HotFreeBooks.com
Young Lion of the Woods - A Story of Early Colonial Days
by Thomas Barlow Smith
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

"And has he not high honor, The hill side for a pall, He lies in state while angels wait With stars for tapers tall; And the dark rock pines, with tossing plumes, Over his tomb to wave; 'Twas a kind dear hand in that lonely land, That laid him in the grave."

"In that lonely grave without a name, Where his uncoffined clay Shall break again, O, wondrous thought! Before the Judgment Day, And stand with glory wrapped around On the hills he never trod, And speak of the strife that won our life, And the Incarnate Son of God."



CHAPTER XI.

MARGARET GODFREY'S FAREWELL.

The widowed squaw and the two pale-faced women were the last to leave Paul's late camping ground. As they were pushed off into the stream by Jim Newall, who with another Indian paddled them back to the settlement, Margaret saw the other canoes, nine in number, going up the river. In the twilight she watched them, and it came to her mind that when Paul Guidon saw the porpoises at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy coming toward the sloop, he was not to be blamed for thinking they were canoes. She remarked to Mrs. Fowler those canoes resemble, at first sight, porpoises on the Atlantic Ocean.

When they arrived at the settlement Little Mag was taken to the home of the Lesters. As she sat down in one of the small, unfurnished rooms, she rested her head upon her hands and bitterly sobbed. Mrs. Godfrey tried to comfort her, but she wept on. Little Mag said she felt badly at leaving the wigwam. If she had stayed there her husband's spirit would have come in the night and been with her. She would not see him but she would know he was there. Indians always come back the night they are buried to see their loved ones again before going off to the great hunting grounds. After a time "Little Mag" fell asleep, and in her dream, as she reclined on a bench, talked in an unknown tongue. Neither Margaret nor any present could understand a word she uttered. She appeared to be conversing with some invisible being, invisible, at least, to the pale faces. It may have been that in that little room there was sweet communion between the widowed squaw and her departed husband. She said to Mrs Godfrey after she awoke that she thought she saw her husband and heard him say, "Don't worry about Paul." "Happy hunting grounds here." "See you far off." "Far beyond setting sun." He appeared to be speaking to her out of the setting sun. He was surrounded by a golden light, while he looked to be dressed in polished silver, and when she awoke by falling on the floor, she had started to fling herself into his arms, which were outstretched to receive her; but when her eyes were opened all around her was darkness.[7]

[Footnote 7: See interpretation of the dream at close of Chapter.]

Soon after relating the above she retired to bed and in the morning seemed refreshed and happy. She sang songs in the Chippewayan tongue during the morning; her deep black eye became brighter; her step was light and quick, and her whole frame seemed to move to silent music, so regular, graceful and quick were her motions.

Who among us of earth knows but there are times in the lives of some of us, if not all of us, when the silent influences of dear departed friends, happy in the etherial or spirit world, unconsciously direct our thoughts and guide our movements.

In a few days Margaret Godfrey was preparing to leave the settlement and return to Halifax, and there make one more effort to secure some compensation for her husband's losses on the St. John.

She invited "Little Mag" to give her the history of the ring. In reply, "Little Mag" said her husband, Paul, had given it to her, and when he presented it to her told her that it once belonged to the best pale face woman he had ever seen in all his travels, that it was stolen from off the pale face's finger, and some moons afterwards he had knocked down the thief and taken it off his finger, one night far outside the British lines at Quebec. The thief was a rebel who had nearly killed pale face woman. About two weeks after Paul had knocked the rebel down, there was a sharp sortie between some British soldiers and some Americans, and during the fight, which ended in the repulse of the Americans, the monkey-faced, cross-eyed rebel, "Will," was taken prisoner. He was a great coward, and acknowledged to her husband that he had taken the ring off pale face woman's finger. Her husband told her to keep the ring till pale face woman saw it. That pale face woman has arrow mark on right arm above joint. Here Margaret Godfrey pulled up her sleeve and showed the little squaw the arrow mark received by her at Fort Frederick, in 1770. "Little Mag's" full brown-face lit up with an innocent smile as she pulled the precious gem off her own finger and placed it in the hand of Mrs. Godfrey, at the same time saying, "I know you the pale face who lost ring." Margaret took the ring put it on her own finger and thanked "Little Mag" for it.

