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Rendezvous of Burgoyne's Army at St. John's. Departure for Chambly. French Canadian Houses, Farms, and People
stripped and shot their horses, set fire to the works at St. John's, pushed off from shore in a small boat, and overtook the flotilla before they reached Isle Aux Noiz. Having no vessels with which to pursue the Americans, Burgoyne rested at St. John's. In the course of the autumn he returned to England. Early in the summer of 1777 St. John's was the theater of active preparations, on the part of the British, for the memorable campaign which terminated in the capture of Burgoyne and his whole army at Saratoga. This campaign was planned chiefly by Lord George Germain, the Secretary of War, and Burgoyne, with the approval of the king and the full sanction of the Council. Burgoyne was made commander of the expedition, and arrived at Quebec on the 6th of May. Carleton gave him his cordial co-operation, and St. John's was the place of general rendezvous for all the regulars, provincials, and volunteers. On the 1st of June an army of six thousand men was collected there, and, embarking in boats, sailed up the lake to Cumberland Head, where it halted to await the arrival of ammunition and stores. These collected, the whole armament moved up the lake to the north of the Bouquet, where, as already narrated, a council was held with the Indian tribes. As the rest of the story of that campaign, so disastrous to British power in America, has been told in preceding chapters, we will return to St. John's, and pass on to Chambly. I left St. John's about eleven o'clock in a light wagon, accompanied by the young man who acted as guide among the old military remains. There is but little in the appearance of St. John's to distinguish it from a large village in the States, but the moment we emerged into the country I felt that I was in a strange land. The road traverses the line of the Chambly Canal, which runs parallel with the Richelieu or Sorel River. The farm-houses are thickly planted by the roadside; so thickly that all the way from St. John's to Chambly and Longueuil we seemed to be in a village suburb. The farms are diminutive compared with ours, averaging from fif. teen to forty acres each, and hence the great number of dwellings and out-houses. They are generally small, and built of hewn logs or stone. Most of the dwellings and out-houses are whitewashed with lime, even the roofs, which gives them a very neat appearance, and forms a beautiful contrast in the landscape to the green foliage which embowers them. I was told that each house contains a consecrated broom. When a new dwelling is erected, a broom is tabooed by the priest and hung up in the dwelling by the owner, where it remains untouched, a sort of Lares or household god. Many of them have a cross erected near, as a talisman to guard the dwelling from evil. They are generally dedicated to St. Peter, the chief patron saint of the rural French Canadians. A box, with a glass door, inclosing an image of the saint, a crucifix, or some other significant object, is placed upon or within the body of the cross, and the whole is usually surmounted by a cock. A singular choice for a crest, for it is a fowl identified with St. Peter's weakness and shame. It was in the time of hay harvest, and men, women, and children were abroad gathering the crops. As among the peasantry of Europe and the blacks of our Southern States, the women labor regularly in the fields. They are tidily habited in thin stuff of cotton or worsted, generally dyed blue, and all of domestic manufacture. Their costume is graceful, and, sitting loosely, gives full play to the muscles, and contributes to the high health which every where abounds in the rural districts of this region. Their broad-rimmed straw hats, like the Mexican sombrero, afford ample protection against the hot sun. These also are home-made, and the manufacture of them for our markets, during the long Canadian winters, affords quite a cash revenue to most of the families. These simple people are generally
LoRD GEoRae GERMAIN.
The Richelieu and its Rapids. Chambly. The Fort. Beloeil Mountain. Large Cross.
uneducated, and superstition is a strong feature in their religious character. They are honest, kind-hearted, and industrious, have few wants, live frugally, and, in their way, seem to enjoy a large share of earthly happiness. The Richelieu has either a swift current or noisy rapids nearly the whole distance between St. John's and Chambly. The stream is broad. and in many places deep, for it is the outlet for the whole volume of the waters of Lake Champlain into the St. Lawrence. In some places the foaming rapids produce a picturesque effect to the eye and ear, and vary the pleasure of the otherwise rather monotonous journey between the two villages. Chambly is an old town, at the foot of the rapids, and bears evidence of thrift. A Frenchman bearing that name built a small wood fort there, which was afterward replaced by the solid stone structure pictured on page 171. No 2 × The latter retained the name of the original *Woo fort, as also does the village. It is a military CANADIAN PEASANT GIRL. station at present, and, being at the head of the navigation of the Richelieu or Sorel from the St. Lawrence, has a commanding position. The river here, at the foot of the falls, expands into a circular basin about a mile and a half in diameter. The old fort is dismantled and ungarrisoned, and is now used only for a store-house. Near it are seen the remains of the battery erected by Bedell, while preparing to storm the fort in 1775. I tarried at Chambly long enough only to reconnoiter and sketch the old fortress and the features of the Beloeil, the only mountain range in view, and
then went to an inn to dine, a mile on the road toward Longueuil. There I learned that a French Canadian, nearly one hundred years old, was living near. Although the sun was declining, and we had seventeen miles' travel before us, I determined to visit the old man
* This sketch is taken from the southeast angle of old Fort Chambly, showing the rapids in the foreground. The mountain is twenty miles distant, near the Sorel. On the highest point of the range the Bishop of Nancy, a French prelate, erected a huge cross in 1843, the pedestal of which was sufficiently large to form a chapel capable of containing fifty persons. In November, 1847, during a severe thundergust, the lightning and wind completely demolished the cross, but spared the pedestal, and that, being white, may be seen at a great distance.
