Kingston is the oldest town in Upper Canada by many years. The white man found his way here more than a century before any settlement in the west was made or thought of. Small expeditions had from time to time penetrated the vast wilderness far to the west, either for the purpose of trading with the Indians, or led by some zealous priest who sought for the glory of God to bring the wandering tribes into the fold of the Roman Church. The untiring energy and zeal displayed by these early Fathers, together with the hardships, dangers and privations they endured, form one of the most interesting pages of adventure in our country's history. The crafty and industrious French Governor, De Courcelles, in order to put a stop to the encroachments of the Five Nations, despatched a messenger from Quebec to their chief to inform him that he had some business of great importance to communicate, and wished them to proceed to Cataraqui, where he would meet them. As soon as the Indian deputies arrived, a council was held. The Governor informed them that he was going to build a fort there, to serve principally as a depot for merchandise; and to facilitate the trade that was springing up between them. The chiefs, ignorant of the real intention of the wily Governor readily agreed to a proposition which seemed intended for their advantage. But the object was far from what the Indians expected, and was really to create a barrier against them in future wars.
While measures were being completed to build the fort Courcelles was recalled, and Count de Frontenac sent out in his place. Frontenac carried out the designs of his predecessor; and in 1672 completed the fort, which received and for many years retained his name.
Father Charlevoix, who journeyed through Western Canada in the year 1720, thus describes Fort Cataraqui. "This fort is square, with four bastions built with stone, and the ground it occupies is a quarter of a league in compass. Its situation is really something very pleasant. The sides of the view present every way a landscape well varied, and it is the same at the entrance of Lake Ontario, which is but a small league distant. It is full of islands of different sizes, all well wooded, and nothing bounds the horizon on that side. The Lake was sometimes called St. Louis, afterwards Frontenac, as well as the fort of Cataraqui, of which the Count de Frontenac was the founder, but insensibly the Lake has regained its ancient name Ontario, which is Huron or Iroquois, and the fort that of the place where it is built. The soil from this place to la Sallette appears something barren, but this is only in the borders, it being very good further up. There is over against the fort a very pretty island in the middle of the river. They put some swine into it, which have multiplied, and given it the name of Isle du Porcs.
"There are two other islands somewhat smaller, which are lower, and half a league distant from each other. One is called Cedars, the other Hart's Island. The Bay of Cataraqui is double; that is to say, that almost in the middle of it there is a point that runs out a great way, under which there is a good anchorage for large barks. M. de la Salle, so famous for his discoveries and his misfortunes, who was lord of Cataraqui, and governor of the fort, had two or three of them, which were sunk in this place, and remain there still. Behind the fort is a marsh, where there is a great plenty of wild fowl. This is a benefit to and employment for the garrison. There was formerly a great trade here, especially with the Iroquois, and it was to entice them to, as well as to hinder their carrying their skins to the English and keep these savages in awe, that the fort was built. But the trade did not last long, and the fort has not hindered the barbarians from doing us a great deal of mischief. They have still families here, in the outside of the place, and there are also some Missisaguas, an Algonquin nation, which still have a village on the west side of Lake Ontario, another at Niagara, and a third in the strait." Such is the description we have of Kingston a century and a half ago. The Mohawk name for it is Gu-doi-o-qui, or, "Fort in the Water."
I am unable, from any information I can get, to give the origin of the name of our beautiful bay. It seems to have borne its present name at a very early date in the history of the country. It is supposed by some to be an Indian name with a French accent. I am disposed, however, to think that it came from the early French voyageurs, from the fact that not only the bay, but an island, are mentioned by the name of Quinte. The usual pronunciation until a few years ago was Kanty.
In the year 1780, on the 14th day of October, and again in July, 1814, a most remarkable phenomenon occurred, the like of which was never before witnessed in the country. "At noonday a pitchy darkness completely obscured the light of the sun, continuing for about ten minutes at a time, and being frequently repeated during the afternoon. In the interval between each mysterious eclipse, dense masses of black clouds streaked with yellow drove athwart the darkened sky, with fitful gusts of wind. Thunder, lightning, black rain, and showers of ashes added to the terrors of the scene, and when the sun appeared its colour was a bright red." The people were filled with fear, and thought that the end of the world was at hand. These two periods are known as the "dark days."
Many years after this, another phenomenon not less wonderful occurred, which I had the satisfaction of seeing; and although forty-five years have elapsed, the terrifying scene is as firmly fixed in my memory as though it had happened but an hour ago. I refer to the meteoric shower of the 13th of November, 1833. My father had been from home, and on his return, about midnight, his attention was arrested by the frequent fall of meteors, or stars, to use the common phrase. The number rapidly increased; and the sight was so grand and beautiful that he came in and woke us all up, and then walked up the road and roused some of the neighbours. Such a display of heaven's fireworks was never seen before. If the air had been filled with rockets they would have been but match strokes compared to the incessant play of brilliant dazzling meteors that flashed across the sky, furrowing it so thickly with golden lines that the whole heaven seemed ablaze until the morning's sun shut out the scene. One meteor of large size remained sometime almost stationary in the zenith, emitting streams of light. I stood like a statue, and gazed with fear and awe up to the glittering sky. Millions of stars seemed to be dashing across the blue dome of heaven. In fact I thought the whole starry firmament was tumbling down to earth. The neighbours were terror struck: the more enlightened of them were awed at contemplating so vivid a picture of the Apocalyptic image—that of the stars of heaven falling to the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind; while the cries of others, on a calm night like that, might have been heard for miles around.
Young and poor as Canada was half a century ago, she was not behind many of the older and more wealthy countries in enterprize. Her legislators were sound, practical men, who had the interest of their country at heart. Her merchants were pushing and intelligent; her farmers frugal and industrious. Under such auspices her success was assured. At an early day the Government gave material aid to every project that was calculated to foster and extend trade and commerce, as well as to open up and encourage the settlement of the country. Neither was individual enterprize behind in adopting the discoveries and improvements of the time, and in applying them not only to their own advantage but to that of the community at large. Four years after Fulton had made his successful experiment with steam as a propelling power for vessels on the Hudson, a small steamer was built and launched at Montreal; and in 1815 the keel of the first steamer that navigated the waters of Upper Canada was laid at Bath. She was named the Frontenac.
The village of Bath, as you all know, is situated on the Bay of Quinte, about thirteen miles west of Kingston. It was formerly known as Ernesttown. Those of you who have passed that way will remember that about a mile west of the village there is a bend in the shore round which the road leads, and that a short gravelly beach juts out, inclosing a small pond of water. At the end of this, west, stands an old frame house, time-worn and dilapidated. Behind this house the steamer already mentioned was built, and three years later another known as the Charlotte was launched here. [Footnote: I have often heard my father tell about going to see the launch of the Charlotte. He went on foot a round distance of over thirty miles.] Thousands of people were present, and the event was long remembered. They were, no doubt, marvellous things in those days—much more so, perhaps, than that huge mammoth of steam craft of later days, the Great Eastern, is to us. I cannot give the dimensions of these boats, but it is safe to say that they were not large. Their exploits in the way of speed were considered marvellous, and formed the topic of conversation in many a home. A trip in one of them down the bay to Kingston was a greater feat then than a voyage to Liverpool is now; and they went but little faster than a man could walk.
Early travellers predicted that Ernesttown would be a place of importance, but their predictions have come to naught. It reached many years ago the culminating point in its history. Still, in the progress of our country the above must give it more than a passing interest. Gourlay speaks of Bath in 1811, and says, "The village contains a valuable social library"—a thing at that date which could not be found probably in any other part of the Province.
Previous to the introduction of steamers, which gave a wonderful impetus to trade, and completely revolutionized it, the traffic of the country was carried on under great disadvantages. Montreal and Quebec, the one the depot of merchandise and the other the centre of the lumber trade, were far away, and could only be reached during six months in the year by the St. Lawrence, whose navigation, on account of its rapids, was difficult and dangerous. There was but little money, and business was conducted on an understood basis of exchange or barter. During the winter months the farmer threshed his grain and brought it with his pork and potash to the merchant, who gave him goods for his family in return. The merchant was usually a lumberman as well, and he busied himself in the winter time in getting out timber and hauling it to the bay, where it was rafted and made ready for moving early in the spring. As soon as navigation was open, barges and batteaux were loaded with potash and produce, and he set sail with these and his rafts down the river. It was always a voyage of hardship and danger. If good fortune attended him, he would, in the course of three or four weeks make Montreal, and Quebec with his rafts two or three weeks later. Then commenced the labour of disposing of his stuff, settling up the year's accounts, and purchasing more goods, with which his boats were loaded and despatched for home.
The task of the country merchant in making his selections then, was much more difficult than it is now. Moreover, as he could reach his market but once in the year, his purchases had to be governed by this fact. He had to cater to the entire wants of his customers, and was in the letter, as well as the spirit, a general merchant, for he kept dry goods, groceries, crockery, hardware, tools, implements, drugs— everything, in fact, from a needle to an anchor. The return trip with his merchandise was slow and difficult. The smooth stretches of the river were passed with the oar and sail, the currents with poles, while the more difficult rapids were overcome by the men, assisted with ox- teams. Thus he worried his way through, and by the time he got home two or three months had been consumed. During the winter months, while the western trader was busy in collecting his supplies for the spring, the general merchant of Montreal, a veritable nabob in those days, locked up his shop and set off with a team for Upper Canada, and spent it in visiting his customers. The world moved slowly then. The ocean was traversed by sailing ships—they brought our merchandise and mails. In winter, the only communication with Montreal and Quebec was by stage, and in the fall and spring it was maintained with no small difficulty. One of the wonders of swift travelling of the day was the feat of Weller, the mail contractor and stage proprietor, in sending Lord Durham through from Toronto to Montreal in thirty-six hours. Many a strange adventure could be told of stage rides between Toronto and Quebec, and of the merchants in their annual trips down the St. Lawrence, on rafts and in batteaux; and it seems a pity that so much that would amuse and interest readers of the present day has never been chronicled.
There was one thing brought about by those batteaux voyages for which the farmer is by no means thankful. The men used to fill their beds with fresh straw on their return, and by this means the Canadian thistle found its way to Upper Canada.
As Canada had not been behind in employing steam in navigation, so she was not behind in employing it in another direction. Stephenson built the first railroad between Liverpool and Manchester in 1829. Some years later, 1836, we had a railway in Canada, and now we have over 5,000 miles in the Dominion. These two agencies have entirely changed the character both of our commerce and mail service. The latter, in those early days, in the Midland district, was a private speculation of one Huff, who travelled the country and delivered papers and letters at the houses. This was a very irregular and unsatisfactory state of things, but was better than no mail at all. Then came the wonderful improvement of a weekly mail carried by a messenger on horseback; and as time wore on, the delivery became more frequent, post-offices multiplied, postage rates were reduced, and correspondence increased. There were two other enterprises which the country took hold of very soon after their discovery. I refer to the canals and the telegraph. The first, the Lachine Canal, was commenced in 1821, and the Welland in 1824. The Montreal Telegraph Company was organized in 1847. So that in those four great discoveries which have revolutionized the trade of the world, it will be seen that our young country kept abreast with the times, and her advance, not only in those improvements, but in every branch of science and art, has been marvellous.
The Midland District, so named because of its central position, was one of the largest districts in the Province; but county after county was cut away from it on all sides, until it was greatly shorn of its proportions. Before this clipping had begun, the courts were held alternately in Kingston and Adolphustown. The old Court-House still stands [Footnote: It has been taken down since, and a town hall for the use of the township, erected on its site.] and is as melancholy a monument of its former importance as one could wish to see. The town which the original surveyors laid out here, and which early writers mention, I have never been able to find more of than the plot. It must have flourished long before my day.
But what about Prince Edward county? Of course you know that it was set off in 1833, and that the first Court of Assize was held in this town— then Hallowell—in 1834. I am not able to say much about its early history; though I am sure there are many incidents of very great interest connected with it, probably lost for the want of some friendly hand. Land was taken up in this neighbourhood by Barker, Washburn, Spencer, Vandusen, and others about the year 1790. Patents were issued by the Government in 1802-3-4. At a meeting held at Eyre's Inn, on the 14th of February, 1818, at which Ebenezer Washburn, Esq., presided, I learn that there was in the township of Hallowell at that time but two brick-houses, one carding, and fulling mill, one Methodist Chapel—now known as the old Chapel at Conger's Mill—one Quaker Meeting House. Preparations were being made to build a church. [Footnote: Known as St. Mary Magdalene. The Rev. W. Macaulay, I think, was the first rector, and he lived to a good old age.] Orchards were beginning to be planted, and other improvements. The first settlers paid at the rate of one shilling per acre for their land. Four-fifths of the entire Midland district, in 1818, was a dense forest. We can hardly realise the fact that seventy years ago there was probably not a soul living in this fair county.
Let us skip over a period of about forty years from the first settlement, and have a look at the people and how they lived. The log houses, in very many cases had been transformed into comfortable and commodious dwellings. The log barns and hovels, too, had given place to larger frame barns and sheds, many of which are still to be seen around the country. The changes wrought in those short years were wonderful, and having followed the pioneer hither and noted his progress, let us step into one of these homes and take a seat with the family gathered around the spacious fire-place, with its glowing fire blazing up cheerfully through the heaped-up wood, and note the comforts and amusements of the contented circle. How clearly the picture stands out to many of us. How well we remember the time when, with young and vigorous step, we set our feet in the path which has led us farther and farther away.
"A thousand fantasies Begin to throng into my memory, Of calling shapes and beckoning shadows."
Now, please understand me in this matter. We have not a particle of sympathy with the ordinary grumbler, by which we mean that class of persons whose noses are not only stuck up at any and every encroachment on their worn-out ideas of what is right and wrong, but, like crabbed terriers, snap at the heels of every man that passes. Nor do we wish you to think that we place our fathers on a higher plane of intellectual power and worth than we have reached or can reach. The world rolls on, and decade after decade adds to the accumulative brain force of humanity. Men of thought and power through all the ages have scattered seed, and while much of it has come to naught, a kernel here and there, possessed of vital force, has germinated and grown. You remember what the great Teacher said about "a rain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." Any man who looks around him must acknowledge that we are going ahead, but notwithstanding this, every careful observer cannot fail to see that there is growing up in our land a large amount of sham, and hence, as Isaiah tells us, it would be well for us to look more frequently "into the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." Let us not only treasure the recollection of the noble example which our fore-fathers set us, but let us imitate those sterling qualities which render their names dear to us.
"It is a common complaint perpetually reiterated," remarks a racy writer, "that the occupations of life are filled to overflowing; that the avenues to wealth or distinction are so crowded with competitors that it is hopeless to endeavour to make way in the dense and jostling masses. This desponding wail was doubtless heard when the young earth had scarcely commenced her career of glory, and it will be dolefully repeated by future generations to the end of time. Long before Cheops had planted the basement-stone of his pyramids, when Sphinx and Colossi had not yet been fashioned into their huge existence, and the untouched quarry had given out neither temple nor monument, the young Egyptian, as he looked along the Nile, may have mourned that he was born too late. Fate had done him injustice in withholding his individual being till the destinies of man were accomplished. His imagination exulted at what he might have been, had his chance been commensurate with his merits, but what remained for him now in this worn-out, battered, used-up hulk of a world, but to sorrow for the good times which had exhausted all resources?
"The mournful lamentation of antiquity has not been weakened in its transmission, and it is not more reasonable now than when it groaned by the Nile. There is always room enough in the world, and work waiting for willing hands. The charm that conquers obstacles and commands success is strong will and strong work. Application is the friend and ally of genius. The laborious scholar, the diligent merchant, the industrious mechanic, the hard-working farmer, are thriving men, and take rank in the world; while genius by itself lies in idle admiration of a fame that is ever prospective. The hare sleeps or amuses himself by the wayside, and the tortoise wins the race."
RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS.
PATERNAL MEMORIES—A VISIT TO THE HOME OF MY BOYHOOD—THE OLD QUAKER MEETING-HOUSE—FLASHES OF SILENCE—THE OLD BURYING GROUND—"TO THE MEMORY OF ELIZA"—GHOSTLY EXPERIENCES—HIVING THE BEES—ENCOUNTER WITH A BEAR—GIVING "THE MITTEN"—A "BOUNDARY QUESTION"—SONG OF THE BULLFROG—RING—SAGACITY OF ANIMALS—TRAINING DAYS—PICTURESQUE SCENERY OF THE BAY OF QUINTE—JOHN A. MACDONALD—A PERILOUS JOURNEY—AUNT JANE AND WILLET CASEY.
More than forty-five years have elapsed since my father departed this life, and left me a lad, the eldest of six children, to take his place, and assist my mother as well as I could in the management of affairs. Twenty years later mother was laid by his side, and before and since all my sisters have gone. For a number of years the only survivors of that once happy household, the memory of which is so fresh and dear to me, have been myself and brother. Upper Canada was a vastly different place at the time of my father's decease (1840) from what it is now. The opportunities he had when young were proportionately few. I have been a considerable wanderer in my day, and have had chances of seeing what the world has accomplished, and of contrasting it with his time and advantages. If his lines had fallen in another sphere of action he would have made his mark. As it was, during his short life—he died at the age of 42—he had with his own hands acquired an excellent farm of 250 acres, with a good, spacious, well-furnished house, barns, and out- buildings. His farm was a model of order and thorough tillage, well stocked with the best improved cattle, sheep, and hogs that could be had at that time, and all the implements were the newest that could be procured. He was out of debt, and therefore independent, and had money at interest. This, it seems to me, was something for a man to accomplish in twenty years. But this was not all. He was acknowledged to be a man of intelligence superior to most in those days, and was frequently consulted by neighbours and friends in matters of importance; a warm politician and a strict temperance man. He was one of the best speakers in the district, always in request at public meetings, and especially during an election campaign. Into political contests he entered with all his might, and would sometimes be away a week or more at a time, stumping—as they used to term it—the district. In politics he was a Reformer, and under the then existing circumstances I think I should have been one too. But the vexed questions that agitated the public mind then, and against which he fought and wrote, have been adjusted. An old co-worker of his said to me many years after at an election: "What a pity your father could not have seen that you would oppose the party he laboured so hard to build up. If a son of mine did it I would disinherit him as quick as I would shove a toad off a stick." I said to my old friend that I supposed the son had quite as good a right to form his opinions on certain matters as his father had. Political and religious prejudices are hard things to remove. I remember a deputation waiting on my father to get him to consent to be a candidate for an election which was on the eve of taking place, but he declined, on the ground that he was not prepared to assume so important a position then, nor did he feel that he had reached a point which would warrant him in leaving his business. He added that after a while, if his friends were disposed to confer such an honour upon him, he might consider it more favourably. Peter Perry was chosen, and I know my father worked hard for him, and the Tory candidate, Cartwright, was defeated. This reminds me of a little bit of banking history, which created some noise in the district at the time, but which is quite forgotten now. A number of leading farmers, of whom my father was one, conceived the idea of establishing a "Farmers' Joint Stock Bank," which was subsequently carried out, and a bank bearing that name was started in Bath. John S. Cartwright, the then member, through whom they expected to get a charter, and who was interested in the Commercial Bank at Kingston, failed to realize their expectations in that particular, and the new bank had to close its doors. The opening was premature, and cost the stockholders a considerable sum of money. This little banking episode helped to defeat Mr. Cartwright at the next election.
Over thirty years have passed since I left my old home, and change after change has occurred as the years rolled along, until I have become a stranger to nearly all the people of the neighbourhood, and feel strange where I used to romp and play in boyhood.
The houses and fields have changed, the woods have been pushed further back, and it is no longer the home that is fixed in my memory. My visits have consequently become less and less frequent. On one of these occasions I felt a strong inclination one Sabbath morning to visit the old Quaker Meeting House about three miles away. After making my toilette and breakfasting, I sallied forth, on foot and alone, through the fields and woods. The day was such as I would have selected from a thousand. It was towards the last of May—a season wherein if a man's heart fail to dance blithely, he must indeed be a victim of dulness. The sun was moving upward in his diurnal course, and had just acquired sufficient heat to render the shade of the wood desirable. The heaven was cloudless, and soft languor rested on the face of nature, stealing the mind's sympathy, and wooing it to the delights of repose. My mind was too much occupied with early recollections to do more than barely notice the splendour and the symphonies around me. The hum of the bee and the beetle, as they winged their swift flight onwards, the song of the robin and the meadow lark, as they tuned their throats to the praises of the risen sun, and the crowing of some distant chanticleer, moved lazily in the sluggish air. It was a season of general repose, just such a day, I think, as a saint would choose to assist his fancy in describing the sunny regions whither his thoughts delight to wander, or a poet would select to refine his ideas of the climate of Elysium. At length I arrived at the old meeting-house where I had often gone, when a lad with my father and mother.
It was a wooden building standing at a corner of the road, and was among the first places of worship erected in the Province. The effects of the beating storms of nearly half a century were stamped on the unpainted clapboards, and the shingles which projected just far enough over the plate to carry off the water, were worn and partially covered with moss. One would look in vain, for anything that could by any possibility be claimed as an ornament. Two small doors gave access to the interior, which was as plain and ugly as the exterior. A partition, with doors, that were let down during the time of worship, divided the room into equal parts, and separated the men and women. It was furnished with strong pine benches, with backs; and at the far side were two rows of elevated benches, which were occupied on both sides by leading members of the society. I have often watched the row of broad-brims on one hand, and the scoop bonnets on the other, with boyish interest, and wondered what particular thing in the room they gazed at so steadily, and why some of them twirled one thumb round the other with such regularity. On this occasion I entered quietly, and took a seat near the door. There were a number of familiar faces in the audience. Some whom I had known when young were growing grey, but many of the well-remembered faces were gone. The gravity of the audience and the solemn silence were very impressive; but still recollections of the past crowded from my mind the sacred object which had brought the people together. Now I looked at the old bayonet marks in the posts, made by the soldiers who had used it as a barrack immediately after the war of 1812. Next, the letters of all shapes and sizes cut by mischievous boys with their jacknives in the backs of the seats years ago arrested my attention, and brought to mind how weary I used to get; but as I always sat with my father, I dared not try my hand at carving. Then, the thought came: Where are those boys now? Some of them were sober, sedate men sitting before me with their broad-brimmed hats shadowing their faces; others were sleeping in the yard outside; and others had left the neighbourhood years ago. Then I thought of the great Quaker preacher and author, Joseph John Gurney, whom I had heard in this room, and of J. Pease the philanthropic English banker. Then another incident of quite a different character came to my recollection. An old and well known Hicksite preacher was there one Sunday (always called First Day by the friends), and the spirit moved him to speak. The Hicksite and orthodox Quakers were something like the Jews and Samaritans of old—they dealt with one another, but had no religious fellowship. The old friend had said but a few words, when one of the leaders of the meeting rose and said very gravely: "Sit thee down, James;" but James did not seem disposed to be choked off in this peremptory way, and continued. Again the old friend stood up, and with stronger emphasis said: "James, I tell thee to sit thee down;" and this time James subsided. There was nothing more said on the occasion, and after a long silence, the meeting broke up. On another occasion, a young friend, who had aspired to become a teacher, stood up, and in that peculiar, drawling, sing-song tone which used to be a characteristic of nearly all their preachers, said: "The birds of the air have nests, the foxes have holes, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head;" and then sat down, leaving those who heard him to enlarge and apply the text to suit themselves. There was nothing more said that day. And so my mind wandered on from one thing to another, until at length my attention was arrested by a friend who rose and took off his hat (members of the society always sit with their hats on), and gave us a short and touching discourse. I have heard some of the most telling and heart-searching addresses at Quaker meetings. On this occasion there was no attempt— there could be none from a plain people like this—to tickle the ear with well-turned periods or rhetorical display. After the meeting was over, I walked out into the graveyard; my father and mother and two sisters lie there together, and several members of my father's family. There is a peculiarity about a Quaker burying-ground that will arrest the attention of any visitor. Other denominations are wont to mark the last resting place of loved ones by costly stones and inscriptions; but here the majority of the graves are marked with a plain board, and many of them have only the initials of the deceased, and the rank grass interlocks its spines above the humble mounds. I remember my father having some difficulty to get consent to place a plain marble slab at the head of his father and mother's grave. But were those who slumbered beneath forgotten? Far otherwise. The husband here contemplated the lowly dwelling place of the former minister to his delight. The lover recognised the place where she whose presence was all-inspiring reposed, and each knew where were interred those who had been lights to their world of love, and on which grave to shed the drop born of affection and sorrow. Although the pomp, the state, and the pageantry of love were her ransom, yet hither, in moments when surrounding objects were forgotten, had retired the afflicted, and poured forth the watery tribute that bedews the cheek of those that mourn "in spirit and in truth." Hither came those whose spirits had been bowed down beneath the burden of distress, and indulged in the melancholy occupation of silent grief, from which no man ever went forth without benefit. I thought of Falconer's lines:—
"Full oft shall memory from oblivion's veil Relieve your scenes, and sigh with grief sincere?"