The Chippewayan widow then took from a pocket in her blue skirt, a small case and handed it to Margaret Godfrey, who opened it and took from it a neck-lace of beads mounted with gold. A small gold cross was attached. "Little Mag" said the neck-lace was given to her by officers at Quebec when she was married, and Paul had given her the cross at the same time. She had married Paul when he was visiting among her tribe, when she was sixteen years old. When they came to Quebec the officers were very good to them. They gave her plenty of good clothes because they liked her husband so much.

Paul got sick while hunting with officers last winter. She was with them and cooking in camp. In early spring left the officers and came down to St. John River, in May, and built wigwam near his mother's grave. He got no better, but worse, growing thinner and weaker, with great cough. "What 'Little Mag' do now my Paul gone?" "I know you good woman will ask Great Chief to help me go home to my tribe, there live and die. My little papoose, Paul, dead, sleeps near Quebec, died when few moons old."

The information in Chapter nine respecting Paul Guidon's career after leaving Halifax in 1776, was obtained from a document pasted in the back of the old service book, and written at Paul's request by a Lieutenant of the British Army stationed at Quebec in the year 1780.

Mrs. Godfrey left Parr Town late in the fall of 1784 for Halifax, and soon after sailed from the latter place for England. Her mission to Halifax and the St. John had been a failure. She could get no promise that her husband's property would be restored to him, or that any compensation would be granted him in lieu thereof.

As the brigt. in which Margaret Godfrey took passage sailed out of Chebucto Harbour, she remarked to the captain that people who attempt to settle in a new colony would do well before leaving comfortable homes in the old land to find out what protection is guaranteed settlers, and what class of persons they are likely to settle among. And as she cast a last look upon the colony, as she entered the companion way to the cabin, she pointed her hand toward the shore, remarking, "my husband and I came out to this land in very comfortable circumstances fifteen years ago; to-day, without a penny to call my own, I leave the colony forever." The vessel ran across the ocean in thirty-six days, and Mrs. Godfrey was once again on English soil.

Nothing having been accomplished in Nova Scotia by his wife's visit, Captain Godfrey once more made an attempt for relief to the Lords of Parliament at home.

After the close of the American war, a commission was appointed by Parliament with power to inquire into the losses and services of the Loyalists in America. Captain Godfrey, as has been stated in a previous chapter, had put his case before many commissions, before Lords many. To use a common expression, "his case had gone the rounds." And now, as a last effort, he was about to present his claims before the Lord Commissioner of Losses and Services of the American Loyalists. In his memorial the captain stated to the Lords Commissioners, his services as a soldier to the time of settling in the colony, concluding with giving in detail the losses he had sustained on the River St. John, in His Majesty's Colonial possession, by the cruel and savage acts of Indians and rebels. He also stated in his memorial that he could have joined the service of Mr. Washington, and that great inducements were held out to him to do so, and to desert the cause of his king and his country. The memorial concluded as follows:

"Your memorialist therefore, humbly prays, that his cause may be taken into consideration, and that he may be granted such relief, as in the benevolence of His Majesty King George the Third's Commissioners, his losses and services may be found to deserve, and that he and the subjoined witnesses may have a hearing from your Honourable Board."

Witnesses:

THOMAS BRIDGE, ESQ., } No. 2 Bridge Street, Surry Side } To Property. } MR. BARTLEY, } Delzex Court, near the Temple. }

GENERAL SKEIN, } To Service. GENERAL MURRAY. }

SIR GUY CARLETON, } To Loyalty. BROOK WATSON. }

(Here follows the signature of the petitioner.)

No. 2 Pratt Street, Lambeth.

As far as can be gathered from documentary evidence, and what information could be obtained otherwise, no relief was ever granted to Captain Godfrey or his family by the Commission of Losses and Services of the American Loyalists. Mrs. Godfrey, whose many trials, hardships, disappointments and sorrows, have been sketched in the foregoing chapters, was living in London as late as 1805. A letter written by the old lady to her son Charlie's wife, then living in Nova Scotia, was for a few hours in the possession of the writer of these chapters. In this letter she states her many difficulties and the numerous applications on her part to various Lords and other authorities seeking relief in her distress. Many portions of the long, well written letter are touching indeed.

The persistency of the grand old lady in doing her utmost to force the rulers of the country to a settlement of her husband's claims is greatly to be admired. Her letter cannot be read by any colonist without feelings of pity and shame. In one part of the letter she says Councillor Brand[8] has given in my memorial to the treasury and I have to wait till he gets an answer, and I pray God it will be a happy one, but God knows what is best, and will, if we put all our trust in him, guide us aright. The cursed Duke of Richmond is not dead yet.[9]

[Footnote 8: It will be remembered that Mrs. Godfrey was an Irish woman.]

[Footnote 9: What was the cause of her animosity to this noble Duke, the writer does not know.]

Mrs. Godfrey must have been near eighty years of age when this letter was written. Thirty-five years had elapsed since her husband's first loss in the colony, and nearly thirty years since he was driven out by rebels and Indians.

Titles and pensions have been freely bestowed by English kings and parliaments on men who have been daring and successful in Britain's cause. If Captain Godfrey had performed no deeds worthy of a title or a pension, he at least deserved to be reimbursed in part or in whole for the losses he had sustained at the hands of rebels and savages. And it is probable there were men and women in England who were styled Dukes and Duchesses,—who wore orders on their breasts that covered less brave and no more loyal hearts than those of Capt. and Margaret Godfrey. She firmly supported and assisted her husband in his strict adherence to King George the Third's cause, and faced the rebels like a Spartan and defeated them in their designs at Grimross. Her tact, skill, courage and cool determination in the midst of imminent danger were truly admirable. She displayed the qualities of a born leader time and time again. In a situation where she could seek no support she relied on her own judgment, courage and faith. These sterling qualities brought to her aid one who afterward proved to be a friend and guide. Alone at Fort Frederick she defeated the designs of blood-thirsty savages by stepping out of the Fort and standing unmoved and defiant amid a flight of arrows. Her commanding presence and firm attitude won a savage to her side. We can entertain no better wish for the memory of this Celtic heroine, than that her name may be preserved, and her life and deeds in the colony go down to the latest generation.

"Justin McCarthy in his concise and interesting work, Ireland's cause in England's Parliament," says: "There is a charming poem by my friend William Allingham, called Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland," in which we find a classic story, thrillingly told, as an illustration of the hero's feeling on some subject of interest to his country. A Roman Emperor is persecuted by the petition of a poor widowed woman, who prays for redress of some wrong done to her and her children. The great emperor is far too great, his mind is taken up too much with questions of imperial interest, to have any leisure for examining into, or even for reading, this poor woman's claim.

One morning he is riding forth of his palace gates, at the head of his splendid retinue, and the widow comes in his way, right in his path, and holds up her petition again, and implores him to read it. He will not read, and is about to pass scornfully on, when she flings herself on the ground before him, herself and her little children, just in front of his horse's hoofs, and she declares that if he will not stay and hear her prayer, he shall not pass on his way unless he passes over the bodies of herself and children.

And then says Mr. Allingham, "the Roman," who must have had something of the truly imperial in him, "wheeled his horse and heard."

Margaret Godfrey, the poor widowed woman, took up the petition of her husband, and continued to pray for redress of wrong done her husband, herself, and her children. For twenty years she continued in her prayer. Read what the poor widowed woman says in another part of her letter to her daughter-in-law, and see if the truly imperial is to be found in a King or in England's noblemen, who for twenty years "heard and wheeled."

"I have been sick all winter and not able to help myself, and am very ill at present. My illness has almost turned me, but if I had but half a leg I'll do my duty toward my family."

In another letter written to her daughter-in-law not long after the first, she says: "Tell Charles if he ever visits the mouth of the St. John or old Fort Frederick, not to neglect for his mother's sake to visit the grave of Paul Guidon. He knows the locality and may be able to detect the spot where the hero sleeps. In my thoughts, God knows how often I linger about that spot. Sacred indeed must be the earth that mingles with the dust of such nobility. Were I present I would adorn his last resting place with the early spring flowers. Many wintry storms have passed above his grave. Spring time and summer have come and gone, but he heeds them not.

"I feel that I am nearing the border land, and as I cross the stream I believe I shall meet my husband and also my other protector standing together on the shore to welcome me home, to a home where friends never fail and where justice is administered in the highest perfection.

"It is my living desire, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying desire, to meet beyond on the fields of glory Paul Guidon and my dear husband. No Briton ever lived who was more loyal to his King and country, and trusted more fully in the honour of earthly Lords than Charles Godfrey.

"It may be that I shall bye and by find Paul Guidon's name inscribed in brighter characters on the columns that support the arches of the heavens, than the names of some to whom my husband applied on earth for redress of wrong.

"One of Briton's statesmen lately said, 'It is easy for my Lord C. or Earl G. or Marquis B. or Lord H. with thousands upon thousands a year, some of it either presently derived or inherited in sinecure acquisitions from the public money to boast of their patriotism, and keep aloof from temptation, but they do not know from what temptation those have kept aloof who had equal pride, at least equal talents, and not unequal passions, and nevertheless knew not in the course of their lives what it was to have a shilling of their own, and in saying this he wept.

"And so have I, a thousand times in silence wept, as the utmost energy of my life has been exerted to cheer, to comfort and to encourage a weeping heart-broken husband weighed down with misfortunes and poverty."

The grave has long ago closed over every member of the Godfrey family who were among the English pioneer settlers of Acadia, and the history of their lives might have slept with them, but for a trifling circumstance. The old documents referred to and copied in the foregoing chapters, are greatly defaced, and time is completing their destruction. Many of them are scarcely legible, and it required the utmost patience and perseverance to gather together the facts as narrated in this work.

* * * * *

LITTLE MAG'S DREAM AS INTERPRETED BY ONE OF THE LESTERS.

As the little widow narrated her dream to one of the Misses Lester, the latter understood it to be something like the following: Mag saw a vast land with wooded hills and dales, green fields, lakes and rivers. Her departed husband was quickly crossing over all these toward the setting sun. He sped over the lakes and rivers in his canoe, and when he emerged from among the trees, his bow and arrow hung across his shoulder, over the open country he travelled in his moccasins, with the old flag wrapped tightly about his breast and shoulders. At length he approached the setting sun, where she lost sight of him for a moment, the darkness that had gradually settled down, shutting out from her view the passage of her husband, quick as a flash burst into a beautiful crystal light. The heavens looked like shining silver, all around the horizon was a wide cloud of clear light blue, with a border of gold. Beneath was a broad expanse of green, with large groves of trees at regular intervals dressed in a deeper shade. Through these were meandering streams or rivers as of clear glass. Clear cut avenues ran through at regular spaces from stream to stream, on the borders of which (avenues and rivers) were thousands of jasper wigwams, sitting and standing, at the front of each were Indians of all ages, dressed in pure white and ornamented with precious stones of various hues. Rising above the blue border of the sky, slowly and majestically, a new sun was beaming. On its face stood Paul Guidon, in a dress of glistening whiteness. The dress was after the pattern of that of an Indian chief. Out of his right shoulder rose a red cross slanting slightly outward, on the top of which stood an angel slightly inclining foreward. In his right hand he held a wreath made of flowers most pure and white, inside of which in letters of light blue, was the word Love. Out of his left shoulder, in the same direction, rose a staff of deep blue, to which was attached a drooping silver flag crossed with bars of gold. (Its pattern was like the one placed in his grave.) On the top of the staff rested a dove, holding in its beak a wreath, composed of rainbow shades, circling the word Peace in letters whiter than snow. As the new sun continued to rise, the jewelled sky increased in dazzling brilliancy, ten thousand gems of shining gold shot out, and ten thousand sapphires too, all glistening gloriously in the new light. The jasper tents on the everlasting hunting grounds, and the motionless streams were brightning with living flame. Thousands of Indians, strong and fair, in countless groupings, seemed, to surpass even the sky itself in their glittering starry dress.

Paul Guidon appeared to move his head forward as the star-paved sky increased in burning brightness, till overpowered by the lustre shining, and dazzled by the increasing brilliancy. Little Mag fell to the floor and awoke in the darkened room. As she was in the act of falling the faint sound of distant music, mingled with the noise of far away rushing waters, seemed to fall upon her ears, increasing in strength and melody as she touched the floor.

If Milman's lines had been written or known at the time of Mag's dream, they could have been most suitably recited.

