페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

education. It is this, more than any advantages of climate, of soil, or of political institutions, that gives the American an immeasurable superiority over the unenterprising Canadian. Intelligent and welleducated men will doubtless be found in Canada, but the great mass of inhabitants is evidently behind the people of the Western country. With the latter, no sooner is a settlement formed, even in the remotest districts, than the intelligent enterprise of the New-Englanders is awake, and schools, academies, churches, courts of justice, arise as if by enchantment. Wherever land is cleared, or villages founded, as teachers, clergymen, lawyers, and merchants, they regularly follow, and mould the rude settlers into an organized community. In the most distant countries on the Wabash, the Illinois, and the Missouri, whenever I came to a settlement, even to a village of the smallest dimensions, I uniformly found the intelligence, arts, and civilization of Europe. If I called on the clergyman or lawyer (and there is little ceremony in the Western woods), I generally found a number of the Edinburgh Review, or of the New Monthly Magazine, within two months after its publication in Europe. When nine hundred miles from Philadelphia, I met with an American edition of Anastasius, not more than three months after its first publication. I need scarcely add, how much I was delighted with that inimitable work in such a situation, with the beautiful expanse of the Ohio and the majestic forest around But into Upper Canada the benefits of literature enter most tardily and imperfectly. While libraries were forming in almost every village on the American side of Lake Erie, the Canadian shore presented no symptoms of knowledge, no marks of improvement. On landing at a solitary log-hut on the banks of the Ohio (in one of my wanderings,) I was surprised to find in the window an American edition of Richeraud's Physiology. The house was as wretched as the inmates seemed miserably poor, yet a lame, sickly-looking lad had nevertheless found the means of obtaining a small but select medical library. In Canada, the poor boy would have possessed neither the opportunity nor the inclination to surmount natural defects by mental cultivation.

me.

Revenons à nos moutons.-The most singular period of the Canadian year is the Indian summer. At the end of autumn, the atmosphere becomes exceedingly hazy, and the sun for weeks is almost concealed from view, while the weather continues delightfully mild and agreeable, the roads remain in excellent condition, and though the dark brown of the forest and the falling of leaves give the melancholy warning of approaching winter, yet there are pleasures attending this decline of the year that render it most interesting, both to the traveller and the emigrant. The one finds the wonted solitude of the woods exchanged for noise and activity; the other hastens to the towns with the produce of his farm, and, like the sailor returning to the wished-for port, enjoys the pleasures of society with tenfold delight, on account of his seclusion through the remainder of the year. In the cities of Lower Canada he finds men of education and men of the world who can understand his feelings, and to whom social converse is one of the highest blessings of life. The reflections that had been for months pent up within his own breast, now burst forth in rapid torrents, like the fabled thaw of words that were suspended on their flight. Much as the Canadian settlers enjoy this renewal of intercourse with society, their social feel

ings are far inferior in intenseness to the vehement longings that seize upon the luckless Frenchman whom fate has immured in the woods. Volney tells us of one of his countrymen at Vincennes (on the Wabash) who took an annual voyage to New Orleans-only fifteen hundred miles-to have quelque conversation. Many are the instances of this maladie de silence which I have witnessed in Upper Canada; and if the truth must be told, I too suffered like the Frenchman from the privation. When the corn frolics and other rustic amusements had disappeared, when the cider-press had disposed of the proceeds of my orchard, and the fields had been prepared for the harvest of another year, I was tempted to leave my home for a time to enjoy a “bit of chat" with my neighbours at York or Kingston, and to learn what the "old country" was doing amidst the conflicting interests of Continental Europe. Other causes combined to render this thirsting after society strong and irresistible. Bands of emigrants were daily arriving with the latest news of the old world, and my former recollections, after being almost forgotten since my departure from Europe, now came upon me with force uncontrollable. When the demon of discontent entered my breast, my former pleasures, my love of solitude, my philosophy forsook me in a moment; tili, at last, determined no longer to bear this restless anxiety, I resolved again to become a wanderer, to sally forth from my retreat to view the progress of settlement and manners in my adopted country; and if this did not satiate my curiosity, to traverse the Indian wilds of Huron, Michigan, and Superior— or to turn aside to the more smiling features of civilization presented by the American Republic. Peace and contentment sprang up with my determination once more to rove the world, to see the features of new communities rising in the woods, to trace the infant footsteps of the origin of nations. I felt myself again a participator in the affairs of men, a traveller once more on the troubled ocean of life, again a citizen of the world.

