Изображения страниц

with people shopping, and showing themselves. Womankind of all ranks dress here very much as in England. The habitans, or French farmers, usually wear a coarse, grey, home-made, cloth suit, with coloured sashes tied round their waists, and often red and blue caps of thick worsted-work.

You are never asked for alms; there is, apparently, no poverty; man is dear, and bread cheap. No one who is able and willing to work need want, and the convents and charitable institutions are very active in their benevolence to the sick and infirm. In everything in this quaint old town there is a curious mixture of English and French. You see over a corner house, “ Cul de Sac Street;" on a sign-board, “Ignace Bougainville, chemist and druggist.” In the shops, with English money, you pay a Frenchman for English goods; the piano at the evening party of Mrs.What's-her-name, makes Dutch concert with the music of Madame Chose's soirée, in the next house. Sad to say, the two races do not blend: they are like oil and water; the English the oil, being the richer, and at the top. The upper classes sometimes intermarry with those of different origin; the lower very rarely.

The greater energy of the Anglo-Saxon race, tells



in everything. They are gradually getting possession of the largest shops in the town, and the best farms in the country; nearly all the trade is in their hands; their numbers, assisted by immigration, increase more rapidly. The distinguishing characteristic of the Englishman is discontent; of the French, content; the former always struggling to gain the class above him, the latter often subsiding into that below. The time is not very remote when, by the constant action of these laws, the masses of the weaker family will be but the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the stronger.

These French-Canadians have many virtues beside this fatal one of content; they are honest, sober, hardy, kind to each other, courteous in their manners, and religious to superstition. They served with loyalty and valour in the last American war; the most brilliant achievement of the time was by a body of their militia at Chateauguay, numbering only three hundred men, under the gallant de Salaberry. General Hampton, with nearly twenty times their force, and a strong artillery, attacked them soon after he crossed the frontier, in his invasion of Lower Canada. He was repeatedly, and finally, repulsed; the defensive position was so well chosen and handled, that the assailants became


confused in the woods, and fired upon each other. In the end, leaving a good many prisoners in the hands of the victors as memorials of their visit, they hastily evacuated the country.

Efforts are now being made to extend education in Lower Canada; but there is great objection to it among the habitans, and indifference on the subject among their superiors. The people are wonderfully simple and credulous : a few years ago, at a country town, an exhibition of the identical serpent which tempted Eve, raised no small contribution towards building a church ; thus rather turning the tables on the mischievous reptile.

Many of their expressions savour strongly of the maritime pursuits of their ancestors, the early settlers; such as “embarquer” used as “ to get into a conveyance ;" “ baliser” a road, is to mark its direction through the snow with the tops of fir trees; while the pronunciation, even of the educated, is peculiar, as, for example, “bon swere” for “ bon soir.” A party of Canadian ladies were the other day admiring a painting in one of the churches; a traveller from the United States, who was going about sight-seeing, was looking at it at the same time, and intruded himself somewhat abruptly on their conversation : after a few prelimin.



ary remarks, he observed “That the Canadians do not speak the pure language, like the French.” “ Alas, no,” retorted one of the ladies, “we speak it much as the Americans do English.”

Since Canada became a portion of the English empire, many of the laws relating to property have been found harassing and unsuitable, and have been changed by the representatives of the people. The action of those on bankruptcy is different from that in England: by settlements on another person, the property is secured from the effects of a failure, and this sometimes falls very injuriously and unjustly on the creditor. When a merchant starts in business he can settle ten thousand pounds on his wife, though at the time he may not possess half the money; a year after, he fails, when his debts and credits may be very large. The settlement on his wife stands as the first claim, which probably the credits can meet, but no assets remain for the real debts ;-so that the advantages of the failure are like Sir Boyle Roche's reciprocity—all on one side. In spite of the occasional occurrence of instances of this sort, the mercantile community of Quebec, as a body, hold a deservedly high position.

There was a great panic a few years ago, when the alteration in the duties on Baltic timber took

[ocr errors]

place, but time has shewn that the trade of the St. Lawrence, in that most important branch, is not in the least injured by it ; indeed, on the contrary, that it has since largely increased : as fast as the trees can be cut down and shipped, our wonderful little Island buys them all up. They now send us large quantities of flour and corn, and will soon be able to send us more, as the free-trade to England gives them the encouragement of very high prices : a relaxation in our corn laws would, of course, deprive them of their trade as they at present enjoy it—in monopoly.

The article they are most in want of in Canada, at present, is man—even the pauper; when they get that raw material, they soon manufacture it into “comfortable goods.” As our production of this commodity is so rapidly increasing, we should take pains to supply their markets better. Poor wanderers! we would not speak lightly of their mournful lot —they find the struggle for their coarse food, too fierce at home: farewell friends—farewell the land they still love, though it only gave them the cruel gift of life! Trust me, the emigrant ship and the Canadian forest are not beds of roses. But once settled, with patient industry, they can always, in the end, work out prosperity.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »