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Looking west on the St. Lawrence
A LITERARY SOUVENIR
There’s a language of flow’rs, understood full well, But the message of joy or grief; But the heart’s hidden thoughts is there one can tell, When the gift’s but a simple Leaf?
- THE LAY OF THE EMBLEMS.
- “THE SEA! THE SEA!”
- RICE LAKE BY MOON-LIGHT.
- “COME TO THE WOODS.”
- CHANGES OF AN HOUR ON LAKE ERIE.
- ROUGH SKETCH BY A BACKWOODSMAN.
- THE TWO FOSCARI.
- THE BANK OF IRELAND.
- TRANSLATION FROM HORACE CARM. II. 19.
- SONG OF THE ANGLO-CANADIAN.
- A FAREWELL.
- A CHAPTER ON CHOPPING.
- THE MINSTREL’S LAMENT.
- THE FUNERAL OF NAPOLEON.
- TRANSLATION FROM HORACE, CARM. II. 14.
- TWO SCENES.
- A STORY OF BETHLEHEM.
- MORNING PRAYER.
- ONTARIO, A FRAGMENT.
- LADY MAY.
- THE BULL-FIGHT.
- THE FREED STREAM.
- A CANADIAN ECLOGUE.
- BROCKVILLE. [unnumbered page]
- THE TWO FOSCARI.
- THE BANK OF IRELAND.
- THE FUNERAL OF NAPOLEON.
- MORNING PRAYER.
- THE BULL-FIGHT.
- COURT-HOUSE AT BROCKVILLE. [unnumbered page]
SINCE we last took leave of the readers of “THE MAPLE LEAF,” twelve months have rolled away. During that period, how many stirring—how many touching events have taken place! What changes, both public and private! Assuredly, stern has been the teaching, and solemn the lessons, of the year which is now drawing to a close. The retrospect presents a spectacle, such as the present generation have never before beheld: kingdoms prostrated, or shaken to their centre—empires rocking to their fall, or heaving with unwonted agitation—social systems, the growth of centuries, overthrown—ancient constitutions levelled—all Europe so convulsed by the social earthquake, whose shocks have not yet ceased, that nations beyond the sphere of its present influence tremble, lest ultimately they too should be involved in the wide-spreading uin; and amidst this scene of wild confusion, our own glorious Parent-State, unshaken, undismayed—the refuge of misery, the haven of peace, the home of Liberty. Well may we rejoice in British connexion—well may we be proud of being united by filial bonds—
“To her upon whose ancient hills bright Freedom dwelleth yet— Whose star of empire ruleth still—whose sun hath never set; The shadows of a thousand years have flitted o’er her brow, And the sunlight of the morning bathes her cloudless beauty now.”
And ah! what sad changes by our own firesides does the eye of mournful memory observe, as it glances back to our last “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”! Fond hopes crushed—bright prospects darkened—“the household gods shivered on the hearth”—sweet ties, which years had twined all the closer, in an instant and forever torn asunder—
“The eyes that show Now dimm’d and gone— The cherished hearts now broken!
But we must not allow the sombreness of our own pensive thought to cast a shade upon the feelings appropriate to this joyous season. The [unnumbered page] gloom of the cypress-bough, but ill consorts with the bright tints of “the Maple-Leaf.” Our little volume is the Souvenir of joy, not of sorrow; and its pages, like the dial, were intended to register
“Not darkness, shade or show’r, But each bright sunny hour.”
Our brief but pleasing duty, then, (for we turn our steps from the path in which we have strayed,) is, to express our sense of the favour with which our humble contribution to Colonial literature has been received, both here and “at home”; and to present our Publisher’s acknowledgment of the success which has hitherto attended his undertaking.
Adhering to the intention which we last year expressed, we have endeavoured to preserve the distinctive characteristics of a “Canadian Annual,” and at the same time render its contents interesting to those around us, who might reasonably expect that we should not limit ourselves to well-known and familiar subjects.
One word to our correspondents, and we have done. At our commencement, we formed two resolutions regarding the literary contents of “THE MAPLE-LEAF,” from neither of which have we, so far, in any instance departed—that they should be supplied “by none but those who were the children of Canada, either by birth or by adoption”; and that nothing should appear in our pages, which had previously been published elsewhere. Of the propriety of adhering to the latter of these, we have more than once been tempted to abandon our determination. We are, however, still inclined to cull only from the growth of our own soil; and although fully sensible of the additional lustre and fragrance which the contributions of our kind friends on the other side of the Atlantic would give to our volume, we prefer the native graces of the simple offering gathered in our woods:
“The flow’rs we bring are wild, ‘tis true— Their perfume faint, and pale their hue; But they spring round our homes in ‘the Forest-land,’ And they’re twin’d, all fresh, by our children’s hand.”
KING’S COLLEGE, TORONTO,
The Lay of the Emblems.
Oh! beauty glows in the island-Rose, The fair sweet English flow’r— And Memory weaves in her emblem-leaves Proud legends of Fame and Power! The Thistle nods forth from the hills of the north, O’er Scotia free and fair— And hearts warm and true and bonnets blue, And Prowess and Faith are there! Green Erin’s doll loves the Shamrock well! As it springs to the March sun’s smile— “Love—Valor—Wit” ever blend in it, Bright type of our own dear Isle! But the fair forest-land where our free hearts stand— Tho her annals be rough and brief— O’er her fresh wild woods and her thousand floods Rears for emblem “The Maple Leaf.” Then hurrah for the Leaf—the Maple Leaf! Up, Foresters! heart and hand; High in heaven’s free are waves pour emblem fair— The pride of the Forest-land! [unnumbered page]
The reader who has yet to enjoy the pleasure of visiting the fair city of the West whose name heads our article, will perhaps fail to obtain from our frontispiece an adequate idea of the attractions of one of the most admired scenes in Canada. The artist has taken his sketch from an elevation commanding a bird’s-eye view of the city, which lies spread out like a map before him; but so much of the picture is taken in at a glance—over such a wide extent of hill and forest, water and plain does the eye range, that in order to compress it within the small space our sheet affords, the objects are so diminished as to mar in some degree the proper effect, and, faithful and well-executed as the picture is, it leaves the chief beauties of the scene to be discovered by an actual visit to the place itself.
It is, we trust, unnecessary to inform even the English reader of the whereabouts of Hamilton and Burlington Bay; but it is not every one informed upon this preliminary, who has also had an opportunity of witnessing the pleasant view which opens to you as you enter the harbour, or look down upon the lake from the commanding elevation of the “Mountain.”
Some good people, who have seen but little of Canada, and who are more fond of applauding what it is out of their power to see, than making the most of what is under their eyes, are fond of telling you that you must travel to Europe in order to enjoy the grandeur of really good scenery. We confess that we have never felt much sympathy for these discontented critics, who will hardly let you enjoy yourself in your own land, or within hail of your own fireside; and we cannot but thin k that the advocates of foreign travel would do well to see all that is worth looking at, of their own land, before they go abroad.
It was with some such thought in our mind, that we found ourselves carried swiftly through the new canal into the harbour of Hamilton. The narrow strip of land through which this canal passes, is a curious formation, resembling a bank erected by great labour and perseverance, rather than placed there by the hand of nature, so as to form a commodious land-locked harbour for the convenience of commerce. It runs straight from shore to shore, in many places not more than a couple of hundred yards wide, and with no outlet except the canal which has been cut through it, and which now renders the approach safe and easy to steamboat and schooner. [unnumbered page]
On the south side of the bay, under the shelter of the Heights, and spreading from the water’s edge some mile and a half inland, is built—or rather is being built, for its size is materially increased year by year—the city of Hamilton. The main portion of the town is that most remote from the water, having been built upon the high road from Toronto (then York) to Niagara—the latter being at that period the chief town of the Province—before the value of the water communication was felt, and when the only passage between the side of the present canal and the north shore, long since choked up, and level with the adjacent soil. The harbour having been made good, and a regular steam communication with the eastern ports established, the town is rapidly-spreading towards the wharves, which are approached by the long straight street shown in our plate, and which has recently been relieved from the infliction of periodical mud by the salutary application of Maeadam’s invention.
There are many points of view, from which Hamilton presents a pleasing scene; but our favourite one is from the height overhanging the town to the southward, which you ascend on the new road to Port Dover, on Lake Erie; and from this direction our view has been taken. Leaving the city, this road turns off to the eastward, and, forming a sharp angle, gains the summit by an easy ascent. The angle is about midway above the level of the town; and here we may pause, and see how much the prospect has already opened upon us, before we continue the ascent. Turn and look to the north and eastward. There is old Ontario, spread out before us in all the glory of its broad sheet—the bright blue surface gently ruffled with the light breeze of a fine autumn day, and glistening in the rays of the morning sun; while a few white sails pass slowly along shore, and a steamboat speeds merrily on her way to the sister city of Toronto. Any one not accustomed to look through a Canadian atmosphere, would be surprised at the range which the eye can take in this clear air. The shore is discernible the greater part of the distance to Toronto, which is more than forty miles from us. To the remotest horizon, objects, although diminished, are enveloped in none of that haze which ever baffles the spectator in the mother country—all is clear, and bright, and beautiful; and a “travelled man” would tell you, the air of Italy is scarcely more transparent, and certainly not so fresh and bracing. As we passed up the lake, the low north shore was visible; but from this elevation we see the back ground of forest-clad hills, with small gaps here and there, looking like mere garden-plots in the distance. These are farms, of hundreds of acres, with their houses, barns and comfortable homesteads. But this is only one portion of the scene. There is the long strip of land forming the boundary of the bay, and within it the pleasant pond of water—a mere pond, for Canada at least, but it would [unnumbered page] be a “loch” of considerable size and celebrity “at home”—mirroring the deep blue sky, and rivalling it in hue, and surrounded with a shore presenting in its alternation of wood and field, and variegated landscape, the aspect of a gigantic park, formed into terrace, and grove, and lawn, by immense labour and skill. But the labour of man has had comparatively little, and certainly not too much, to do with this scene—all-bounteous Nature is the gardener of the land. And beneath us is the town and the harbour, but these we shall see better from a higher position. On we climb, then, to the top of the hill, where the road turns, at an angle, through the cliff, and passes into the forest towards Lake Erie. Look now, north, east, and west and say if you have ever, even in all the travels which the home-stayers envy so much—if you have in all these seen many more beautiful or cheerful landscapes. Even Highland scenery can scarce compare with this; and the glorious landscapes of the fertile country seem from the Cheviots, if more luxuriant, yet surely contain far fewer comfortable houses, than does this range of hill and champaign. Look down upon the wide expanse of level ground between this almost perpendicular rock and the bay—the town covering an inconsiderable portion of it, large as it is. How bright and natural and cheerful it all appears! The scene which was one, and not so very long since, all nature’s own, is now bedecked with the works of active man, but his labours, energetic as they have been, have only beautified, not marred, the picture. The forest is cleared away, with the exception of such trees as are reserved for ornament; the valley, once clothed with wild woods, now wears the more appropriate covering of the green sward, and the busy hum of active trade now fills the air, which once echoed to no voice save that of the Indian. The town is, in fact, a thriving place, remarkable for the energy of its inhabitants, and the rapid increase of its trade. Who that has ever walked through its regular and well-built streets, observed its gay shops and handsome private residences, and noticed the activity and vigour which characterise the youthful city, can doubt that its present progress, great as it has been, is but the dawn of its future advancement and prosperity? In addition to its commanding position at the head of the lake-navigation, several main roads, leading from the fertile produce-growing country inland, centre here, and pour into its lap a large portion of the Western business. London, Galt, Guelph, Brantford, Paris, and Port Dover, are all reached by good roads, some of which are being rapidly extended further westward, so as to draw down to this port the exports of the new townships lately settled, and those now opening to the north and west; and all this, the Hamilton merchants are learning to carry direct to Montreal without transhipment—that is, so much is saved from the handling of our kind neighbours, who are so freely offering to relieve Canada of the trouble and the profit of her legitimate business. [unnumbered page]
But while talking of the fair city and its enterprising inhabitants, we are neglecting to look across the valley, to the magnificent bold outline of the opposite boundary. It does not rise abruptly from the level, like the hill on which we stand, but curves and undulates to its crest, affording space for farms, and even villages, upon the slope which now glows with the unrivalled tints which a Canadian autumn alone can bestow upon the forests, the rich colours mellowed into softness by the distance. That cluster of small objects glistening in the sun, and apparently embedded in the trees is the village of Ancaster, some eight miles from us, whence the London road descends to the City: and beneath the hill, but hid from view by the intervening woods, is the town of Dundas. Let the eye wander round again towards this side, and on the grassy shore of the bay, to the westward, we see Dundurn, Sir Allan Macnab’s residence, overlooking the noble basin of water in one of the loveliest spots on its banks. A tree in our Arists’s view, conceals the Castle behind its leafy veil. We annex, however, a faithful sketch of the front presented to Burlington Bay.
Altogether, the mountain, the lake, the town, and surrounding country—the whole immense amphitheatre, not desolate or barren, but full of life and pleasant beauty, and evincing every sign of thriving comfort, is such a prospect as ought to gratify and please every one that admires really beautiful scenery, and is capable of appreciating the blessings which such a country affords to all of its inhabitants who but exercise the ordinary virtue of industry.
What a change has come over the scene, since the time, when in sportive boyhood, disdaining the use of the half-finished road, we climbed this hill side, and looked [unnumbered page] upon the plain beneath! Houses and streets now occupy the fields, where we then saw the cradlers laying down the yellow grain, and gazed with astonishment on the wondrous rapidity with which the operation was performed—the stern face of the old Forest is dimpled with smiling meadows—and the corn-fields “laugh and sing” in the bosom of the wild woods. We now look upon the scene which presents itself with more than the wonder of a boy, or the criticising pleasure of the traveller; it is part of a country within which our lot is cast, and which, English as we are, we rejoice to call the home of our adoption. We look upon it, too, as additional evidence of the growing prosperity of the land, thinking not only of the City and the environs which we see, but of the astonishing abundance of the surrounding country, where you may see farm against farm appear, all teeming with plenty, so near together as to resemble a large garden interspersed with copses of forest, whilst nearly every hundred acres of those fair domains owns as lord the man who tills it. Another twenty years, and how many thousands more may share in the plenty and the blessings of this land, much more favoured as it is than thankless man is often disposed to own. [unnumbered page]
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Why is that fair young brow in sadness shaded? What pensive thought dwells in that deep blue eye? Has some fond hope of thy young fancy faded? Have Life’s spring blossoms bow’d their heads to die? Perchance some loved one wanders ‘neath the sky Of distant lands, unfriended and alone; Brother or sire in danger’s path may lie— The battle-field, where wounded thousands moan, Or ocean’s azure depths may claim them for her own. Is it that Love’s fond tale has reach’d thine heart? Does soften’d sadness on thy spirit press, To think the loved one comes to bid thee part With childhood’s home—a mother’s fond caress? To take thee where a husband’s love may bless— But which when tried may wither, faint and cold, Leaving thee lone in life’s dull wilderness, A prey to sorrow, helpless, poor and old,— Thy only solace tears, thy sighing uncontroll’d? Whate’er the doubts that sadden now thy brow, Whate’er the sorrows following thee through time, Learn to seek happiness alone, below, In Him who sits in heavenly place sublime. Until thou reach that many-mansion’d clime; Let thy whole soul be fill’d with faith and love; Then when death comes—be it in age or prime— On angel’s wing thou’lt soar to realms above, Where tear hath dimm’d no eye—where passion never strove. [unnumbered page]
THE SEA! THE SEA!
Aκοίνηυητι βοẃντωυ τϖν στρατιϖτϖυ—ϴάλαττα, ϴάλαττα.
For the light of thy waves we bless thee, For the foam on thine ancient brow, For the winds, whose bold wings caress thee, Old Ocean! we bless thee now! Oh! welcome thy long-lost minstrelsy, Thy thousand voices, the wild, the free, The fresh, cool breeze o’er thy sparkling breast, The sunlit foam on each billow’s crest, Thy joyous rush up the sounding shore, Thy song of Freedom for ever more, And thy glad waves shouting “Rejoice, rejoice!” Old Ocean! welcome thy glorious voice!
We bless thee, we bless thee, Ocean! Bright goal of our weary track, With the Exile’s wrapt devotion. To the home of his love come back. When gloom lay deep on our fainting hearts, When the air was dark with the Persian darts, When the Desert rung with ceaseless war, And the wish’d-for fountain and palm afar, In Memory’s dreaming—in Fancy’s ear, The chime of thy joyous waves was near. And the last fond prayer of each troubled night Was for thee and thine islands of love and light.
Sing on thy majestic pæan, Leap up in the Delian’s smiles; We will dream of the blue Ægean— Of the breath of Ionia’s isles;
For the benefit of our lady-readers, we deem it fitting to state, that the subject of the foregoing lines is the historical exultation of the “Ten Thousand,” when, at the close of their memorable retreat over the hot plains of Asia, they caught the first welcome glimpse of the sea, that foamed and sparkled in the distance. [unnumbered page]
Of the hunter’s shout through the Thracian woods, Of the shepherd’s song by the Dorian floods; Of the Naiad springing by Attic fount, Of the Satyr’s dance by the Cretan mount, Of the sun-bright gardens—the bending vines, Our virgin’s songs by the flower-hung shrines; Of the dread Olympian’s majestic domes, Our fathers’ graves and our own free homes.
RICE LAKE BY MOONLIGHT.
A WINTER SCENE.
Moonlight upon the frozen Lake! how radiantly smiles The queen of solemn midnight upon all its fairy isles, And the starry sparkling frostwork, that like a chain of gems Hangs upon each fair islet’s brow in glittering diadems. How stilly lies the sleeping lake, how still the quiet river, As though some wizard-spell had laid their waves at rest for ever; Murmurs abroad the hoarse night-wind, waves every leafless tree— Yet not one ripple stirs thy breast, oh! proud Ontonabee.* How strange it is, this death in life, this mute and stirless show, While we know the prisoned waters are heaving yet below, Like the cold, calm look the strong mind may to lip and brow impart, While ceaseless care, like canker-worm, is gnawing at the heart. Light, but no warmth—a dancing gleam—while all is cold beneath; Like the sweet smile that mocks us yet upon the face of death; While yet the dead lip wears so much of beauty and of bloom, We scarce can look on it and think of darkness and the tomb. How quiet, in the moon’s pale light, the tiny islands lie, Down-looking to the waveless lake, up-gazing to the sky, Slumbering beneath her holy beam, like children lull’d to rest, Watch’d by a mother’s loving eyes—upon that mother’s breast.
