Various false starts were made, all on the part of Mac, who, trusting to the bottom of blood, apparently endeavoured to ruffle Tacony's temper and weary him out a little. How futile were the efforts the sequel plainly showed. At length a start was effected, and away they went, Tacony with his hind legs as far apart as the centre arch of Westminster Bridge, and with strides that would almost clear the Bridgewater Canal. Mac's rider soon found that, in trying to ginger Tacony's temper, he had peppered his own horse's, for he broke-up into a gallop twice. Old Tacony and his rider had evidently got intimate since I had seen them at New York, and they now thoroughly understood each other. On he went, with giant strides; Mac fought bravely for the van, but could not get his nose beyond Tacony's saddle-girth at the winning-post—time, 2m. 25-1/2s.
Then, followed the usual race-course accompaniments of cheers, squabbles, growling, laughing, betting, drinking, &c. The public were not convinced. Mac was still the favourite; the champion chaplet was not thus hastily to be plucked from his hitherto victorious brows. Half an hour's rest brought them again to the starting-post, where Mac repeated his old tactics, and with similar bad success. Nothing could ruffle Tacony, or produce one false step: he flew round the course, every stride like the ricochet of a 32lb. shot; his adversary broke-up again and again, losing both his temper and his place, and barely saved his distance, as the gallant Tacony—his rider with a slack rein, and patting him on the neck—reached the winning-post—time, 2m. 25s. The shouts were long and loud; such time had never been made before by fair trotting, and Tacony evidently could have done it in two, if not three seconds less. The fastest pacing ever accomplished before was 2m. 13s., and the fastest trotting 2m. 26s. The triumph was complete; Tacony nobly won the victorious garland; and as long as he and his rider go together, it will take, if not a rum 'un to look at, at all events a d——l to go, ere he be forced to resign his championship.
The race over, waggons on two wheels and waggons on four wheels, with trotters in them capable of going the mile in from 2m. 40s. to 3m. 20s., began to shoot about in every direction, and your ears were assailed on all sides with "G'lang, g'lang!" and occasionally a frantic yell, to which some Jehu would give utterance by way of making some horse that was passing him "break-up." Thus ended the famous race between Mac and Tac, which, by the way, gave me an opportunity of having a little fun with some of my American friends, as I condoled with them on their champion being beaten by a British subject; for, strange to say, Tac is a Canadian horse. I therefore of course expressed the charitable wish that an American horse might be found some day equal to the task of wearing the champion trotting crown(!)—I beg pardon, not crown, but, I suppose, cap of liberty. I need scarce say that it is not so much the horse as the perfect teaming that produces the result; and all Tac's training is exclusively American, and received in a place not very far from Philadelphia, from which he gets his name. A friend gave me a lift into Philadelphia, whence the iron horse speedily bore me to the great republican Babylon, New York.
Home of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Having made the necessary preparations, I again put myself behind the boiling kettle, en route to the republican Athens. The day was intensely hot; even the natives required the windows open, and the dust being very lively, we soon became as powdered as a party going down to the Derby in the ante-railway days. My curiosity was excited on the way, by seeing a body of men looking like a regiment of fox-hunters—all well got up, fine stout fellows—who entered, and filled two of the carriages. On inquiring who kept the hounds, and if they had good runs, a sly smile stole across my friend's cheek as he told me they were merely the firemen of the city going to fraternize with the ditto ditto of Boston. It stupidly never occurred to me to ask him whether any provision was made in case of a quiet little fire developing itself during their absence, for their number was legion, and as active, daring, orderly-looking fellows as ever I set eyes upon. Jolly apopletic aldermen of our capital may forsake the green fat of their soup-making deity, to be feasted by their Parisian fraternity, without inconvenience to anybody, except it be to their fellow-passengers in the steamer upon their return, if they have been over-fed and have not tempest-tried organs of digestion. But a useful body like firemen migrating should, I confess, have suggested to me the propriety of asking what substitutes were left to perform, if need be, their useful duties; not having done so, I am constrained to leave this important point in its present painful obscurity.
A thundering whistle and a cloud of steam announce the top is off the kettle, and that we have reached Boston. Wishing to take my own luggage in a hackney, I found that, however valuable for security the ticketing system may be, it was, under circumstances like mine at present, painfully trying to patience. In three-quarters of an hour, however, I managed to get hold of it, and then, by way of improving my temper, I ascertained that one of my boxes was in a state of "pretty considerable all mighty smash." At last I got off with my goods and chattels, and having seen quite enough of the American palace-hotels and their bountifully-spread tables, and of the unrivalled energy with which the meals are despatched; remembering, also, how frequently the drum of my ears had been distracted by the eternal rattling and crackling of plates and dishes for a couple of hundred people, and how my olfactories had suffered from the mixed odours of the kitchen produce, I declined going to the palatial Revere House, which is one of the best hotels in the Union, and put up at a house of less pretensions, where I found both quiet and comfort.
To write a description of Boston, when so many others have done so far better than I can pretend to do, and when voluminous gazetteers record almost every particular, would be drawing most unreasonably upon the patience of a reader, and might further be considered as inferring a doubt of his acquaintance with, I might almost say, a hackneyed subject. I shall, therefore, only inflict a few short observations to refresh his memory. The most striking feature in Boston, to my mind, is the common or park, inasmuch as it is the only piece of ground in or attached to any city which I saw deserving the name of a park. It was originally a town cow-pasture, and called the Tower Fields. The size is about fifty acres; it is surrounded with an iron fencing, and, although not large, the lay of the ground is very pretty. It contains some very fine old trees, which every traveller in America must know are a great rarity in the neighbourhood of any populous town. It is overlooked by the State-house, which is built upon Beacon Hill, just outside the highest extremity of the park, and from the top of which a splendid panoramic view of the whole town and neighbourhood is obtained. The State-house is a fine building in itself, and contains one of Chantrey's best works—the statue of Washington. The most interesting building in Boston, to the Americans, is, undoubtedly, Faneuil Hall, called also the "Cradle of Liberty." Within those walls the stern oratory of noble hearts striving to be free, and daring to strike for it, was listened to by thousands, in whose breasts a ready response was found, and who, catching the glowing enthusiasm of the orators, determined rather to be rebels and free than subjects and slaves: the sequel is matter of history.
I shall not tax the temper of my reader by going through any further list of the public buildings, which are sufficiently known to those who take an interest in this flourishing community; but I must hasten to apologize for my ingratitude in not sooner acknowledging that most pleasing feature in every traveller's experience in America, which, I need hardly say, is hospitality.
Scarce was my half-smashed box landed at the hotel, when my young American friend, who came from England with our party, appeared to welcome me—perhaps to atone for the lion's share of champagne he had enjoyed at our table on board the steamer. Then he introduced me to another, and another introduced me to another another, and another another introduced me to another another another, and so on, till I began to feel I must know the elite of Boston. Club-doors flew open, champagne-corks flew out, cicerones, pedal and vehicular, were ever ready to guide me by day and feed me by night; and though there are no drones in a Yankee hive, so thoroughly did they dedicate themselves to my comfort and amusement, that a person ignorant of the true state of things might have fancied they were as idle and occupationless as the cigar-puffers who adorn some of our metropolitan-club steps, the envy of passing butcher-boys and the liberal distributors of cigar-ends to unwashed youths who hang about ready to pounce upon the delicious and rejected morsels. Among other gentlemen whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making, and whose hospitalities, of course, I enjoyed, I may mention Mr. Prescott and Mr. Ticknor, the former highly appreciated in the old country, and both so widely known and so justly esteemed in the world of literature. As I consider such men public property, I make no apology for using their names, while in so doing I feel I am best conveying to the reader some idea of the society which a traveller meets with in Yankee Athens.
The town has one charm to me, which it shares in common with Baltimore. Not only is it built on undulating ground, but there are old parts remaining, whereby the eye is relieved from the tiring monotony of broad and straight streets, while the newer parts form a pleasing variety, and bear gratifying evidence of the increasing wealth of its intelligent and industrious population. Then, again, the neighbourhood of the town has a charm for a wanderer from the old country; the roads are excellent, the fields and gardens are tidied up, creepers are led up the cottage walls, suburban villas abound, everything looks more clean, more soigne, more snug, more filled and settled than the neighbourhood of any other city I visited in America, and thus forces back upon the mind associations and reflections of dear old home.
