Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ing, and not finding myself sufficiently acquainted with living in the woods to commence my career with the savage gloom of a Canadian winter, I left my small farm and log-house at the end of November, and established myself at Amherstburg with a pleasant Yankee family, which had lately removed from Detroit. Snow soon covered the ground, the rivers and lakes were frozen over, and travelling could only be performed in the sleigh or traineau. Upper Canada does not participate in the bustle, feasting, and jollity that pervade the Lower Province, where winter is the season of pleasure. The cold perhaps is not so intense, but the weather is infinitely more variable; the snow does not lie long on the ground at any one time; and what is worse than all, the inhabitants have none of the gaiety, open-heartedness, and hospitality for which the French Canadians are so distinguished. In fact, nothing could be more dismal than the face of the country: the lofty trees, covered with icicles or masses of frozen snow, seemed like obelisks on the banks of the solitary streams; a deer, a raccoon, or a wolf occasionally varied the monotony of the scene, but there was enough to appal the stoutest breast. I sometimes accompanied my fellow-boarders to hunt the bear and the raccoon, but the pleasures of the chase at this season and in this climate were not such as to create envy. With the thermometer at 20 degrees below zero, we passed ten or twelve hours without refreslıment, and then perhaps found shelter in some loghut, open to all the winds of heaven. Often, during the night, have I stretched my hand through the logs while asleep, and been hastily awaked by finding them resting on the snow without. The solitary blanket, or buffalo skin, that covered me, was each morning hard with the congealed respiration of the night. The morning light was always a relief to my wearied limbs, for I could then animate them by active exertion. Yet there were pleasant incidents even in a Canadian winter. Sometimes a numerous party in sleighs would set off in the afternoon to visit some neighbouring village, not more than thirty miles off; and there the plentiful, if not luxuriant, board of a new country,—the venison, the turkey, the apple-butter, the apple-toddy, and the numberless hors d'æuvre of American cookery, would console for the biting ferocity of the cold; while the dance, the song, and the frolicking of the evening, unconstrained by the fashionable prudery of European mauvaise honte, would have warmed the blood of the Esquimaux in their subterranean retreats, and were sufficiently attractive even to the ci-devant amateur of the waltzes of Vienna, the entrechats of Paris, and the ·luscious boleras of Andalusia! No inconsiderable part of the merriment of these frolics arose from the want of accommodation for the male and female visitors : some danced or courted till dawn; some adjourned to the twenty-bedded room, where travellers of all ages and sexes reposed, or did not repose, till the call of inorn.

But why expose the memorabilia of a Canadian frolic? Poor souls! they have but few relaxations in their monotonous existence; and from those that lie within their reach, who shall pretend to debar them? Not I, my dear Canadians ! Sparkle away till the northern blast shall no longer freeze the stormy bosom of Michigan, till Niagara shall no longer pour its · waters into the foaming abyss, till Erie shall be free from storis, snakes, and fevers! May your sleigh meet no stumps in its pathmay your steed never refuse to glide you and your fair companion to

the neighbouring frolic-may you never find accommodation when you require none-and may you ever lose your way when you and your partners are agreed !

The dreary winter passed along, and the warm sun of May called me again to the woods : for what is a farm in the interior of America but the clearing away of a few trees from the forest-an oasis in the desert? My newly acquired property was little more than a mile from the lake, on the banks of a romantic creek, shaded by oaks, sycamores, and other majestic trees, and winding its course through a beautiful valley. On ascending a hill above the creek, a meadow of about fifteen acres appeared, and beyond it, in the very centre of my farm, amidst a tuft of apple-trees, rose the log-house on the declivity of the hill. Farther up the hill, immediately behind the house, was the orchard, containing about two hundred peach and apple-trees. Round these were the various fields, containing in all about sixty acres of excellent land. On all sides the forest bounded my little farm, and my view extended not beyond my own territory. “I was lord of all I surveyed.” On one side of my dwelling was a large garden; and the orchard was on the other. Even in the intervening space, small though it was, between the house and garden, I enjoyed the delightful shade produced by a lofty apple-tree, which was nearly three feet in diameter. Round the trunk of this tree I constructed a verdant seat of turf, to which I was wont to retire in the beat of the day. To solace my leisure hours, I had a tolerable collection of books, but this summer they were little used.

