« ZurückWeiter »
"What had we better do with this poor fellow?" said one of his captors to me; "he wants to make away with himself, and says he is determined to drown himself, either in the Lake or in the Grenadiers' Pond here!"
Now, the beautiful blue Lake, covered with a healthy ripple, and extending as far as the eye could reach, was close to us; and on the other side, within fifty yards of us, there was hidden in the forest a horrid miry little spot, called the Grenadiers' Pond, because a party of English soldiers, in endeavouring, during the war, to cross it in a boat, had been upset, after floundering in the mud had sunk in it, and were there still. Poor fellows! I had often shuddered at their fate, as I looked at the spot,—an image of John Bunyan's "Slough of Despond."
As there was no asylum for lunatics in the province, it required some few moments' consideration to determine what to do; at last, after a short conversation with the men, I arranged with them that they should take their prisoner to the hospital at Toronto; and as I had to ride by it in my way home, I told them I would see that, by the time they arrived, proper arrangements should be made for treating him with kindness and attention.
The poor maniac paid no attention whatever to what we were saying: he offered no resistance; made not the slightest effort to escape; but never shall I forget the wistful expression of countenance with which he kept turning his haggard face sometimes towards the blue Lake, and sometimes towards the bank which concealed from us the Grenadiers' Pond; in short, it was painfully evident that the affections of this nameless, friendless being were, as nearly as possible, divided between both, and that, weaned from every other attachment to this world, or to the next, his agonising distraction solely proceeded from the difficulty of determining which of two delightful resting-places to prefer; indeed, so strong was his infatuation, that, as the two men led him between them before me, a stranger would have fancied that, instead of leading him away from death, we were conducting him to execution;—that his wife and children were behind him; and that he was looking back first over one shoulder, and then over another, to offer them one more blessing, and to bid them another—and then another—last— "farewell I"
When the party reached the hospital, they found everything ready for the man's reception, and next morning I was happy to learn that he appeared perfectly calm and tranquil.' On the following day, however, when I inquired, I was informed he had managed a few hours ago to escape, and that he was gone—they knew not where!
I knew well enough where he was gone, and, it being in my daily track, I immediately rode to the road I have described, between the Lake and the Grenadiers' Pond. He was not there; but it was afterwards ascertained that, within an hour after he had escaped from the hospital, a man exactly answering his description had been seen walking hurriedly up and down the narrow space I have described, and that, when the person who had passed him turned his head back to look for him, he had, to his surprise, completely disappeared!
If he had gone into the lake, his body, in due time, would have been washed on shore; but as this did not happen, well knowing where he was, I often rode to the Grenadiers' Pond to indulge for a few moments in feelings
TO THE MEMORY OF
A POOR LUNATIC.
THE EMIGRANT'S LARK.
HENRY Patterson and his wife Elizabeth sailed from the Tower in the year 1834, as emigrants on board a vessel heavily laden with passengers, and bound to Quebec.
Patterson was an intimate friend of a noted birdcatcher in London called "Charley Nash." Now Nash had determined to make his friend a present of a good skylark to take to Canada with him; but not having what he called "a real good un" among his collection, he went into the country on purpose to trap one. In this effort he succeeded, but when he returned to London he found his friend Patterson had embarked, and that the vessel had sailed a few hours before he reached the Tower Stairs. He therefore jumped on board a steamer, and, overtaking the ship just as she reached Gravesend, he hired a small boat, and then, sculling alongside, he was soon recognised by Patterson and his wife, who with a crowd of other male and female emigrants, of all ages, were taking a last farewell of the various objects which the vessel was slowly passing.
"Here's a bird for you, Harry," said Nash to Patterson, as standing up in the skiff he took the frightened captive out of his hat, "and if it sings as well in a cage as it did just now in the air, it will be the best you have ever heard"
Patterson, descending a few steps from the gangway, stretched out his hand and received the bird, which he immediately called " Charley" in remembrance of his faithful friend Nash.
In the Gulf of St. Lawrence the vessel was wrecked; almost everything was lost except the lives of the crew and passengers; and accordingly when Patterson, with his wife hanging heavily on his arm, landed in Canada, he was destitute of everything he had owned on board excepting Charley, whom he had preserved and afterwards kept for three days in the foot of an old stocking.
After some few sorrows, and after some little time, Patterson settled himself at Toronto, in the lower part of a small house in King Street, the principal thoroughfare of the town, where he worked as a shoemaker. His shop had a southern aspect; he drove a nail into the outside of his window, and regularly every morning, just before he sat upon hia stool to commence his daily work, he carefully hung upon this nail a common skylark's cage, which had a solid back of dark wood, with a bow or small wire orchestra in front, upon the bottom of which there was to be seen, whenever it could be procured, a fresh sod of green turf.
As Charley's wings were of no use to him in this prison, the only wholesome exercise he could take was by hopping on and off his little stage; and this