Page images

in a few hours; and we were told that no passage had exceeded half a day for six months. Inquiring of the skipper, if there were any stores in the vessel, I found nothing except oatcakes and some shreds of salt beef; no biscuit, no ale, no beer. There is whiskey, indeed, but that I never drink—and water, which is not fit to be tasted. I gave the man, however, a doceur, desiring him to furnish what he could, and have just come up from inspecting, (for I can hardly say feeding upon) the banquet. It consisted of a jug of water, a broken plate of oatcakes, and two or three strips of greasy beef, which in appearance, and for ought I know, in taste, resembled the braids of a drayman's whip-lash. A single jack-knife completed the furniture of the table. Hungry as I was, a piece of oatcake was all I could eat, and I have just left the cabin, with the apprehension, that if the calm continues a day longer, there will inevitably be a famine on board. These oatcakes, for which Scotland is renowned, are at best an indifferent diet. As made by some of the better families, they become barely tolerable; but in general they are poor enough. It is usual to find them a quarter or half an inch in thickness. The meal of which they are composed is very coarse; and so dry are they, that unless the fauces are lubricated by some solvent draught, immediately on eating a piece, a stranger may come well nigh being choked. I have sometimes, when a little thirsty, inadvertently taken a piece of this bread into my mouth, without having any water or other liquid just at hand, and on the first attempt at mastication, have had my throat filled with the dust, and have felt it silently insinuating itself into every pore and vesicle of my lungs. The dough which is made of the bran of Indian corn, and given to poultry, by the farmers of America, would, if baked upon a tin, form a bread not unlike, I can conceive, to the oatcakes of Scotland, -certainly not inferior to them in quality.

Mr. * * * * and myself, are the only cabin passngers. There are many others in the vessel, but they belong to the steerage. Seven or eight of these are women, of whom, two or three have children. I am now seated on the binnacle, over the companionway. A group of these women are sitting a few feet to my right, upon the main-deck, under the long-boat; each exhibiting a cour tenance which Hogarth might have taken for a cariacature of wo. Another woman, who has been extremely sick, is at present lying under the gunwale before me, asleep, and breathing with a most musical nasal cadence—the helmsman at my left, is standing listless over the tiller, casting an apparently vacant gaze around, but hoping, no doubt, that every passing cloud will bring with it wind. ***** is leaning over the bulwarks, half inclined to give up to sickness, which has been threatening him ever since he came on board. The sailors are carousing in the forecastle; the confused sounds of their merriment are one moment swelling upon the ear, and the next, sinking away, till a new ebullition of wit produces a fresh shout of laughter. Having worn out my own pencil, I have

borrowed that of my companion, and am employing it merely for the sake of beguiling time. As it is becoming cool, however, I have determined to go below, to try by sleep, to cheat time more effectually, in hopes that a few hours will produce some change, er rather an increase in the wind.

Westmoreland Packet, April 19, 5 A. M.-I have just come on deck, after a broken night's rest. A breeze has sprung up, and we are this moment entering the small bay of Donaghadee. The men are employed in handing the sails.- The town of Donaghadee is neat in its appearance; the houses are white-washed, which seems one indication of our having crossed the channel. The fields are green; and I perceive, what I did not expect, a few trees along the coast. The skipper has gone below for our baggage, and the boat is getting ready to take us ashore.

Donaghadee, 6 A. M.-A few moments after, we found outselves on land. There is a magic in that word; and the embarrassing situation in which we were placed, on board the packet, did not diminish the joy which we felt in realizing a change.* We were threatened with some difficulty at the custom-house, in having our luggage passed—and were told that we must wait till the officer was risen, which would not be till nine. A shilling, how. ever, obviated the hindrance, and shortly after, we were conducted to the small inn where I am at present writing.

On entering a house, for the first time, in a strange country, it is natural to look around in search of something new. As I came into our present sitting-room, the first, of course, which I have seen in Ireland, I glanced my eye hastily over it, but saw nothing particularly to distinguish it from a comfortable apartment, of a similar size, in any common American house. Two or three wellrubbed tables, and half a dozen hair-bottomed chairs are ranged round the room, and a small fire of peat burns in the grate. The last, it is true, differs from our generous wood fires. We have just risen from a frugal, but well-served breakfast, consisting of eggs, tea, dry toast, excellent butter and cream. The people of the house are very civil-we have made an arrangement to leave this place forthwith, in the stage-coach for Belfast. The horn is this moment sounding, a summons to 'gang awa.'

