« PreviousContinue »
ica, saying as how it was a land of liberty." "You tell me falsehoods!" exclaimed the Captain. "I know that you and your companion have committed some great crimes, and fled from justice. You are either robbers, murderers, or forgers; but you shall not escape, for I mean to deliver you over to the civil power the moment we reach Quebec; so either look to yourselves, or jump overboard at once. Get out of my sight; and, after this, take care how you come farther aft than the mizen mást."
The Captain now ordered that the two refugees should be strictly watched, and kept separate from the other passengers, and likewise bid the mate give them a small daily allowance of provisions. He then went down to the cabin, and retired to his birth. The emigrants immediately commenced a discussion upon the events of the night, and the proceedings that had recently taken place in their presence. They all seemed highly dissatisfied with the lenient treatment which the felons, (as they called them,) had met with, and unanimously voted that they ought to have been thrown overboard the moment they were discovered. "I daresay the like of this was never heard of," said a woman"The ship is worse than a jail nowwe may be robbed and murdered in our beds before morning-It's a shame that such vagrants should be allowed to dwell among Christians.”—“ Ay, ay," cried an old man ; "we've seen the effect of having bad company among us already-What brought on the storm but these two Jonahs that now walk at large before us? If the Captain had read his Bible he would have used them very differently from what he has done.' -"Don't speak of their usage!" exclaimed the female, "for it's too bad. Instead of hanging them, he has ordered that they should get provisions like us. Think of that! We honest folks are obliged to pay a heavy fee for our passage, while vagabonds like them get across the seas without putting down a stiver, and are served with meat besides. Nothing but wickedness thrives in this world." "It's my private opinion," said a man who had not yet spoken," that the Captain is no great things himself. I suspect these two fellows are friends of his own in disguise, and he has taken this method of smuggling
them out of the country, to hinder government from getting air of the transaction. Things on board are not what they should be. It's useless to say much now, but I know what I know-mark my words!" He then walked away with a solemn shake of the head, while his fellow-passengers looked reverently after him, and appeared to suspect that he was acquainted with some important circumstances which he did not choose to communicate.
The preacher, already mentioned, delivered another sermon, on the second Sunday that occurred on board, and received much applause and commendation from his auditors. Encouraged by this, he began to imagine that he possessed greater influence over the emigrants than he really did, and accordingly presumed to interfere with their amusements, and to admonish them about their iniquities, whenever he felt inclined. They submitted to this for some time without openly rebelling, but his popularity diminished very fast, and his congregation often criticised his sermons among themselves, and occasionally hinted to one another that he was no better than he should be.
One evening, when we had calm weather, and a tranquil sea, a young man came from the steerage with a violin under his arm, and proposed to his fellow-passengers that they should have a dance. All parties agreed to this, and the decks being cleared as much as possible, a reel was soon formed, and the musician played a Scotch strathspey, which seemed equally to delight the dancers and the spectators. However, the preacher suddenly made his appearance, and interrupted the gaiety, by commanding the partakers of it to desist from such a profane and sinful amusement, if they valued their safety now, and their happiness hereafter. This speech excited universal disgust and derision, and a lively young woman rushed forwards, and seizing upon the disturber of the festivity, pulled him into the ring, saying she was resolved to have him for a partner. A loud laugh broke from the bye-standers; the fiddler began to use his bow; several couples joined in the dance; and the astonished offender was dragged through it, notwithstanding his violent resistance, amidst the shouts and excla
mations of those who witnessed the scene. However, he soon recovered his liberty, and darted into the steerage, where he remained during the whole of next day, but never afterwards attempted to preach before his fellowpassengers. On inquiry it was found that he was a tailor, and could neither read nor write. When this became publicly known, those who had at first been his attentive hearers ridiculed him most, and declared that they had always felt convinced of his incapacity, but were unwilling to lower him in the estimation of others by saying so, as long as he did no harm, and only declaimed against sin in a general way.
