List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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by a thousand endearing pet names.

He had met with some countrymen at Quebec, had taken too much
whiskey on the joyful occasion, and lost his passage in the Anne,
but had followed, a few hours later, in another steam-boat; and he
assured the now happy Maggie, as he kissed the infant Tam, whom she
held up to his admiring gaze, that he never would be guilty of the
like again. Perhaps he kept his word; but I much fear that the
first temptation would make the lively laddie forget his promise.

Our luggage having been removed to the Custom-house, including
our bedding, the captain collected all the ship's flags for our
accommodation, of which we formed a tolerably comfortable bed;
and if our dreams were of England, could it be otherwise, with
her glorious flag wrapped around us, and our heads resting upon
the Union Jack?

In the morning we were obliged to visit the city to make the
necessary arrangements for our upward journey.

The day was intensely hot. A bank of thunderclouds lowered heavily
above the mountain, and the close, dusty streets were silent, and
nearly deserted. Here and there might be seen a group of
anxious-looking, care-worn, sickly emigrants, seated against a
wall among their packages, and sadly ruminating upon their future

The sullen toll of the death-bell, the exposure of ready-made
coffins in the undertakers' windows, and the oft-recurring notice
placarded on the walls, of funerals furnished at such and such a
place, at cheapest rate and shortest notice, painfully reminded us,
at every turning of the street, that death was everywhere--perhaps
lurking in our very path; we felt no desire to examine the beauties
of the place. With this ominous feeling pervading our minds, public
buildings possessed few attractions, and we determined to make our
stay as short as possible.

Compared with the infected city, our ship appeared an ark of
safety, and we returned to it with joy and confidence, too soon to
be destroyed. We had scarcely re-entered our cabin, when tidings
were brought to us that the cholera had made its appearance: a
brother of the captain had been attacked.

It was advisable that we should leave the vessel immediately,
before the intelligence could reach the health-officers. A few
minutes sufficed to make the necessary preparations; and in less
than half an hour we found ourselves occupying comfortable
apartments in Goodenough's hotel, and our passage taken in the
stage for the following morning.

The transition was like a dream. The change from the close, rank
ship, to large, airy, well-furnished rooms and clean attendants,
was a luxury we should have enjoyed had not the dread of cholera
involved all things around us in gloom and apprehension. No one
spoke upon the subject; and yet it was evident that it was
uppermost in the thoughts of all. Several emigrants had died of
the terrible disorder during the week, beneath the very roof that
sheltered us, and its ravages, we were told, had extended up the
country as far as Kingston; so that it was still to be the phantom
of our coming journey, if we were fortunate enough to escape from
its head-quarters.

At six o'clock the following morning, we took our places in the
coach for Lachine, and our fears of the plague greatly diminished
as we left the spires of Montreal in the distance. The journey from
Montreal westward has been so well described by many gifted pens,
that I shall say little about it. The banks of the St. Lawrence are
picturesque and beautiful, particularly in those spots where there
is a good view of the American side. The neat farm-houses looked
to me, whose eyes had been so long accustomed to the watery waste,
homes of beauty and happiness; and the splendid orchards, the trees
at that season of the year being loaded with ripening fruit of all
hues, were refreshing and delicious.

My partiality for the apples was regarded by a fellow-traveller
with a species of horror. "Touch them not, if you value your life."
Every draught of fresh air and water inspired me with renewed
health and spirits, and I disregarded the well-meant advice; the
gentlemen who gave it had just recovered from the terrible disease.
He was a middle-aged man, a farmer from the Upper Province,
Canadian born. He had visited Montreal on business for the first
time. "Well, sir," he said, in answer to some questions put to him
by my husband respecting the disease, "I can tell you what it is:
a man smitten with the cholera stares death right in the face; and
the torment he is suffering is so great that he would gladly die to
get rid of it."

"You were fortunate, C---, to escape," said a backwood settler, who
occupied the opposite seat; "many a younger man has died of it."

"Ay; but I believe I never should have taken it had it not been for
some things they gave me for supper at the hotel; oysters, they
called them, oysters; they were alive! I was once persuaded by a
friend to eat them, and I liked them well enough at the time. But I
declare to you that I felt them crawling over one another in my
stomach all night. The next morning I was seized with the cholera."

"Did you swallow them whole, C---?" said the former spokesman,
who seemed highly tickled by the evil doings of the oysters.