Having enjoyed a visit to a friend in one of the suburban villas inland, to which he drove me in his light waggon, another vehicular cicerone insisted that I should drive out to his uncle's, and spend a day at his marine villa, about twelve miles distant. I joyfully assented to so pleasant a proposition, and, "hitching a three-forty before a light waggon"—as the term is in America—we were soon bowling away merrily along a capital road. A pleasant drive of nine miles brought us to a little town called Lynn, after Lynn Regis in England, from which place some of the early settlers came. How often has the traveller to regret the annihilation of the wild old Indian names, and the substitution of appellatives from every creek and corner of the older continents; with Poquanum, Sagamore, Wenepoykin, with Susquehanna, Wyoming, Miami, and a thousand other such of every length and sound, all cut-and-dried to hand, it is more than a pity to see so great a country plagiarizing in such a wholesale manner Pekins, Cantons, Turing, Troys, Carmels, Emmauses, Cairos, and a myriad other such borrowed plumes, plucked from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and hustled higgledy-piggledy side by side, without a single element or association to justify the uncalled-for robbery.
Forgive me, reader,—all this digression comes from my wishing Lynn had kept its old Indian name of Saugus; from such little acorns will such great oak-trees spring.—To resume. The said town of Lynn supplies understandings to a very respectable number of human beings, and may be called a gigantic shoemaker's shop, everything being on the gigantic scale in America. It employs 11,000, out of its total population of 14,000, in that trade, and produces annually nearly 5,000,000 of women's and children's boots, shoes, and gaiters, investing in the business a capital amounting to 250,000l. Moses and Son, Hyam and Co., Nicoll and Co., and the whole of the three-halfpence-a-shirt-paying capitalists, can show nothing like my shoemakers' shop, "fix it how you will,"—as they say in the Great Republic.
The three-forty trotter soon left boots, shoes, and all behind, and deposited us at the door of the uncle's villa, where a friendly hand welcomed us to its hospitalities. It was very prettily situated upon a cliff overlooking Massachusetts Bay, in which said cliff a zigzag stepway was cut down to the water, for the convenience of bathing. The grounds were nicely laid out and planted, and promised in time to be well wooded, if the ocean breeze driving upon them did not lay an embargo upon their growth, in the same heartless manner as it does upon the west coast of Scotland, where, the moment a tree gets higher than a mop handle, its top becomes curved over by the gales, with the same graceful sweep as that which a successful stable-boy gives a birch broom after a day's soaking. I hope, for my hospitable friend's sake, it may not prove true in his case; but I saw an ostrich-feathery curve upon the tops of some of his trees, which looked ominous. Having spent a very pleasant day, and enjoyed good cheer and good company, Three-forty was again "hitched to;" joined hands announced the parting moment had arrived; wreaths of smoke from fragrant Havanas ascended like incense from the shrine of Adieu; "G'lang"—the note of advance—was sounded; Three-forty sprang to the word of command; friends, shoes, and shoemakers were soon tailed of; and ere long your humble servant was nestling his nose in his pillow at Boston.
Hearing that the drama was investing its talent in Abolitionism, I went one evening to the theatre, to see if I could extract as much fun from the metropolis of a free state as I had previously obtained from the capital of slave-holding Maryland; for I knew the Americans, both North and South, were as ticklish as young ladies. I found very much the same style of thing as at Baltimore, except that her abolitionist highness, the Duchess of Southernblack, did not appear on the stage by deputy; but as an atonement for the omission, you had a genuine Yankee abolitionist; poor Uncle Tom and his fraternity were duly licked and bullied by a couple of heartless Southern nigger-drivers; and while their victims were writhing in agony, a genuine abolitionist comes on the stage and whops the two nigger-drivers, amid shouts of applause. The suppliant Southerners, midst sobs and tears, plead for mercy, and in vain, until the happy thought occurs to one of them, to break forth into a wondrous tale of the atrocities inflicted upon the starving and naked slaves of English mines and factories, proving by contrast the superior happiness of the nigger and the greater mercifulness of his treatment. The indignant abolitionist drops the upraised cowhide, the sobs and tears of the Southerners cease, the whole house thunders forth the ecstasy of its delight, the curtain drops, and the enchanted audience adjourn to the oyster saloons, vividly impressed with British brutality, the charms of slavery, and the superiority of Abolitionism.
How strange, that in a country like this, boasting of its education, and certainly with every facility for its prosecution—how strange, that in the very Athens of the Republic, the deluded masses should exhibit as complete ignorance as you could find in the gallery of any twopenny-halfpenny metropolitan theatre of the old country!
Another of the lions of Boston which I determined to witness, if possible, was "spirit-rapping." A friend undertook the arrangement for me; but so fully were the hours of the exhibitor taken up, that it was five days before we could obtain a spare hour. At length the time arrived, and, fortified with a good dinner and a skinful of "Mumm Cabinet," we proceeded to the witch's den. The witch was a clean and decent-looking girl about twenty, rather thin, and apparently very exhausted; gradually a party of ten assembled, and we gathered round the witch's table. The majority were ladies—those adorers of the marvellous! The names of friends were called for; the ladies took the alphabet, and running over it with the point of a pencil, the spirit rapped as the wished-for letter was reached. John Davis was soon spelt, each letter probably having been indicated by the tremulous touch of affectionate hope. Harriet Mercer was then rapped out by the obliging spirit. The pencil and the alphabet were then handed to me, and the spirit being asked if it would answer my inquiries, and a most satisfactory "Yes" being rapped out, I proceeded to put its powers to the test. I concentrated my thoughts upon a Mr. L—— and his shop in Fleet-street, with both of which being thoroughly familiar I had no difficulty in fixing my attention upon them. The pencil was put in motion, powerful rappings were heard as it touched the D. I kept my gravity, and went on again and again, till the name of the illustrious duke, whose death the civilized world was then deploring with every token of respect, was fully spelt out. The witch was in despair; she tried again and again to summon the rebellious spirit, but it would not come. At last, a gentleman present, and who evidently was an habitue of the witch's den, proposed that the refractory spirit should be asked if any of the company were objectionable to it. This being done, a rattling "Yes" came forth, upon which each person asked in succession, "Am I objectionable to you?" There was a dead silence until it came to my friend and myself, to each of whom it gave a most rappingly emphatic "Yes." Accordingly, we rose and left the field to those whose greater gullibility rendered them more plastic objects for working upon. Never in my life did I witness greater humbug; and yet so intense was the anxiety of the Boston public to witness the miracle, that during all the day and half the night the spirit was being invoked by the witch, into whose pockets were pouring the dollars of thousands of greater gabies than myself, for many went away believers, receiving the first germs of impressions which led them to a Lunatic Asylum, or an early grave, as various statistics in America prove most painfully.
To show the extent to which belief in these absurdities goes, I subjoin an extract from a paper, by which it appears that even the solemnities of a funeral cannot sober the minds of their deluded followers. Mr. Calvin R. Brown—better known as the husband of Mrs. Anne L. Fish, a famous "spirit medium" in New York—having died, we read the following notice of the funeral:—"After prayer, the Rev. S. Brittan delivered an address, in which he dwelt with much earnestness upon the superiority of the life of the spirit, as compared with that of the body. At various points in his address there were rappings, sometimes apparently on the bottom of the coffin, and at others upon the floor, as if in response to the sentiments uttered. After concluding his address, Professor Brittan read a communication purporting to have come from the deceased after his entrance into the spirit world. While it was being read, the reporter states that the rappings were distinctly heard. Several friends then sang, "Come, ye disconsolate," after which the Rev. Mr. Denning made a few remarks, during which the rappings were more audible than before. Other ceremonies closed the funeral. The whole party, preachers, physicians, and all, were spiritualists," &c.
