Sivut kuvina

qualities that (hey affect him; their character is one of simple grandeur; you stand upon their brink, or traverse their bosom, or gaze upon their rolling rapids and tumblingtataracts, and acknowledge at once their power and immensity, and your own insignificance and imbecility. Occasionally you meet with exceptions to this rule. I recall at this moment the beautiful shores of the Passaic; its graceful cascades, its walls of rock, shelving into a glassy peaceful flood, its wooded hills, and rich and varied landscapes, all spread beneath a sky of glowing sapphires; a scene for Claude to gaze upon. These north-western waters, however, have nothing of this character; you find them bedded in vast level plains, bordered only by sable forests, from which the stroke of the axe has but just startled the panther and the savage.

Settlements are fast springing up on the forested shores of Lake Erie. The situation is wonderfully advantageous to the farmer. I have already spoken of the canal, so far in progress, which is" about to open a free water-carriage from these waters to the Eastern Atlantic. Another, of only a few miles extent, is in contemplation, which, by connecting them with the Alleghany, one of the main sources of the Ohio, will perfect the line of communication with the gulf of Mexico, an extent of 3,000 miles.

It is impossible to consider without admiration the inland navigation of this magnificent country. From this fine baisin, north and west, you open into lakes and rivers which, not many years hence, will pour into it the produce of human labour from states now in embryo; to the north-east, these accumulated waters seek their way to the Atlantic, through the broad channel of the St. Lawrence; to the south-east, they are about to communicate with the same ocean by the magnificent Hudson: to the south and west, stretch the vast waters of the Mississippi with his million of tributaries. There is something unspeakably sublime in the vast extent of earthly domain that here opens to the mind's eye; and truly sublime is its contemplation, when we consider the life and energy with which it is fast teeming. An industrious and enlightened people, laying in the wilderness the foundations of commonwealth after commonwealth, based on justiceandtheimmutablerightsofman!

What heart so cold as to contemplate this unmoved'.


The village of Albion, the centre of the settlement, contains at present thirty habitations, in which are found a bricklayer, a carpenter, a wheelwright, a cooper, and a blacksmith; a wellsupplied shop, a little library, an innT a chapel, and a post-office, where the mail regularly arrives twice a week. Being situated on a ridge, between tbe greater and little Wabash, it is, from its elevated position, and from its being some miles removed from the rivers, peculiarly dry and healthy. The prairie in which it stands, is described as exquisitely beautiful; lawns of unchanging verdure, spreading over bills and dales, scattered with islands of luxuriant trees, dropped by the band of nature with a taste that art could not rival—all this spread beneath a sky of glowing and unspotted sapphires. "Tbe most beautiful parks of England," my friend observes, ''would afford a most imperfect comparison." The 3oil is abundantly fruitful, and, of course, has an advantage over the heavy-timbered lands, which can scarcely be cleared for less than from twelve to fifteen dollars per acre; while the Illinois farmer may in general clear his for less than five, and then enter upon a much more convenient mode of tillage.


1 was surprised to find much discontent prevailing among the poorer settlers in Upper Canada; I could not always understand the grounds of their complaints, but they seemed to consider Mr. Gourlay as having well explained them. Mr. Gourlay, you would see, was prosecuted, and his pamphlets declared libels; not having read them, I cannot pronounce upon either their merits or demerits; but they certainly appear to have spoken the sentiments of the poorer settlers, whose cause be had abetted against the more powerful land-holders, land-surveyors, and government agents.

The sufferings from which these poor creatures fly—1 will take for instance the starving paupers of Ireland, who throng here without a farthing in their hands, and scarce a rag upon their backs,— the sufferings of these poor creatures, humanity might hope were ended when thrown upon these shores: hut too often they are increased tenfold:


First comes the horrors of the voyage; ill-fed, ill-clothed, and not mi frequently crowd id together as if on board a prison-ship, it is not uncommon for a fourth, and even a third of the live cargo to be swept off by disease during this mid-passage. You will conceive the sufferings of a troop of half-clad paupers, turned adrift in this Siberia, as it often happens, at the close of autumn ; the delays, perhaps unavoidable, which occur after their landing, before they are sent to their station in the howling wilderness, kills sonic, and breaks the spirit of others. Many are humanely sheltered by Canadian proprietors, not a few find their way to the United States, and are thrown upon the charity of the city of New York. After fearful hardships, some rear at last their cabin of logs in the savage forest; polar winds and snows, dreary solitudes, Agues, and all the train of evils and privations which must be found in a Canadian desert.

