A stage of twelve miles brought us to Grenville, where we again took steamer on the Ottawa, and, the weather being finer, we had an opportunity of enjoying the scenery, which is very peculiar. It has none of the wild features of grandeur which one associates with comparatively unknown streams, in a country where all is gigantesque. There is nothing mountainous or craggy, but the banks and hills at the back being luxuriously wooded, and conveying the idea of being well tenanted, the absence of human habitations seems unnatural, and gives the solitude an air of mystery, only broken at long intervals by a bowered cottage or a wreath of smoke. The most remarkable building is the French chateau of M. Papineau, very prettily situated on the northern bank, commanding an extensive view of the river, and looking in its isolation as though its occupant was a second Robinson Crusoe, and monarch of all he surveyed. Night soon buried all scenery in its sable mantle, and, after sixty miles steaming, we reached Bytown, where we found friends and conveyances ready to take us over to Aylmer, there to sleep preparatory to a further excursion up the river early in the morning. As the distance was only eight miles, we were soon at Mr. Egan's hospitable board, from which we speedily retired to rest, so as to be ready for the morrow's trip.
Early dawn found us on hoard and steaming merrily up the glorious stream, which, spreading out very widely, has been lakefied, and is called Lake Chaudiere and Du Chene, thus named, I suppose, because the water is cold and there are few oaks to be seen. Be that as it may, the scenery, though possessing neither striking features nor variety, is very pretty and cheerful. A quantity of lovely little villas stud the banks, some ensconced snugly in cosy nooks, others standing out boldly upon the rich greensward; and, for a background, you have full-bosomed hills, rich in forest monarchs, clad in their dense and dark mantles. Suddenly the scene changes, the Chats Falls burst upon the sight; and well does the magnificent view repay the traveller for any difficulty he may have had in his endeavours to reach this spot. About three miles above the rocky and well-wooded island that creates the falls, the river contracts very considerably, and in its rushing impetuosity seems as though it were determined to sweep the whole island into the lake below; then there appears to have been a compromise between the indignant stream and the obstinate island, and the latter seems to have offered up a great portion of its timber at the shrine of Peace, and to have further granted various rights of way to its excited neighbour. The river seems to have taken advantage of both these concessions very largely, but it appears that in nature, as it often occurs in politics, concessions only breed increased demands, and the ungrateful Ottawa, while sweeping away forest timber and baring the granite rock in a dozen different channels, thunders its foaming waters along with an angry voice, ever crying "More, more."
I never saw anything more beautiful than these falls. They are generally from twenty to forty feet broad, and about the same in height; but from the shape of the island you cannot see them all at once; and as you steam along there is a continual succession of them, each revealing some new beauty. It was at this place that I, for the first time, saw a slide for the descent of lumber, to which I shall have to refer hereafter. For many years the porterage of goods across this island to the Ottawa above—which is called Lake Chats—was a work of much difficulty and expense. Mr. E., with that enterprise and energy which mark his character, got two friends of kindred spirit to join him, and made a railway across, about three miles and a half long. It is a single line, constructed upon piles, and the car is rattled over at a jolly pace by two spicy ponies. As the piles are in some places from twenty to thirty feet in the air, it looks nervous work; and if one of the ponies bolted, it might produce a serious accident; but they seem aware of the danger, and trot away as steadily as an engine, if not quite so rapidly.
On reaching the north-western end of the island, another steamer was waiting for us, and we again breasted the stream of the Ottawa. After passing the first three miles, which, as before mentioned, are very narrow, and thus produce that additional impetus which ends in the lovely Chats Falls, the river opens out into the Lake. The shores are low and with a gentle rise, and there is comparatively little appearance of agricultural activity, the settler having found the ground at the back of the rise better suited for farming purposes.
Some distance up the lake, and close to its margin, is the farm of Mr. McDonnell, thus forming an exception to the general rule. His residence is an excessively pretty cottage, commanding a grand panoramic view. Here we stopped to pay a visit to the energetic old Highlander and his family, and to enjoy his hospitalities. If he is to be taken as a specimen of the salubrity of the climate, I never saw so healthy a place. He came here as a lad to push his fortunes, with nothing but a good axe and a stout heart. He has left fifty summers far behind him; he looks the embodiment of health, and he carries his six feet two inches in a way that might well excite the envy of a model drill-sergeant; and when he took my hand to welcome me, I felt all my little bones scrunching under his iron grasp, as if they were so many bits of pith.
I could not help contrasting the heartiness of his welcome with the two stiff fingers which in highly-civilized life are so often proffered either from pride or indifference; and though he did very nearly make me cry "Enough!" I would a thousand times rather suffer and enjoy his hearty grasp than the cold formality of conventional humbug. The hardy old pioneer has realized a very comfortable independence, and he told me his only neighbours were a band of his countrymen at the back of the hill, who speak Gaelic exclusively and scarce know a word of English. They mostly came out with "The Macnab," but from time to time they are refreshed by arrivals from the Old Country.
Having a long day's work before us, we were enabled to make but a short stay, so, bidding him and his family a sincere good-bye and good speed, we renewed our journey. We soon came in sight of the black stumpy monuments of one of the most disastrous conflagrations which ever victimized a forest. Some idea may be formed of the ravages of the "devouring element," from the simple fact that it all but totally consumed every stick of timber covering a space of forty-five miles by twenty-five; and the value of what was thus destroyed may be partially estimated, when it is considered that one good raft of timber is worth from three to five thousand pounds. These rafts, which are seen dotted about the lake in every direction, have a very pretty effect, with their little distinguishing flags floating in the breeze, some from the top of a pole, some from the top of the little shanty in which their hardy navigators live; and a dreary, fatiguing, and dangerous career it must be; but Providence, in his mercy, has so constituted man, that habit grows into a new nature; and these hardy sons of creation sing as merrily, smile as cheerfully, smoke as calmly, and unquestionably sleep as soundly, as any veteran in idleness, though pampered with luxuries, and with a balance at his banker's which he is at a loss how to squander.
These sons of toil bear practical testimony to the truth of what the late lamented Sir J. Franklin always declared to be his conviction, from long experience, viz., that the use of spirits is enfeebling rather than invigorating to those who have to work in the most severe climates. The Lumberers are nearly all teetotallers, and I am told they declare that they find their health bettered, their endurance strengthened, their muscles hardened, and their spirits enlivened by the change. If this be so, and if we find that the natives of warm climates are, as a mass, also teetotallers, and that when they forsake their temperance colours they deteriorate and eventually disappear, I fear we must come to the conclusion, that however delicious iced champagne or sherry-cobbler may be, or however enjoyable "a long pull at the pewter-pot," they are not in any way necessary to health or cheerfulness, and that, like all actions, they have their reactions, and thus create a desire for their repetition, until by habit they become a second nature, to the great comfort and consolation of worthy wine-merchants and fashionable medical men, whose balance-sheets would suffer about equally by the discontinuance of their use; not to mention the sad effects of their misuse, as daily exhibited in police reports and other features, if possible worse, which the records of "hells" would reveal.
So strong does the passion become, that I know of a lady who weighs nearly a ton, and is proud of displaying more of her precious substance than society generally approves of, in whom the taste "for a wee drop" is so strong, that, to enable her to gratify it more freely, she has the pleasure of paying two medical men a guinea each daily, to stave off as long as they can its insidious attacks upon her gigantic frame. You must not, however, suppose that I am a teetotaller. I have tried it, and never found myself better than while practising it; still I never lose a chance if a bottle of iced champagne is circulating, for I confess—I love it dearly.
Pardon this digression.—We are again on the Ottawa; as we advance, the river narrows and becomes studded with little islands covered with wild shrubs and forest trees, from whose stiff unyielding boughs the more pliant shoots droop playfully into the foaming stream below, like the children of Gravity coquetting with the family of Passion. Of course these islands form rapids in every direction: we soon, approach the one selected as the channel in which to try our strength. On we dash boldly—down rushes the stream with a roar of defiance; arrived midway, a deadly struggle ensues between boiling water and running water; we tremble in the balance of victory—the rushing waters triumph; we sound a retreat, which is put in practice with the caution of a Xenophon, and down we glide into the stiller waters below.
Poke the fires,—pile the coals! Again we dash onwards—again we reach midway—again the moment of struggle—again the ignominy of defeat—again the council of war in the stiller waters below. We now summon all our energies, determined that defeat shall but nerve us to greater exertion. We go lower down, so as to obtain greater initial velocity; the fires are made to glow one spotless mass of living heat. Again the charge is sounded: on we rush, our little boat throbbing from stem to stern; again the angry waters roar defiance—again the deadly struggle—again for a moment we tremble in the balance of victory. Suddenly a universal shout of triumph is heard, and as the joyous cheers die in echoes through the forest, we are breasting the smoother waters of the Ottawa above the rapids.
This is all very well on paper, but I assure you it was a time of intense excitement to us; if in the moment of deadly struggle the tiller ropes had broken, or the helmsman had made one false turn of the wheel, we might have got across the boiling rapids, and then good-bye to sublunary friends; our bones might have been floating past Quebec before the news of our destruction had reached it.
The Ottawa is by no means the only channel in these parts for conveying the produce of the lumberer's toil: there are tributaries innumerable, affording hundreds of miles of raft navigation; so that an almost indefinite field for their labour is open, and years, if not centuries, must elapse before the population can increase sufficiently to effect any very material inroad on these all but inexhaustible forests.
