Québec/Vermont : une frontière poreuse

Banquet en l'honneur des patriotes exilés au Vermont (juin 1838)

Tribune libre 2008

170 ans nous séparent de l’extrait de l’édition hebdomadaire du Montreal
Herald que je présente. Il s’agit du compte rendu d’un banquet offert en
juin 1838 à Montpellier en l’honneur du « mouvement révolutionnaire »
conduit par les patriotes maintenant exilés aux États-Unis suite à
l’agression préventive (et largement improvisée) de novembre et décembre
1837 sous l’autorité du commandant Colborne contre l’avis du Gouverneur et
de l’Exécutif. Ce banquet illustre combien, d’une certaine façon, la
frontière entre le Québec et le Vermont était poreuse. On notera que les
éléments essentiels du discours d’appui à l’endroit des patriotes ne
portent pas sur la défense de « notre langue, nos droits et nos
institutions », étant entendu qu’il s’agit d’un combat en faveur des «
libertés politiques et civiques » et, n’en déplaise aux monomanes qui, à
l’instar de l’ex speakerine de Radio-Canada, fantasment encore sur
l’indépassable androgynie de la nation canadian, l’usage générique « Canada
» coexiste avec la désignation plurielle « Canadas ». Gageons que la forme
double - mâle et femelle si l’on veut - doit allumer encore d’un sombre
désir ceux qui, dans la classe politique et journalistique actuelle,
s’identifiant à cet hermaphrodisme politique, se perçoivent à la fois comme
« canadien » et comme « québécois ». On sait que depuis Some like it hot
(1959), la bisexualité est porteuse dans la culture générale. Pour ma part,
je préfère nettement, quant à y être, m’identifier aux dents du dragons de
la fable.
François Deschamps
Public dinner to Dr. Nelson.
Agreeable to the arrangements made at a previous meeting assembled for
the purpose of inviting Dr. Nelson and Doctor Cote to partake of a public
dinner in token of the estimation in which their private characters, as
well as the noble part they have taken in the cause of civil liberty in
Canada, is holden by the people of Vermont, a very large number of the most
respectable citizens of Montpelier and vicinity sat down, on the eve of the
25th instant [1838], to an excellent table, prepared by Messrs. Church &
Sherman, of the Union House, in this village – John P. Miller, late agent
of the Americans in Greece, presiding, assisted by Arannah Waterman,
William Upham, J. Y. Vail, Cyrus Ward and Doctors Lamb and Burnham, as
vice-presidents. The company having been seated at the table, Dr. Nelson,
the distinguished guest, (Dr. Coté having been prevented by the situation
of his domestic affairs from accepting the invitation,) was introduced by
William Upham, Esq.
After the dinner had been partaken, and the tables cleared, the
following set of toasts, prepared and delivered by the gentlemen whose
names are respectively prefixed, were drunk, accompanied by appropriate
airs from the Montpelier band and the discharge of guns :
By William K. Upham – Liberty and Canada – Though clouds may darken their
prospects for a time, yet the sun of their prosperity will soon arise in
its glory, shedding its genial and refreshing rays upon a free and happy
The spirit of civil liberty – Tyrants and oppressors may curb and
restrain it for a time, but it is as unconquerable as the lightnings of
heaven, and co-existent with virtue and intelligence.

The exiled Canadians – The name of “rebels” applied to those struggling
for the inestimable privileges of civil and political liberty, shall never
deter freemen from extending the hospitality due our fellow men, whether of
our own or of a foreign land.
River Raisin and St. Eustache – They remain, and will ever remain, as
lasting memorials of British horror and British cruelty, and British

Lount and Matthews – Patriots and martyrs ! May the “tree of liberty”
spring from the soil with which their blood is mingled, and overshadow with
its luxuriant branches the united provinces of Canada.
Sir Francis Bond Head and Sir John Colborne – Worthy compatriots, and
fit instruments to desecrate the temple of liberty and pollute her sacred
By L. L. Lamb – Green Mountain Juries – They inherit too much of the
spirit, intelligence and incorruptible firmness of their sires, to fine and
imprison a man for no worse a crime than that of contending for a
republican government.
The Vermont Presses – Nobly have they spoken in the cause of Canadian
liberty – Good speed the day when they will have the pleasure of announcing
the independence of the Canadas.
By D. P. Thompson – The oppressed Canadians – Let them rest assured that
the prayers and sympathies of the Green Mountain boys will ever be theirs,
so long as they shall be struggling for freedom with the foot of a lord on
their necks and the head of a priest in their pockets.

The martyrs of St. Denis, St. Charles and St. Eustache – May every drop
of blood, there shed, like the sown teeth of the fable dragon, spring up an
armed man to avenge the wrongs of his country.
The haughty oppressors of the Canadian Patriots – They may exult now ;
but let them remember,
“That Freedom’s battle once begun,

Bequeath’d from bleeding sire to son,

Tho’ baffled oft, is always won.”
The projector of the “gallant affair of the steamer Caroline” – The Hon.
Col. McNab, recently knighted by the Queen fore his matchless bravery and
skill in murdering a dozen unarmed American citizens – In his example and
reward we are taught the exact price of a British title.

After the regular toast had been drunk, the President rose and gave :
Our guest, Dr. Robert Nelson. Driven from his country and his home by
the iron hand of oppression – may he ever find in the United States “the
asylum of the exile, and the home of the oppressed.”
As soon as the enthusiastic and reiterated applause, with which the toast
given by the speaker at the close of his remarks was received, had
subsided, Dr. Nelson rose, and with visible emotion, proceeded in a very
appropriate and handsome manner, to return his thanks to the company for
the present testimony of their esteem and respect ; after which he gave a
succinct and lucid statement of the grievances which had forced his
countrymen to resort to arms in defence of their rights, together with a
detail of the leading features of their late revolutionary movement,
followed by a touching picture of their present situation and future
prospects, under the iron hand of a government, witch, more than ever, was
now grinding them in the dust. And, after again expressing the
gratification he felt, not simply on account of the honour done him
personally on the occasion, but because he read in it a proof that the
motives, which had actuated his compatriots, were rightly appreciated by so
intelligent a community, he closed by offering the following sentiment : -
Vermont – May her principles of republicanism, and cherished feelings of
liberty, pass into the hearts of her posterity and there remain firmly
fixed as the mountains of her state […].
-- Envoi via le site Vigile.net (http://www.vigile.net/) --

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