Meanwhile we were blessed with fair weather and favourable winds, and made rapid progress across the Atlantic. Most of the emigrants had become reconciled to a sea life, and those who still disliked it consoled themselves with the prospect of soon reaching the termination of the voyage. Though day after day passed in monotonous routine, no one seemed ever to wish for the arrival of the morrow, experience having taught us that nothing new was to be anticipated or looked for, while we remained on board. In the absence of all variety, the most trifling circumstances acquired interest and importance. The appearance of a piece of sea-weed, a flock of birds, or a shoal of fishes, excited the earnest attention of the pas sengers, and furnished them with subjects of conversation during many succeeding hours; and it was highly amusing to listen to the different the ories that were brought forward in explanation of such phenomena, by the self-important disputants, as they strolled about the decks, or reclined indolently upon the hen-coops. Discussions respecting the distance we were from Quebec took place every day, and, as the captain and mate disdained answering any inquiries upon this point, the emigrants had recourse to the man with the quadrant, (as they called him,) for a solution of their difficulties. He seemed highly flattered by such marks of confidence, and always told consequentially what number of miles of ocean we had still to traverse, though his hearers, had they recollect ed his previous calculations, would sometimes have been startled to find, that, according to him, we were rece
ding from our place of destination, stead of approaching it.
The two men who had concealed themselves in the hold soon ceased to excite almost any attention. The emigrants studiously avoided the least intercourse with them, and they generally kept near the bows of the vessel during the day, but walked fore and aft at night, when the former had retired to the steerage. They slept under the bottom of the long-boat, no place having been provided for their accommodation below decks.
While crossing the great bank at Newfoundland, the weather was so calm and favourable, that the Captain resolved to lie to for a few hours, that we might have the pleasure of catching some cod. The emigrants, the moment he announced this determination, began to prepare their fishing tackle. Some baited small hooks attached to hair lines, others brought out roads and pirns, and one man produced a pocket-book full of dressed flies, and asked the mate if any of them would do. However, they were soon convinced of the inefficiency of the angling apparatus which they had provided, and as the tackle belonging to the ship was distributed chiefly among the seamen, few of the emigrants had an opportunity of participating in the sports. But those who possessed the means of engaging in it, betrayed the most extravagant delight when they happened to catch any thing, and would not allow the fish they had pulled out to be mingled with those that had been caught by others, though the Captain informed them that a general division of the spoil would take place in the course of the day. After laying to some hours, the wind began to freshen, and we set sail. The mate then distributed the fish in equal portions among the steerage passengers, but, although he observed the strictest impartiality, much dissatisfaction prevailed, and almost every one thought his neighbour had been more liberally dealt with than himself. Complaints and accusations were heard upon all day long, and the morning's diversion, instead of adding to the enjoy ment of those for whose sakes it was projected, gave birth to discontent, envy, and recrimination.
While we were in the Gulf of St Lawrence, the Captain and mate began to be on very bad terms. The
latter kept the key of the store-room, which contained the provisions, and daily weighed out to the passengers their respective allowances; but the Captain suspected that he was in the habit of abstracting an extra quantity, and afterwards privately selling it to the emigrants. Various articles had disappeared at different times, and he professed to be unable to explain what had become of them. This roused the Captain's attention, and, being a violent man, he one day accused the mate of fraud and peculation before all the emigrants, and stated, that there were three persons on board who could give evidence in proof of what he said. The former denied the charge with boldness, and a furious altercation took place between the two, which terminated in the mate's requesting permission to go forward among the seamen, or, in other words, to resign his situation. The Captain told him the sooner he did so the better, and, accordingly, he carried his trunk from the cabin that very day, and took up his quarters in the steer
All the passengers felt a deep interest in this quarrel, for they conceived, from the hints which the Captain had thrown out respecting the persons who could prove his assertions, that their characters were implicated in it. They therefore discussed the matter at great length among themselves, and almost unanimously agreed that the mate was innocent of the crimes laid to his charge. The females advocated his cause with much warmth; for his politeness, good looks, and misfortunes, had won their hearts completely. Some proposed to petition the governor in his favour whenever we reached Quebec, and a man, who had neither shoes on his feet, nor a hat on his head, urged that a subscription should be raised to compensate him for the loss of his situation. However, it was finally agreed that a certificate of his innocence and good conduct, signed by every one on board, would answer the best purpose. Several of the leading persons soon prepared this document, and went about requesting their fellowpassengers to put their names under it, none of whom made any objection, except the man with the quadrant, who, on the paper being presented him for signature, said he would have no thing to do with it, unless the longiVOL. X.
tude and latitude in which the events referred to took place, were inserted at full length. No one disputed the reasonableness of this demand, and the business was soon adjusted to the satisfaction of all parties.
