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forest were frequent spaces of cleared or half-cleared land, spotted over with the black charred stumps and blasted trunks of once magnificent trees, projecting from the snow-drift. These, which are perpetually recurring objects in a Canadian landscape, have a most melancholy appear
Sometimes wide openings occurred to the left, bringing us in sight of Lake Ontario, and even in some places down upon the edge of it: in this part of the lake the enormous body of the water and its incessant movement prevent it from freezing, and the dark waves rolled in, heavily plunging on the icy shore with a sullen booming sound. A few roods from the land, the cold gray waters, and the cold, gray, snow-encumbered atmosphere, were mingled with each other, and each seemed either. The only living thing I saw in a space of about twenty miles was a magnificent bald-headed eagle, which, after sailing a few turns in advance of us, alighted on the topmost bough of a blasted pine, and slowly folding his great wide wings, looked down upon us as we glided beneath him.
“ The first village we passed through was Springfield, on the river Credit, a river of some importance in summer, but now converted into ice, heaped up with snow, and undistinguishable. Twenty miles further, we stopped at Oakville to refresh ourselves and the horses.
“ Oakville stands close upon the lake, at the mouth of a little river called Sixteen-mile Creek; it owes its existence to a gentleman of the name of Chisholm, and, from its situation and other local circumstances, bids fair to become a place of importance. In the summer it is a frequented harbour, and carries on a considerable trade in lumber, for so they characteristically call timber in this country. From its dockyards I am told that a fine steam-boat and a dozen schooners have been already launched.
“ In summer, the country round is rich and beautiful, with a number of farms all in a high state of cultivation ; but Canada in winter and in summer must be like two different regions. At present the mouth of the creek frozen up; all trade, all ship-building suspended. Oakville presents the appearance of a straggling hamlet, containing a few frame and log-houses; one brick house, (the grocery store, or general shop, which in a new Canadian village is always the best house in the place ;) a little Methodist church, painted green and white, but as yet no resident preacher; and an inn dignified by the name of the Oakville House Hotel.' Where there is a store, a tavern, and a church, habitations soon rise around them. Oakville contains at present more than three hundred inhabitants, who are now subscribing among themselves for a schoolmaster and a resident clergyman.
“I stood conversing in the porch, and looking about me, till I found it necessary to seek shelter in the house, before my nose was absolutely taken off by the ice-blast. The little parlour was solitary, and heated like an oven. Against the wall were stuck a few vile prints, taken out of old American magazines; there was the Duchess de Berri in her weddingdress, and as a pendant, the Modes de Paris— Robe de tulle garnie de fleurs-coiffure nouvelle, inventée par Mons. Plaisir.' The incongruity was but too laughable! I looked round me for some amusement or occupation, and at last spied a book open, and turned down upon its face. I pounced upon it as a prize; and what do you think it was? • Dévinez, madame! je vous le donne en trois, je vous le donne en quatre ! it was -Don Juan! And so, while looking from the window on a scene which realised all you can imagine of the desolation of savage life, mixed up with just so much of the common-place vulgarity of civilised life as sufficed to spoil it, I amused myself by reading of the Lady Adeline Amundeville and her precious coterie, and thereanent,
Society is smoothed to that excess,
Our ridicules are kept in the background,
Form'd of two mighty tribes the bores and bored.' A delineation, by the way, which might almost reconcile one to a more savage locality than that around me.
The following adventure occurred between Stony Creek (a village celebrated as the scene of the bloodiest battle fought between the English and Americans during the last blundering and deplorable war) and the town of Beamsville.
“ It was now dark, and, the snow falling thick, it soon became impossible to distinguish the sleigh-track. Mr. Campbell loosened the reins and left the horses to their own instinct, assuring me it was the safest way of proceeding. After this I remember no more distinctly, except that I ceased to hear the ever-jingling sleigh-bells. I awoke, as if from the influence of nightmare, to find the sleigh overturned, myself lying in the bottom of it half-smothered, and my companions nowhere to be seen ; --they were floundering in the snow behind.
“ Luckily, when we had stretched ourselves and shaken off the snow, we were found unhurt in life and limb. We had fallen down a bank into the bed of a rivulet, or a mill-race, I believe, which, being filled up
with snow, was quite as soft, only a little colder, than a down-bed. Frightened I was, bewildered rather, but 'effective' in a moment. It was impossible for the gentlemen to leave the horses, which were plunging furiously up to the shoulders in the snow, and had already broken the sleigh ; so I set off to seek assistance, having received proper directions. Fortunately we were not far from Beamsville. My beacon-light was to be the chimney of a forge, from which the bright sparks were streaming up into the dark wintry air, visible from a great distance. After scrambling through many a snow-drift, up hill and down hill, I at last reached the forge, where a man was hammering amain at a ploughshare; such was the din, that I called for some time unheard ; at last, as I advanced into the red light of the fire, the man's eyes fell upon me, and I shall never forget his look as he stood poising his hammer, with the most comical expression of bewildered amazement. I could not get an answer from him ; he opened his mouth and repeated aw! staring at me, but without speaking or moving. I turned away in despair, yet half laughing, and after some more scrambling up and down, I found myself in the village, and was directed to the inn. Assistance was immediately sent off to my friends, and in a few minutes the supper-table was spread, a pile of logs higher than myself blazing away in the chimney ; venison-steaks, and fried fish, coffee, hot cakes, cheese, and whisky punch, (the traveller's fare in Canada,) were soon smoking on the table; our landlady presided, and the evening passed merrily away.
