George Longmore was born in Quebec City, probably in 1793, and resident in Montreal in the early 1820s before he sailed for England in 1824. The Charivari was first published under the pen name of Launcelot Longstaff.
The Charivari: Or Canadian poetics, after the manner of Beppo was published under the pseudonym Launcelot Longstaff in Montreal in 1824, and is one of Canada’s first indigenous poems. The Charivari’s hundred and seventy-nine stanzas contain many allusions to local customs, politics and citizens, but it is against this background of Irish-English disputation, murder trials and demands for law and order that the lighthearted tale of the charivari of Baptisto and Annette must be read. The fright of Annette and of the servants
All, was still uproar without side the walls
As it was fear within,
is more than a poetic device. To local readers it brought to mind the horrors of a real event of the very recent past.
While The Charivari is capable of standing alone as a work of poetry of its own period, much of its value for out time, as it was perhaps for the original readers, is in its picture of Montreal life, circa 1824. The Canadian-born author, returning briefly to his native land after military service in England and Europe, looked with worldly-wise eyes on the country and its inhabitants. His description, at once that of an insider and a visiting observer, is both an urbane comment on colonial life and a carefully detailed painting that captures for posterity the essence of a particular time and place.
Mary Lu MacDonald is a Canadian Studies specialist who has written extensively on pre-Confederation Canada. She resides in Halifax.