The ship remained without a mate during two days, but in consequence of the favourableness of the weather, we suffered little from the want of him. The morning of the third set all things to rights again; for one of the emigrants informed the Captain that he had heard Hurder and his companion whispering together in the store-room the preceding night. On examination, we found that a considerable portion of the floor of the apartment was loose, and that the two fellows could have access to the provisions whenever they chose. They were immediately searched, and several articles being found upon them, the Captain had no longer any suspicion of the mate's integrity, and at once restored him to favour, and begged him to resume his situation, and forget the past. He willingly did so, and received the congratulations of all the emigrants, except those who had drawn up the certificate about his honesty, and who said, they thought the Captain ought to have made him prove his innocence before he reinstated him in his employment.
When a little way above the mouth of the St Lawrence, we were becalmed nearly a whole day within half a mile of a large ship. The emigrants indulged in various speculations about the port she sailed from, her place of destination, her tonnage, her crew, and her cargo; and had got deeply involved in hypothetical mazes, when they saw her jolly-boat let down. A number of men then stepped on board, and immediately began to row towards us. Our female passengers, on seeing this, descended into the steerage, but shortly came upon deck again, arrayed in clean caps,gaudy ribbons, and Sunday gowns; and endeavoured to attract the admiration of our expected visitors by talking affectedly, and leaning over the bulwarks; while the men stood eyeing them askance, with a repulsive, scru tinizing, and suspicious expression of countenance, very often assumed by the Scotch peasantry when they are on the point of coming into contact with strangers. The boat soon came alongside, and most of the party sprung on
incredulously, and said, they derived their information from a man who had read books upon the subject, and knew all about the matter.
In the morning we found ourselves a considerable way up the St Lawrence, the gradually increasing narrowness of which now permitted us to have a more distinct view of its banks, the farther we advanced. The emigrants contem
board our vessel, without salutation or ceremony. They proved to be Englishmen, but any observer would have instantly discovered this from their ruddy, comfortable-looking countenances, which appeared to much advantage when contrasted with the hard, spare, emaciated features, of the people on board our ship. Nautical inquiries soon took place, and our visitors informed us that they were emi-plated with delight, the fields, trees, grants bound for Upper Canada. This intelligence did not appear to be much relished by our passengers, one of whom immediately stepped forward, and asked if they had any coopers in their party. Being answered in the negative, he expressed great satisfaction, and said he was a cooper himself, and wished to be first in market. This speech excited a laugh, which, in some degree, removed the restraint that had previously prevailed, and rendered both parties more communicative. The Englishmen were then requested to mention what sort of trades-people and mechanics they had on board their vessel, and the emigrants assembled round them, and listened anxiously to the agitating enumeration. When it happened that persons of the same profession were shewn to be in both ships, a loud laugh of derision took place, and a number of uplifted fingers pointed out the unfortunate man who had, in a manner, encountered competitors before reaching the theatre of action; but an opposite discovery afforded delight to none, but the individual who was personally interested, and sneers about good fortune and lucky fools passed between those that stood around him.
The Englishmen, after having given a full account of themselves, and of their purposes and intentions, returned to their own vessel. At night, we got a fine breeze directly astern, and stood up the St Lawrence under all sail, much to the satisfaction of the emigrants, who were exceedingly anxious that we should reach Quebec before the other ship; for they supposed, that if she arrived first, her passengers would take all the land that was to be granted in the vicinity of the town, and render it necessary for the lastcomers to settle far away in the woods. It was useless to attempt to combat this idea, or to state, that the ground destined for them lay in the interior of the country, for they shook their heads
cattle, and farm-houses, that occasionally presented themselves on both sides, and spoke enthusiastically of the pleasures of a country life, and wished they could get ashore, to drink milk, and lie on the grass. They seemed quite relieved to discover that the habitations, vegetable productions, and general appearance of Canada, were neither comfortless, extraordinary, nor revolting. Their spirits got up, and they began to anticipate the blessings and enjoyments which a residence in such a country would be the means of securing to them, and informed each other what particular branches of agriculture they intended chiefly to pursue, when they had cleared and improved their farms, and overcome their first difficulties. The conversation soon turned entirely upon crops, soils, and manure; and weavers, who, before embarking for America, had never been beyond the suburbs of Glasgow, talked about the management of land with the greatest confidence, and suggested the propriety of partially introducing the British system of agriculture into Canada.