Immediately on my arrival began the bustle of corn-planting, and this, my first essay in farming, proved highly agreeable; in fact, every occupation was pleasant after the repose of the winter. My garden became likewise an object of care; and my attentions were so amply rewarded that it formed ever afterwards a source of great and constant satisfaction. Could it be otherwise than delightful to behold the rapid progress of vegetation in such a fertile soil, shone upon by such a glorious sun? My attention to my garden was not at all consonant to the rude habits of the settlers; and, in fact, they began to entertain strong suspicions of my sanity when they saw me working in my garden before sunrise, watering it after sunset, and in the afternoon reposing under the shade of my spacious apple-tree, reading some book that contained not one particle of information respecting corn, cattle, flour, or lumber. Yet my crops were as plentiful as those of others, and my garden became a proverb through the country for beauty and fertility. My neighbours were beginning to form rather a favourable notion of my savoir faire, when their good opinion was totally altered at finding that I did not sell the produce of my garden, but gave it away to any one who thought proper to ask for it. This was indeed a proof of dementia furiosa.

My garden, my books, my occupations, and the novelty of every appearance around me, made me pass the summer without much ennui, and often even with high satisfaction. To a passing traveller, indeed, nothing can be more delightful than a summer's day in the lovely regions of the West. The coolness of morning braces the nerves, the beautiful variety of the birds of the forest is pleasant to the eye, the odour of the most splendid vegetation is grateful to the sense, and the

serenity of the world around dispels every sorrow from the breast. The splendour of the noontide-sun is unequalled in the fairest climes of Europe. The deep shade of the forest protects from the scorching rays of mid-day, and the delightful coolness of evening invites you to enjoy " the calm, the quiet hour" in peaceful meditation. On every side the whip-po-will pours its plaintive notes ; the humming of birds of every species forms a grateful music that "steeps the senses in forgetfulness;" and the very lowing of the bull-frog is an agrecable variety in the scene. Oft have I enjoyed this delightful serenity till the midnight hour has passed along-till the brilliant unclouded moon has risen high in the heavens, and all Nature has been hushed to repose.

Yes! “'twas sublime, but sad.”—Even in the most lovely scenes that Nature ever unfolded to man, we derive half our pleasure from the delight they afford to our companions, and from the associations we form between the animate and inanimate world. When we have no one to whom we can say~"How beautiful is the prospect of that lake-how delightful the aspect of Nature !"-we feel a dreariness within ourselves wish to encounter every toil and every danger, so that we enjoy again the society of our fellow-beings, and can find no permanent pleasure in all the beauties and bountiful gifts of Nature without a companion :we feel that “it is not good for man to be alone.”

Such were some of the feelings that impressed me in my first Canadian summer. My second summer was spent among the Indians of Michigan, and the fur-traders of the Mississippi. There began my adventures in the West.

Y.

CHARITY.
O CHARITY, meek daughter of the skies !

Thou loveliest of the lovely sisters three,
(Sweet members of Heaven's holy family)
That with Religion walk in seraph guise-
Thou hast not Faith's fix'd eye, nor yet the smile,

The rainbow-smile of Hope, dispelling gloom;

But oh! Heaven's mildest radiance doth illume
Thy face with beaming

love, that can beguile
The sigh from wasting

Sorrow; and thy voice,
Like soothing harmony, doth gently raise
Despondence from his couch, and bids rejoice

Evin blank Despair, and, whispering sweet, allays
The frantic turbulence of Woe!-Fair saint!

In thee burns clear and bright the holy Aame
Of pure benevolence; the voice of Fame
Thou lov'st not; but to Misery's feeble plaint
Thy heart is ever open, and thy hand

Brings instant succour! Gentle spirit blest !

No thought of evil harbours in thy breast;
In thy pure presence, Slander dumb doth stand,
And Malice melts to love. Thou mov'st the heart,

Long dead to pity's kindly throb ; in the eye
That knows not how to weep in sympathy,
Thou tell'st the tear, the friendly tear, to start ;
And oh! benign instructress, by thee taught,
Man feels to man that love which brothers ought!

C. C. C.

[ocr errors]

FAME.

Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim
Tollere humo victorque virům volitare per ora.