But I have before me a letter written by Judge Edmonds, which is a more painful exemplification of the insanity superinduced by giving way to these absurdities; in that document you will find him deliberately stating, that he saw heavy tables flying about without touch, like the leaves in autumn; bells walking off shelves and ringing themselves, &c. Also, you will find him classing among his co-believers "Doctors, lawyers, clergymen, a Protestant bishop, a learned and reverend president of a college, judges of higher courts, members of congress, foreign ambassadors (I hope not Mr. Crampton), and ex-members of the United States Senate."
The ladies of the old country will, no doubt, be astonished to hear that their sisters of the younger country have medical colleges in various States; but, I believe, mostly in the northern ones. To what extent their studies in the healing art are carried, I cannot precisely inform them; it most probably will not stop at combinations of salts and senna, or spreading plasters—for which previous nursery practice with bread and butter might eminently qualify them. How deeply they will dive into the mysteries of anatomy, unravelling the tangled web of veins and arteries, and mastering the intricacies of the ganglionic centre; or how far they will practise the subjugation of their feelings, whether only enough to whip off some pet finger and darling little toe, or whether sufficiently to perform more important operations, even such as Sydney Smith declared a courageous little prime minister was ready to undertake at a minute's notice; these are questions which I cannot answer: but one thing is clear, the wedge is entered. How far it will be driven in, time must show.[AK]
[Footnote AK: The Massachusetts Legislature, in a recent session, appropriated funds to the New England Female Medical College, located in Boston, to pay forty students for five years; and I have since observed in a Boston paper that there are twenty lady physicians, who, confining themselves to midwifery and diseases of their own sex, have a fair practice, and enjoy the confidence of the families they visit.]
Teaching of Youth, and a Model Jail.
I must now turn to a more important and interesting feature of Boston, viz., education. We all remember how the religious persecution in the reign of Elizabeth, fettering men's consciences, drove a devoted band of deep-thinking Christians into caves of concealment, and how, after much peril, they escaped in 1609, in the reign of James the First, to Amsterdam, under the leadership of the noble-hearted J. Robinson, where, after sighing long for a return beneath the flag of the country of their birth, they obtained a charter from the Virginia Company. The first division of them embarked on board "The Mayflower," a small vessel of 180 tons, and sailed from Plymouth, 6th September, 1620, landing in their new and barren home upon the 11th of December. These were the sturdy champions of liberty of conscience, from whom the New Englanders may be said to have sprung, and who have leavened the whole community with their energy and indomitable spirit: such men knew how to appreciate education, as the leveller of oppression and the bulwark of freedom; and it is, therefore, no wonder that the American Republic recognises them as the worthy pioneers of that noble feature in their institutions—free education, supplied to all by the State.
Let us, then, see how far their descendants are treading in their footsteps upon this point. I speak of Boston and its 150,000 inhabitants, not of the State. And first, it is important to observe, that the strict provisions of the State requirements would be met by three schools, and three teachers with assistants, whose salaries would amount to 900l. The actual provision made by this energetic community, is,—Schools: 1 Latin, 1 English, 22 grammar, 194 primary,—total for salaries, 37,000l. And that it may not be supposed the salaries are great prizes, it is important to remark, that there are 65 male teachers, and about 300 female teachers. The highest paid are head-masters of Latin and English schools, 490l.; sub-masters of same, and head-masters of grammar, 300l.; ushers, assistants, &c., from 50l. to 160l.; and female teachers, from 45l. to 60l., with 5l. additional for care of the rooms.
All the primary schools have female teachers; and the feeling is strongly in favour of females for instructing the very young, their patience and kindness being less likely to foster feelings of dread and dislike.
The total amount of taxes raised in the city is, in round numbers, 250,000l.; of which 65,000l., or more than one-fourth, is devoted to schools. The total value of all public school estates of Boston, up to May, 1851, was 260,000l.; and the salary of the head-master is, within a few pounds, equal to that of the governor of the State.
Say, then, reader, has some portion of the spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers descended to the present generation, or not?—a population of 150,000 devoting 260,000l. to education.
Wherever parents are unable to provide books, &c., the children are supplied with the use of them gratis. All corporal punishment is strongly discouraged, but not prohibited; and all inflictions thereof are recorded for the information of the Visiting Board. Having omitted to make personal inquiries on the spot, I obtained, through the kindness of Mr. Ticknor, answers to the following questions on the point of religious instruction:—
1. "Are the pupils at your normal schools obliged to receive religious instruction from some minister, and to attend some place of worship; or may they, if they prefer, receive no such instruction, and attend no church?"
"The State has put the normal schools under the charge of the Board of Education, with no special law or instructions. The Board of Education endeavours to act on exactly the same principles as those which the law has laid down with respect to the common schools. The Board requires that the pupils of the normal schools attend some place of worship, the pupil making his own choice. These schools are opened every morning with reading the Scriptures, singing, and prayer. The moral conduct of the pupils is carefully watched over, and instruction is given in respect to the best methods of training the young in religion and morals. The religious teaching is ethical, not doctrinal."
2. "Are the children at your common schools obliged to receive some religious instruction, or if their parents express a wish they should not receive any at school, is the wish complied with?"
"The law requires all teachers to instruct their pupils 'in the principles of piety,' and forbids any sectarian books to be introduced into the public schools. The school committees of each town prescribe the class-books to be used, and commonly make the Bible one of those books. The teacher is expected to follow the law in respect to teaching the principles of piety, without any instruction from the school committee, and is almost always allowed to do this in his own way, unless he is guilty of some impropriety, in which case the school committee interferes. He usually has devotional exercises at the opening of the school, and reads the Scriptures, or causes them to be read, as an act of worship, whether they are prescribed by the committee or not. Many teachers take that occasion to remark upon topics of morality, and thereby aim to prevent misconduct. Indeed, the Bible is much relied on as a means of discipline rather for preventing wrong-doing, than for correcting it.
"No minister, as such, gives religious instruction in any of our public schools. Ministers are commonly on the school committees, and when visiting the schools, as committees, exhort the children to good behaviour, and to a religious life.
"No cases are known of parents wishing their children to be excused from such religious instruction, except with the Catholics, who desire that their children be excused from the devotional exercises, especially from reading the Protestant version of the Bible. Even this is very rare where the teacher himself reads the Scriptures in connexion with other devotional exercises. It occurs most frequently where the children are required to use the Bible themselves, either in devotional exercises or in a reading lesson. But those wishes are not often regarded, because the committee has a legal right to prescribe the Bible as a school-book, and to require all the pupils to comply with all the regulations of the school. In some few instances, committees have thought it expedient to allow the Douay version to be used by Catholic children; but it amounts to nothing, as it is an abstract point started by the priests, for which parents care but little; besides, it is objected that the Douay version with its glosses is 'a sectarian book,' whereas the common English version without note or comment is not."
Scholars desirous of entering the higher schools are generally required to pass through the lower, and bring therefrom certificates of capacity and conduct. In the statute of the State, with reference to education, all professors, tutors, instructors, &c., are enjoined to impress upon the minds of those committed to their charge "the principles of piety, justice, a sacred regard to truth, and love of their country." Among the various subjects in connexion with education, in which instruction is given in these schools, it may be as well to mention one, which, I believe, is all but totally neglected in England. By legislative enactment, section 2, "All school-teachers shall hereafter be examined in their knowledge of the elementary principles of physiology and hygiene, and their ability to give instructions in the same."
The School Committee consists of two members from each of the twelve wards of the city, chosen annually, and assisted by the Mayor and President of the Common Council. The average expense of each scholar at the primary schools is 25s. per annum, at the higher schools three guineas. Under the foregoing system, 12,000 children are instructed annually at the primary schools, and 10,000 at the higher schools, which aggregate of 22,000 will give an attendance of nearly 70 per cent. upon all children between the ages of five and fifteen, to whom the avenues of knowledge, from the lisping letters of infancy to the highest branches of philosophy, are freely opened.
Through the kindness of Mr. B. Seaver, the Mayor of Boston, I was enabled to visit several of these schools, the cleanliness of which, as well as their good ventilation, was most satisfactory. The plan adopted here, of having the stools made of iron and screwed on to the floor, with a wooden seat fixed on the top for each pupil, and a separate desk for every two, struck me as admirably calculated to improve ventilation and check sky-larking and noise. The number of public schools in the whole State is 4056, which are open for seven months and a half in the year, and the average attendance of scholars is 145,000; besides which, there are 749 private schools, with 16,000 scholars. It is a curious fact, and bears strong testimony to the efficiency of the public schools, that while they have increased by 69 during the year, the private schools have decreased by 36. The foregoing sketch is from the official Reports, printed at Boston in 1853.