My ideas of travelling were matter of mirth, not to say of derision, with my rustic associates; and not one of them but endeavoured to laugh or to reason me out of my "wayward fancies." "Who ever heard of any one, (they told me) travelling without some object of business in view, without some money to make by the trip? "Twas worse than absurd! Since you are so fond of rambling, why don't you go to Mackinau (Michilimackinac) to trade with the Indians?" Though I was desirous of seeing the Indians in their native wilds, the annual fair had gone by, which assembles on Lake Huron, the white traders from "the States," and the Red men from the Rocky Mountains; and at any rate, in spite of my love of novelty and adventure, I did not at this moment feel particularly disposed to bury myself in the retreats of Indian hunters, even though received with more than Indian hospitality. The person most decidedly opposed to my removal was my nearest neighbour, partly because he became occasionally embarrassed in the exercise of his judicial functions, and resorted to my unlearned judgment for counsel, and partly because he loudly reprobated all useless locomotion. This gentleman—the Canadians are " a nation of gentlemen"—was a Dutchman, a miller, a colonel of militia, a land speculator, and moreover, a justice of the peace, in which latter vocation he

highly distinguished himself by the singularity, if not by the soundness, of his decisions.*

In spite of the remonstrances of the worthy Dutchman, and the cautious advice of my Scotch and Irish neighbours, I adhered firmly to my resolution, left every thing prepared for a few months absence, and hastened to the shores of Ontario,-to the capital.

Though this is but a disagreeable village, the crowds of emigrants that over-ran the Canadas, gave it this season unusual animation, and offered a striking contrast to the solitudes I had lately been accustomed to. My curiosity was, for a short time, employed in ascertaining the various fortunes of the exiles, and my experience (such as it was) in pointing out to them the difficulty they had to encounter, the advantages of situation which different settlements afforded, and, above all, in warning them against the wily delusions of speculators. This may appear Quixotic enough, yet I believe my inquiries were not altogether fruitless, nor my exertions unrewarded by the grateful remembrance of the strangers. I cannot, however, charge the inhabitants with any remarkable feelings of good-will, for I was an anomaly in such a matter-of-fact place, a faineant, who came neither to buy nor to sell, a suspicious character, who was travelling to spy out the nakedness of the land. Could I expect sympathy or social converse where the end of human existence seemed to be barter, where no thought but that of gain entered the minds of its care-worn inhabitants, where the hours devoted to (what is called) society were merely a continuation of the speculative habits of the day. I too was a speculator, but neither in produce nor in land; my notions were harmless, if they were not gainful; while the speculations of my present neighbours were more akin to the finesse of the Jew than the mercantile proceedings of long established communities. "The Americans are the boldest of speculators (I now said to myself), but their republican habits and education must surely have added some portion of public spirit, some of the effects of intelligent society, to moderate the all-ingrossing thirst after wealth! Allons aux Americains!"-I left the place without regret, travelled to the foot of Lake Erie, was wafted in a steam-boat to the town of Erie on the American shore, crossed to French creek on the Alleghany River, descended that beautiful stream for five days amidst the most romantic scenery, and finally reached the source of the Ohio, where rises the capital of Western Pennsylvania, the city of Pittsburgh.