The public papers related a short time since that a certain "grande dame de par le monde," (to borrow a phrase from Brantome) placing herself, in order to remove to the supper-room, between the conqueror of Waterloo and Signor Rossini, observed with complacence to her conductors, that she was between “the two greatest persons of the age." This was most likely intended to be very civil; but I would not give sixpence for the choice in betting on which side the compliment was worst taken, by the “generalissimo des doubles-crochets," or the "great captain.” For however much the world may be agreed in thinking the slayer of many men no fit comparison for a fiddler, who, on the authority of Joe Miller, does not even kill time, for he only beats it, it is quite as clear that a fiddler “has the same organs and dimensions" for vanity, as le marechal le mieux decoré among the 1,500,000 troops of the Holy Alliance; and is quite as likely to exaggerate his own importance. In the Temple of Fame there are many chambers; and the inhabitants of its cellars and back garrets are very little disposed to yield in pretension to those of the loftier apartments : just as a French marquise is as proud of her "au cinquieme" in the Tuileries, as Charles the Tenth can for his life be of the "au premier,” of which he has just taken possession. “La vanité,says Charron, est la plus essentielle et propre qualité de l'humaine nature;" and the worst of it is, that jealousy not only subsists between the several candidates for reputation in its various departments, but even the mob are as open to the passion, and as angry at the success of a neighbour, as if he were taking the bread out of their mouths ;" insomuch that it is impossible for the plus mince personage to be great with impunity. An honest citizen cannot arrive at the "dignity of knighthood," or a thriving tradesman be elected for the ward, without being as much persecuted for his success, as if he had really done his fellow-creatures some essential service. Nay, if a man makes but a neat and appropriate speech” at a parish meeting, or is voted a silver snuff-box by his club for telling fat stories, he will be sure to find some slavish rascal at his elbow to remind him that he is but mortal. Accordingly, when a great reputation gets a tumble, all the world of underlings flock to enjoy the sport, and run the round of their coteries, with an hypocritical and a lackadaisical air, wondering, pitying, and lamenting their victim out of every possible excellence, and leaving his reputation “not worth picking out of the gutter.” Yet, after all, what is fame that it should be so desirable? Is it to hear oneself cited as Mr. Washerwoman Irwine by a malaprop pretender to literature? or, like the modern Anacreon, to hear a fair imbecile cry ah! que c'est drole!" in the midst of one's most impressive and pathetic melody? Or is it (to mount from the ridiculous to the miserable) so vast a pleasure to have one's time occupied, and one's privacy broken in upon, by every stranger's affairs ?-to find one's table covered with MS. epics, unpublishable novels, and unreadable sermons; all of which claim at least the trouble of a reply, more difficult to word so as to avoid offence, than if it were intended for the perusal of an Attorney

General? Is it delight to be open to the impertinence of anonymous letters, from those to whom you have refused

Your friendship, and a prologue, and ten pounds ? or to the still more impertinent communication of the existence of lampoons and criticisms against yourself, that may be bought in for the moderate sum of twenty guineas? Is it so exceedingly agreeable at all times, and in all places, to be “ upon your best behaviour,” and obliged to wear better clothes, lodge better and feed better, than you can afford, or than is compatible with ease and comfort, because you are conscious that the eyes of all the world are directed towards you, and that you cannot cross the street without the certainty of being recognized as the celebrated Mr. This, or the famous Mr. That, by half the blackguards in the parish? All this, however, and many more equally charming particulars, “ too tedious to mention," do not prevent all sorts and conditions of people from aiming at notoriety; and as a few only of Nature's favourites can even attempt to acquire fame in the higher departments of renown, the mass of the species are compelled to seek the gratification of their darling passion by some strange by-path, and to achieve renown by some whimsical singularity, some unimagined affectation, some pleasant extravagance; or, to sum the whole in one word, since they cannot become eminent for virtue or talent, to make themselves notorious by being simply ridiculous.

This thirst for distinction is among the most pregnant sources of absurdity and miscarriage among the lower classes. However humble a man's station in life may be, he is dignified and respectable as long as he fulfils its duties simply and unaffectedly, and pretends to nothing beyond it. In the sober eye of philosophy, the London artisans assembling round the lecture-table of the Mechanic's Institution after their day's labour, and seeking knowledge in the midst of privation, will appear perhaps among the best specimens of the human species. But when once the being, whose habits, means, and education confine his ideas within a narrow sphere, looks down upon his condition as abject, and strives to carve for himself a personal notoriety, foreign from his circumstances, it is well if he only become “an eccentric,” and does not lapse into some dangerous excess. This abominable passion for becoming conspicuous, breaks out in a thousand extravagances, turning “ from grave to gay, from lively to severe," and shewing itself as much in the serious business of life, as in the idlest pastimes. It is this petty ainbition which has sent to Coventry the good old Saxon term • shop," a term which is never now heard except at the banker's, with whom it is technical. One gentleman opens a register-office for servants, and strives to become “famous” by dignifying his bureau with the modern Greek title of Therapolegia (or, as the servants pronounce it, the-rap-o'-the-leg-ia) by which he thinks himself as high-sounding a personage as the Hospodar of Wallachia. Another ingenious artist, presiding over a second-hand carriage shop, and not contented with the modern neologism of'" repository,” christens his establishment Rhedarium. A third has a “hall” for selling stockings; a fourth opens warehouse" for green groceries and small beer ; while blacking and polonies can be found in no place less elevated than an "emporium;" and if you are in want of a child's kite, it is no longer to be had in a

a

« ZurückWeiter »