In addition to these schools, there are four colleges, three theological seminaries, and two medical schools. Of these I shall only notice one of the colleges, which I visited, and which enjoys a high reputation—viz., Harvard College, or Cambridge, as it is sometimes called, from the village where it is situated. The history of this college is a wholesome proof how a small institution, if duly fostered by a nation, may eventually repay future generations with liberal interest. Established in 1636, by a vote of 400l., it obtained the name of Harvard, from the bequeathment by a reverend gentleman of that name, A.D. 1638, of the sum of 780l. and 300 volumes. Its property now amounts to upwards of 100,000l., and it is divided into five departments—collegiate, law, medical, theological, and scientific—affording education to 652 students, of whom one half are undergraduates. There are forty-five instructors, all men of unquestionable attainments, and capable of leading the students up to the highest steps of every branch of knowledge; the necessary expenses of a student are about 45l. a year; the fee for a master of arts, including the diploma, is 1l. sterling.
Meritorious students, whose circumstances require it, are allowed, at the discretion of the Faculty, to be absent for thirteen weeks, including the winter vacation, for the purpose of teaching schools. Parents who think their sons unable to take care of their own money, may send it to a patron duly appointed by the college, who will then pay all bills and keep the accounts, receiving, as compensation two and a half per cent. I think the expenses of this establishment will astonish those who have had to "pay the piper" for a smart young man at Oxford, as much as the said young man would have been astonished, had his allowance, while there, been paid into the hands of some prudent and trusty patron. Tandems and tin horns would have been rather at a discount—cum pluribus aliis.
The college has a look of antiquity, which is particularly pleasant in a land where almost everything is spick-and-span new; but the rooms I thought low and stuffy, and the walls and passages had a neglected plaster-broken appearance. There are some very fine old trees in the green, which, throwing their shade over the time-worn building, help to give it a venerable appearance. A new school of science has just been built by the liberality of Mr. Lawrence,[AL] late Minister of the United States in this country; and I may add that the wealth and prosperity of the college are almost entirely due to private liberality.
As the phonetic system of education has been made a subject of so much discussion in the United States, I make no apology for inserting the following lengthy observations thereon. A joint committee on education, appointed to inquire into its merits by the Senate, in 1851, reported that there was evidence tending to show—"That it will enable the pupil to learn to read phonetically in one-tenth of the time ordinarily employed. That it will enable the learner to read the common type in one-fourth of the time necessary according to the usual mode of instruction. That its acquisition leads the pupil to the correct pronunciation of every word. That it will present to the missionary a superior alphabet for the representation of hitherto unwritten languages," &c. A similar committee, to whom the question was referred by the House of Representatives in 1852, state that during the past year the system had been tried in twelve public schools, and that, according to the testimony of the teachers, children evinced greater attachment to their books, and learnt to read with comparative ease; and they conclude their report in these words:—"Impressed with the importance of the phonetic system, which, if primarily learnt, according to the testimony presented, would save two years of time to each of the two hundred thousand children in the State, the committee would recommend to school committees and teachers, the introduction of the phonetic system of instruction into all the primary schools of the State, for the purpose of teaching the reading and spelling of the common orthography, with an enunciation which can rarely be secured by the usual method, and with a saving of time and labour to both teachers and pupils, which will enable the latter to advance in physical and moral education alone until they are six years of age, without any permanent loss in the information they will ultimately obtain."
One gentleman of the minority of the committee sent in a very strong report condemning the system. He declares "the system is nothing but an absurd attempt to mystify and perplex a subject, which ought to be left plain and clear to the common apprehensions of common men." Further on he states, "No human ingenuity can show a reason for believing that the way to learn the true alphabet, is first to study a false alphabet; that the way to speak words rightly, is to begin by spelling them wrong; that the way to teach the right use of a letter, is to begin by giving a false account of a letter. Yet the phonetic system, so far as it is anything, is precisely this." Then, again, with reference to the eight specimen scholars, taken from a school of fifty, and who were exhibited, he observes, "they were the same as those who were examined a year ago; nothing is said of the other forty-two. It is not necessary to say anything more of the character of such evidence as this;" and he winds up by observing: "Such a mode of instruction would, in his opinion, waste both the time and the labour employed upon it, and complicate and embarrass a study, which in its true shape is perfectly simple and clear." The following old anecdote would rather tend to prove that spelling and reading were not either "simple or clear" to a Lancashire judge, who, having asked the name of a witness, and not catching the word exactly, desired him to spell it, which he proceeded to do thus:—"O double T, I double U, E double L, double U, double O, D." The learned judge laid down his pen in astonishment, and after two or three unsuccessful efforts, at last declared he was unable to record it—so puzzled was he with the "simple" spelling of that clear name—Ottiwell Wood.
In the Massachusetts Teacher of January, 1853, there is the report of a committee, in which they state "that children taught solely by the phonetic system, and only twenty minutes each day, outstripped all their compeers." They further add, that "the phonetic system, thus beneficial in its effects, has been introduced into one hundred and nineteen public and five private schools, and that they have reason to believe, that no committee ever appointed to examine its merits have ever reported adverse to it;" and they conclude by strongly "recommending teachers to test the merits of the System by actual trial in their schools." Then again, in the following number of their journal, they strongly condemn the system as both useless and impracticable.
Having carefully weighed the arguments on both sides, I am led to the conclusion, that the objections of those who condemn the system are partly owing to the fact, that while reaching their present advanced state of knowledge, they have entirely forgotten their own struggles, and are thus insensibly led to overlook the confusion and difficulty which must ever arise in the infant mind, where similar combinations produce similar sounds. An infant mind is incapable of grasping differences, but understands readily simple facts; if what meets the eye represent a certain fixed sound, the infant readily acquires that sound; but if the eye rest on o, u, g, h, as a combination, and the endeavour is made to teach him the endless varieties of sound produced thereby, his little mind becomes puzzled, his ideas of truth become confused, his memory becomes distrusted, and his powers of reading become retarded by the time occupied in the—to him—most uninteresting task of learning a host of unmeaning sounds. The inevitable consequence is that the poor little victim becomes disheartened, rendering a considerable amount of additional trouble and—which is far more difficult to find—patience necessary upon the part of the teacher.
Common sense points out, that the reading of phonetic words must be more easily learnt than the reading of the aphonetic words, of which our language is essentially composed. The real question is simply this,—Does the infant mind advance with such rapidity under phonetic teaching, as to enable it at a certain age to transfer its powers to orthodox orthography, and reach a given point of knowledge therein, with less trouble, and in a shorter space of time, than those infants do who are educated upon the old system? If phonetic teaching has this effect, it is an inestimable boon, and if not, it is a complete humbug.[AM] It should also be borne in mind, that the same arguments which hold good in the case of infants will apply also, in a great degree, to adults who wish to learn to read, and to foreigners commencing the study of our language. Whether any further use of phonetics is either desirable or practicable, would be a discussion out of place in these pages.
When any startling novelty is proposed, enthusiasts carry their advocacy of it so far as often to injure the cause they wish to serve: on the other hand, too many of the educated portion of the community are so strenuously opposed to innovation, as to raise difficulties rather than remove them. Has not the common sense of the age been long calling for changes in the law of partnership, divorce, &c., and is not some difficulty always arising? Has not the commercial world been crying aloud for decimal coinage and decimal weights and measures, and are not educated men constantly finding some objections, and will they not continue to do so, until some giant mind springs up able to grasp the herculean task, and force the boon upon the community? Were not steamboats and railways long opposed as being little better than insane visions? Did not Doctor Lardner prove to demonstration that railway carriages could never go more than twenty miles an hour, owing to the laws of resistance, friction, &c., and did not Brunel take the breath out of him, and the pith out of his arguments, by carrying the learned demonstrator with him on a locomotive, and whisking him ten miles out of London in as many minutes? When I see that among so intelligent and practical a people as the New Englanders—a people whose thoughts and energies are so largely devoted to education—one hundred and nineteen schools have adopted the phonetic system, I cannot but look back to the infancy of steam, and conclude, that there must be more advantages in that system than its opponents seem disposed to allow it to possess.
