List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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republic--wait patiently, loyally, lovingly, upon the illustrious
parent from whom you sprang, and by whom you have been fostered
into life and political importance; in the fulness of time she will
proclaim your childhood past, and bid you stand up in your own
strength, a free Canadian people!

British mothers of Canadian sons!--learn to feel for their country
the same enthusiasm which fills your hearts when thinking of the
glory of your own. Teach them to love Canada--to look upon her as
the first, the happiest, the most independent country in the world!
Exhort them to be worthy of her--to have faith in her present
prosperity, in her future greatness, and to devote all their
talents, when they themselves are men, to accomplish this noble
object. Make your children proud of the land of their birth, the
land which has given them bread--the land in which you have found
an altar and a home; do this, and you will soon cease to lament
your separation from the mother country, and the loss of those
luxuries which you could not, in honor to yourself, enjoy; you will
soon learn to love Canada as I now love it, who once viewed it with
a hatred so intense that I longed to die, that death might
effectually separate us for ever.

But, oh! beware of drawing disparaging contrasts between the colony
and its illustrious parent. All such comparisons are cruel and
unjust;--you cannot exalt the one at the expense of the other
without committing an act of treason against both.

But I have wandered away from my subject into the regions of
thought, and must again descend to common work-a-day realities.

The pleasure we experienced upon our first glance at Quebec was
greatly damped by the sad conviction that the cholera-plague raged
within her walls, while the almost ceaseless tolling of bells
proclaimed a mournful tale of woe and death. Scarcely a person
visited the vessel who was not in black, or who spoke not in tones
of subdued grief. They advised us not to go on shore if we valued
our lives, as strangers most commonly fell the first victims to
the fatal malady. This was to me a severe disappointment, who felt
an intense desire to climb to the crown of the rock, and survey
the noble landscape at my feet. I yielded at last to the wishes
of my husband, who did not himself resist the temptation in his
own person, and endeavored to content myself with the means of
enjoyment placed within my reach. My eyes were never tired of
wandering over the scene before me.

It is curious to observe how differently the objects which call
forth intense admiration in some minds will affect others. The
Scotch dragoon, Mackenzie, seeing me look long and intently at
the distant Falls of Montmorency, drily observed,--

"It may be a' vera fine; but it looks na' better to my thinken than
hanks o' white woo' hung out o're the bushes."

"Weel," cried another, "thae fa's are just bonnie; 'tis a braw
land, nae doubt; but no' just so braw as auld Scotland."

"Hout man! hauld your clavers, we shall a' be lairds here," said a
third; "and ye maun wait a muckle time before they wad think aucht
of you at hame."

I was not a little amused at the extravagant expectations
entertained by some of our steerage passengers. The sight of the
Canadian shores had changed them into persons of great consequence.
The poorest and the worst-dressed, the least-deserving and the most
repulsive in mind and morals, exhibited most disgusting traits of
self-importance. Vanity and presumption seemed to possess them
altogether. They talked loudly of the rank and wealth of their
connexions at home, and lamented the great sacrifices they had made
in order to join brothers and cousins who had foolishly settled in
this beggarly wooden country.

Girls, who were scarcely able to wash a floor decently, talked of
service with contempt, unless tempted to change their resolution by
the offer of twelve dollars a month. To endeavour to undeceive them
was a useless and ungracious task. After having tried it with
several without success, I left it to time and bitter experience to
restore them to their sober senses. In spite of the remonstrances
of the captain, and the dread of the cholera, they all rushed on
shore to inspect the land of Goshen, and to endeavour to realise
their absurd anticipations.

We were favoured, a few minutes after our arrival, with another
visit from the health-officers; but in this instance both the
gentlemen were Canadians. Grave, melancholy-looking men, who
talked much and ominously of the prevailing disorder, and the
impossibility of strangers escaping from its fearful ravages.
This was not very consoling, and served to depress the cheerful
tone of mind which, after all, is one of the best antidotes
against this awful scourge. The cabin seemed to lighten, and
the air to circulate more freely, after the departure of these
professional ravens. The captain, as if by instinct, took an
additional glass of grog, to shake off the sepulchral gloom
their presence had inspired.

