicly-acceptable facade. Forbes' analysis denies the seductiveness and usefulness of maternal or domestic feminist ideology as well as its conflicted, contradictory elements in his insistence on reading such statements as strategic. I find more useful Janet Guildford and Suzanne Morton's contention that "[wjomen's use of the ideology [of separate spheres] has been a classic example of people trying to shape their own lives in conditions not of their own choosing" (1994, 10). Dismissing women's own public statements implies that there is a realm of truth untainted by ideology behind their words and ignores the extent to which women spoke within discursive constraints that limited what they could say and, in turn, set the terms of debate for the future. 69 becomes diffuse, unlocalizable; from being visible and discontinuous, it becomes invisible and unceasing; from exercising itself on the body in violent and readily apparent ways, it works internally, efficiently, and almost imperceptibly. This new automatized and disindividualized disciplinary regime creates and maintains the docile bodies and willing minds necessary for the harmonious and productive functioning of the democratic state. The ultimate disciplinary society is composed of an interlocking network of similarly-functioning institutions (schools, prisons, mental institutions, hospitals, army barracks, factories, charitable homes, and so on) that form a structure of generalized surveillance. Such a regime, once functioning, becomes an internally-regulating system; it operates by creating the conditions within which certain relations between people are automatically produced. With these relations established, the specific motivations of the observer—the one who supervises, controls, teaches, evaluates, studies, observes, expounds—cease to matter. In other words, whether the observer's intentions are benevolent or malicious, empathetic or clinical, the relation between observer and observed is essentially unchanged. Such an understanding of the relations of power structures my approach to social reform discourse, and specifically to the reformers who sought to mould the sympathies, beliefs, and actions of their readers, and who engaged, through their writing, in discursive acts of classification, description, and supervision. I argue that the shift from prohibition to prevention, from punishment to discipline, is crucial in the writing of Canadian social reformers and social problem novelists as the century nears its end. The emphasis on benevolence, mercy, education, purity work, regeneration, and reclamation all signify reformers' interest in legislation and voluntaristic movements designed to prevent rather than to punish: to remove the social roots of crime, poverty, immorality, and disease. To this end, as Bacchi phrases it, the reformers "created a 'cradle-to-grave' reform strategy, taking the child at his birth and shaping him into a predictable and productive social unit" (1983, 87). They constructed "a complex system of institutions and agencies to perform the task of socialization" (87). Moreover, the psycho-70 social mechanisms of this shift are evident in the social problem literature of the period in its intention to support reform organizations in creating healthy, productive, and moral citizens for Canada. This work of social control is never complete: there must always be more novels, more studies, more reports, more addresses to benevolent organizations. Moreover, the subject under the disciplinary regime is never entirely socialized, for disciplinary discourses inevitably contain gaps, ruptures, contradictions, the spaces in which resistance to social control can be articulated. In my thesis I explore the extent to which the new emphasis on reform launched a critique of injustice that itself became a form of social control; I also explore the manner in which such a reform ideology created the basis for further resistance. Maternal Feminism and Social Reform Discourse In focusing almost exclusively on novels by women (although I include brief discussions of Albert Carman and Grant Allen), and in examining the texts generated by movements in which women played significant roles, I pay particular attention to the functions of gender— and most particularly of the feminine—in representations of social problems. Although the texts examined here address distincdy different social problems-urban poverty, the fallen woman, and women's work—and propose specific solutions, they are linked by a shared concern with the feminine as a principle of regeneration. Many social and cultural historians of the late-nineteenth century have discussed the impact of maternal feminism-also termed separate spheres feminism and social purity feminism31-on the women's and reform movements. Linda Kealey defines maternal feminism as the "conviction that woman's special role as mother gives her the duty and the right to participate in the public 3 1 Guildford and Morton define separate spheres as "a powerful and prescriptive ideology, elevated to the level of common sense during the industrial and bourgeois revolutions of the nineteenth century" (1994, 10). Social purity was a term used by reformers themselves, though the term has been reintroduced into discussions of the period largely by Valverde, who describes social purity feminism as "a powerful if informal coalition for the moral regeneration of the state, civil society, the family, and the individual" (1991,17). Unless referring specifically to the social purity movement, I use the phrase "maternal feminism" to indicate the focus on women's special ability to "mother" the poor, the state, and the nation as well as children. 71 sphere" (1979, 7). Maternal feminists criticized the exclusion of women from the rights of citizenship through appeals to a patriarchal definition of woman's biologically-determined nature. In a useful overview of the movement marred by occasional sarcasm and condescension, Wayne Roberts identifies a shift in the early Canadian feminist movement from equal rights radicalism to conservative maternal feminism, as "the vigour and experimentation identified with the new woman was absorbed into campaigns for uplift reform" (1979, 17). Kealey, Roberts, and others have addressed the varied and often conflicting uses to which domestic ideology was put by nineteenth-century social reformers. They argue that maternal feminism, although in many ways a reinscription of a limiting and oppressive social order, cannot be dismissed as uniformly disabling for women. Rather, it must be understood as a discursive medium through which women were able to articulate criticisms of patriarchal society and to recognize contradictions within the self-justifications of patriarchy. Although they were undoubtedly limited by domestic ideology, women reformers were able to use it for subversive purposes. Terry Lovell, for instance, argues that the nineteenth-century women's movement in England neither fully accepted nor completely rejected dominant ideology, but rather "developed along the lines of fault of the dominant domestic ideology" (1987, 95). In reading for the ambiguities, hesitations, complexities, and contradictions of the texts in this study, I am particularly attentive to the way that ideas about women, femininity, and the domestic realm contribute to the tension between the call for fundamental change and the conservative appeal to tradition, order, or nature. Such a tension is perhaps most evident in women reformers' appeals to motherhood as the basis for reform. The complex of ideas to which my discussions will continually return concerns the relationship between gender, class, and the nation. Repeatedly in the narratives I examine, social problems are linked to the national body-to a particular idea of Canada-through the figure of woman and her class-inflected social function. Machar's writing on behalf of women factory workers reveals the link between