"From all the harping throng Bursts the tumultuous song, Like the unceasing sound of cataracts pouring, Hosanna o'er hosanna louder roaring. That faintly echoing down to earthly ears, Hath seemed the concert sweet of the harmonious spheres."



CHAPTER XII.

MARRIAGE OF LITTLE MAG.—SOCIETY AT HALIFAX.

Soon after Mrs. Godfrey's departure from Parr Town for England, Little Mag Guidon went up the St. John and settled there with some of the tribe, intending to remain until a chance of getting back to her people occurred. She was not destined, however, to go back to her Chippewayan friends. Jim Newall, who had so often paddled her to the settlement and back, made advances toward her, which she reciprocated till it ended in the two being married. It appears she had won Jim's heart during the illness of her husband. She told one of the Lesters, shortly after Margaret Godfrey's departure, that Newall had said to her one evening while going up to the camp from the mouth of the river, "Supposem, may be, husband Paul die, Jim Newall come wigwam." She replied, "When Paul die, no wigwam be there, won't stay 'lone." Jim answered, "Me, you, two keep wigwam supposem." Doubtless, the above conversation laid the foundation of their union. It proved to be a happy one. In a letter from a friend to Mrs. Godfrey, a few months after her arrival home, it is stated that "Jim and Mag appear to be the happiest of mortals, their's is true love." The lady who wrote the above, evidently did not consider "marriage a failure," especially among the Indians. In matters of citizenship, in matters of human life, in matters of society, it may be, that it would be beneficial to take a lesson or two from the lives of the Iroquois, Chippewayan, and Mic-Mac. We certainly never read or hear that marriage has been a failure among the Indians.

When Mrs. Godfrey bade farewell to Mag Guidon, she handed her name and address, written in large, bold hand, and remarked as she handed it, "Whenever you want to send me any message, if you are about here, get some of my friends to write a letter for you."

While Mrs. Godfrey was at Parr Town she sought an interview with the newly appointed Governor, (Thomas Carleton), who had arrived a few days before to her departure. She made known to the Governor the losses sustained and hardships endured by her husband while in the colony. She also stated to Colonel Carleton the noble deeds of Paul Guidon, and of his loyalty to the king. She told of his death and of the destitute condition of his young widow.

Some months after Mrs. Godfrey had sailed for home, Governor Carleton was told that the widow of Paul Guidon was soon to be married. He sent to a friend of Mrs. Godfrey for information, and found the report to be true. In a few days the Governor called at the house of the friend and handed to her three guineas, to be expended for Little Mag's comfort.

This friend Mag usually called in to see when she came to the settlement. She was told of the Governor's thoughtful kindness. Mag told the friend to use the money in purchasing her wedding outfit. Not many weeks later Mag Guidon was married to Jim Newall.

One afternoon the Governor received a note asking him if he would care to see Little Mag in her wedding costume. He at once replied, naming a day and hour that it would be convenient for him to receive the bride.

At the appointed time Little Mag and her pale faced friend appeared in presence of His Excellency, who received them in the most gentleman-like manner.

The bride, before leaving the presence of Governor Carleton, handed to him Mrs. Godfrey's address, and asked him if he would send a letter to her English mother, (Mag), and tell her that little Mag was married to Jim Newall, and is living on the old camping ground where Paul died. That Little Mag is happy and loves Jim as she did Paul. The Governor promised Mrs. Newall that he would send a letter to Mrs. Godfrey. He took the address and not long after wrote to Mrs. Godfrey, giving that lady a full account of Little Mag's appearance as she stood in his presence decked in her wedding garments.

Governor Carleton states in his letter that he never thought of seeing so handsome a woman among the Indian tribes of America. That he believes there are ladies in his own country who would almost feel inclined to forfeit a title or an estate to be possessed of a pair of hands and feet of the form and size of those of Newall's bride. Nature seemed to have perfected its work in moulding the form and features of the handsome squaw. The Governor continues, "She was dressed in a suit of navy blue cloth, her skirt reaching to within an inch of the tops of her moccasins. A loose blue cloth jacket, buttoned up in front with brass buttons, covered her well rounded shoulders and breast. The jacket was edged with scarlet cloth and reached to her waist. Around her full neck hung a double row of beads, to which was attached a gold cross,[10] and on each wrist she wore a bracelet of beads similar to the neck-lace. A wampum band circled her head. Inside the band were three beautiful feathers from the wing of a wild pigeon. Her hair as black as the raven's back, was so arranged as to make her forehead appear like an equilatiral triangle, the brows being the base. Her eyes, coal black, round, quick and deep set, are indescribable, and a more beautiful set of teeth I never saw in a human head. On her feet she wore light brown moccasins, on the front of each was worked, in beads of suitable colours, the Union Jack. As she put out her neat foot that I might better observe the work on her moccasins, she said the work was put on them by her wish out of respect to the flag that covered the remains of her first husband, (Paul Guidon). In her own words she said to me: "Tell mother in England, she see Jim Newall and know Jim; saw him when my Paul sick and die. He paddled English mother down settlement in canoe."