The crowded wharfs along the shore, the creaking of engines, the noise of hammers, the smoke of furnaces, and the confused tumult of this capital of the West, made me in a moment feel that I had at length emerged from the woods. The feelings of other times, the recollections of long-lost society came over me; and I experienced the same sensations on entering this bustling city as does the soldier after the labours of a hard-won campaign. It is not my intention, however, to describe the manners, scenes, or peculiarities of Western America; I have brought the reader from the Lakes to the Ohio, merely to show him the

:

*The following specimen of bonhommie was among those laid to his charge A young man was brought before him for committing an assault on a married woman, in consequence of which she made-not a faux pas, but a fausse couche, and our Canadian Solomon condemned him to pay the costs, and to make "the lady as good as she was."

contrast of intelligent society with the solitude of my retreat. On the 24th of December I landed at Pittsburgh, and on the 25th I sat down to a Christmas dinner, a l'Anglaise, with eight English gentlemen, the pleasures of whose society I shall remember till my latest hour. Three of them were visiting the United States from curiosity, others were settled in the fertile States of Kentucky and Tennessee, and were about to embark for their homes; and one luckless wight, a youth of twenty, had just returned from Colombia by way of New Orleans after a disastrous campaign under the Liberator Bolivar. We were from distant parts of the kingdom, of different ages and professions, yet the hours passed in the most delightful harmony and peace. Our American citizens drank with enthusiasm to the welfare of their father-land, each of us indulged in recollection of past scenes and events, eulogized the beauties of his native province, the mountains, the lakes, the green fields, and the pleasant companions that had endeared home to his remembrance, till, at last, the hour of repose called us off reluctantly from our delightful converse, and we parted with the melancholy reflection that each was to pursue a different course in the morning, and that we should see each other no more. Y.

[blocks in formation]

THE FAMILY JOURNAL.-NO. II.

BEAUTIFUL OFFSPRING. THE TOWN.

Beautiful Offspring.

My grandfather had a theory on the subject of beauty. He used to say it was no credit to a person to be beautiful, but a great one to be the author of that beauty. It would be nothing, argued he, to be a poem, however fine. We should have no reason to value ourselves on our verses and images. The great matter lies in being the poet. When I see a beautiful girl or fine handsome young fellow, I always say, "Shew me the father."

"The mother, I think, comes in for her share," said my grandmother.

"Undoubtedly," said Mr. Honeycomb, "if she is not suspiciously handsome."

How do you mean, suspiciously handsome?" said my grandmother, giving a look of good-natured triumph at the glass.

"I mean, my dear," said her husband, "if she is unlike yourself, who are handsome and clever too. A mere insipid beauty who produces another insipid beauty,-what is it? Such people are vegetables, who cannot help themselves, and are not worth the dressing at last. I speak of a face with a mind in it; a beauty with a soul. When I behold such a one, I say therefore, Shew me the father: shew me the poet." "

"And the poetess," added my grandmother. "Positively, my dear Will, I do not see how you can leave out the poetess."

"My dear," said my grandfather, a little earnestly, "you must pardon us ugly fellows for taking as much merit to ourselves as we can. Had the boy resembled you rather than myself, it would have been all over with me. People would have said, 'See there, what a handsome boy Will Honeycomb's wife has brought him.' But as he happens to be more like me than you, and yet somehow or other very handsome, I am resolved to claim as great a portion in him as I can."

"Well," said Mrs. Honeycomb, with the prettiest lack-a-daisical smile in the world, "I give him up. I am patient Grizzel, and you are the Marquis. Dont send me home without my clothes."

Somehow, the smile of my grandmother, with its perfect good temper, and the pretty despondence with which she lifted her eyebrows as she looked at him, brought a very tender emotion in her husband's face. Perhaps he thought of the old story. "I tell you what, Lucy," said he, "if it had not been for you, I am afraid the boy would have turned out but a crabbed fellow at last. He has your eyes, you kind-hearted -villain; besides an air, a completeness. Proud as I am to see my face in his, I would rather he should lose every part of the lookingglass but that."

My grandmother's eyes are very fine; deep and sweet, like a couple of wells of paradise. I say "are," because I cannot help thinking that the soul which looked through them, must be looking through the same identical eyes in another world. They were archetypes of eyes; ideas, which nature would not be willing to lose; not copies at second hand, like so many others. The artist who painted the miniature, said to

« 이전계속 »