After proceeding a few miles beyond the scene of our late severe struggle, we reached the little village of Portage du Fort, above which the rapids are perfectly impassable. The inhabitants of this little wild forest community are not very numerous, as may be supposed, and the only object of interest is a flour-mill, which supplies the lumberers for many miles, both above and below. Our little steamer being unable to ascend higher, we were compelled to make a Scotchman's cruise of it—"There and bock agin." So, turning our head eastward, we bowled along merrily with the stream, dashing down our late antagonist like a flash of lightning, then across the lake, and through a fleet of bannered rafts, till we landed on the Chats Falls Island, where we found our ponies ready to whisk us along the mid-air railway. Re-embarking on the steamer of the morning, we found a capital dinner ready for us, and ere the shades of evening had closed in, we were once more enjoying the hospitalities of Aylmer.
Aylmer has only a population of 1100 inhabitants, but they are not idle. The house of Mr. E. does business with the lumberers to the tune of 200,000l. annually, and supplies them with 15,000 lb. of tea every year. Grog-shops are at a discount in these parts. The increasing prosperity of this neighbourhood is mainly owing to the energy and enterprise of Mr. Egan and his friend M. Aumond. It was by these two gentlemen that the steam-boats were put on the lakes, and the rail made across the island. Everybody feels how much the facility of conveyance has increased the prosperity of this locality; and the value of Mr. E.'s services is honourably recognised, by his unopposed election as the representative of the district. Having had a good night's rest, and taken in a substantial breakfast, we started off on our return to Bytown, which city may he considered as the headquarters of the lumberers.
The ground upon which the greater part of Bytown stands was offered some years since to a servant, as payment for a debt of 70l.; he found the bargain so bad, that he tried to get out of it. The value of the same land is now estimated at 200,000l.!!! As late as 1826, there was not one stone put upon another; now the population is 10,000, and steadily increasing. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the panoramic view from the verge of the Barrack Hill, which is a dark, frowning, perpendicular rock several hundred feet high. To the west are the Chaudiere Falls, 200 feet broad and 60 feet high, irregular in shape, and broken here and there by rocks, around which the rapids leap in unceasing frenzy, ere they take their last plunge into the maddened gulf below, thence rolling their dark waters beneath your feet. Below the falls the river is spanned by a very light and beautiful suspension-bridge. This part of the scene is enlivened by the continual descent of timber-rafts rushing down the slides, skilfully guided by their hardy and experienced navigators. Around you is a splendid expanse of waving field and sombre forest, far as the eye can stretch, and bounded towards the north by mountains looming and half lost in distance, whence comes the mighty Gatineau—a watery highway for forest treasure, threading its course like a stream of liquid silver as the sun's rays dance upon its bosom,—the whole forming one of the most beautiful panoramas imaginable.
No place was ever better calculated for the capital of a great country. Bordering upon Upper and Lower Canada, only twelve hours from Montreal, easily capable of defence, with a trade increasing in value as rapidly as the source thereof is inexhaustible, at the confluence of two rivers whose banks are alike rich in timber and arable land—requiring but nineteen miles of lockage to unite the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa, and the Gatineau with the boundless inland lakes of America—possessing the magnificent Rideau Canal, which affords a ready transport down to Kingston on Lake Ontario—rich with scenery, unsurpassed in beauty and grandeur, and enjoying a climate as healthy as any the world can produce,—Nature seems to have marked out Bytown as the site for a Canadian metropolis. In short, were I a prophet instead of a traveller, I should boldly predict that such it must be some day, if Canada remain united and independent.
I must here explain the slides for lumber, before alluded to. In days gone by, all lumber was shot down the rapids, to find its way as best it could, the natural consequence being that large quantities were irrecoverably lost. It occurred to Mr. Wright that this waste of toil and timber might be obviated, and he accordingly, after great labour and expense, succeeded in inventing what is termed a slide—in other words, an inclined wooden frame—upon which a certain number of the huge logs that compose a portion of a raft can be floated down together in perfect security, under the guidance of one or two expert men. The invention answered admirably, as is proved by the fact that, through its instrumentality, timber which formerly took two seasons to reach Quebec, now does so in five months. Like many other inventors, I fear Mr. Wright has not received justice at the hands of the Government, who, by building slides of their own, and granting advantages to those who use them, have thus removed the traffic from Mr. Wright's—an injustice which it is to be hoped it is not too late to repair; at all events, the Imperial Legislature, which felt bound to vote 4000l. to a man that invented a machine for making little holes between penny stamps, on the ground of commercial utility, must agree with me that it is unworthy of a lumbering colony to neglect the claims of a man whose invention has proved to be a benefit to the lumber trade, absolutely beyond calculation.
The chief proprietor at Bytown is the Hon. Mr. Mackay, and of his career in Canada he may indeed be justly proud. Arriving in the country as a labourer without a friend, he has, by his integrity and intellectual capability, fought his way up nobly to the highest position in the colony, and is one of the most respected members of the Legislative Council. Nor has he, while battling for senatorial honours, neglected his more material interests, and the energy he has brought to bear upon them has been rewarded to his heart's desire. He has a charming little country place, called Rideau Hall, about three miles out of town, and is the owner of several carding, saw, and flour mills, besides an extensive cloth factory, from the produce of which I am at this moment most comfortably clad. Mr. Mackay's career may fairly be termed a useful colonial monument, to encourage the aspirations of noble ambition, and to scourge the consciences of those drones who always see "a lion in the way." We had the pleasure of enjoying his hospitalities at a grand breakfast which he gave in honour of my two travelling friends, who were, I believe, the first members of the Executive Council that had been here for very many years.
One object of their present visit was to ascertain, from personal observation and inquiry, how far it was desirable the Government should grant money for the purpose of making any of the locks requisite to connect the Ottawa, &c., with Montreal and Quebec. I cannot for an instant doubt their being most thoroughly convinced both of its perfect practicability and of its immense importance. It only requires the construction of nineteen miles of canal, to complete an unbroken water communication from Quebec to the Ottawa and all its gigantic tributaries, extending even to Lake Temiscaming; and if a canal were cut from this latter to Lake Nipissing, the communication would then be complete through the heart of Canada across all the inland ocean waters of the American continent, and thence to New York via Erie Canal and Hudson, or to New Orleans via Illinois Canal, River, and Mississippi. Already 50,000l. have been, voted for this purpose, and this first instalment is mainly due to the energy of Mr. Egan. As a mark of respect for their representative, he was to be honoured with a public dinner, at which my two companions of the Executive Council were to attend. Unfortunately, my time was limited, and I was obliged to decline participating in the compliment which Mr. Egan had so well earned; so, bidding adieu to my friends, and casting one last and lingering glance at that glorious panorama—the remembrance of which time can never efface, I got into an open shay, and began prosecuting my solitary way towards Prescott.
I left the hotel as the guests were all arriving, and the fumes of the coming feast proclaiming in the most appetizing way the object of their meeting. I had two hours' daylight still left, and thus was enabled to see a little of that part of the neighbourhood, which alone was concealed when standing on the Barrack-hill. The more I saw of it, the more convinced was I of the peculiar adaptation of Bytown for a great city; the ground is admirably suited for building, and possesses a water-power which is inexhaustible. My road, as may naturally be supposed in a new country, lay through alternations of forest and cultivation; if it was not well macadamized, at least it was far better than I had expected, and there is some pleasure in being agreeably disappointed, and able to jog along without eternally bumping in some deep rut, which shakes the ash off your cigar inside your waistcoat. Here and there, of course, I came across a break-neck tract, but that only made the contrast more enjoyable.
At half-past twelve at night the little horses began to feel the effects of six hours' work, so I stopped at a tolerably miserable wayside inn for four hours, which was distributed between washing, feeding, and sleeping. Sharp work, but I was anxious to catch the steamer; so, snatching what rest I could out of that brief period, and hoping the horses had done the same, I was again en route at 5 A.M., and by great exertions reached Prescott in good time to learn that the steamer had started half an hour before my arrival. I consoled myself, as well as I could, with a washing basin, a teapot, and auxiliaries. I then went to look at the town, which consists of about three streets, and 3000 inhabitants; so that operation was accomplished without trouble, interest, or much loss of time. Ascertaining that if I went over to Ogdensburg, I could catch a steamer at 2 P.M., I ferried across instanter, wishing to get a look at Brother Jonathan's town before starting. A comparison between the two was not flattering to my national vanity. Instead of finding a population of 3000, with no indication of progress, I found a population of 8000, with go-aheadism in all quarters; large houses, large streets, and active prosperity stamped on everything. Doubtless this disparity is greatly owing to the railway, by which the latter is connected with the whole State of New York, and also from the want of reciprocity. Nevertheless, there is a stamp of energy at Ogdensburg, which the most careless observer cannot but see is wanting at Prescott.
Mr. Parish is the great proprietor at the former of these towns, and is said to be a man of considerable wealth, which he appears to be employing alike usefully and profitably—viz., in reclaiming from the lake a piece of land, about four hundred square yards, adjoining the railway terminus, by which means vessels will be able to unload readily on his new wharf; the reclaimed ground will thereby acquire an enormous value for storehouses.
Having finished my observations, and been well baked by a vertical sun, I embarked at 2 P.M. Lovely weather and lovely scenery.
The village of Brockville is very prettily situated on the banks of the lake, and is considered one of the prettiest towns in Canada. Continuing our course, numberless neat little villages and lovely villas appear from time to time; but when fairly on the Lake of The Thousand Isles, the scenery is altogether charming, and some new beauty is constantly bursting into view. Upon the present occasion the scene was rendered more striking by the perfect reflection of all the islands upon the burnished bosom of the glassy lake. We reached Cape Vincent towards evening, and, changing into another steamer, landed safely at Kingston about ten at night, where, finding a young artillery friend, I was soon immersed in that most absorbing of all pleasures to one long from home—viz., talking over old friends and old scenes, until you feel as though you were among both of them. Night, however, has its claims upon man, and, being honest, I discharged my obligation by going to bed as the tell-tale clock struck three.