[Footnote 10: The gold cross attached to Mag's neck-lace, was sent to Paul Guidon by Sir Guy Carleton as a present. Paul received the present while he was sojourning at Quebec.]

"Your letter of 5th August, I received, and will make further inquiries as you advise about the property." The letter is addressed as follows:

Mrs. Charles Godfrey, * * * Care of Charles Godfrey, * * * Esq, (Late of His Majesty's Service), Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

The above is the substance of the Governor's letter to Mrs. Godfrey. The date and first three or four lines of it were torn off and gone, and the remainder was, with great difficulty, deciphered, the letter being in several pieces and quite ragged. This letter must have been written in the year 1785 or '86, as in a letter from a friend to Mrs. Godfrey, dated September, 1785, Little Mag and her husband are said to have been met in the street the day previous to writing. It is not at all likely that little Mag was long married before she appeared in presence of Governor Carleton.

Had Margaret Newall moved in a more elevated social sphere, and been surrounded by wealthy parents and rich relatives, possibly Governor Carleton would have been obliged to give Mrs. Godfrey a vivid description of Mag's trousseau, and her beautiful presents of gold, silver, diamonds, etc. But her parents and friends were poor. Her old father possessed only a moving tent, occuping here and there, as he found a spot to pitch it, a few square feet of King George the Third's wilderness. Old Reonadi was not a commercial man. He had never made an assignment. He was born one hundred years too soon to be surrounded by commercial morality, perfect holiness and paternal affection. It took a later generation of Chippewayans to display that care for their posterity which only disguises an habitual avarice, or hides the workings of a low and grovelling nature.

During neither of the stays that the Godfreys made at Halifax had society reached that brilliant epoch it afterwards attained when that Royal Duke, who set such an example of duty to all men, was making it his temporary home. That for a colony was, from all accounts, indeed a brilliant, gay, and polished society which was assembled at old Chebucto when the Duke of Kent was at the head of the army in British North America. Pleasure, however, was not the only occupation of that then brilliant capital, at whose head was one so much devoted to duty, that in its fulfilment he acquired the reputation of a martinet. This was the day of the early morning parade, particularly irksome in a cold climate to those who were obliged to turn out before daybreak in the bitter weather of mid-winter. At this day, also, there were frequent troopings of colours, marchings out, sham fights, and all the other martial circumstances of a fully garrisoned town.

The maintenance of this strict discipline among the garrison whom he commanded, was not more characteristic of the Duke than his affable condescension and the considerate kindness that he displayed toward the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, and of Quebec also, when he occupied its castle. So that his name and memory are still held dear by the loyal descendants of the men to whom Prince Edward was a familiar figure, both at Halifax and Quebec, as he rode through the streets of either town.

But Halifax, even at the time whereof we speak, so soon after its first being rescued from the primeval forest, was not without its charms for those who, like the Godfreys, had enjoyed the amenities of polished circles. But the almost destitute circumstances in which they found themselves when these visits were made, precluded them from entering into many of the enjoyments that offered. However, there were a few entertainments at which their position in society seemed to demand their presence, and which they accordingly attended. Here, of course, they met the heads of society, as well as many strangers from Boston, Quebec and other places on the continent, nearly all of whom would be persons of distinction in the several places where they hailed from. At this time several tea gardens about Halifax furnished the means of quiet recreation to the public. Adlam's garden, adjacent to the citadel, was the most famous of these resorts, and here on one occasion when the Godfreys were at Halifax, a garden party was given by one of the leaders of ton, at which Captain Godfrey and his wife were privileged to meet, among other distinguished personages, General Massie and Mr Arbuthnot, the governor of the province. The ladies were richly attired. The military wore their undress uniforms and the civilians were in full dress, which consisted in that day of knee-breeches, silk stockings, and shoes with buckles composed of silver or gold, set with brilliants or other precious stones; the waistcoat was often of silk, satin or velvet, richly brocaded or embroidered; the coat of blue cloth, with gilt buttons; and a sword was not wanting to complete the costume.

