Abbildungen der Seite

quently victorious, till, in an evil hour, they provoked the wrath of the pale faces; the rifle and the bayonet soon broke their spirit. Abandoning the coasts and the hunting-grounds of their fathers, they fled into the dreary forests of the interior. Sometimes, in the long winter nights, they crept out from their wild fastnesses, and visited some lonely hamlet with a terrible vengeance. The settlers, in return, hunted them down like wolves, and, in the course of years, their life of misery reduced their numbers, and weakened their frames so much, that they never ventured to appear. It was known that some few still lingered, but they were almost forgotten.

The winter of 1830 was unusually severe in this country, and prolonged beyond those of former years. Towards its close, a settler was hewing down trees at some distance from one of the remote villages, when two gaunt figures crept out from the neighboring“ bush :" with sad cries and imploring gestures, they tried to express their prayer for help. The white man, terrified by their uncouth and haggard looks, seized his gun, which lay at hand, and shot the foremost; the other tossed his lean arms wildly into the air—the woods rang with his despairing shrieks as he rushed away. Since then, none of the fallen race have been

The emaciated frame of the dead man showed how dire had been their necessity. There is no doubt that the last of the Red men perished in that bitter winter.

The blue Peter summoned us on board; the wind had suddenly become favorable, leaving but little time for farewells; but ours were not the less warm and grateful for their being hurriedly spoken. Hats and handkerchiefs waved from the shore-an an. swering cheer from the ships, and we are on our way again.

For the first day we kept within sight of land ; the character of the coast was everywhere the same: bluff headlands, deep bays, and monstrous hills covered with dwarf firs. On the fourth morning we passed close under the Bird islands, strange, hermit rocks, not more than a few acres in extent, without a shred of vegetation, standing alone in the unfathomable waters, far out of sight of land. Millions of white sea fowl circle round them, screaming overhead, or diving and splashing in the water below.

One day more and we skirt the dangerous, desolate shores of


Anticosti, rich in wrecks, accursed in human suffering. This hideous wilderness has been the grave of hundreds ; by the slowest and ghastliest deaths they died—starvation. Washed ashore from maimed and sinking ships—saved to destruction, they drag their chilled and battered limbs up the rough rocks; for a moment, warm with hope, they look around with eager, straining eyes, for shelter-and there is none; the failing sight darkens on hill and forest, forest and hill, and black despair. Hlours and days waste out the lamp of life, until at length the withered skeletons have only strength to die. These terrible and frequent disasters have at last caused steps to be taken to prevent their recurrence; there are now stations on the island, with stores of clothing and provisions, which have already preserved many lives. At Sable island, off Nova Scotia, the same system is adopted; there are also a considerable number of wild horses on the sandy hills, dwindled descendants of some shipwrecked ancestors :-in cases of emergency these stock the larder.

It was quite a relief when we found ourselves clear of this dismal neighborhood, as with fair wind and crowding sails we entered the waters of the St. LAWRENCE. From the point of Gaspé to the Labrador coast, is one hundred and twenty miles ; and through this ample channel, half the fresh water of the world has its outlet to the sea, spreading back its blue winding path for more than two thousand miles, through still reach, foaming rapid, ocean, lake, and mighty cataract, to the trackless desert of the west.

We are near the left bank ; there is no trace of man's hand, such as God made it, there it is. From the pebbly shore to the craggy mountain top-east and west, countless miles—away to the frozen north, where everlasting winter chains the sap

of life one dark forest, lone and silent from all time.

For two days more there was nothing to attract the attention but the shoals of white porpoise : we were welcomed by several ; they rolled and frolicked round the ship, rushing along very fast, stopping to look at us, passing and repassing for half an hour at a time, then going off to pay their compliments to some other strangers. The pilot came quietly on board during the night, and seemed as much at home the next day as if he had been one of the crew.

By degrees the Great River narrowed to twenty miles, and we could see the shore on both sides, with the row of white specks of houses all along the water's edge, which at length seemed to close into a continuous street. Every here and there was a church, with clusters of dwellings round it, and little silver streams, wandering through narrow strips of clearing, behind them. We got very near the shore once ; there was but little wind; we fancied it bore us the smell of new-mown hay, and the widow thought she heard church bells; but the ripple of the water, gentle as it was, treated the tender voice too roughly, and it could not reach us. Several ships were in sight; some travelling our road, wayworn and weary; others standing boldly out to meet the waves and storms we had just passed through. Row's of little many-colored fags ran up to their mizen peaks, fluttered out what they had to say, and came down again when they got their answer.

