« EdellinenJatka »
half-past five, innumerable large spires of smoke, issuing from different parts of the woods, and illuminated by flames, that seemed to pierce them, mounted to the sky:
A heavy and suffocating canopy, extending to the utmost verge of observation, and appearing more terrific by the vivid flashes and blazes that darted irregularly through it, now hung over Newcastle and Douglas in threatening suspension, while showers of flaming brands, calcined leaves, ashes, and cinders, seemed to scream through the growling noise that prevailed in the woods. About nine o'clock, or shortly after, a succession of loud and appalling roars thundered through the forests. Peal after peal, crash after crash, announced the sentence of destruction. Every succeeding shock created fresh alarm ; every clap came loaded with its own destructive energy. With greedy rapidity did the flames advance to the devoted scene of their ministry; nothing could impede their progress. They removed every obstacle by the desolation they occasioned, and several hundred miles of prostrate forests and smitten woods marked their devastating way.
The river, tortured into violence by the hurricane, foamed with rage, and Aung its boiling spray upon the land. The thunder pealed along the vault of heaven : the lightning appeared to rend the firmament. For a moment, and all was still, a deep and awful silence reigned over every thing. All nature appeared to be hushed, when suddenly a lengthened and sullen roar came booming through the forest, driving a thousand massive and devouring flames
GREAT FIRE AT MIRAMICHI.
before it. Then Newcastle, and Douglastown, and the whole northern side of the river, extending from Bartibog to the Naashwaak, a distance of more than 100 miles in length, became enveloped in an immense sheet of flame, that spread over nearly 6,000 square miles! That the stranger may form a faint idea of desolation and misery which no pen can describe, he must picture to himself a large and rapid river, thickly settled for 100 miles or more, on both sides of it. He must also fancy four thriving towns, two on each side of this river, and then reflect, that these towns and settlements were all composed of wooden houses, stores, stables, and barns ; that these barns and stables were filled with crops, -and that the arrival of the fall importations had stocked the warehouses and stores with spirits, powder, and a variety of combustible articles, as well as with the necessary supplies for the approaching winter. He must then remember that the cultivated, or settled part of the river, is but a long narrow stripe, about a quarter of a mile wide, and lying between the river and almost interminable forests, stretching along the very edge of its precincts, and all round it. Extending his conception, he will see these forests thickly expanding over more than 6,000 square miles, and absolutely parched into tinder by the protracted heat of a long summer. Let him then animate the picture by scattering countless tribes of wild animals ; hundreds of domestic ones; and even thousands of men through the interior. Having done all this he will have before him a feeble description of the extent, features, and general circumstances of the country,
which, in the course of a few hours, was suddenly enveloped in fire. A more ghastly, or a more revolting picture of human misery, cannot be well imagined. The whole district of cultivated land was shrouded in the agonizing memorials of some dreadful deforming havoc. The songs of gladness that formerly resounded through it were no longer heard, for the voice of misery had hushed them. Nothing broke upon the ear but the accents of distress; the eye saw nothing but ruin, and desolation, and death. Newcastle, yesterday a flourishing town, full of trade and spirit, and containing nearly 1,000 inhabitants, was now a heap of smoking ruins; and Douglastown, nearly one-third of its size, was reduced to the same miserable condition. Of the 260 houses and storehouses that composed the former but twelve remained; and of the seventy that comprised the latter but six were left. The confusion on board of 150 large vessels then lying in the Miramichi, and exposed to imminent danger, was terrible, —some burnt to the water's edge others burning,—and the remainder occasionally on fire. Dispersed groups of halffamished, half-naked, and houseless creatures, all more or less injured in their persons; many lamenting the loss of some property, or children, or relations and friends, were wandering through the country. Of the human bodies some were seen with their bowels protruding, others with the flesh all consumed, and the blackened skeletons smoking; some with headless trunks and severed extremities, some bodies burnt to cinders; others reduced to ashes; many bloated and swollen by suffocation, and several lying
GREAT FIRE AT MIRAMICHI.
in the last distorted position of convulsing torture. Brief and violent was their passage from life to death: and rude and melancholy was their sepulchre—"unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.” The immediate loss of life was upwards of 500 human beings ! Thousands of wild beasts, too, had perished in the woods, and from their putrescent carcases issued streams of effluvium and stench, that formed contagious domes over the dismantled settlements. Domestic animals of all kinds lay dead and dying in different parts of the country; myriads of salmon, trout, bass, and other fish, which poisoned by the alkali, formed by the ashes precipitated into the river, now lay dead or floundering and gasping on the scorched shores and beaches ; and the countless variety of wild fowl and reptiles shared a similar fate. Such was the awful conflagration at Miramichi, which elicited the prompt benevolence of very many philanthropists in the Old and New World, who subscribed 40,0001. for the relief of the survivors, wbose property, to the extent of nearly a quarter of a million, was destroyed.
PHYSICAL ASPECT-DIVISION INTO COUNTIES-RIVERS AND
CHIEF TOWNS-GEOLOGY-SOIL, CLIMATE, &c.
New Brunswick is generally composed of bold undulations, sometimes swelling into mountains, and again subdividing into vale and lowlands, covered with noble forests, and intersected by numerous rivers and lakes, affording water communications in every direction to the pleasing settlements, scattered throughout the fertile alluvial spots, termed intervales'. The greater part of the territory, namely, about 14,000,000 acres, is still in a state of nature, adorned with abundance of timber, and fine extended prairies : an idea of the country will, therefore, be better conveyed to the stranger by examining its appearance, by counties, which are in general distinctly divided by water courses, or other natural indications.
1 This term, which is frequently used in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and other colonies, is applied to land so situated, with respect to some adjacent river or stream, as to be occasionally overflowed, and thus enjoy the advantage of alluvial deposits.