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in." After more than an hour's exertion, they reached the opposite shore. The events of the passage are thus summed up:—“At one moment we were in clear water; the next moment struggling through congelated heaps of melted snow; then rapidly driven along over sheets of ice, and pushed over obstructing blocks which opposed our progress in ridges seven or eight feet high. The Canadians were, however, indefatigable. Every obstacle, as soon as encountered, was surmounted in a moment. Hard ice was hewn down with the hatchets. They were active as ants. energy, spring, and bustle.
They were in the canoe and out of the canoe, paddling and cutting, pushing with the boathook, and hauling on the rope, all with instantaneous impulse and appliance of strength in different ways, and with the most effective success.”
Ten days after the date of this passage, the ice set in the St. Lawrence. The masses of floating ice had attained a very great thickness, and continued to increase in size every hour, as they were carried about in the stream by the current—the rapidity of which had hitherto prevented their adhering; but
now, the increased cold and obstruction of the river caused them to stick together, at first, by twos and threes, and then jostling more and more at every side, till, at last, a general jam, for a moment, took place; and a moment was quite sufficient. The intense frost effected adhesion; and the water below, splashing up between the interstices of the joints, effectually fixed and riveted the whole. “As soon as the ice has stopped, the river presents to the eye a wild and noble spectacle. The moment is naturally one of conflict and convulsion ; and the throes and struggles of the impinging bodies are truly tremendous. Small islands of ice, pressed on every side till they give way, break in the middle, and, cracking into fragments, these become hurled one upon another in all sorts of grotesque forms; so that, 'when the hurlyburly's done,' the whole surface of the river becomes covered, as it were, with little hills, houses, and villages. Objects that resemble all these are raised, as by the contrivance of magic, in the space of a few minutes. Some are of such considerable size that, through the whole winter, a circuitous track is taken to avoid them. And thus, although the inhabitants may immediately avail themselves of a passage, it is, nevertheless, necessary to break a road. Like any other desert track, a way must be cleared of impediments; however, as blocks of ice are easily cut through, much time is not required to put everything to rights, and then crowds of persons flock to each side, eager to avail themselves of the first opportunity of crossing over." The formation of this road, which is called the "pont," or bridge, is hailed by the inhabitants of both sides with joy; by the country people, owing to the prospect of bringing their produce readily to market; and by those of the town, from the hopes of a reduction in the price of the articles—the natural consequence of the event. The track soon becomes as well beaten as any part of the streets; the large slabs of ice which had been removed, as well as heaps of snow, forming a wall on each side.
In many countries the course of frozen rivers affords the best and easiest road for travellers during winter; so that long journeys are frequently postponed until the frost has set in, for the sake of the advantage thus afforded. But, in the early part of the season, this kind of travelling is not without its dangers. Long after the surface of the river has become frozen over, there are particular spots which, owing to the influence of currents or springs, are deceitfully unsound. And when the ice has acquired considerable thickness, the confined air will sometimes burst it asunder and produce chasms, or air-holes, as they are called, which, becoming again lightly frozen over, appear sound until the moment when they give way.
The writer already quoted describes a journey, performed in the early part of winter, in a sledge drawn by two horses on the river St. John. “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 agreeable, and the labour of the horses so 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 was satisfied, I very soon left off thinking about it.” After a time, however, the appearance of the ice became alarming. "Large serpentine tracks of water were to be seen in many parts; and heaps of broken ice, forced up by the strength of the current, lay ranged on each side in considerable confusion. From some country people, whom we met, we were told that the passage was not safe; but that the road on the opposite bank was already sufficiently broken to render it tolerably good. The driver, therefore, broe away for the shore, which we were some time in reaching, being obliged to go out of our way frequently, avoid the weak and unsafe places. At last, when within about a couple of hundred yards from the land, there seemed a clear sheet of ice, over which the driver urged his horses at a brisk trot, when, all at once, the ice suddenly gave way, and down went the horses head foremost into a hole. going so fast that I was flung out a long way clear of the water; and, as soon as I could get up, I ran back to render my assistance. One of the horses had already scrambled out, but the other was lying on his side in the water, with his head stretched out over the forward end of the hole, and supporting himself by his cheek and all the strength of his neck on the ice. The hole was nearly round, and the diameter rather more than the length of the horse; but, as the ice about it was
full a foot and a half thick, the sleigh had jammed at the other end, and his hind quarters were supported by the breeching. The poor creature lay without struggling, although the day was bitterly cold, and he had sunk so low, that his head only was above the surface of the water. In this dilemma the driver, having freed the other horse from his harness, slipped a noose of rope round the drowning animal's neck, upon which we pulled till he seemed nearly strangled; and this operation is called in the country, very properly, 'choking.' Whether it was that he floated by means of the air thus forcibly retained in the lungs, as the driver asserted, or whether our united efforts caused him to rise, I cannot say ; but so he did ; and we had not continued to tug long, before out he slipped on his side, and after a few kicks and struggles, stood frightened and shivering once more on his feet on the ice. We got to the shore, after all, with some difficulty; for the ice was broken away for so great a distance from the edge of the river where we attempted to land, that it was with very great labour that the horses could drag the vehicle over the hard snow and shingle which obstructed their progress. Although the poor horse had been nearly a quarter of an our in the water, and the other also was perfectly wet from the accident, both soon recovered themselves, and before we had gone a couple of miles, were quite as well as ever.”
It is seldom that the grander effects of frost are witnessed in the British Isles. The freezing of