After lingering for some time near the resting place of the dear ones of my own family, I turned away and threaded my way thoughtfully back.
During another visit to the neighbourhood of my birth, after having tea with the Rev. H—-, Rector of ——, I took a stroll through the graveyard that nearly surrounds the old church, and spent some time in reading the inscriptions on the headstones. There were numbers that were new and strange, but the most of them bore names that were familiar. Time, of course, had left his mark, and in some cases the lettering was almost gone. Many of those silent sleepers I remembered well, and had followed their remains to the grave, and had heard the old Rector pronounce the last sad rite: "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," long years ago. As I passed on from grave to grave of former friends and neighbours,
"Each in his narrow cell forever laid,"
many curious and pleasing collections were brought to mind. I came at last to the large vault of the first Rector, who was among the first in the Province. I recollected well the building of this receptacle for the dead, and how his family, one after another, were placed in it; and then the summons came to him, and he was laid there. A few years later, his wife, the last survivor of the family, was put there too, and the large slabs were shut down for the last time, closing the final chapter of this family history, and—as does not often happen in this world—they were taking their last sleep undivided. But Time, the great destroyer, had been at work during the years that had fled, and I was sorry to find that the slabs that covered the upper part of the vault, and which bore the inscriptions, were broken, and that the walls were falling in. There were no friends left to interest themselves in repairing the crumbling structure, and in a few years more the probabilities are that every vestige of the last resting-place of this united couple will be gone. It is not a pleasing thought, and yet it is true, that however much we may be loved, and however many friends may follow us with tears to the grave, in a few short years they will be gone, and no one left to care for us, or perhaps know that we ever lived. I have stood of an evening in the grand cemetery of Pere la Chaise, Paris and watched the people trooping in with their wreaths of immortelles to be placed on the tombs of departed friends, and others with cans of water and flowers to plant around the graves. Here and there could be seen where some loved one had been sprinkling the delicate flowers, or remained to water them with their tears. This respect paid to the memory of departed ones is pleasant, and yet, alas, how very few, after two or three generations are remembered. The name that meets the eye on one stone after another might as well be a blank for all we know of them. Anyone who has visited the old churchyards or ruined abbeys in England must have felt this, as his gaze has rested on time-worn tablets from which every mark had long since been obliterated,
"By time subdued (what will not time subdue)!"
Turning away from the vault, and passing down the yard, I came to a grave the headstone of which had fallen, and was broken. I turned the two pieces over, and read: "To the memory of Eliza ——." And is this, thought I, the end of the only record of the dear friend of my boyhood; the merry, happy girl whom every one loved? No one left after a score of years to care for her grave? So it is. The years sweep on. "Friend after friend departs," still on, and all recollection of us is lost; on still, and the very stones that were raised as a memorial disappear, and the place that knew us once knows us no more forever. I turned away, sad and thoughtful; but after a little my mind wandered back again to the sunny hours of youth, and I lived them over. Eliza had been in our family for several years, and was one of the most cheerful, kind-hearted girls one could wish to see. She had a fine voice, and it seemed as natural for her to sing as a bird. This, with her happy disposition, made her the light and life of the house. She was like the little burn that went dancing so lightly over the pebbles in the meadow—bright, sparkling, joyous, delighting in pranks and fun as much as a kitten.
"True mirth resides not in the smiling skin— The sweeted solace is to act no sin." —HERRICK.
I do not think Eliza ever intentionally acted a sin. On one occasion, however, this excess of spirit led her perhaps beyond the bounds of maidenly propriety; but it was done without consideration, and when it was over caused her a good deal of pain. The mischievous little adventure referred to shall be mentioned presently.
We had some neighbours who believed in ghosts; not an uncommon thing in those days. Eliza, with myself, had frequently heard from these people descriptions of remarkable sights they had seen, and dreadful noises they had heard at one time and another. She conceived the idea of making an addition to their experiences in this way, and as an experiment made a trial on me. I had been away one afternoon, and returned about nine o'clock. It was quite dark. In the meantime she had quietly made her preparations, and was on the look out for me. When my horse's feet were heard cantering up the road, she placed herself that I could not fail to see her. On I came, and, dashing up to the gate, dismounted; and there before me on the top of the stone wall was something, the height of a human figure draped in white, moving slowly and noiselessly towards me. I was startled at first, but a second thought satisfied me what was up, and that my supernatural visitor was quite harmless. I passed through the gate, but my pet mare did not seem inclined to follow, until I spoke to her, and then she bounded through with a snort. After putting her in the field, and returning, I found the ghost had vanished. But I was quite sure I had not done with it yet; and as I drew near the house I was in momentary expectation that it would come out upon me somewhere. I kept a sharp look-out, but saw nothing, and had reached the porch door to go in, when, lo, there stood the spectre barring my way! I paused and glanced at its appearance as well as I could, and I must confess if I had been at all superstitious, or had come on such an object in a strange place, I think I should have been somewhat shaken. However, I knew my spectre, boldly took hold of it, and found I had something tangible in my grip. After a brief and silent struggle, I thrust open the door, and brought my victim into the room. My mother and sisters, who knew nothing of what had been going on, were greatly alarmed to see me dragging into the house a white object, and, womanlike, began to scream; but the mystery was soon revealed. She had made up some thick paste, with which she had covered her face, and had really got up quite a sepulchral expression, to which the darkness gave effect; and being enveloped in a white sheet, made, we thought, a capital ghost. This did not satisfy her, and was only a preliminary to her appearance on the first suitable occasion to our neighbours. It was not long before they encountered the ghost on their way home after dark, and were so badly frightened that in the end I think Eliza was worse frightened than they. Eliza never had any confidants in these little affairs, and they were over before any one in the house knew of it. This was the end, so far as she was concerned, of this kind of amusement.
Some time after this another little episode of a similar nature happened, but this time Eliza was one of the victims. We had a near neighbour, an old bachelor, who had a fine patch of melons close at hand. Eliza and a cousin who was on a visit had had their eyes on them, and one day declared they were going that night to get some of Tom's melons. Mother advised them not to do it, and told them there were melons enough in our own garden without their going to steal Tom's. No, they didn't want them, they were going to have a laugh on Tom;—and so when it was dark they set off to commit the trespass. They had been away but a few minutes when mother—who by the way was a remarkably timid woman, and I have often wondered how she got up enough courage to play the trick—put a white sheet under her arm and followed along the road to a turn, where was a pair of bars, through which the girls had passed to the field. Here she paused, and when she fancied the girls had reached their destination she drew the sheet around her, rapped on the bars with a stick, and called to them. Then, folding up the sheet, she ran away home. She was not sure whether they had seen her or not. The sheet was put away, and, taking up her knitting, she sat down quietly to await their return, which she anticipated almost immediately. A long time elapsed, and they did not appear. Then mother became alarmed, and as she happened to be alone she did not know what to do. Though she had gone out on purpose to frighten the girls, I do not think she could have been induced to go out again to see what was keeping them. After a while Mary came in, and then Eliza, both pale, and bearing evidence of having had a terrible fright. Mother asked them what in the world was the matter. "O, Aunt Polly!" they both exclaimed, "we have seen such an awful thing tonight." "What was it?" They could not tell; it was terrible! "Where did you see it?" "Over by the bars! Just as we had got a melon we heard an awful noise, and then we saw something white moving about, and then it was gone!" They were so badly frightened that they dropped down among the vines, and lay there for some minutes. They then got up, and, making a detour, walked home; but how, they never could tell. Mother was never suspected by them, and after a time she told them about it. There were no more ghosts seen in the neighbourhood after that.
Time passed on, and Eliza's love of mischief drove her into another kind of adventure. She was a girl of fine presence; fair, with bright black eyes and soft black hair, which curled naturally, and was usually worn combed back off the forehead. The general verdict was that she was pretty. I have no doubt if she had had the opportunity she would have made a brilliant actress, as she was naturally clever, possessing an excellent memory and being a wonderful mimic. She would enter into a bit of fun with the abandon of a child, and if occasion required the stoicism of a deacon, the whole house might be convulsed with laughter, but in Eliza's face, if she set her mind to it, you could not discern the change of a muscle. Her features were regular, and of that peculiar cast which, when she was equipped in man's attire, made her a most attractive-looking beau. About half a mile away lived a poor widow with a couple of daughters, and very nice girls they were, but one was said to be a bit of a coquette. Eliza conceived the idea of giving this young lady a practical lesson in the following manner. She dressed herself in father's clothes, and set about making the girl's acquaintance. She possessed the necessary sang-froid to carry on a scheme of this kind with success. The affair was altogether a secret. Well, in due course a strange young man called about dark one evening at the widow's to make enquiries respecting a person in the neighbourhood he wished to find. He gave out that he was a stranger, and was stopping at ——, a few miles away; asked for a drink of water, and to be allowed to rest for a few moments; made himself agreeable, chatted with the girls, and when he was leaving was invited to call again if he passed that way. He did call again in a short time, and again and again, and struck up a regular courtship with one of the girls, and succeeded to all appearance in winning her affection. Now, the question presented itself, when matters began to take this shape, how she was to break it off, and the affair was such a novelty that she became quite infatuated with it, and I have no doubt would have continued her visits if an accident had not happened which brought them to an abrupt termination. On her return one night she unexpectedly met father at the door, and as there was no chance for retreat, she very courteously asked if he could direct her to Mr. ——. It happened to be raining, and father, of course quite innocently, asked the stranger in until the shower was over. She hesitated, but finally came in and took a seat. There was something about the person, and particularly the clothes, that attracted his attention, but this probably would have passed if he had not, observed that the boots were on the wrong feet; that is to say, the right boot was on the left foot, et vice versa. Knowing Eliza's propensities well, he suspected her, and she was caught. Enjoying a romp now and then himself he called mother, and after tormenting poor Eliza for a while, let her go. This cured her effectually. But the poor girl never knew what became of her lover. He came no more, and she was left to grieve for a time, and I suppose to forget, for she married a couple of years after. The secret was kept at Eliza's request, after making a clean breast of it to mother, for a long time. She married not long after this, and was beloved by everyone. She was a devoted wife, and had several children, none of whom are now living. Poor Eliza! I thought of Hamlet's soliloquy on Yorick as I stood by her unkept grave, with its headstone fallen and broken. "Those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft—where be your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment." All gone, years ago! And they live only in the sweet recollections of the past.
My father used to keep a large number of bees either in wood or straw hives, mostly of the former; and indeed most all our neighbours kept them too, and I remember a curious custom that prevailed of blowing horns and pounding tin pans when they were swarming, to keep them from going away. I never knew my father to resort to this expedient, but it was wonderful to see him work among them. He would go to the hives and change them from one to another, or go under a swarm, and without any protection to his face or hands, shake them into the hive, and carry it away and put it in its place. They never stung him unless by accident. If one of them got under his clothes and was crowded too much, he might be reminded that there was something wrong, but the sting only troubled him for a minute or two. With me it seemed if they got a sight of me they made a "bee line" for my face. After father's death they soon disappeared, as I would not have them about. We sometimes found bee trees in the woods, and on one occasion chopped down a large elm out of which we got a quantity of choice honey. I remember this well; for I ate so much that it made me sick, and cured me from wanting honey ever after.
Another incident connected with the afternoon's work in robbing the bees. It was quite early in the spring, and though the snow had pretty much disappeared from the fields, yet there was some along the fences and in the woods. We left the house after dinner with a yoke of oxen and wood-sleigh freighted with pails and tubs to bring back our expected prize, and the afternoon was well spent before John—our hired man—had felled the tree, and by the time we had got the comb into the vessels it was growing dark. Just as everything had been got into the sleigh, and we were about to leave, we were startled by a shrill scream on one side, something like that made by a pair of quarrelsome tom-cats, only much louder, which was answered immediately by a prolonged mew on the other. The noise was so startling and unexpected that John for a moment was paralyzed. Old Ring, a large powerful dog, bounded away at once into the woods, and Buck and Bright started for home on the trot. I was too sick to care much about wild cats, or in fact anything else, and lay on my back in the straw among the pails and tubs, but I heard the racket, and what appeared a struggle with the dog. We did not see Ring until next morning, and felt sure that he had been killed. The poor old fellow looked as though he had had a hard time of it, and did not move about much for a day or two. The wild cat or Canadian lynx is a ferocious animal. The species generally go in pairs. I have frequently heard them calling to one another at apparently long distances, and then they would gradually come together. A man would fare very badly with a pair of them, particularly if he was laid on his back with a fit of colic.
Like most lads, I was fond of shooting, and used frequently to shoulder my gun and stroll away through the fields in quest of game. On one occasion, somewhere about the first of September, I was out hunting black squirrels, and had skirted along the edge of the woods and corn fields for some distance. I had not met with very good success. The afternoon was warm, and I was discussing in my mind whether I should go further on or return home. Looking up the hill, I saw a couple of squirrels, and started after them at a sharp pace. On my right was a corn field and as I stepped along the path near the fence, I had a glimpse of something moving along on the other side of it, but I was so intent on watching the squirrels that I did not in fact think of anything else for the moment. As I drew near the tree I saw them go up. Keeping a sharp look-out for a shot, I chanced to look down, and there before me, not two rods away, sat a large red-nosed bear. The encounter was so unexpected that it is hardly necessary to say I was frightened, and it was a moment or two before I could collect my wits. Bruin seemed to be examining me very composedly, and when I did begin to realize the position the question was what to do. I was afraid to turn at once and run. Having but one charge of small shot in my gun, I knew it would not do to give him that, so we continued gazing at each other. At length I brought my gun to full cock, made a step forward, and gave a shout. The bear quietly dropped on his fore legs and moved off, and so did I, and as the distance widened I increased my speed. The little dog I had with me decamped before I did, having no doubt seen the bear. I ran to a neighbour's who had a large dog. One of the boys got his gun, and we went back in a somewhat better condition for a fight; but when the dog struck the scent he put his tail between his legs and trotted home, showing more sense probably than we did. However, we saw nothing of the bear, and returned. Some days after a neighbour shot a large bear, no doubt the same one.