It was difficult to decide at banquet or ball which presented the more imposing appearance, the man of war or he whose avocation was of a peaceful character, so nice were the dresses of both.

Margaret Godfrey did not forget her situation. Roaming about the lawns and walks in a plain gown, and seeing the plainness of her own attire as compared with those of the ladies about her, she retired to an obscure corner of the grounds, feeling more happy under the circumstances in a private nook than in the midst of gay and polished society. Although she was clever, graceful and lively, she felt that the society in the capital was, in some respects, ill-assorted. She thought the conduct of some of the gentlemen and ladies was not wholly unimpeachable, while her solid faith in the virtues of most of the ladies and gentlemen she met from time to time during her stay never wavered.



A CONCLUDING CHAPTER.

THEN, NOW, AND TO BE.

How often do we hear of the deeds of the fathers of the country. How often we read of them. And how little in comparison is said or written of the hardships endured and the heroism displayed by the mothers. In the early colonial days the women endured equal trials with the men. It is possible that if the lives of the early settlers and the scenes of those times were in full laid before us for review, we would find many instances in which women displayed even greater courage than the men, and in enduring the most severe privations and dangers, held out even longer.

Had Captain Godfrey not been possessed with such a companion as his wife, it seems almost certain he would have been made a prisoner and, perhaps, been murdered. Her tact and perseverance in danger secured his liberty and rescued him from death.

When her friends in London tried hard to persuade her from accompanying her husband on his second venture in the colony, she calmly replied: "Where my husband goes I can follow, if it be in the wilderness among savages, or even through fire and blood. I love my husband, and wherever he may be, to that spot I am attracted more strongly than to any other." How much these brave words sound like those of Madame Cadillac, spoken three quarters of a century earlier.

On the 24th of July, 1701, Cadillac landed at Detroit, and set himself to found the place. Soon after this Madame Cadillac, who had been left behind at Quebec, plunged into the wilderness to rejoin her husband.

It was a thousand miles in a birch bark canoe rowed by half-clad Indians, and the route was through a dense forest and over great waters swept by the September storms, but this brave woman undertook the journey attended by only a single female companion.

When subsequently reminded of its hazards and hardships, she simply replied: "A woman who loves her husband as she should, has no stronger attraction than his company, where ever he may be."

The rich heritage we enjoy comes to us through the great efforts of patriotism and dogged perseverance of our ancestors (the fathers and mothers of the country). As we in gratitude remember the former, let us not forget the latter.

Margaret Godfrey died in London about the year 1807, having survived her husband fully twenty years. She was beloved by friends, and esteemed by all who came in contact with her. She sank full of years undimmed by failure and unclouded by reverses. Who can think of such persons as Mrs. Godfrey without acknowledging that such are the true nobility of the human race!

And now, when from the long distance of a hundred years or more, we look back upon the hardships and misfortunes endured by one family of the early colonists, we feel assured that pen and tongue can never make fully known to us or our posterity the extent of the misery and suffering of most of the early colonial settlers.[11]

[Footnote 11: For a vivid account of the sufferings and hardships of the early Colonial settlers, I would refer the reader to Ryerson's excellent work, The Loyalists of America and their times. Vol. II. Chap. XLI.]

We know enough, however, to admire the heroism of our ancestors and their firm attachment to the mother land. Our hearts should warm with gratitude for what they have done for our happiness. And as we consider the unflinching determination of the founders of these British colonies to make this land a British home, we feel that we should as unflinchingly carry on their work and expand their views. Deeply rooted in the hearts of our ancestors was a love of the old land, and their desire in the new was to build upon the foundations of the old.

We, under Providence, are commissioned to carry forward the work they left unfinished.