the ideologies of nationalism, 72 reproduction, and feminism. In two articles written for The Week in 1896, Machar castigates a social system that placed the heaviest burdens on those least able to bear them. Quoting the 1889 Official Report of the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital, she protests that "it is on the weakest and most helpless workers-the women and children—that the heaviest burden rests-the burden of the longest hours, the smallest pay, the harshest and most unreasonable exactions—simply because they are the most helpless and uncomplaining" ("The Unhealthy Condition of Women's Work in Factories" 566). Advocating reduced hours and improved conditions for women workers, Machar claims that doctors and economists, as well as reformers, should be concerned about the effect of extreme drudgery and physical hardship on young women's bodies and morals. Recognizing that the cause of humanity alone might not be enough to sway business-minded readers, Machar employs the language of economics and national resources to argue that "it is a condition of the highest economic efficiency that the race should be provided with good, healthy, and capable mothers, for on them will to a great extent depend the conduct of their future children" (569). Thus she makes her claim that the middle class must interest themselves in the working conditions of labourers not only on the grounds of humanity, but also on "those of economic efficiency and patriotism" (569). In Machar's writing, mothering has two important rhetorical functions. First, the rhetoric of mothering justifies Machar's philanthropic concerns in general and the writing of her article in particular-both unconventional forays into the public sphere of political argument and community leadership. Far from confining women to the home, the appeal to mothering explains why women need to enter the public arena: women cannot confine their work to the home, Machar argues, because the conditions that affect their children are everywhere; the duties of mothering can know no boundaries. In "Healthy and Unhealthy Conditions of Women's Work," Machar argues that as long as mothers do not neglect their home duties, philanthropy is simply an extension of their mothering role. Although Machar is not herself a mother, her womanly nature still permits-and demands-that she 73 mother the race. Indeed, it might be argued that because domestic ideology "had literally no place for the single woman," Machar's appropriation of the role of mother justified not only her unconventional actions but her very existence (Lovell, 1987,96). In claiming the responsibilities and privileges of a mother, Machar could mount a radical challenge to the neglectful fathers of the church, and could claim the superiority of benevolent women over male economic theorists. '"Our Lady of the Slums' is wise as well as loving" she claims in an 1891 article for The Week, "often wiser than the cold professional economist" (234). Alongside the radical challenge to gender norms is a defensive class position, however. For Machar also sees middle-class women as a replacement for the inadequate working-class mother. "Seeing, then, the helplessness of these poor girls, and the incapacity of either themselves or their ignorant mothers, to act intelligently and firmly in their defence, there is good reason why the enlightened and influential women of Canada should recognize their responsibility, as being in some degree 'the sisters' keepers'" ("The Unhealthy Condition of Women's Work" 1896, 568). Although based in separate spheres ideology, the rhetoric of mothering opens an almost unlimited arena for middle-class women's activity, management, and social power. Mothering plays a second important role in Machar's argument. The urgent necessity to improve the working conditions of women in factories is directly linked to their status as actual or prospective mothers whose physical and moral conditions will bear directly on their children's potential to become moral, well-regulated, and productive citizens and workers within the capitalist system. Thus Machar, though concerned with the individual sufferer and with the cause of common justice, is also concerned with the harm suffered by the race as a whole. The concern with race degeneration and national decline is shared by many of the texts I consider in the following chapters. In Machar's writing, metaphors of society as a single, interdependent system buttress her argument that economic injustice leads to national weakness. Specifically, failures of sympathy cause rifts in the social fabric, leading to working class protests and acts of violence. Machar's 74 nationalist concerns are especially apparent in her concern with the economic, moral, and sanitary degradation of working-class homes, which lead to the spread of inefficiency, crime, and disease in the public sphere at large. In other novels, the mother is the source of social affection, national health, and moral regulation. In Wood's The Untempered Wind, self-sacrificing motherhood is what saves the fallen woman for full participation in the community; it is also the guarantor of communal health and the model of sympathetic responsiveness against which all the other inhabitants of Jamestown are measured. Spiritual and physical degeneration are allied with the weakness and cruelty of the residents of Jamestown, thus allowing Wood to defend natural female sexuality as the key to the regeneration of the community. In Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls, the sexual licence and disregard for bourgeois standards of morality of fin de siecle France compose the antithesis of Anglo-Saxon culture and represent the potential destruction of Canadian womanhood. Here, the bourgeois home is Dorothy's refuge from the economic and sexual exploitation of the urban public sphere; similarly, her moral salvation comes through her realization of her desire for domesticity and motherhood. Maternal feminists' celebration of women's innate virtue and their critique of male exploitation often led them to make common cause with working-class women, and even to begin to make connections between class and gender oppression. Just as middle-class American women writers appropriated the language of slavery to describe female bondage in a patriarchal society,32 women writers associated their plight with that of workers, with various consequences both productive and limiting. In Roland Graeme, women are central to the novel's vision of class harmony; once awakened to their social responsibility, the middle-class woman guarantees social stability through her role as familial and community intermediary, influencing middle-class professional and factory-owning men to feel greater compassion and bringing the moral attitudes and practical skills of the middle-class home to the slums, where the feminine presence softens, refines, and humanizes. The industrial 3 2 For a discussion of the intersection of feminist and abolitionist discourses in nineteenth-century America, see Sanchez-Eppler's Touching Liberty (19931. 75 world of men is in desperate need of womanly virtue and sympathy. In Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls, the exploitation of the unskilled worker becomes a metaphor for the way that middle-class women are denied opportunities for education and fulfilling work. Dorothy Pembroke comes to a realization of her oppression as a woman through being treated as if she were lower-class. In The Untempered Wind. Myron Holder's exploitation by her employer makes possible and parallels her exploitation by her faithless lover, and the imagery of bondage—the "bound" girl-provides both a class-specific critique and a powerful image of the sterility and cruelty of social relations in Jamestown. Discussions of women and the poor—always discussions about the relationship between the social and the individual-were the occasion to marshall evidence, anecdotes, and hypotheses from recent debates pitting the force of heredity, or nature, against the power of environmental influences. An extended, often vicious, series of articles on the Woman Question in the Canadian Monthly and National Review (1877-1882) debated whether women's universally acknowledged timorousness, dependence, and intellectual impoverishment were the result of circumstances or biological function. Applying similar logic, the question of whether the poor should be considered unfortunate or undeserving divided civic reformers and political economists. Reformers argued about whether debased environments produced vice or whether moral depravity was at the core of social problems; at times, reformers simply created a horizontal linkage between poverty, immorality, disease, and crime, without any attempt to distinguish between cause and effect. Eugenicists were that group of theorists, medical practitioners, and civic leaders who believed that mental qualities and character were determined by heredity. On the other side were the followers of J. B. Lamarck, who held the theory of acquired characteristics. The environmental theory of character formation authorized ambitious and hopeful projects of social improvement. These progressive social reformers claimed education and various forms of social welfare as solutions to most urban distress; eugenicists, on the other hand, saw poverty as a hereditary problem. According to the eugenicist view, the poor "were not 76 demoralized; they were degenerate" and could not be aided by social programs; in fact, many eugenicists actually blamed poverty on social programs, which kept people alive who should have died according to nature's scheme (McLaren 1990, 19). In her Introduction to A Not Unreasonable Claim. Kealey suggests that organized reform work made reformers more aware of the structural, institutional, and environmental determinants of inequality, shifting blame away from the individual. The difficulty of deciding who constituted the 'deserving' as opposed to the 'undeserving' poor was alleviated by the adoption of 'scientific philanthropy'. In the process of performing the detective work necessary to ferret out fraudulent claims, charity workers were faced with the contradictions inherent in industrial capitalist society; unemployment, disease, insufficient wages and overcrowded housing rather than individual failure began to be seen as causes for poverty. Once the institutional and social character of distress was recognized and an argument for social justice raised, philanthropists became reformers. (1979, 2) Kealey's assessment assumes that, once exposed to the "reality" of poor people's living conditions and suffering, reformers would "see" clearly the injustice of the capitalist system, and does not take into account how such seeing was determined by specific discursive formations, such that unemployment, disease, and overcrowded housing became themselves signifiers of individual (or class) failure. Kealey's formulation of a clearly definable movement away from the individual's problems to a recognition of systemic oppression is a debatable point and an overly optimistic assessment. My examination of the writing of reformers such as Machar and Saunders, who performed and wrote about the very detective work Kealey refers to, suggests that the recognition of the "contradictions inherent in industrial capitalist society" came more slowly and incoherently than Kealey's model of progress would suggest. 77 In addition, the belief in the influence of environment often created as many problems as it solved. Environmentalist logic often led, as Amanda Anderson demonstrates in her discussion of J. S. Mill's System of Logic (1843), to contradictions and "tensions between free will and determinism" (1993, 28). The emphasis on environmental influence, though intended to counter theories of innate character weakness, sometimes resulted in an even greater apprehension of tragic destiny, as reformers contemplated the task of countering years of social conditioning. And although reformers shifted the terms of their discussion to environmental factors, their focus often remained the individual. As Marilyn Barber points out in her discussion of Protestant mission work with immigrants, "[fjhe redemption of the individual immigrant and the redemption of society were intertwined, and it was not necessary or indeed possible to separate one from the other" (1975, 217). Machar's novel oscillates between explaining poverty as the effect of an unjust economic system, and attributing poverty to moral failings, finally resolving her dilemma, unsatisfactorily, through an appeal to the agency engendered by Christian faith, positing a moral consciousness--a realm of self-sacrifice, love, and sympathy-that transcends and influences the particularities of character. Similarly, women writers who imagined the possibilities of greater freedom and self-determination for women did not leap free, in a single bound, from the ideas about women's nature that tied them to domesticity. Wood, while objecting to determinist accounts of a woman's fall that suggest that a single sexual mistake leads inevitably to moral corruption and suggesting that "fallenness" is a cultural construct, ultimately relies on a biologically determinist model of healthy sexuality to exonerate the erring heroine and to condemn her punitive community. Fytche similarly oscillates between social training and nature in her search for a theory of women's subordination; although she explicitiy defines women's inequality-and particularly, their own participation in it—as the effect of a faulty, romantic bourgeois education, a narrative sub-text suggests that female sexual nature and loss of middle-class cultural restraints are to blame for their suffering. 78 Most generally, women and the poor are linked together—and to the nation-through the belief that their treatment defined and shaped the nature of the Canadian community. All of the texts under consideration share a conviction that the social problems they addressed had a fundamental national significance. Although women and the poor were economically and politically disempowered, they were nonetheless powerful symbols of the nation. Denied full participation in national life, they were yet central to how the nation defined itself. In their concern to establish how and why certain members of deviant groups were worthy of inclusion in the sympathetic Canadian community, these texts are representative of the key cultural debates of the period, and provide a fascinating glimpse into a developing Canadian ethical consciousness. 79 CHAPTER TWO "Visit, Consider, Relieve":1 Sympathy and Social Investigation in the Writing of Agnes Maule Machar Upon first consideration, Roland Graeme. Knight: A Novel Of Our Time is not about Canada at all. The novel is set in the fictional American manufacturing town of Minton, and the labour organization with which it concerns itself-fhe Knights of Labor—was of American origin, although it also had a significant influence in Canada, particularly in the late 1880s.2 The only emphatically Canadian features of the novel are its publisher and its idealistic young eponymous hero. In one sense, then, one might argue that the novel enacts that most characteristic of Canadian gestures: the projection onto the American nation of social problems that Canadians renounced and abjured for their own country. On this reading, the hero is literally and metaphorically the "knight" of the story, bearing Canadian good sense, sympathy for the oppressed, and moderation to America in an attempt to rescue it from the disorders of social injustice and class antagonism. In part, I will argue that such is indeed the story that the novel tells.3 But I will also argue that the novel was not intended to be—and would not have been—received by its Canadian readers as simply a self-congratulatory representation of Canadian superiority to American troubles, widespread and popular as such writing was. The reality of Canadian economic problems, particularly the severe depression of the early 1890s, was making that kind of response increasingly difficult. If the novel pre-empts contemporary film companies in disguising 1 The reference is to Machar's "A Pressing Problem" (1879,458). 2 The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor was founded in Philadelphia in 1869 by Uriah Stephens and soon gained strength in Ontario. According to Gregory Kealey and Brian Palmer, it was "Canada's most important labor organization before 1900" (1982, 57). Although its greatest achievements were in the industrial heartland, Ontario, it was also influential in Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia. The Knights established Local Assemblies in all Ontario towns with populations exceeding 5,000 in the 1880s (61). The growth of the Order was most rapid in 1886, when a total of 99 new Locals were formed, and its highest strength was in the 1885-89 period. 3 This reading is supported by Gerson, who concludes from the novel's setting in the United States that Machar drew back from direct criticism of Canadian society, arguing that "Machar could not bring herself to set the mill town where the action occurs in Canada, which appears in most of her fiction as a rather Arcadian agricultural nation" (1983, 233). 80 Canada as an American city, it also makes America stand in for Canada, as a conscious narrative choice with powerful rhetorical implications for its Canadian audience. There are a number of reasons for assuming a Canadian context for the novel. Most relevant is the reputation and stature of Agnes Maule Machar, a well-known Canadian Social Gospel writer and ardent nationalist. Writing for The Week in 1888, Ethelwyn Wetherald could call her "[o]ne of the best known names among Canadian literary women" (300). Wilfred Campbell commented that "as a personality she is a woman whom all Canadians will contemplate with respect and pride" (qtd. in Davies 1979, 196).4 By 1892, when she published Roland Graeme. Machar's attempts to maintain anonymity, through the adoption of various pseudonyms ("Fidelis" being her favourite) had largely failed.5 She was a widely-read and highly-respected essayist, poet, and novelist, and had won a number of prizes for her literary efforts. In addition, she had published extensively, in Canadian periodicals such as the Canadian Monthly and National Review and The Week, on urban poverty and labour6 matters; in these articles, she had specifically addressed the national dimensions of these social questions, arguing that Canada might be spared the fates of England and America-seen as infested with pauperism~if determined ameliorative actions were undertaken. In these essays, Machar identified social reform as an aspect of patriotism, claiming that "[i]t is worthy of the most serious consideration of all patriotic men and women how we may eradicate in time from the system of our young country a growing ulcer, which must otherwise surely sap and impair its natural vigour and vitality" ("A Pressing Problem" 1879, 459). The situation in Canada, Machar assures her readers, 4 Campbell's estimation of Roland Graeme was not as high as his estimation of Machar, for although finding the novel "readable [and] well written," he asserted that "there is not a spark of genius from cover to cover" (1979,195). Campbell's dismissal of sentimentality and of women's writing generally is evident from his comment that "Miss Machar shows a woman's literary weakness in being unable to keep her own individuality out of her favourite characters" (196); his comment that "Miss Machar's work will compare favourably with much of that of the American didactic school" indicates that she was ranked as an equal to her American counterparts by one of Canada's leading literary critics (196). 5 According to Wetherald, Machar sought anonymity so that her political arguments would not be discredited because of her sex. In Machar's words, she chose "Fidelis" because "[fjaithfulness is the quality I most value, and care most to possess" (1888, 300). 6 I have attempted to be consistent in using the Canadian spelling of "labour" in my own text even though many of the texts I quote employ the American spelling. 81 is not so hopeless as in "older countries," where eradicating "the plague-spot of pauperism may be . . . a question for believers in Utopia" (468). In Canada, all that is needed is "the concerted action of benevolent and judicious men and women" (468). Roland Graeme is best understood in the context of these other documents, as a fictional elaboration of the Social Gospel ideas she was developing and publishing elsewhere. Machar was personally familiar with charitable relief efforts in her home town of Kingston,7 and the Knights of Labor had an active chapter there; her brother John, a lawyer in Kingston, was a dedicated supporter of the Knights. No reader familiar with Machar's name could have imagined that she was writing about America with no reference to the Canadian situation. Further, the fact of the novel's Canadian publication is significant. At a time when most publishers in Canada made money through cheap reprints of American and British works, the publication of a Canadian novel by a Canadian publisher was an event of considerable literary interest.8 William Drysdale, Machar's publisher, was known for his philanthropic and temperance beliefs as well as for his literary nationalism; in the late 1880s, he was responsible for introducing the Confederation Poets to an international audience through the publication of W. D. Lighthall's Songs of the Great Dominion (1889).9 The publication of Roland Graeme would have been very much a Canadian event, and in fact a reviewer for The Week (26 Nov. 1892) claimed that "Miss Machar has done honour to Canada by taking such a vigorous stand on a question of world-wide interest" (826). This significant Canadian context, then, suggests that a full reading of the novel should neither ignore nor over-emphasize its American setting; we can usefully read the narrative as involved in a double movement, revealing and concealing the problems of Canadian industrial society. The American setting means that the novel is both 7 In "A Pressing Problem," for example, Machar gives detailed information on the ticket system established by philanthropists to investigate and relieve cases of distress (1879, 466). 8 See Duncan's "Saunterings" column in The Week (Jan. 13, 1887) for an ironic description of Canadian self-conscious condescension about such publications. 9 See Parker 182. 82 representation and warning, examining the present and the future of Canada.10 On this reading, Roland Graeme's nationality identifies him as a figure of hope and recognition. Canadian national identity is established not only in relation to America but also in an Old World/New World context. It is a trip to Europe that convinces Roland of the urgent need for social action at home. Appalled by the sight of "men, women, and children, pent up in rank and wretched slums, fighting with gaunt famine for a miserable existence," he is convinced of the need to work for the betterment of humanity and to prevent the New World from falling to the same wretched conditions (52). Machar knew, as any concerned social reformer did, that Canada in 1892 was inexorably upon the path of industrialization; she felt, however, that the precise form that industrialization would take was still an open question. Thus Machar's writing insists upon the power of new ways of seeing to influence social progress even as it authorizes increasingly anxious containment strategies. In this chapter, I move between Roland Graeme and various social reform essays by Machar, reading her fiction and non-fiction together as an attempt to preserve the purity of a Canadian ideal even while forcibly articulating the signs of its destruction. Introduction and Context Machar's social concerns span a twenty year period; to set the context for Roland Graeme. I turn briefly to an 1879 essay published in Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly and National Review. In this essay, Machar describes urban poverty in Canada as a "[p]ressing problem" (also the essay's title) requiring immediate attention and Christian solutions. The opening sentence of the essay emphasizes the physical sensations of poverty—cold and 1 0 It is also possible that the American setting indicates that Machar's social concerns transcended national boundaries. Like Principal Grant, Machar believed in the necessity for friendly relations between Canada and the United States because they were two Protestant nations sharing an Anglo-Saxon heritage. For a full discussion of Machar's attitude to the United States as expressed in a number of articles she wrote for The Week, see Brouwer's "Moral Nationalism in Victorian Canada" (1985). Brouwer argues that the dedication of Roland Graeme to an American Social Gospel leader, Reverend Lyman Abbott, emphasizes that Machar saw more similarities than differences between the two nations. However, Machar's desire for better relations with the United States does not necessarily contradict her nationalism, nor undermine the complex meanings attached to the novel's American society. 83 hunger—and the middle-class reader's safe distance from direct experience of hardship: "[tjhere are comparatively few people, among the classes which furnish magazine readers, at least, who have ever known by experience what it is to rise on a cold winter morning, foodless and fireless, and not knowing whence either fuel or food is to be procured" (455). Because her readers have not felt poverty, they are unable to sympathize fully with the situation of the poor, for whom "such a state of things is a common occurrence" (455). From the beginning of the essay, then, Machar characterizes the relationship between her reading audience and the suffering subjects of her essay in terms of an unbridgeable gulf, and she addresses one of the key issues in social reform discourse: how can readers be made to sympathize with what they cannot know? Yet Machar does not doubt her readers' benevolence, confidendy appealing to their "sincere desire to ameliorate the condition of the suffering poor" (455). But that benevolence, Machar fears, is often "vague and unimaginative" and not always "judiciously carried out" (455). Even as she addresses an audience she presumed to be concerned and ready to have their sympathies awakened, Machar is engaged in constructing that audience in terms of a specific, visually-based orientation to the poor, an orientation that is to extend throughout all of her writing. Further, in connecting sympathetic imagination with judicious action, Machar articulates the two central features of her reform thought, features that do not always co-exist harmoniously in her writing: humanity and policy. The "benevolent desire to relieve suffering" must be balanced by "painstaking effort and enquiry" (455). In all of her writing, Machar employs the language of feeling as the basis for an attack on the indifference to suffering of laissez-faire capitalism; at the same time, though, a discourse of control and fear prevents the full identification with the poor's suffering that she calls for. This central tension reveals the extent to which Machar's own vision had been shaped by widely-received representations of poverty, class, and national character. This chapter attempts to balance two approaches to Machar's writing, one that views her texts as interesting in themselves, and the other that considers them as more 84 widely representative of a particular moment in Canadian social history. Machar constructs her analysis of the Canadian Labour Question through the sympathetic presentation of the suffering of the working poor, calling on Christian sympathy as the impetus for reforming action. Machar's philanthropic gaze makes the poor visible in certain specific ways as part of a pedagogical project to inspire benevolence; this project appeals to sympathy as a way to overcome class barriers even as sympathy is designated as the special province of the middle-class observer of suffering. But Machar also stresses the need to combine feeling with system. Thus we find in Machar a contradictory model of philanthropy that both privileges the spontaneous act of generosity and advocates a more disciplined, efficient, and systematic approach to the relief of suffering. The two impulses—to spontaneity and to system—co-exist and at times war with each other in Machar's writing. In addition, slippage in the novel between social reform and moral reform—two closely-related but fundamentally different currents of Christian welfare thought—further complicates Machar's message. Finally, Machar attempts an analysis of the problem of poverty in Canada that does not contradict, and even supports, developing nationalist discourses of Canadian egalitarian abundance. The creation of a certain way of seeing was central to late nineteenth-century social reform writing, as middle-class reformers, recognizing a need to respond to urban problems, developed a common idiom to represent the sanitary, social, and moral dimensions of the Canadian city. Although still predominantly rural, Canada was fast becoming urbanized, and with urbanization came a noticeable increase in poverty and the accompanying slum squalor, disease, prostitution, child labour, tramps, and alcoholism that were poverty's most visible and (to middle-class observers) distressing signs.11 The growth of manufacturing, the development of the railways, and the National Policy-which brought a minor industrial boom, particularly in textiles-all stimulated the population explosion of the cities, and encouraged "[t]he looming, sinister image of the swollen city" 1 1 By 1901, one million people (one-fifth of the country) occupied Canada's twelve largest urban centers (Rutherford 1982, 9). 85 that was to dominate Anglo-Canadian rhetoric about urbanization (Rutherford 1982, 14).12 Urban growth also saw an increasing split between those who earned money through brain work and those who earned it through physical labour, and thus an increasingly clear class division.13 The concern with generating and directing sympathy for the poor places Machar amongst a select group of novelists and social reform writers in late nineteenth-century Canada. Others include, among novelists, Margaret Marshall Saunders and Albert Carman, and among reform writers, J. J. Kelso, Phillips Thompson, and later, J. S. Woodsworth. Such Canadian social investigation had a well-established international context. Social surveys of the British slums had begun in the 1840s and continued to be produced past the turn of the century.14 The novel too took part in this burgeoning international interest in—and panic about—the problem of urban poverty. In Victorian Canada, Eugene Sue, Charles Dickens, and Victor Hugo were the most authoritative purveyors of images of the city as the savage, squalid, and labyrinthine haunt of crime and poverty, and Sue's Les Mysteres de Paris (1842-43) had many imitators in Canada.15 Novels such as Elizabeth Gaskell's Marv Barton (1848) and North and South (1854-55) had become part of the public discussion about the responsibilities of the Masters to their Men. These works frequendy presented their investigations as an uncovering or revelation of hitherto unknown social ills, a bringing to light of '"sad cases of hidden misery'" 1 Z For a discussion of urban development in Canada, see Stewart Crysdale's The Industrial Struggle and Protestant Ethics in Canada (1961); Paul Rutherford's Saving the Canadian City (1974); and Michael Cross and Gregory Kealey's Canada's Age of Industry (1982). 