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l'homme les plus mesquines en réalité … Comme si la douce lumière de la
lune n'avait pas suffi pour éclairer ce tableau grandiose, les lueurs de
l'aurore boréale essayaient de lutter avec l'astre des nuits … Cette illumi-
nation céleste, jointe aux pâles lumières que l'on voyait dans la ville, dans
les habitations de la campagne et à bord des vaisseaux, formait un mé-
lange de lueurs douteuses et indéfinies qui donnait à la scène quelque
chose de féerique. [278-80; Quebec, which in fact is perhaps among the
most poorly developed cities in North America, which doesn't have a sin-
gle complete and regular edifice, which doesn't have a single monument
where the rules of architecture haven't been more or less poorly applied,
nonetheless, in full daylight Quebec produces a strange illusion on the
spectator. The arrangement or, better, if we can express it in this way, the
artifices of the terrain are such that the most insignificant object acquires
an attitude full of importance, so much so that one believes that before us
lies a monumental city, like Rome, Naples, or Constantinople. But at
night, in moonlight, it's ever so much more. It's a dazzling imposture, a
phenomenal mirage. The slightest steeple makes you dream of the
Antwerp Cathedral, the smallest dome takes you to Saint-Peter's in Rome
… It all rises in tiers like an amphitheatre and fades into the distance in a
way that suggests ten times more than is there. Nature, at once imposing
and gracious, has made up for the defects of art and spread its solemnity
and magic over human works most petty in reality … As if the soft light
of the moon were insufficient to illuminate this grandiose painting, the
lights of the aurora borealis compete with the evening star … This celes-
tial illumination, added to the pale lights of the city, in the countryside
dwellings and on shipboard, formed a mixture of uncertain and indeci-
sive glimmering that lent the scene something fairylike.]
According to the narrator, responding perhaps to critics from Europe
and even Montreal (see Chauveau's note, 367), while Quebec cannot be
considered beautiful from a strictly cultural standpoint, since its build-
ings and monuments seem incomplete and incompatible with the rules
and regularities of classical architecture, it can nonetheless compete
with the most splendid cities of Europe due to the landscape itself ('les
artifices du terrain'), which is structured in tiers like an amphitheatre.
The narrator's categorical conclusion that nature has compensated for
the defects of art bears a significant lesson about landscape representa-
tion in the New World, just as nature's ability to spread its magic over
the most petty human endeavours constitutes a strong suggestion
concerning the inevitable defeat of inhuman actions such as those of
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