Belfast, Donnegall Arms, quarter past 10 A. M.-Leaving Donaghadee, I mounted the top of the coach, and occupied a seat with the guard. We passed, near the town, a high conical mound, resembling the Silbury-hill Barrow, on the great Salisbury downs, in England. The guard said that all he knew about it was, that it was thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this part of the island, to intrench themselves from the enemy.'— My itinerary states

* On landing, we had the consoling intelligence, that the vessel in which we had declined taking passage from Port Patrick, on the evening of the 17th, arrived here about twelve o'clock, the same night, a distance of 20 miles. The master was well spoken of.

that it is of Danish origin. The country through which we passed, appeared generally much richer, and in higher cultivation than any I have seen in Scotland, except the Lothians and Roxburghshire. Instead of stone-walls, which accompanied us most of the way from Kilmarnock to Port Patrick, where the land was divided at all we perceived pretty embankments of earth, about three or four feet high, clothed with verdant turf, and sometimes topped with rows of hawthorn. These, enclosing the fields, and intersecting the country in every direction, added much to the enamelled beauty of the landscape. The fields too, we noticed, were of a much deeper green than those which we had left in Scotland, while the houses presented often very striking contrasts to each other. Some of them were uncommonly mean and comfortless; and many, on the other hand, remarkable for their neatness. The former were generally low, of a single story, frequently constructed of mud, and having thatched roofs, with tiled or ground floors. The better houses were white-washed, and surrounded with parterres of gooseberry and flowering shrubs. We saw heaps of turf, seemingly the only fuel, piled in the yards of most of the dwellings. It gave us pleasure to see some windmills also,-a novel sight to us who have just come from Scotland. They contributed to impart an air of industry and bustle to the landscape. Bangor, the town through which we first passed, after leaving Donaghadee, is pretty large and populous. It has a fine church, which resembles, I thought, though on a smaller scale, the celebrated church at Ross, in Gloucestershire, whose tower, Pope has significantly denoininated the

heaven directed spire. Between Newtonards and Ballyrogan we passed Derry house, the ancient seat of the earls of Londonderry, the ancestors of lord Castlereagh, and the place where that distinguished nobleman was born. It is situated not far from Lough Strangford.

Before leaving Glasgow, I purchased an Highland cap, or bonnet, as it is called, for the convenience of wearing in travelling. It is frequently seen in the Lowlands, and is more comfortable in a carriage than a round hat. It excited, however, more attention than I could have wished. It has so happened that the 42d and 92d Highland regiments are ordered to this country, by the way of Port Patrick; the former were on the point of leaving Glasgow at the time that we did, and the latter had actually marched from Edinburgh, several days before. My bonnet, accordingly, which at another time would have passed unobserved, has led many to suppose me to belong to the army. While on my route from Glasgow, I heard several times the expression, as I was passing, “There goes a Waterloo cap.' The landlord of Port Patrick at first took me for an Highland officer; and on the morning that I embarked, I was several times asked if I was attached to that body of military, which was expected to cross over that day. A similar mistake prevailed on my reaching the opposite shore, and many ques:

[blocks in formation]

tions were put concerning the movements of the two regiments. It was not in every instance that I cared about undeceiving the inquirer; for, in the first place, it did no good, and in the second, a positive benefit was otherwise promised; for such is the high character which these troops have obtained by their brave and gallant conduct, that they are every where welcomed with demonstrations of respect; although many of the Irish have reason to look upon them with some distrust, as coming to quell and overawe the spirit of sedition. Their places in Scotland are supplied by the Connaught rangers, and other Irish contingents; an excel. lent policy on the part of government, to prevent a too cordial sympathy between the soldiery of a garrison and the neighbouring community, and particularly with the state prisoners, who, by virtue of the present suspension of the habeas corpus, are frequently seized on suspicion, and whom, the former are appointed to guard.

