« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of the insurance companies proved still able to meet their liabilities, others paid all they had and broke. The city of Montreal, with ready liberality, subscribed thirteen thousand pounds; other places in the British provinces also gave their aid. But the great hope of the sufferers was in that land where the tale of distress is never told in vain, and they were not disappointed—England did not forget her afflicted children in the New World; with splendid liberality she answered their appeal. By the desire of the Queen, a collection was made in every parish church throughout the land. Private subscriptions were raised in various places; the imperial parliament voted a sum for the same object; large quantities of blankets and clothing were immediately sent out — altogether, in money upwards of one hundred thousand pounds, and at least thirty thousand pounds' worth of goods.
There were naturally very strong suspicions that this second fire had been the work of an incendiary. As it occurred in the night on which it was foretold, and commenced in one of the very last houses that escaped the first time, to windward of the extensive and inflammable suburb of St. John, there was every appearance of design. Inquiry was diligently made, and all suspicious strangers were
examined, but at length it transpired that it had originated in the carelessness of a stupid maidservant, who cast some ashes on a pit where a little straw and shavings of wood had been lately thrown; fire enough remained in the ashes to ignite these. As they were under the wall of a wooden house, the flames had taken such hold before the alarm was given, that it was impossible to get them under: the stupid cause of the calamity was fast asleep, and the last person in the house to know the danger.
A committee was immediately formed of the most influential people of the city, representing the different religious persuasions of the sufferers Through the clergy, relief in money, food, and clothes was distributed; and, with a view to the proper disposal of the remainder of the great sums raised by subscription, by the Church of England, and elsewhere, the gentlemen of this committee with untiring zeal sought out and obtained the fullest information as to the extent and proportions of the losses. It was found that in these fires sixteen thousand people were burned out, nearly all of them belonging to the poorer classes; five hundred and sixty thousand pounds worth of property was destroyed; and twenty-seven charred and mutilated corpses
were found among the ruins : it is supposed, however, that many more lives were lost, for of strangers, or where a whole family was burnt, there was no record; and in many places the strength of the flames would have destroyed all trace of the human form.
Quebec soon took courage : before the end of the summer a considerable number of houses were rebuilt, much better than those destroyed, and the streets were widened and improved; hundreds of temporary wooden sheds have also been erected, but by law they must be removed within eighteen months. There is no doubt that the great calamity, with its large amount of present suffering, will be an ultimate advantage to this beautiful city. CHAPTER IX.
FAREWELL, Quebec! The midsummer sun pours down its flood of golden light upon these scenes of beauty. As it falls on earth and water, a soft spray of luminous mist rises over the wide landscape. Above, the clear pure air dancès and quivers in the glorious warmth ; the graceful lines of distant hills seem to undulate with a gently tremulous motion. The broad river is charmed to rest, not even a dimple on its placid surface; no breath of air stirs through the dark forests, the silken leaves hang motionless.
The grateful fields, freed from their wintry chains, are clothed with rich crops, already blushing into ripeness. Man fills the calm air with sounds of prosperous activity; axes and hammers echo from the dockyards, ropes creak in the blocks as
bales of merchandize are lifted to the crowded wharves. The buzz of many voices rises from the busy markets; wheels rattle, and hurrying hoofs ring on the pavement; the town is a great hive of thriving industry; the hundreds of ships alongside, the bees which bear the honey of many a distant land to fill its stores.
This is the day—this is the year, to see Quebec; a day of unsurpassed beauty—a year of matchless prosperity. May the day of beauty have no evening, the year of prosperity never a winter! This midsummer's noon is not warmer than the hearts of her people—not more genial than their kindness. Farewell, Quebec. The lone stranger, who came scarcely a year ago, leaves many a valued friend behind, carries with him many a grateful memory. And, when again by his English fireside, his thoughts will often wander back to happy hours passed among the snows of distant Canada.
I have arranged to go by the Montreal steamer at five o'clock in the afternoon. The day soon passes away in parting visits; they seem very hurried. There is not half time to hear or say all the kind things, or to dwell long enough on the hearty pressure of the hand, when you know that in the probability of the future, those voices will