Page images
PDF

From The Atlienxum.

Travels in Canada and the Statts of New York and Pennsylvania[Reisen in Canada, ete.~\. By J. G. Kohl. Cotta, Stuttgart.

On no colonial possession of the empire can the eye rest more rejoicingly than on Canada, to which the state visit of the Prince of Wales attracts so much attention. Towards Canada England has been truly a mother-country—not seeking to use it for , her own advantage, but governing it almost always with a view to its own welfare. If we set aside some acts of severity—or, we may even admit, of injustice—in the earliest period of her possession, when the encouragement afforded by the French to the American jevolt had naturally awakened a feeling of suspicion towards our new French subjects, the affairs of Canada have been administered almost invariably on just, humane, and conciliatory principles. After the insurrectionary movements of 1837 and!838, the government, to its great honor, though completely victorious in the struggle, far from riveting the chains on the vanquished (if such a phrase be not too violent a figure of speech for the negative grievances of the habilans), suffered the occurrence to open its eyes to abuses of which it had not before been aware, and of which it immediately commenced the needful reform.

"Quoigue nous ctions battus," said an old Canadian to our traveller, "fa nous a fait du bien." The French colonists were by degrees placed on the same footing as those of British descent; they obtained the same political rights, and care was taken that in public appointments no regard should be paid to nationality. Many of the highest offices in the country are now filled by French Canadians, the public revenue is entirely at the disposal of the Canadian Parliament, and to the whole population, French and British, an ever-increasing liberty of local self-government is permitted.

The result of this wise and liberal course is shown in the perfect reconciliation of the two races, and the assurance that instead of finding in the former a secret enemy, ready to conspire with foreigners on the first opportunity, our sovereign has in the French Canadians the most important counterpoise to foreign influence. There does, indeed, it is said, exist among the more juvenile members of the community a small party which goes by the name of the Rouges, and they may possibly look with some longing towards the more dashing and obstreperous independence of their republican neighbors; but the majority of the French habitans are

decidedly conservative, and have a salutary fear that the go-ahead Yankees would be likely, if they got the country into their hands, to " improve the French off the face of the earth."

But besides the pleasant emotion of selfapproval with which the mother-country may regard her American possessions, she cannot but rejoice, for the sake of humanity, that so wide a portion of the American continent should be secure from the bitter and blighting curse of slavery, and exist as a harbor of refuge to the unfortunate negro when afflicted beyond endurance—a harbor not to be reached, however, without such serious risks as make it unlikely to be sought in any but extreme cases. Even for the sake of the slave-owners themselves, as it appeared to the sagacious traveller before us, it is desirable such a safety-valve should remain open.

Mr. Kohl has now traversed—not without profit to himself and his readers—a considerable portion of the earth's surface. He may almost say with Ulysses—

"I am become n name
Forever roaming with a hungry heart;"

—and his writings are nearly as well known in England and America as in his own country. In many respects we regard him as a moSel traveller. He possesses the observant and reflective faculties in due proportions,—is thoughtful enough to know what use to make of the facts that present themselves, yet never so possessed by theory as to have his observations confused j—not at all given (according to the well-worn joke) to evolving a camel out of the depths of his consciousness, yet able to infer a good deal concerning the structure of the beast from the study of small portions of its anatomy.

Mr. Kohl's tour in America was a very extensive one, and some of its records have been already noticed in this journal. The present volume relates chiefly to his Canadian journey by Albany, Burlington, and Lake Champlain to Montreal, Quebec, the settlements on the Ottawa, the "Lake of the Thousand Islands," Lake Ontario, Toronto, Lake Simcoe/and back by Niagara to New York. He had proposed commencing it by a steamboat passage up the Hudson, but as it was the month of October he found that only night-boats were running; the pleasure travellers had almost ceased, and the men of business, who still came in crowds, preferred passing those lovely and picturesque shores in the dark, by way of saving time. He decided, therefore, to make the trip by rail; and as the line runs close to the river-side he did not lose much t>y

:ie change of plan. His quick eye caught gentleman is accustomed to observe." lie immediately on starting an indication of also kept a vigilant eye on the movements imerican acuteness. of his troops of attendant maidens, who -were

The retrying

newsmen the

newshoys, instead passenger with their

of

rhen he is intent only on his place and his

distributing tea, cofi'oc, tongue, ham, mutton-chops, etc., with the celerity of practised players dealing cards. A similar pheuom

icket, and other cares that crowd on him at I cnon of an army of fair waiters, under a tarting and leave him little leisure to think i negro officer, was seen at Burlington, and f newspapers, take a passage on the train I here "the Yankee master of the hotel prorith the rest, being pretty sure that it will i fessed the utmost esteem for his black as>ay to do so. After a while ennui always ! sistant, as well as for another of the same

rcates an appetite for the intellectual provnder they have to dispose of;—

"The little newsboys had their stock of politcal, commercial, serious, and humoristic literaurc carefully stored up in some corner, and as oon as everybody was comfortably seated, and he train in motion, undertook from time to timo in excursion through the flying community, nnd vhcncver they saw anybody yawn immediately >resentcd their enticing wares, and apparently lid a good stroko of business. They very often iring with them, also, a selection of the newest jooks, and afford thus no trifling assistance in :ho diffusion of the most recent literary pvoduclions. The American books are all calculated for quick and convenient use on railroads, and in other situations where the reader is likely to i>e helpless. They are all neatly hound "and ready cut; not like our German books, which we buy in the most inconvenient form possible, namely, in loose sheets, and then have to wait a fortnight for the binder. Once there camu hurrying past our carriage a little fellow, with flying hair, and a quantity of printed quarto sheets hanging over his arm, who threw them, right and left, into tho lap of every passenger. I read the paper, and found it contained a collection of notices and praises of tho book of a certain wellknown traveller in Africa, taken from many newspapers and periodicals. I had scarcely got through the many variations on the one theme, namely, that there*could be no more interesting employment in \\\o whole world than to read this gentleman's book all through, when tho little literary Ganymede aforesaid made his appearance at the opposite door to the one where lie had formerly presented himself, but movingwith rather less freedom and celerity than before, for ho was carrying a whole pile of volumes, radiant in new gilding, and presenting them as he had before done his criticisms, right and left. • What is that?' I asked. 'Tho "African Travels," sir, that you have just rend the praises of—costs only half a dollar tlio copy.'"

At the colossal hotel at Albany it struck the traveller, as it does us, as rather surprising that the vast tables were served by troops of white republican damsels, all under the command of a gentleman of the unfashionable complexion. This sable superintendent "received every guest at the door •with decorum, and even dignity of manner

race in his service, declaring him to be "a real Uncle Tom."

Mr. Kohl first touched Canadian soil at the northern end of Lake Champlain j and even to him, rushing through the country on the wings of steam, the change of nationality was immediately perceptible in a certain quiet, old-world aspect of things, as remote as possible from that of the brilliantly wide-awake citizens of the great republic. But he had little time for philosophizing, before he came in sight of the "Silver Town," as Montreal is called, from the plates of bright tin w-ith which the roofs of houses and churches are covered, and which in the dry climate of Canada retain their brightness a long time.

"When I saw Montreal on a dull day, I thought this epithet a little exaggerated, Inir, afterwards, when I saw these tin-covered Houses and churches glittering in the last rays of tlio setting sun, and seeming sometimes to "low with internal fire, I became of quite a different opinion."

Many of the social arrangements of Canada are, of course, copied from those of America, and the hotels retain tho same republican character,—according to which society is all, and the individual nothing. The guests, en mease, are magnificently served; and if you let yourself be drummed into the banqueting room with the multitude to tho sound of the gong, you arc fad and waited upon by a whole army of attendants, with the most energetic attention. But if, as an individual, you wish for so much as a cup of broth, you may wish for it a long time. While, as one of the crowd of guests, suites of apartments fitted up with princely splendor are at your disposal, when you withdraw your own personality into a little cell with four white walls, you may ring, and call, and sigh in vain for the assistance of one of the throng of servants of the great public.

While passing along the forty-fifth parallel of latitude, which forms the boundary line between Lower Canada on one side, and New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire on the other, Mr. Kohl gleaned a good deal is "The History of a Piece of Land:" Shortly after the period of the American Revolution, a Mr. Macomb undertook, with a few companions, a hunting and canal voyage on the St. Lawrence, and made himself acquainted with the previously almost unknown districts now constituting the northern part of the State of New York. They flood in very ill repute at the time, having formed part of the country of the Iroquois, and never been entirely subjected either by French or English, but having remained as a kind of desolate battle-field between them.

—-just the medium between too great devo- j of information illustrative of the early histioii and too great self-assertion, which a j tory of colonization in these districts. Here

At the time of this canal voyage there lived upon it only a few scattered Indians, the poor remains of the once numerous and valiant tribes; and on the maps of the time it figures as a completely white spot, adorned by a sort of fancy painting of the sources of the Hudson, of which no one knew any thing. Mr. Macomb, however, discovered (about the year 1796) that it contained magnificent forests, .1 fertile soil, and many fine sites for future villages and towns. He associated himself, therefore, with a partner, who got together a capital of about 200,000 dollars, and proceeded to the execution of his project. The financial condition of the state of New York, as, indeed, of all the other states of the Union at the time, was deplorable, and the offer of Mr. Macomb to purchase three millions of acres of its waste land was gladly accepted. An agreement was drawn up, by which he became the purchaser of a tract of nearly five thousand square miles, between Lake Ontario and Montreal, at the not very exorbitant rate of about 44«J. per acre. The original document was shown to Mr. Kohl,—it was on parchment, with a great waxen seal of the arms of New York (of that period), on one side a sun rising among mountains, and on the other a rock, against which the waves were dashing, with the motto " Fruslra."

The associates now commenced a land speculation on a grand scale. They wrote and diffused as widely as they could a description of their new acquisition; they travelled to Europe to find colonists and purchasers, and they formed companies in England, France, and Holland, of which one took from them half a million of acres, and another a hundred thousand, while smaller parcels were sold to private individuals. The descendants of one of the partners, •whose family is one of the first in New York, is still in possession of no less than two hundred thousand acres. He explained to Mr. Kohl the principles on which he proceeded in the administration of his estate.

"I sell my land usually under very ensy and iaviiiug conditions. I desire only to tind vigor.

ons, industrious men, of good character. I don't care whether they have capital or not, and according to these instructions my agents hare to net. I leave my settlers time to look about them a bit, to make themselves a home in the wilderness, and to put by a little toward* tha payment of the purchase-money. How and, when the payment is to be made, I leave entirely to them. I require no interest for arrean, for I consider the labor they expend on the land is so much rent that they pay me; and as long as the purchase money is not paid, it remains, of course, my property, which they are thus constantly improving. They arc overlooked by my agents, and if they dp not seem very ready with their work, we require them to clear a bit of forest, or make a few little bridges, or pat np a barn. Sometimes the settler will move off after having lived on the land for ten years,

[blocks in formation]

forests, and houses and farm-buildings, where before there were only tliick woods, so that I find my account in the transaction, and can sell the land for a much higher price the next time."

Mr. Kohl bears on many occasions pleasing witness to the virtues of the old French Canadians. They are, he says truly, generally regarded in the world as a horribly superstitious, stupid, and idle people, mere Siinderances to the march of progress,—mere dark spots on the bright intelligence of the community by which they are surrounded. The traveller is, therefore, agreeably surprised when he enters one of those " scats of darkness," a French Canadian village :—

"It was Sunday when we entered the Cote de Ncige (u liule French village, not far from Montreal), and as the Canadians in their observation of the day adopt the view i hat God has appointed it both for prayer and recreation, it is chosen as the special day for visiting friends and relations. The roads were covered with pretty little onehorse chaises, going to and retuYning from tho different villages; and in the cottages and before the doors we saw everywhere groups of tha villagers engaged in friendly gossip. We ventured to enter one of the cottages, one of the humblest in appearance, and were immediately understood and welcomed. An ancient dame, the mother or grandmother of the house, observed, as she placed a chair near the fire for the stranger, "Eh bien, jo comprend Monsieur cst voyageur, et il vent voir commo on vit ea Canada," for this, not Canada, is the appellation of their country among them. Many other words have undergone a similar transformation; and voir, tavoir, and croire, have become voir, savoar, and croSre. The present Canadian peasantry are, as is well known, the descendants of soldiers, fur-traders, and all kinds of adventurers; and that such simple, modest, upright people should be the issue of such u parentage, is a strong proof that human nature has, under some circumstances just as strong a tendency to purify and improve itself, as, under others, to become demoralized and degenerate. There was a nnmer* ous family of various ages assembled in the cottage; and they and their habitation were brilliant with cleanliness and snow white linen. It was indeed Snnday, but tho week day dresses that I afterwards saw did not disgrace the holiday attire. I could not help expressing my admiration at the order and neatness of every thing around roe to tho mother of the family. "Vous etes bien bon, monsieur," she replied; "mais 1'ordre ct la proprete', ce sont dcs qualites bien naturclles. Une famille mulpropre! All, Dieu preserve! Uno famille malpropre scrait bien remarquee dans notro village, et je croa c'est le cas dans tout le Conodo."

Perhaps wo may see in this and .similar accounts cause for revising those rather hasty generalizations concerning the necessary connection between Catholicism and dirt, which have formed the subject of many a good Protestant homily from travellers in Switzerland and elsewhere. Wishing to see whether his favorable opinion of the French Canadians was shared by their neighbors, Mr. Kohl consulted one of them, nn inhabitant of a village on the Ottawa, which eontains not less than six different churches, religions, and nations, and received a very satisfactory reply:—

"Oh, these Canadians! Sir, I assure yon, they are a tine, honest, and mannerly set of people. It is true there aro some among them that are like others; but on tho whole the Canadians are most honest and genteel. Thore arc no liars, thieves, drunkards, and blackguards among them. When I first came into tho country no Canadian would care to shut his door, and none would ever think about en oath or a paper if you bought a piece of land of them. Since tho revolution of 1837, the custom of shutting doors has become more general. But still, their houses are always open for the poor and the stranger. If you ever, sir, have lost your way, or feel tired, go to a Canadian house if you can find one. They will make you as comfortable as they possibly can. That is what the Canadians is, sir!"

Here is another little sketch of this Idyllic life:—

"I never go through a Canadian village with out looking through the open window into the neat dwellings, at the groups of inhabitants at work, or chatting about the fire. When we got to Beauport (a village not far from the Falls of Montmorenci), some particularly interesting affair seemed to be going on, and when wo saw a long procession of gaily dressed men and women entering a house, we stopped the carriage before tho wide-open doors and looked in. One of the men standing about seemed to object to this, «nd asked, " What do you want there, gentlemen? What business have you there? As wo were convinced that no Canadian habitant ever speaks rudely, unless he thinks he has good cause, I replied, " Monsieur, nous sommcs dcs Strangers; c'est aujourd'hui la premiere fois quo

nous sommes venus dans ce pays. Vons c& le'brez dcs noces, n'est-ce pas, Monsieur?" — "Ah ! 90, c'est tres bien. Messieurs ; dcscendez, descendez tpujonrs, et cntrez. Soyez les bicnvenns. Oni, sans doute cc sont dcs noces 1" We alighted and looked into the house, and at the company. I think I have never seen such well-dressed, well-behaved, handsome and cheerful-looking guests at a peasant's wedding before. There were good-tempered and hale old men and women, fine young fellows, and crowds of pretty girls: and, in tho midst, the begarlnndcd and happy, but dumb and embarrassed, bridal pair. Hero were the " good old times," that wo sonictimes hear of in romance, not in pen and ink, or oil and canvas, but in flesh and blood and reality before us. October is, it appears, the season for weddings, when everybody, who is not married before, marries, in order to be settled "warm and comfortable for the winter." This nuptial pair was one of four that were, according to custom, going about from house to house, and from one relation to another, to pay their wedding visits."

The settlements of the French Canadians can generally be distinguished, we are told, at a considerable distance from those of the Americans, by the houses lying close to each other, instead of being scattered far and wide. The habitant has no ambitious longings for thousands of acres, but likes to nestle among his friends and neighbors, to have his church within sight, and his children, if possible, settled round him. The Yankee, more self-reliant and self-sufficient, cares not for neighbors, would rather be without them, indeed; he looks into the future,—" sees the vision of the world, and all the wonders that shall be," and can dispense with present comfort. With respect to his children, he accepts, as a law of Nature, the separation from them at the earliest possible period. The traveller ventured to put some questions to an old French farmer, concerning his domestic management, and was told that his daughter had been for some years working at her trousseau,—that his two sons were employed on board a steamboat, but brought their father all that they earned.

