After college, I discovered Francis Parkman, the historian. Actually I had heard of him before, but found the first volume of his ambitious account of the struggle between England and France for possession of the North America. It was called Pioneers of France in the New World (1865), and it fired my desire to see old Quebec. Parkman is a wonderful writer and I have injected his descriptions of the St. Lawrence into my pictures of my husband’s and my 25th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Quebec and Maine. This blog may not be about Art precisely, but Parkman’s histories are definitely Literature.
“Here a small stream, the St. Charles, enters the St. Lawrence, and in the angle betwixt them rises the promontory, on two sides a natural fortress. Between the cliffs and the river lay a strand covered with walnuts and other trees. From this strand, by a rough passage…, one might climb the heights to the broken plateau above, now burdened with its ponderous load of churches, convents, dwellings, ramparts and batteries. Thence, by a gradual ascent, the rock sloped upward to its highest summit, Cape Diamond, looking down on the St. Lawrence from a height of three hundred and fifty feet. Here the citadel now stands; then the fierce sun fell on the bald, baking rock, with is crisped mosses and parched lichens. Two centuries and a half have quickened the solitude with swarming life, covered the deep bosom of the river with barge and steamer and gliding sail, and reared cities and villages on the site of forests; but nothing can destroy the surpassing grandeur of the scene.”