The Committee of Council on Education in England, to whom the funds set apart for educational purposes are, intrusted, authorized the printing of phonetic books for schools some years since; but authorizing books without training masters to teach them, is about as useful as putting engines into a ship, without supplying engineers to work them. Besides which, their phonetic system was in itself confusing and objectionable; they have also informed the public, that the system, in various forms, is almost universally adopted in the elementary schools of Holland, Prussia, and Germany.[AN]
I should also mention that other systems have been tried both in England and Scotland, and that those teachers who employ them speak highly of their advantages, especially in the latter country. I have now a paper before me, called The Reading Reformer, in which I find the following sentence, which tends to show that the system is approved of in France in the highest quarters:—"The phonetic method of primary instruction is used in the 5th regiment of the line, the 12th Light, the Penitentiary of St. Germain, and the House of Correction for young prisoners. The Minister of War has ordered that French should be taught by this method to the young Arabs, in the three schools of Algiers, Oran, and Philipville."
One great mistake has been made by the champions of this mode of teaching, which is more fatal to its success, in my opinion, than any difficulty raised by its opponents, and that is the adoption by each champion of his own phonetic alphabet; and for which he claims a superiority over the alphabets of others. The absurdity of this perpetual strife must be palpable. If a Fireworshipper were to be converted, what hopes of success would there be if a Mormonite and a Mussulman were placed on one side of him, and a Free Kirk man and a Jesuit on the other? The public, as regards phonetic teaching, are precisely in that Fireworshipper's position. Reader, you must form your own opinion: I offer none. And now, with your permission, we will quit the region of speculation and return to sober fact.
One of the most striking buildings I visited during my stay at Boston was the jail; the airiness and cleanliness were both perfect, and the arrangement was to me totally novel. Independent of the ground outside, which is walled all round, the jail itself is built under a large outer case, affording abundance of light and ventilation. This outer building forms a corridor all round the jail, affording protection to the keepers from all weathers, and thus enables them to keep an efficient watch over the inmates. Supposing any prisoner to escape from his cell, he is still hemmed in by this outer case, which has only one door, so situated that no one can approach it without being seen from a considerable distance; and, even if these difficulties be overcome, the outer wall common to all prisons still remains. As far as I could learn, no prisoner has ever been able to force his way out. At night a blaze of gas in the outer hall lights all the dormitories and the corridor which runs round outside the jail, thus rendering escape as difficult at night as in broad daylight. Water is freely supplied to every room on every storey, and means of bathing are arranged in various parts of the building. School-rooms, private rooms, and a chapel are all contained within this leviathan outer case. In short, to those who take an interest in improving the airiness of jails and the security of prisoners, this building is well worth the most careful examination; and I trust we may some day profit by the improvements which the ingenuity of the New Englanders has here exhibited, for the frequent escapes from our jails prove that some change is requisite.
The Bostonians have applied the telegraph to a most important use, which, I believe, we have totally overlooked in England. The town is divided into sections, in each of which are a certain number of stations; all of these latter have a telegraph-office, communicating with one grand central office, by which means they explain where the fire is. The central office immediately indicates to every section the information thus obtained by the ringing of alarm-bells; and, by this method, every fire-station in the city is informed of the locality of the danger within a few minutes after its occurrence.
The naval arsenal at Boston is moderate in size, kept very clean; but when I visited it there were little signs of activity or life. They have only three building sheds, in one of which a vessel has been in progress for twenty years; the other two are vacant. The principal feature is the rope-walk, which is 1640 feet long, and worked by steam-power.
The United States, being on friendly terms with England, and so far removed from Europe and its politics and its disturbances, pays comparatively little attention to the navy, which is small, when considered in reference to the size and wealth of the country and the extent of its seaboard.
The convention for the amendment of the constitution being in session, I was enabled, through the kindness of Mr. Sumner, the senator for the State, to witness their proceedings, which were conducted with becoming dignity. The speakers, if not eloquent, at least adhered to the subject under discussion, in a manner some of the wordy and wandering gentlemen in our House of Commons might imitate with advantage.
The supply of water for the town is brought from Lake Cochitnate, a distance of twenty miles; and the length of piping in connexion with it is upwards of 100 miles. The State authorized a city debt of 900,000l. for the necessary expenses of the undertaking and purchase of the ground, &c. The annual receipts amount to 36,000l., which will, of course, increase with the population. Dwelling-houses pay from 1l. as high as 15l. tax, according to their consumption. The average daily expenditure in 1853 was about 7,000,000 gallons, or nearly 50 gallons per head.
Before leaving Boston, I may as well give some evidence of the prosperity of the State. In the year 1830, the population was 600,000; at the present date it is 1,000,000. The exports of domestic produce, which in 1844 amounted to 1,275,000l., now amount to upwards of 2,830,000l.; and the imports, which at the former period amounted to 4,000,000l., now amount to nearly 7,000,000l. The population of Boston has increased 600 per cent. during the present century. Lowell, which is the great Manchester of Massachusetts, has increased its population from 6500 in 1830 to nearly 40,000 at the present date; and the capital invested, which in 1823 was only 500,000l., is now nearly 2,700,000l. I do not wish to weary my readers with statistics, and therefore trust I have said enough to convey a tolerable impression of the go-aheadism of these hardy and energetic descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers; and, for the same reasons, I have not made any observations upon their valuable libraries, hospitals, houses of industry, reformation, &c., the former of which are so largely indebted to private munificence. But before taking my leave of Boston, I must notice the great pleasure I derived from hearing in all quarters the favourable impression which Lord Elgin's visit, on the occasion of opening the railway in 1851, had produced. His eloquence and urbanity was a constant theme of conversation with many of my friends, who generally wound up by saying, "A few such visits as that of the Railway Jubilee would do more to cement the good feeling between the two countries than the diplomacy of centuries could effect." I must here add, that upon my visiting Quebec, I found that the same cordial feeling of fellowship had been produced on the Canadian mind, by the brotherly reception they had met with upon that memorable occasion. Farewell to Boston! but not farewell to the pleasing recollection of the many happy hours I spent, nor of the many kind friends whose acquaintance I enjoyed there, and which I hope on same future occasion to renew and improve.
[Footnote AL: Such gifts during the lifetime of the donor, are in my estimation, better evidences of liberality and zeal in a cause, than the most munificent bequests even of a Stephen Gerard, who only gave what he could no longer enjoy.]
[Footnote AM: A Vide observation by Mr. H. Mann, chap. 20.]
[Footnote AN: The expense of printing proper books is sometimes mentioned as an objection, on account of requiring new types for the new sounds taught. No expense can outweigh the value of a change by which education can be facilitated; but even this difficulty has been obviated by Major Beniowski's plan. He obtains the new symbols requisite by simply inverting a certain number of letters for that purpose.]
Early morning found me seated in the cars on my way to Quebec. Not being a good hand at description of scenery, this railway travelling is a great boon to my unfortunate reader—if he have got thus far. A Nubian clothed in castor-oil, and descending from the heavens by a slippery seat upon a rainbow, might as well attempt to describe the beauties of our sphere as the caged traveller at the tail of the boiling kettle attempt to convey much idea of the scenery he passes through. Not merely do the scrunching squeaks of the break, the blasty trumpet whistle, the slamming of doors, and the squalling of children bewilder his brain and bedeafen his ears, but the iron tyrant enchains and confuses his eyes. A beautiful village rivets his attention,—bang he goes into the tunneled bowels of the earth; a magnificent panorama enchants his sight as he emerges from the realms of darkness; he calls to a neighbour to share the enjoyment of the lovely scene with him; the last sounds of the call have not died away, ere he finds himself wedged in between two embankments, with nought else but the sky for the eye to rest on. Is it any wonder, then—nay, rather, is it not an evidence of truthfulness—that I find the record of my journey thus described in my note-book:—"7-1/2 A.M., Fizz, fizz; hiss, hiss—waving fields—undulating ground—sky—varied tints of green—cottages, cattle, humanities—bridges, bays, rivers, dust, and heat—Rouse's Point, 7-1/2 P.M." At this point we got out of the cage and embarked in a steamer. The shroud of night hung heavily around us, and the lights of Montreal and its suburbs, reflected in the unruffled stream, shone all the brighter from the density of the surrounding darkness, and formed a brilliant illumination. In half an hour I was comfortably housed in the hotel, where, to my agreeable surprise, I met one of my countrywomen, whose many charms had made her a theme of much admiration at Washington, where I first had the pleasure of making her acquaintance.