Kingston is but a small place, though once of considerable importance. The population is about 12,000. In the year 1841, Lord Sydenham having removed the seat of Government from Toronto to Kingston, the inhabitants expended large sums of money in the expectation that it would so continue; but, in 1844, it was removed back again, and consequently a very heavy loss was incurred by those who had laid out their money. It is this eternal shifting about of the seat of Government—the disadvantage of which must be manifest to every one—that makes me hope Bytown, the position of which is so central, may some day be decided upon as the city to enjoy that honour permanently. However much Kingston may be recovering itself, and I was told it is, I must confess that, despite its cathedral, colleges, university, and other fine buildings, which it undoubtedly possesses, the grass in the streets and lanes, the pigs and the cows feeding about in all directions, made me feel ashamed, especially when I thought of young Ogdensburg, which I had so lately left. Taking into consideration the extent of lake communication which it enjoys, and that by the magnificent Rideau Canal the whole country of the Ottawa is open to it, I must say that I consider the state of Kingston the strongest reflection upon the energy and enterprise of the population. The finest view is from the citadel, which commands a splendid panoramic expanse; the fortifications are in good repair, and garrisoned by Canadian Rifles and a few Royal Artillerymen. One of the objects I should have had most interest in visiting was the Provincial Penitentiary, the arrangements of which, I had heard, were admirable; but, as I had no time to see them, the reader is saved the details.
At 3 P.M., I was again steaming away on Lake Ontario, which soon spreads out into an open sea. The boat was tolerably good and clean, and the food to match, but it was served down below; the cabin was therefore very stuffy. I selected a bed with great care, and in due time got into it, quite delighted with my carefully-chosen position, and soon buried my nose in the pillow, full of peaceful hopes. Luckless mortal! scarce had my nose extracted the cold from its contact with the pillow-case, when a sound came rushing forth with a violence which shook not only me and my bed, but the whole cabin. The tale is soon told. I had built my nest at the muzzle of the whistle of the engine, and, as they made a point of screeching forth the moment anything appeared in sight, you may guess that I had a pleasant night of it, and have scrupulously avoided repeating the experiment in any subsequent steam excursions. Having nobody to blame but myself, I lost the little satisfaction I might have had in abusing somebody else, and calling him a stupid ass for making such a choice. However, as a matter of justice, I abused myself, and the point being beyond dispute, no rejoinder was put in. Pleased with the candour of my confession, I caught such snatches of rest as the engineer and his whistle in mercy vouchsafed me—the next morning we were in Toronto.
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NOTE.—The Bytown mentioned in the foregoing chapter is now called Ottawa, and is a candidate, in conjunction with Montreal and Toronto, for the honour of permanent metropolitanism.
[Footnote AQ: Originally Uttawa, wherein Moore has shown alike his good taste and respect for antiquity by adhering to the original and more beautiful name.]
Colonial Education and Prosperity.
Toronto is prettily situated, and looks flourishing and prosperous; the way in which property is increasing in value here is wonderful, and the hits some people have made are quite fabulous. A property which had been bought for 30,000l., was, within a month—before even the price was paid in full—resold in lots for 100,000l. The position of the town is admirably adapted for a great commercial city: it possesses a secure harbour; it is situated on a lake about 190 miles long by 50 broad; thence the St. Lawrence carries its produce to the ocean, and the Rideau Canal connects it with the lumberers' home on the Ottawa; the main trunk line of railway, which will extend from the western point of the colony to Halifax, passes through it; a local line, traversing some of the richest land in Canada, is now in progress to Lake Simcoe and Lake Huron; one iron horse already affords it communication with Waterloo—nearly opposite Buffalo—whence produce descends by the Erie Canal and the Hudson to New York: besides all which advantages, it enjoys at present the privilege of being one of the seats of government and the radiating point of education. Surely, then, if any town in Upper Canada ought to flourish, it is Toronto; nor is there, I trust, any reason to doubt that it will become a most wealthy and important place. The influence of the young railways is already beginning to be felt: the population, which in 1851 was only 25,000, amounted in 1853 to upwards of 30,000, and is still rapidly increasing. Having been fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Mr. Cumberland, the chief engineer of the line of railway to Lake Simcoe, he was kind enough to ask me to accompany him to that lake on a trip of inspection, an offer of which I gladly availed myself. I was delighted to find that the Canadians had sufficient good sense to patronize first and second class carriages; and, also, that they have begun to make their own carriages and locomotives. The rails appeared very solidly laid down, and the road fenced off; but, despite the fences, an inquisitive cow managed to get on the line, and was very near being made beef of in consequence. The progress of cultivation gave the most satisfactory evidence of increasing prosperity, while the virgin forest-land told what a rich harvest was still in store for the industrious emigrant.
Ever and anon you saw on the cleared ground that feature so peculiar to American scenery, a patriarchal remnant of the once dense forest, as destitute of branches as the early Adam was of small-clothes, his bark sabled by the flames, the few summit leaves—which alone indicated vitality—scarce more in number than the centuries he could boast, and trembling, as it were, at their perilous weight and doubtful tenure, while around him stood stumps more sabled, on whom the flames had done more deadly work, the whole—when the poetry had passed away—reminding one of a black Paterfamilias standing proudly in the centre of his nigger brood.
There is a good iron-foundry established here, which turns out some excellent engines. Some of the public buildings are also fine; but, there being unfortunately no quarries in the neighbourhood, they are built of brick. The Lunatic Asylum is one of the best; but it is surrounded with a high prison-looking wall, which I believe modern experience condemns strongly as exercising a baneful influence upon the unfortunate patients. If it be so, let us hope it may be enclosed by something more light, airy, and open.
Several of the churches are very fine. I visited the Episcopal Church, which has been burnt down three times; and on my remarking to the architect the apparent clumsiness of the pews, which destroyed the effect inside, he smiled, and told me that by the contract he was obliged to replace them exactly as before. I told him I thought it was a specimen of conservatism run mad, to which he fully assented. Trinity Episcopal College is one of the finest edifices in the neighbourhood; at present it contains only thirty-five students, but it is to be hoped its sphere of usefulness may be extended as its funds increase. It has the foundation of a very good library, which is rapidly extending; the University of Cambridge sent them out a magnificent addition of 3000 volumes. The last building I shall mention is the Normal School, to visit which was one of my chief objects in stopping at Toronto.
The ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of this building was inaugurated with all due solemnity, and under the auspices of the able representative of our gracious Queen, on the 2nd of July, 1851. In his eloquent speech on that memorable occasion, when referring to the difficulties on the question of religious instruction, the following beautiful passage occurs:—
"I understand, sir, that while the varying views and opinions of a mixed religious society are scrupulously respected, while every semblance of dictation is carefully avoided, it is desired, it is earnestly recommended, it is confidently expected and hoped, that every child who attends our common schools shall learn there that he is a being who has an interest in eternity as well as in time; that he has a Father towards whom he stands in a closer and more affecting and more endearing relationship than to any earthly father, and that Father is in heaven; that he has a hope far transcending every earthly hope—a hope full of immortality—the hope, namely, that that Father's kingdom may come; that he has a duty which, like the sun in our celestial system, stands in the centre of his moral obligations, shedding upon them a hallowing light which they in their turn reflect and absorb,—the duty of striving to prove by his life and conversation the sincerity of his prayer that that Father's will may be done upon earth as it is in heaven. I understand, sir, that upon the broad and solemn platform which is raised upon that good foundation, we invite the ministers of religion of all denominations—the de facto spiritual guides of the people of the country—to take their stand along with us; that, so far from hampering or impeding them in the exercise of their sacred functions, we ask, and we beg them to take the children—the lambs of the flock which are committed to their care—aside, and lead them to those pastures and streams where they will find, as they believe it, the food of life and the waters of consolation.
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"Permit me in conclusion, to say, both as an humble Christian man and as the head of the civil government of the province, that it gives me unfeigned pleasure to perceive that the youth of this country, of all denominations, who are destined in their maturer years to meet in the discharge of the duties of civil life upon terms of perfect civil and religious equality—I say it gives me pleasure to hear and to know that they are receiving an education which is fitted so well to qualify them for the discharge of these important duties, and that while their hearts are yet tender and their affections yet green and young, they are associated under conditions which are likely to promote among them the growth of those truly Christian graces—mutual respect, forbearance, and charity."
The position of the building is well chosen, being surrounded with cultivated ground sufficiently extensive to be usefully employed in illustrating the lectures given on vegetable physiology and agricultural chemistry. The rooms are all very lofty, airy, and scrupulously clean. A notice at the entrance warns you—"The dirty practice of spitting not allowed in this building;" and as far as eye could discern, the notice is rigidly obeyed. I was told that a specific had been found to cure the filthy habit. I mention it for the benefit of hotel-keepers and railway-conductors, in all places where such a relic of barbarism may still find a welcome. On a certain occasion, the lecturer having received undeniable proof that one of the students had violated the above-mentioned regulation, stopped in the middle of one of his sublimest flights, repeated sonorously the notice, called the culprit by name, informed him that his endeavour to dissipate his filth into infinity by the sole of his shoe was useless, and ordered him forthwith to take his handkerchief out and wipe it up clean. Disobedience was expulsion: with crimson cheek he expiated his offence by obedience to the order, and doubtless during the hushed silence in which he completed his labour, he became a confirmed anti-expectorationist.