The nights were very cold; but had they been far more so, we must have lingered on deck to see the Northern Lights. They had it all to themselves, not a cloud to stop their running wild over the sky. Starting from behind the mountains, they raced up through the blue fields of heaven, and vanished : again they reappeared, where we least expected them; spreading over all space one moment, shrinking into a shivering streak the next, quicker than the tardy eye could trace.

There is a dark shade for many miles, below where the Laquerry pours its gloomy flood into the pure waters of the St. Lawrence. Two degrees to the westward lies a circular sheet of water called Lake St. John, forty miles wide, fed by numerous small rivers. Here is the birth-place of the great tributary; its

; separate existence ends at Zadousac. Its course lies from west to east, half-way through a rich country, with a comparatively mild climate, where only a few wandering Indians hunt and fish, exchanging their furs with English traders at Chicontimi. Here this rude commerce has grouped together a number of houses, round a church built by the Jesuits two centuries ago.

Great Bay is twelve miles lower down; thence to the river's mouth

the cliffs rise straight out of the water, sometimes to a thousand feet in height, in some places two or three miles apart. There is a great depth between, far greater than that of the St. Lawrence at the confluence, and large ships can go up so far. About three thousand white people are scattered about these districts; they have saw mills, and ply their laborious industry in the bush, felling the tall pine-trees.

Off the entrance to the gloomy Laquerry, lies Red Island. The shore is rocky and perilous; as we passed, the morning sun shone brightly upon it and the still waters; but when the November mists hang round, and the north-east wind sweeps up the river, many a brave ship ends her


there. To the southeast is seen a gentler sister—the Green Isle.

It would be wearisome to tell of all the woody solitudes that deck the bosom of the St. Lawrence, or of the white, cheerful settlements along its banks, some of them growing up to towns as we advance; their back-ground swelling into mountains. It is a scene of wonderful beauty, often heightened by one of the strangest, loveliest freaks of lavish nature. The mirage lists up little rocky, tufted islands, into the air, and ships, with their taper masts turned downwards, glide past them; the tops of high and distant hills sink down to the water's edge, and long streets of trim, demure-looking houses, rest their foundations in the sky.

We are now at Grosse Isle ; the pilot points out the quaran. tine station, the church, the hospital, and, in the distance, the fair and fertile island of Orleans. Bold Cape Tourment is at length past; it has wearied our sight for two days, like a long, straight road. It grows very dark, and the evening air is keen; we

below. About midnight I awoke. There was the splash and heavy rattling sound of the falling anchor; the ship swung slowly round with the tide, and was still ; we had reached QUEBEC.

I looked out of the window of my cabin ; we lay in deep shade under a high headland, which shut out half the sky. There were still a few scattered lights, far and wide over the steep shore, and among the numerous shipping around us.

Our voyage was rather a tedious one; without doubt you think so too.

must go


Quebec.-Historical sketch of Canada.

TAKE mountain and plain, sinuous river and broad, tranquil waters, stately ship and tiny boat, gentle hill and shady valley, bold headland and rich, fruitful fields, frowning battlement and cheerful villa, glittering dome and rural spire, flowery garden and sombre forest-group them all into the choicest picture of ideal beauty your fancy can create, arch it over with a cloudless sky, light it up with a radiant sun, and lest the sheen should be too dazzling, hang a veil of lighted haze over all, to soften the lines and perfect the repose-you will then have seen Quebec on this September morning.

The river St. Charles, winding through low, rich grounds, empties itself into a wide basin, closed in, to the north-east, by the island of Orleans. In the angle it makes with the St. Law. rence, is a lofty promontory ; there stands the city, walled and bastioned round. On an undulating slope, rising gradually from the margin of the smaller stream to the foot of the battlements, lie the suburbs of St. Roch and St. Vallière ; St. John's spreads up the shoulder of the height, along the land face of the defences; St. Louis is the continuation ; thence, to the river St. Lawrence, is open ground. On the highest point of the promontory, and the most advanced into the stream, is Cape Diamond, the strongest citadel in the New World. On the river side, a hundred yards of perpendicular rock forbid the foot of man; another is fenced off from the town by a massive fortifi ion and broad glacis; the third side of the grim triangle looks out upon the plains of Abraham, in a line of armed ramparts.

The lower town is built on a narrow strip of land, saved from the water, under the lofty cliffs of the promontory, stretching from the suburb of St. Roch to where the citadel overhangs.

« ZurückWeiter »