1 3 Finch notes that the shift from the plural "middle classes" (indicating the existence of numerous layers and sections) to the singular "middle class" and the corresponding "working class" occurs in England at roughly the same time that a range of social surveys of the urban poor were beginning to be carried out. "These surveys commenced the articulation of the urban poor as a distinct social grouping, with describable patterns of behaviour, speech patterns, and a distinct (and undesirable) morality" (1993, 9). 1 4 Some of the most important of these studies were Edwin Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population in Great Britain (1842); Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (1861-62); Andrew Mearns' The Bitter Crv of Outcast London (1883); and Charles Booth's Life and Labour of the People in London (1902-03). 1 5 As Krbller has pointed out, authors unashamedly sought publication success with titles echoing Sue's Les Mysteres. including Henri-Emile Chevalier, Hector Berthelot, and Auguste Fortier, who published novels called Les Mysteres de Montreal in 1855,1880, and 1893 respectively. To this list can be added Charlotte Fiihrer's The Mysteries of Montreal: Memoirs of a Midwife (1881) and Arthur Campbell's The Mvsterv of Martha Warne: A Tale of Montreal (1888). For a full discussion, see Krbller 1987,107. 86 (Roland Graeme 16).16 Such a rhetorical stance furthered the sense of panic about the "potential threat to social order quietly simmering on the doorstep of polite, middle class society" even as it absolved the reader from responsibility for the poor's condition (Finch 1993, 16). But before I begin to discuss Machar's specific representations of urban poverty, I want to emphasize the climate of denial within which she ventured to speak. Even to write about class conflict and the extremes of urban poverty in nineteenth-century English Canada was to broach a difficult topic, as is evidenced by the many articles in Canadian periodicals that simply deny that such problems existed. An article in the Canadian Magazine by John A. Cooper, entitled "Canadian Democracy and Socialism" is representative in its depiction of class conflict as an essentially foreign problem; Cooper's main concern was that American literature by "wild schemers and professional agitators" would be "read by yet honest Canadian laborers" (1894, 336). The article alludes to the possibility of labour unrest in Canada only in terms of corruption and disease, a spreading of "poison weeds" from America and Europe to Canada's innocent lands (336). Labour conflict would never germinate naturally in Canadian soil. Cooper makes no reference to indigenous Canadian labour organizing, or indeed to the reasons why such organizing might be necessary, recognizing only that "[fjhe conflicts between labor and capital in the United States are increasing in number and viciousness" (336). Even then, the danger to the American nation is located somehow outside, in "its restless foreign population" (336). Cooper's insistence that socialistic agitation has its source in a population both "foreign" and "restless" finally leads him to characterize labour activity as madness, worrying that if workers in the United States "lose their reason . . . why should the Canadian laborer not be strangely agitated?" (336) 1 6 My thanks go to Liz McCausland for making this point in conversation. In addition, the reader that such narratives tended to construct was sincerely concerned to know, but at present barred from the truth since the nature of social misery, as distinct from its more vulgar signs (tramps, prostitutes) is by definition hidden from view. The assumption that the respectable poor tended to hide their poverty may also be a consideration here. 87 In fact, contrary to what Cooper implies, his "yet honest Canadian laborers" had already caught the contagion. Strikes and lockouts were an increasingly common occurrence in Ontario throughout the 1880s; they sometimes resulted in widespread violence, sabotage, or riots.17 Workers were angry over loss of jobs due to mechanization, and loss of control over their workplace lives.18 Beginning with the telegraphers' strike of 1883, in which workers in Kingston, Brockville, Belleville, Brantford, Ottawa, Peterborough, Georgetown, London, and Thorold battled Jay Gould and his Western Telegraph Company, the Knights of Labor led a number of mass strikes that organized hundreds of workers and polarized communities, including mass strikes by Cornwall cotton mill workers in 1886, Gravenhurst lumber mill workers in 1888, and Ottawa-Hull mill workers in September 1891. But the image of Canada as an essentially agricultural nation made up of hearty, honest farmers and industrious tradesmen persisted as an ideal in the face of evidence to the contrary, and remains a significant feature of Machar's representation. Canadians had severe difficulty discussing class problems in Canada because the recognition of class divisions contradicted the fundamental myth of Canadian nationhood. A discussion opposing the introduction of tides into Canadian society, carried on over many issues in Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly from 1879-80, became the occasion for a defence of the honest Canadian worker, prompting Principal Grant to declare that "[t]he idea of a privileged aristocracy, or a court, between the representative of the throne in Canada and our homespun farmers, no sane man would entertain" (1880, 198). In many such discussions, the homespun farmer became the representative Canadian citizen, embodying Canada's virtues and the basis for future prosperity. To be Canadian was to be without class, to take possession of a truer identity. In an article on "Titles in Canada," 1 7 For a full discussion of the Knights' role in the labour conflicts of the 1880s and 90s, see Kealey and Palmer 330-75. 1 8 The 1889 Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital told of "long hours, unsafe equipment, poorly ventilated factories, harsh industrial discipline, and the tyranny of foremen" (Rutherford 1982, 20). 88 Bourinot declared Canada's difference from England, specifically connecting the lack of tides to social justice and prosperity for all: "Canadians have not the stately manors and palaces of England, but they have much to which they can point with honorable pride. They can point to a prosperous country, won within a century from the forest and looking forward to a great future. They have happy homes, and need build no Poor Houses like those which cumber every county in England" (1877, 349-50). While the Poor House was the symbol of Old World injustice and destitution, America was represented as a land of "turbulence and disorder," the consequence of the "terrible revolt of the proletariat" characterized as "a system of brutal terrorism followed by a wholesale destruction of corporate or individual property" ("Current Events," Aug. 1877, 203, 204). This American lawlessness was repeatedly opposed to "the Canadian spirit of sound sense, prudence, and charity" (203). This nationalist orthodoxy, combined with the conservatism of Canada's colonial society, suggests the relative radicalism of those Christian social critics who began, in the last decades of the nineteenth century, to address the Labour Question as a Canadian problem. Members of Canada's Social Gospel movement expressed doubts about the justice of a laissez-faire capitalism that brought both enormous material progress and a widening gulf between wealthy owners and impoverished labourers; such criticisms, though anchored in Christian tradition, constituted a fundamental attack on the established social, economic, and religious order. Turning away from doctrinal intricacies and preoccupation with the divine, the Social Gospel envisioned a better society, a Kingdom of God on Earth, based on the Christian principles of justice and charity. Many of these reformers were influenced by the work of the American political economist and reformer Henry George, whose Progress and Poverty (1879) was widely known in Canada.19 George's work had a powerful impact on the struggling trades union movement, as well as 1 9 In a critical article, LeSueur called it "the most readable book, in the class to which it belongs, that has ever been given to the world" (1881, 287). For a discussion of the influence of George's ideas on LeSueur, see Clifford Holland's William Dawson LeSueur (1993). 89 a major influence on Canadian Protestantism.20 As Cook has pointed out, George's influence was more tropological than specific; while many socially-minded intellectuals rejected his specific proposals to end poverty, such as the tax on land rent, many embraced and adopted his articulation of the problem, particularly his emphasis on the injustice of the existing order and the responsibility of the wealthy to the poor. A moderately left of centre movement, the Social Gospel attempted to make Christian teaching the basis for a reformed social order in which the suffering caused by the emerging capitalist industrial order would cease. One of the centres of such discussion was Kingston, where Machar lived. Cook provides the following summary of the social, intellectual, and religious climate of Kingston and Queen's University: "[b]y the 1890s theological liberalism had made a noticeable impact on Protestant thinking in English Canada. Nowhere was that impact more obvious than in the Presbyterian Church, and most markedly in that branch represented and influenced by Queen's University" (1985, 184). Machar was at the centre of Queen's University circles in Kingston, and came into contact with prominent university professors, politicians, novelists, political theorists, religious leaders, and reformers as a result of her family's connections. She knew the controversial novelist Grant Allen through his sister's marriage to her brother,21 and she corresponded with Lady Aberdeen, founder of the National Council of Women of Canada, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. She knew and shared many of the Social Gospel views of Principal Grant. At her summer house near the Thousand Islands, she entertained the American Social Gospel leader Dr. Lyman Abbott, to whom Roland Graeme is dedicated. 2 0 For an account of this influence see Cook 1985,118-95 and Holland 1993, 210-14. See Woodcock 1989, 74-87 for a discussion of the growth of socialism and trade unionism (including the development of the Knights of Labor) in Canada up until World War I. According to Woodcock, socialism tended to pursue "the gradualist direction, offering usually an evolutionary approach to an alternative pattern of social relations rather than the revolutionary vision of a world transformed" (74). This moderate approach was necessitated by the fact that labour unions in Canada tended to be small and weak in a country still predominantly rural and which granted unions "few rights beyond the right to exist" (80). 2 1 It is intriguing to speculate about Machar's relationship with Allen considering their very divergent views on the Woman Question, particularly his assessment of the unmarried woman, whom he wrote about as "an abnormality . . . a painful necessity of the present transitional age" (Allen qtd. in Ardis 1990, 23). 90 Born on January 23, 1837, Machar lived in Kingston all of her life.22 She was the daughter of a Scottish Presbyterian clergyman, who was co-founder and first principal of Queen's University. Educated at the theological college in Edinburgh, he was also a minister of Saint Andrew's Church in Kingston, where he performed the ceremony at Sir John A. MacDonald's first wedding. Agnes grew up in a lively intellectual atmosphere, and received instruction from her father and private tutors in Greek and Latin as well as the modern languages, mathematics, drawing, and music. She began to write poetry and fiction at an early age, and became a prolific poet, novelist, essayist, historian, and journalist in adulthood. Her essays reveal wide learning and detailed knowledge of a variety of subjects, ranging from the efficacy of Christian prayer to the unjust treatment of servants in middle-class homes and the importance of higher education for women.23 She was a feminist, a theological liberal, and a passionate reformer, whose strong convictions prompted her to debate, in writing, such prominent intellectuals as the humanist LeSueur.24 She was also a tireless supporter of philanthropic causes, one of the many single women of the period who took advantage of the increased opportunities for usefulness offered by church-sanctioned social activism.25 Cook, who considers her "one of the most gifted intellectuals and social critics in late nineteenth-century Canada" reports that "[s]he held office in the Kingston Humane Society, helped found the Canadian Audubon Society, and devoted a great deal of energy to the National Council of Women of Canada. Included in the many causes she supported was the campaign to prohibit the use of birds' plumage in 1 1 For a detailed biography of Machar's life and writing, see Gerson's excellent study in "Three Writers of Victorian Canada" (1983). 2 3 For Machar's views on prayer, see "Prayer and Modern Doubt" (1875). 2 4 Machar was such an accomplished debator that LeSueur identified "Fidelis" as his most convincing opponent (Brouwer 1984, 350). For a discussion of Machar's defence of religious principles against LeSueur's positivism, see Brouwer's "The 'Between-Age' Christianity of Agnes Machar" (1984). 2 5 L. Kealey explains the movement of women into the public sphere as a result of several factors, including an increased number of women remaining single, the declining fertility rate for married women, and the (grudging) opening to women of the professions of medicine, teaching, nursing, and later, journalism and social work. The tremendous growth in women's organizations after 1880 signalled women's involvement with one another outside the home in charitable or other social work. Mitchinson explains this increased activity with reference to improvements in transportation, the growth of towns and cities, and the increase in leisure time of middle-class women as a result of a greater flow of consumer goods and the growing affluence of Canadian society (1979,152-53). 91 women's hats, and the promotion of wilderness parks" (1985, 186, 187).26 She wrote frequendy of middle-class women's need of a wider sphere of activity, and saw work for and with the poor as both a Christian social duty and an escape from enforced passivity.27 "In the Interest of our Common Humanity": 2 8 The Sympathetic Community In a series of articles she wrote for The Week. Machar argued for the need for protective legislation for factory-workers, particularly for women, and for better treatment of women working as domestic servants.29 In these articles, Machar elaborated the by then familiar idea of society as an organism of inter-dependent parts to provide socio-scientific authority for the call to sympathy that formed the basis of her arguments in Roland Graeme.30 Demonstrating her famiharity with reform Darwinian social theory, Machar argued that 2 6 In an article for The Week entitled "Birds and Bonnets," Machar protests the wearing of stuffed birds on ladies' hats and demonstrates keen environmental concern that "we are destroying our forests at the bidding of selfish interests as fast as we can; so in time, perhaps, we shall have neither birds nor trees for them to live in" (1887, 266). 2 7 See especially her articles "Higher Education for Women" (1875), "Woman's Work" (1878), "The New Ideal of Womanhood" (1879), and "A Few Words on University Co-Education" (1882) in the Canadian Monthly and National Review and "Our Lady of the Slums" (1891) in The Week. Almost all of the middle-class female characters in Roland Graeme express frustration at their own uselessness. For another perspective, see also "Confidences" (1880) by A Girl of the Period from the Canadian Monthly, in which the anonymous author turns domestic ideology against itself to expose how the middle-class home, supposedly the refuge from the competitive business world, is actually implicated in the sphere of exploitative market relations through its conspicuous consumption. 