Great attention is very properly paid to cleanliness, inasmuch as if these young men, who are destined to teach others, acquire filthy habits, they naturally encourage the same vice in their pupils, and thus may be almost said to nationalize it. All the tables and stools are fitted like those in the schools of the United States, which is an immense improvement on the one long-desk and long form to match, which predominate all but universally at home. The instruction given is essentially by lecture and questioning; and I was particularly struck with the quiet modulated tones in which the answers were given, and which clearly proved how much pains were taken upon this apparently trifling, but really very important, point.[AR] You heard no harsh declamation grating on your ear; and, on the other hand, you were not lulled to sleep by dreary, dull monotony.
There are two small schools attached to the establishment, for these Normal aspirants, male and female, to practise upon, when considered sufficiently qualified. Those thus employed during my visit seemed to succeed admirably, for I never saw more merry, cheerful faces, which I consider one of the best tests of a master's efficiency. The little girls, taking a fancy for music, purchased among themselves a cottage piano, which, being their own instrument, I have no doubt increased their interest in the study amazingly. The boys have a kind of gymnasium under a shed, which, when released from school, they rush to with an avidity only equalled by that which the reader may have experienced in his early days when catching sight of a pastry-cook's shop immediately after receiving his first tip.[AS]
I believe that to this establishment, which was founded in 1846, belongs the honour of being the Pioneer Normal School in the Western Hemisphere. But while giving due credit to the Governor-General and the Government for their leading parts in its foundation, it should never be forgotten, how much indebted the establishment is to the unwearying zeal and patient investigations of Dr. Ryerson, the chief superintendent of schools in Canada. This gentleman carefully examined the various systems and internal arrangement of scholastic establishments, not only all over the States, but in every country of the Old World, selecting from each those features which seemed to produce the most comfort, the best instruction, and the greatest harmony. The result of his inquiries I subjoin from his own pen:—
"Our system of public elementary instruction is eclectic, and is, to a considerable extent, derived from four sources. The conclusions at which the present head of the department arrived during his observations and investigations of 1845, were, firstly: That the machinery, or law part of the system, in the State of New York, was the best upon the whole, appearing, however, defective in the intricacy of some of its details, in the absence of an efficient provision for the visitation and inspection of schools, the examination of teachers, religious instruction, and uniform text-books for the schools. Secondly. That the principle of supporting schools in the State of Massachusetts was the best, supporting them all according to property, and opening them to all without distinction; but that the application of this principle should not be made by the requirements of state or provincial statute, but at the discretion and by the action, from year to year, of the inhabitants in each school municipality—thus avoiding the objection which might be made against an uniform coercive law on this point, and the possible indifference which might in some instances be induced by the provisions of such a law—independent of local choice and action. Thirdly: That the series of elementary text-books, prepared by experienced teachers, and revised and published under the sanction of the National Board of Education in Ireland, were, as a whole, the best adapted to schools in Upper Canada—having long been tested, having been translated into several languages of the continent of Europe, and having been introduced more extensively than any other series of text-books into the schools of England and Scotland. Fourthly: That the system of normal-school training of teachers, and the principles and modes of teaching which were found to exist in Germany, and which have been largely introduced into other countries, were incomparably the best—the system which makes school-teaching a profession, which, at every stage, and in every branch of knowledge, teaches things and not merely words, which unfolds and illustrates the principles of rules, rather than assuming and resting upon their verbal authority, which develops all the mental faculties instead of only cultivating and loading the memory—a system which is solid rather than showy, practical rather than ostentatious, which prompts to independent thinking and action rather than to servile imitation.
"Such are the sources from which the principal features of the school system in Upper Canada have been derived, though the application of each of them has been modified by the local circumstances of our country. There is another feature, or rather cardinal principle of it, which is rather indigenous than exotic, which is wanting in the educational systems of some countries, and which is made the occasion and instrument of invidious distinctions and unnatural proscriptions in other countries; we mean the principle of not only making Christianity the basis of the system, and the pervading element of all its parts, but of recognising and combining in their official character, all the clergy of the land, with their people, in its practical operations—maintaining absolute parental supremacy in the religious instruction of their children, and upon this principle providing for it according to the circumstances, and under the auspices of the elected trustee-representatives of each school municipality. The clergy of the country have access to each of its schools; and we know of no instance in which the school has been made the place of religious discord; but many instances, especially on occasions of quarterly public examinations, in which the school has witnessed the assemblage and friendly intercourse of clergy of various religious persuasions, and thus become the radiating centre of a spirit of Christian charity and potent co-operation in the primary work of a people's civilization and happiness."
With reference to religious instruction at the normal schools, Dr. Ryerson has kindly furnished me with the following statement:—"A part of each Friday afternoon is set apart for this purpose, and a room allowed for the minister of each of the religious persuasions of the students, to give instruction to the members of his church, who are required to attend, as also to attend the service of such church at least once every Sunday. Hitherto we have found no difficulty, reluctance, or neglect, in giving full effect to this system."
The only difficulty in these matters that I have heard of, is a long dispute with the Roman Catholic bishop of Toronto; but such an event one must be prepared for when dealing with a church which claims infallibility. I have no doubt the tact and moderation of Dr. Ryerson have ere this thrown oil on the troubled waters, and restored the harmony which existed between the former Roman bishop and the reverend doctor. To those who take an interest in education, the report of the system used in Canada, drawn up by Dr. Ryerson, and printed by order of the Legislative Assembly, will afford much pleasure and information. It is, of course, far too large a subject to enter upon in these pages, containing, as it does, so vast an amount of matter worthy of serious reflection. I will, however, indulge such of my friends as were taught to read in the last century, with a quotation from page 67, which will probably astonish them.
Mr. Horace Mann, so long the able Secretary of the Board of Education in Massachusetts, after pointing out the absurdity of worrying a child's life out, in teaching the A B C, &c., and their doubtful and often-varying sounds utterly destitute of meaning, instead of words which have distinct sounds and distinct meaning, thus winds up:—"Learning his letters, therefore, gives him no new sound; it even restricts his attention to a small number of those he already knows. So far, then, the learning of his letters contracts his practice; and were it not for keeping up his former habits of speaking, at home and in the playground, the teacher, during the six months or year in which he confines him to the twenty-six sounds of the alphabet, would pretty near deprive him of the faculty of speech."
This extract, from the pen of one who has devoted so much talent and patient investigation to the subject of education, entitles it to the serious consideration of all those who are in any way connected with the same subject in this country, where the old A B C cramming all but universally prevails.—But to return to Upper Canada and its schools. Some estimate of the value of its scholastic establishments may be formed from the fact, that while its sphere of usefulness is rapidly extending, it has already reached the following honourable position: The population of Upper Canada is close upon 1,000,000; the number of children between the ages of 5 and 16 is 263,000; the number of children on the rolls of the common school establishments is 179,587; and the grand total of money available for these glorious purposes, is 170,000l. I feel conscious that I have by no means done full justice to this important subject; but the limits of a work like this render it impossible so to do. Let it suffice to say, that Upper Canada is inferior to none of its neighbouring rivals, as regards the quality of instruction given; and that it is rapidly treading on the heels of the most liberal of them, as regards the amount raised for its support. The normal school, I conceive to be a model as nearly perfect as human agency has yet achieved; and the chemical and agricultural lectures there given, and practically illustrated on the small farm adjoining the building, cannot fail to produce most useful and important results in a young uncultivated country possessing the richest soil imaginable. The Governor-General and the Government deserve every credit for the support and encouragement they have given to education; but, if I may draw a comparison without being invidious, I would repeat, that it is to the unusual zeal and energy of Dr. Ryerson, to his great powers of discriminating and selecting what he found most valuable in the countless methods he examined, and to his combination and adaptation of them, that the colony is mainly indebted for its present admirable system. Well may Upper Canada be proud of her educational achievements, and in her past exertions read a hopeful earnest of a yet more noble future.[AT]
But it is not in education alone that Canada has been shadowing forth a noble career. Emancipated from maternal apron-strings by a constitutional self-government, and aided by the superior administrative powers of the Earl of Elgin, she has exhibited an innate vitality which had so long been smothered by Imperial misrule as to cause a doubt of its existence; and if she has not shown it by the birth of populous cities, she has proved it by a more general and diffusive prosperity. A revenue quadrupled in four years needs no Chicagos or Buffalos to endorse the colony's claims to energy and progress. Internal improvements have also been undertaken on a large scale: railways are threading their iron bands through waste and forest, and connecting in one link all the North American colonies; the tubular bridge at Montreal will be the most stupendous work yet undertaken by engineering skill; canals are making a safe way for commerce, where a year or two back the roaring rapid threw its angry barrier. Population, especially in Upper Canada, is marching forward with hasty strides; the value of property is fast increasing; loyalty has supplanted discontent and rebellion; an imperial baby has become a princely colony, with as national an existence as any kingdom of the Old World.[AU] These are facts upon which the colonists may, and do, look with feelings of both pride and satisfaction; and none can more justly contemplate them with such emotions, than those through whose administrative talents these prosperous results have been produced, out of a state of chaos, in eight short years. Dissatisfied men there ever will be among a large community, and therefore questions of independence and annexation will be mooted from time to time; but it seems hardly probable that a colony which enjoys an almost independent nationality would ever be disposed to resign that proud position, and to swamp her individuality among the thirty-three free and slave States of the adjoining Republic. At all events, the colony, by her conduct with reference to the present war, has shown that she is filled with a spirit of loyalty, devotion, and sympathy as true, as fervent, and as deep as those which animate all the other subjects of our beloved Sovereign.
Farewell, Canada! May the sun of prosperity, which has been rising upon you steadily for eight years, rise higher and higher, and never know either a cloud or a meridian! Canada, adieu!