Very early in the history of mankind it was pronounced to be not good that man should be alone, and ever since then both male and female have seemed to think so too. At all events there is a certain time in life when this matter occupies a very prominent place in the minds of both, and it was no more of a novelty when I was young than now. The same desires warmed the heart, and the same craving for social enjoyment and companionship brought the young together, with the difference that then we were in the rough, while the young of the present have been touched up by education and polished by the refinements of fashionable society. I do not think they are any better at the core, or make more attentive companions. Now, when a young gentleman goes to see a young lady with other views than that of spending a little time agreeably, he is said to be paying his addresses, or, as Mrs. Grundy would say: It is an affaire d'amour. When I was young, if a boy went to see a girl (and they did whenever they could) he was said to be sparking her. If he was unsuccessful in his suit you would hear it spoken of in some such way as this: "Sally Jones gave Jim Brown the mitten;" and very often the unlucky swain was actually presented with a small mitten by the mischievous fair one whom he had hoped to win, as a broad hint that it was useless for him to hang around there any longer. Sunday afternoon was the usual time selected, and in fact it was the only time at their disposal for visiting the girls. There were favourite resorts in every neighbourhood, and girls whose attractions were very much more inviting than others, and thither three or four young gallants, well-mounted and equipped in their best Sunday gear, might be seen galloping from different directions of a Sunday evening. Of course it could not in the nature of things happen that all would be successful, and so after a while one unfortunate after another would ride away to more propitious fields, and leave the more fortunate candidate to entertain his lady- love until near midnight. Sometimes tricks were played on fortunate rivals by loosing their horses and starting them home, or hiding their saddles; and it was not a pleasant conclusion to such a delightful visit to have to trudge through the mud four or five miles of a dark night, or to ride home barebacked, as the best pants were likely to get somewhat soiled in the seat. However, these little affairs seldom proved very serious, and it would get whispered around that Tildy Smith was going to get married to Pete Robins.
When I had grown to be quite a lad I got a lesson from Grandfather C—- that never required repeating. Those who are acquainted with the Quakers know that they do not indulge in complimentary forms of speech. A question is answered with a simple yes or no. My father's people were of this persuasion, and of course my replies whenever addressed were in the regular home style. It does not follow, however, that because the Friends as a people eschew conformity to the world both in dress and speech, that there is a want of parental respect. Quite the contrary. Their regular and temperate habits, their kindness and attention to the comfort and well-being of one another, make their homes the abode of peace and good-will, and, though their conversation is divested of the many little phrases the absence of which is thought disrespectful by very many, yet they have gained a reputation for consistency and truthfulness which is of more value than ten thousand empty words that drop smoothly from the lips but have no place in the heart. During a visit to my grandfather, the old gentleman asked me a number of questions to which he got the accustomed yes or no. This so displeased him that he caught me by the ear and gave it a twist that seemed to me to have deprived me of that member altogether, and said very sharply, "When you answer me, say SIR." That Sir was so thoroughly twisted into my head that I do not think the old man ever spoke to me after that it did not jump to my lips.
Another anecdote, of much the same character as that related above, and quite as characteristic of the men of those days, was told me by an old man not long since—one of the very few of the second generation now living (Paul. C. Petersen, aged 84). Mr. Herman, one of the first settlers in the 4th Concession of Adolphustown, bought a farm, which happened to be situated on the boundary line between the above-named township and Fredericksburgh, in those days known as 3rd and 4th town. It seems that in the original survey, whether through magnetic influence, to which it was ascribed in later years, but more probably through carelessness, or something more potent, there was a wide variation in the line which should have run nearly directly north from the starting point on the shore of the Bay of Quinte. However, as time wore on, and land became more valuable, this question of boundary became a serious thing, and in after years resulted in a series of law suits which cost a large sum of money. Mr. Herman held his farm by the first survey, but if the error which had been made in a direction north was corrected, he would either lose his farm or would have been shoved over on to his neighbour west, and so on. He was not disposed to submit to this, and as he was getting old he took his eldest son one day out to the original post at the south-east corner of his farm on the north shore of Hay Bay, and said to him: "My son, this (pointing out the post), is the post put here by the first survey,—and which I saw planted—at the corner of my lot, and I wish you to look around and mark it well." While the son was looking about, the old man drew up his arm and struck him with the flat of his hand and knocked him over. He at once picked him up, and said: "My son, I had no intention of hurting you, but I wanted to impress the thing on your mind." Shortly after he took the second son out, and administered the same lesson. Not long after the old man passed away, and I remember well that for years this matter was a bone of contention.
Most Canadians are familiar with the musical bullfrogs which in the spring, in a favourable locality, in countless numbers call to each other all night long from opposite swamps. These nightly concerts become very monotonous. The listener, however, if he pays attention, will catch a variety of sounds that he may train into something, and if of a poetical turn of mind might make a song that would rival some of those written to bells. I used to fancy I could make out what they were calling back to one another, and have often been a very attentive listener. There was an old man in the neighbourhood who very frequently came home drunk, and we used to wonder he did not fall off his horse and get badly hurt or killed; but the old horse seemed to understand how to keep under him and fetch him and his jug home all right. We had a little song which the frogs used to sing for him as he got near home.
Old Brown—old Brown 1st baritone, last word drawn out. Been to town—been to town 2nd—answer same key. With his jug-jug-jug 3rd—high key in which more join. Coo-chung—coo-chung 4th—baritone in which several join. Chuck-chuck-chuck. 5th—alto from different quarters. Chr r r r r r r r.— 6th—chorus, grand, after which there is a pause, and then an old leader will start as before.
Old Brown—old Brown Get home—get home, Your drunk, drunk, drunk, Coo chung-cooo chung Chuck-chuck-chuck. Chr r r r r r r r.
Many curious stories are told respecting the sagacity of animals, among which the dog takes a prominent place. My father had a large dog when I was a youngster that certainly deserves a place among the remarkable ones of his race. Ring was a true friend, and never of his own accord violated the rules of propriety with his kind, but woe to the dog who attempted to bully him. He possessed great strength, and when driven into a contest, generally made short work of it, and trotted away without any show of pride over his defeated contestant. He was in the habit of following my father on all occasions and although frequently shut up and driven back, was sure to be on hand at the stopping point to take charge of the team, etc. On the occasion I am about to mention, my father and mother were going on a visit to his brothers some twenty-four miles distant. Before starting in the morning the decree went forth that Ring must stop at home, and he was accordingly shut up, with instructions that he was not to be let out until after dinner. It was necessary to do this before any preparations were made for going away, for the simple reason that it had been done repeatedly before, and when there was the least sign of a departure, experience had taught him that the best plan was to keep out of the way, in which he generally succeeded until too late to capture him. On this occasion Ring was outwitted. The horses were put to the sleigh, and away they trotted. On the journey they stopped at Picton for a time, when the team was driven into the tavern yard and fed, during which time other teams were coming and going. After about an hour they started again, driving through the village, and on towards their destination. Some five or six hours after, when all possible chance of Ring's following seemed to have passed, he was let out. The dog seemed to know at once what had been going on, and after a careful inspection, discovered that father and mother, with the horses and sleigh, were gone. He rushed about the place with his nose to the ground, and when he had settled which way they had gone, set off in full chase up the road, and a few minutes before they had reached my uncle's, Ring passed them, on the road, wagging his tail, and looking as if he thought that was a good joke. The singular point is how the dog discovered their route, and how, hours after, he traced them up into the tavern yard and out through a street, and along a road where horses and sleighs were passing all the time; and how he distinguished the difference of the horses' feet and sleigh runners from scores of others which had passed to and fro in the meantime. It is a case of animal instinct, or whatever it may be called, beyond comprehension.
Many years ago my father-in-law (the late Isaac Ingersoll, Esq.), a prominent man in the District, and a wealthy farmer, widely known, had frequent applications from parties in Kingston for a good milch cow. In those days milk was not delivered, as now, at every door in towns, and it became a necessity for every family to have a cow. The wealthier people wanted good ones, and as the old gentleman was known to keep good stock, he was enabled to get good prices. On one occasion he sold a cow to a gentleman in the town above named, and sent her by steamboat down the Bay of Quinte, a distance of over thirty miles. A week after, the old man was surprised one morning to find this cow in his yard. She had made her escape from her new master, and returned to her old quarters and associates. She was sent back, and after a time got away and travelled the thirty miles again, and was found in the yard. The second journey of course was not so difficult, but by what process did she discover, in the first place, the direction she was taken, and pursue a road which she had never travelled, back to her old quarters. At her new home she was, if anything, better fed and cared for; why should she embrace the first opportunity to steal away and seek her old companions? Who can explain these things? In this case there is an attachment evinced for home and associates, and a persistence in returning to them, most remarkable, and in the case of the dog, an intelligence (or what you may be pleased to call it), which enabled him to trace his master, and overtake him, which is altogether beyond human ken.