2 8 Roland Graeme 10. 2 9 See "Voices Crying In the Wilderness" (1891), "Healthy and Unhealthy Conditions of Women's Work," (1896) and "The Unhealthy Condition of Women's Work in Factories" (1896). Although the latter two articles were written after Roland Graeme, and are thus perhaps problematic as a context for the novel, I can discern no significant change in Machar's views on labour reform. 3 0 Woodsworth was most fully to formulate the idea of the city as an organism of interdependent systems, calling it "an immense and highly developed organism in which each minutest part has a distinct function" (qtd. in Rutherford 1974, 87). For a discussion of the development of this metaphor-derived from eighteenth-century medicine~in texts of early nineteenth-century social investigation in England, see Poovey's "Anatomical Realism and Social Investigation in Early Nineteenth-Century Manchester" (1993). Poovey examines James Kays' discussion of cotton operatives in Manchester, arguing that his description of the social system as an animal body in need of a central nervous system~a device for monitoring and responding to the suffering of any part-reveals his conception of social health as requiring "knowledge and sympathy" (6). Health and social inspectors, then, would act in the capacity of this nervous system. As Poovey also argues later in the article, the discourse of anatomical realism involved a degree of descriptive detail and accuracy that could not be transferred to the social realm because of constraints on what could be spoken about the lives of the city's destitute. Such constraints necessitated an elaborate system of connotation that allowed what could not be named to be suggested, as in discussions of prostitution that parallel the social scourge with problems of urban sewer systems. Such systems of connotation function in Machar's representation of the poor and of disease. 92 society was "not a collection of individual units, or even of isolated families or 'classes,' as it has been too often regarded, but. . . an organic whole, which, like our own bodies, must suffer throughout, in sympathy with the injury to any one of its component parts" ("Healthy and Unhealthy Conditions" 1896, 421).31 In another version of this metaphor, Machar combined domestic and Christian models to represent society as "the busy household of a common Father" with the potential to be "a harmonious and happy, because united, household" (421). In self-consciously foregrounding and commenting on the metaphors she was employing, Machar was elaborating not merely an economic truism but an entire social and even spiritual theory that posited an absolute identity between the middle-class home, the larger social world, and God's kingdom, and allowed the continual sliding in Machar's writing from social justice to individual moral regeneration. The metaphor of society as organism seeks to overcome class barriers by showing the inter-relationship between parts even as it establishes social distinctions as natural, like those of the body; in addition, the metaphor sanctions the disciplinary imperative of all such sympathetic projects by framing it as the need to classify properly and to ensure harmonious organic functioning. The interdependency of human society is both a central idea and a structuring principle in Roland Graeme. The novel has two parts: one tells a stock sentimental romance of love betrayed, identities exchanged, misrecognition, coincidence, and beautiful death. The other chronicles the activities of the Knights of Labor in Minton, and is concerned with labour conflict, factory conditions for workers, and the thorny issue of economic realities. In her mingling of romance and contemporary historical material, Machar was not only concerned to enliven her argument for the necessity of Christian compassion in business affairs. As in Gaskell's Mary Barton, the two narratives are thematically and structurally related. The romantic plot elements are intended to suggest the 3 1 Herbert Spencer was the first to coin the phrase "survival of the fittest" in his Principles of Biology (1864) and to apply Darwinian theory to society. As Allen (1975) explains, social theorists revising Darwin began to argue that the survival of the fittest idea only applied to species' origins; in fact, species survived through cooperation. The cooperation thesis gave Christian social ethics a scientific basis. 93 presence of God in human affairs,32 and by extension the necessity of God in economic arrangements. And, in combining the two stories, Machar rewrites labour relations through sentimental romance, making the romance story of hidden connections a paradigm for the inter-relatedness of social classes. The romance plot involves the proud, censorious Reverend Cecil Chillingworth33 and the woman he abandoned in England because of her hereditary alcoholism. Believed by Chillingworth to have died in a ship-wreck, his wife Celia is in fact alive and living penuriously in Minton with their daughter, having taken the name of her drowned cousin, Mrs. Travers, after an accidental exchange of handkerchiefs bearing their initials. When Celia, seriously ill with bronchitis, sends her daughter, also named Celia, to Chillingworth to request assistance, he refuses to help the little girl, dismissing her as just another beggar. Fortunately, she is noticed by Roland Graeme as he himself leaves Chillingworth's home, his application for the minister's support for the labour cause having met with a cold rebuff. In seeking medical aid for the little girl's mother, Roland meets Nora Blanchard, the doctor's sister. Nora is a philanthropically-minded young woman who is staying in Minton with her brother's family for the summer. Nora and Roland join forces in attempting to assist Mrs. Travers and to unravel her sad story. Nora's subsequent revelation to Chillingworth that his wife is still alive precipitates the first moral crisis of his selfish life and leaves him bewildered as to what he can do to make amends. But diphtheria, the disease of the slums, takes Chilhngworth back to his wife and enables a brief restoration of the domestic order: falling ill of the malady, Chillingworth is taken to the hospital, where his wife is recovering from her bronchitis. Discovering him, Mrs. Travers insists on caring for her husband, attending him with such disregard for her own safety that she falls ill and dies, though not before husband and wife have been reconciled i l The narrator frequently intervenes in the story to emphasize the element of divine guidance in seemingly chance occurrences (9, 228, 248). 3 3 Perhaps Machar had in mind the similarly cold and bookish Roger Chillingworth of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850). 9 4 and Chillingworth has promised to care for their daughter. This story of reconciliation, as I will show, is made by Machar to stand in for the larger reconciliation of capitalists and workers that the novel advocates. The other part of the novel involves Roland Graeme, who comes to the manufacturing town of Minton to publish a labour newspaper, called The Brotherhood to indicate its Christian and social purpose, and to work for the "brotherhood of Masters and Men" by joining the local chapter of the Knights of Labor. Through Graeme's intervention, a fire at Pomeroy's Cotton Mill is put out by the striking men, and this act of selflessness shames the mill-owner into acceding to the workers' demands for better wages and hours. In the meantime, Nora has become interested, through her acquaintance with Graeme, in labour matters, Christian socialism, and the lives of the working poor, and she befriends Lizzie Mason