* The Ontonabee River, which supplies the principal portion of the waters of the Rice Lake. [unnumbered page]
Awake, awake, oh! sleeping lake, at the wild-spirit’s call— Wake in thy summer joyousness, shake off the Frost-King’s thrall; For back to wood, and stream, and brake, glad spring returns once more, And thy mercy waves shall break again in music on the shore. How many changes hast thou seen, since first the sun-beam’s smile, Through the dim-twinkling forest leaves, glane’d down on wave and isle, Ere yet upon thy sunny banks a mortal footstep trod, Or any eye had looked on thee, except the eye of God. The dusky tribes that knew thee first, have vanished from the scene, And scarcely left a wreck behind to tell of what hath been; Yet still through time, and chance, and change, smile the fair lake and river, As pure, and bright, and beautiful, and shadowless as ever. Man dies, and is forgotten, his monuments decay, His very memory passes like a dream of yesterday; But the glorious trophies of His might that God himself hath plann’d, Till Earth and Heaven pass away, unchangeable shall stand.
“COME TO THE WOODS.”
Come to the woods—the dark old woods, Where our life is blithe and free; No thought of sorrow or strife intrudes Beneath the wild woodland tree. Our wigwam is raised with skill and care In some quiet forest nook; Our healthful fare is of ven’son rare, Our draught from the crystal brook. In summer we trap the beaver shy, In winter we chase the deer, And, summer or winter, our days pass by In honest and hearty cheer. And when at last we fall asleep On mother-earth’s ancient breast, The forest-dirge deep shall o’er us sweep, And lull us to peaceful rest. [unnumbered page]
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What time the moon led in her glittering train Of heaven-lit torches through the realms of night, Methought that sleep had loosed my spirit’s chain, And, freed from thraldom, swift it winged its flight, Where oceans twain, o’erhung by Calpe’s height, On either side in slumbering beauty lie; The shores of our renowned for deeds of night And high emprise—of fame, that ne’er can die Till fleeting time is lost, merged in eternity. The outer sea was boundless deemed of yore, Haunted by phantasies and forms of gloom; No daring bark e’er ventured from the shore, For all was dark, like heathen’s thought of doom, Whose fears and hopes are buried to the tomb. High on the peak above those twin-born deeps, My wand’ring spirit saw bright visions loom Of fam’d exploits of Eld, which memory reaps From history’s boundless field, and safely garnered keeps.
And truly in the world’s wide range, the poet could not take his stand on a point more replete with spirit-stirring associations; on no other “cliff, or isle, or rocky steep,” could he more successfully evoke with magical wand, from the mists which enshroud the past, the memories of mighty deeds—“the famed exploits of Eld.” Again are the fantastic dreams of the old mythology enacted; through the witcheries of fancy he beholds the warlike hero severing the lofty rock, and wedding two oceans; anon in anger hurling his brazen shafts against the fire-raining Sun-God, who, admiring his more than mortal courage, complacently lends him his golden cup to stem the ocean streams. Again are seen the world-weary visionairies of Greece and Rome, straining their wistful eyes from the rocky steep across the unknown ocean, earth’s western bound, striving if perchance they might catch a glimpse of the Blessed Isles in the distant offing—happy Isles, where neither sorrow, nor pain, nor satiety ever intrude, where perpetual spring reigns, and where no flitting clouds of care obscure for a moment the sun of perfect happiness.
But it is not to these fanciful, old-world dreams, that the promontory is indebted for the romantic halo which invests its name, gorgeous as one of the sun-lit clouds which oft hang its towering peak.
For lo! unnumbered brazen galleys wing To Calpe’s caverned rock their onward flight And on the decks stands many a Moorish king, With flaming shield and nodding plume bedight, All armed t’ avenge lorn Cava’s hapless plight; In mists obscure is lost the warlike scene, And rises now a sad yet gorgeous sight,— The Paynim crescent gleams with silv’ry sheen O’er myriad towers and domes, where once the cross had been. [unnumbered page]
When the outraged Cava was torn away from her mountain home by the despotic King Roderic, Count Julian for a time dissembled his fiery indignation, until he head formed a scheme of evenge, with which the whole world should ring. Slowly and cautiously he carried on his intrigues with the Moors on the African coast, until at length, his plans being completed, he gave the signal, and hordes of simitared Paynim warriors, the pride of Soldanrie, swept like a fiery torrent over the plains of sunny Spain. Roderic was slain on the field of battle—the gallant chivalry of Christendom was scattered, after many a hard-fought fight,
“That dyed the mountain streams with Gothic gore,”
and for six hundred years the cross was trampled in the dust by the turbaned unbelievers. In this invasion , Calpe was the first Spanish point on which the invaders landed; and Tarik, the leader of the land, called it after his own name, Gibel-Taril—the Rock of Tarik—since softened into Gibraltar.
Until the fourteenth century, the Moors kept possession of this point, having erected a strong fortress on the north side of the mountain, the ruins of which remain to the present day. From Henry IV, king of Castile, it received the appropriate arms which it at present bears—a castle with a key hanging in the gate; but to Charles V it was chiefly indebted for those strong fortifications, which rendered it really the key of the Mediterranean.
In the war at the beginning of the last century, this gigantic citadel of nature fell into the hands of the English nation, more through fortuitous circumstances, than by any well-natured plan of operations. A fleet, under the command of Sir George Rooke and the Prince of Hesse Damstadt, was sent to cruise in the Mediterranean. Having failed in their immediate object, and dreading to return to England without having accomplished some brilliant exploit, they suddenly determined to attack Gibraltar. The resolution was carried into effect; and after a few hours’ bombardment the citadel was taken, and the flag of England hoisted, never we trust, to be lowered again.
Within a few years of this event, vigorous attempts were made to restore this invaluable jewel to the Spanish crown, but in every instance the assailants were signally defeated.
Mortified by these repeated failures, the Spanish nation took the opportunity when England was engaged in war at once with France and America, to commence hostilities against the Queen of the Seas, in the vain hope of recovering their lost stronghold. In the middle of June, 1779, Gibraltar was blockaded. At this crisis, fortunately, the fort was commanded by General Elliott—an officer fully equal to the emergency, being possessed of every high quality that should adorn a military man. And fearful was the ordeal through which he had to pass. The rock being [unnumbered page] completely cut off from the adjoining coast, provisions became exceedingly scarce—a tremendous fire was kept up, with but little intermission, by the combined forces of France and Spain—and, to increase the horrors of the scene, the small-pox broe out in the town with extreme virulence.
And now supreme grim Famine holds her court, And Pestilence—her sister—stands full near, Within the walls of the beleaguered fort, Striving to crush with all their portents drear Those iron hearts that never quailed through fear. And oft, like ghastly phantoms of the night, The dauntless veterans on the cliff appear, To scan th’ horizons with fast-dimming sight, And pray for England’s aid in such unequal light.
Thistles, wild leeks and other weeds, were greedily sought for sustenance; and the brave old Governor, to try the experiment on how small an allowance of food life could be preserved, restricted himself for eight days to four ounces of rice per day. For three years this heroic man sustained the drooping spirits of his soldiery, amidst the scenes of horror by which they were surrounded. Three or four times, British frigates daringly broke through the blockade, and supplied the starving garrison with provisions, when reduced to the most fearful extremities. It was during one of these welcome visits, that the sight of His late Gracious Majesty King William the Fourth, then acting as a midshipman, elicited the remark from a distinguished Spanish prisoner. “No wonder that the English nation has gained such a naval superiority, when one of the princes of the blood royal is seen serving in so humble a position.”
Towards the close of the third year, the enemy prepared for a grand effort. Forty-seven line-of-battle ships took up their positions on the southern and western sides of the promontory, together with battering-ships the strongest that had ever been constructed, and a great number of frigates and smaller craft; while on shore there lay a body of 40,000 troops, behind batteries lined with 200 pieces of the heaviest ordinance.
On the British side, the whole force amounted to less than 7,000 men.
In this perilous condition, it was fortunately suggested by General Boyd, one of the officers of the garrison, that red-hot shot should be used against the assailants.
His suggestion was acted upon, and presently a scene of frightful sublimity was witnessed. Streams of fire seemed to pour down the steep, while the roar of so many hundred pieces of artillery made it tremble as if shaken by an earthquake.
As raging Ætna’s molten torrents stream, Adown the rock the fiery volleys sweep, And death-winged dazzle with a lurid gleam; Then swift the blazing fleets illume the deep, While smoke and sulphurous vapours heavenwards creep, Shrouding the scene in vast funereal pall— But Albion’s flag still floated o’er the steep Where proud Urwin leagured with boastful Gaul, Fell by the vengeful wrath of those they would enthral. [unnumbered page]
Dense clouds of smoke soon burst from the enemies’ ships—flames glided along the rigging like glittering serpents—and speedily the whole fleet was enveloped in sheets of fire. But amidst the thunders of exploding magazines, and the pealing of the guns as the flames reached them, were heard the shrieks and grans of the unhappy crews; and the British soldiery, ever humane as brave, hurriedly put off in boats to rescue their fallen foes from destruction.
Since that period, no enemy has dared to attack this fortress. There it stands, like a grim sentinel, keeping watch over the rich and fertile lands engirdled by, and the beautiful and fertile islands scattered over the tideless Mediterranean.
Calpe, thou giant warder of the main! Time hath not minished aught thy stately mien; Though fallen nations own the tyrant’s reign, Which erst in towering stateliness were seen; Of Albion art though emblem meet, I ween— Unconquered Albion, changeless as that sea Which, vassal-like, defends the Island Queen!— As winter’s storms beat harmlessly on thee, So ages leave unscathed the “Empire of the Free.”
CHANGES OF AN HOUR
ON LAKE ERIE.
Smiles the sunbeam on the waters— —On the waters glad and free; Sparkling, flashing, laughing, dancing— Emblem fair of childhood’s glee. Ruddy on the waves reflected, Deeper glows the sinking ray; Like the smile of young affection, Flushed by fancy’s changeful play. Mist-enwreathing, chill and gloomy, Steals grey twilight o’er the lake— Ah! to days of autumn sadness Soon our dreaming souls awake. Night has fallen, dark and silent, Starry myriads gem the sky; Thus, when earthly hopes have failed us, Brighter visions beam on high. [unnumbered page]
ROUGH SKETCHES BY A BACKWOODSMAN.
“There are fairer fields than ours afar, We will shape our course by a brighter star, Through plains whose verdure no foot hath press’d, And whose wealth is all for the first brave guest.”
“A life in the woods for me.”
In the pages of the “MAPLE-LEAF,” the beauties of some of the fairest landscapes of this land of our adoption have been depicted in fresh, but not too brilliant colours, and there is yet ample room for the exercise of pen and pencil in the same agreeable and useful employment. But there are other scenes, the description of which may not be wholly uninteresting, whether to the emigrant, who is yet but beginning his experience among them; or to the gentlemen, who remain “at home at ease,” and hear only of us and our country in the distance; or even to the old settler, who amid his ever-recurring avocations has found but little leisure to analyze very closely the peculiarities of a life now become familiar to him. These are the scenes not of Canadian hill, and dale, lake and forest, but the home pictures of every-day life, as it may be seen by the close observer in our villages, and farms, and backwood settlements.
At the outset, we must warn the kind reader, who wishes to accompany us whilst we sketch from nature, that it is on no picturesque tour we purpose taking him. Homely are the scenes which we shall visit, and familiar the features which we intend to portray. Our course will lead us not through “tangled brake” or by “sequester’d stream,” nor yet along the smooth highways of city life, but over the rough roads, that lead far from the refinements of “the front,” to the rude simplicity of our “back settlements.”
Here we are, then, in a country village. There is something old-country-like in the words; and the place itself, situated on a river bank, so as to take the best advantage of the “water privilege,” looked really beautiful as we approached it. But you are evidently disappointed on a closer inspection. That hewn log-house, which looked so white and pretty as you passed the turn of the road, now appears in its true [unnumbered page] character, decidedly out of the perpendicular, and leaning, as it were, affectionately towards the stream; but if you must needs be critical, look a little further on, and you will observe that a new house is being built on the same premises, and of brick too, so we will not be very severe in our censure of that which is about to be deserted. The village, in fact, consists chiefly of two rival taverns—ditto of stores, and the blacksmith’s shop. You need not entertain an unfavourable opinion of our “settlers,” because you see some loungers about the inns, the real men being at work in the fields. Look a little to your right and to your left, and you will see that the mills are going briskly, and that a fair business is doing at those stores in grain and produce, and there is an air of decided independence among the people whom you see busy about the emporia of the country, which gives you an idea that distress and poverty are maters unheard of in these parts. And so in fact they are. This land feeds all her people. Those mills are the property of a man who came to Canada, to seek a living, and with scarce a sixpence in his pocket. His capital consisted of a stout frame, industrious habits and good principles. He has now settled his family, not as cotters, but as farmers and merchants, and has one of them in partnership with him in the mill business. He has called the “land after his own name,” and we now stand in ————, whither, this thriving proprietor will inform you, he came some fifteen years ago, when a footpath through the woods was his only guide to the spot. Well has he prospered since, although, strange as it may appear, he is not what would be ordinarily called a good man of business. During the long evenings, you may see him poring over pieces of paper of various shapes, and covered with characters not formed exactly after the model of the writing master, and a dingy book or two, which give him much more information as to the state of his affairs than you would imagine. A lawyer or bankrupt’s assignee would have some trouble in striking a balance-sheet from these materials; but as our friend never speculates more deeply than present means warrant, in his mill business, and has never yet been engvaged in lawsuit, there is no reasonable probability of any sharp-eyed disciples of Gamaliel being troubled with the adjustment of his affairs. Half-educated as the man is, his prudence is a practical rebuke to that description of persons who, with much better opportunities of learning, fail to gain sufficient wisdom to carry them safely through life. You need not travel far through Canada, without meeting with men who will abuse everything in it. They will say, this business will not succeed, and that is sure to ruin you. Enquire a little further, and you will find that they have foundered their own ships by loading them too heavily. Speculations entered upon without experience, and frequently, singular enough as it is, without capital, can scarcely be expected to lead to wealth, even in Canada. [unnumbered page]
Passing to a respectable distance from the bustle of the “Street,” as the highroad is curiously called hereaway, we find ourselves abreast of the new village church. This evinces the real progress of the place; and if you are going to locate yourself in the remoter parts of the bus, it may be some time ere you look on as cheering a sight again; and the recollection may iduce you early to apply you own energies, and induce your neighbours to do likewise, towards obtaining the blessings of the Church’s ministrations in your own backwood settlement.
Let us now cross the stream, and travel some distance along this new rough road, where you shall see how farms are made, and how serviceable that land is rendered when the old giants of the forest are removed, after shedding their leaves for centuries of autumns. Here is one of the best specimens of a backwoods farm, and we will make a closer inspection of it than we have done of those which we have as yet seen. It might puzzle you to hold a plough among those gnarled and irregular stumps, and the tough scarce-hidden roots which occupy the soil; but the farm is a very valuable one, notwithstanding that the clearance was only commenced si years ago, and the country is still called “the bush.” The house, you observe, is built of logs, not hewn as you saw them in the more pretending village residences, but the plain trees, round and in their bark as they grew. The walls are, however, nearly laid, the corners regular, and the crevices carefully filled with plaster. You may often know the idler by his slovely-finished dwelling. Your “new-comer,” who is fond of telling you how handsome was the house he lived in “at home,” appears to think that, because he must now see some of the roughs of life, the roughr and more uncomfortable he can have everything about him the better. Watch the man closer, and ten to one, but you find he has an equally bad excuse for shirking the work of his farm and other useful occupations. He tells you that “this is the way in Canada”—“nothing better in this precious country, you know”—and perhaps proceeds to edify you with an account of hardships which would not frighten a lady, and to tell you of English comforts which, although you have not seen salt water these twenty years, you know more about than he does. The sensible man in yonder house, on the contrary, fills up every spare hour by doing something useful—completing a window-frame, or making another table, or an original patterned easy-chair for “mother”—rendering all about him more comfortable every day, and thanking Providence that he is in a country where timber costs nothing, and where there are no taxes upon glass, and very few upon other necessaries. His chimney is of clay, it is true, but it is squared and smoothed, and will be whitewashed soon; and the ascending smoke gives as cheery an earnest of the dinner, to which we, as strangers and travellers, shall be welcome, as if it ascended through a stack of real brick and chimney-pots. [unnumbered page]
And now that we have experienced the bushman’s hospitality, and tasted his dish of well-cured bacon and potatoes (the latter of which, by the way, you must admit could scarcely be surpassed in Ireland), I will endeavour to give you some idea of his mode of life. Fortunately for the good man, he has several stout youths to assist him in his labours, and they soon learnt to chop and clear land. This done, the farming was a matter which he understood better than his Canadian neighbours, and somehow his fields soon presented an appearance which attracted the attention of the other backwoodsmen. Not a foot of ground is lost, except that which the stumpts actually cover, and the barns which he has built are filled to overflowing. This man has “seen better days,” but he is most cheerfully contented and happy with those which he now enjoy. He has every comfort about him, and is never heard to grumble about what “we used to have in the old country.” He grows better wheat than he did in Britain, and has no rent to pay out of the proceeds of it. He has few wants, and those few are well supplied, and he has no taxes nor poor-rates to trouble him. He not only enjoys these blessings, but appreciates them. You observed the cheerful housewife who presided at the clean, well-furnished table. She had the air of a lady; and the fact is, she is such both by birth and by education, and joins to the accomplishments which grace the drawing-room, a thorough knowledge of the mysteries of housewifery, and perfect acquaintance with the management of the dairy. Her acquirements she does not make use of for the purpose of display, or of showing how flippantly she can contrast her present position and the society with which she is surrounded, which those of other lands and earlier life, but turns her knowledge to the more useful purpose of instructing her young family. Had we accepted her polite invitation to remain until morning under the roof, you would have seen her, notwithstanding the stranger’s presence, giving the young children their evening lesson, and catechising the little flaxen-haired fellow you were playing with, in the simplest rudiments of that knowledge, without which all else is ignorance; and we should not have separated for the night, without hearing from the lips of her husband a chapter modestly but well read from the “bug ha’ bible, ance his father’s pride.” The great secret of that family’s happiness—and you must admit they looked happy as well as comfortable—is, that such a sin as Idleness is unknown among them. All are ever employed, sometimes in labour sufficiently trying to the constitution both of the father and his striplings; but Plenty crowns their exertions, and the peaceful rest of the fireside sweetens their life. Such can back-woods life be made by the humblest settler.
I see you wondering who can be the owner of the farm which we are now reaching. It is a wilderness of a place to be sure, and the house and barn are scarcely distinguishable from the other. You can now be certain; for you observe that one end of the longest log building has a window and a chimney in it, a portion of the [unnumbered page] remainder being evidently filled with some produce of the field. That is the “estate,” we suppose we must call it, of a family of high respectability; and the exceeding great pity is, that they have very greatly mistaken their vocation. They are highly connected “at home;” but the neighbours, whose ability to labour has enabled them to far outstrip the gentleman in point of wealth and comfort, have not the slightest idea of rendering him any respect on account of his noble blood or illustrious pedigree. None of them are his tenants, but I am sorry to say a few are his creditors for certain supplies, which they aver with some ill-humour they could have marketed more advantageously in the city, very far distant as it is. We will not call here, because, although we should be both courteously welcomed and hospitably entertained, you would be painfully conscious that the family would either not see company, feeling, as they do, the unpleasantness of the change in their mode of life, and galled by their altered circumstances.
