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distinctive and appropriate. We find other cities coupled with epithets, which at once give their predominant characteristic :—London the richest, Paris the gayest, St. Petersburg the coldest. In one respect the chief town of Newfoundland has, I believe, no rival: we may, therefore, call it the 'fishiest' of modern capitals. Round a great part of the harbour are sheds, acres in extent, roofed with cod split in half, laid on like slates, drying in the sun, or rather the air, for there is not much of the former to depend upon. Those ships, bearing nearly every flag in the world, are laden with cod; those stout weatherly boats crowding up to the wharves, have just now returned from fishing for cod ; those few scant fields of cultivation, with lean crops coaxed out of the barren soil, are manured with cod ; those trim, snug-looking wooden houses, their handsome furniture, the piano, and the musical skill of the young lady who plays it, the satin gown of the mother, the gold chain of the father, are all paid for in cod; the breezes from the shore, soft and warm on this bright August day, are rich, not with the odours of a thousand flowers, but of a thousand cod. Earth, sea, and air, are alike pervaded with this wonderful fish. There is only one place which appears to be kept sacred from its intrusion, and, strange to say, that is the dinner table; an observation made on its absence from that apparently appropriate position, excited as much astonishment, as if I had made a remark to a Northumberland squire that he had not a headdish of Newcastle coals.
The town is irregular and dirty, built chiefly of wood ; the dampness of the climate rendering stone unsuitable. The heavy rains plough the streets into water courses. Thousands of lean dogs stalk about, quarrelling with each other for the offal of fish, which lies plentifully scattered in all directions: this is their recreation; their business is to draw go-carts. There are also great numbers of cats, which, on account of the hostile relations existing between them and their canine neighbours, generally reside on the tops of the houses. A large fish-oil factory in the centre of the town, fills it with most obnoxious odours.
There are many neat and comfortable houses in the vicinity, where the air, though a little foggy, is fresh and healthful. There are two Church of England churches, one Wesleyan, and one Roman Catholic chapel. A large Roman Catholic cathedral is also being built. The Churches of England and of Rome have each Bishops of Newfoundland.
The population of the island is one hundred thousand; one half are Roman Catholics, principally of Irish descent, or emigrants; the remainder of English race, and various creeds.
The trade of St. John's is very considerable; they export fish and oil, and receive in return nearly all the luxuries and necessaries of life; the annual exports and imports average more than a million and a half pounds sterling each in value, and are rapidly increasing. They get direct from Portugal, in exchange for their dried fish, port wine; with due deference to our English wine merchants the best I have ever met.
The seal fisheries employ, in the North Seas, numbers of active and experienced sailors from this port; their life is one of almost incredible hardship and danger, and subjects them to great alternations of abundance and distress.
Snow usually falls in the beginning of December, and continues to the end of April; but there are frequent thaws in the mean time. Through the winter there is a constant succession of storms, the lakes and many of the bays and rivers are frozen over, and all internal communication is by sleighs.
The colony is under the authority of a governor, who is assisted by a Legislative and Executive council of nine members. There is also a House of Representatives, elected by almost universal suffrage, consisting of fifteen delegates, not always selected for very high qualities. Indeed, some people are illiberal enough to imagine that the affairs of the country would not materially suffer if honourable members for such important constituencies as those of Quiddy Viddy Cove or Starvation Creek, were to direct their attention to cod-fishing instead of legislation.
The most thriving settlements besides the capital, are Carbonear, Harbour Grace, and Petit Harbour, all towns on the sea coast.
If St. John's be the fishiest, it is also one of the friendliest places in the world; no cold, formal, letter-of-introduction dinners, but hearty, cordial, and agreeable hospitality. The society is, of course, very limited in extent, consisting of the clergy, the civil and military officers, and the principal merchants. Some of the latter have attained to considerable affluence, and are men whose kindness, intelligence, and practical views, render them agreeable and instructive associates. Among the younger members of their families, accomplishments and the graces of life receive due attention,
not a few of them have had European education. The re-unions of St. John's possess so much charm, that many officers of the army and navy who have participated in them, have also carried away living vouchers for their attractions.
We could scarce have left Newfoundland without having seen a specimen of the codfishing. One of our acquaintances kindly offered to drive us for the purpose to Portugal Cove, a distance of ten miles. The captain, the ensign, and myself, with our friend driving, formed the party. The conveyance was a light, spider-like, double-seated carriage, drawn by a wiry, strong, brown horse; he had a splendid shoulder and arm, a ewe neck, a cunning back look, like a hare, and an uneasy tail; just the sort of animal which instantly suggests running reins and kicking straps. He started at a fair trotting pace; but our driver, by twisting the reins round each hand, and by setting his feet against the dash-board, shewed that he expected work. All went on very smoothly, however, till we got within a couple of miles of our journey's end, when, unfortunately, the conversation turned upon American trotters.
"This horse is one," said our friend, "he can do the mile in two minutes and fifty seconds."