How strangely do statesmen employ money! Hundreds and thousands lodged in frigates larger than ever fought at Trafalgar,—in naval and military stores, batteries, martello towers.— Where? Upon the shores of the Canadian Siberia. To do what? To protect wolves and bears from a more speedy dislodgement from frozen deserts, which would little repay the trouble of invading; and some few thousands of a people, scattered along an endless line of forest, from the infection of republican principles. What a magnificent idea does this convey of the wealth of that country which could thus ship treasures across the Atlantic to be flung into the wilderness!

Lieutenant Hall states the disbursements at Kingston during the war at "10001. per diem;" the expense of the frigate St. Lawrence at 300,0001. I was informed by a gentleman long resident in Canada, that the ships of war sent from England iu frame to be employed on lake Ontario were all supplied with stills. "Do the people of London take this lake for a strip of the ocean," exclaimed the Canadians," that they send us a machine to freshen its waters?"


Two immense steam-boats, from four to five hundred tons' burden, now navigate Ontario, in lieu of the mighty ships of war that sleep peacefully in their harbours on either shore. The American has every possible convenience, as is common with all these

floating hotels, found on the waters of the United States; the Canadian (probably from having been established for the transportation of soldiers, stores and goods of various kinds, rather than for the service of passengers) is dirty and ill attended. There is now also a fine steam-hoat, of a smaller size, plying between Kingston and Prescott, a flourishing village in the neighbourhood of the rapids; and another will soon be launched upon Lake St. Francis, when the navigation of the river will be yet farther facilitated.


It is a pleasant relief to the eye, tired with the contemplation of dreary forests, and wide watery wastes, when the fair seignory of Montreal suddenly opens before you. llich and undulating lands sprinkled with villas, and bounded on one hand by wooded heights, and on the other by the grey city; its tin roofs and spires then blazing in the setting sun: the vast river, chafed by hidden rocks into sounding and foaming rapids, and anon spreading his waters into a broad sheet of molten gold, speckled with islands, batleaux and shipping: the distant shore with its dark line of forest, broken by little villages, penciled on the glowing sky and far off, two solitary mountains, raising their blue heads in the vermil glories of the horizon, like sapphires chased in rubies. Along the road, French faces, with all the harshness of feature and good-humour of expression peculiar to the national physiognomy, looked and gossiped from door and window, orchard and meadow; a passing salutation easily winning a smile and courteous obeisance. We were for some miles escorted on our way by the good-humoured and loquacious pilot, whose songs had for so many days measured time to the stroke of his paddle. I yet hear his reiterated parting benedictions, and see the wild grimaces with which they were accompanied.

The population of Lower is strangely contrasted with that of Upper Canada; nor do they appear to know much concerning each other. In one thing only are they said to be agreed,—in a thorough detestation of their republican neighbours. In Upper Canada, however, so far as my observations went, I did not find that this hostile feeling was much shared by the poorer settlers. In either colony where the hostility exists, it is very easily accounted for: in one, by the jealousy of the power and wealth of the republic;

and and in the other by the influence of the priests.

In ignorance and infatuated superstition, the Canadian remains in statu quo, as when he first migrated from his native France. Guarded from the earthquake by British protection, the shock of the rcvolulion was in no degree, however small, felt here; the priest, continues to hood-wink and fleece the people, and the people to pamper and worship the priest, just as in the good old times. You may learu some curious particulars here, concerning the policy of the I^ondon cabinet, as connected with that of Rome. Among other-things, a request has lately been preferred to the Pope, that he will raise the bishopric of Quebec into an arch-bishopric; and the prelate of this Canadian diocese is now about to embark for Italy to receive from the hands of his Holiness this addition to his honours. The people, meanwhile, are exhorted to remember, in their prayers, the pious prince who, though ruling in a land of heretics, bears thus in remembrance the servants of the most High. The Priests have in their hands some of the best lands in the country, and claim, of course, some fruit offerings from their spiritual children. Conceiving the security of the tenure to lie in the ignorance of the people, they enforce every prohibition calculated to preserve it entire; such as marrying with heretics, reading any book without the permission of the confessor, and learning the English language. The proximity of the States and their growing power, and, worse than all, their institutions civil and religious, are naturally looked upon by these shepherds of the flock with suspicion and terror. As the union of Canada to the republic would of necessity pave the way to their downfall, interest binds fast their loyalty to the ruling powers; these again, equally jealous of the States, and aware of the precariousness of the tenure by which they hold these colonies, pay much deference to the men who hold the keys of the people's minds. Thus goes the world! and yet with the Canadian peasant it would seem to go very happily; he eats his crust, or shares it with the passenger right cheerily; his loyalty, transferred from King Louis to King George, sits equally light ou his light spirits. As to the government, if he shares it not, as little does he feel it. Too poor to be oppressed, too ignorant to be discon

tented, he invokes his saint, obeys his priest, smokes his pipe, and sings an old ballad; while shrewder heads and duller spirits enact laws which he never hears of, and toil after gains which he contrives to do without.

There is said generally to be no very friendly understanding between theoW French and the new- English population; the latter being given to laugh at the superstition of the former, and resenting the supremacy of Catholic over Lutheran episcopacy. The government, however, leaves " protectant ascendancy"' to make its way here as it can, which, unbacked by law, makes i(s way very slowly. These national and religious jealousies have occasionally produced bickerings, and even political disturbances.

The government of the Canadas consists of a Governor appointed by the crown; a Legislative Council, composed in Upper Canada of seven members, and in the Lower or French Canada of fifteen; these are appointed by the Governor, and nominated for life: a Lower -House of Assembly, whose members are chosen by the freeholders in either province, the elections occurring every four years. In Lower Canada the French forming the majority of the population, are able to combat, in the House of Assembly, the power of the English Executive and Legislative Council, which virtually forms a part of the former. It is easy to see with what candour this House will be judged of by the party it opposes. It is doubtful whether it would be more praised were it mete enlightened.


Ascending the watersof Lake Champlain, the shores assume a wild and mountainous character. The scite of the flourishing town of Burlington is one of singular beauty; the neatness and elegance of the white bouses ascending rapidly from the shore, interspersed with trees, and arranged with that symmetry which characterizes the young villages of these states; the sweet bay, and, beyond, the open waters of the lake, bounded by a range of mountains, behind which, when our eyes first rested on them, the sun was sinking in golden splendour;—it was a fairy scene, when his flaming disk, which might have dazzled eagles, dropt behind the purple screen, blazing on the still broad lake, on the windows and Ihe white walls of the lovely village lage, and on the silver sails of the sloops and shipping, gliding noiselessly through the gleaming waters.

Not forty years since, and the ground now occupied by this beautiful town and a population of two thousand souls, was a desert, frequented only by bears and panthers. The American verb (o progress (though some of my friends in this country deny that it is an Americanism) is certainly not without its apology; even a foreigner must acknowledge, that the new kind of advancement which greets his eye in this country, seems to demand a new word to

The young town of Burlington is graced with a college, which was founded in the year 1791, and has lately received considerable additions. The state of Vermont, in which it stands, whose population may be somewhat less than three hundred thousand, contrives to support two establishments of this description; and, perhaps, iu no part of the union is greater attention paid to the education of youth.

The territory passing under the name of Vermont is intersected, from north to south, by a range of mountains, covered with ever-green forests, from which the name of the country. This Alpine ridge, rising occasionally to three and four thousand feet, nearly fills up the breadth of the state; but is every where scooped into glens and valleys, plentifully intersected with streams and rivers, flowing, to the eastward, into the beautiful Connecticut, and, to the west, into the magnificent Champlain. The gigantic forests of while pine, spruce, cedar, and other evergreens, which clothe to the top the billowy sides of the mountains mingle occasionally their deep verdure with the oak, elm, beech, maple, &c. that shadow the valleys. This world of forest is intersected by tracts of open pasture, while the luxuriant lands that border the water-courses are fast exchanging their primeval woods for the treasures of agriculture. The most populous town in the state contains less than three thousand souls; the inhabitants, agricultural or grazing farmers, being scattered through the valleys and hills, or collected in small villages on the banks of the lakes and rivers.

The plan of government is among the most simple of any to be found in the union. The legislative department is composed of one house, whose members are chosen by the whole male popula

tion of the state. In this mountainous district, peopled by a race of simple agriculturists, the science of legislation may be supposed to present few questions of difficulty; nor has it been found necessary to impede the process of law-making by forcing a projected statute to pass through two ordeals. You find iu the constitution of Vermont another peculiarity which marks a people Argus-eyed to their liberties. In the other republics the people have thought it sufficient to preserve to themselves the power of summoning a convention, to alter or amend their plan of government whenever they may judge it expedient; but the Vermontese, as if unwilling to trust to their own vigilance, have decreed the stated election of a Council of Censors, to be convened for one year at the end of every seven years, whose business it is to examine whether the constitution has been preserved inviolate; " whether the legislative or executive branches of government have performed their duty as guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves, or exercised other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution ,•" to take in review, in short, every public act, with the whole course of administration pursued since the last meeting of the censors.