This gentleman came here possessed of a capital which might have produced a fair annuity. Although utterly inadequate in England, it was yet sufficient to have maintained him in comfort in Toronto, where he could have obtained for his boys education of the highest order, at a trifling expense, and then have found openings for them without difficulty in respectable lines of life. But to live a reduced gentleman among a people who can neither understand him nor make themselves understood by him. Rather than submit to lower his head a little in his own element, he tries to move in an element quite foreign to him, when he gets laughed at by those whom he has been accustomed to consider his inferiors. Some hard lessons are often learnt in the woods, and this gentleman has been favoured with no small share of them. Contrary to the scorned advice of the other bushmen (for he came to teach, not to learn), he has built a log house so large that it could not but sink and settle out of shape in a couple of years, and which he has never found it convenient to finish. Then he sets to work clearing land; and supposing that a farm must needs consist of several hundred acres, he gave a contract to clear fifty to begin with. This done, he found it impossible to cultivate more than the half of it, and that badly, while the “second-growth” underbrush choked up the remainder. He laboured industriously, with the assistance of his delicate-fingered boys, to make the farm pay; but it was impossible, and he now finds himself nearly stripped of his money, and his children half-a-dozen years older than when they left school, without a dozen new useful ideas added to their former stock. Had this gentleman been advised to enter into business as a Liverpool cornfactor, instead of embarking for Canada, he would have frankly said, he knew nothing about the business, and the attempt would be ridiculous. The same truth does not seem to have occurred to his [unnumbered page] mind, with regard to hard manual labour and Canadian farming. In another year or two, you will find him perhas, if he is fortunate, the acceptor of a small Government employment, enjoying intercourse with the inhabitants of the city, in which his official duties require him to reside, and at last convinced by experience, that there are others in Canada besides his own family who possess the characteristics of good society, and who actually understood manners and etiquette long before he formed the project of enlightening the ignorant colonists on the subject. One of his sons will obtain a commission in the army, where his loss of school benefits will not be severely felt; and the others, by dint of the hardest labour, may possibly so far retrieve their time as to fit them for the counting-house or the professions. And if they do, they will be more fortunate than many of their class.
But I observed that you particularly noticed that young man, driving the ox-team which passed us just now. Handsome he still is—and his bearing is that of a gentleman. The effect of bad habits, however, is plainly and deeply traced in his countenance and general appearance. A chapter of his history might be a warning to some unthinking parents in the old country who would settle their promising boys in the Canadian backwoods. The youth came here with a good outfit, and found ready for him an hundred acres of huge trees. He had permission to draw for an occasional twenty-five pounds rom the paternal bank; and he was indulgently expected to make, not a living exactly, but considerably more, out of the said hundred acres of land. He took up his residence in a small log house upon one corner of the “demesne,” and kept bachelor’s hall in a manner which would have astonished his dear mamma, both by the absence of all proper comfort, and the too frequent presence of companions who would not have been so much at ease in a drawing-room. A few acres of land having been cleared, it soon became evident that although our hero was strong of frame and had learnt to chop and plough, he could not book a large dividend upon his capital invested. After lingering on in this manner for three or four years, during which he has become weaned of most of his good manners, and, sad to say, some of his good principles, he finds the supplies stopped. The kind father has met with losses; and even if he could afford to honour more drafts, he seriously thinks that if Canada cannot make a man independent in three or four years, the dear boy might almost as well have gone to the distant paradise of Australia. Had a friend suggested to the worthy gentleman to establish his son as a tenant farmer in Devonshire, he would very sensibly have replied, that Thomas was a good Greek scholar to be sure, but you might as well expect him to command a man-of-war as to manage a farm. So he sends the stripling to Canada, to farm there, although the undertaking requires all the knowledge of the English farmer, which to make the farm, lay out money judiciously, ensure moderate returns, and [unnumbered page] make no losses by fishing after large profits which can never come—all this requires forethought, judgment and experience, which few men can acquire without long as well as close observation. Had the youth been allowed a small sum per annum, to pursue a line of study consonant with his tastes and former life, he might by this time have fairly commenced a successful career in business. Some lads in similar positions succeed well enough, but it is by the exercise of more enterprise and industry, than most youths possess. No young man in America must tolerate a stand-still life; he must determine to mount the ladder, and he will succeed, provided he has a sturdy frame, and the spirit to undertake anything “for an honest living.” This youth will perhaps work his passage home in a merchantman this “fall,” and delight the eyes of his friends. They will take his adventures to find that two of his brothers, who were equally ill-used, have prospered surprisingly; one of them, having become a thriving merchant, and the other being in the receipt of a competent livelihood in one of the “learned professions.” By means of hard work alone (the precious metal of America), these lads have effected what could scarcely have been done in England so cheaply.
Among these hints of what may be seen in the woods, some of our readers would perhaps like to hear of the pleasures of the chase—the glorious sport of gun and dog, among the quadrupeds and bipeds of the primeval forest. As we draw our pictures from the life, however, those readers will be disappointed. The “backwoodsman” (poor DUNLOP, of much respected memory, to the contrary notwithstanding) should reckon upon no such recreation. He will find hunting part of his employment, truly enough; but it will be what is called in the lingua loci “hunting cattle,” and consists of walking through several miles of forest once or twice a day, in search of his horned animals, who are regaling on the “bush feed.” In these rambles, if he thinks he is worth his while to carry a gun, he may perchance in the course of the season bring down a buck or two; but he will be glad to leave his gun at home, and travel light, for his day’s regular labour teaches him to economise his strength. Game may sometimes, too, be bad for searching; but the genuine backwoods farmer cannot spare time for this, and time is here our capital, which we must husband as a banker does his bullion. After a few years, the initiated backwoodsman will vow with a clear conscience, that the best sport he has is among his own flocks, and the slaying of a beeve of his own rearing and fatting, more pleasant and profitable than all the time he has ever spent in chasing deer or “treeing” partridge.
But you are tired—it is too evident—most indulgent reader. Canadian bye-roads are direfully rough, and plunging into mud-holes far from agreeable. We shall stop, then,—but first, we are bound in justice, both to our country and to our friends [unnumbered page] abroad, to say, that no greater error can be perpetrated, than to suppose Canadian life differs from life at home, in any of those essential particulars which render it necessary or even just to measure the means of success here, upon principles other than those applied in England. Do you want to be a Canadian farmer?—consider whether you can make yourself a farmer fit for England or any other country. Do you think of opening a mercantile house of any kind, in Canada?—answer the question, whether or not you can manage a similar establishment in London, Liverpool, or Glasgow? Are you living in retirement upon a small annuity, insufficient to give you the comforts and society your family are accustomed to, and dead living abroad, because it would oblige you to learn foreign habits and tolerate foreign faces?—you may rest assured, that the same money, which is but a scanty pittance where you are, will make you comfortable here, and surround you with a society as thoroughly Enlgish as that in which you now move. You want to educate your sons like gentlemen, and here you can do so with three, for less than one would cost you in dear England. But if you are provided with all these comforts, and heave no more idea of farming than of writing Hebrew, you will do well not to settle in the woods until you have looked well about you. But if, after thoroughly learning what a backwoodsman’s life is, you are sure you can “stand the work,” and not flinch at the few trifling inconveniences, then, by all means, come and share its enjoyments, which are not few, as well as the homely fare of “a backwoodsman,” who has endeavoured to instruct and perhaps entertain you with these few rough sketches.
We have said that the scenes of CANADA resemble those of HOME. So indeed they do, and in many instances excel them, if we may judge by applying the principle, that “that state of things is best which affords the greatest happiness to the greatest number.” Visit our cities, and observe the English-looking shops and streets and people. Step into one of our churches—and thank Heaven that you may utter the same words—breathe the same prayers—hear the same truths preached, as you have done from your childhood. Walk among the close net-work of country roads which intersect our well settled countries, and observe a homestead of comfort, neatness and independence, on every hundred acres of land. The untaxed, unrented soil yields the fruits of the earth in profusion—the barns groan with fullness, and the orchard trees bow their laden branches to the luxuriant grass. Look at all these things, and a thousand more as good and pleasant, and you will perhaps be induced to thank Providence for providing such a land, through which the Saxon race may almost indefinitely spread civilization and happiness. [unnumbered page]
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THE TWO FOSCARI.
Ho! gentlemen of Venice! Ho! soldiers of St. Mark! Pile high your blazing beacon-fire, The night is wild and dark. Behoves us all be wary, Behoves us have a car No traitor spy of Austria Our watch is prowling near. Time was, would princely Venice No foreign tyrant brook; Time was, before her stately wrath The proudest Kaiser shook; When o’er the Adriatic The Wingéd Lion hurled Destruction on its enemies,— Defiance to the world. ‘Twas when the Turkish crescent Contended with the cross, And many a Christian kingdom rued Discomfiture and loss; We taught the turban’d Payaim— We taught his boastful fleet, Venetian freemen scorned alike Submission or retreat. Alas, for Venezia, When wealth and pomp and pride —The pride of her patrician lords— Her freedom thrust aside; When o’er the trembling commons The haughty nobles rode, And red with patriotic blood The Adrian waters flowed. [unnumbered page] ‘Twas in the year of mercy Just fourteen fifty-two —When Francis Foscari was doge, A valiant prince and true— He won for the republic Ravenna—Brescia bright— And Crema, aye, and Bergamo Submitted to his might: Young Gacopo, his darling —His last and fairest child— A gallant soldier in the wars, In peace serene and mild— Woo’d gentle Mariana, Old Contarini’s pride, And glad was Venice on that day He claimed her for his bride. The Bucentaur showed bravely In silks and cloth of gold, And thousands of swift gondolas Were gay with young and old; Where spanned the Canalazo A boat-bridge wide and strong, Amid three hundred cavaliers The bridegroom rode along. Three days were joust and tourney, Three days the Plaza bore Such gallant shock of knight and steed Was never dealt before; And thrice ten thousand voices With warm and honest zeal Loud shouted for the Foscari, Who loved the commonweal. For this the Secret Council— —The dark and subtle Ten— Pray God and good San Marco None like may rule again! Because the people honoured, Pursued with bitter hate, And foully charged young Giacopo With reason to the state. [unnumbered page] The good old prince, his father, —Was ever grief like his!— They forced, as judge, to gaze upon His own child’s agonies; No outward mark of sorrow Disturbed his awful mien— No bursting sigh escaped to tell The anguished heart within. Twice tortured and twice banished, The hapless victim sighed To see his old ancestral home, His children and his bride; Life seemed a weary burthen Too heavy to be borne, From all might cheer his waning hours A hopeless exile torn. In vain—no fond entreaty Could pierce the ear of hate— He knew the Senate pitiless, Yet rashly sought his fate; A letter to the Sforza Invoking Milan’s aid, He wrote, and placed where spies might see— ‘Twas seen, and was betrayed. Again the rack—the torture— Oh, cruelty accurst!— The wretched victim meekly bore— They could but wreak their worst; So be but a in Venice, Contented, if they gave What little space his bones might fill— —The measure of a grave. The white-hair’d sire, heart-broken, Survived his happier son, To learn a Senate’s gratitude For faithful service done; What never Doge of Venice Before had lived to tell, He heard for a successor peal San Marco’s solemn bell. [unnumbered page] When, years before, his honours Twice would he fain lay down, They bound him by his princely oath To wear for life the crown; But now, his brow o’ershadowed By fourscore winters’ snows, Their eager malice would not wait A spent life’s mournful close. He doffed his ducal ensigns In proud obedient haste, And through the sculptred corridors With staff-propt footsteps paced; Till, on the Giant’s Staircase, Which first, in princely pride, He mounted as Venezia’s Doge, The old man paused—and died. Thus govered the patricians When Venice own’d their sway; And thus Venetian liberties Bexame a helpless prey; They sold us to the Teuton, They sold us to the Gaul— Thank God and good San Marco, We’ve triumphed over all! Ho! gentlemen of Venice! Ho! soldiers of St. Mark! You’ve driven from your palaces The Austrian cold and dark! But better for Venezia The stranger ruled again, Than the old patrician tyranny, The Senate and the Ten. [unnumbered page]
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THE BANK OF IRELAND.
“Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts, Despoil’d, yet perfect! * * * * When the low night breeze waves along the air, Then in this magic circle raise the dead: Heroes have trod this spot—‘tis on their dust ye tread.”
The Bank of Ireland,” say you? Let me look a little closer; the eye of age is dimmer than its memory, and years have passed since last I looked upon the majestic pile. True, true, there it is! Your artist has hardly done justice to his noble subject, or, perhaps, the pride and prejudice of an old Irishman have stamped on his heart too fair-drawn a remembrance of the brave old council-hall of fifty years since.
Yes, there is it!—the faultless colonnades of the southern front, with their double line of stately columns, and in the remote distance to the right barely enough to recall the splendid portico of the Peers resting on its Corinthian shafts. I see it all—more than your artist has traced, and in the depth of a Canadian forest feel the bright recollections of youth and early manhood warming the old man’s heart. I have seen it in every aspect, in every light, in every shadow—with the bright soft morning sunshine of an Irish June lighting up on its noble aisles, as we hurried at the early chapel-bell towards the gate of old Trinity—in the stir and bustle of the afternoon session, as the noisy mob gathered round the approaches to cheer in wild chorus for Grattan, Conolly or Ponsonby, or to bandy sharp jokes or sharper yells at Fitzgibbon or Castlereagh; but—purest and fairest aspect—I have often gazed at it in the beauty giving lustre of the solemn moonlight. How often, as I wended my way homewards from the pleasant firesides of friends long since departed, but unforgotten, have I paused on the approach from Grafton-street, and gazed admiringly on the familiar but ever noble scene around! To the right frowned the stately western front of the University, in deep black shadow; to the left rose the proud effigy of the victor of the Boyne, on his tall war-horse; and away to the north and east swept the splendid columns, and arches, and glittering porticoes of the Parliament House—here a line of pillars, white and glistening in the rich moonlight—there a mass of black shadow, [unnumbered page]
“The Parliament-house was meant to be built during the administration of John Lord Carteret, in the year 1729, in the reign of George H., and was executed under the inspection of Sir Edward Lovel Pearce, engineer and surveyor general, but completed by Arthur Dobbs, Esq., who succeeded him in that office about the year 1739: the expense amounting to £40,000.
“The House of Lords, having for a considerable time been considered inconvenient by its members, from its too great interference with the Commons, it was determined to give it a distinct entrance, with some additional rooms. Accordingly, in the year 1785, Mr. James Gaudon, architect, was applied to, to make designs for an eastern front, with additional rooms, for the greater convenience of the Lords. His plans being approved, they were speedily put into execution, and are now entirely completed, to the great convenience of the upper house, and exterior ornament of the place. A noble portico of six Corinthian columns, three feet six inches in diameter, covered by a handsome pediment, now gives the noble peers entrance to the High Court of Judicature. The entablature of the old portico is continued around the new; but the columns of one being of the Ionic order, and those of the other of the Corinthian, an incongruity in architecture takes place, which is certainly exceptionable, and might have been avoided by making the whole of the same order.
“The two porticoes are annexed together by a circular screen wall, the height of the whole building, enriched with dressed niches, and a rusticated basement. It is not completely finished, and expended about £25,000. The inside presents many conveniences and beauties, particularly a committee room, thirty-nine by twenty-seven, a library thirty-three feet square, a hall fifty-seven feet by twenty, and a beautiful circular vestibule.
“The Commons House not being thought sufficiently convenient, and the House being desirous at the same time to improve the external appearance of the building, it was determined to make considerable additions to the westward of the old structure. The designs of Mr. Robert Park, architect, being approved, it was begun in August, 1787, and completed in October, 1794, and comprises an extent of building nearly equal to that on the east. The western entrance is under a portico of four Ionic columns, and is attached to the old portico by a circular wall, as on the opposite side; but with the addition of a circular colonnade of the same order and a magnitude as the columns of the portico, twelve feet distance from the wall.
“This colonnade being of considerable extent, gives an appearance of extreme grandeur to the building, but robs it of particular distinguishing beauties, which the plainer screen wall to the east gives to the porticoes. The inside of the addition comprises many conveniences, particularly a suit of committee rooms for determining contested elections before the house, rooms for the housekeeper, sergeant-at-arms, &c. [unnumbered page] and a large hall for chairmen to wait in with their chairs. The whole expenditure of this addition amounted to £25,396.
“On the 27th of February, 1792, between the hours of five and six in the evening, while the house was sitting, a fire broke out in the Commons House, and entirely consumed that noble apartment, but did little other damage. It is conjectured to have taken place by the breaking of one of the flues, which run through the walls to warm the house, and so communicated fire to the timber in the building. Its present construction very nearly resembles the old: it is circular; the other was octangular.
“When this edifice became the property of the governors of the Bank of Ireland, the east and west ends were dissimilarly connected with the centre—a circumstance which must have produced a want of uniformity in the front, unpleasing to the eye of the spectator. This defect has been happily removed, and the connection is now effected by circular screen walls, ornamented with Ionic columns, supporting an entablature similar to that of the portico, and between which are niches for statues, the whole producing a very fine effect. The tympanum of the pediment in the centre of the front is decorated with the royal arms in bold relief, and on its apex stands a figure of Hibernia, with Fidelity on her right hand and Commerce on her left, distinguished by their proper emblems, executed by Mr. E. Smith.
“The noble Corinthian portico that adorns the eastern front of this edifice possesses uncommon beauty, and is seen to great advantage from College-street: the tympanum of the pediment is plain, but on its apex is a statute of Fortitude, with Justice on her right hand and Liberty on her left, distinguished by their appropriate emblems, and executed in a style of lightness and elegance that does credit to the artist already mentioned, by whom they were designed and executed. The architectural incongruity already mentioned is, it must be acknowledge, a defect, but of so little importance as by no means to justify the idea of taking down this beautiful portico, and rebuilding it in the Ionic order.
* * * * * * * * * *
“I stood by its cradle—I followed its hearse.” Often have these few words—Henry Grattan’s exquisitely compressed history of his connexion with the Irish Legislature—floated sadly through my mind. For nearly half a century has my lot been removed far away from the strifes and animosities of my native land. I am not prepared to say, that the blending of the National with the Imperial Legislature was not a measure prudently and skilfully framed and executed for the positive benefit of both islands; and that ultimately its success will be complete, is not yet beyond the bounds of reasonable hope. We are told that half a century of confusion and turmoil, has proven its inutility. Let it not be forgotten, that peaceable, happy and contented Scotland, chafed as long, as furiously, and as hopelessly. Nearly [unnumbered page] forty years after union, the chivalrous irruption of the gallant Highlanders of Charles Edward into the heart of the midland counties, all but snatched the English diadem from the brows of the House of Brunswick. Therefore the voice of the old man still preaches, “Hope on—hope ever.”