Any one who, wandering far from home, finds himself surrounded with utter strangers, will partially understand the pleasure I enjoyed at finding one face I had looked upon before; but to understand it fully, they must know the face I was then gazing upon. Don't be curious, reader, as to whom it belonged, for I have no intention of enlightening you, further than to say it belonged to her and her husband. Twelve hours of railway makes me sleepy; it's my nature, and I can't help it, so I trust I may be excused, when I confess that I very soon exchanged the smile of beauty for the snore of Morpheus. What my dreams were, it concerns nobody to know.
The magnificent brow of hill which overhangs Montreal was named in 1535 Mont Royal, by the famous Jacques Cartier, in honour of his royal master; the French settlement which arose a century after, in the neighbourhood of the Indian village of Hochelaga, assumed the name of the hill, and has at last shaken down into its present combination. What Goths, not to preserve the Indian name which savours of the land and of antiquity, instead of substituting a French concoction! With regard to the site of the town, there is no doubt it is on the island now called Montreal; but where that island is situated may be considered an open question; the river Ottawa runs into the St. Lawrence at the western extremity of the island, and the question is, whether the water on the northern shore is the Ottawa or the St. Lawrence; upon which depends whether the island is in the St. Lawrence, or between the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa. Not wishing to deprive either of their finger in the pie, I should give my verdict in favour of the latter opinion; but I leave it an open question to the reader. The population of the town is increasing rapidly, no doubt owing in great measure to emigration. In 1849 it was 48,000, in 1851, 58,000. The great majority are of the Church of Rome, 41,000; of the Church of England there are 4000; the other denominations are in small numbers.
At the time I arrived, the town was full of gloom and excitement, for it was but a few days previous that the Roman Catholics endeavoured to murder Gavazzi, while delivering one of his anti-Romanistic lectures, which, whatever their merits or demerits, were most certainly very injudicious, considering the elements of which the population of Montreal is composed; and it cannot be denied, that Signor Gavazzi's lectures upon sacred subjects are delivered in a style partaking so much of the theatrical, that a person ignorant of the language of his address, might readily suppose that he was taking off John Kemble and Liston alternately, and therefore the uneducated Irish emigrants might very well conclude his sole object was to turn their creed into ridicule. I certainly never heard or saw a person, lecturing on sacred subjects, whose tone and manner were so ridiculously yet painfully at variance with the solemnity due to such a theme. The excitement produced, the constant calling out of the military, and the melancholy sequel, are too recent and well known to require recapitulation here. It is but just to the French Romanists to state, that as a body they repudiated and took no part in the villanous attempt upon Gavazzi's life; the assailants were almost exclusively Irish Romanists, who form nearly one-fifth of the population. Would that they could leaven their faith with those Christian virtues of peacefulness and moderation which shine so creditably in their co-religionists of French origin.
While touching upon the subject of the military being called out in aid of the civil power, I am reminded of a passage extracted from some journal which a friend showed me, and which I consider so well expressed, that I make no apology for giving it at length.
"THE MOB.—The mob is a demon fierce and ungovernable. It will not listen to reason: it will not be influenced by fear, or pity, or self-preservation. It has no sense of justice. Its energy is exerted in frenzied fits; its forbearance is apathy or ignorance. It is a grievous error to suppose that this cruel, this worthless hydra has any political feeling. In its triumph, it breaks windows; in its anger, it breaks heads. Gratify it, and it creates a disturbance; disappoint it, and it grows furious; attempt to appease it, and it becomes outrageous; meet it boldly, and it turns away. It is accessible to no feeling but one of personal suffering; it submits to no argument but that of the strong hand. The point of the bayonet convinces; the edge of the sabre speaks keenly; the noise of musketry is listened to with respect; the roar of artillery is unanswerable. How deep, how grievous, how burdensome is the responsibility that lies on him who would rouse this fury from its den! It is astonishing, it is too little known, how much individual character is lost in the aggregate character of a multitude. Men may be rational, moderate, peaceful, loyal, and sober, as individuals; yet heap them by the thousand, and in the very progress of congregation, loyalty, quietness, moderation, and reason evaporate, and a multitude of rational beings is an unreasonable and intemperate being—a wild, infuriated monster, which may be driven, but not led, except to mischief—which has an appetite for blood, and a savage joy in destruction, for the mere gratification of destroying."
The various fires with which the city has been visited, however distressing to the sufferers, have not been without their good effect, of which the eye has most satisfactory evidence in the numerous public and other buildings now built of stone. The only monument in the city is one which was raised to Nelson. Whether the memory of the hero has passed away, or the ravages of the weather call too heavily on the public purse, I cannot say; but it would be more creditable to the town to remove it entirely, than to allow it to remain in its present disgraceful state. It is reported that its restoration is to be effected by private subscription; if so, more shame to the authorities.
As nay first object was to reach Quebec, I only stayed one day at Montreal, which I employed in driving about to see what changes had taken place in the town and neighbourhood since my former visit in 1826. I started by steamer in the evening, and arrived early the next morning.
Is there any scene more glorious to look upon than that which greets the eye from the citadel at Quebec? The only scene I know more glorious is Rio Janeiro, which I believe to be by far the grandest in the world; but the Rio lacks the associations of Quebec. Who can ever forget that beneath its walls two chieftains, the bravest of the brave, fell on the same battle-field—the one in the arms of victory, the other in defence of his country and her honour? The spot where our hero fell is marked by a pillar thus simply inscribed:—
HERE DIED WOLFE, VICTORIOUS.
Nor has the noble foe been forgotten, though for a long time unnoticed. In the year 1827, the Earl of Dalhousie being Governor-General, a monument was raised in Quebec to Wolfe and Montcalm; and the death they both met at the post of honour is commemorated on the same column,—a column on which an Englishman may gaze with pride and a Frenchman without a blush. The following words, forming part of the inscription, I think well worthy of insertion: "Military prowess gave them a common death, History a common fame, Posterity a common monument."
It is a curious fact, that when the foundation-stone was laid, an old soldier from Ross-shire, the last living veteran of the gallant band who fought under Wolfe, was present at the ceremony, being then in his ninety-fifth year. Everybody who has seen or read of Quebec must remember the magnificent towering rock overhanging the river, on the summit of which the citadel is placed, forming at once the chief stronghold of its defence, and the grandest feature of its scenery. But perhaps everybody does not know that to this same glorious feature the city owes its name. The puny exclamation of Jacques Cartier's Norman pilot upon beholding it was, "Que bec!" and this expression of admiration has buried, in all but total oblivion, the old Algonquin name of Stadacona. What a pity that old pilot was not born dumb.
The increase of population here does not seem, to be very rapid. In 1844, it was about 36,000; now, it is little more than 42,000. There can be no doubt that the severity of the climate is one great cause of so small an increase. When it is remembered that the average arrival of the first vessel after the breaking up of the ice is between the last week of April and the first week in May, this need not he much wondered at.
The Governor-General's residence, is removed from the town, and a beautiful little country villa, called Spencer Wood, has been assigned him in lieu. It is situated on the banks of the river, about half a mile inland; the only objection to it is, that the size thereof is not sufficient for vice-regal entertainments; but a very slight addition would remedy that defect. In all other respects it is a charming place, as I can gratefully testify. The drives and sights around the city are too well known to need much notice from me.
Montmorenci, with its frozen cone in winter, is one of the chief resorts for pic-nickers in their sleighs. The trackless path over the frozen snow during the season is as full of life as Windsor park was in the old Ascot days. Bright eyes beaming from rosy cheeks, and half buried in furs, anxiously watch for the excitement of a capsize, and laugh merrily as the mixed tenants of some sleigh are seen rolling over one another in most ludicrous confusion; the sun shines brightly, the bells ring cheerily, all is jollity and fun, and a misanthrope would be as much out of his element in one of these pic-nics as a bear in a ballet.
The falls of Lorette afford another pleasant excursion, not forgetting old Paul and his wife—a venerable Indian chief and his squaw—whom I visited, and the cleanliness of whose cottage I had great pleasure in complimenting him upon, as also upon his various medals, which extended from Chateau Gai down to the Exhibition of 1851. He appeared as much struck with my venerable appearance as I was with his; for, upon being asked my age, he bestowed a searching glance from head to foot, and then gravely replied, "Seventy-five." I rebelled against his decision, and appealed to his wife, who kindly took my part, and after a steady gaze, said, "Oh, Paul! that gentleman is not more than seventy-two." It was in vain I tried to satisfy them, that thirty summers would have to pass over my head before I reached that honourable time of life. However, it is not only Indians who miscalculate age, for a young lady, fresh from Ireland, having the same question put to her, said "Sixty;" and upon being told she was seventeen years out in her calculation, she replied, with painful coolness, "Which way?" I never felt a confirmed old bachelor till I heard that awful "Which way?"
The roads round about in all directions are admirable; not so if you cross the river to the Falls of the Chaudiere; but the abomination of abominations is the ferry-boat, and the facilities, or rather obstacles, for entering and exiting. To any one who has seen the New York ferry-boats, and all the conveniences connected with them, the contrast is painfully humiliating. In the one case you drive on board as readily as into a court-yard, and find plenty of room when you get there; in the other, you have half a dozen men holding horses and carriages, screaming in all directions, and more time is wasted in embarking than a Yankee boat would employ to deposit you safely on the other side; and it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to decide which is the more abominable, the exit or the entry. Nevertheless, the traveller will find himself compensated for all his troubles—especially if the horse and carriage be a friend's—by the lovely drive which takes him to the Chaudiere Falls, a trip I had the pleasure of making in company with a jolly party of good fellows belonging to the 72nd Highlanders, then in garrison at Quebec, and whose hospitalities during my stay I gratefully remember.
If, however, an Englishman feels humiliated in crossing the Quebec ferry, he feels a compensating satisfaction upon entering the Quebec Legislative Council Chamber, which in its aspect of cleanliness, furniture, &c., has an appearance of refinement far superior to that at Washington. As they were not sitting during my stay in Canada, I had no opportunity of drawing any comparison on their different modes of carrying on public business. I had heard so much during my absence from England of the famous Rebellion Losses Bill, and all the obloquy which had been heaped upon the Governor-General in consequence, that I was very anxious to get some insight into the true state of the case, although perhaps the justification of the Earl of Elgin's conduct by Sir Robert Peel ought to have satisfied me.
I soon became convinced that in this, as in most similar cases, the violence of party spirit had clouded truth; and the bitterness of defeat, in minds thus prejudiced, had sought relief in the too-common channels of violence and abuse. However much to be deplored, I fear that the foregoing opinions will be found, on most occasions of political excitement, to be true. The old party, who may be said to have enjoyed the undisguised support of the Queen's representatives from time immemorial, were not likely to feel very well disposed to Lord Elgin, when they found that he was determined to identify himself with no particular party, but that, being sent to govern Canada constitutionally, he was resolved to follow the example of his sovereign, and give his confidence and assistance to whichever party proved, by its majority, to be the legitimate representative of the opinions of the governed, at the same time ever upholding the right and dignity of the Crown. This was, of course, a first step in unpopularity with the party who, long triumphant, now found themselves in a minority; then, again, it must be remembered that a majority which had for so many years been out of power was not likely, in the excitement of victory, to exercise such moderation as would be calculated to soothe the irritated feelings of their opponents, who, they considered, had enjoyed too long the colonial loaves and fishes.
With all these elements at work, it is not to be wondered at that a question which admitted of misinterpretation should be greedily laid hold of, and that, thus misinterpreted, the passions of the mob should be successfully roused. I believe there is little question that the Government brought forward the Rebellion Losses Bill in the Senate in a manner, if not arrogant, at all events most offensive, and thus added fuel to the flames; but, viewed dispassionately, what is the truth of this far-famed bill? It was framed upon the precedent of that for the payment of similar losses in Upper Canada on a previous occasion, and I believe the very same commissioners were appointed to carry out its provisions. It received the sanction of the Governor-General in the same way as all other bills, and was never smuggled through, as the irritated opposition and infuriated mobs would have us believe. The Governor-General clearly states that it never was intended in any way "to compensate the losses of persons guilty of the heinous crime of treason," and the names of the commissioners appointed to decide upon the claims of the sufferers might alone have been a sufficient guarantee that such an abominable idea was never entertained. Without mentioning others, take Colonel W.C. Hanson: schooled in the field of honour and patriotism, whose courage has been tried in many a bloody struggle during the Peninsular war, and is attested by the honourable badges that adorn his breast. Is a recreant rebel likely to find sympathy in that breast which for half a century stood unchallenged for loyalty and truth? What do his letters, as one of the commissioners, prove beyond the shadow of a doubt? I have them now before me; and, so far from claims being hastily admitted, I find the gallant old soldier constantly advocating the cause of some claimant whom the commissioners declined to indemnify, but never yet have I seen his name as opposed to any compensation granted; possessing that still more noble quality which is ever the lovely handmaid of true courage, his voice is raised again and again for mercy.
I could quote from numerous letters of this veteran, extracts similar to the following:—The claimants were inhabitants of St. Benoit, some portion of which population had been in arms as rebels, but upon the approach of the Queen's troops they had all laid down their arms. As to the facts of the case, Colonel Hanson writes to Lord Seaton, who replies:—"The soldiers were regularly put up in the village by the Quartermaster-General's department, and strict orders were issued to each officer to protect the inhabitants and their property; Lieut.-Col. Townsend to remain in the village of St. Benoit for its protection, the remainder of the troops to return to Montreal. The utmost compassion and consideration should be felt for the families of the sufferers plunged into affliction by the reckless conduct of their relatives; every house injured or destroyed at St. Benoit was a wanton destruction, perpetrated in defiance of guards placed to protect property." Thus writes Lord Seaton. Colonel Hanson, after quoting the above, proceeds to state that the evidence before the commissioners proves that "immediately after Lieut.-Col. Townsend assembled his regiment for the purpose of marching back to Montreal, the volunteers from the northern townships commenced plundering the village, carrying off the whole of the effects belonging to the inhabitants, burning the church, and nearly every house in the village ... wilfully and wantonly destroying houses, and in many instances burning valuable barns and granaries.... Therefore I humbly pretend that every such individual who thus suffered should be indemnified, as his loss was a wanton destruction of the dwellings, buildings, property, and effects of the said inhabitants." Yet such was the jealous way in which the commissioners excluded all doubtful claimants, that Colonel Hanson found himself in a minority upon the consideration of the foregoing claims, and, as a man of honour and anxious for justice, felt it his duty to address a letter to the Governor-General upon the subject, from which letter, bearing date January, 1852, the foregoing extracts have been taken.
I have very many of such complaints of justice being withheld from claimants, in the opinion of the gallant colonel, now lying before me, but "ex uno disce omnes." I have read a great portion of the Report, and the conclusion is irresistibly forced upon my mind, that everything which could possibly be brought to assume the slightest shade of rebellion was made fatal to an applicant's claim; but if anything were wanting to satisfy my mind that the vilifiers of the "Losses Bill" had not any ground of complaint against the measure, it would be found in the fact, that among its various opponents to whom I spoke, they one and all exclaimed, "Look at the case of Nelson, absolutely a rebel in arms, and his claims listened to!" This was their invariable reply; and, until I made inquiry, it looked very bad. But what was the real state of the case? Simply that Nelson, having been ruined by his rebellion, many loyal and faithful subjects to whom he owed debts suffered for his faults; and the money awarded for the losses sustained by the rebel went to pay the loyal debtors, except a small portion which was granted to his wife, who was well known to be strongly opposed to the course he had pursued, and who had lost considerable property which she held in her own right. I say that the fact of Nelson's case being always brought up as the great enormity carried more conviction to my mind of the utter weakness of the opponents' cause than anything else; and it also proved to me how ignorant many of them were of the truth, for several of them who vilified the Bill, the Government, and the Governor-General, had not the slightest idea, till I informed them, how the Nelson award was applied.
There is no doubt that the atrocities of which Montreal was the scene constitute the most discreditable features in modern Canadian history, and which, it is to be hoped, the instigators to and actors in are long since fully ashamed of; nor can the temper and judgment of the Governor-General on this trying occasion be too highly extolled. When it was imperative to dissolve the Parliament, he foresaw that his not doing so in person would be misconstrued by his enemies, and that he would be branded by them with that most galling of all accusations to a noble heart—cowardice. With a high-minded sense of duty, he put all such personal considerations aside. There were two courses open to him: one, to call out the military, and in their safe keeping dissolve the Assembly; the other, to depute the Commander of the Forces to perform that duty. The former must have produced a collision with the populace, and the blood of many whom he believed to be as loyal as he knew they were misguided and excited would have flowed freely; the latter, he foresaw, would be misconstrued into an act of personal cowardice, but he knew it would prevent a flow of blood, the remembrance of which would keep alive the bitterest elements of political animosity for years to come. With true patriotism, he sacrificed himself at the shrine of the country he was sent to govern, preferring to be the subject of the most galling accusations rather than shed unnecessarily one drop of the blood of those committed to his rule.
During the whole of Lord Elgin's able and prosperous administration, I can scarcely conceive any one act of his to which he can look back with more satisfaction, than this triumph of his judgment over his feelings, when he offered up just pride and dignity on the altar of mercy, and retired to Quebec. A shallow-pated fellow, who had probably figured personally in the outrages of that period, in talking to me on the subject, thus described it,—"he bolted off in a funk to Quebec;" and doubtless hundreds of others, as shallow-pated as himself, had been made to believe such was the case, and vituperation being the easiest of all ignoble occupations, they had probably done their best to circulate the paltry slander. Lord Elgin, however, needs no goose-quill defender; the unprecedented increasing prosperity of the colony under his administration is the most valuable testimony he could desire. It is not every governor who, on his arrival, finding a colony in confusion and rebellion, has the satisfaction, on his resignation of office, of leaving harmony and loyalty in their place, and the revenue during the same period increased from 400,000l. to 1,500,000l.: and if any doubt ever rested upon his mind as to whether his services were approved of and appreciated at home, it must have been removed in the most gratifying manner, when, upon a public dinner being given him at the London Tavern, 1854, all shades of politicals gathered readily to do him honour; and while the chairman, Lord John Russell, was eulogizing his talents and his administration, five other colonial and ex-colonial ministers were present at the same board to endorse the compliment; the American Minister also bearing his testimony to the happy growth of good feeling between the two countries, which Lord Elgin had so successfully fostered and developed. I cannot recal to my memory any other instance of so great an honour having been paid to a colonial governor.
I was astonished to find so little had been done in Canada for the organization of a militia force, especially when their republican neighbours afford them an example of so much activity and efficiency in that department. It may not be desirable as yet for the colony to establish any military school, such as West Point; but it might be agreeable and advantageous to the colonists, if we allowed a given number of young men to be educated at each of our military colleges in England; those only being eligible, who, by a severe examination, had proved their capabilities, and whose conduct at the places of their education had been noted as exemplary. By such simple means, a certain amount of military knowledge would gradually be diffused amongst the colonists, which would render them more efficient to repress internal troubles or repel foreign aggression.
As it may be interesting to some of my readers, I shall here give a slight sketch of the Canadian parliaments. The Legislative Assembly, or House of Commons, is composed of eighty-four members, being forty-two for each province. The qualification for membership is 500l., and the franchise 40s. freehold, or 7l. 10s. the householder; it is also granted to wealthy leaseholders and to farmers renting largely; the term is for four years, and members are paid 1l. per day while sitting, and 6d. per mile travelling expenses. The Legislative Council consists of forty members, and is named by the Crown for life. The Cabinet, or Executive Council, are ten in number, and selected from both Houses by the Governor-General. Their Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Prime Minister. The Canadians wish to do away with the qualification for members of the Assembly, retaining the qualification for the franchise, and to increase the number of members to sixty-five for each province. They also desire to supersede the nomination of the Crown, and to make the Legislative Council elective,[AO] with a property qualification of 1000l., thirty members for each province; these latter to be elected for six years.
With regard to the proposed change in the Legislative Council, I confess I look upon its supposed advantages—if carried out—with considerable doubt, inasmuch as the electors being the same as those for the other Chamber, it will become merely a lower house, elected for a longer period, and will lose that prestige which might have been obtained by exacting a higher qualification from the electors. Then, again, I think the period for which they are elected decidedly too short, being fully convinced that an increase in duration will usually produce an increase in the respectability of the candidates offering themselves for election; an opinion in which I am fully borne out by many of the wisest heads who assisted in framing the government of the United States, and who deplored excessively the shortness of the period for which the senators were elected.[AP] I cannot believe, either, that the removing the power of nomination entirely from the Crown will prove beneficial to the colony. Had the experiment been commenced with the Crown resigning the nomination of one-half of the members, I think it would have been more prudent, and would have helped to keep alive those feelings of association with, and loyalty to, the Crown which I am fully certain the majority of the Canadians deeply feel; a phalanx of senators, removed from all the sinister influences of the periodical simoons common to all countries would thus have been retained, and the Governor-General would have had the power of calling the highest talent and patriotism to his councils, in those times of political excitement when the passions of electors are too likely to be enlisted in favour of voluble agitators, who have neither cash nor character to lose. However, as these questions are to be decided, as far as this country is concerned, by those who probably care but little for my opinions, and as the question is not one likely to interest the general reader, I shall not dilate further upon it.
[Footnote AO: Since my return to England the proposed increase in the Legislative Assembly has taken place. The Imperial Government has also empowered the colony to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council, and to render it elective if they thought proper so to do.]
[Footnote AP: Vide Chapter on the "Constitution of the United States."]
A Trip to the Uttawa.
Having spent a fortnight in the enjoyment of lovely scenery and warm hospitality, and taken a last and lingering gaze at the glorious panoramic view from the citadel, I embarked once more on the St. Lawrence. It was evening; and, as the moon rose bright and clear, the wooded banks and silvered stream formed as charming a picture as the eye of man could wish to rest upon. Morning found us at Montreal. Among my fellow-passengers were two members of the Cabinet, or Executive Council, Mr. Hincks and Mr. Drummond, both on their way to the Ottawa, the commercial importance of that river to the prosperity of the colony having induced them to take the trip with a view of ascertaining, by actual observation and examination, what steps were most advisable to improve its navigation.
My intention was to start at once for Kingston; but when they kindly asked me to accompany them, I joyfully accepted, and an hour after I landed at Montreal I was on the rail with my friends, hissing away to Lachine, where the chief office of the Hudson's Bay Company is fixed. There we embarked in a steamer on Lake St. Louis, which is a struggling compound of the dark brown Ottawa and the light blue St. Lawrence. The lake was studded with islands, and the scenery rendered peculiarly lovely by the ever-changing lights and shades from the rising sun. We soon left the St. Lawrence compound and reached that part of the Ottawa[AQ] which the poet has immortalized by his beautiful "Canadian Boat Song."
St. Anne's is a small village, and the rapids being impassable in low water they have built a lock to enable steamers to ascend; but fortunately, when we passed, there was sufficient water, and we steamed up the song-famed rapids, above which the river spreads out into the Lake of the Two Mountains. It is proposed to build a railway bridge for the main trunk line, just above the rapids. How utterly the whizzing, whistling kettle spoils the poetry of scenery, undeniable though its utility be! There is no doubt that the Lake of the Two Mountains has many great beauties; but, whatever they may be, a merciless storm of rain effectually curtained them from us, and we traversed the whole lake to Point Fortune in a mist worthy of the Western Highlands. There we took coach, as the locks at Carillon are not yet large enough for full-sized steamers to pass. The road was alike good and uninteresting, running by the side of the canal, whose banks were here and there enlivened by groups of wild flowers.