“ The old landlady of this inn amused me exceedingly; she had passed all her life among her equals in station and education, and had no idea of any distinction between guests and customers; and while caressing and attending on me, like an old mother or an old nurse, gave me her history, and that of all her kith and kin. Forty years before, her husband had emigrated, and built an hovel, and made a little clearing on the edge of the lake. At that time there was no other habitation within many miles of them, and they passed several years in almost absolute solitude. They have now three farms, some hundred acres of land, and have brought up nine sons and daughters, most of whom are married, and settled on lands of their own.
She gave me a horrid picture of the prevalence of drunkenness, the vice and the curse of this country.”
Mrs. Jameson thinks that the dearness of books and the cheapness of whisky are the great curses of all the Canadas. The scenes of inebriety she continually meets are shocking. There, she says,
“ Men learn to drink, who never drank before;
And those who always drank, now drink the more.” Government has done its best to encourage the fatal propensity. There is a duty of thirty per cent. on books imported from the United States, and the expense on books imported from England adds at least one-third to their price ; but there is no duty on whisky. But worse than this there are hardly any schools ! Hear this, ye self-complacent legislators and perfectibilians, who boast so loudly that the schoolmaster is abroad !
But we are now within hearing of the roar of the mighty cataract.
“Well! I have seen these Cataracts of Niagara, which have thundered in my mind's ear ever since I can remember which have been my
childhood's thought, my youth's desire, since first my imagination was awakened to wonder and to wish. I have beheld them, and shall I whisper to you?-but, 0 tell it not among the Philistines !—I wish I had not! I wish they were still a thing unbeheld a thing to be imagined, hoped, and anticipated - something to live for:-the reality has displaced from my mind an illusion far more magnificent than itself-I have no words for my utter disappointment: yet I have not the presumption to suppose that all I have heard and read of Niagara is false or exaggerated--that every expression of astonishment, enthusiasm, rapture, is affectation or hyperbole. No! it must be my own fault. Terni, and some of the Swiss cataracts leaping from their mountains, have affected me a thousand times more than all the immensity of Niagara. 0 I could beat myself! and now there is no help !- the first moment, the first impression is over-is lost; though I should live a thousand years, long as Niagara itself shall roll, I can never see it again for the first time. Something is gone that cannot be restored. What has come over my soul and senses ? I am no longer Anna~I am metamorphosed—I am translated I am an ass's head, a clod, a wooden spoon, a fat weed growing, on Lethe's bank, a stock, a stone, a petrifaction,-for have I not seen Niagara, the wonder of wonders ; and felt-no words can tell what disappointment!
“But, to take things in order : we set off for the falls yesterday morning, with the intention of spending the day there, sleeping, and returning the next day to Niagara. The distance is fourteen miles, by a road winding along the banks of the Niagara river, and over the Queenston heights ;-and beautiful must this land be in summer, since even now it is beautiful. The flower garden, the trim shrubbery, the lawn, the meadow with its hedgerows, when frozen up and wrapt in snow, always give me the idea of something not only desolate but dead: Nature is the ghost of herself, and trails a spectral pall; I always feel a kind of pity_ a touch of melancholy--when at this season I have wandered among withered shrubs and buried flower-beds; but here, in the wilderness, where Nature is wholly independent of Art, she does not die, nor yet mourn; she lies down to rest on the bosom of Winter, and the aged one folds her in his robe of ermine and jewels, and rocks her with his hurri
canes, and hushes her to sleep. How still it was! how calm, how vast the glittering white waste and the dark purple forests! The sun shone out, and the sky was without a cloud ; yet we saw few people, and for many miles the hissing of our sleigh, as we flew along upon our dazzling path, and the tinkling of the sleigh-bells, were the only sounds we heard. When we were within four or five miles of the Falls, I stopped the sleigh from time to time to listen for the roar of the cataracts, but the state of the atmosphere was not favourable for the transmission of sound, and the silence was unbroken.
“Such was the deep, monotonous tranquillity, which prevailed on every side-so exquisitely pure and vestal-like the robe in which all Nature lay slumbering around us, I could scarce believe that this whole frontier district is not only remarkable for the prevalence of vice-but of dark and desperate crime.”
“My imagination had been so impressed by the vast height of the Falls, that I was constantly looking in an upward direction, when, as we came to the brow of a hill, my companion suddenly checked the horses, and exclaimed - The Falls !'