The best and fairest hours of my varied life—the warmest blood in my veins—the strongest energies of my heart—have been spent in the service of the crown of the United Kingdom. I have followed the Imperial standard into every quarter of the globe. Ours was a family of soldiers, and most of us have sealed their devotion to their country with their blood. I carried the regimental colours at the first of the victories of Wellington. I the last desperate charge of the Mahratte horse—pierced with uncounted sabre-wounds, fell the eldest-born of our household, and we gave him a soldier’s grave in the hot plain of Assaye. Another sleeps beneath the hard-won rampart of St. Sebastian; and these eyes beheld the loved and honoured forms of my father and his youngest-born, stark and cold, beneath the moonlight on the bloody causeway of Quatre Bras.
Here, after many wanderings, I am anchored at last, in a quiet and peaceful home—a fitting haven for the dark of the storm-tost soldier. There, to the right, beyond that cedar chump, lives my excellent and kindly neighbour ———, a descendent of Sarsfield, and a grandson of a well-known leader of the anti-government party between 1792 and ’98. Half a mile to the left, in yonder bend of the creek, is the hospitable hearth of worthy, whole-souled ———, of a family of the deepest Orange, and himself an enthusiastic native of the “maiden city of Derry.” Happily and kindly do we all live together, each ready with a good-humoured smile at the other’s prejudices. From the verandah of my forest home, I sit and watch the snow-storm, or the breath of summer fluttering the broad bosom of Ontario; and oft-times, in the calm of an August sunset, as the sounds of labour and the prattle of great-grandchildren gradually sink into silence, I look over the stirless waters to yonder distant wood-fringed islands that bound the southern view. And in the soft blue haze of summer’s eve, and in the dimmed eyes of the old man, it needs but little stretch of fancy to call up a solemn but not unpleasing picture of the waves of a peaceful, tranquil death intervening between the calm evening of my life and the bright, far-off islands of Eterniy. Very gently has the Giver of all good dealt with me, in granting the quiet eve to succeed the stormy morn and noon of an eventful existence. Would that all who have passed through as turbulent and varied a career, and such a tumult of opposing prejudices and interests, had been vouchsafed as fair a rest—as peaceful a haven! [unnumbered page]
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Look down, sweet Love! the fairest hour That Summer gives the sleeping Earth Hath hush’d the bird, and lull’d the flower, And still’d the wind’s playful mirth. All beautiful the moonlight streams Thro’ the old forest’s leafy halls, And fitfully soft echo seems To waft the fairies’ sportive calls. Come forth, sweet Love! a thousand things Around thy bower soft incense breathe, And musical each slow wind brings Faint whispers from the glen beneath. The star-lit fount is singing near, The wild brook hums a sleepy tale, And elfin chorus waits the car Of her who lights this haunted vale. Still hush’d, sweet Love! I would not seek To woo thee from one happy dream, If it a kinder voice can speak, If it can bring a dearer theme, One soft “Good night”—no more I ask, If bless’d thy guileless slumber be, Bright is my vigil—sweet my task— To dream of hope—to watch o’er thee. [unnumbered page]
TRANSLATION FROM HORACE.
Bacchum in remotis carmina rupibus Vidi docentem (credite posteri!) Nymphasque discentes et aures Capripedum Satyrorum acutas.
Carm. ii. 19.
The Wine-God teaching his brightest lay In the lonely rocks I found, (Believe, ye sons of a future day!) ‘Mid the listening Dryad’s entranc’d array And the quick-ear’d Satyrs round. My heart throbs high with a trembling glow Fresh-caught from thy fountains burning flow, Lyæus! spare! With thy thyrsus—emblem of might below, Spare—oh! spare. The stormy mirth o the Bacchic train, The red grape’s flashing spring, The milky streams through the laughing plain, The old oaks weeping their honied rain— Mine—be it mine to sing! How the crown of thy blessed Love was given To gleam ‘mid the stars of the midnight heaven, How the royal Thracian fell, Of the Theban domes in thy fury riven— Mine—be it mine to tell! The Rivers bend at thy dread command, The Ocean rests spell-bound, And the poison-snakes in thy Godlike hand Are twined and braided—a harmless band To circle thy brigvht locks round, And Thou—when the Titans scaled the height Of thy parent heaven in their impious might— Where wert thou? A Lion—borne through the yielding fight With death on thy shaggy brow? [unnumbered page] Tho’ to lead the dance and the mirth-crown’d hours Be thine unwarlike fame, Since thy deeds by thy father’s shaken towers Red Battle’s splendors—soft Peace’s flowers, Light up thy glorious name! And the Dog of Hell, with a cowering eye And a peaceful heart, from his hair drew nigh Thy God-like step to greet, And lick’d, as thy graceful form swept by, The dust of thy heavenly feet.
SONG OF THE ANGLO-CANADIAN.
There’s a land—they call it “The land of the Free,” ‘Tis our far-off Island home; Her fame is wide as her subject-sea, And pure as snow-white foam. But we’ve left the graves where our kindred sleeps— The towers that our fathers raised, The ancient rivers—the mountain steeps, The fares where our God we praised. We’ve left thee, thou land of the lofty crest! We have come o’er the sounding sea; We have made our home in the youthful West, But our hearts are still with thee. And we thank our God that the fair young hand, That ruled us with gentle sway In the ancient homes of our Father-land, Is over us still to-day. Oh we love the land where our lot is cast— ‘Tis a land that is fair and free; But it springs not from thoughts of the glorious past, Like the love that we bear to thee. [unnumbered page]
Shatter’d hopes of idle youth! Golden veils of mournful truth, Shapes of Morn’s ecstatic reign, Phantoms of the dreaming brain, Shadowy children of the Past, Heart-enchanters to the last! Now at length your world is over, Now the grave your forms may cover, For the veil is rent asunder, And the cold stern Truth is under. * * * * * Ye were mine too long, too long, (So I sing my parting song), Happy day and starry night, Have I revell’d in your light, And my World was all enchanted, While the path of Morn was haunted By the shapes of golden dreams, By the wings of glorious beams, By the breath of happy voices, As when Heaven with Earth rejoices. * * * * * So farewell! fair dreams—we sever, With this parting word—for ever! With one sigh for wither’d flowers, With one thought on pleasant hours, When the rainbow spam’d the fountain, When the blue mist wrapp’d the mountain, When the spring winds knew a song Which they sang the bright day long, When each star upon its brow Wore a glory—not as now! Young Romance—thy dream is over, And we part, the lov’d—the lover— Tho’ the weak heart turn to linger O’er the thoughts the Past may bring her, Firmer yet the lip will tell We are parted—so—farewell! [unnumbered page]
A CHAPTER ON CHOPPING.
Having made a bargain with the government agent for a “lot” of wild land in the township of S———, which we had been assured by those high in authority would prove a perfect El Dorado to the fortunate settler, we took formal possession of our new estate within a few days after our arrival in the “bush.”
Our first care was to ascertain, with the agent’s assistance, the boundaries of our property, which was situated in the midst of an entirely undisturbed wilderness; and hugely elated were we, at being the first actual settlers—the pioneers!—in the foremost of half a dozen newly surveyed townships, each containing at least a hundred square miles of virgin forest.
Imagine yourself, gentle reader, who have perhaps like ourselves passed most of your days between the wearisome confinement of an office or counting-house, and a rare holiday visit of a few days or weeks at your cousin’s or grandfather’s in Essex, or Hertfordshire, or Surrey, or some other garden-like county near the unwieldy “metropolis of the world”—imagine yourself, I say, transplanted to a “home” like ours. No road approaches within twenty miles—no footpath nearer than half that distance—the surveyor’s “blaze” is the sole distinctive mark between the adjoining lots and your own—there are trees innumerable—splendid trees—beech, maple, elm, ash, hemlock, cherry—above and around you, which, while you are wondering what on earth to do withal, as you see no chance of conveying them to market for sale, you are horrified to hear must be consumed by fire—yes, burnt ruthlessly to ashes, and scattered over the surface of the earth as “good manure;” unless indeed—a desperately forlorn hope—you may “some day” have an opportunity of selling them in the shape of potash, “when there is a road out” to some navigable lake or river.
Well, say you, let us set to work and chop down some of these trees. Softly, good sir. In the first place, you must underbrush. With an axe or a strong long handled bill-hook, made to be used with both hands, you must cut away for some distance round—a quarter or half an acre perhaps—all the small saplings and underwood which would otherwise impede your operations upon the larger trees. In “a good hardwood bush,” that is, where the principal timber is maple, white oak, elm, white ash, hickory, and other of the harder species of timber—the “underbrush” is very trifling indeed; and in an hour or two may be cleared off sufficiently to give the forest an agreeable park-like appearance—so much so that, as [unnumbered page] has been said of English acts of parliament, any skilful hand might drive a coach and six through it. Not so, however, when pine, hemlock, cedar and other soft woods prevail—those trees being less deeply rooted, are exceedingly liable to be blown down, and the roots tear up masses of the soil with them, which by their subsidence form alternate hillocks and hollows, called “cradle holes,” pretty much like the waves of a small lake in a stiff breeze; these irregularities—the mass of tangled brushwood, which almost defies ingress or egress, and the frequent recurrence of windfalls, to the extent sometimes of many acres—render such lands excessively laborious to clear, and altogether unfit for settlement, unless in the near vicinity of towns and villages.
When you have finished “underbrushing,” you stand with whetted axe, ready and willing to attack the fathers of the forest—but stay—you don’t know how to chop? It is rather doubtful, as you have travelled hither in a great hurry, whether you have ever seen an axeman at work. Our man, Carroll, who has been in the country five or six years, and is quite au fait, will readily instruct you. Observe—you strike your axe, by a dexterous swing backwards and round over your shoulder,—take care there are no twigs near you, or you may perhaps hurt yourself seriously—you strike your axe into the tree with a downward slant, at about thirty inches from the ground; then, by an upward stroke, you meet the former incision and release a chip, which flies out so briskly, that if a philosophical friend should happen to be looking on inquisitively, at a distance not sufficiently respectful, it—that is, the chip—will perhaps bestow upon him the undesirable physiognomical phenomenon profanely denominated a “black eye.” Thus you proceed, by alternate downward and upward horizontal strokes, on that side of the tree which leans over, or towards which you wish to compel it to fall, until you have made a clear gap rather more than halfway through, when you attack it in rear.
But you have perhaps met with some mishaps before you get thus far. When, having collected your strength by a mighty effort, you aim a blow with herculean force into the partial “cut” —lo! the axe resists all your attempts to get it out again! You tug, and labour, and fume in vain. “Och, blur an ‘ounds!” cries Carroll laughing, “arrah! but that wor a stroke!—shure, but yez’ll be too strong intirely—let me try, man dear!” whereupon he bestows a slight quick tap on the handle and the erst obstinate weapon lies obediently at your feet.
Now for the reward of your perspiring exertion—a few well-aimed blows on the reverse side of the tree, rather higher than in front, and the vast mass “totters to its fall,”—another for the coup-de-grace—crack! crack! cra-a-ack!—aha!—away with you behind yon beech—the noble tree bows gently its leafy honours with graceful sweep towards the earth—for a moment slowly and leisurely, presently with giddy [unnumbered page] velocity, until it strikes the ground, amidst a whirlwind of leaves, with a loud thud, and a concussion both of air and earth, that may be felt at a considerable distance. You feel yourself a second David, who has overthrown a mightier Goliath.
Now do you step exultingly upon the prostrate trunk, which you forthwith proceed to cut up into about fourteen-foot lengths, chopping all the branches close off, and throwing the small on to your brush piles. It is a common mistake of new immigrants, who are naturally enough pleased with the nevel spectacle of falling trees, to cut down so many before they begin to chop them into lengths, that the ground is wholly encumbered, and becomes a perfect chaos of confused and heaped-up trunks and branches, which nothing but the joint operation of time and fire will clear off, unless at an immense waste of time and trouble. To an experienced axeman, these first attempts at chopping afford a ready text for all kinds of ironical comments upon the unworkmanlike appearance of the stumps and “cuts,” which are generally—like those gnanwn off by beavers in making their dams—haggled all round the tree, instead of presenting two clear smooth surfaces, in front and rear, as if sliced off with a knife. Your genuine axeman is not a little jealous of his reputation as “a clean cutter”—his axe is always bright as burnished silver, guiltless of rust or flaw, and fitted with a handle which, with its graceful curve and slender proportions, is a tolerable approach to Hogarth’s “line of beauty;” he would as soon think of deserting his beloved “bush” and settling in a town! as trust his keen weapon in the hands of inexperience or even mediocrity. With him every blow tells—he never leaves the slightest chip in the “cut,” nor makes a false stroke, so that in passing your hand over the surface thus left, you are almost unable to detect roughness or inequality. If our excellent friend Lover were but aware of the estimation in which some of his intended representations of Canadian scenes, though spiritedly and cleverly sketched, are held by the hardy denizens of the backwoods, he would certainly take a few lessons in chopping before he ventured to depict its effects. His “stumps”—and not his only, but those of every British artist I have seen—are wretched affairs—cut straight off horizontally as if with a saw, instead of sloping on one or both sides towards the centre, with a sharp ridge between, generally crested with a bristling row of splinters, from a few inches to as many feet in height. Indeed, in some species of elm, of a kind inferior as timber, the splinters thus drawn out of the trunk in its fall, will be from three to eight feet long. Then his stumps are all of equal height—ours present as most picturesque irregularity, like militiamen on a muster day; some two, others four, and even six feet high, having been chopped when there was snow to the depth of four feet upon the ground. And should he see fit to correct his ideas on this subject, we would recommend him and all other artists to inspect decent Canadian axes at Sheffield, where they are or were manufactured, and not in future represent honest backwoodsmen with [unnumbered page] miserable flat things in their hands, fit only for some European forester, who would be roundly taken to task if he were to waste large chips!
Another hint to the artist—except in the severest days of winter, when the thermometer is below zero, axemen rarely wear their coats or waistcoats while at work, but stand with sleeves turned up, and generally bare-necked, their trowsers simply fastened round the waist by a handkerchief or bright red sash, a piece of finery common among the French Canadians and Indians, imitated for convenience sake by our own people. I once crossed a clearing, where two strongly-built curly-headed young Irishmen were plying their axes lustily, accoutred as if for a boxing-match—that is, stripped to their trowsers and shoes—and fine stout “boys” they were, their wide brawny shoulders exposed gladiator-like to the full rays of a burning sun; the reason for which was simply, that “the mosquitoes were troublesome!”
But we must return to our work, and take care in so doing to avoid the mishap which befell poor Hans Müller, a Dutch settler in our neighbourhood in the following season. Hans was busy chopping away manfully at one of those numerous trees which, yielding to the force of some sudden gust of wind, have fallen so gently among their compeers, that the greater portion of their roots still retains a powerful hold upon the soil, and the branches put forth their annual verdure as regularly as when erect. Standing on the recumbent trunk, at a height of five or six feet from the ground, Hans toiled away, in happy ignorance of his danger, until having chopped nearly to the centre on both sides of the tree, instead of leaping off and completing the cut in safety on terra firma, he dealt a might stroke which severed at once the slight portion that remained uncut—in an instant, as if from a mortar, poor Hans was launched sixteen feet into the air, by the powerful elasticity of the roots, which, relieved from the immense weight of the trunk and branches, reverted suddenly to their natural position, and flung their innocent releaser to the winds. The astonished Dutchman, falling on his back, lay stunned for many minutes, and when he was at length able to rise, crawled to his shanty sorely bruised and bewildered. He was able, however, to return to his work in a few days, but not vowing earnestly never again to trust himself next the root.
There are other cautions to be observed, such as whether the branches interlock with other trees, in which case they will probably break off, and must be carefully watched, lest they fall or are flung back upon yourself—what space you have to escape at the last moment—whether the tree is likely to be caught and twisted aside in its fall, or held upright, a very dangerous position, as then you must cut down others to release it, and can hardly calculate which way it will tend—these and many other circumstances are to be noted and watched with a cool judgment and steady eye, to avoid the numerous accidents to which the inexperienced and rash are constantly [unnumbered page] exposed. One of these mischances befell an Amazonian chopper of our neighbourhood, whose history, as we can both chop and talk, I shall relate.
Mary Byrne was the second of several daughters of an emigrant from the country of Galway, whose family having suffered lives of continual hardship and privation in their native land, had found no difficulty in adapting themselves to the habits and exigencies of the wilderness.
Who that has witnessed the condition of, alas! too many of the Galwegian peasantry before their transmigration, can doubt for one moment the immense advantage they gain by the exchange? See them at home, huddled together in a dwarfish, windowless, and almost doorless hovel—more like a huge lump of dry clay than a house, and stuck beside, or rather behind, a very Slough of Despond, in the shape of a green, muddy pool, rank with the wallowing of pigs and the filth of the adjacent straw in the corner, the resting-place of the whole family by night—no chairs—no table—none of the comforts—nay, rather—none of the requisites of existence. See the shivering occupants collected round a black boiler of potatoes, destined to form the entire food of the family, pigs included—although indeed these latter gentry should have been named first, as their wants must inevitably be first attended to, lest the heavy burthen of rent be not forthcoming, and the whole household be thrust abroad to beg their subsistence or die by the road-side—mark the effect of their galling circumstances on these poor people in their general conduct—their total want of manly independence—the utter absence of self-confidence—the depressing—the paralyzing influence of the conviction, that labour as they may, their earnings must still be insufficient, after the payment of their rent, for the proper support of their families. “Look on this picture, and on that.” These same poor people, by the help probably of a cousin or uncle in Canada, once equally wretched and poor with themselves, or peradventure of some considerate landlord—have mustered enough to pay their passage out, and after a long and wearisome sea voyage, find themselves by some means or other fairly located on a lot in the wilderness. What a change! Why, they are lords, chiefs, kings, emperors, over (to their minds) an illimitable extent of free domain. Mark the wondering looks of the old men and women, when their new and kind neighbours muster together to form a “bee” for erecting their first log shanty, sixteen feet by twenty, and ten feet high. It is positively immense! Their own house, built on their own freehold! Hear the delighted exclamation of the two or three half-naked but wholly happy children, busy in useful or meddlesome purposes, now frolicsomely chopping by turns a strong branch of a tree—which at home they might not touchy under the penalty of a gaol—now acting as interpreters—for they acquire English long before their parents and grandparents [unnumbered page] have thought of learning—now racing after a squirrel along with a pack of yelping curs, as noisy and as happy as themselves. Look at those hardy and active lads, suddenly converted into sage men of business, discussing the amount of wages they will probably earn at the farmer’s on Yonge Street or Dundas Street, with whom they expect to hire for the season, and calculating whether it will buy a cow to bring home to their parents next fall. And observe the frieze-coated and grey-stockinged father of the young family—the son of the old people—albeit somewhat grey-haired and stunted looking, from previous want and calamity—mark how majestically he paces the ground to shew a neighbour where he will have his garden, and where his pigsty, and where the gate, and how much he will plant with potatoes and how much with flax—for the poor fellow has brought his old-country notions with him—then see the jaded but smiling wife, with her buxom and laughing elder girls—our Mary amongst them—how intensely busy they are, arranging tin plates and cups, and knives and forks—unwonted luxuries all—on the rough hewn table, almost an equal novelty, which some obliging matron of the vicinity has lent for the occasion. Then look upon them again in a twelvemonth’s time—they have had a hard struggle to get over the first winter, and have succeeded, notwithstanding many privations (such, however, as they were used to a home)—the first crop has been gathered in—they have acquired the much-coveted cow, or perhaps two—they have partially cleared an acre or so of land, and obtained a return—scanty, indeed, yet enough to provide food for all until next harvest—they are getting accustomed to kill and eat their own pigs and poultry—and meanwhile the prospect of wages from the labour of the boys is more sure and larger in amount—it will enable them to pay an instalment on their land—and so, in a few years, the clearing has extended from rods to acres—the cow has increased to four or five, besides a yoke of oxen or a horse—the family hive has grown into a large, well plastered building of two stories, with a stone chimney—the despised and degraded peasants have become respectable and independent yeomen—those who were regarded at home as encumbrances to the soil, are now the very bone and sinew of a thriving district, and in due time the prosperous settlement will send forth new colonies, well accustomed to the ways of the country, and confident of success wheresoever they go.