This land was the home of our fathers and shall be the heritage of our children. The provincial spirit of our ancestors is being merged into a great national one. A grand idea of nationality is being deeply rooted in the hearts of the present generation. We are preparing for all the responsibilities and all the works of a nation, and whether our political union with the mother country becomes weaker or stronger as the years pass by, our love for the old land will never cease. We are proud of our parentage. Proud of the Celtic and Saxon blood that courses through our veins.

As our country expands, and as we continue to build, may our love of country widen, and the light of patriotism that brightened and cheered the hearts of our ancestors as they toiled on, brighten and deeper burn in all our hearts, and one grand illumination throw its rays upon the surface of two oceans.

A neighbouring nation may envy our progress and seek our union, but this will only stimulate our energy and strengthen the bonds that bind British Americans together.

Our fathers left us a few disunited provinces, our children will inherit a vast dominion, bounded east and west by the world's two great seas.

In even less time than it took our ancestors a century ago to travel from Halifax to the mouth of the St John, we can plant our feet on the shore of the Pacific.

The stars and stripes may wave along our Southern boundary, and there shall their proud waves be stayed

The Eagle may be lord below, But the young Lion lord above.

We rest firm in the belief that the decree has gone forth out of the court of heaven, that the flag which was wrapped in its folds around the "Young Lion of the Woods" in his last sleep, shall wave triumphantly over Canada till peoples and nations cease to exist on earth.

The provinces in which the heroic events related in the foregoing chapters occurred, now partake of the fortunes and sentiments and character of a vast country. They live together with Canada, they flourish with her, and if they are ever called upon to oppose a mightier foe than Red men and Rebels, they will not be found unequal to the occasion.

Never was nobler duty confided to human hands than that which was confided to our ancestors more than a century ago. It was theirs under providence to commence the foundations on which we are building, and in the record of our social, industrial, educational, political and religious progress we await with confidence the verdict of the world.

Although for the greater portion of the century the growth of the British North American Colonies has been slow, yet it has been sound, and it will be better for Canada in the future if the growth is not too rapid. If the process of consolidation takes place regularly and moderately, every institution in the land will be sounder. If the majority of the immigrants which the country annually receives are similar in character and principles to those of the early colonists, we shall have nothing to fear in the future. We have nothing in our past history to discourage us, and much in our present condition and prospects to stimulate us. We who are privileged to live in the closing years of the century behold a wonderful unity and an extraordinary advancement of the whole Dominion in all its great interests. And the man, if such there be, who was born on this soil and sprung from such an ancestry as the early colonial settlers and United Empire Loyalists, or from the loins of settlers of a later generation, who is not proud of his country and of being called a British American, is unworthy of his race and the land of his birth, and unworthy of having his name classed with that of the noble Iroquois (Paul Guidon.) There are persons who have acted a less noble part in life's drama, than the British officer and his wife who settled at Grimross Neck, and even a less noble part than Paul Guidon, who have won golden wreaths for their tombs, and since Margaret Godfrey's name and deeds have been dug from oblivion, should they be forgotten or the Iroquois tomb go unadorned?

Our past in its three great eras, that of settlement, Responsible government and union, shows grand steps in the country's triumphant march. If with decaying sectional spirit, the grand idea of British American independence takes hold of the minds and hearts of the people, this would be found the gradual power that would impel the country to its national destiny. As we behold mighty provinces forming and splendid cities rising, we begin more fully to realize the glorious career on which the Dominion has entered, these events should compel, yea they announce a safe, wise and splendid future.

The few millions who have sprung from those who founded the colonies, trace back with lineal love their blood to them. So may it be in the distant future millions more will look back with pride and trace their blood through those who formed a nation in peace, to those who founded the colonies, and to those who formed the union.

We may read of the past, write of the past, and think of the past. To do so is often profitable; it is also a pleasure. But, as we admire the spirit and works of those who have passed beyond the flood, we should more earnestly prepare for the future. "The sleeping and the dead are but pictures." "Yet, gazing on these long and intently, and often we may pass into the likeness of the departed, may stimulate their labors, and partake of their immortality."

"The growing nation, may it prove Dominion of the Good! And ever stand, in coming years, where Britain always stood,— The foremost in the cause of right! upholder of the truth! The nation which in growth of years grows in the strength of youth! Then we may cry, with hopeful voice, unto the heavenly powers, For blessings on our native land—'This Canada of ours.'"

FINIS.

Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse