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derived? How is it that the various members of the busy world, high and low, young and old, feel so intense a sympathy in the fortunes of the shipwrecked sailor in his utter solitude ? It cannot be said that it is the spirit of adventure which enchains the attention of the anxious reader, for adventure chiefly ceases with his shipwreck when the true interest of the story commences: it is when he is alone that our imagination is with him : in his cave, in the chase of his goats, in his primitive contrivances of necessary utensils, in his solitary visits to the wreck, in his wanderings on the shore. His register of simple notch and pole, though it only reckons the days of a poor mariner's sojourn in a desert island placed far amid the melancholy main,' is reflected upon with even a more lively interest than that other Register termed Annual, of paper and print, which in this country records all the great yearly transactions of the entire world. Such is the intensity of individual sympathy.
There are few things more flattering to mankind than to be shewn by a practical example the fertility of human resources : it is a noble spectacle for us to watch an individual turning all nature to his uses, forcing her bounties where she does not yield them spontaneously, and by the arts of civilization, diverting them into the channels best adapted to administer to his wants: the struggle is noble, and no small source of the interest we take in such narratives as those of Robinson Crusoe. There is moreover a pleasing perplexity in suddenly discovering the extent of our dependence in a state of civilization upon persons and objects to whose aid we have been so long habituated, that we absolutely forget the necessity of their mediation. When we bebold a being accidentally placed out of the reach of all civilized subsidia : seeking his fire in the recesses of nature, moulding his own pottery; and stripping his clothing from the beasts of the field, we are excited to a sudden and lively impression of the advantages by which we are surrounded : our porcelain, our plate, and our stores of shining steel, our well-compacted dress, and all the accessories of civilized life assume a distinct existence. A pair of gloves becomes a chapter of thought, and become alive to all the complicated machinery of artificial life. These are some of the pleasures derived from the perusal of such works, and thus they are combined with all the hopes and fears which spring from the common source of sympathy with one who is placed in circumstances of extreme trial.
We have been led to talk of Robinson Crusoe by the narrative of Mr. Head, who is a sort of Robinson Crusoe in his way. He was neither shipwrecked nor wholly excluded from society, but
in his residence among the back woods of Canada he was placed very nearly in a state of complete solitude, and sufficiently thrown upon his own resources to give us an interest in the perusal of his adventures. The scene of his temporary banishment from society was not laid in any paradisaical island of the South Seas, but still in a country which has high claims upon the lover of the picturesque; a country of rude and gigantic features; of hard but invigorating climate, and abounding in difficulties which task the ingenuity and the courage of the occupant: Mr. Head is equal not only to live among the cold Canadian hills, but he is equal to the description of them; we have perused his work with considerable pleasure and shall contrive to inform our readers what they may expect from it.
Mr. Head, with some objects in view which he does not explain, disembarked at Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, after a rough passage from Falmouth, in the month of November : the St. Lawrence was already closed for the winter ; consequently our voyager had to make his way to the Canadas over land, an enterprise of some difficulty and hardship. A journey in this country, in winter, is only practicable after the snow has fallen in quantities sufficient to bear the sleigh; and as the snow had not yet come down, Mr. Head was delayed in Halifax until the roads were in order for travelling. The moment of the descent of the snow is the signal of gaiety in Halifax. The sleigh is put in immediate requisition, the fur cloaks are assumed, and all the world is in motion, for business or pleasure: the fall of the snow is a manner of breaking the ice in Nova Scotia. Merchandise of all descriptions begins to arrive, and not the least singular in appearance are the waggonloads of frozen pigs. These “are exposed for sale, quite hard and stiff, and in a fit state to keep till the spring. They had an unusually uncouth appearance for their mouths were generally open, and the last services seemed never to have been properly paid to the defunct. Their limbs were not arranged with decent regularity, and they appeared to have given up the ghost in the act of squalling and at full gallop. Some were placed standing at the doors in the streets like rocking-horses before a toy-shop, upon their four legs, as if they had been alive. This mode of keeping a pig for a winter without giving him a grain of anything to eat, or being subject to his noisy unmannerly conduct-nay, to be enabled to eat him piece-meal is indisputably one advantage of a cold climate. But frozen meat, on the other hand, disappoints the epicure, being always tasteless and bad."
Dr. Granville in his description of St. Petersburg, tells us of
markets piled with frozen provisions, and of housekeepers who store their winter's provision in cellars as we do coals; he, however, if we remember right, differs from Mr. Head in his estimation of frozen viands. In all probability the Russians understand the art of thawing better than the North Americans, and it may be owing to this that the latter find their provisions “ tasteless and bad.'
On the 8th December, Mr. Head left Halifax in à sleigh which he had engaged to take him to Annapolis, a distance of one hundred and thirty-two miles, for which he was to pay 201., a tolerable proof of the difficulty of the roads. The Canadians and the other Colonists in that quarter seem to share the identical manners of the Yankees themselves ; not only as we have them painted in the elaborate pages of Captain Basil Hall, but even as Matthews himself has sketched them before the admiring audiences of our countrymen. The reception Mr. Head met with at the different inns on his route is truly American. “The people” says he of an inn on the road to Annapolis, “ were not at all uncivil; they allowed me to shake the snow off my clothes in the passage, and proceed unmolested as far as the parlour, but nobody seemed at all inclined to stir, till in answer to my repeated entreaties, “Mother,” said the great girl of the house, in a fretful tone,“ Mother, don't you hear how the man is calling for something to eat: and then the mother did begin to move herself, and presently a heavy pile of toast and butter was placed before me, together with tea and beef-steaks.” The fact is, that the landlords of the inns are mostly holders of land, and independent of the profits arising from their hostelry; they are moreover thinly scattered, and consequently, the Boniface of Canada, as well as of many parts of the United States, considers that the obligation between the traveller and himself, is mutual; and the balance considerably in his own favour. Some official importance is also generally assumed, for it very frequently happens, that the publican is a captain or colonel of the Militia.
From Annapolis Mr. Head made his way to Digby, where he was to embark in order to cross the dangerous bay of Fundy to the town of St. John's. After which town, the next point on the route to Quebec is Fredericton, a distance ofeighty-one miles; upon the ice of the frozen river of St. John's. The season was, however, not sufficiently advanced to render the entire passage by the river practicable: it was therefore only resorted to by the driver of the sleigh occasionally, when he deemed it sufficiently frozen. The ice-route on these and other rivers of Canada is never entitled to be called safe: the confined air bursting
from underneath, leaves chasms which becoming slightly skinmed over with newice incapable of bearing the weight of a vehicle, and this will occur whatever may be the general thickness of the ice, or however great the intensity of the frost. The depth of the snow-drifts also opposes some obstacles to the traveller, but when the ice happens to be sound, and the snow to have been driven away, this mode of getting on has its charms. At one spot," the wind,” says Mr. Head,“ had cleared away the snow, and the ice was nearly bare. The driver rattled his horses on at a brisk gallop, till they, by degrees, settled down into their fastest trot. The sound of the runners upon the ice, and of the horses feet, together with the perfect indifference with which the driver treated repeated loud cracks, which were distinctly audible, was to me altogether new. Still the motion was new, and the labour of the horses light, that there was very much to be pleased with, so finding that he whose business it was to judge of the soundness of the ice appeared to be satisfied, I very soon left off thinking about it.” In one spot, however, the ice gave way: fortunately only the horses dropped through the hole, and they were at length extricated by the united efforts of the driver and Mr. Head. They were proceeding so fast and the shock was so sudden, that Mr. Head was Aung a long way clear of the water.
At Fredericton the pains of travelling are relieved by a ball, into the pleasures of which Mr. Head entered with all his heart. These things appear to be pretty nearly conducted on the plan of the old country, except that the severity of the climate without, perhaps, encourages a still greater rapprochement within, and disposes all to enjoy the pleasures of society with a more cheerful warmth than with us. The jingling of the bells of the sleighs at the doors, and the general donning and doffing of fur, and, on the part of the ladies, of snow-boots, in the ball room, were features which appear chiefly to distinguish a Canadian ball from an English dance in the country. Heaps of these snow-boots," says our author,“ were distributed by the person who had them in charge to their fair owners, who all at once within a very small space, began to put them on.
All these snow-boots required fastening, and to fasten them it was indispensable to stoop : some had chairs, but most had not; so that the variety of attitudes in which the female figure was on that occasion displayed, I shall not readily forget-much less the dilemma in which I found myself when standing in the midst of, and surrounded by so many fine forms, I was unable to stir an inch to the right or the left, backwards or forwards, without the imminent risk of disturbing their equilibrium. But they equipped themselves with great rapidity, and laden with shawls, plaids, and calashes, sleigh after sleigh received its burden, and away. they went with bells jingling, and the white smoke from the horses' nostrils shining in the lamps of the carriages that remained.”
At Fredericton Mr. Head was obliged to make his preparations for a formidable journey on foot over the snow lying in drifts on the bed of the river St. John; for although he had still eighty-three miles sleigh carriage to go as far as Presque Isle, yet Fredericton was the last place of sufficient importance to afford him the necessary supply of snow-shoes, tobogins, and buffalo skins. After the purchase of which he sets out to Presque Isle. At an inn, or rather reception-house on the road, Mr. Head meets with entertainment which he describes with much humour : the scene in the following passage of domestic infelicity would be worthy of Hogarth, if the dash of caricature in it did not bring it down to the manner of George Cruikshank,
• The house we were now in for the night was very particularly dirty and comfortless. There were two beds in the room, one for the host, 'his wife, and four children, the youngest of which was not more than a few weeks old,) and the other was appropriated to me. The driver and my servant lay on the boards before the stove, which was a Canada one, and too powerful for the size of the room. The heat all night was quite suffocating, though the weather certainly was not warmer than 20° of Fahrenheit. The bed I slept in had green stuff curtains, full of dust ; and the sheets were of some soft spongy material which, if clean, at least felt otherwise, and for the first time since I had been in the country, I was tormented with fleas. It was impossible to get a wink of sleep; for, besides my own grievances, there were other causes of disturbance. The child cried incessantly in spite of all the woman could do to pacify it. It had, I believe, nothing at all the matter with it, but seemed, from sheer frowardness, to imagine that the little world of our miserable apartment was made for itself. Sometimes the good wife sat up in her bed with the little animal hugged up between her chin and her elbows, hushing and rocking herself and it; then she patted its back, and still it cried. Then ten times (I dare say) in the course of the night, out of bed got the poor husband, and stood for several minutes at the stove, with a pair of lean bare legs, and an extremely short shirt, stirring something in a saucepan with the broken stump of an iron spoon. A picture of obedience and misery! Then he got into bed again. Then came a long consultation and almost a quarrel, about what was best to be done. Then the grand specific was administered, but all without effect. At last the other children awoke, and the youngest of these began to cry too: and the mother said, it was the big one's fault, and beat her. So off she went, and