Such was the family of which I speak. Hardworking were they all and thrifty, Mary and her elder sister, neither of them older than eighteen, would start before day-break to the nearest store, seventeen miles off; and return the same evening laden each with a full sack flung across the shoulder, containing about a bushel and a half, or 90lbs. weight of potatoes, destined to supply food for the family as well as seed for their first crop. Being much out of doors, and accustomed to work about the [unnumbered page] new settlers in the dexterity with which she would fell, brush, and cut up maple or beech; and preferring such active exploits to the dull routine of household work, took her place at chopping, logging or burning, as regularly and with at least as much spirit as her brothers. Indeed, chopping is quite an accomplishment among young women in the more remote parts of the woods, where schools are unknown, and fashions from New York or Philadelphia have not yet penetrated. A belle of this class will employ her leisure hours in learning to play—not the piano-forte—but the dinner-horn, a bright tin tube sometimes nearly four feet in length, requiring the lungs of that almost obsolete animal, an English mail-coach-guard; and an intriguing mamma of those parts will bid her daughter exhibit the strength of her throat and the delicacy of her musical ear, by a series of flourishes and “mots” upon her graceful “tooting-weapon,” enough to deafen a whole club of hell-ringers, albeit well accustomed to “firing” and “triple-bob-majors.” I do not mean, however, that Mary Byrue possessed this fashionable acquirement, as, sooth to say, the neighbourhood had not then arrived at such an advanced era of musical taste, but she made up in hard work for all other deficiencies; and being a good-looking, sunny-faced, dark eyed, joyous-hearted girl, was not a little admired among the young axemen of the township. But she preferred remaining under her parent’s roof-tree, where her stout arms and resolute disposition rendered her absolute mistress of the household, to the indignity of promising to “obey” any man who could wield no better axe than her own. At length it was whispered that Mary’s heart, long hard as rock-elm, had become soft as basswood, under the combined influence of the stalwart figure, handsome face and good axe of Johnny Laurie, a lad of eighteen recently arrived in the neighbourhood, who was born in one of the early Scotch settlements in the Newcastle District—settlements which have turned out a race of choppers, accustomed from their very infancy to handle the axe, and unsurpassed in the cleanness of their cut, the keenness of their weapons, or the amount of cord-wood they can chop, split and pile in a day.
Many a fair denizen of the abodes of fashion might have envied Mary the bright smiles and gay greetings which passed between her and young Laurie, when they met in her father’s clearing at sunrise to commence the day’s work. It is common for axemen to exchange labour, as they prefer working in couples, and Johnny was under a treaty of this kind with Patsy Byrne, Mary’s brother. But Patsy vacated his place for Mary, who was emulous of beating the young Scotch lad at his own weapon; and she had tucked up under her sleeves and taken in the slack, as a sailor would say, of her dress—Johnny meanwhile laying aside his coat, waistcoat and neckcloth, baring his brawny arms, and drawing the bright scarlet sash tight round his waist—thus equipped for their favourite occupation, they chopped away in merry rivalry, at [unnumbered page] maple, elm, ash, pine, basswood and hickory—Johnny sometimes gallantly fetching water from the deliciously-cold natural spring that oozed out of the mossy hill-side, to quench Mary’s thirst, and stealing now and then a kiss by way of guerdon—for which he never failed to get a vehement box on the ear—a penalty which, although it would certainly have annihilated any lover of less robust frame, he seemed nowise unwilling to incur again and again. Thus matters proceeded, the maiden by no means acknowledging herself beaten, and the young man too gallant to outstrip overmuch his fair opponent—until the harsh sound of the breakfast or dinner horn would summon both to the house, to participate in the rude but plentiful mess of “colcannon” and milk, which was to supply strength for a long and severe day’s labour.
Alas! that I should have to relate the melancholy termination of poor Mary’s unsophisticated career—whether it was that Johnny Laurie’s image occupied her thoughts, to the exclusion of the huge yellow birch she was one day chopping, or that the wicked genius who takes delight in thwarting the course of true love, had caught her guardian angel asleep on his post, I know not; but certain it is, that in an evil hour she miscalculated the cut, and was thoughtlessly continuing her work, when the birch, overbalancing, split upwards, and the side nearest to Mary springing suddenly out, struck her a blow so severe as to destroy life instantaneously. Her yet warm remains were carried hastily to the house, and every expedient for her recovery that the slender knowledge of the family could suggest, we resorted to, but in vain. I pass over the silent agony of poor Laurie, and the heart-rending lamentations of the mother and sisters. In a decent coffin, contrived after many unsuccessful attempts by Johnny and Patsy, the unfortunate girl was carried to her grave, in the same field which she had assisted to clear, amid a concourse of simple-minded, coarsely clad, but kindly sympathising neighbours, from all parts of the surrounding district. Many years have rolled away since I stood by Mary Byrne’s fresh-made grave, and it may be that Johnny Laurie has forgotten his first love—but I am told, that no other has yet taken the place of her, whom he once hoped to make his “bonny bride.”
By this time you have cut down trees enough to enable you fairly to see the sky! Yes, dear sir, it was entirely hidden before, and the sight is not a little exhilarating to a new “bush-whacker.” We must think of preparing fire-wood for the night, the easiest way of managing which is, by chopping a log into short lengths and splitting them up to a convenient size. It is highly amusing to see a party of axemen, just remured from their work, set about this necessary task. Four “hands” commence at once upon some luckless maple, whose excellent burning qualities ensure in the preference. Two on each side, they strike alternate blows—one with the right hand, his “mate” [unnumbered page] with the left—in a rapid succession of strokes that seem perfectly miraculous to the inexperienced beholder—the tree is felled in a trice—a dozen men jump upon it, each intent on exhibiting his skill by making his “cut” in the shortest possible time. The more modest select the upper end of the tree—the bolder attack the butt—their bright axes, flashing vividly in the sunbeams, are whirled around their heads with such velocity as to elude the eye—huge chips a foot broad are thrown off incessantly—they wheel round for the “back-cut” at the same instant, like a file of soldiers facing about upon some enemy in rear—and in the space of two or three minutes, the once tall and graceful trunk lies dissevered in as many fragments as there are choppers.
It invariably astonishes new comers, to observe with what dexterity and ease an axeman will fell a tree in the precise spot which he wishes it to occupy, so as to suit his convenience in cutting up, or removing by oxen to the log-pile where it is destined to be consumed. If it should happen to overhang a creek or “swale,” (wet places where oxen cannot readily operate), every contrivance is resorted to, to overcome its apparently inevitable tendency. Choosing a time when not a breath of air is stirring to defeat his operations, or better still, when the wind is favourable, he cuts deeply into the huge victim on the side towards which he wishes to throw it, until it actually trembles on the slight remaining support, cautiously regulating the direction of the “cut” so that the tree may not overbalance itself—then he gently fells among its branches on the reverse side all the smaller trees with which it may be reached—and last and boldest expedient of all, he cuts several “spring poles”—trimmed saplings, from twenty to forty feet in length and four to eight inches thick—which with great care and labour are set up against the stem, and by the united strength and weight of several men used as spring levers, after the manner in which ladders are employed by firemen to overthrow tottering stacks of chimneys—the squared ends of these poles holding firmly in the rough bark, they slowly but surely compel the unwilling monster to obey the might of its hereditary ruler, man. With such certainty is this feat accomplished, that I have seen a solitary pine, nearly five feet thick and somewhere about a hundred and seventy feet in height, forced by this latter mans, aided by the strength of two men only, against its decided natural bearing, to fall down the side of a hill, at the bottom of which a saw-pit was already prepared to convert it into lumber. The moment when the enormous mass is about yielding to its fate, is one of breathless interest—it sways alarmingly, as if it must inevitably fall backward, crushing poles and perhaps axemen to atoms in its overwhelming descent—ha! there is a slight cats-paw of air in our favour—cling to your pole—now! an inch or two gained!—the stout stick trembles and bends at the revulsive sway of the monstrous tree, but still holds its own—drive your axe into the back cut—that helps her—again, another axe! sob, the first is loose—again!—she must go—both axes are fixed in the cut as immovably as [unnumbered page] her roots in the ground—another puff of wind—she sways the wrong way—no, no! hold on—she cracks—strike in again the slackened axes—bravo! one blow more—quick, catch your axe and clear out!—see! what a sweep—what a rush of wind—what an enormous top—down! down! how beautifully she falls—hurrah! just in the right place!
Well, you have done enough for one afternoon’s work. So you set about building a wigwam piling up a blazing fire in front, procuring water from the adjoining spring, examining and preparing the stores of bread or flour and meat which one of your men has carried on his back in a knapsack a distance of twenty miles; and these preliminaries adjusted it being nearly or quite dark, seat yourself on one of the logs near the fire, to enjoy the luxury of a first meal in your forest home.
But you would like, perhaps, to know how that welcome repast has been prepared? Let us seen. You have brought with you, it is to be hoped, two or three culinary vessels, such as a frying-pan with a three-foot handle—an iron tea kettle—and a few tin plates and mugs. In nine cases out of ten this would be considered a rather luxurious kitchen apparatus for a beginning, especially as one of your men is absent just now on an expedition to bring up a yoke of oxen with more material and ammunition for the campaign.
You hang your kettle full of water on a stick suspended over some embers, raked out from the almost unapproachable mass of fire which does duty as your kitchen range—and place your frying-pan (its long handle rested on a forked stick set in the ground) with sundry slices of meat to fry over a separate heap of ashes—so far all will be well and quite en regle; but if you have brought no bread, you will want cakes in its place—what is to be done for a bread trough? we must apply to Carroll. “Arrah, by the powers, is it a trough ye want? faix, and yez ‘ll have it right off”—so he chops off a two-foot length of basswood or lime—splits it in half at a blow—strikes out a few chips from the cleft side of one portion, and your trough, white, sweet and wholesome, is before you. In this (not minding a few clean splinters) you mix your flour with water, salt and “shortening”—then Carroll splits off the upper surface of some log of sufficient bulk to form a dresser, upon which you spread out your dough with the aid of an extempore rolling pin, and place it in your camp-oven to bake over hot ashes, or what is more usual, divide it into thin cakes, and prop them up with flat chips to roast, bearing strictly in mind the old Saxon dame’s adjuration to King Alfred of famous memory, “turn them often, and be sure you don’t let them burn.” If, however, you have brought bread, and prefer it toasted, what better toasting-fork than a prong of wood from the nearest beech tree, held at arm’s length in front of the fire? If the slice should escape into the flame two or three times, and you should get well [unnumbered page] scorched in a desperate and blinding effort for its recovery, you have the consolation of learning that it is just fit for making into coffee, by scraping off the burnt surface into your kettle of boiling water, and simmering it gently for a few minutes, when (in spite of the laudations bestowed upon it) you cannot resist the suspicion that it very closely resembles hot toast and water! However, as you have probably forgotten to bring tea, there is one alternative, which is the decoction of fir-twigs called hemlock tea, and which, doubtless, if you dislike it at first,”you will get used to in time.” Having now cakes, and coffee, and fried meat ready, it is odd indeed if, with the appetite of a vulture, and the glee of a ghoul, you cannot contrive to make a meal. You may cut your meat with your clasp-knife on your cake, for want of a plate; or if that does not suit your overnice habits, our friend Carroll will with infinite good-will provide you with a fine large fresh maple chip, with the commendatory suggestion, that as maple-juice is made into sugar, “shure, the dish’ll be swate.”
Having enjoyed your meal heartily, and talked your comrades asleep upon the inexhaustible topic of your day’s exploits, you at length prepare to make one of the row of wearied mortals who lie stretched upon the fir-strewn floor of the wigwam, with your feet to the fire, your coat folded up for a pillow, and a blanket drawn over you to keep off the heavy dew of the night. It is late in the evening—you have just ignominiously concluded a vain effort to kill the sonorous mosquito that will settle on your nose (in which inexperienced attempt the aforesaid unlucky feature receives some rather unpleasant confusions) by seeking shelter from his renewed attacks under the thick folds of your blanket, at the imminent risk of suffocation, when you are suddenly startled to your feet by an unearthly shriek that peals through the forest like a combination of all the discords in some fiendish gamut howled out at once. Visions of wolves disinterring the dead, of painters (Anglicè, panthers) thirsting for blood, of huge bears with long claws and hideous glaring eyes—all crowd instantaneously into your brain—your Manton is seized and cocked—your eye straining into the black gloom of the forest, rendered yet more profound and inscrutable by the gleams of the sinking log-fire—again the same horrid sound peals out close at hand, but this time it is repeated and re-echoed far and near—the whole bush seems alive with screeching demons—and in perfect bewilderment you arouse Carroll (who has slept on undisturbed, under the soothing influence of “the laste taste of nate whiskey”), and question him hurriedly what can possibly occasion such an uproar. He listens an instant, laughs at your consternation, and coolly informing you that “it’ll be nothin’ but them owls,” composes himself once more to sleep. You follow his example, rather ashamed of your excitement, and both owls and mosquitos having ceased their annoyances, as it is their charitable wont, towards ten o’clock, you slumber on till morning, only awakened now and then by the movements [unnumbered page] of one of the party in replenishing the fire, the shifting wind driving the smoke and embers in your face, or the pressure of an uneasy knot in the branches that constitute your couch. You must be cautious that there is neither gunpowder nor cotton, nor any other readily combustible material, near you while thus sleeping. One of my own companions heedlessly lay down in his English fustian shooting-coat, from the capacious pockets of which had just been removed a full powder-flask. A spark of fire driven thither by the wind settled on the coat, and before it was discovered had fairly burnt off the greater portion of the pocket, and reduced a mahogany compass case to a cinder; probably nothing but the timely removal of the flask saved the whole party from destruction.
But you have safely escaped all the manifold dangers that beset the unwary; and in aftertimes, I doubt not, that glorious fist day’s chopping, and that delicious al-fresco bivouac, will be stamped indelibly upon your memory as among the most amusing reminiscences of your life.
THE MINSTREL’S LAMENT.
Oh, ask me not to strike the lyre, And sing those once-familiar lays; My heart has lost the Spirit-fire That brightly burned in other days. My voice no more can breathe the strains That once could urge to deeds of fame; The memory alone remains, But shines no more the buried flame. And could I sweep those broken chords, Whose sound no more may float on air, Too well would speak my plaintive words, The olden Spirit is not there. Then ask me not, but let me weep In silence o’er my fated lot, ‘Till lost in life’s last dreamless sleep, My young heart’s thoughts shall be forgot. [unnumbered page]
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THE FUNERAL OF NAPOLEON.*
15TH DECEMBER, 1840.
Cold and brilliant streams the sunlight on the wintry banks of Seine, Gloriously the Imperial City rears her pride of tower and fane— Solemnly with deep voice pealeth, Notre Dame, thine ancient chime, Minute guns the death-bell answer in the same deep measur’d time. On the unwonted stillness gather sounds of an advancing host, As the rising tempest chafeth on St. Helen’s far-off coast; Nearer rolls a mighty pageant—clearer swells the funeral strain, From the barrier-arch of Neuilly pours the giant burial train. Dark with Eagles is the sunlight—darkly on the golden air Flap the folds of faded standards, eloquently mourning there— O’er the pomp of glittering thousands, like a battle-phantom flits Tatter-‘d flag of Jena—Friedland—Arcola, and Austerlitz. Eagle-crown’d and garland-circled, slowly moves the stately car, ‘Mid a sea of plumes and horsemen—all the burial pomp of war— Riderless, a war-worn charger follows his dead Master’s bier— Long since battle-trumpet roused him—he but lived to follow here.
* “The day was fine but piercingly cold, but such was the interest excited that 600,000 persons were assembled to witness the ceremony—the procession approached Paris by the road from Neuilly so often traversed by the Emperor in the days of his glory. It passed through the now finished and stupendous arch erected at the barrier of Neuilly, and slowly moving through the Elysian fields, reached the Invalides by the bridge of la Concorde. Louis Philippe and all his course officiated at the august ceremony, which was performed with extraordinary pomp in the splendid church of the edifice; but nothing awakened such deep feeling as a hand of the mutilated veterans of the Old Guard, who with mournful visages but yet a military air, attended the remains of their beloved Chief to his last resting-place. An aged charger, once rode by the Emperor in his fields of fame, survived to follow the colossal hearse to the grave. The place of interment was worthy of the here who was now placed beneath its roof—it contained the remains of Tarenne and Vauban, and the Paladins of France. Enchanting music thrilled every heart; as the coffin was lowered into the tomb, the thunders of the artillery so often vocal to his triumphs, now gave him the last honours of mortality, and the bones of Napoleon finally reposed on the banks of the Seine amidst the people whom he had loved so well.”—ALISON. [unnumbered page]
From his grave, ‘mid Ocean’s dirges, moaning surge and sparkling foam, Lo, the Imperial Dead returneth!—lo, the Hero-dust comes home! He hath left the Atlantic island, lonely vale and willow tree, ‘Neath the Invalides to slumber, ‘mid the Gallic chivalry. Glorious tomb o’er glorious sleepers! gallant fellowship to share— Paladin and Peer and Marshal—France, thy noblest dust is there! Names that light thy battle annals—names that shook the heart of Earth— Stars in crimson War’s horizon—synonyms for martial worth! Room, within that shrine of Heroes! place, pale spectres of the past! Homage yield, ye battle-phantoms! Lo, your Mightiest comes at last! Was his course the Woe out-thunder’d from prophetic trumpet’s lips? Was his type the ghostly Horseman shadow’d in the Apocalypse? Grey-hair’d soldiers gather round him, relics of an age of war, Followers of the Victor-Eagle, when his flight was wild and far; Men who panted in the death-strife on Rodrigo’s bloody ridge, Hearts that sicken’d at the death-shriek from the Russian’s shutter’d bridge. Men who heard th’immortal war-cry of the wild Egyptian fight— “Forty centuries o’erlook us from you Pyramid’s grey height!” They who heard the moans of Jaffa, and the breach of Acre knew— They who rush’d their foaming war-steeds on the squares of Waterloo— They who lov’d him—they who fear’d him—they who in his dark hour fled— Round the mighty burial gather, spell-bound by the awful Dead! Churchmen—Princes—Statesmen—Warriors—all a kingdom’s chief array, And the Fox stands—crowned Mourner—by the Eagle’s hero-clay! But the last high rite is paid him, and the last deep kneel is rung— And the cannons’ iron voices have their thunder-requient sung— And, ‘mid banners idly drooping, silent gloom and mouldering state, Shall the Trampler of the world upon the Judgment-trumpet wait. Yet his ancient foes had given him nobler monumental pile Where the everlasting dirges moan’d around the burial Isle— Pyramid upheav’d by Ocean in his loneliest wilds afar, For the War-King thunder-stricken from his fiery battle-car! [unnumbered page]
TRANSLATION FROM HORACE.
Eheu! fugaces, Postume, Postume Labuntur anni; nec pietas muran Rugis et instant senectæ Afferet, indomitæ morti.
Carm. ii. 14.
Alas, the years! the swift-wing’d years, My Postumus, glide fast away, Nor Virtue’s light nor Love’s soft tears May bid their flight one moment stay, Shield the fair brow from Time’s stern hand, Or stop resistless Death’s command. Not all thine hecatombs thrice told, Each prayer, each spell thine art can bring, May from thine head one hour withhold The vengeance of the infernal King, Who sweeps the Stygian wave around The suffering Giant’s prison ground— The stream of fate—the joyless tide, Still doom’d to waft each child of earth, The monarch from his sceptre pride, The peasant from his lowly hearth; All—all who draw a mortal breath, All—all must pass the stream of death. Tho’ where the War-God’s tempest rave, The battle-plain’s tremendous scene, Tho’ o’er the treacherous Adrian wave, Thy prudent course hath never been, Tho’ guarded well with cautious fear When Autumn’s sickly hour draws near— Still must thy startled vision trace, Beyond the threshold of the tomb, Old Danaus’ ill-renowned race, The “immortal Robber’s” endless doom, And dim Coeytus’ sullen flow Thro’ Hell’s black shadows—hoarse and slow. [unnumbered page] All must be left—thine hopes—thy love— Loos’d be each soft domestic band— Thine happy home—the leafy grove That grew beneath thy fostering hand. Thy Cyprus-tree alone may wave Unwelcome mourner by thy grave. The juice thy choicest vines had wept, Meet for a Pontiff’s costly board, All that thy careful eye safe kept, On the stain’d pavement loosely pour’d, All—all that claim’d thy watchful care Scatter’d around thy lavish heir.
The merry bells are ringing out a note of festival, And bright eyes beam, and young hearts beat, to hear the joyful call, And eager through the old church porch press in a happy train, Bearing the bride to speak the vow that none may break again. And the white-robed priest is standing there, the holy words to say, That bind fond hearts and willing hands for ever and for aye; And the merry groomsman whispereth in the bridesmaid’s listening ear The half-in-earnest prophecy that maidens like to hear; And she gazeth down upon the ground, half pleased and half perplex’d, And asketh of her fluttering heart, “Will it be my turn next?” The solemn bells are ringing out a mournful tone and slow, And bright eyes dim, and fond hearts ache to hear the note of woe; And slowly through the old church porch press in a mourning train, Bearing the corpse to that long rest that none may break again. And the white-robed priest is standing there, and the solemn words are said, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” above the clay-cold dead. And the weeping friends are silent all—such sorrow cannot speak— And there’s one, whose eyes are tearless, tho’ the crushed heart fain would break— Aye, gaze upon the mournful scene, oh! spirit worn and vex’d, And take the awful question home, “Will it be my turn next?” [unnumbered page]
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A STORY OF BETHLEHEM.
It chanced on a Friday of the month of April, in the year of our Lord thirty-three, that an aged man was slowly ascending the hill, on the ridge of which the city of Bethlehem is situated. His worn, dust-soiled raiment indicated that he had been for some time a wayfarer; and it was equally plain, from the fashion of his garb, that he had journeyed from some far-distant land—most probably the country of Mesopotamia. It appeared, however, that the scenery around him was by no means beheld for the first time. On the contrary, he surveyed the leading features of the landscape, with the fond interest of one who had been familiar with them in by-gone years; and the tears which began to course down his furrowed cheek, demonstrated that old events and early associations were fast being reproduced from the unfathomable store-house of memory.
In particular he looked with fond intensity upon a fair green meadow, situated beneath he rocky terraces of the city, and in which several groups of shepherds were engaged in their quiet and gentle occupation. And in the expression of his countenance, one—even though ungifted with strong fancy—might read, that the old man had once himself wielded a crook in that sequestered and beautiful plain.
It was even so. Isaac the Bethlehemite, after an absence of more than thirty years in the far East, was returning to the City of King David, where his first and happiest years had been spent.
One thing the pilgrim specially noted, and that was, the unusual quiet which pervaded the scene, more immediately in his vicinity. The thoroughfares leading to Bethlehem were almost deserted—no appearance of life being presented, save by the guard, who stood listlessly learning on their spears, or burnishing their mail. Another thing arrested the attention of Isaac, equally with the unwonted desertion of the cit. From the eminence on which he stood, he could descry vast multitudes of people thronging towards Jerusalem. He knew, indeed, that it was the season of the Passover, when the holy City was wont to receive many visitors, from all quarters of the world; but he never remembered on any former occurrence of the festival, to have seen such hosts of devotees bound for the seat Jehovah’s sacred Temple.
Standing thus in thoughtful mood, he was startled by a deep and sorrow-laden groan—expressive of some stern weight of misery, if not of absolute despair. On [unnumbered page] looking round to the quarter from whence the sound proceeded, he beheld a sight which at once excited his wonder and compassion. Seated on the ground, between two graves—which, judging from their their respective dimensions, were those of an adult and a child—was a wild, gaunt, spectre-visaged being, whose restless eye with feverish activity rolled around like that of a famished Hyena. His scanty and negligently-arranged dress was composed of skins in their natural condition; and head-gear had he none, save his own unkempt hair, which hung over his weather-bronzed viage, in tangled masses, like the name of an unbroken steed of the desert.
For a season, Isaac was filled with no small alarm at the sight of this mysterious being, conceiving that perchance he might be one of those strangely afflicted demoniacs then so common in Palestine, and who, in their hours of special possession, frequently wrought sore harm to those who lighted upon their lairs. His apprehension, however, was but of brief duration, for he soon discovered that the solitary sorrower belonged not to the tormented vassals of Satan, and that in his eye the light of reason still continued to burn, though flickering and dim as a torch in the winter’s wind.
Gazing vacantly on the clear, blue sky, that eremite spoke aloud the thoughts which like sulphurous clouds flitted athwart the troubled horizon of his soul. “No,” he exclaimed, “the Sadducee was right! The soul is mortal, and the bodily resurrection a doting dream. My Judith! never more can I behold thy liquid black eye—never more be thrilled with thy smile, discoursing love unspeakable. And my darling Benjamin!—my noble child, what art thou but a lovely dream, fled and vanished for ever. Never again wilt thou nestle thy fair silken-haired head in my bosom, nor lisp my name in staggering half-uttered words, more musical by far than the most cunningly played dulcimer. Ye have vanished, and for ever, like a streak of morning mist—like a foam-bell in the mountain stream. Once, indeed, I thought differently. Time was, when I cherished the hope, that in another state of existence I would meet both of you again. But Caiaphas the Sadducee taught me my error, and convinced me that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit. Oh! cursed be the knowledge which he bestowed upon me! Dream as it was, it was a bright and soothing dream; and since it was dispelled, life to me has been nought save a simoom-blasted desert—a dry and thirsty land, wherein is no water.” And with that the soul-sick one threw himself upon his face and dug his nails into the two funeral mounds, between which he writhed like a crushed and convulsed snake.
Isaac could not behold unmoved this pitiable abandonment of grief. Approaching the sufferer, he spoke to him in soothing tones. With gentle hand he raised him from the hot and scorching earth; and tenderly he wiped the sweat from his forehead, and the dust-mingled foam from his parched and quivering lips.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Kind stranger! If thou hadst known my Judith and our child, you would not wonder at the agony which at times masters me, as it has done even now. But I will not essay to describe their peerless beauty, or my surpassing happiness. As well might I attempt to describe to you the scent of a rare and fragrant flower, the odour of which you never experienced.
“It is now more than thirty years since, with my loved and lost ones, I dwelt in a cottage which stood on yonder grassy mound. Not a care disturbed our quiet days; not an anxious thought marred the Sabbaths of our peaceful nights. Sorrow was a strange tale to us. Every new sun-rise brought fresh sources of unadulterated delight.
“Of passing events we knew almost nothing. Seldom did I visit either Jerusalem or Bethlehem, and then only on pressing and unavoidable occasions. My business despatched, I was too eager to return to my Paradise, to bestow any attention upon the themes which interested and engrossed the men of active life. On one occasion, I remember, we heard tidings of a strange and mysterious child which had been born in our city, and to visit which certain sages had come a long and toilsome journey. But we had ourselves a babe, fairer, we deemed, than ever had sprung from the loins of our father Adam; and Judith and myself had no love to lavish upon any other, though it had been the son of the Imperial Cæsar himself. Alas! our happy dream was soon to be dispelled for ever—and oh, how sharply and how sternly!
“One bright morning I sat with my loved ones in the porch of our dear cottage. Oppressed with a satiety of happiness, I lay with my head reclining upon the kindly bosom of my gentle Judith; and as our little Benjamin sported a frolicked around us, we speculated upon his future destiny and lot in life. We fashioned out for him a stirring and honourable career, and anticipated the time when by his virtue and prowess, he would add new fame to the tribe of his fathers.
“Two men—soldiers of Herod the King—came upon us, or ever we were aware of their advent. Fatigued with walking in the heat of noon-day, they craved our hospitality, which was at once conceded, as no stranger was ever turned faint and hunger-smitten from our door. After they had partaken of a repast, the sterner looking of the twain cast his eye upon our precious boy; and with a sinister expression, which will haunt me on my dying bed, enquired of his mother what might be his age. His comrade, who seemed to be of a more gentle spirit, made on this significant sign to my Judith, and prompting her, as it were, said, ‘Of a surety, the child is more than two years old.’ But my loved one, with all the eager pride of a mother, exclaimed, ‘Indeed, you are in error. Our Benjamin hath not yet reached his eighteenth month. Is he not, good sir, a noble boy for his age?’ [unnumbered page]
“No sooner had she thus spoken, than both the armed men arose, the kindlier one with a deep and heavy sigh, and told a tale which was almost incomprehensible on account of its surpassing horror. Even at this distant period, I can scarce realize the demoniac bitterness which it embodied. Suffice it to say, that the mercenaries informed us, that our only child—our silken haired, glad-eyed Benjamin—was doomed to death by decree of the infernal Herod. And, oh! what madness to a mother! that the certification of his age had been the warrant of his execution! Had my Judith been silent as to the period of his birth, she would have saved our blessed babe!
* * * * * * * * * *
“Nothing do I remember of what then took place. When my recollection return, I found myself lying over the corpses of my Judith and my Benjamin—for the mother had been slain in striving to shield her first-born from destruction. I was alone in that once happy, gleesome chamber, and the cold night wind, as it stirred my moist hair, sounded as if the destroyer death were whispering in my ear that his victory was full and complete. I writhed under his terrible sting, and crouched slave-like before the wheels of his triumphant chariot.
“For a season, I cherished the hope that the patriarch Job spoke truth, when he declared that after worms destroyed the body it should live again, and that with the same eyes with which we had gazed upon the sun and moon, we should see our Father God, and each other. To the doctrine—faintly held, it is true—of a resurrection of the human frame, I clung as a drowning man clings to a straw; and I lived in hope that after this chequered life, I should once more meet and embrace my lost ones in that bright land, where sorrow and sighing are strange and unknown words!
My relative Caiaphas, the present High Priest of the Jews, strove to rouse me from my melancholy torpor, as he termed it. He told me that the idea of a future state was a fond imagination—a dreamy fable; that angels and spirits were but the creatures of an idle fancy; and that our wisdom lay in making the most of the present moment. ‘Eat, drink, and be merry,’ he said, ‘everything else is vanity and folly.’
“Cunning and plausible were the arguments which he brought forward to prove his position. They convinced me, but destroyed my slender remains of hope and comfort. The future became midnight—the present was left as dark and chill as ever. Could I take pleasure in the feast or the revel? The bloody visages of my murdered ones glared upon me, through the vine-leaves which decorated the Sadducee’s sensual board. I flew from the converse of my kind as from a pestilence; and here I dwelt between these two graves, without a motive and without a [unnumbered page] hope—weary and heart-sick of life, and yet deriving no comfort from the anticipation of a brighter world beyond the tomb.”
With tender pity, Isaac pressed the clammy hand of the hapless recluse, and his eye glistened as if with the consciousness that he could impart to him fitting and substantial consolation.
“You tell me that you were taught to hold that there is no hereafter, and that spirits and angels are but dreams, or delusions of their designing! Credit it not, thou man of bereavement! Of all the spots on the round world, this is not the one for cherishing such gloomy and chilling dogmas! Of all God’s creatures, an unbelieving Jew is the most inexcusable, seeing that his nation has been nursed, so to speak, amid the wonders and mysteries of the unseen and eternal state!
“Thirty-three years ago, I was a shepherd of Bethlehem, and on yonder plain have kept many a vigil, tending the flock committed to my care. One evening towards the close of the year, several of my comrades and myself were thus engaged. The night was genial, and though the moon was absent, darkness did not prevail, for the sentinel stars in their silver mail kept watch and ward on the battlements of Heaven. Right well do I remember our communing on that eventful night. Our minds were in a solemn mood, and we spoke concerning the great things which Jehovah had in store for His people, and especially of the Messiah, whose coming was confidently looked for by all who had carefully studied the Prophets of our nation.
“In one instant our vision was blinded by a flood of light, so intense as infinitely to surpass ought that I ever had experienced. It was neither glaring nor scorching; but a thousand suns in their noontide strength could never have shed such a wondrous mass of supernatural brightness. For a season we were constrained to close our eyes against the unbearable glory; but at length we were enabled partially to gaze upon the miraculous scene which was vouchsafed to our ken. The curtain of sky which separates us from Heaven, seemed as if rolled aside by an invisible hand, and a being whose majestic beauty no words can describe, appeared in the midst of that new and glorious atmosphere, if I may so speak. Rays, such as the diamond sheds, darted from every pore of his person, and his raiment was soft and feathery, like the fleecy clouds, which sometimes of a summer’s eve weave themselves around the full-orbed moon.
“Need I say, that at this strange appearance our hearts sunk within us, and we became sore afraid? But the beautiful angel spoke soothingly unto us, and revived our fainting souls. Well do I remember his every word; for who could ever forget the syllables which dropped from that sublimely-sweet voice, full-toned and musical, like pebbles plunged into a deep, rock-encircled pool! Thus ran his gracious message: ‘Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall [unnumbered page] be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger!
“No sooner had he thus spoken, than lo another marvel! The whole space which our vision could embrace, was forthwith filled with angelic choristers, in fashion like unto the herald of Emanuel. Their numbers were far beyond the powers of imagination even to conceive. Millions upon millions of glittering ones floated upon the ocean of light, stretching upwards and backwards, till the brain was dizzied and crazed almost, with the impression of infinite number and limitless extent. Thus ran their concerted song, so mighty in its swell that it must have been heard in the remotest planet and star: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.’ And then the sounds died away, like the gentle sighing of a summer’s breeze, which scarce ruffles the leaf of the timid aspen, and all was still and lonesome as before.
“So soon as we were capable of speech, we whispered solemnly to each other, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’ And coming with haste to Bethlehem, we were guided by a star-like meteor, which, as it were, beckoned us on till we came to the stable of the principal carnavanserai. There we found a goodly young child, lying in a manger, with his father and mother as his sole attendants, and meanly attired in the scanty rags of penury. Ere we could say aught, the coming footsteps of other visitors were heard, and presently there entered a company of Magi—Eastern Kings, who had come from their distant dominions to do homage to this humbly-cradled infant. Grave and thoughtful men they were, and from their conversation I gathered that it had been revealed to them by the Eternal, that in that simple babe dwelt all the fullness of the God-head bodily.
* * * * * * * * * *
“It will not interest you to be told, how I agreed to accompany one of these devout princes to his own land, or how I fared in that foreign region. Enough to say that my patron some months ago was gathered to his fathers, and on his death-bed charged me to return to Judea, as the completion of the Messiah’s work was about to take place; and it behoved me, as one favoured by Heaven, to be present at Jerusalem on the coming Pentecost.
“Thus, oh mourning one, you perceive how great your error, how entire your delusion as regards the future state of being! No angel—no spirit? The air teems with them. Not a sun-beam but bears legions of them on some mission of mercy or judgment.”
Sadoc, the solitary, who had listened with attention to the pilgrim’s narration, was [unnumbered page] a while absorbed in thought; and it seemed as if the cloud of despair was beginning to pass away from his care-furrowed brow. But anon he sunk back into his pristine gloom, and wrung his hands as despondingly as ever. “No, shepherd,” he said, “your words bring me no comfort. Something of the event which you describe I have heard before, but I cannot regard it as aught save a delusion or a dream. At any rate, presuming the sight to be real, it proves nothing as to the resurrection of Adam’s children. Oh no! no! no! There is—there can be no hope for me, the most miserable of men. My slain ones, never more shall I behold you!—never more hear the gentle tones of your forever hushed voices! My lot may indeed be called MARA, for it is bitter exceedingly.”
At this moment the warders on the towers of Bethlehem proclaimed THE SIXTH HOUR.
Ere the sound of their voices had died away, it became darker than the darkest midnight; like that which plagued the Egyptian oppressors, the gloom might be said to be felt, so dismal, so profoundly sable the pall which was drawn over the whole expanse of heaven. Thunder, too, of a deeper bass than ever before had been uttered, rolled and crashed in incessant peals. It seemed as if the elements had been indued with reason, and were in frenzied voice protesting against some unheard-of and intolerable deed of wickedness and blasphemy. Over Jerusalem forked bolts of lightning hissed and darted like serpents ejected from the pit of perdition, as if attracted by some horrid fascination situated in that city. In particular they seemed to concentrate upon the spot where stood the Temple of the God of Israel; and the earth shared in the mighty excitement, and reeled, and heaved, and tossed, as if its foundations rested upon the waves of a tempest-vexed sea.
In the midst of this mysterious and soul-awing turmoil, a soft, violet-tinted light began gradually to pervade the spot where stood the pilgrim shepherd and the sorrow-blighted Sadoc. As it increased, it was evident that a change had occurred in the locality during the reign of darkness. The twin graves were open, the fresh earth being scattered around, and the huge stones which had covered them lying at some distance, as if removed by some gigantic power. And closely adjoining these disturbed mansions of mortality, there stood two forms clothed in the livery of the dead. One of them was a female, and the other a child, who grasped her hand and looked fearlessly and confidently in her face, undismayed by the wild war of the elements which raged around.