[Footnote AR: My observations at various schools in the United States satisfied me that no attention is paid by the teachers to the tone of voice in which the boys give their answers.]
[Footnote AS: The females are regularly taught calisthenics, and the boys gymnastics, by a professor.]
[Footnote AT: These remarks were made in 1853. The report for the year 1854 is now lying before me, by which I find that the attendance has increased to 194,376; and the money raised has also increased in a similar ratio, being at that date 199,674l.]
Population of Canada 1841, 1,156,139 } Increase, Ditto ditto 1851, 1,842,265 } 59.34 percent.
Population of Upper Canada 1841, 405,357 } Increase, Ditto ditto 1851, 952,004 } 104.57 percent
The increase of the United States from 1840 to 1850 was only 37.77 percent.
Wheat crop, Upper Canada 1841, 3,221,991 bushels. Ditto ditto 1851, 12,692,852 ditto, Wheat crop, Lower Canada 1841, 1,021,405 bushels. Ditto ditto 1851, 3,326,190 ditto.
This table is taken from an able statement sent by the Governor-General to the Colonial Office, dated Quebec, Dec. 22, 1852.]
A Cataract and a Celebration.
The convulsive efforts of the truant steam, echoing across the harbour, told me I had little time to lose: so, bidding farewell to friends, I hurried down to the quay, and was soon bowling over a lake as smooth and polished as the bald head of age. The pat of every float in the wheel, as it struck in the water, echoed with individual distinctness, and the hubbub created thereby, in the otherwise unruffled lake, left its trace visible on the mirrory surface for so great a distance as to justify a disputatious man in questioning whether the term "trackless way" was applicable to the course a vessel had passed over. Here we are, steaming away merrily for Niagara.
There is nothing interesting in scenery until you come to the entrance of the river, on the opposite sides of which stand Lewistown and Queenstown, and above the latter the ruthlessly mutilated remains of the monument to the gallant Brock. The miscreant who perpetrated the vile act in 1841, has since fallen into the clutches of the law, and has done—and, for aught I know, is now doing—penance in the New York State Prison at Auburn. I believe the Government are at last repairing it;—better late than never. The precipitous banks on either side clearly indicate they are the silent and persevering work of the ever-rolling stream, and leave no doubt upon any reflecting mind that they must lead to some fall or cataract, though no reflection can fully realize the giant cataract of Niagara.
There are several country places on the banks, and the whole appearance bespeaks comfort and civilization. Far away in the distance is to be seen the suspension-bridge, high in mid-air, and straight as the arrow's flight. On either bank rival railroads are in progress; that on the Canada side is protected from the yawning abyss by a wall calculated to defy the power of steam. The boat touches at Queenstown, and thence proceeds to Lewistown, where a stage is waiting for Niagara City. No botherations of custom-house—what a blessing! The distance to ride is seven miles, and the time one hour; but in the United States, you are aware, every chap will "do as he best pleases;" consequently, there is a little information to be obtained from the fresh arrival, a cock-tail with a friend or two, a quiet piling on of luggage, &c.; all this takes a long half-hour, and away we go with four tough little nags. A tremendous long hill warms their hides and cools their mettle, though by no means expending it. On we go, merrily; Jehu, a free-and-easy, well-informed companion, guessing at certainties and calculating on facts.
At last we reach a spring by the roadside, the steam rising from the flanks of the team like mist from a marsh. What do I see? Number one nag with a pailful of water, swigging away like a Glasgow baillie at a bowl of punch. He drains it dry with a rapidity which says "More, more!" and sure enough they keep on giving pail after pail, till he has taken in enough to burst the tough hide of a rhinoceros. I naturally concluded the horse was an invalid, or a culprit who had got drunk, and that they were mixing the liquor "black list" fashion, to save his intestines and to improve his manners; but no—round goes the pailman to every nag, drenching each to the bursting point.
"Ain't you afraid," I said, "of killing the poor beasts by giving them such a lot of water?"
"I guess if I was, I shouldn't give it 'em," was the terse reply.
Upon making further inquiries into this mysterious treatment, he told me that it was a sulphur spring, and that all tired horses having exhibited an avidity for it far greater than for common water, the instinct of the animal had been given a fair trial, and subsequent experience had so ratified that instinct that it had become a "known fact." An intelligent American, sitting at the feet of a quadruped Gamaliel, humbly learning from his instincts, should teach the bigots of every class and clime to let their prejudices hang more loosely upon them. But half an hour has passed, and Jehu is again on the box, the nags as fresh as daisies, and as full as a corncob. Half an hour more lands us at Niagara. Avoiding the hum of men, I took refuge for the night in a snug little cottage handy to the railway, and, having deposited my traps, started on a moonlight trip. I need scarce say whither.
Men of the highest and loftiest minds, men of the humblest and simplest minds, the poet and the philosopher, the shepherd and the Christian, have alike borne testimony to the fact, that the solitude of night tends to solemnize and elevate the thoughts. How greatly must this effect be increased when aided by the contemplation of so grand a work of nature as Niagara! In the broad blaze of a noonday sun, the power of such contemplation is weakened by the forced admixture of the earthly element, interspersed as the scene is with the habitations and works of man. But, in the hushed repose of night, man stands, as it were, more alone with his Maker. The mere admirer of the picturesque or the grand will find much to interest and charm him; but may there not arise in the Christian's mind far deeper and higher thoughts to feed his contemplation? In the cataract's mighty roar may he not hear a voice proclaiming the anger of an unreconciled God? May not the soft beams of the silvery moon above awaken thoughts of the mercies of a pardoning God? And as he views those beams, veiled, as it wore, in tears by the rising spray, may he not think of Him and his tears, through whom alone those mercies flow to man? May not yon mist rising heavenward recal his glorious hopes through an ascended Saviour; and as it falls again perpetually and imperceptibly, may it not typify the dew of the Holy Spirit—ever invisible, ever descending—the blessed fruit of that Holy Ascension? And if the mind be thus insensibly led into such a train of thought, may not the deep and rugged cliff, worn away by centuries unnumbered by man, shadow forth to him ideas of that past Eternity, compared to which they are but as a span; and may not the rolling stream, sweeping onward in rapid and unceasing flight into the abyss beneath his feet, fill his soul with the contemplation of Time's flight, which, alike rapid and continuous, is ever bearing him nearer and nearer to the brink of that future Eternity in which all his highest and brightest hopes will be more than realized in the enjoyment of a happiness such as "eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive." Say, then, reader, is not every element of thought which can arise between a Christian and his Creator symbolled forth here in equal beauty and grandeur? One, indeed, is wanting, which, alas! none of Nature's works but man can supply—that sad element, which those who search their own hearts the deepest will feel the most.—I feel I have departed from the legitimate subject of travels; let the majesty of the scene plead my excuse.
Early next morning I put myself into a railway car, and in due time reached Batavia. On my arrival, being rather hungry, I made a modest request for a little brandy and some biscuits; fancy my astonishment when the "help" said, "I guess we only give meals at the fixed hours." As I disapproved very much of such an unreasonable and ridiculous refusal, I sought out the chief, and, preferring my modest request to him, was readily supplied with my simple luncheon. In the meantime a light fly had been prepared, and off I started for Geneseo. The road presented the usual features of rich cultivated land, a dash of wild forest, a bit of bog, and ruts like drains; and each hamlet or village exhibited a permanent or an ambulating daguerreotype shop. Four hours housed me with my kind and hospitable friends at Geneseo.
As the chances of travel had brought me to a small country village at the time of the annual celebration of the 4th of July, I was unable to witness the ceremony on the grand scale in which it is conducted in the large cities of the Union; and, as I think it is frequently accompanied with circumstances which are entitled to some consideration, I shall revert, in a subsequent chapter, to those points which appear to me calculated to act upon the national character. On the present occasion I was delighted to find that, although people all "liquored" freely, there was scarcely any drunkenness; at all events, they had their little bit of fun, such as we see at fairs at home. By way of enabling those who have a turn for the facetious to share in their jokes, I insert a couple of specimens:—
"ORDER OF THE DAY.
"The vast multitude will be assembled on the Public Square, in rear of the Candy Factory, under the direction of Marshal JOHN A. DITTO, where they will be formed in procession in the following order:
"1. Officers of the Day, in their stocking feet.
"2. Revolutionary Relics, under the direction of the venerable G.W.S. Mattocks.
"3. Soldiers of the last War, looking for Bounty Land Warrants.
"4. The Mayor and Common Council, drawn in a Willow Wagon, by the Force of Habit.
"5. Officers of the Hoodoos, drawn by 13 Shanghai Chickens, and driven by Joe Garlinghouse's Shanghai Quail.
"6. The Bologna Guards, in new dress, counting their money.
"7. The Ancient Fire Company expecting their treasurer to chuck 42$ 50 under their windows.
"The procession will then march to the grove in rear of Smith Scovell's barn, where the following exercises will take place:—
"1. The reading of the Declaration of Independence—by the Tinker, Dan.
"2. Oration—by Bill Garrison.
"3. Hymn—There was three Crows sit on a Tree—by the Hoodo Choir.
"4. Benediction—by Elder Bibbins.
"After which the multitude will repair to Charley Babcock's old stand for Refreshments.
"Bill of Fare.—1. Mud Turtle Soup. 2. Boiled Eggs, hard. 3. Pea-nuts. 4. Boiled Eggs, soft. 5. More Pea-nuts.
"Dessert.—Scotch Herring, dried. 2. Do. do., dead. 3. Do., done brown. 4. Sardines, by special request.
"Wines and Liquors.—Hugh Doty's Rattle-Belly Pop. 2. Hide-and-go-Seek (a new brand).
