List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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the little ones who were already asleep, and to warm and feed the
rest before we put them to bed.

This meeting gave me real pleasure. In their station of life, I
seldom have found a more worthy couple than this American and his
wife; and, having witnessed so many of their acts of kindness, both
to ourselves and others, I entertained for them a sincere respect
and affection, and truly rejoiced that Providence had once more led
me to the shelter of their roof.

Mr. S--- was absent, but I found little Mary--the sweet child who
used to listen with such delight to Moodie's flute--grown up into a
beautiful girl; and the baby that was, a fine child of eight years
old. The next morning was so intensely cold that my brother would
not resume the journey until past ten o'clock, and even then it was
a hazardous experiment.

We had not proceeded four miles before the horses were covered
with icicles. Our hair was frozen as white as old Time's solitary
forelock, our eyelids stiff, and every limb aching with cold.

"This will never do," said my brother, turning to me; "the children
will freeze. I never felt the cold more severe than this."

"Where can we stop?" said I; "we are miles from C---, and I see no
prospect of the weather becoming milder."

"Yes, yes; I know, by the very intensity of the cold, that a change
is at hand. We seldom have more than three very severe days running,
and this is the third. At all events, it is much warmer at night in
this country than during the day; the wind drops, and the frost is
more bearable. I know a worthy farmer who lives about a mile ahead;
he will give us house-room for a few hours; and we will resume our
journey in the evening. The moon is at full; and it will be easier
to wrap the children up, and keep them warm when they are asleep.
Shall we stop at Old Woodruff's?"

"With all my heart." My teeth were chattering with the cold, and the
children were crying over their aching fingers at the bottom of the

A few minutes' ride brought us to a large farm-house, surrounded
by commodious sheds and barns. A fine orchard opposite, and a
yard well-stocked with fat cattle and sheep, sleek geese, and
plethoric-looking swine, gave promise of a land of abundance and
comfort. My brother ran into the house to see if the owner was at
home, and presently returned, accompanied by the staunch Canadian
yeoman and his daughter, who gave us a truly hearty welcome, and
assisted in removing the children from the sleigh to the cheerful
fire, that made all bright and cozy within.

Our host was a shrewd, humorous-looking Yorkshireman. His red,
weather-beaten face, and tall, athletic figure, bent as it was
with hard labour, gave indications of great personal strength;
and a certain knowing twinkle in his small, clear grey eyes, which
had been acquired by long dealing with the world, with a quiet,
sarcastic smile that lurked round the corners of his large mouth,
gave you the idea of a man who could not easily be deceived by his
fellows; one who, though no rogue himself, was quick in detecting
the roguery of others. His manners were frank and easy, and he was
such a hospitable entertainer that you felt at home with him in a

"Well, how are you, Mr. S---?" cried the farmer, shaking my brother
heartily by the hand. "Toiling in the bush still, eh?"

"Just in the same place."

"And the wife and children?"

"Hearty. Some half-dozen have been added to the flock since you were
our way."

"So much the better--so much the better. The more the merrier,
Mr. S---; children are riches in this country."

"I know not how that may be; I find it hard to clothe and feed

"Wait till they grow up; they will be brave helps to you then. The
price of labour--the price of labour, Mr. S---, is the destruction
of the farmer."

"It does not seem to trouble you much, Woodruff," said my brother,
glancing round the well-furnished apartment.

"My son and S--- do it all," cried the old man. "Of course the
girls help in busy times, and take care of the dairy, and we hire
occasionally; but small as the sum is which is expended in wages
during seed-time and harvest, I feel it, I can tell you."

"You are married again, Woodruff?"

"No, sir," said the farmer, with a peculiar smile; "not yet;"
which seemed to imply the probability of such an event. "That tall
gal is my eldest daughter; she manages the house, and an excellent
housekeeper she is. But I cannot keep her for ever." With a knowing
wink, "Gals will think of getting married, and seldom consult the
wishes of their parents upon the subject when once they have taken
the notion into their heads. But 'tis natural, Mr. S---, it is
natural; we did just the same when we were young."

My brother looked laughingly towards the fine, handsome young woman,
as she placed upon the table hot water, whiskey, and a huge plate of
plum-cake, which did not lack a companion, stored with the finest
apples which the orchard could produce.

