[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]

Online Introduction to:

A Dialogue in Hades, A Parallel of Military Errors of which the French
and English were guilty, during the Campaign of 1759,
in Canada,
attributed to Chevalier Johnstone

What happened to the Scots that lost at the battle of Culloden? Some went to France. There they became good Frenchmen and fought for the French king. One of them, the soldier James Johnstone, later went to French Canada, in time for the war with England over control of the North American colonies, which they lost. Here is the account of the loss of Quebec, by this man who was an aide-de-camp to General Montcalm. Montcalm was the French general in command and died at the Battle of Quebec, as did the British victor, General Wolfe. Johnstone recounts what he saw and felt about the Battle of Quebec in the form of a conversation between the “shades” of Montcalm and Wolfe.

Military and civil corruption and betrayal caused the loss of French Canada, and Montcalm, also betrayed, was the ultimate victim. As the Dialogue in Hades relates, dead losers always get blamed. Some things never change.

When the basic premise of any war is to kill other people, how can the process and the participants escape the immorality of those involved in it?

As a gentler, gossipy aside: General James Wolfe was a popular hero to the British for years. In Canada stories were told about him for generations, as Fredric S. Cozzens witnessed on his vacation from 19th century New York to Canada: see the popular stories still told about these famous generals in Chapter VI, Acadia; or a Month with the Blue Noses, by Frederic S. Cozzens, on this site.

General Wolfe was so popular in England, that witty anecdotes about him made it into Joe Miller’s Jest Book, in two spots: Jest LXXXIX, Hero-Phobia, and Jest DCCLXIII, General Wolfe.

Wolfe was the second Englishman to report on the existence and use of the umbrella to the British. Thomas Coryat was the first to mention seeing it in Italy. Wolfe saw it being used in France, when he was stationed there, as a young ensign, before his fatal trip to the New World. He wrote to his dad about it, from Paris, in 1752, see his Letter to his Father, also on this site.

Now back to Johnstone and the Dialogue in Hades.

The text used here was thought to be a modernized version from an English manuscript, which was at one time in the war Archives in France. J. M. LeMoine, who pens the short introductory notice to the Dialogue in Hades and adds some Notes, said that it was poorly written, with multiple misspellings and grammatical errors in the English. Well, this modern version was not error free, by any means, which only goes to show that nastiness in editors is never rewarded. I have corrected the typos, and the original errors can be seen in the source code, as is true with all the texts on Elfinspell.

However, it later was determined by P. B. Casgrain that Johnstone wrote his Memoirs in French, and that these were translated by Charles Winchester, who states that the French of Johnstone’s Memoirs was excellent. The translation of Winchester is online and differs significantly from the present text. Whether the bad English translation that LeMoine saw was the work of Winchester, which is implied by Casgrain, is unclear.

The copy I have was bound separately in a paper-back edition. It was later included in a collection of the works of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, which is online elsewhere. They no longer have the manuscript they used, and at present do not know where it went: the fate of many of their holdings.

Why read this version, instead of another? Other than correcting the typos, I have translated Montcalm's burial notice, and included a very bad [but funny] pun by my buddy, Bill Thayer. What more could you want?

Click below to get started:

A Dialogue In Hades.

[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]