"Precisely at 4 o'clock, P.M., the Double Oven Air Calorie Engine, attached to a splendidly decorated Wheel barrow, will make an excursion, on the
Conhocton Valley Switch,
to the old Hemp Factory and back. It is expected that the President and Directors will go over the Road, and they are to have the first chance, strictly under the direction of the 'Rolling Stock.'
"Hail, ye freeborn Sons of Happy America. 'Arouse, Git up, and Git!' Music—Loud Fifing during the day.
"By Order of COMMITTEE."
* * * * *
"CLEAR THE TRACK FOR THE LIGHTNING LINE OF MALE AND FEMALE STAGES!!!
"From Perry to Geneseo and back in a Flash.
"BAGGAGE, PERSONS, AND EYESIGHT AT RISK OF OWNERS, AND NO QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
"—Having bought out the valuable rights of young Master James Howard in this Line, the subscriber will streak it daily between Perry and Geneseo, for the conveyance of Uncle Sam's Mails and Family; leaving Perry before the Crows wake up in the morning, and arriving at the first house on this side Geneseo about the same time; returning, leave Geneseo after the Crows have gone to roost, and reach Perry in time to join them. Passengers will please to keep their mouths shut for fear they should lose their teeth. No Smoking allowed for fear of fretting the Horses; no Talking lest it wake the Driver. Fare to suit passengers.
"The public's very much obliged servant, &c. &c."
A quiet and simple stage of rough wood was put up at one end of the village, close to the Court-house, from whence the Declaration of Independence was read, after which a flowery orator—summoned for the occasion, and who travels about to different villages in different years with his well-digested oration—addressed the multitude. Of course similes and figures of rhetoric were lugged in by the heels in every sentence, as is the all but universal practice on such occasions in every part of the world. The moral of his speech was in the main decidedly good, and he urged upon his audience strongly, "the undying advantages of cultivating pluck and education" in preference to "dollars and shrewdness." All went off in a very orderly manner, and in the evening there were fireworks and a village ball. It was at once a wild and interesting sight during the fireworks; the mixture of men, women, and children, some walking, some carried, some riding, some driving; empty buggies, some with horses, some without, tied all round; stray dogs looking for masters as hopelessly as old maids seeking for their spectacles when raised above their eyes and forgotten. Fire companies parading ready for any emergency; the son of mine host tugging away at the rope of the engine in his red shirt, like a juvenile Atlas, as proud as Lucifer, as pleased as Punch. All busy, all excited, all happy; no glimpse of poverty to mar the scene; all come with one voice and one heart to celebrate the glorious anniversary of the birth of a nation, whose past gigantic strides, unparalleled though they be, are insufficient to enable any mind to realize what future is in store for her, if she only prove true to herself.
Leave-takings do not interest the public, so the reader will be satisfied to know that two days after found me in an open carriage on my way to Rochester. The road lay entirely through cultivated land, and had no peculiar features. The only thing I saw worth noticing, was two men in a light four-wheel one-horse shay, attached to which were at least a dozen others, some on two wheels, some on four. I of course thought they were some country productions going to a city manufacturer. What was my astonishment at finding upon inquiry, that it was merely an American phase of hawking. The driver told me that these people will go away from home for weeks together, trying to sell their novel ware at hamlet, village, farm-house, &c., and that some of the shrewdest of them, the genuine Sam Slick breed, manage to make a good thing of it.
The shades of evening closed in upon me as I alighted at a very comfortable hotel at Rochester. The amiable Morpheus soon claimed me as his own, nor was I well pleased when ruthlessly dragged from his soft embrace at 6-1/2 A.M. the following morning; but railways will not wait for Morpheus or any other deity of fancy or fiction; so, making the best use I could of a tub of water and a beefsteak, and calming my temper with a fragrant weed, I was soon ensconced in one of their cars, a passenger to New York.
On reaching Albany, we crossed the river and threw ourselves into the cars of the Hudson River Railway, which, running close to the margin nearly all the way, gives you an ever-varying view of the charming scenery of this magnificent stream. Yankee industry was most disagreeably prominent at several of the stations, in the shape of a bevy of unwashed urchins parading the cars with baskets of the eternal pea-nut and various varieties of lollipop, lemonade, &c., all crying out their wares, and finding as ready a sale for them as they would at any school in England. The baiting-place was not very tempting; we all huddled into one room, where everything was hurry and confusion: besides which, the appetite was not strengthened by the sight of hands—whose owners seemed to have "registered a vow in heaven," to forego the use of soap—turning over the sandwiches, one after another, until they had made their selection. However, the majority approve of the system; and as no thought is given to the minority, "if you don't like it, you may lump it."
But the more permanent inconvenience of this railroad is one for which the majority cannot be held responsible, i.e., it runs three-fourths of the way over a bed of granite, and often between cuts in the solid granite rock, the noise therefore is perfectly stunning; and when to this you add the echoing nature of their long wooden cars, destitute of anything to check the vibrations of sound, except the human cargo and the cushions they sit upon, and when you add further the eternal slamming of the doors at each end by the superintending conductor and the inquisitive portion of the passengers, you may well conceive that this combination is enough to rouse the slumbers of the dead, and rack the brains of the living. At the same time, I must allow that this line runs the best pace and keeps the best time of any in the Union.
On reaching the outskirts of New York, I asked, "Is this the proper place for me to get out at?" And being answered in the affirmative, I alighted, and found myself in a broad open street. Scarce had I set my foot on the ground, when I saw the train going on again, and therefore asked for my luggage. After a few questions and answers, I ascertained it had gone on in the train about three miles further; and the only consolation I got, was being told, "I guess you'd best have gone on too." However, all troubles must have an end; so getting into a hackney, I drove to my hospitable friend Phelps' house, where, under the influence of glorious old Madeira—P. had just finished dinner—and most undeniable claret, the past was soon buried in the present; and by the time I had knocked the first ash off one of his best "prensados," the stray luggage returned from the involuntary trip it had made on its own account. What a goodly cheery thing is hospitality, when it flows pure from a warm heart; nor does it lose aught in my estimation when viewed through the medium of a first-rate cellar and the social "Havana."
Time progresses—small hours approach—the front door shuts behind some of the guests—six-foot-two of animal life may be seen going up-stairs with a bed-candle; the latter is soon out, and your humble servant is snug in the former.—Reader, good-night!
Education, Civil and Military.
Having said so much of education in other cities, I will only observe, that in regard to common schools, New York is on a par with most of her rivals in this noble strife for superiority; but I must ask those who are interested in the subject to give me their attention while I enter into a few details connected with their admirable Free Academy. The object of this institution is to combine—under one system and under one roof—high school, academy, polytechnic, and college, and to furnish as good an education as can be obtained by passing through each of those places of instruction separately. All this free of cost!
A sum of 10,000l. was authorized for the building, and 4000l. annually for its support. The course of instruction is divided into thirteen departments, with a professor at the head of each, aided by tutors where necessary; the whole under a principal, with a salary of 500l. a year, who is at the same time professor of moral, intellectual, and political philosophy. The salaries of the other professors average 300l. a year, those of the tutors 100l. The course of study embraces all that is taught at the four different places of education before-named. The student is allowed to make his selection between the classical languages and the modern—French, Spanish, and German. The whole course occupies five years. The requisites for admission are, that the applicant be thirteen years old, living in the city of New York, and have attended the common schools for eighteen months; besides which he is required to pass a moderate examination. The number of students at present is about 350, but they will doubtless increase. If to the annual expenses of the institution be added the interest at six per cent, on the outlay, the instruction given will be found to cost the inconceivably small sum of 13l. 5s. per scholar, including books, stationery, and etceteras.
Mr. S.B. Ruggles was kind enough to introduce me to Mr. Horace Webster, by whom I was shown over the whole establishment. The cleanliness and good ventilation certainly exceeded that of any other similar establishment which I had visited in the United States. There is a very good library containing 3000 volumes, besides 8000 which are used as text-books, or books of reference. Many publishers supplied the requisite books at reduced prices, which, as long as they retain the ignominious position of the literary pirates of the world, I suppose they can afford to do without inconvenience. There is also a fine studio, full of casts from the best models, and copies of the Elgin marbles presented by Mr. Leap. Instruments of the best quality abound for the explanation of all the sciences taught.
In one of the rooms which I entered there was an examination going on. The subject was astronomy, and it was the first class. I was particularly struck with the very clear manner in which the lad under examination replied to the questions put to him, and I began to suspect it was merely something he had learnt by rote; but the professor dodged him about in such a heartless manner with his "whys" and his "wherefores," his "how do you knows" and "how do you proves," that I quite trembled for the victim. Vain fears on my part; nothing could put him out; he seemed as much at home as the professor, and answered all the questions propounded to him in language as clear and simple as that which the great Faraday employs to instruct his eager listeners at the Royal Institution. Not once could the professor make him trip during the long half-hour of his searching examination. Having remarked that the appearance of the student was rather that of a labouring than of a wealthy stock, I asked the principal who he was. "That, sir," replied Mr. Webster, "is one of our best students, and he is the son of a poor journeyman blacksmith."
New York may point with just pride to her Free Academy, and say, "In our city the struggling efforts of genius are never cramped by the chill blast of poverty, for within those walls the avenues to the highest branches of literature and science are opened without charge to the humblest and most destitute of our citizens." I spent several hours in this most admirable and interesting institution, so ably presided over by Mr. Horace Webster, through whose kindness I was provided with the full details of all its workings. It would seem that the best class of schools for young ladies are not very numerous, for the papers announced the other day that Mrs. Okill had realized 250,000 dollars by her establishment, which could hardly have been the case in the face of good opposition.