The young girl looked down, and blushed.

"Oh, I see how it is, Woodruff! You will soon lose your daughter.
I wonder that you have kept her so long. But who are these young
ladies?" he continued, as three girls very demurely entered the

"The two youngest are my darters, by my last wife, who, I fear, mean
soon to follow the bad example of their sister. The other LADY,"
said the old man, with a reverential air, "is a PARTICULAR friend
of my eldest darter's."

My brother laughed slily, and the old man's cheek took a deeper glow
as he stooped forward to mix the punch.

"You said that these two young ladies, Woodruff, were by your last
wife. Pray how many wives have you had?"

"Only three. It is impossible, they say in my country, to have too
much of a good thing."

"So I suppose you think," said my brother, glancing first at the old
man and then towards Miss Smith. "Three wives! You have been a
fortunate man, Woodruff, to survive them all."

"Ay, have I not, Mr. S---? But to tell you the truth, I have been
both lucky and unlucky in the wife way," and then he told us the
history of his several ventures in matrimony, with which I shall not
trouble my readers.

When he had concluded, the weather was somewhat milder, the sleigh
was ordered to the door, and we proceeded on our journey, resting
for the night at a small village about twenty miles from B---,
rejoicing that the long distance which separated us from the husband
and father was diminished to a few miles, and that, with the
blessing of Providence, we should meet on the morrow.

About noon we reached the distant town, and were met at the inn by
him whom one and all so ardently longed to see. He conducted us to a
pretty, neat cottage, which he had prepared for our reception, and
where we found old Jenny already arrived. With great pride the old
woman conducted me over the premises, and showed me the furniture
"the masther" had bought; especially recommending to my notice a
china tea-service, which she considered the most wonderful
acquisition of the whole.

"Och! who would have thought, a year ago, misthress dear, that we
should be living in a mansion like this, and ating off raal chaney?
It is but yestherday that we were hoeing praties in the field."

"Yes, Jenny, God has been very good to us, and I hope that we shall
never learn to regard with indifference the many benefits which we
have received at His hands."

Reader! it is not my intention to trouble you with the sequel of our
history. I have given you a faithful picture of a life in the
backwoods of Canada, and I leave you to draw from it your own
conclusions. To the poor, industrious working man it presents many
advantages; to the poor gentleman, none! The former works hard,
puts up with coarse, scanty fare, and submits, with a good grace,
to hardships that would kill a domesticated animal at home. Thus
he becomes independent, inasmuch as the land that he has cleared
finds him in the common necessaries of life; but it seldom, if ever,
in remote situations, accomplishes more than this. The gentleman
can neither work so hard, live so coarsely, nor endure so many
privations as his poorer but more fortunate neighbour. Unaccustomed
to manual labour, his services in the field are not of a nature to
secure for him a profitable return. The task is new to him, he knows
not how to perform it well; and, conscious of his deficiency, he
expends his little means in hiring labour, which his bush-farm
can never repay. Difficulties increase, debts grow upon him, he
struggles in vain to extricate himself, and finally sees his family
sink into hopeless ruin.

If these sketches should prove the means of deterring one family
from sinking their property, and shipwrecking all their hopes, by
going to reside in the backwoods of Canada, I shall consider myself
amply repaid for revealing the secrets of the prison-house, and feel
that I have not toiled and suffered in the wilderness in vain.



  Hail to the pride of the forest--hail
    To the maple, tall and green;
  It yields a treasure which ne'er shall fail
    While leaves on its boughs are seen.
      When the moon shines bright,
      On the wintry night,
  And silvers the frozen snow;
      And echo dwells
      On the jingling bells
  As the sleighs dart to and fro;
      Then it brightens the mirth
      Of the social hearth
  With its red and cheery glow.

  Afar, 'mid the bosky forest shades,
    It lifts its tall head on high;
  When the crimson-tinted evening fades
    From the glowing saffron sky;
      When the sun's last beams
      Light up woods and streams,
  And brighten the gloom below;
      And the deer springs by
      With his flashing eye,
  And the shy, swift-footed doe;
      And the sad winds chide
      In the branches wide,
  With a tender plaint of woe.