The visit of the doctors was followed by that of two of the
officials of the Customs--vulgar, illiterate men, who, seating
themselves at the cabin table, with a familiar nod to the captain,
and a blank stare at us, commenced the following dialogue:--

Custom-house officer (after making inquiries as to the general
cargo of the vessel): "Any good brandy on board, captain?"

Captain (gruffly): "Yes."

Officer: "Best remedy for the cholera known. The only one the
doctors can depend upon."

Captain (taking the hint): "Gentlemen, I'll send you up a dozen
bottles this afternoon."

Officer: "Oh, thank you. We are sure to get it genuine from you.
Any Edinburgh ale in your freight?"

Captain (with a slight shrug): "A few hundreds in cases. I'll send
you a dozen with the brandy."

Both: "Capital!"

First officer: "Any short, large-bowled, Scotch pipes, with metallic

Captain (quite impatiently): "Yes, yes; I'll send you some to smoke,
with the brandy. What else?"

Officer: "We will now proceed to business."

My readers would have laughed, as I did, could they have seen how
doggedly the old man shook his fist after these worthies as they
left the vessel. "Scoundrels!" he muttered to himself; and then
turning to me, "They rob us in this barefaced manner, and we dare
not resist or complain, for fear of the trouble they can put us to.
If I had those villains at sea, I'd give them a taste of brandy and
ale that they would not relish."

The day wore away, and the lengthened shadows of the mountains fell
upon the waters, when the Horsley Hill, a large three-masted vessel
from Waterford, that we had left at the quarantine station, cast
anchor a little above us. She was quickly boarded by the
health-officers, and ordered round to take up her station below the
castle. To accomplish this object she had to heave her anchor; when
lo! a great pine-tree, which had been sunk in the river, became
entangled in the chains. Uproarious was the mirth to which the
incident gave rise among the crowds that thronged the decks of
the many vessels then at anchor in the river. Speaking-trumpets
resounded on every side; and my readers may be assured that the
sea-serpent was not forgotten in the multitude of jokes which

Laughter resounded on all sides; and in the midst of the noise
and confusion, the captain of the Horsley Hill hoisted his
colours downwards, as if making signals of distress, a mistake
which provoked renewed and long-continued mirth.

I laughed until my sides ached; little thinking how the Horsley
Hill would pay us off for our mistimed hilarity.

Towards night, most of the steerage passengers returned, greatly
dissatisfied with their first visit to the city, which they
declared to be a filthy hole, that looked a great deal better from
the ship's side than it did on shore. This, I have often been told,
is literally the case. Here, as elsewhere, man has marred the
magnificent creation of his Maker.

A dark and starless night closed in, accompanied by cold winds and
drizzling rain. We seemed to have made a sudden leap from the
torrid to the frigid zone. Two hours before, my light summer
clothing was almost insupportable, and now a heavy and well-lined
plaid formed but an inefficient screen from the inclemency of the
weather. After watching for some time the singular effect produced
by the lights in the town reflected in the water, and weary with a
long day of anticipation and excitement, I made up my mind to leave
the deck and retire to rest. I had just settled down my baby in her
berth, when the vessel struck, with a sudden crash that sent a
shiver through her whole frame. Alarmed, but not aware of the real
danger that hung over us, I groped my way to the cabin, and thence
ascended to the deck.

Here a scene of confusion prevailed that baffles description. By
some strange fatality, the Horsley Hill had changed her position,
and run foul of us in the dark. The Anne was a small brig, and her
unlucky neighbour a heavy three-masted vessel, with three hundred
Irish emigrants on board; and as her bowspirit was directly across
the bows of the Anne, and she anchored, and unable to free herself
from the deadly embrace, there was no small danger of the poor brig
going down in the unequal struggle.

Unable to comprehend what was going on, I raised my head above my
companion ladder, just at the critical moment when the vessels were
grappled together. The shrieks of the women, the shouts and oaths
of the men, and the barking of the dogs in either ship, aided the
dense darkness of the night in producing a most awful and stunning

"What is the matter?" I gasped out. "What is the reason of this
dreadful confusion?"

The captain was raging like a chafed bull, in the grasp of several
frantic women, who were clinging, shrieking, to his knees.

With great difficulty I persuaded the women to accompany me below.
The mate hurried off with the cabin light upon the deck, and we
were left in total darkness to await the result.

A deep, strange silence fell upon my heart. It was not exactly
fear, but a sort of nerving of my spirit to meet the worst. The
cowardly behaviour of my companions inspired me with courage.
I was ashamed of their pusillanimity and want of faith in the
Divine Providence. I sat down, and calmly begged them to follow
my example.

An old woman, called Williamson, a sad reprobate, in attempting
to do so, set her foot within the fender, which the captain had
converted into a repository for empty glass bottles; the smash
that ensued was echoed by a shriek from the whole party.

"God guide us," cried the ancient dame; "but we are going into
eternity. I shall be lost; my sins are more in number than the
hairs of my head." This confession was followed by oaths and
imprecations too blasphemous to repeat.

Shocked and disgusted at her profanity, I bade her pray, and not
waste the few moments that might be hers in using oaths and bad

"Did you not hear the crash?" said she.

"I did; it was of your own making. Sit down and be quiet."

Here followed another shock, that made the vessel heave and
tremble; and the dragging of the anchor increased the uneasy
motion which began to fill the boldest of us with alarm.

"Mrs. Moodie, we are lost," said Margaret Williamson, the youngest
daughter of the old woman, a pretty girl, who had been the belle
of the ship, flinging herself on her knees before me, and grasping
both my hands in hers. "Oh, pray for me! pray for me! I cannot,
I dare not, pray for myself; I was never taught a prayer." Her
voice was choked with convulsive sobs, and scalding tears fell in
torrents from her eyes over my hands. I never witnessed such an
agony of despair. Before I could say one word to comfort her,
another shock seemed to lift the vessel upwards. I felt my own
blood run cold, expecting instantly to go down; and thoughts of
death, and the unknown eternity at our feet, flitted vaguely
through my mind.

"If we stay here, we shall perish," cried the girl, springing to
her feet. "Let us go on deck, mother, and take our chance with the

"Stay," I said; "you are safer here. British sailors never leave
women to perish. You have fathers, husbands, brothers on board, who
will not forget you. I beseech you to remain patiently here until
the danger is past." I might as well have preached to the winds.
The headstrong creatures would no longer be controlled. They rushed
simultaneously upon deck, just as the Horsley Hill swung off,
carrying with her part of the outer frame of our deck and the
larger portion of our stern. When tranquillity was restored,
fatigued both in mind and body, I sunk into a profound sleep, and
did not awake until the sun had risen high above the wave-encircled
fortress of Quebec.

The stormy clouds had all dispersed during the night; the air was
clear and balmy; the giant hills were robed in a blue, soft mist,
which rolled around them in fleecy volumes. As the beams of the sun
penetrated their shadowy folds, they gradually drew up like a
curtain, and dissolved like wreaths of smoke into the clear air.

The moment I came on deck, my old friend Oscar greeted me with his
usual joyous bark, and with the sagacity peculiar to his species,
proceeded to shew me all the damage done to the vessel during the
night. It was laughable to watch the motions of the poor brute, as
he ran from place to place, stopping before, or jumping upon, every
fractured portion of the deck, and barking out his indignation at
the ruinous condition in which he found his marine home. Oscar had
made eleven voyages in the Anne, and had twice saved the life of
the captain. He was an ugly specimen of the Scotch terrier, and
greatly resembled a bundle of old rope-yarn; but a more faithful or
attached creature I never saw. The captain was not a little jealous
of Oscar's friendship for me. I was the only person the dog had
ever deigned to notice, and his master regarded it as an act of
treason on the part of his four-footed favourite. When my arms were
tired with nursing, I had only to lay my baby on my cloak on deck,
and tell Oscar to watch her, and the good dog would lie down by
her, and suffer her to tangle his long curls in her little hands,
and pull his tail and ears in the most approved baby fashion,
without offering the least opposition; but if any one dared to
approach his charge, he was alive on the instant, placing his paws
over the child, and growling furiously. He would have been a bold
man who had approached the child to do her injury. Oscar was the
best plaything, and as sure a protector, as Katie had.

During the day, many of our passengers took their departure; tired
of the close confinement of the ship, and the long voyage, they
were too impatient to remain on board until we reached Montreal.
The mechanics obtained instant employment, and the girls who were
old enough to work, procured situations as servants in the city.
Before night, our numbers were greatly reduced. The old dragoon and
his family, two Scotch fiddlers of the name of Duncan, a Highlander
called Tam Grant, and his wife and little son, and our own party,

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