“I was not, for an instant, aware of their presence; we were yet distance, looking down upon them; and I saw at once glance a flat extensive plain ; the sun having withdrawn its beams for a moment, there was neither light, nor shade, nor colour. In the midst were seen the two great cataracts, but merely as a feature in the wide landscape. The sound was by no means overpowering, and the clouds of spray, which Fanny Butler called so beautifully the everlasting incense of the waters, now condensed ere they rose by the excessive cold, fell round the base of the cataracts in fleecy folds, just concealing that furious embrace of the waters above and the waters below. All the associations which in ima. gination I had gathered round the scene, its appalling terrors, its soulsubduing beauty, power and height, and velocity and immensity, were all diminished in effect, or wholly lost."
was quite silent-my very soul sank within me. On seeing my disappointment (written, I suppose, most legibly in my countenance) my companion began to comfort me, by telling me of all those who had been disappointed on the first view of Niagara, and had confessed it. I did confess; but I was not to be comforted. We held on our way to the Clifton hotel, at the foot of the hill; most desolate it looked with its summer verandahs and open balconies cumbered up with snow, and hung round with icicles—its forlorn, empty rooms, broken windows, and dusty dinner tables. The poor people who kept the house in winter had gathered themselves for warmth and comfort into a little kitchen, and when we made our appearance, stared at us with a blank amazement, which showed what a rare thing was the sight of a visiter at this season.'
“We now prepared to walk to the Crescent Fall, and I bound some crampons to my feet, like those they use among the Alps, without which I could not for a moment have kept my footing on the frozen surface of the snow.
As we approached the Table Rock, the whole scene assumed a wild and wonderful magnificence; down came the dark-green waters, hurrying with them over the edge of the precipice enormous blocks of ice brought down from Lake Erie. On each side of the Falls, from the ledges and overhanging cliffs, were suspended huge icicles, some twenty, some thirty feet in length, thicker than the body of a man, and in colour of a paly green, like the glaciers of the Alps; and all the crags below, which projected from the boiling eddying waters, were encrusted, and in a manner built round with ice, which had formed into immense crystals, like basaltic columns, such as I have seen in the pictures of Staffa and
the Giant's Causeway; and every tree, and leaf, and branch, fringing the rocks and ravines, was wrought in ice. On them, and on the wooden buildings erected near the Table Rock, the spray from the cataract had accumulated and formed into the most beautiful crystals and tracery work; they looked like houses of glass, welted and moulded into regular and ornamental shapes, and hung round with a rich fringe of icy points, Wherever we stood we were on unsafe ground, for the snow, when heaped up as now to the height of three or four feet, frequently slipped in masses from the bare rock, and on its surface the spray, for ever falling, was converted into a sheet of ice, smooth, compact, and glassy, on which I could not have stood a moment without my crampons. It was very fearful, and yet I could not tear myself away, but remained on the Table Rock, even on the very edge of it, till a kind of dreamy fascination came over me; the continuous thunder, and might and movement of the lapsing waters, held all my vital spirits bound up as by a spell. Then, as at last I turned away, the descending sun broke out, and an Iris appeared below the American Fall, one extremity resting on a snow mound; and motionless there it hung in the midst of restless terrors, its beautiful but rather pale hues contrasting with the death-like colourless objects around; it reminded me of the faint ethereal smile of a dying martyr.
“We wandered about for nearly four hours, and then returned to the hotel : there my good-natured escort from Toronto, Mr. Campbell, was waiting to conduct us to his house, which is finely situated on an eminence not far from the great cataract. We did not know, till we arrived there, that the young and lovely wife of our host had been confined only the day before. This event had been concealed from us, lest we should have some scruples about accepting hospitality under such circunstances ; and, in truth, I did feel at first a little uncomfortable, and rather de trop ; but the genuine kindness of our reception soon overcame all scruples : we were made welcome, and soon felt ourselves so; and, for my own part, I have always sympathies ready for such occasions, and shared very honestly i nthe grateful joy of these kind people. After dinner I went up into the room of the invalid a little nest of warmth and comfort; and though the roar of the neighbouring cataract shook the house as with a universal tremor, it did not quite overpower the soft voice of the weak but happy mother, nor even the feeble wail of the new-born baby, as I took it in my arms with a whispered blessing, and it fell asleep in my lap. Poor little thing it was an awful sort of lullaby, that ceaseless thunder of the mighty waters ever at hand, yet no one but myself seemed to heed, or even to hear it ; such is the force of custom, and the power of adaptation even in our most delicate organs.”
But far more adventurous than this winter journey to Niagara, and in
every way more novel and interesting, is a journey which Mrs. Jameson made at a later period to Lake Huron and the Sault Ste. Marie, or the Falls of St. Mary, in the course of which she sojourned among the wild Indian tribes, à solitary wanderer, with scarcely any other protection than her own good sense and good-nature. This part of her work is very exciting—it is like a chapter out of the book of some old traveller !
From Detroit, where she suffered severely in health, Mrs. Jameson proceeded in a magnificent United States steamer to the lovely and Ionely little island of Mackinaw, on Lake Huron, a place which she has painted in such charming colours, and made interesting by so many little incidents, that we are quite certain we shall dream of it in our pleasantest dreams. Here she was amongst the natives, and besides herself there were only some dozen of civilised beings on the island.