We reached the harbour of Quebec late one afternoon, and immediately dropped anchor in front of the town. The emigrants gazed on the rocks, the tremendous battlements, the shipping, and the boats hurrying backwards and forwards, with deep interest; while those who had any knowledge of history, began to talk of the celebrated siege at which Wolfe was killed, and pointed out, to their admiring auditors, in what manner they conceived the city might yet be taken by an enemy. Others complained how much the prospects around had disappointed them, and said, Quebec was just like a Scotch town, and therefore not worth looking at. One man asserted, that the fortifications of Edinburgh Castle were much stronger than those they then saw, and this produced a dispute, which was interrupted by the arrival
of the harbour-master, who came alongside in a beautiful boat manned with French Canadians. He ordered all the passengers to be mustered upon deck, and called them over, that he might ascertain if each individual answered the description annexed to his name in the Custom-house list. This being accomplished, the Captain desired Hurder and his companion to come forward, and then explained to the harbour-master how they had got into the ship without his knowledge or consent. The former bid the mate detain them on board until farther orders, and then took leave, after his crew had received a quantity of provisions as their usual perquisite.
None of the emigrants went ashore that night. They continued walking the deck till a late hour, and anticipating the pleasure they would have in rambling through Quebec next morning. Montreal was the place of our ship's destination, and the greater part of them meant to remain on board until we reached that city, in order to save the expence of going there in a steam-boat.
At an early hour on the succeeding day, all the emigrants were in motion. The Captain informed them that the vessel would lie at anchor for two days, and that those who chose might go ashore and visit the town, provided they returned on board within the time specified. This intelligence being promulgated, many of the females and young men hastened to dress themselves in their best apparel, that they might be ready to secure places in the ship's boat, the first time it was sent
ashore. But some, who had talked much of the great connexions they had in Quebec, the letters of introduction and recommendation they were provided with, and the flattering attentions they expected to receive when they delivered them, seemed suddenly to forget all these things, and to become alike friendless and unknown. They never even proposed to visit that city, which had once been a place of such promise to them, although it lay directly before their eyes. Others, who were prevented by the deficiencies of their wardrobes from making a respectable appearance, declared that they would rather remain on board, than wander through dusty streets, where nothing at all remarkable or interesting was to be seen. Pride soothed the pangs of disappointment during the day, and at night envy found a balm in the triumph of ill-nature; for those who had been ashore came back weary, dispirited, and out of humour, and again took up their abodes in the steerage, and endeavoured to console themselves with the hope of finding Montreal a prettier, larger, and more entertaining town than Quebec.
I left the ship next morning, and on the succeeding day saw her bear up the St Lawrence, under the influence of a favourable wind. The emigrants waved their hats to me, and I accompanied my return of the salute with fervent wishes that the comforts, blessings, and advantages of the land to which they were hastening, might exceed their warmest and earliest anticipations.
TRANSLATIONS FROM OSSIAN.
WITH this I send you some specimens of translation from the great Northern Bard of antiquity, whose worksthanks to the fostering care and fatherly protection of some one or other -have come to us in tolerable preservation; yet whose very existence, (mirabile dictu!) is a matter of the strongest doubt. As to the authenticity of the works ascribed to Ossian, there is certainly abundant cause for scepticism; and from the days of Samuel Johnson, down to those of Malcolm Laing, Wordsworth, and the author of Waverley, it has furnished an inexhaustible subject for the exhibition
of hypothetical conjecture and antiquarian research. But to the reader of poetry,-to him who loves beautiful imagery, sublime sentiment, and deep pathos for the corresponding feelings which they awaken in the bosom, wholly unconnected with ther tendency to any particular bias, it must be a matter of moonshine whether the whole, or only a part, was generated by the son of Fingal, or if the entire structure was elaborated within the pericranium of our more modern friend, James Macpherson, Esq. Are the writings of Rowley destitute of merit, because we know them to be the composition of the boy Chatterton ?