DAULÉ, JEAN-DENIS, Roman Catholic priest and author; b. 18 Aug. 1766 in Paris, son of Firmin Daulé, a servant, and Marie-Madeleine Mireux; d. 17 Nov. 1852 in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Lower Canada.
Jean-Denis Daulé belonged to a family of modest means, originally from Picardy. At the time of his birth his parents were employed as servants in a large house on Rue Saint-Eustache in Paris. Treated generously by their master, they lived respectably. In his childhood Jean-Denis was free to go to Les Halles, the market, every day or to pray for a while in the church of Saint-Eustache and listen there to the choir of Saint-Sulpice, which was renowned for its glorious singing. It was one of the few places in Paris where concerts of religious music were still given.
Impressed by his remarkable memory and diligence, Daulé’s first teachers helped him gain admittance to the Séminaire des Pauvres, where he received his classical education and began theological studies. In a moment of fervour, at the end of his two-year Philosophy program, he sought refuge in the Trappist monastery at Sept-Fons. But his exuberance disqualified him from admission into such an austere religious order. He returned to the seminary and resumed the study of theology. On 30 March 1790, at the age of 23, he was ordained priest.
On 1 Oct. 1791 the French Constituent Assembly required all priests to take an oath to abide by the Civil Constitution of Clergy. Like many of his colleagues, Daulé refused. On 26 Aug. 1792 the Convention adopted a Draconian decree stipulating that any non-juring priest must leave France within a fortnight on pain of deportation to Guiana. To avoid the worst, Daulé fled from Paris; he went to Rouen, then to Calais, and from there crossed to England in October. In so doing he joined the large number of his fellow-countrymen who had already settled in London. A Catholic by the name of Winter took the refugee priest into his home; Daulé taught him French and learned English from him. It was not long before a fund was launched to assist impoverished ecclesiastics, and Lower Canada was identified by the English relief committee as a suitable asylum for many of these unfortunates. Daulé applied to go as soon as he learned of the committee’s wishes.
On 26 June 1794, carrying only his breviary and his violin, Daulé landed at Quebec, together with Jean-Baptiste-Marie Castanet*, François-Gabriel Le Courtois*, and Louis-Joseph Desjardins*, dit Desplantes. On arriving they offered their services to Jean-François Hubert*, the bishop of Quebec, who welcomed them with open arms, for at that time Lower Canada badly needed priests. Daulé spent the summer in Saint-Joachim at the country home of the Séminaire de Québec as a guest of the superior, Henri-François Gravé* de La Rive. On 1 October he went to stay at the Jesuit college, where the last member of this order in Lower Canada, Jean-Joseph Casot*, lived. For one year he held the position of assistant priest in the parish of Notre-Dame at Quebec.
At the request of Pierre Denaut*, the new bishop of Quebec, Daulé assumed responsibility for the parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste at Les Écureuils (Donnacona) on 15 Aug. 1795. The parish was experiencing great difficulties. It had been without a curé from 1766 to 1786, being served sporadically by priests from Sainte-Famille at Cap-Santé or Saint-François-de-Sales at Pointe-aux-Trembles (Neuville). Daulé’s predecessor, Auguste-Pascal Tétreau, had been the victim of spite on the part of parishioners. Furthermore, the operation of a flour-mill on the banks of the Rivière Jacques-Cartier by George Allsopp*, a Protestant merchant of Cap-Santé, created problems. Nearly 200 men, mostly immigrants, worked at this mill. They were the only ones in the area to be paid in hard cash every Saturday, and most of them considered Sunday a day of pleasure, when they could do what they liked with their money. The prospect of wages attracted labourers from the parish, who turned away from agricultural work, and both family life and religious observance felt the effects. The new parish priest, an astute, diplomatic man who also spoke English, made repeated visits to the Allsopp residence and thus earned the goodwill of this influential family. In addition, Daulé spared no effort to attract the faithful to church: he delivered homilies interspersed with canticles which he composed and taught to his parishioners, and he played the violin so well that even the most hardened of them were won over.
On 13 June 1806 Daulé was appointed chaplain to the Ursulines of Quebec. He felt immediately at ease in his new office. He had an innovative mind, and gave the pupils in the convent a part in liturgical ceremonies; he himself trained them to sing the canticles he had set to music for them. It was at this time that Daulé undertook to produce a collection of canticles for religious services, in grateful acknowledgement of the warm welcome accorded him in Lower Canada. He secured the collaboration of Colonel Joseph-François-Xavier Perrault, the bandmaster of the Voltigeurs Canadiens, who provided him with songs of bygone times which he turned into canticles. Marie-Félicité Baillairgé, the daughter of Pierre-Florent*, herself an excellent musician and a former pupil of the Ursulines, composed much of the music for the collection. The work was published at Quebec in 1819 under the title Nouveau recueil de cantiques à l’usage du diocèse de Québec.
In 1815 and 1816, while performing his duties as chaplain, Daulé had ministered to the mission of Notre-Dame-de-Foy at Sainte-Foy. During the 1820s his sight grew progressively worse as a result of the many hours he had devoted to preparing his collection. By the spring of 1832 he was almost blind and was forced to resign as chaplain. On 14 May, with much regret, he left the Ursuline convent and was sent to the new parish of Saint-Roch, where he worked as a preacher and confessor. Then he spent a few months in Trois-Rivières. Finally he retired and went to live at L’Ancienne-Lorette, first in the home of Joseph Laberge, the parish priest of Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation, and then in a residence built for him by his protégé, the schoolmaster François-Xavier Gilbert, who spent the next 20 years in close association with him.
Jean-Denis Daulé died at L’Ancienne-Lorette on 17 Nov. 1852, at the age of 86. This refugee French priest had distinguished himself particularly by the collection of canticles he had prepared during his long years of service with the Ursulines of Quebec. French Canadians vied with one another in eagerness to sing these verses, which they adopted as their own, for they found in them their own feelings and aspirations expressed in a language of which they were proud. Daulé’s talent as an author had enabled him to make a smooth transition from a classicism that had outlived its day to a romanticism that was to give individuality to poetry. In his own way, he had laboured for the survival of the French spirit in Lower Canada.
Jean-Denis Daulé is the author of Nouveau recueil de cantiques à l’usage du diocèse de Québec . . . and Airs notés pour servir au “Nouveau recueil de cantiques à l’usage du diocèse de Québec” . . . , both published at Quebec in 1819.
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