There is the irrepressible cat, too. Every household is troubled from time to time with one or more of these animals, which from their snuping propensities become a nuisance. I have on more than one occasion put one in a bag and carried it miles away, and then let it go, rather than kill it outright; but it was sure to be back almost as soon as myself.
The 4th of June, the anniversary of the birth of King George III., as well as that of the very much more humble individual who pens these lines, for many years was the day selected for the annual drill of the militia of the Province. It was otherwise known as general training-day, and ten days or more previously, the men belonging to the various battalions were "warned" to appear at a certain place in the district. Each individual was subject to a fine of 10s or more if not on the ground to answer to his name when the roll was called. On the morning of that day, therefore, men on foot, on horseback and in waggons were to be seen wending their way to the "training ground," or field, in close proximity to a tavern. It was an amusing spectacle to see a few hundred rustics, whose ages ranged from 16 to 40, in all kinds of dress, with old muskets that had been used in the Revolutionary War or in that of 1812—fusees that many a year, as occasion required, had helped to contribute to the diminished larder—drawn up in a line, and marched round the field for a time. The evolutions were such as might be expected from a crowd of raw countrymen, and often got tangled up so that a military genius of more than superhuman skill would have been puzzled to get them in order again.
There was no other way to do it, but to stop and re-form the line. Then would come the word of command: "Attention. Brown fall back. Johnson straighten up there. That will do. Now men, at the word 'Right about,' each man has to turn to his right, at the word 'Left about,' each man turns to his left. Now then: Attention—Right about face." Confusion again, some turning to the right and others to the left. A few strong phrases follow—"As you were"—and so the thing goes on; the men are wheeled to the right and left, marched about the field, and, after being put through various steps, are brought into line again. The commanding officer, sword in hand, looks along the serried ranks, the sergeants pass along the line, chucking one's head up, pushing one back, bringing another forward, and then rings out the word of command again: "Attention! Shoulder arms! Make ready, present, fire!" Down come the old guns and sticks in a very threatening attitude, a random pop along the line is heard, then "Stand at ease"—after which the Colonel, in his red coat, wheels his charger about, says a few words to the men, and dismisses them. The rest of the day was spent by every man in carousing, horse-racing, and games, with an occasional fight. After the arduous duties of the day, the officers had a special spread at the tavern, and afterwards left for home with very confused ideas as to the direction in which they should proceed to reach it.
Fifty years ago, shaving the beard, in Canada at all events, was universal. If a man were to go about as the original Designer of his person no doubt intended, a razor would never have touched his face. But men, like other animals, are subject to crotchets, and are wont to imitate superiors, so when some big-bug like Peter the Great introduced the shears and razor, men appeared soon after with cropped heads and clean chops. I do not remember that I ever saw a man with a full beard until after I had passed manhood for some years, except on one occasion when I was a youngster at school in the old school house on the concession. A man passed through the neighbourhood—I do not remember what he was doing—with a long flowing beard. We had somehow got the idea that no men except Jews wore their beards, and the natural inference with us was that this man was one of that creed. He was as much of a curiosity to us as a chimpanzee or an African lion would have been, and we were about as afraid of him as we would have been on seeing either of the other animals.
The township of Adolphustown, in the county of Lennox, is the smallest township in the Province. Originally the counties of Lennox and Addington, Frontenac, Hastings and Prince Edward were embraced in the Midland District. These counties, as the country advanced in population, were one after another set off, the last being the united counties of Lennox and Addington, separated from Frontenac, and with the town of Napanee as its capital. The township in my young days was known as fourth town, as the townships east of it as far as Kingston were known as first, second and third town. Immediately after the American War, the land along the Bay of Quinte, embracing these townships, with fifth, sixth and seventh town to the west, were taken up, and the arduous task of clearing away the bush at once began. The bay, from its debouche at Kingston, extends west about seventy miles, nearly severing at its termination the county of Prince Edward from the main land. The land on either hand, for about thirty miles west of Kingston, is undulating, with a gradual ascent from the shore, but when Adolphustown is reached, Marysburgh, in the county of Prince Edward, on the opposite side of the bay, presents a bold front, its steep banks rising from one to two hundred feet. From the Lake of the Mountain, looking across the wide stretch of water formed by the sharp detour of the bay in its westerly to a north-easterly course for fifteen or twenty miles, the observer has one of the most charming scenes in America spread out before him. In the distance, the lofty rocky shore of Sophiasburgh, with its trees and shrubs crowding down to the water's edge, stretch away to the right and left. To the west, the estuary known as Picton Bay curves around the high wooded shore of Marysburgh, and beneath and to the east, the four points of which the township of Adolphustown is composed reach out their woody banks into the wide sweep of the bay like the four fingers of a man's hand. For quiet, picturesque beauty, there is nothing to surpass it. On every hand the eye is arrested with charming landscapes, and looking across the several points of the township you have dwellings, grain fields, herds of cattle, and wood. Beyond you catch the shimmer of the water. Again you have clumps of trees and cultivated fields, and behind them another stretch of water, and so on as far as the eye can reach. The whole course of the bay, in fact, is a panorama of rural beauty, but the old homes that were to be seen along its banks twenty- five and thirty years ago have either disappeared altogether or have been modernized. It is now very nearly one hundred years since the first settlers found their way up it, and it must have been then a beautiful sight in its native wildness, the clear green water stretching away to the west, the sinuosities of the shore, the numberless inlets, the impenetrable forest and the streams that cut their way through it and poured their contingents into its broad bosom, the islands here and there, upon which the white man had never set his foot, water fowl in thousands, whose charming home was then for the first time invaded, skurrying away with noisy quake and whir, the wood made sweet with the song of birds, the chattering squirrel, the startled deer, the silent murmur of the water as it lapped the sedgy shore or gravelly beach— these things must have combined to please, and to awaken thoughts of peaceful homes, in the near future to them all.
The Bay of Quinte, apart from its delightful scenery, possesses an historical interest. It is not known from whence it received its name, but there is no doubt it is of French origin. Perhaps some of the old French voyageurs, halting at Fort Frontenac, on their way west, as they passed across it, and through one of the gaps that open the way to the broad expanse of Lake Ontario, may have christened it. Be this as it may, it was along its shores that the first settlers of the Province located. Here came the first preachers, offering to the lonely settler the bread of life. On its banks the first house devoted to the worship of God was erected, and the seed sown here, as the country grew, spread abroad. Here the first schoolmaster began his vocation of instructing the youth. The first steamboat was launched (1816) upon its waters at Ernesttown, near the present village of Bath. Kingston, for a long time the principal town of the Province, then composed of a few log houses, was the depot of supplies for the settlers. It has a history long anterior to this date. In 1673, Courcelles proceeded to Cataraqui with an armed force to bring the Iroquois to terms, and to get control of the fur trade. Then followed the building of Fort Frontenac. The restless trader and discoverer, La Salle, had the original grant for a large domain around the fort. Here, in 1683, La Barre built vessels for the navigation of the lake, and the year following held a great council with the Five Nations of Indians, at which Big Mouth was the spokesman. The fort was destroyed by Denonville in 1689, and rebuilt in 1696. It was again reduced by Colonel Bradstreet in 1758.
In Adolphustown many of the first settlers still lived when I was a boy, and I have heard them recount their trials and hardships many a time. Besides the U. E. Loyalists there were a number of Quaker families which came to the Province about the same time, leaving the new Republic, not precisely for the same reasons, but because of their attachment to the old land. During the war, these people, who are opposed to war and bloodshed, suffered a good deal, and were frequently imprisoned, and their money and property appropriated. This did not occur in Canada, but they were subject to a fine for some time, for not answering to their names at the annual muster of the militia. The fine, however, was not exacted, except in cases where there were doubts as to membership with the society. This small township has contributed its quota to the Legislature of the country. T. Dorland represented the Midland District in the first Parliament of the Province, and was followed by Willet Casey, when Newark or Niagara was the capital. The latter was succeeded several years later by his son, Samuel Casey, but, as often happens, there was a difference in the political opinions of the father and son. The father was a Reformer, the son a Tory; and at the election, the old gentleman went to the poll and recorded his vote against his son, who was nevertheless elected. The Roblins, John P—-, who represented the county of Prince Edward, and David, who sat for Lennox and Addington, were natives of the township. The Hagermans, Christopher and D—-, were also fourth town boys, with whom my mother went to school. The old homestead, a low straggling old tenement, stood on the bay shore a few yards west of the road that leads to the wharf. I remember it well. It was destroyed by fire years ago. The father of Sir John A. Macdonald kept a store a short distance to the east of the Quaker meeting-house on Hay Bay, on the third concession. It was a small clap-boarded building, painted red, and was standing a few years ago. I remember being at a nomination in the village of Bath, on which occasion there were several speakers from Kingston, among them John A. Macdonald, then a young lawyer just feeling his way into political life. He made a speech, and began something in this way: "Yeomen of the county of Lennox and Addington, I remember well when I ran about in this district a barefooted boy," &c. He had the faculty then, which he has ever since preserved, of getting hold of the affections of the people. This bonhommie has had much to do with his popularity and success. I recollect well how lustily he was cheered by the staunch old farmers on the occasion referred to. A few years later a contest came off in the county of Prince Edward, where I then resided. In those days political contests were quite as keen as now; but the alterations in the law which governs these matters has been greatly changed and improved. The elections were so arranged that people owning property in various counties could exercise their franchise. The old law, which required voters to come to a certain place in the district to record their vote, had been repealed; and now each voter had to go to the township in which he owned property, to vote. Foreign voters were more numerous then than now, and were looked after very sharply. On this occasion there was a sharp battle ahead, and arrangements were made to meet property owners at all points. There were a number from Kingston on our side, and it fell to me to meet them at the Stone Mills Ferry, and bring them to Picton. The ice had only recently taken in the bay, and was not quite safe, even for foot passengers. There were six or seven, and among them John A. Macdonald, Henry Smith, afterwards Sir Henry, and others. In crossing, Smith got in, but was pulled out by his companions, in no very nice plight for a long drive. The sleighing was good, and we dashed away. In the evening I brought them back, and before they set off across the bay on their return, John A. mounted the long, high stoop or platform in front of Teddy McGuire's, and gave us an harangue in imitation of ——, a well-known Quaker preacher, who had a marvellous method of intoning his discourses. It was a remarkable sing-song, which I, or any one else who ever heard it, could never forget. Well John A., who knew him well, had caught it, and his imitation was so perfect that I am inclined to think the old man, if he had been a listener, would have been puzzled to tell t'other from which. We had a hearty laugh, and then separated.
I have often heard my mother tell of a trip she made down to the Bay of Quinte, when she was a young girl. She had been on a visit to her brother Jonas Canniff (recently deceased in this city at the age of ninety-two), who had settled on the river Moira, two miles north of the town of Belleville, then a wilderness. There were no steamboats then, and the modes of conveyance both by land and water were slow and tedious. She was sent home by her brother, who engaged two friendly Indians to take her in a bark canoe. The distance to be travelled was over twenty miles, and the morning they started the water in the bay was exceedingly rough. She was placed in the centre of the canoe, on the bottom, while her Indian voyageurs took their place in either end, resting on their knees. They started, and the frail boat danced over the waves like a shell. The stoical yet watchful Indians were alive only to the necessities of their position, and with measured stroke they shot their light bark over the boisterous water. Being a timid girl, and unaccustomed to the water, especially under such circumstances, she was much frightened and never expected to reach her home. There was considerable danger, no doubt, and her fears were not allayed by one of the Indians telling her if she stirred he would break her head with the paddle. The threat may not have been unwise. Their safety depended on perfect control of the boat, and in their light shell a very slight movement might prove disastrous. Her situation was rendered more unpleasant by the splashing of the water, which wet her to the skin. This she had to put up with for hours, while the Indians bravely and skilfully breasted the sea, and at last set her safely on the beach in front of her father's house. When they came to the shore one of the Indians sprang lightly into the water, caught her in his arms and placed her on dry land. This trip was literally burned in her memory, and though she frequently mentioned it, she did so with a shudder, and an expression of thankfulness for her preservation.
Of the old people who were living in my boyhood there are few more thoroughly fixed in my memory, with the exception, perhaps, of my grandfathers Canniff and Haight, than Willet and Jane Casey. There were few women better known, or more universally respected, than Aunt Jane. This was the title accorded to her by common consent, and though at that time she had passed the allotted term of three-score years and ten, she was an active woman—a matron among a thousand, a friend of everybody, and everybody's friend. Her house was noted far and wide for its hospitality, and none dispensed it more cordially than Aunt Jane. In those days the people passing to and fro did not hesitate to avail themselves of the comforts this old home afforded. In fact, it was a general stopping place, where both man and beast were refreshed with most cheerful liberality.
Jane Niles, her maiden name, was born at Butternuts, Otsego County, in the central part of New York State, 1763; so that at the commencement of the American Revolution she was about eleven years old. She was married in 1782. The following year, 1783, the year in which peace was proclaimed, her husband, Willet Casey, left for Upper Canada, and located in the fourth town on the shore of the Bay of Quinte. After erecting a log house and a blacksmith shop, he returned for his wife. He was taken seriously ill, and nearly a year passed before he was able to set out again for the new home in the wilds of Upper Canada (which was reached early in the year 1785), where, after a long and prosperous life, he ended his days.
Aunt Jane was a tall and well proportioned woman, of commanding presence and cheerful disposition; a woman of more than ordinary intelligence, and a good conversationalist. She had been a close observer of passing events, and possessed a wonderfully retentive memory. It was an epoch in one's life to hear her recount the recollections of her early days. These ran through the whole period of the American War, and many scenes which are now historical, that she had witnessed, or was cognizant of, were given with a vividness that not only delighted the listener but fixed them in his memory. Then, the story of the coming to Canada, with her first babe six months old, and the struggles and hardships in the bush, which in the days of which I speak she delighted to linger over, was a great treat to listen to. There were few of the first families she did not know, and whose history was not familiar to her, and in most cases she could give the names and ages of the children. The picture given of her in this volume is a copy from a daguerrotype taken when she was ninety-two years old. For several years before her demise she did not use spectacles, and could read ordinary print with ease, or do fine needlework. She retained her faculties to the last, and died at the age of ninety-six.
She had eleven children, five of whom died young. Her eldest daughter, Martha, known as Patty Dorland, attained the age of ninety-two. Then followed Samuel, Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary and Jane. These, with the exception of Thomas and Mary Ingersoll, my wife's mother, died many years ago. Thomas Casey died at Brighton, in January of this year, aged eighty-seven, and Mary Ingersoll on the first of June, aged eighty-five, the last of the family.
Willet Casey was an energetic man. He accumulated a large property, and in my boyhood there were not many days in the week that the old man could not be seen driving along the road in his one-horse waggon in some direction. He was one of the first representatives for the Midland District, when Newark was the capital of the Province. His son Samuel, a number of years subsequently, represented the district, and later, his grandson, Dr. Willet Dorland, represented the County of Prince Edward.
NOTE: At the time my book was going through the press, I was under the impression that the fish known in this country as a Sucker was the same as the Mullet, but had no intention that the latter name should find its way into the text in place of Sucker. See page 41. According to Richardson, one of the best authorities we have, the Sucker is of the Carp family, the scientific name of which is Cyprinus Hudsonius, or Sucking Carp.
On page 127, "and, as their lives had theretofore," read heretofore.