The assembly now meets in the little town of Montpelier, situated in a secluded valley in the centre of the state. Having gained the centre, the seat of government is now probably fixed. If. is a strange novelty iu the eyes of a European to find legislators assembled in a humble and lonely village to discuss affairs of state.

The men of Vermont are familiarly known by the name of Green-mountain Boys; a name which they themselves are proud of, and which, I have remarked, is spoken with much complacency, and not unfrequently with a tone of admiration or affection, by the citizens of the neighbouring states.


It has been common of late years to summon the literature of America to the European bar, and to pass a verdict against American wit and American science. More liberal foreigners, in alluding to the paucity of standing American works in prose or rhyme, are wont to ascribe it to the infant state of society in this country: others read this explanation, I incline to think at least, without affixing a just meaning to the words.


It is true that authorship is not yet a trade in this country; perhaps for the poor it is a poor trade every where; and could men do better, they might seldom take to it as a profession; but, however this may be, many causes have operated hitherto, and some perhaps may always continue to operate, to prevent American genius from showing itself in works of imagination, or of arduous literary labour. As yet, we must remember, that the country itself is not half a century old. The generation is barely passed away whose energies were engrossed by a struggle for existence.

America was not asleep during the thirty years that Europe had forgotten her: she was actively employed in her education ;—in framing and trying systems of government; in eradicating prejudices; in vanquishing internal enemies; in replenishing her treasury; •in liquidating her debts; in amending her laws; in correcting her policy: in fitting herself to enjoy that liberty which she had purchased with her blood ; — in founding seminaries of learning: in facilitating the spread of knowledge;—to say nothing of the revival of commerce; the reclaiming of wilderness after wilderness; (he facilitating of internal navigation; the doubling and tripling of a population trained io exercise the right? of freemen, and to respect institutions adopted by the voice of their country. Such have been the occupations of America She bears the works of her genius about her; we must not seek them in volumes piled on the shelves of a library. All her knowledge is put forth in action; lives in her institutions, in her laws; speaks in her senate; acts in her cabinet; breathes even from the walls of her cities, and the sides of her ships. Look on all she has done, on that which she is; count the sum of her years; and then pronounce sentence on her genius. Her politicians are not ingenious theorists, but practical statesmen; her soldiers have not been conquerors, but patriots; her philosophers are not wise reasoners, but wise legislators. Their country has been and is their field of action; every able head and nervous arm is pressed into its service. The foreign world hears nothing of ther exploits, and reads none of their lucubrations ; but their country reaps the fruits of their wisdom, and feels the aid of their service; and it is in the wealth, the strength, the peace, the prosperity,

the good government, and the well-ailmmistered laws of that country that we must discover and admire" their energy and genius.

In Europe we are apt to estimate the general cultivation of a people by the greater or less number of their literary characters. Even in that hemisphere, it is, perhaps, an unfair way of judging. No one would dispute that Franre is greatly advanced in knowledge since the era of the revolution, and yet her literary fame from that period has been at a stand. The reason is obvious— that her genius was called from (be clo.ef into the senate and the field ; her historians and poets were suddenly changed into soldiers and politicians; her peaceful men of letters became active citizens, known in their generation by their virtues or their crimes. Instead of tragedies, sonnets, and tomes of philosophy, they manufactured laws, or martialled armies; opposed tyrants, or fell their victims, or played the tyrant themselves.

Barlow, known only in England as the author of the Columbiad, was a diplomatist and an able political writer. The venerable Dwight was here held in honour, not as the author of " The Conquest of Canaan," but as the patron of learning; the assiduous instructor of youth, and a popular and energetic writer of the day. I could in the same way designate many living characters whose masterly abilities have been felt in the cabinets of Europe, and which here are felt in every department of the civil government, and in all the civic professions. These men, who, in other countries, would have enlarged the field of the national literature, here quicken the pulse of the national prosperity; eloquent in the senate, able in the cabinet, they fill the highest offices of the republic, and are repaid for their arduous and unceasing labours, by (he esteem of their fellow-citizens, and the growing strength of their country.

But while America was thus sought by enlightened individuals, the parliamentary speeches and pamphlets of the time show how little was known by the English community of the character and condition of the colonists. Because the government had chosen at one time to make Virginia a Botany-Bay, an insult which tended not a little to prepare her for the revolution, the country of Franklin, Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, Schuyler, Gates, Greene, Allen, Dickenson, Laurens, Livingston, Hamilton,

« EdellinenJatka »