A few days afterwards Mr. Ruggles offered to accompany me in a visit I wished to make to the National Military College of West Point. I gladly accepted his proffered kindness, and in due time we were rattling away over the granite-bottomed railroad, along the banks of the Hudson. Close to the station we found a small ferry-boat, ready to take us across to the southern bank. On landing at West Point, "my pipe was immediately put out" by a summary order from a sentry on the wharf. Dropping a tear of sorrow through a parting whiff, and hurling the precious stump into the still waters of the little bay, I followed my cicerone up the hill, and soon found myself in the presence of one of the professors, through whose assistance we were enabled thoroughly to lionize every department. As many of my military friends who have visited West Point have spoken to me in terms of the highest admiration of the institution, I propose entering more into detail than I otherwise might have thought requisite; and I trust that, as military education is engaging a great deal of public interest, the following observations may be found worthy of attention.
The candidates for admission are nominated by the members of Congress, one for each congressional district, in addition to which the President of the United States has the nomination of forty from the Republic at large.[AV] The requisites for admission are—the passing a very easy examination, being a bachelor between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, and having no physical defect. The pay of each cadet is about five pounds a month, of which his board takes two pounds, and 8s. 6d. is laid aside monthly, whereby to form a fund to assist him in the expenses of equipment upon leaving. The balance provides for his dress and other expenses, and a treasurer is appointed to superintend and keep the accounts. The routine of duty prescribed is the following:—Rise at 5 A.M. in summer, and 5-1/2 in winter; double up bed and mattress, &c., and study till 7; then fall in and go to breakfast; at 7-1/2, guard-mounting—twenty-four cadets are on guard every day; at 8, study; at 1 o'clock, break up, fall in, and go to dinner, which they rise from at the word of command, and are then free till 2. From 2 P.M. to 4, study; at 4, drill for one hour and a half, after which they are free till sunset; at sunset, parade in front of the barracks, and delinquents' names called over; then follows supper, after which the cadets are free till 8, at which time there is a call to quarters, and every cadet is required to retire to his own room and study till 9-1/2, when the tattoo is beat; at 10, there is a roll of the drum, at sound whereof every light must be out and every student in bed.
The cadets are organized into a battalion of four companies; the officers and non-commissioned officers are all appointed by the superintendent, from a list submitted to him by the commandant of cadets, the selection being made from those most advanced in their studies and most exemplary in their conduct; they perform in every particular the same duties as those of the officers and privates of a regiment; they have divisions and sub-divisions, with superintendent cadets attached to each, regular orderlies who sweep and clean out the room, furniture, &c.: guards are regularly mounted, an officer of the day duly appointed, and all the duties of a regular barrack punctually performed, even to the sentinels being supplied with ball-cartridge at night. Their uniform is of grey cloth, and their hair is kept a close crop; neither whiskers nor moustache are tolerated, and liquor and tobacco are strictly prohibited. The punishments consist of privation of recreation, extra duty, reprimand, arrest or confinement to room or tent, confinement to light or dark prison, dismission with privilege of resigning, and public dismission; the former of these are at the will of the superintendent—confinement to prison and dismission are by sentence of a court-martial.
The course of studies pursued are classed under twelve heads:—1. Infantry tactics and military police; 2. Mathematics; 3. French; 4. Drawing; 5. Chemistry, mineralogy, and geology; 6. Natural and experimental philosophy; 7. Artillery tactics, science of gunnery, and the duties of the military laboratory; 8. Cavalry tactics; 9. The use of the sword; 10. Practical military engineering; 11. Grammar, geography, ethics, &c.; 12. Military and civil engineering, and the science of war.
In the preceding pages we have seen that ten hours are daily devoted to study, besides an hour and a half to drill; and thus, while the brain is severely taxed, but little leisure is left to get into those minor scrapes so prevalent at most public schools.
There is a most minute system of merit and demerit established; everything good and everything bad has a specific value in numbers and decimals, which is accurately recorded against the owners thereof in the reports made for each year. The cadet appears to be expected to improve in conduct as well as knowledge; for, according to the rules, after his first year is completed, the number expressing his absolute demerit is increased by one-sixth during the second year, by one-third during the third year, and by one-half during the fourth year. Thus, suppose a certain number of faults to be represented by the sum of 36, if faults which those figures represent are committed during the second year of the cadet's course, one-sixth would be added, and his name appear on the demerit list with 42 against it; if in the third year, one-third would be added to the 36, and 48 would be placed against his name; and if during the fourth year, one-half would be added, and 54 would appear against it. It will thus be seen that, supposing offences of equal value to be committed by the cadet in his first year and by another in his fourth year, the figures of demerit against the latter would be one-half more than those placed against the name of the cadet in his first year. A demerit conduct roll is made out each year, and a copy sent to the War Department.
There is also a general merit roll of proficiency and good conduct sent to the same department, an abstract whereof, with demerit added, is sent to the parents or guardians in a printed book containing the names of all the cadets, by which they can at once see the relative position of their son or ward. The following tables will explain the system adopted for ascertaining the merit, demerit, and qualifications of the students:—
Degree of Criminality of Offences, arranged in Classes.
1. Mutinous conduct 10 2. Disobedience of orders of military superior 8 3. Visiting in study hours 5 4. Absence from drill 4 5. Idleness in academy 3 6. Inattention under arms 2 7. Late at roll call 1
Form of Conduct Roll made up for the yearly examination.
The column marked "Class" indicates number of years student has been in the academy.
Name. Class. Demerit.
H.L. 1 5 C.P. 3 10 W.K.M. 2 192
A particular case to exemplify the manner of obtaining the numbers in the column of demerit:—
Cadet W.K.M. was charged with 48 delinquencies, to wit: of the second class of offences, 2, which being multiplied by 8, the number expressing the degree of criminality of an offence of that class, is 16 Of the 3rd class 3 multiplied by 5 15 4th " 13 " 4 52 5th " 10 " 3 30 6th " 11 " 2 22 7th " 9 " 1 9 —— 144
The Cadet being a member of the 2nd class, add 1/3 48 —— Total demerit 192
The following list of Cadets is attached to the Army Register in conformity with a regulation for the Government of the United States Military Academy, requiring the names of the most distinguished Cadets, not exceeding five in each class, to be reported for this purpose at each annual examination:—
Reported at the Examination in June, 18—.
No. Names. Appointed Science and Art in which each Cadet from particularly excels.
1 First Class. Mass. Civil and Military Engineering, Ethics, G.L.A. Mineralogy and Geology, Infantry Tactics, Artillery, Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Chemistry, Drawing, Mathematics, French and English Studies.
2 J.St.C.M. Pa. Civil and Military Engineering, Ethics, Mineralogy and Geology, Infantry Tactics, Artillery, Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Chemistry, Drawing, Mathematics, and French.
"General Merit Roll," sent also to the War Office.
Names A B C Mathematics 300.0 295.3 276.7 French 98.7 97.5 69.1 English Studies 100.0 89.5 98.9 Philosophy 300.0 295.6 278.2 Chemistry 150.0 147.5 145.1 Drawing 91.3 100.0 94.2 Engineering 300.0 285.3 290.2 Ethics 200.0 193.4 186.9 Mineralogy & Geology 100.0 96.7 98.2 Infantry Tactics 150.0 147.5 137.8 Artillery 158.0 145.1 147.5 Conduct 297.3 293.8 294.5 General Merit 2237.3 2187.2 2117.3
"Official Register of the Cadets" at West Point, printed yearly.
Order of general merit 1 2 3 Names T.L.C. N.C.A. G.H.M. State At large Tenn. Pa. Date of Admission July 1, 1848 do. do. Age at date of admission Years / Months 17 / 1 18 / 7 16 / 8 Order of merit in their respective Studies Engineering 1 2 3 Ethics 3 4 2 Mineral. & Geol. 1 2 4 Infantry Tactics 1 2 5 Artillery 2 1 3 Demerit of the Year 39 18 73
A board with the marks of demerit is always publicly hung up, so that each cadet may know the exact length of his tether, for if the numbers amount to 200 he is dismissed. I have dwelt very lengthily upon the system adopted of recording and publishing the merit and demerit of the students, because I was informed of the admirable effect produced by it. As far as I can judge, it certainly appears not only an admirable means of enabling the War-office to estimate character, but the great publicity given to it must act as a powerful stimulus to exertion and good conduct.
A portion of the cadets are instructed every day in fencing and riding. When well advanced in the latter, they are taught spearing rings or stuffed heads at the gallop, and the same with the sword. The riding-school is perfectly abominable, being dark, full of pillars, and most completely out of harmony with all the rest of the establishment, which is excellent in every detail. On Sundays all the cadets attend church, unless excused on conscientious motives, and with the approval of their parents. The minister is selected by the President, and may be of any denomination. I was told that an Episcopalian had been most frequently chosen. The present minister is, I believe, a Presbyterian. During the months of July and August the cadets all turn out of their barracks, pitch their tents, and live regular camp life—only going to the barracks to eat their meals. During the time they are tented, the education is exclusively military practice; the same hours are kept as in the barracks; the tents are boarded, and two cadets sleep in each. They are all pitched with scrupulous accuracy, and they are obliged to keep their camp as clean as a new pin—performing among themselves every duty of a complete regiment—cleaning their own shoes, fetching their own water, &c. They were all in tents at the time of my visit, and I fear not particularly comfortable, for there had been two days and nights' hard rain, and the wet mattresses were courting the warm rays of the afternoon sun. Whatever jobbery is attempted in the selection of candidates for admission to the Academy, is soon corrected by the Academy itself; for, though the entrance examination is simple to a degree, the subsequent examinations are very severe, and those who cannot come up to the mark get notice to quit; and the unerring tell-tale column of demerit soon obliges the turbulent to "clear out."