"To be sure. I tell you, the creatures are alive. You put them on
your tongue, and I'll be bound you'll be glad to let them slip down
as fast as you can."

"No wonder you had the cholera," said the backwoodsman, "you
deserved it for your barbarity. If I had a good plate of oysters
here, I'd teach you the way to eat them."

Our journey during the first day was performed partly by coach,
partly by steam. It was nine o'clock in the evening when we landed
at Cornwell, and took coach for Prescott. The country through which
we passed appeared beautiful in the clear light of the moon; but
the air was cold, and slightly sharpened by frost. This seemed
strange to me in the early part of September, but it is very common
in Canada. Nine passengers were closely packed into our narrow
vehicle, but the sides being of canvas, and the open space allowed
for windows unglazed, I shivered with cold, which amounted to a
state of suffering, when the day broke, and we approached the
little village of Matilda. It was unanimously voted by all hands
that we should stop and breakfast at a small inn by the road-side,
and warm ourselves before proceeding to Prescott.

The people in the tavern were not stirring, and it was some time
before an old white-headed man unclosed the door, and showed us
into a room, redolent with fumes of tobacco, and darkened by paper
blinds. I asked him if he would allow me to take my infant into a
room with a fire.

"I guess it was a pretty considerable cold night for the like of
her," said he. "Come, I'll show you to the kitchen; there's always
a fire there." I cheerfully followed, accompanied by our servant.

Our entrance was unexpected, and by no means agreeable to the
persons we found there. A half-clothed, red-haired Irish servant
was upon her knees, kindling up the fire; and a long, thin woman,
with a sharp face, and an eye like a black snake, was just emerging
from a bed in the corner. We soon discovered this apparition to be
the mistress of the house.

"The people can't come in here!" she screamed in a shrill voice,
darting daggers at the poor old man.

"Sure there's a baby, and the two women critters are perished with
cold," pleaded the good old man.

"What's that to me? They have no business in my kitchen."

"Now, Almira, do hold on. It's the coach has stopped to breakfast
with us; and you know we don't often get the chance."

All this time the fair Almira was dressing as fast as she could,
and eyeing her unwelcome female guests, as we stood shivering over
the fire.

"Breakfast!" she muttered, "what can we give them to eat? They pass
our door a thousand times without any one alighting; and now, when
we are out of everything, they must stop and order breakfast at
such an unreasonable hour. How many are there of you?" turning
fiercely to me.

"Nine," I answered, laconically, continuing to chafe the cold hands
and feet of the child.

"Nine! That bit of beef will be nothing, cut into steaks for nine.
What's to be done, Joe?" (to the old man.)

"Eggs and ham, summat of that dried venison, and pumpkin pie,"
responded the aide-de-camp, thoughtfully. "I don't know of any
other fixings."

"Bestir yourself, then, and lay out the table, for the coach can't
stay long," cried the virago, seizing a frying-pan from the wall,
and preparing it for the reception of eggs and ham. "I must have
the fire to myself. People can't come crowding here, when I have
to fix breakfast for nine; particularly when there is a good room
elsewhere provided for their accommodation." I took the hint, and
retreated to the parlour, where I found the rest of the passengers
walking to and fro, and impatiently awaiting the advent of

To do Almira justice, she prepared from her scanty materials a very
substantial breakfast in an incredibly short time, for which she
charged us a quarter of a dollar per head.

At Prescott we embarked on board a fine new steam-boat, William
IV., crowded with Irish emigrants, proceeding to Cobourg and

While pacing the deck, my husband was greatly struck by the
appearance of a middle-aged man and his wife, who sat apart from
the rest, and seemed struggling with intense grief, which, in spite
of all their efforts at concealment, was strongly impressed upon
their features. Some time after, I fell into conversation with the
woman, from whom I learned their little history. The husband was
factor to a Scotch gentleman, of large landed property, who had
employed him to visit Canada, and report the capabilities of the
country, prior to his investing a large sum of money in wild lands.
The expenses of their voyage had been paid, and everything up to
that morning had prospered them. They had been blessed with a
speedy passage, and were greatly pleased with the country and the
people; but of what avail was all this? Their only son, a fine lad
of fourteen, had died that day of the cholera, and all their hopes
for the future were buried in his grave. For his sake they had
sought a home in this far land; and here, at the very onset of
their new career, the fell disease had taken him from them for
ever--here, where, in such a crowd, the poor heart-broken mother
could not even indulge her natural grief!