But who could describe the surpassing beauty, not so much of feature as of expression, which beamed in the visages of that meek and silent pair? Its main characteristic was peace—peace, passing all understanding—peace, such as the cold, churlish world could never give, nor, with all its manifold vicissitudes, ever take away. [unnumbered page]
Isaac was the first to mark this addition to their company, and he silently directed the attention of Sadoc to the strangers. Slowly and listlessly did the heart-sick hermit turn himself round; but no sooner did he behold the new-come pair, than it seemed as if an electric flood had pervaded his whole frame. Every muscle quivered, every vein swelled, every particular hair stood stiff and rigid. He drew his breath in laboured, convulsive sobs, and his eyes seemed glazed by the absorbing intensity of the glare with which he regarded the gentle, saintly group before him. One smile from them—a smile concentrating the rich happiness of years, brightened upon the dark cold places of his heart. His ears thrilled with the long unheard words, “Hushband—Father”; and with a gasping, choking exclamation, “My Judith—my Benjamin!” he staggered forward, and encircled them both in one mighty, wild, hysteric embrace. The recollection of more than thirty dark years of sorrow and despair was in one moment obliterated; their agonies were forgotten, like the fitful dream of a single night.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Oh Sadoc, dearest! come on, and stay not to converse of such matters. Have we not a gladsome eternity before us? The city must be reached before the NINTH HOUR. Legions of angels are flocking thither, even as I am now speaking.”
At that heaven-chronicled hour, shepherd, husband, wife and child, knelt on the summit of the mount called Calvary. Before them stood three gaunt, blood-stained crosses, illumined by the lightnings which flashed and twisted around; and they were in time to hear the calm, pale-visaged, thorn-crowned Being who hung on the centre tree, exclaim with a full, sweet voice, “It is finished. Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”
In the writhing and pain-fevered wretches who were nailed to the other two crosses, Sadoc recognized the soldiers who had slain his loved ones. He specially marked, however, that the countenance of the one who had shewn ruth and pity, bore marks of resignation and humble but well-assured hope; and a by-stander said that the King of the Jews, whose diadem was a circle of brambles, had promised that that day he should be with him in Paradise.
* * * * * * * * * *
Isaac and Sadoc were among the number of those who met together on the day of Pentecost. They gladly received the word of Peter, and were baptised, and continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. [unnumbered page]
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Hush! ‘tis a holy hour; the quiet room Seems like a temple.
It was a lovely scene; the sun’s warm ray Streamed through the open window, and the air Thrilled with the solemn voice of one who spoke Of holy things. For the most Holy Book Was spread before him, and his gaze was bent, Meekly and reverently, upon the page That spoke glad tidings. And around him grouped The loving and the loved; the cherished wife Was near, and cradled in her gentle arms, Nestled a cherub boy; his rosy lips Just parted with a smile. And by her sat A lovely girl, with look of childish glee, Now chastened into reverence, as it fell Upon the Book of Life; and the fond nurse And faithful handmaid in meek silence wait To hear the Holy Word. The sacred page Is closed; and now the voice of fervent prayer Floats upward to His throne, who hears alike Th’ archangel’s anthem, and the cradle hymn. Rich flowers wreathed round the casement, and the breeze That kissed them, bore upon its wings a load Of fragrant incense, as if they too sent A matin offering to the Hand that shaped Their graceful bells, and gemmed the crimson bud With diamond drops. The household robin sang Upon the lilac boughs, and the wild bee Hummed a low hymn within their fragrant blooms. So, blent with Nature’s unclodies, arose The still, small voice of prayer. Well mayest thou pray, Husband and Father!—thou, whose life is fraught So rich with the heart’s treasures,—that thou lose [unnumbered page] No jewel from thy crown; that the world’s blight Fall not upon them; that the purity Of these young hearts that beat so near thine own. Be kept undimed, unsullied. Change must come, And trouble, and the fair young brows that now Are stamped with Heaven’s own signet—Innocence, Must take a darker impress from the cares Of earth. But holy thoughts are garnered up Beside the household altar; memories That cling around the heart in after-life, Life fairy spells, but with a holier power To sanctify and save. So pray thou then, Morning and evening, with thy little hand; And every blessing which thy prayers call down Shall form a bright link in Love’s golden chain, To draw their warm affections up to Heaven.
* * * * * * *
The wave of “The Thousand Isles” is still As a summer fount on a silent hill, Errant zephyrs may wander there, Like dreams o’er the sleep of the waters fair, But wake no smile on Ontario’s brow, For that mighty Titan’s enchanted now. In a dream of glory he revelling lies Bath’d in the tints of the sunset skies. Faint and low is his tremulous heave, As he burns to worship the sun-flush’d eve, And flings from his crystal mirror back Each tint in the parting Glory’s track— Cloud-built palace and sunny wreath Trac’d in the quivering depth beneath, Changeful splendour and fading glow Born again in the wave below, [unnumbered page] Till the heart might fancy the lore of old With Truth’s own pencil the legend told, How the Sun-God sped ‘neath the kindling waves, To his nightly rest in the calm sea caves. Those waves can rear up their giant form To wrestle and strive with the thunder-storm *With an Ocean’s might and an Ocean’s roar And a foamy charge on the quivering shore, While the tortured forests would writhe and howl And the mad waves laugh in the Heavens’ wild scowl, When the Storm-God leaps from his cavern out, And the thunder is tame to his battle-shout. But Ontario lies on his couch asleep, Sweet Summer’s breath on his dreaming deep, And the fair woods sweep with a green embrace Away round his crystal resting-place, While the light blue mist of the Summer weaves Its gossamer veils round the stirless leaves, And landward, a faint low singing floats Like the far-off swell of enchanted notes; ‘Tis partly the young waves’ drowsy flow, As they die on the smooth shore, soft and low, And partly some stray wind’s echoed tone Which the trembling aspen can feel alone. Look down on the depths of the waters fair, Cloud-born islands are floating there, Airy splendours are vapour gold, Light creations of filmy mould, Shadowy realms that the heart might deem Glad home for Love in his earliest dream, Isles that Fancy still paints to be Far off in the blue of a summer sea, Fairy dwellings for loving souls, Where Time, all shadowless, noiseless, rolls, Where the bright day fades in the star-lit Night, And life’s all the lover’s—Hope, Flowers and Light!
* * * * * * *
“Fluctibus et fremitus assurgens, Benace, marino.”
Virgil, Geor. ii. [unnumbered page]
Oh! saw ye her, when to the church they bore the baby-girl, With snowy robe and cap of lace, I ween a spotless pearl, And the stately Earl, her father, and her lady-mother came, And many a gallant gentleman, and many a noble dame, And we stood by and blessed her, as we watched the rich array; And oh! but she was beautiful—our infant Lady May. And years passed by, and she grew up, a bright and winsome thing, As blythe as any woodland bird that carols in the spring, With eyes as blue as heaven’s own arch, and brow so pure and fair, As if no thoughts but holy ones were ever written there; And aye her heart was kind and true as it was light and gay, And all who knew her loved her well—our gentle Lady May. And soon rang merrily the joyous old church bell, And woke the slumbering echoes round, o’er hill, and wood and dell; And they bore her to the church again, and one was at her side, Who clasped her lily-hand in his, and took her for his bride; And the village maidens, all in white, strewed flowers in her way; Oh! looked she not right beautiful?—our noble Lady May. A year had passed, and once again, o’er hill, and wood, and dale, Rang mournfully the old church bell a solemn funeral wail; And we saw her in her coffin laid, like one laid down to rest, Her blue eyes closed, her white hands clasped in meekness on her breast; And all were weeping bitterly above the peaceful clay But she was loveliest then of all—our angel Lady May. [unnumbered page]
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THE BULL FIGHT.
A lively writer, in remarking on the uncertainty that hangs about everything in Spain, and the strange mixture of Hibernian vivacity and good humour, with the apathetic fatalism and imperturbable gravity of the Turk, says that “Spain is no paradise for calculators—since what ought to happen, and what would happen elsewhere, according to the doctrine of probabilities, is exactly the event which is least likely to come to pass.” Every matter of business wears an aspect of want of system, perfectly shocking to the regular and careful Englishman; nothing seems certain; even the day of the month is a subject of dispute; and the chances are ten to one that the proprietor of a public galera in the provinces does not know whether his own vehicle sets out for Madrid on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. But, notwithstanding this seeming apathy, there is one thing, when all else fails, which can rouse the Spaniard; notwithstanding his incapacity for answering inhesitatingly and correctly any of the ordinary questions relating to business and matter of fact, there is one question to which every one, from the long-descended grandee to the humblest gallego, knows precisely the reply, and that is, “When does the Bull-fight begin?”
The excitement which prevails, when the day on which the Fiesta is to be celebrated draws near, is hardly to be realised by our cool Anglo-Saxon comprehension, unused to warm our ideas on such subjects with the association of religious fervour. But, if the Spaniards be wrong in making their Bull-feasts a part of their religion, we fall little short of them in error in our own more calm, calculating way. For, just as we, in our zeal for Christianity, and sympathy with suffering want, get up some attractive entertainment, to entice the tardy shillings from the pockets of those whose individual religion fails to furnish them with higher motives for Christian liberality, so do the zealous children of the Spanish Church get up a Fiesta de Toros. But we must check our moralizing strain, or we shall be guilty of keeping waiting the worthy Chapter of Seville, who, in their priestly attire, are now present in the Plaza of their city, by the express invitation of the Meastranza, the Jockey-club of Spain. They have come to see a Fiesta, and not to hear a sermon—they have, as became true lovers of the aficion, hurried through the short church-service of the morning, to get an early place; and now are they to be detained by an unpalatable tirade? They [unnumbered page] have set at nought the pious declamation of St. Isidore; they have annulled the sage decrees of Alphonso the Wise respecting Bull-fights; and they have turned a dear ear to the threatenings of the Vatican; is it then likely that they could be at all influenced by any words of disapprobation which we might utter? Meanwhile, if an angry scowl has greeted our well-meant remark, the slight interruption it has caused will be forgiven, for time has been afforded to the canons to look round them at the rows of beauty, half concealed beneath the white lace mantillas, and to catch here and there the glances of sparkling eyes, skilled to practice “Love’s sad archery,” from behind the fatal ambush of the abanico. And now, as “their eminences” appear to be absorbed, and the portly Corregidor himself seems lost in admiration of that group of Romani girls near the tablas, to one of whom a picturesque-looking ruffian of a Gitano is just offering the tribute of a brown-paper abanico or fan, let us avail ourselves of the five minutes we have still to spare, and ruminate on the origin of this long-established Spanish atrocity of Bull-fighting.
Ancient Greece can boast her Thessalian taurocathapsia, and Rome has seen, in days long gone, full many a monarch of the herd roll bleeding on the yellow sands of the Coliseum. We speak not of the splendid festival of 1332, when Italy’s best and bravest blood courted the approbation of the assembled pride of the rival Colonnas and Ursini, by tempting the unwonted dangers of the Bull-fight; when eighteen champions, representatives of the Corsi, the Cafarelli, the Annibaldi, and other lordly houses, fell beneath the horns of their infuriated adversaries, and breathed our their chivalrous spirits as offerings to the beauty of the fair Jacova di Rovere, and the matchless symmetry of Savella d’ Ursini. We refer not to this, however, for Imperial Rome, many centuries before, had her bull-feasts celebrated somewhat in the ancient Spanish way. But perhaps neither to Greece nor Rome has the Peninsula to look for the origin of its national pastime; since we know that Iberia’s pastures fed such stately beeves as to excite the cupidity of that notable character Hercules, as far back as the days of “the three-formed shepherd of the Tartessian coast.” And can we doubt that the fierce Cantabrian, or the warlike dweller on the Bætis, would occasionally indulge their genius with riding down “the bellowing tenant of the plains,” and burying their spears deep in the massy front of the hunted beast, as he turned to the attack? Can we doubt that Vandal and Visigoth would perpetuate the exciting sport, and so transmit to the adventurous Moors that which these last have usually the sole credit of originating? Still, though the idea did not begin with the Arabs (for we find no traces of it in the other countries overrun by them), there is every reason to suppose that the first regularly celebrated Dia de Toros was under the auspices of the early Saracenic emirs of Cordova. From the east, the Moors had brought with them a haughty, fiery spirit, a thirst for tardy enterprise heightened by [unnumbered page] the wonderful success of their westward-moving bands—and an enthusiastic love of danger, which the doctrines of the Koran, then lately promulgated, wound up to a pitch of more than Quixotix gallantry. Hence the prototypes of the renowned Knights of the Round Table and of the far-famed Paladins of Charlemagne, as well as the first outline of the regularly-constituted military orders of the middle ages, are all to be found in the records of the Paynim chivalry of Granada, long before Lancelot of the Lake turned his serious attention to freeing captive dames and attacking enchanted castles, or the tale of “the gloomy Roncesvalles’ Strait,” had become a theme of Troavere song. Hence, too, the ordinary sports of the Spanish Moors continued to partake of the martial character of the wild “sons of Ismaël,” after they became a settled people; and the mounted hurlers of the djerid followed but their danger-loving propensities, and their fondness for displaying personal prowess, when they perfected, as a national amusement, the Bull-fights of their predecessors in the southern part of the Peninsula. Their ancient ballads, full of fire as they all are, sparkle never so brilliantly as when the Alcaydé of Algava, the mighty Gazul, is the theme. With that spirit-stirring words the old ballad ushers in the account of a Bull-fight in the days of Cordova’s grandeur, surpassing even the gorgeous pomp of the modern Fiestas Reales of Madrid:
“King Ahmanzer of Granada, he hath bid the trumpets sound, He hath summoned all the Moorish lords from the hills and plains around; From Vega and Sierra, from Betis and Nemil, They have come with helm and cuirass of gold and twisted steel.” And with what energy does the song introduce the hero of the day: “Then sounds the trumpet clearly, then clings the loud tambour; Make room, make room for Gazul! Throw wide, throw wide the door! Blow, blow the trumpet clearer still, more loudly strike the drum! The Alcayde of Algava to fight the bull doth come.”
But hark! though no Moorish tambour clangs,, the trumpet is really sounding, and for a moment the imagination, just dwelling on this stanza and carried back to the courtly splendour of Granada in Saracenic days, might picture Gazul himself in the picador now caracoling gallantly in, followed by others in the old Spanish costume, who all take their places in the arena, whence the canville has been dispersed by the algunzils while we have been learnedly speculating. Again the trumpet sounds, and all is quiet; and again, and hardly has the third blast died away, when, acrid cries of El Toro! and defeating shouts and waving handkerchiefs, the startled animal springs into the arena at a single bound, through the opened entrance to the toril, where since daylight he has been confined. He is a beautiful specimen of the old Andalusian stock, and his points fail not to call forth winged words of admiration from the “thousands on thousands piles,” who are watching him intently. “Mira! Mira! que cola!” “Que bel caerpo de saugre!” are heard on all sides; while the curious [unnumbered page] try to rend the derisa on the ribbon round his neck, as for a moment he stands rolling wildly his bewildered eyes. The true connoisseur, however, knows at a glance what portion of the country has had the honour of rearing the lordly beast, and perchance if such an one be near you, he may descent to your heedless ears on the pedigree of the “forest-monarch” with all the vivacity and gusto with which a Newmarket trainer would describe a favourite racer:—
“From Guadiana comes he not, he comes not from Xentil, From Guadalaris of the plain, or Barves of the hill; But where from out the forest bursts Xarama’s waters clear, Beneath the oak trees was he bursed—this proud and stately steer.” Look at him now as he stands; look quickly, for already is he lowering his front: Dark is his hide on either side, but the blood within doth boil, And the dun hide glows as if on fire, as he paws to the turmoil. His eyes are jet, and they are set in crystal wings of snow; But now they stare with one red glare of brass upon the foe.”
The Andalusian horses are famed for their activity, and the property of turning shortly and with rapidity on their hind legs; and certainly the poor creatures have need now of all their alertness. In an instant one lies gasping and mangled on the sand, and the bull is preparing for a rush at his fallen rider, when he is attacked by the sharp garrochas of the other picadors, who thus divert his rage from their prostrate comrade. It frequently happens that several horses are killed by the same bull, but this is no more than what is expected by the blood-delighting spectators, and no more than what is provided for by the managers of the Fiesta; the horses, in fact, are worn-out animals, unfit for other use, and are brought there to die, and to increase by their expiring agonies the excitement of the scene:
“Yells the mad crowd, o’er entralls freshly torn, Nor shrinks the female eye, nor e’en affects to mourn.”
It is not the business of the picadors to kill the bull; they merely torture him and provoke him to attack them, both that he may show his courage, and that they may show their skill; so that having worked the poor brute up to a pitch of madness, to the great delight of the beholders, they make a precipitate retreat, and leave for a short interval the arena to the procession of the victim, who paces about, tossing his head and snorting out his lordly rage. But see!—the President gives a signal; the trumpet sounds, and the chulos or banderilleros enter to perform their work of petty yet elaborated cruelty. Each bears in his hand two little darts, or banderillos, gaily ornamented with flowing streamers, which it is the object of the chulo to fix in the sides of the bill’s neck in corresponding pairs. Fireworks are often so attached to the barbed points of these darts as to be ignited, when thrown, by the compression of detonating powder; thus producing intense pain to the tortured animal, who, [unnumbered page] plunging and rearing with agony, affords gratification as intense to the callous beholders of his misery. Now he rushes at this chulo, now at that; but new darts at every rush add new fuel to his burning torments:
“He flies, he wheels, distracted with his throes; Dart follows dart; lance, lance; loud bellowings speak his woes.”
Look at that banderillo who now advances with bold temerity before the rest. The bull’s glaring eye sees him, and marks him for revenge; but as with lowered head he bounds forward to toss his adversary in the air, the chulo, stepping lightly aside, throws his cloak over the horns of the animal, and slips nimbly through one of the apertures purposely made in the tablas. Thus cheated of his victim, he singles out another; and lucky is it for him if he too escape, without leaving at least a portion of his clock pinned to the barrier by the furious horns.
The banderilleros having now withdrawn, the trumpet again sounds, and the third scene, the muerte, the real tragedy begins. Conscious of his dignity, the “light-limbed matador” proudly enters the arena, alone, on foot. When opposite to the box of the Corregidor, he turns, doffs his cap, and bows; just as, in this land of little-changing customs, the hero Gazul bowed before his Sovereign, as sings the old Moorish ballad already quoted:
“And first before the King he passed, with reverence stooping low, And next he bowed him to the Queen, and the tofantas all a-rowe.”
Nor does he excite less interest than the renowned Alcaydé did, especially if he be the favourite, the Pepe Illo, or the Romero of the Plaza:
“And ladies look with heaving breast, and lords with anxious eye, But firmly he extends his arm—his look is calm and high.”
In his left hand he holds the red muleta, spotted with still deeper dyes, the vestiges of former victories; and in its folds he hides the long, straight Toledano, which his right hand grasps. And see how coolly, as he waves the engaňo, he awaits the headlong rush of his ponderous adversary; twice or thrice he suffers the maddened animal to dash his horns fruitlessly against the lure;
—————— “Exception mute Gapes round the silent circle’s peopled walls.”
Every eye is strained—every nerve of all that vast assembly is in the tension of almost insupportable suspense. The matador feels and knows it; the engaňo flutters for the last time; the moment has come; the bright blade flashes, and the huge breast rolls in instantaneous death, “without a groan, without struggle,” at the feet of his skilful conqueror:
“Where the vast neck just mingles with the spice, Sheathed in his form the deadly weapon lies.” [unnumbered page]
A team of gaily caparisoned mules, harnessed four abreast and hung with large loud-tinkling bells, now dashes in. A rope is slipped over the horns of the dead beast, and, after all his brave defence, he is dragged ingloriously from the sight, amid the loud plaudits of the upper benches and the clamour of the mob below, who, rushing tumultuously into the arena, give vent to their mad excitement in most ungenerously kicking the lifeless carcase, as the mules
“Hurl its dark bulk along, scarce seen in dashing by.”
Thus ends a single Bull-fight; but many of these go to make up a full Dia de Toros, especially if the day be in honour of the Virgin, or of St. John the Baptist; for on such high festivals the same bloody scene is commonly witnessed eighteen successive times, with unabated interest, by the subjects of the Most Catholic Monarch.
And now, should you feel disposed to philosophize on the matter, and point out to a Spaniard the evil of thus perpetuating a relic of a barbarous age, he gravely makes what he considers an unanswerable reply:—“Es costumbre, Señor; siempre se has praticado asi.”—it is the custom, as has always been so—“son cosas de España—they are things of Spain.”
By the breath of each sleeping flow’r, By the blue of yon darken’s skies, By the spells of earth’s fairest hour, Oh loveliest—best—arise; Hear—oh hear! By the true heart’s purest beating, By each vow of Love’s repeating, By thy last soft-whisper’d greeting, Hear—oh hear! I sing ‘neath the starry night— Mid the slumbering world alone; I watch for thine eyes’ sweet light— For thy dear voice’s faintest tone; Hear—oh hear! By the true heart’s purest beating, By each vow of Love’s repeating, By thy last soft-whisper’d greeting, Hear—oh hear! [unnumbered page]
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In vain did Pontiff, Priest, and Augur plead Before that conquering exile. Proudly cold His eye beheld Rome’s turrets ting’d with gold By the bright morning sun. The factious deed Which drove him from his father’s hearth, had frozen Each ruthful fountain in his rankling breas. Hence! coward minions, hence!—my stern behest Not Jove himself can alter. Ye have chosen To spurn me from you like a felon wolf, And therefore come I steel’d against all pity— With feverish ardour thirsting to engulph, In ruin infinite your hated city! To-morrow, on the yellow Tiber’s shore, The herald Fates shall shriek—“Rome was—Rome is no more!”
Thoughtful at twilight’s hour, before his tent, The Roman leader of Rome’s foemen stood, While clad in sackcloth and funereal blood, A tearful female train before him bent. His heart is strangely stirred!—A voice he hears ‘Mid that sad sisterhood, ne’er heard unlov’d— His mother’s gentle voice! Bright guileless years Return, long banish’d, at the sound. Unmov’d He saw a Nation’s agony!—but now His wrongs are all forgot—ambition dies— The fever leaves his brain—the cloud his brow. Veturia smiles—“The victory is won.” He clasps her in his trembling arms, and cries, “Sweet mother!—Rome you’ve sav’d—but lost your son!” [unnumbered page]
THE FREED STREAM.
Down from the mountain! away to the main! How the Freed One laughs at the broken chain! I am free! I am free! the fetters cast On my frozen breast have been loosed at last; The cold dim dream of the winter’s o’er— I hear the glad laugh of my waves once more; And the soul-felt glee of the random’s slave Laughs out in the song of my playful wave; Down from the mountain! away to the main! How the Freed One scoffs at the broken chain! From his gloomy home in the cold dark north, Mid his whirl of storms rush’d the Ice-King forth! He came in his might! and at his breath The moaning woods felt the chill of death; He came in his might, and as he pass’d, The forest Titans bent to the blast; My waters, that danced on their heedless path, Shrank tranced and mute from the giant’s wrath And the merry song of the playful wave Was chang’d to the hush of the lonely grave. The wintry sun look’d cold and bright On the pale earth’s mantle of vestal white, And fair did the mazy frost-work seem, As it sparkled and flash’d in the cheerless beam; And the glittering sheen on the branches hoar, With the tassell’d ice-drops bespangled o’er— (Those dazzling brilliants that Winter set On the brow of his forest coronet)— The graceful folds of the wreathéd snow Were lighted up with a passing glow, As they droop’d o’er the bed of my prison’d wave— White garlands hung o’er a virgin grave. There came a chance on my stirless rest— A spirit breathed on my glassy breast; I dream’d that I heard the earliest sigh Of the long-lost south wind come floating by— [unnumbered page] Oh how long unfelt, unheard, unknown, Was its mild warm breath and its gentle tone!— And I knew as its grateful music rose, That my hour of bondage was near its close. And then came the crash of my fetters breaking— The hum of a world from sleep awaking; The spell of slumber was rais’d—and then I flash’d into gladness and life again! Down from the mountain! away to the main! A thousand voices have caught the strain! A thousand streams trough the vocal woods Flash on in the pride of their loosen’d floods; Glad echoes float through the Huron pines, The St. Clair plays round his bursting vines, The Chaudiere bursts from his green defiles, St. Lawrence sings round his “Thousand Isles”— Soft rustling winds in the forest brake, Light ripples curling in the sparkling lake— Bird, wood-path, blossom and stream sing forth, That spring hath breath’d on the frozen North! Pale flowers that break from the sun-touch’d earth, Hath no frost-wind breath’d on your gentle birth? Did ye hear the storms of the midnight sweep O’er the quiet cells of your wintry sleep? Will the light be as fair from your soft bright eyes, As ye bend o’er my waves’ fresh harmonies? Will your breath be as sweet on the golden dawn— On the sun-flushed eve, as in summers gone? See! my glad waves dance with as wild a play, As if summer parted but yesterday; And the pleasant breath of the southern breeze Sings its old sweet song through the rustling trees; And the forest-monarch, the tall wild deer, Fleet as ever darts on in his proud career. Yet o’er yon green hillock the young leaves sigh, And the wind floats sadly and lingering by; Fair heads have fall’n with the falling leaves, Warm hearts lie cold where the fresh turf heaves; Spring music my waves may sing o’er and o’er— Ears that once loved it may hear no more! [unnumbered page] But on, brave waters, in light and power! Flash onward, sing onward, this joyous hour! Down from the mountain! away to the main! Hark! the freed stream laughs at its broken chain!
A CANADIAN ECLOGUE.
An aged man sat lonesomely within a rustic porch, His eyes in troubled thoughtfulness were bent upon the ground— Why pondered he so mournfully, that venerable man? He dreamt sad dreams of early days—the happy days of youth. He dreamt fond dreams of early days—the lightsome days of youth, He saw his distant island-home—the cot his fathers built— The bright green fields their hands had tilled—the once accustomed haunts— And, dearer still, the old church-yard where now their ashes lie. Long, weary years had slowly passed—long years of thrift and toil. The hair, once glossy brown, was white—the hands were rough and hard, Deep-delving care had plainly marked its furrows on the brow, The form, once tall and lithe and strong, now bent and stiff and weak. His many kind and duteous sons—his daughters meek and good, Like scattered leaves from autumn gales, were reft the parent tree; Tho’ lands, and flocks, and rustic wealth an ample store he own’d, They seemed but transitory gains—a coil of earthly care. Old neighbours, from that childhood’s home, have paused before his door— Oh, gladly hath he welcomed them, and warmly doth he greet; They bring him—token of old love—a little cage of birds, The songsters of his native vale—companions of his youth. Those warbled notes—too well they tell of other, happier hours, Of joyous childish innocence—of boyhood’s gleeful sports— A mother’s tender watchfulness—a father’s gentle sway— —The silent tear rolls stealthily adown his withered cheek. Sweet choristers of England’s fields, how fondly are ye prized! Your melody, like mystic strains upon the dying ear, Awakes a chord hath—all unheard—long slumbered in the breast, That vibrates but to one loved sound—the sacred name of “home.” [unnumbered page]
About fifty miles from the head of the St. Lawrence, stands Brockville, the subject of our vignette. To every Canadian, and indeed to every Englishman, this town, though far from being the most important in size and population in our Province, cannot fail to be an object of interest. The association with the memory of him who fell in the arms of victory on the Heights of Queenston, whilst it adds a feature to its attractions, renders it an enduring monument of his fame—a monument, which will last while its stone-built streets endure, and may in some measure make amends for the apathy with which a nation looks on the once graceful, but now ruined column that marks the spot where her hero’s blood was spilt.
But, apart from the memories of mingled pride and regret which its name may call up, Brockville possesses many charms.
In a downward journey on the bosom of the magnificent St. Lawrence—which may now be made with safety in a commodious steamer, and surrounded with comfort and even luxury—before arriving at the subject of our present notice, the traveller passes amidst the far-famed Thousand Islands, which bear the appearance of having sprung from the depths of the mighty stream expressly to be the abode of the spirits of its waters. Amid their picturesque mazes, man feels himself an intruder; and as the moving mass he treads bears him safely among the labyrinth of rocks, he may fancy himself transported by genii through some region of fairy land; or, without yielding to the powers of imagination, he cannot forbear contemplating alike the extraordinary results of human skill, and the wonders of nature’s own creation, thus brought together for his use and admiration, in the self-impelled ark which he inhabits, and in the beauteous scenery which surrounds him.
Our illustration—though we trust our readers will not deny to the artist his due need of praise—gives but a very imperfect idea of the town. After passing through scenes whose claims to admiration, though great, are altogether their natural beauties, the eye rests pleasantly on the stone walls of Brockville. The Court House, and the Church on the eminence above the town, are the chief objects which attract attention. The latter is seen in our artist’s sketch; but the Court House, though visible from the deck of the steamer, cannot be distinguished. The well-executed wood-cut, however, which we subjoin, gives a faithful representation of this commodious and [unnumbered page] handsome structure, the commanding site on which it stands, and the broad avenue through which it is approached.
The view which forms our vignette is taken from the level of the site of the lower part of the town, and comprises only that portion of it adjacent to the wharves, consisting chiefly of warehouses. From other points, however the town presents a much more favourable aspect. Opposite to the wharves is what forms a pretty object in our picture—a small fort or block-house, in which a few troops are usually stationed. If we land and proceed through the principal streets, we are agreeably surprised at the features presented, so different from those that mark the generality of the towns in this newly peopled part of the world. Instead of the glaring and perishable attractions of painted frame-work, and those characteristics, which indicate the rapidity, wherewith the cities of this continent, as if evoked by magic from the vast wilderness, leap into existence, and the primeval forest is replaced by the busy haunts of man, Brockville affords an appearance of solidity grateful to the eye of the “old country man,” and of substantial and ostentatious comfort. Its handsome houses of stone, with cut-stone fronts, and its public buildings of the same massive material, give to the streets an air of wealth and importance which other Canadian towns of the same size and population cannot boast of, and which form the distinguishing feature we have remarked. This it owes to the abundance of limestone and granite which is found in its neighbourhood. The heaviness and gloom which the general use of stone in the buildings would otherwise create, are agreeably relieved by the number of residences, even in the heart of the town, which are surrounded by neat gardens and ornamental trees.
The commercial prosperity of Brockville in some degree declined after the construction of the Rideau Canal, a stupendous work of art, connecting the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, and cut by the Government chiefly for military purposes, but which enabled passengers and the forwarders of merchandise to avoid the then dangerous navigation of the St. Lawrence, though by a circuitous and expensive route. Of late years, however, the “carrying trade,” as the business of forwarding merchandise and produce is called, has been finding its old, and what would seem to us to be its natural channel. Canals, wide and deep, and furnished with handsomely and substantially-built stone locks, render the formidable Rapids of the St. Lawrence no longer an obstruction to navigation. Steamers of the first class now descend the whole course of the mighty stream, and ascend it with equal safety,—stemming, by the invincible power of steam, the torrents of the “Galoppes,” and the “Plat” rapids, so long considered insurmountable, but escaping, by the use of the canals, the more impetuous and impracticable rapids of “Lachine,” “the Cascades,” “the Cedars,” and “the Sault.” [unnumbered page]
Far different was the mode of transportation on our own first acquaintance with the giant river. Among the younger of a band of emigrant brothers, it fell to our lort to accompany in its course, towards our westward destination, the usual vast pile of huge bales, sea-chests, and other indescribable appendages of the self-made exile, which in those days was considered indispensable, but a great part of which was too often found on its arrival to be unsuitable or unnecessary, and only to afford a cause of regret to the disappointed ownder, that it had not been left on the other side of the broad ocean, and a proportionate increase made in his letters of credit. The adventures of that voyage from Montreal to Kingston, which can now be performed in little more than twenty-four hours, would fill a chapter. No ark-like steamer, with its towering decks and lofty wooden walls, received us and our fortunes. The open and fragile batteau, manned by the “voyageurs” of the then sister Province, was the only bark to bear us o’er the rushing waters. Horses, and sometimes oxen, slowly dragged our diminuitive vessel up the foaming rapids. A surly “habitant,” whose whole vocabularly seemed to consist of the everlasting “marche done” to his weary cattle, urged his lagging train along the margin, sometimes at the water’s edge or again on the high bank of the stream. Armed with a hatchet, his companion followed him, ready at a moment’s notice to sever the tow-line, should the failing strength of the cattle or the increasing force of the current threaten, what occasionally happened, their being dragged backwards into the water. His duty was also to clear the line—which was necessarily very long—from the numerous stumps and other obstacles by which it might be caught and impeded. Slow, and not without danger, was our course. Nor was its speed accelerated by the long and tiresome halts that, deaf to all remonstrance in English or French, our boatmen made, to drink and smoke. It was during one of these weary halts at the Long Sault rapids, that, by accident or design, our moorings broke, and not without consternation we found ourselves afloat on the rushing river, accompanied by but one boatman. The danger, however, was not so great as might be imagined. Swiftly but safely (for our tiny craft drew but little water) we shot o’er the surface of the stream which it had cost us so much toil to ascend, and without injury landed (through, we have no doubt, the design of our French friend, who formed captain, pilot and crew) at a small village, the name of which I forget, on the American side of the river, and then our boatman very deliberately—left us. No arguments—no remonstrance could procure his stay; could we have addressed to him Caesar’s pithy words to his storm-o’ertaken pilot, we should still have failed; has Caesar’s self entreated, Caesar must have entreated in vain; “away he went—we never saw him more.” We escaped—though not without some investigation on the part of Brother Jonathan, as to our smuggling or piratical designs; and by our own exertions, being now beyond the force of the rapid, reached the opposite shore in [unnumbered page] safety. But our adventure delayed us several days in arriving at our destination, and obliged us to bring our batteau up to Prescott without the aid of boatmen, and which we should never have achieved but for the assistance of some stout English carpenters who had crossed the Atlantic, and now ascended the St. Lawrence, with us.
We sojourned in the land of our adoption, and years—if not marked by “moving accidents by flood and field,” yet not unvaried by many an adventure and even “hair-breadth ‘scape,” on the wide surface of its sea-like lakes, or in the shady depths of its leafy forests—passed, ere again we sped o’er the waves of its noble river. After an interval of time, short in itself, but long in the changes it had wrought in ourselves and in the scenes around, we once more contemplated its rapid and sparkling waters. The boy had grown a man—had known the joys, the cares, the strifes of manhood. Was the scene around less changed? The river rolled its mass of waters in its unaltered and unalterable channels; but the villages that had dotted its margin, had become towns—the tiny and straggling craft that had toiled with their handful of freight up its mighty current, had disappeared—steamers and schooners boldly traversed its waters, and bore towards the ocean rich cargoes of the produce of our fields, or carried from the sea-board the fruits of the industry of distant thousands.
The attempts of steam vessels to stem the rapids of the St. Lawrence, were not first attended with the success which they have now attained. The “Iroquois” (called after the Indian tribe of the same name) was, we believe, the first that undertook to pass up. Her mode of progression, however, was not that of the present day. As she neared the rapids, a strong tow-line was thrown on shore, and the slow but sure labours of toiling oxen enabled her to overcome the current, which she otherwise could not have confronted. Even within the last few years, steamers with all the modern improvements, have been glad to rest in their upward course, retained in their position by ropes made fast to trees or stout posts on shore, and thus recover their breath and renew their drooping energies, before they ventured to face “the pitch.” But the rapids have carried us past Brockville; and we too must steam the tide, or brave a similar mishap to that which before befel us.
Of a more than ordinarily pleasant journey, that gave us an opportunity of admiring the richness and fertility of the country that borders of the Bay of Quinte, and the splendid locks and occasional romantic views on the Rideau—and, on our return by the Ottawa and St. Lawrence, of comparing the beauties of those rivers—we have retained no recollection of more interest to us than that attached to Brockville. The sweet picture of the gay little town, with its comfortable houses stretching to the water’s edge down the ascent, whose crest is surrounded by picturesquely-situated public buildings, is still fresh in our memory. Well do we remember, too, the companion of our upward royal voyage, from whom we parted at [unnumbered page] that wharf where you see the steamer moored. He was one of its oldest and most honored inhabitants. and during his long residence there had materially promoted its progress and improvement. That little church to the left of our vignette attests the active interest which he took as well in the spiritual as in the temporal welfare of his fellow-citizens. Although Brockville has sent forth many who have attained to eminence in their native land, in various walks of life, yet of none has she more reason to be proud—none has she more cause to regret, than our eminent and lamented fellow-traveller. The Bar—The Senate—and the Bench, each in its turn shared his labours and was the sphere of his distinction; and his removal from among us has left a void in a large circle of grief-stricken relatives and connections in Brockville and elsewhere, which it will indeed be difficult to fill. Honest and manly in his public career—amiable and kind, in all the relation of private life, the public have to lament a tried and faithful servant, and his family to mourn for a fond and affectionate relative. Little did we think, as our kind companion, in all the buoyancy of health and spirits, described the familiar scenes of his early youth, whilst we ascended the stream between Prescott and Brockville—told us of the olden days at Maitland and Augusta, and fondly pointed out beside the old poplars the ruins of the parental dwelling, in which he had first drawn breath—little did we think, that that voice was so soon to be for ever hushed—that warm heart so suddenly chilled—that active mind and vigorous frame so instantaneously prostrated by Death. We parted from him at Brockville, in hope and confidence of many years of life and honour being allotted him; but one short year—and we formed one of a numerous train of mourners that followed his remains to their last resting-place.
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