  The Indian leans on its rugged trunk,
    With the bow in his red right-hand,
  And mourns that his race, like a stream, has sunk
    From the glorious forest land.
      But, blythe and free,
      The maple-tree
  Still tosses to sun and air
      Its thousand arms,
      While in countless swarms
  The wild bee revels there;
      But soon not a trace
      Of the red man's race
  Shall be found in the landscape fair.

  When the snows of winter are melting fast,
    And the sap begins to rise,
  And the biting breath of the frozen blast
    Yields to the spring's soft sighs,
      Then away to the wood,
      For the maple, good,
  Shall unlock its honied store;
      And boys and girls,
      With their sunny curls,
  Bring their vessels brimming o'er
      With the luscious flood
      Of the brave tree's blood,
  Into cauldrons deep to pour.

  The blaze from the sugar-bush gleams red;
    Far down in the forest dark,
  A ruddy glow on the trees is shed,
    That lights up their rugged bark;
      And with merry shout,
      The busy rout
  Watch the sap as it bubbles high;
      And they talk of the cheer
      Of the coming year,
  And the jest and the song pass by;
      And brave tales of old
      Round the fire are told,
  That kindle youth's beaming eye.

  Hurrah! For the sturdy maple-tree!
    Long may its green branch wave;
  In native strength sublime and free,
    Meet emblem for the brave.
      May the nation's peace
      With its growth increase,
  And its worth be widely spread;
      For it lifts not in vain
      To the sun and rain
  Its tall, majestic head.
      May it grace our soil,
      And reward our toil,
  Till the nation's heart is dead.



The preceding sketches of Canadian life, as the reader may well
suppose, are necessarily tinctured with somewhat somber hues,
imparted by the difficulties and privations with which, for so many
years the writer had to struggle; but we should be sorry should
these truthful pictures of scenes and characters, observed fifteen
or twenty years ago, have the effect of conveying erroneous
impressions of the present state of a country, which is manifestly
destined, at no remote period, to be one of the most prosperous in
the world. Had we merely desired to please the imagination of our
readers, it would have been easy to have painted the country and the
people rather as we could have wished them to be, than as they
actually were, at the period to which our description refers; and,
probably, what is thus lost in truthfulness, it would have gained
in popularity with that class of readers who peruse books more for
amusement than instruction.

When I say that Canada is destined to be one of the most prosperous
countries in the world, let it not be supposed that I am influenced
by any unreasonable partiality for the land of my adoption. Canada
may not possess mines of gold or silver, but she possesses all those
advantages of climate, geological structure, and position, which are
essential to greatness and prosperity. Her long and severe winter,
so disheartening to her first settlers, lays up, amidst the forests
of the West, inexhaustible supplies of fertilising moisture for the
summer, while it affords the farmer the very best of natural roads
to enable him to carry his wheat and other produce to market. It is
a remarkable fact, that hardly a lot of land containing two hundred
acres, in British America, can be found without an abundant supply
of water at all seasons of the year; and a very small proportion
of the land itself is naturally unfit for cultivation. To crown
the whole, where can a country be pointed out which possesses such
an extent of internal navigation? A chain of river navigation and
navigable inland seas, which, with the canals recently constructed,
gives to the countries bordering on them all the advantages of an
extended sea-coast, with a greatly diminished risk of loss from

Little did the modern discoverers of America dream, when they called
this country "Canada," from the exclamation of one of the exploring
party, "Aca nada,"--"there is nothing here," as the story goes, that
Canada would far outstrip those lands of gold and silver, in which
their imaginations revelled, in that real wealth of which gold
and silver are but the portable representatives. The interminable
forests--that most gloomy and forbidding feature in its scenery to
the European stranger, should have been regarded as the most certain
proof of its fertility.

The severity of the climate, and the incessant toil of clearing the
land to enable the first settlers to procure the mere necessaries of
life, have formed in its present inhabitants an indomitable energy
of character, which, whatever may be their faults, must be regarded
as a distinguishing attribute of the Canadians, in common with our
neighbours of the United States. When we consider the progress of
the Northern races of mankind, it cannot be denied, that while the
struggles of the hardy races of the North with their severe climate,
and their forests, have gradually endowed them with an unconquerable
energy of character, which has enabled them to become the masters of
the world; the inhabitants of more favoured climates, where the

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