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HO CHE LAGA;
ENGLAND IN THE NEW WORLD.
About the middle of July, 1844, I found myself suddenly obliged to embark from Chatham, for Canada, on board an uncomfortable ship, a very unwilling passenger. In a middle aged man, of quite bachelor habits, such a voyage to a strange country, at a few hours' notice, was a most disagreeable necessity. I soon, however, made up my mind and my packages, and before the afternoon was much advanced, started from London.
It was dark when I arrived at Chatham, and went on board ; there was a whistling wind and a drizzling rain; the decks, between the heaps of luggage and merchandize, were wet, dirty, and slippery, reflecting dismally the light of the consumptive looking lamps, carried about by the condemned spirits of this floating purgatory. There was evidently a great number of passengers on board, of all sorts and conditions of men and women. Perched on a pile of baggage, were a number of soldiers going out to join their regiments in Canada, with their hard-favored wives, poorly and insufficiently clad: but, despite the coarse and travel-worn dress and rude appearance of these poor women, I saw during the
voyage many traits in them of good and tender feeling : the anxious care of their little ones, rearing them so fondly to their doom of poverty and toil; their kindness to each other, sharing their scanty covering and scantier meals. The wretched can feel for the wretched, the poor are rich in heart, to give.
My cabin had lately been repaired, and looked very miserable; the seams of the deck were filled with new pitch, which stuck pertinaciously to my boots. The den had evidently just been washed, and was still damp enough to charm a hydropathist; the port-hole window was open to air it. Threats, bribes, and entreaties, in course of time procured me the necessary portions of my luggage; soon after, half undressed, and wholly wretched, I crept into my berth; and, being too wise to remain awake under such very unpleasant circumstances, I in a few minutes adopted the alternative.
The crowing of an early rising cock awoke me next morning. From that time there was no hope of sleep; it seemed the signal to let Bedlam loose. Every conceivable description of clatter followed; scouring decks, lugging boxes, rattling chains, sailors swearing, and soldiers quarrelling.
It was scarcely dawn when I looked out of my little window; through the grey twilight the shadowy forms of steeples and houses by degrees became distinct and solid. The sun, not to take us by surprise with his pleasant visit, reddened up the gilt weathercock of the church spire, then reflected himself back cheerfully from the windows, and, at length, with lavish hand, spread bright young morning over the country around. In a little time a soft breeze carried away the early mist in the direction we had to travel.
The main cabin was in the same damp, uncomfortable state as our sleeping apartments; in the corners, boxes and baskets containing our sea stock were heaped up in such height and breadth as to make the strait between them and the table so narrow that there was barely room for me to squeeze my portly person through. An irregular sort of breakfast was on the table; round it were seated the greater number of the cabin passengers, all evidently examining each other with great attention, between the mouthfuls of toast and butter, setting down in their minds the