In the book, “Roughing it in the Bush,” by Susanna Moodie, the reader learns what a charivaris is through Moodie’s neighbours explanation.[i] This article is quite different the article, “From Folklore to Revolution: Charivaris and the Lower Canadian Rebellion of 1837”, by Allan Greer. Unlike Greer’s article, Moodies article is based on personal experience with no reference to fact based evidence resulting in a hilarious embellishment of the truth.
Being as this article is a primary source, there is little room for a secondary source to be utilized. This article shows how gossip and opinions rule the knowledge of Moodie’s neighbor. Being as Moodie had no other source to rely on, she is forced to believe what is being said about different incidents that occurred during the charivaris that contradict a lot of the historical facts mentioned in the article by Greer.
The premise of the facts rings true;
“ a charivari is a custom that the Canadians got from the French, in the Lower Province,”[ii] and occurs when “an old man marries a young wife or an old woman a young husband, or two old people, who ought to be thinking about their graves, enter for a second or third time into the holy estate of wedlock…” [iii]resulting in all the “young fellows in the neighborhood meet (ing) together”[iv] to harass the couple until they have discussed and received payment to restore the peace.[v]
While the above statement appears accurate there are some pieces of what is presented in this article that goes against the facts written in Greer’s article. An example of this is the mention of people being killed during charivaris.[vi] This contradicts the facts presented in Greer’s research of the charivaris in which there is no mention of anyone dying. Being as there is little facts presented to back up this rumor one can only conclude that it is not a true statement.
It is interesting how the charivari is explained in through out this article. Initially, it is told as though it I something awful with grooms being dragged out of their houses and some of them dying. However as the article concludes it is stated that a charivari is “a very dignified proceeding” and one that should not taken so seriously as it is all a good natured joke.[vii] Being as this document is written by Moodie’s experience, this shows a glimpse of how people took and intended the charivari experience.
Overall this article is a great primary source that gives the reader a personal account of what a charivaris is, how it was done and some unfortunate results. It is an article based on opinion and hearsay as neither of the women personally experienced what is being said.
[i] Moodie, Susanna. Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts : Roughing it in the Bush or Life in Canada. Montréal, CA: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 6 November 2016.
[ii] Ibid 221
[v] ibid 222
[vi] ibid 225
[vii] ibid 225