List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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ears, and his friend came down stairs to the verandah, and gave them
the sum they required. They did not expect that the old man would
have been so liberal, and they gave him the 'Hip, hip, hip hurrah!'
in fine style, and marched off the finish the night and spend the
money at the tavern."

"And do people allow themselves to be bullied out of their property
by such ruffians?"

"Ah, my dear! 'tis the custom of the country, and 'tis not so easy
to put it down. But I can tell you that a charivari is not always a

"There was another affair that happened, just before you came to the
place, that occasioned no small talk in the neighbourhood; and well
it might, for it was a most disgraceful piece of business, and
attended with very serious consequences. Some of the charivari party
had to fly, or they might have ended their days in the penitentiary.

"There was runaway nigger from the States came to the village, and
set up a barber's poll, and settled among us. I am no friend to the
blacks; but really Tom Smith was such a quiet, good-natured fellow,
and so civil and obliging, that he soon got a good business. He was
clever, too, and cleaned old clothes until they looked almost as
good as new. Well, after a time he persuaded a white girl to marry
him. She was not a bad-looking Irish woman, and I can't think what
bewitched the creature to take him.

"Her marriage with the black man created a great sensation in the
town. All the young fellows were indignant at his presumption and
her folly, and they determined to give them the charivari in fine
style, and punish them both for the insult they had put upon the

"Some of the young gentlemen in the town joined in the frolic. They
went so far as to enter the house, drag the poor nigger from his
bed, and in spite of his shrieks for mercy, they hurried him out
into the cold air--for it was winter--and almost naked as he was,
rode him upon a rail, and so ill-treated him that he died under
their hands.

"They left the body, when they found what had happened, and fled.
The ringleaders escaped across the lake to the other side; and those
who remained could not be sufficiently identified to bring them to
trial. The affair was hushed up; but it gave great uneasiness to
several respectable families whose sons were in the scrape."

"Good heavens! are such things permitted in a Christian country?
But scenes like these must be of rare occurrence?"

"They are more common than you imagine. A man was killed up at W---
the other day, and two others dangerously wounded, at a charivari.
The bridegroom was a man in middle life, a desperately resolute and
passionate man, and he swore that if such riff-raff dared to
interfere with him, he would shoot at them with as little
compunction as he would at so many crows. His threats only increased
the mischievous determination of the mob to torment him; and when he
refused to admit their deputation, or even to give them a portion of
the wedding cheer, they determined to frighten him into compliance
by firing several guns, loaded with peas, at his door. Their salute
was returned from the chamber windows, by the discharge of a
double-barrelled gun, loaded with buck-shot. The crowd gave back
with a tremendous yell. Their leader was shot through the heart, and
two of the foremost in the scuffle dangerously wounded. They vowed
they would set fire to the house, but the bridegroom boldly stepped
to the window, and told them to try it, and before they could light
a torch he would fire among them again, as his gun was reloaded, and
he would discharge it at them as long as one of them dared to remain
on his premises.

"They cleared off; but though Mr. A--- was not punished for the
ACCIDENT, as it was called, he became a marked man, and lately
left the colony, to settle in the United States.

"Why, Mrs. Moodie, you look quite serious. I can, however, tell you
a less dismal tale, A charivari would seldom be attended with bad
consequences if people would take it as a joke, and join in the

"A very dignified proceeding, for a bride and bridegroom to make
themselves the laughing-stock of such people!"

"Oh, but custom reconciles us to everything; and 'tis better to give
up a little of our pride than endanger the lives of our
fellow-creatures. I have been told a story of a lady in the Lower
Province, who took for her second husband a young fellow, who, as
far as his age was concerned, might have been her son. The mob
surrounded her house at night, carrying her effigy in an open
coffin, supported by six young lads, with white favours in their
hats; and they buried the poor bride, amid shouts of laughter, and
the usual accompaniments, just opposite her drawing-room windows.
The widow was highly amused by the whole of their proceedings, but
she wisely let them have their own way. She lived in a strong stone
house, and she barred the doors, and closed the iron shutters, and
set them at defiance.

"'As long as she enjoyed her health,' she said, 'they were welcome
to bury her in effigy as often as they pleased; she was really glad
to be able to afford amusement to so many people.'

"Night after night, during the whole of that winter, the same party
beset her house with their diabolical music; but she only laughed at

"The leader of the mob was a young lawyer from these parts, a sad,
mischievous fellow; the widow became aware of this, and she invited
him one evening to take tea with a small party at her house. He
accepted the invitation, was charmed with her hearty and hospitable
welcome, and soon found himself quite at home; but only think how
ashamed he must have felt, when the same 'larum commenced, at the
usual hour, in front of the lady's house!

"'Oh,' said Mrs. R---, smiling to her husband, 'here come our
friends. Really, Mr. K---, they amuse us so much of an evening that
I should feel quite dull without them.'

"From that hour the charivari ceased, and the old lady was left to
enjoy the society of her young husband in quiet.

"I assure you, Mrs. M---, that the charivari often deters old people
from making disgraceful marriages, so that it is not wholly without
its use."

A few days after the charivari affair, Mrs. D--- stepped in to see
me. She was an American; a very respectable old lady, who resided
in a handsome frame-house on the main road. I was at dinner, the
servant-girl, in the meanwhile, nursing my child at a distance.
Mrs. D--- sat looking at me very seriously until I concluded my
meal, her dinner having been accomplished several hours before.
When I had finished, the girl give me the child, and then removed
the dinner-service into an outer room.

"You don't eat with your helps," said my visitor. "Is not that
something like pride?"

"It is custom," said I; "we were not used to do so at home, and I
think that keeping a separate table is more comfortable for both

"Are you not both of the same flesh and blood? The rich and the poor
meet together, and the Lord is the maker of them all."

"True. Your quotation is just, and I assent to it with all my heart.
There is no difference in the flesh and blood; but education makes a
difference in the mind and manners, and, till these can assimilate,
it is better to keep them apart."

"Ah! you are not a good Christian, Mrs. Moodie. The Lord thought
more of the poor than he did of the rich, and he obtained more
followers from among them. Now, WE always take our meals with
our people."

Presently after, while talking over the affairs of our households,
I happened to say that the cow we had bought of Mollineux had turned
out extremely well, and gave a great deal of milk.

"That man lived with us several years," she said; "he was an
excellent servant, and D--- paid him his wages in land. The farm he
now occupies formed a part of our U.E. grant. But, for all his good
conduct, I never could abide him, for being a BLACK."

"Indeed! Is he not the same flesh and blood as the rest?"

The colour rose into Mrs. D---'s sallow face, and she answered with
much warmth--

"What! do you mean to compare ME with a NIGGER!"

"Not exactly. But, after all, the colour makes the only difference
between him and uneducated men of the same class."

"Mrs. Moodie!" she exclaimed, holding up her hands in pious horror;
"they are the children of the devil! God never condescended to make
a nigger."

"Such an idea is an impeachment of the power and majesty of the
Almighty. How can you believe such an ignorant fable?"

"Well, then," said my monitress, in high dudgeon, "if the devil did
not make them, they are descended from Cain."

"But all Cain's posterity perished in the flood."

My visitor was puzzled.

"The African race, it is generally believed, are the descendants of
Ham, and to many of their tribes the curse pronounced against him
seems to cling. To be the servant of servants is bad enough, without
our making their condition worse by our cruel persecutions. Christ
came to seek and to save that which was lost; and in proof of this
inestimable promise, he did not reject the Ethiopian eunuch who was
baptised by Philip, and who was, doubtless, as black as the rest of
his people. Do you not admit Mollineux to your table with your other

"Mercy sake! do you think that I would sit down at the same table
with a nigger? My helps would leave the house if I dared to put such
an affront upon them. Sit down with a dirty black, indeed!"

"Do you think, Mrs. D---, that there will be any negroes in heaven?"

"Certainly not, or I, for one, would never wish to go there;" and
out of the house she sallied in high disdain.

Yet this was the woman who had given me such a plausible lecture
on pride. Alas, for our fallen nature! Which is more subversive of
peace and Christian fellowship--ignorance of our own characters,
or the characters of others?

Our departure for the woods became now a frequent theme of
conversation. My husband had just returned from an exploring
expedition to the backwoods, and was delighted with the prospect of
removing thither. The only thing I listened to in their praise, with
any degree of interest, was a lively song, which he had written
during his brief sojourn at Douro:--


  To the woods!--to the woods!--The sun shines bright,
    The smoke rises high in the clear frosty air;
  Our axes are sharp, and our hearts are light,
    Let us toil while we can and drive away care.
  Though homely our food, we are merry and strong,
    And labour is wealth, which no man can deny;
  At eve we will chase the dull hours with a song,
    And at grey peep of dawn let this be our cry,

        To the woods!--to the woods!--&c.

  Hark! how the trees crack in the keen morning blast,
    And see how the rapids are cover'd with steam;
  Thaw your axes, my lads, the sun rises fast,
    And gilds the pine tops with his bright golden beam.

        To the woods!--to the woods!--&c.

  Come, chop away, lads! the wild woods resound,
    Let your quick-falling strokes in due harmony ring;
  See, the lofty tree shivers--it falls to the ground!
    Now with voices united together we'll sing--
  To the woods!--to the woods!--The sun shines bright,
    The smoke rises high in the clear frosty air;
  Our axes are sharp, and our hearts are light,
    Let us toil while we can and drive away care,
      And drive away care.




  Well, stranger, here you are all safe and sound;
    You're now on shore. Methinks you look aghast,--
  As if you'd made some slight mistake, and found
    A land you liked not. Think not of the past;
  Your leading-strings are cut; the mystic chain
    That bound you to your fair and smiling shore
  Is sever'd now, indeed. 'Tis now in vain
    To sigh for joys that can return no more.

Emigration, however necessary as the obvious means of providing
for the increasing population of early-settled and over-peopled
countries, is indeed a very serious matter to the individual
emigrant and his family. He is thrown adrift, as it were, on a
troubled ocean, the winds and currents of which are unknown to him.
His past experience, and his judgment founded on experience, will
be useless to him in this new sphere of action. In an old country,
where generation after generation inhabits the same spot, the mental
dispositions and prejudices of our ancestors become in a manner
hereditary, and descend to their children with their possessions.
In a new colony, on the contrary, the habits and associations of
the emigrant having been broken up for ever, he is suddenly thrown
on his own internal resources, and compelled to act and decide at
once; not unfrequently under pain of misery or starvation. He is
surrounded with dangers, often without the ordinary means which
common-sense and prudence suggest of avoiding them,--because the
EXPERIENCE on which these common qualities are founded is wanting.
Separated for ever from those warm-hearted friends, who in his
native country would advise or assist him in his first efforts, and
surrounded by people who have an interest in misleading and imposing
upon him, every-day experience shows that no amount of natural
sagacity or prudence, founded on experience in other countries,
will be an effectual safeguard against deception and erroneous

It is a fact worthy of observation, that among emigrants possessing
the qualities of industry and perseverance so essential to success
in all countries, those who possess the smallest share of original
talent and imagination, and the least of a speculative turn of mind,
are usually the most successful. They follow the beaten track and
prosper. However humbling this reflection may be to human vanity,
it should operate as a salutary check on presumption and hasty
conclusions. After a residence of sixteen years in Canada, during
which my young and helpless family have been exposed to many
privations, while we toiled incessantly and continued to hope even
against hope, these reflections naturally occur to our minds, not
only as the common-sense view of the subject, but as the fruit of
long and daily-bought experience.

After all this long probation in the backwoods of Canada, I find
myself brought back in circumstances nearly to the point from
whence I started, and am compelled to admit that had I only
followed my own unassisted judgment, when I arrived with my wife
and child in Canada, and quietly settled down on the cleared farm
I had purchased, in a well-settled neighbourhood, and with the
aid of the means I then possessed, I should now in all probability
have been in easy if not in affluent circumstances.

Native Canadians, like Yankees, will make money where people from
the old country would almost starve. Their intimate knowledge of
the country, and of the circumstances of the inhabitants, enables
them to turn their money to great advantage; and I must add, that
few people from the old country, however avaricious, can bring
themselves to stoop to the unscrupulous means of acquiring property
which are too commonly resorted to in this country. These

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