Francois Yest. His Age and Reminiscences. Temperance Pledge. Ride to Longueuil. A Caleche.
and sound his memory. We met him upon the road, coming toward the inn. He had just left his rake in the field, and had on a leather apron and broad-rimmed hat. He was a small, firmly-built man, apparently sixty-five years old. Conversation with him was difficult, for his dialect, professedly French, was far worse than Gascon. Still we managed to understand each other, and I gleaned from him, during our brief interview, the facts that he was born in Quebec in 1752; remembered the storming of the city by the English under Wolfe; removed to Chambly in 1770; was a spectator of the capture of the fort by a detachment from Montgomery's army in 1775; assisted in furnishing stores for Burgoyne's army at St. John's in 1777; and has lived upon and cultivated the same small farm of thirty acres from that time until the present. He was ninety-six years old, and appeared to have stamina sufficient for twenty years more of active life. He seemed to be a simple-hearted creature, ignorant of the world beyond the Richelieu and the adjacent village, and could not comprehend my movements while sketching his honest countenance. He was delighted, however, when he saw the outlines of an fore, and he felt insulted old man's face, and knew -- ~~ by the seeming attempt them to be his own; and to win him from his alwhen I presented him legiance. Glorious old with a silver coin, he convert, and firm old laughed like a pleased preacher of principle in child. But when the the very den of the fierce young man who accom- lion, for decanters were panied me, with intend- at his elbow, and a ed generosity, offered friendly hand proffered him a glass of brandy, the contents to his lips' his eyes sparkled with A vow of total abstiindignation, and in his mence from intoxicating bad French he uttered drinks at the age of an emphatic refusal. He - ninety-five For that had signed the temper- FRANcois YESt. I pressed the hard hand ance pledge a year be- of FRANcois YEST with a firmer grasp when I bade him adieu. We had a pleasant ride from Chambly to Longueuil (seventeen miles) over a plank road. Unlike similar roads in New York, the planks were laid diagonally. They had been in use twelve years, and were but little decayed. The country all the way to the St. Lawrence is flat. The soil, though rather wet, is productive, and almost every rood of it was under cultivation. Here and there were a few groves, but no forests; and a solitary huge bowlder by the road-side, shivered by lightning, was the only rock that I saw between the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence. When within three miles of Longueuil, the glittering domes and spires of Mont- - --- - real appeared in the distance like gems set in the -- dark mountain that formed a background beyond. A THUNDER-struck Rock. It was five o'clock when we reached Longueuil, a mile and a half below Montreal, on the opposite side of the river. There I parted from the young gentleman whose light wagon had conveyed me from St. John's, and proceeded to Montreal on the steam ferry-boat that connects it with Longueuil. Neither cab nor omnibus was in waiting, and I was obliged to ride a mile in a rickety caleche," drawn
* The caleche is a two-wheeled vehicle, much used in Lower Canada. It is similar in form to our gig, but, instead of having but one seat, there is one for the driver upon the dash-board. Four can ride comfortably in one of them. Some are made elegantly, with a folding cover to ward off the sun or rain, and they are a pleasant vehicle to ride in. I found them in universal use in the narrow streets of Quebec. Such was the vehicle in use in Canada at the time of our Revolution, and mentioned by the Baroness Reidesel as the kind in which she and her children traveled with the British army.