The result of this system is, that when I saw them under arms, their soldierlike appearance struck me very much; and the effect produced upon them by discipline was very marked. You might almost guess the time they had been there by their gentlemanly bearing, a quality which they do not readily lose; for the officers of the American army who have been educated at West Point, enjoy a universal reputation for intelligence and gentlemanly bearing wherever they are to be met with.
The discipline here is no fiction; they do not play at soldiers; they all work their way up from the ranks, performing every duty of each rank, and the most rigid obedience is exacted. In the calculations for demerit, while idleness in the Academy obtains a mark of three, disobedience to a superior officer is marked eight. There is no bullying thought of here; the captain of his company would as soon think of bullying the cadet private as a captain of a regiment of the line would of bullying any private under his command. An officer who had been for many years connected with West Point, told me that among all the duels which unfortunately are so prevalent in the United States, he had never either known or heard of one between any two gentlemen who had received their education at this Academy—tricks, of course, are sometimes played, but nothing oppressive is ever thought of.
I did hear a story of a cadet, who, by way of a joke, came and tried to take away the musket of a wiry young Kentuckian, who was planted sentry for the first time; but he found a military ardour he had little anticipated; for the novice sentry gave him a crack on the side of the head that turned him round, and before he could recover himself, he felt a couple of inches of cold steel running into the bank situated at the juncture of the hips and the back-bone; and thus not only did he suffer total defeat and an ignominious wound, but he earned a large figure on the demerit roll. From the way the story was told to me, I imagine it is a solitary instance of such an outrage being attempted; for one of the first things they seek to inculcate is a military spirit, and the young Kentuckian at all events proved that he had caught the spirit; nor can it be denied that the method he took to impress it upon his assailant, as a fundamental principle of action, was equally sharp and striking.
Happening to be on the ground at the hour of dinner, I saw them all marched off to their great dining-ball, where the table was well supplied with meat, vegetables, and pudding; it was all substantial and good, but the tout-ensemble was decidedly very rough. If the intention is to complete the soldier life by making them live like well-fed privates of the line, the object is attained; but I should be disposed to think, they might dispense with a good deal of the roughness of the style with great advantage; though doubtless, where the general arrangements are so good, they have their own reasons for keeping it as it is. I paid a visit in the course of the afternoon to the fencing-room; but being the hour of recreation, I found about thirty lusty cadets, votaries to Terpsichore, all waltzing and polking merrily to a fiddle, ably wielded by their instructor: as their capabilities were various, the confusion was great, and the master bewildered; but they all seemed heartily enjoying themselves.
The professors and military instructors, &c., have each a small comfortable house with garden attached, and in the immediate vicinity of the Academy. There is a comfortable hotel, which in the summer months is constantly filled with the friends and relatives of the cadets; and occasionally they get permission to give a little soiree dansante in the fencing-room. The hotel is prohibited from selling any spirituous liquors, wines, &c.
The Government property at West Point consists of about three thousand acres: the Academy, professors' houses, hotel, &c., are built upon a large plateau, commanding a magnificent view of the Hudson both ways. The day I was there, the scene was quite lovely; the noble stream was as smooth as a mirror; a fleet of rakish schooners lay helpless, their snow-white sails hanging listlessly in the calm; and, as the clear waters reflected everything with unerring truthfulness, another fleet appeared beneath, lying keel to keel with those that floated on the surface. With such beautiful scenery, and so far removed from the bustle and strife of cities, I cannot conceive any situation better adapted for health and study, pleasure and exercise.
The great day of the year is that of the annual review of the cadets by a board of gentlemen belonging to the different States of the Union, and appointed by the Secretary of War; it takes place early in June, I believe, and consequently before the cadets take the tented field. The examination goes on in the library hall, which is a very fine room, and hung with portraits of some of their leading men; the library is a very fair one, and the cadets have always easy access to it, to assist them in their studies. I could have spent many more hours here with much pleasure, but the setting sun warned us no time was to be lost if we wished to save the train; so, bidding adieu, to the friends who had so kindly afforded me every assistance in accomplishing the object of my visit, I returned to the great Babylon, after one of the most interesting and gratifying days I had spent in America.[AW]
[Footnote AV: By the published class-list the numbers at present are 224.]
[Footnote AW: An account of a visit to this Academy, from the pen of Sir J. Alexander, is published in Golburn's United Service Magazine, September, 1854.]
Watery Highways and Metallic Intercourse.
There is perhaps scarcely any feature in which the United States differ more from the nations of the Old World, than in the unlimited extent of their navigable waters, the value of which has been incalculably increased by the introduction of steam. By massing these waters together, we shall be the better able to appreciate their importance; but in endeavouring to do this, I can only offer an approximation as to the size of the lakes, from the want of any official information, in the absence of which I am forced to take my data from authorities that sometimes differ widely. I trust the following statement will be found sufficiently accurate to convey a tolerably correct idea.
The seaboard on each ocean may be estimated at 1500 miles; the Mississippi and its tributaries, at 17,000 miles; Lake Ontario, at 190 miles by 50; Lake Erie, at 260 miles by 60; Lake Huron, at 200 miles by 70; the Georgian Bay, at 160 miles, one half whereof is about 50 broad; Lake Michigan, at 350 miles by 60; and Lake Superior, at 400 miles by 160, containing 32,000 square miles, and almost capable of floating England, if its soil were as buoyant as its credit. All the lakes combined contain about 100,000 square miles. The rate at which the tonnage upon them is increasing, appears quite fabulous. In 1840 it amounted to 75,000 tons, from which it had risen in 1850 to 216,000 tons. Besides the foregoing, there are the eastern rivers, and the deep bays on the ocean board. Leaving, however, these latter out of the question, let us endeavour to realize in one sum the extent of soil benefited by this bountiful provision of Providence; to do which it is necessary to calculate both sides of the rivers and the shores of the lakes, which, of course, must be of greater extent than double the length of the lakes: nevertheless, if we estimate them at only double, we shall find that there are 40,120 miles washed by their navigable waters; and by the constitution of the Union these waters are declared to be "common property, for ever free, without any tax, duty, or impost whatever."
The Americans are not free from the infirmities of human nature; and having got a "good thing" among them, in process of time it became a bone of contention, which it still remains: the Whigs contending that the navigable waters having been declared by the constitution "for ever free," are national waters, and as such, entitled to have all necessary improvements made at the expense of the Union; their opponents asserting, that rivers and harbours are not national, but local, and that their improvements should be exclusively committed to the respective States. This latter opinion sounds strange indeed, when it is remembered that the Mississippi and its tributaries bathe the shores of some thirteen States, carrying on their bosoms produce annually valued at 55,000,000l. sterling, of which 500,000l. is utterly destroyed from the want of any sufficient steps to remove the dangers of navigation.[AX]
Mr. Ruggles has always been a bold and able advocate of the Whig doctrine of nationality; and, in a lecture delivered by him upon the subject, he states that during the recent struggle to pass the River and Harbour Bill through the Senate, Mr. Douglas, a popular democrat from Illinois, offered as a substitute an amendment giving the consent of Congress "to the levy of local tonnage dues, not only by each of the separate States, but even by the authorities of any city or town." One can hardly conceive any man of the most ordinary intellect deliberately proposing to inflict upon his country the curse of an unlimited legion of custom-houses, arresting commerce in every bend of the river and in every bay of the sea; yet such was the case, though happily the proposition was not carried. How inferior does the narrow mind which made the above proposition in 1848 appear, when placed beside the prescient mind which in 1787 proposed and carried, "That navigable waters should be for ever free from any tax or impost whatever!"
One of the most extraordinary instances of routine folly which I ever read or heard of, and which, among so practical and unroutiney a people as the Americans, appears all but incredible, is the following:—Congress having resisted the Harbour Improvement Bill, but acknowledged its duties as to certain lights and beacons, "Ordered, that a beacon should be placed on a rock in the harbour of New Haven. The engineer reported, that the cost of removing the rock would be less than the cost of erecting the beacon; but the President was firm—a great party doctrine was involved, and the rock remains to uphold the beacon—a naked pole, with an empty barrel at its head—a suitable type of the whole class of constitutional obstructions."[AY]
The State of New York may fairly claim the credit of having executed one of the most—if not the most—valuable public works in the Union—the Erie Canal. At the time of its first proposal, it received the most stubborn opposition, especially from that portion of the democratic party known by the appellation of "Barn-burners," whose creed is thus described in a pamphlet before me:—"All accumulations of wealth or power, whether in associations, corporate bodies, public works, or in the state itself, are anti-democratic and dangerous.... The construction of public works tends to engender a race of demagogues, who are sure to lead the people into debt and difficulty," &c. The origin of their name I have not ascertained.
Another party, possessing the equally euphonical name of "Old Hunkers," are thus described:—"Standing midway between this wing of the Democracy and the Whig party, is that portion who have taken upon themselves the comfortable title of 'Old Hunkers.' The etymological origin of this epithet is already lost in obscurity. They embrace a considerable portion of our citizens who are engaged in banking and other active business, but at the same time decided lovers of political place and power. At heart they believe in progress, and are in favour of a liberal prosecution of works of improvement, but most generally disguise it, in order to win the Barn-burners' votes. They are by no means deficient in intelligence or private worth, but are deeply skilled in political tactics; and their creed, if it is rightly understood, is that public works ought to be 'judiciously' prosecuted, provided they themselves can fill all the offices of profit or honour connected with their administration."[AZ]