"Et je leur ramasse tout fa dans un coffro bien solide. This capital is growing every year, and very soon my eldest son will be able to buy land and marry. I hare my eye on a little farm for him—^tho bit of land up there—close to my house. Then my son will get himself a wife, and come and live near me. By and by my second son will do the same; and if I cannot find land to suit him, I will divide my own with him."—" Your children do not seem to be like the Americans, who leave their parents directly, and go and settle somewhere on their own account 1"—" Ah, Dieu preserve, Monsieur! Jo (letcste ce syslcme la I Non, non, Monsieur; j'aimo avoir mcs cnfans suuonr dc moi, tout pres dc moi, comme une poulc Ecs pctits."

In all this the good habitant was, according to Mr. Kohl, to be regarded as a representative man. No one in the village (which was in a new settlement on the Ottawa) had more than forty acres of land, and five-andthirty were thought a good farm. But the land was all nicely cleaned, and " not a stone to be found in the fields."

The chief want of Canada—that of sufficient means of communication—is now about to be supplied; and whatever hopes of prosperity may hitherto have been entertained for it may now probably be multiplied tenfold. To the many blessings it has to offer to those who are looking for a new home, there appears to exist only one drawback; and that is one that falls lightly on a wellfed and well-housed population. England may look with pride on so fair an offspring; and her fine American daughter may echo the invitation to Jaqucs:—" Come hither, come hither, come hither! Here shall you sec no enemy but winter and rough weather."

From The Press. SALMON FISHING IN CANADA.*

The Canadian Resident, as we learn from a chapter headed, "Introductory and Egotistical," is an Irish clergyman, an enthusiastic votary of the "gentle craft," who, after "whipping" the best trout and salmon rivers in the mother-country, has for the last seventeen years pursued his double vocation of preacher and piscator in the country and rivers adjacent to Quebec. The most useful portion of tliis not unreadable volume—on the principle of extremes meeting—lies in the earlier chapters and in the appendices. The latter, though somewhat dry for general readers, contain much curious information on the subject of salmon fishing in our North American possessions, furnished by the Rev. W. A. Adamson, D.C'.L. — apparently the Resident himself—Dr. Henry, inspectorgeneral of hospitals, and Sir James Alexander. After all, very little seems to be really known as to the sport-giving capabilities of the Canadian rivers. Out ofthirty-fi ve magnificent streams which flow into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from its northern shore, not above ten, it is said, "have ever had a fly thrown upon their unexplored waters." The

* Salmon Fishing in Canada. By a Resident. F.dited by Colonel Sir J. I'.. Alexander, Km. London: Longmans.

average weight of the fish in those rivers with which our author is most intimately acquainted runs from twelve to twenty pounds, probahly the best size for real sport. The construction of mill-dams on many of these streams has of late years diminished the supply of salmon, which can no longer find their way up for the purpose of spawning. Certain regulations, however, are now being enforced with a view to mitigate this evil, and to remove all obstructions to the abundant increase in that noble fish. Another thing that frequently drives the salmon out of a river for a whole season is the Indian practice of spearing them, for they have a marked horror of the taste and smell of blood. "There are few things," says the Resident," " about which fishermen ought to be more careful than allowing their servants to clean the fish thev have killed in the stream, or to throw their offal into it, for it is a fact well known . that the slightest tinge of blood, or the smallest portion of intestines, will alarm a whole shoal of salmon, and send them running back in terror to the sea. The servants of the Hudson's Bay Company," he continues, "are well aware of this, and at all their fishing stations you will find that the place at which they clean the fish is at some distance from the river, and that they invariably dig a hole in which they deposit scrupulously all the offal."

Although prepared for the editor's introductory remarks to expect "facetious matter " mixed up with the didactic and narrative portion of the work, we certainly did not look for "A Sermon" on the text "I go a fishing." It is nevertheless a fact that a clergyman of the Church of England has thought proper to mingle the sacred with the profane, and to place in the midst of secondrate jokes a piscatorial sermon which he delivered one Sunday on the Saguinay to a small congregation collected on board his yacht. Nor, we regret to add, is this the only instance of levity and want of due reverence which might be pointed out. As for the promised "facetious matter," there is little to raise a smile with the exception of the initial letters and the colophon to each chapter, which are really funny. On the whole, we fail to discover much literary merit in this joint production of the travelled knight and the salmonical parson, though their labors may very likely be of good service to enthusiastic anglers eager to traverse seas and continents in order to catch a fish.

« PreviousContinue »