Ride in a Caleche. An Evening Stroll. Aurora Borealis,
Safe Arrival of my Companion.
by a representative of Rosinante. The vehicle, horse, driver, and ride altogether made a funny affair. The driver was a little Frenchman, with a jocky-coat and breeches, and a red tasseled skull-cap. All the way he belabored his beast with blows and curses, but the animal's hide and ears seemed impervious. I could think of nothing but a parody on a couplet of the old song, “If I had a donkey,” &c. As we wheeled up a narrow court from St. Paul's Street to the Exchange Hotel, a merry laugh of ~ half a furlong's audibility rang out from a group of young ladies upon an upper piazza, and that was my first evidence that my traveling companion, Miss B–, had arrived safely, as per consignment in the morning to the care of the urbane proprietors of that excellent establishment. She had rambled through the city with pleasant company until thoroughly wearied, so I took an evening stroll alone. The day had been very warm, but the evening was cool. The stars were brilliant, yet it was too dark to see much beyond the dim forms of massy buildings, wrapped in deep shadows. But above, in the far north, a phenomenon seldom exhibited in summer was gorgeously displayed; more so than we often see it in lower latitudes in winter, and I stood an hour in the Place d'Arms, watching the ever. changing beauties of the brilliant Aurora Borealis. It is a strange sight, and well might the ignorant and superstitious of other times regard it with fearful wonder. Lomonosov, a native Russian poet, thus refers to the sublime spectacle:
“What fills with dazzling beams the illumined air?
“Is there some vast, some hidden magazine,
Montreal. A Ride to the Mountain. Interesting view. Visit to the City Churches. Parliament House. Grey Nunnery
HE pleasure-seeker will find much about Montreal to amuse him; and the staid traveler, searching for the gold of general knowledge, might fill a large chapter in his journal, in recording what is noteworthy among present things there. Mine is a tour too specific in its aim to allow much latitude of departure from historic research, and, therefore, things irrelevant, yet incidentally connected with the objects of the journey, must be passed by with brief notice. Early on the morning after our arrival we joined purses and com- August 9, pany with a young married couple from Burlington, who were on a 1848. wedding jaunt, and, procuring a barouche, went out to visit the “hions” of the city and suburbs. We first rode to the “Mountain,” a lofty hill on the west, in the rear of the city, composed chiefly of a sort of compound trap-rock slightly covered with soil upon its summit, and crowned with a forest of small trees. The road, as it winds up its southern slope, passes the Priests' Farm,” the Governor's Palace, and many beautiful villas, and opens to the view a lovely, cultivated country on the western part of the island and the Isle of Jesus beyond. Near the summit of the mountain is a cottage completely enveloped in trees and shrubbery, where ices, wines, and fruit tempt the appetite. We loitered in its sweet flower-gardens for half an hour, and then ascended to the hill-top. Beautiful panorama'. The city, with its numerous polished tin roofs, lay glittering at our feet in the morning sun. The broad St. Lawrence, cleft by St. Helen's and one or two smaller islands, was teeming with water craft, and in every direction the landscape was dotted with little villages, each having its church, “pointing its taper spire to Heaven.” We descended the northern slope of the mountain to the city, and visited St. James's or the Bishop's Church, one of the largest and most richly decorated church edifices in the province. It is the cathedral of the titular Bishop of Montreal, and contains many fine European paintings over the several altars. There were worshipers at all the altars, and some of the confessionals were occupied by penitents and priests. An attendant, a devout old Frenchman, showed us a number of relics, and assured us, by a printed placard in French, that certain prayers and money-offerings at the different shrines would blot out a host of transgressions. Our Protestant education taught us that prayers without faith avail nothing; and our faith in this particular being like a “grain of mustard seed,” we saved our money and time, and hastened to the Parliament House and the Grey Nunnery near. We stepped into the capacious parish Church or Cathedral of Notre Dame on our way. It has a marble font said to be twelve hundred years old, having belonged to a church in Rome in the seventh century. We visited the Legislative chambers and the valuable library in the Parliament House,” and then rang for entrance at the gate of the GREY NUNNERY, or General Hospital of the Charitable Sisters. This, as an almoner of comforts to the aged and lonely, is a noble institution, the income of the establishment, and the whole time of the Sis
* The “Priests' Farm” (La Maison des Prêtres) is an ecclesiastical establishment situated on the south side of the “Mountain.” The buildings, inclosed within high walls, with massive round towers, are large, and have an antique appearance. They are surrounded by several fine gardens and orchards, and, in summer, are a weekly resort for the professors and pupils of the seminary and college.
* The Parliament House and the valuable library within it, containing the Legislative records of the province, were burned by a political mob in April, 1849. The loss is irreparable, for many of the books were too rare to be replaced.