"Ah, for a place where I might greet!" she said; "it would relieve
the burning weight at my heart. But with sae many strange eyes
glowering upon me, I tak' shame to mysel' to greet."

"Ah, Jeannie, my puir woman," said the husband, grasping her hand,
"ye maun bear up; 'tis God's will; an sinfu' creatures like us
mauna repine. But oh, madam," turning to me, "we have sair hearts
the day!"

Poor bereaved creatures, how deeply I commiserated their grief--how
I respected the poor father, in the stern efforts he made to
conceal from indifferent spectators the anguish that weighed upon
his mind! Tears are the best balm that can be applied to the
anguish of the heart. Religion teaches man to bear his sorrows with
becoming fortitude, but tears contribute largely both to soften and
to heal the wounds from whence they flow.

At Brockville we took in a party of ladies, which somewhat relieved
the monotony of the cabin, and I was amused by listening to their
lively prattle, and the little gossip with which they strove to
wile away the tedium of the voyage. The day was too stormy to go
upon deck--thunder and lightening, accompanied with torrents of
rain. Amid the confusion of the elements, I tried to get a peep at
the Lake of the Thousand Isles; but the driving storm blended all
objects into one, and I returned wet and disappointed to my berth.
We passed Kingston at midnight, and lost all our lady passengers
but two. The gale continued until daybreak, and noise and confusion
prevailed all night, which were greatly increased by the uproarious
conduct of a wild Irish emigrant, who thought fit to make his bed
upon the mat before the cabin door. He sang, he shouted, and
harangued his countrymen on the political state of the Emerald
Isle, in a style which was loud if not eloquent. Sleep was
impossible, whilst his stentorian lungs continued to pour forth
torrents of unmeaning sound.

Our Dutch stewardess was highly enraged. His conduct, she said,
"was perfectly ondacent." She opened the door, and bestowing upon
him several kicks, bade him get away "out of that," or she would
complain to the captain.

In answer to this remonstrance, he caught her by the foot, and
pulled her down. Then waving the tattered remains of his straw hat
in the air, he shouted with an air of triumph, "Git out wid you,
you ould witch! Shure the ladies, the purty darlints, never sent
you wid that ugly message to Pat, who loves them so intirely that
he manes to kape watch over them through the blessed night." Then
making us a ludicrous bow, he continued, "Ladies, I'm at yer
sarvice; I only wish I could get a dispensation from the Pope,
and I'd marry yeas all." The stewardess bolted the door, and the
mad fellow kept up such a racket that we all wished him at the
bottom of the Ontario.

The following day was wet and gloomy. The storm had protracted the
length of our voyage for several hours, and it was midnight when we
landed at Cobourg.


(Written at midnight on the river St. Lawrence)

  There's rest when eve, with dewy fingers,
    Draws the curtains of repose
  Round the west, where light still lingers,
    And the day's last glory glows;
  There's rest in heaven's unclouded blue,
    When twinkling stars steal one by one,
  So softly on the gazer's view,
    As if they sought his glance to shun.

  There's rest when o'er the silent meads
    The deepening shades of night advance;
  And sighing through their fringe of reeds,
    The mighty stream's clear waters glance.
  There's rest when all above is bright,
    And gently o'er these summer isles
  The full moon pours her mellow light,
    And heaven on earth serenely smiles.

  There's rest when angry storms are o'er,
    And fear no longer vigil keeps;
  When winds are heard to rave no more,
    And ocean's troubled spirit sleeps;
  There's rest when to the pebbly strand,
    The lapsing billows slowly glide;
  And, pillow'd on the golden sand,
    Breathes soft and low the slumbering tide.

  There's rest, deep rest, at this still hour--
    A holy calm,--a pause profound;
  Whose soothing spell and dreamy power
    Lulls into slumber all around.
  There's rest for labour's hardy child,
    For Nature's tribes of earth and air,--
  Whose sacred balm and influence mild,
    Save guilt and sorrow, all may share.

  There's rest beneath the quiet sod,
    When life and all its sorrows cease,
  And in the bosom of his God
    The Christian finds eternal peace,--
  That peace the world cannot bestow,
    The rest a Saviour's death-pangs bought,
  To bid the weary pilgrim know
    A rest surpassing human thought.

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