For the last few miles, before arriving at Belfast, I took a seat in the inside of the coach, and found there an elderly, pleasant, well-dressed man, with whom I soon entered into an agreeable conversation. He also took me to be an Highland officer; but I preferred to set him right upon this point, although I left him to suppose me a Scotchman, and, as I afterwards perceived from bis conversation, a native of Edinburgh. The mistake led to some remarks connected with himself. He had been in the army formerly; and having served in the American revolutionary war, amused me much by some information which he undertook to give respecting my countrymen—or the rebels,' as he pertinaciously called them. He gave me an account of Boston, and its prodigious long wharf, the greatest, he said, that he had ever seen. He spoke of Bunker's hill, and described the action which was fought there;-he accounted for the unusually large number of officers killed on that occasion, by saying, that many of the younger of them, several of whom were of his own acquaintance, volunteered to go out and witness the fun with the Yankees, as they expressed it; and, of course, the whole number was uncommonly and disproportionably great. He did not think that the Americans discovered much gallantry in any action in which he saw them engaged. The militia, and other hasty levies, behaved often, he said, very shamefully.

I asked if the Americans were, on the whole, pretty well civilized; adding, that I supposed they were much behind our countrymen, (meaning those of the united kingdom.) 'Why, sir,'said he, 'I don't know that; but I am far from thinking it. They have in America, some cities as fine as you may see in any part of Europe. At least this was getting to be the case when I was there, thirty years or more ago; and they must have improved very much since. In my belief, sir, if you were dropped from the clouds upon the older settlements of America, particularly in the northern provinces, and were not previously to be informed on what part of the globe you

were to be set down, you would not know that you were out of your own country.'- I thought so too, but did not mention the ad. ditional grounds which I had for entertaining the opinion.

The guard of the coach, whom I have already mentioned, I found possessed of some dry humour, and a good deal of honest feeling. He told me, that he should return with the coach to Do. naghadee at 12 this day, (a distance, as we came, of eighteen or twenty miles,) and that, in this manner, he had been going backwards and forwards between the two places for nearly three years.

I am downright sick of it, sir,' said he, and cannot stand it much longer. 'Tis the hardest work that I ever had yet. Oftentimes I have little or nothing to do for the whole distance, but to sit still, and look about; and I know every bunch of thorn along the road. If I had always a pleasant gentleman like you, or that other young gentleman forward, who would converse with me, I should be satisfied.' I asked him if he did not like Ireland?-. I ought, sir.' 'Ought, but don't you?'_'I ought, sir, I say again, but I like England better, and Scotland too, Scotland I like better.' • How happens that?'-- Why there, there are good people who would have kept me from going astray. I have been a wild dog in my day, sir, and I am certain I should have been better, had there been any here to check me.' "Do you mean that the people in Ireland are all bad?'— Why no, sir, not quite that; they mean well enough, I suppose, but they are all too much in the harum-scarum line, like myself. The old people never stopped me when I went wrong, but were always ready to join in any deviltry that I was about. I have been a sad dog,' he repeated, ' but would give (if I had them,) an 100,000 guineas'-bringing his hand with great force upon his knee-would give an 100,000 guineas, if I were a good man now.' 'Oh, well,' said I, “if you wish it so strongly, I have great hopes that you will be so soon.'— Would that I might, sir; and I am thinking of it every day as I am passing along this road. But I keep putting it off-'tis my nature, sir.

I am glad,' said I, that you like my country.' What, England, sir? You're from England?'-Scotland, surely,' said I. “That can't be, sir; you're from Edinburgh then? but after all, I suspect you're an Englishman.'— Why true, I was in England first, but I have been in Scotland for some time.' "Ah now, sir,' said he, don't expect to catch a weasel asleep in the morning. I knew you was an Englishman when you first spoke.'

His name is George Sloans. He was born in Antrim, had served in the army, and was quartered at York, Newcastle, and North and South Shields. At the latter place, he said that he had passed the happiest part of his life. “In the first place I was appointed sergeant, and was very much respected; next,

was my business to oversee the putting up of a small bit of a fort there;-so i had nothing to do but to hold my head up-put my hands so'-—(placing them akimbo,) ' walk about give my orders, and go into the

« PreviousContinue »