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- Canada and the States - 70/71 -
Then the bar closes at 11, and all lights are put out at 12. The lights in the cabins are placed inside a partition, glazed with ground glass, so that there is no glare, and you cannot get at them. No loose lights are allowed, and a passenger who struck a light would be severely handled. These are proper precautions against fire, and should be obeyed. But at 12 we are in total darkness--the ship rolls and pitches --every now and then a sea strikes her, and burr--hush--swish--goes the water over her sides or bows, and along her decks.
Then the men above run about, ropes are pulled, sails set or taken in, and a general hullabaloo goes on--no doubt in the interest of the passengers--but very disagreeable. Then the boatswain's whistle--Pee- ee-ee ah! Pee-ee-ee ah-h-h!--every now and then wakes you up. Light is a comfort, and darkness at sea seems to aggravate the strange feeling which now and then affects you, as you think you are following a great road without track or guide--save that which the stars, if visible, and the previous day's observations afford.
"On Saturday morning (10 August) I was called up to see the Great Eastern: and certainly an immense steamer was making its way eastward, about 15 miles due north of us. You will see by the date of her arrival if she was the object we saw or not. Saturday was very cold. We had heard at Queenstown, from a note from Capt. Stone to Judkins, that icebergs had been seen on the homeward passage, and at 3 o'clock we saw ahead of us something which looked like the wreck of a steamer--but which was pronounced to be ice. It was about 10 miles off. As we approached it we found it was a little mountain of ice, covering perhaps a couple of acres in area, and about 50 or 60 feet high. It assumed all sorts of shapes as we caught sight of it at different points--it looked, once, like a great lion crouching on the water--then it took an appearance like part of the causeway at Staffa. As soon as we got abreast of it we saw pack ice around it, and the light, then shining upon the whole mass, gave a fairy-like whiteness--transparent, snowy whiteness--which was very beautiful to see. While we were observing it, a great mass broke away, toppled over into the sea, sending up an immense snowy spray, and disappeared. The remainder stayed in sight, with the evening sun-light upon it, for a couple of hours.
"Yesterday, Sunday, morning, we sighted Cape Race, the eastern extremity of Newfoundland, and ran close in shore along a most desolate, dismal, coast, for a couple of hours. Abreast of the lighthouse and telegraph station a boat came off, and we pitched over a packet, with a little red flag attached, containing the latest news, to be telegraphed from thence to New York and other places, so that our passing would be known that afternoon everywhere--and if the steamer had not left Halifax it might bring the news thence to England; thus you may know of our safe arrival, so far, by about the 18th or 19th. I hope you may, as it will relieve your mind from various fears about me. It is very seldom indeed that the steamers actually sight Cape Race, as we did. However, we saw that desolate coast and the poor hermits of the place. Rounding the Cape, we enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which broke in rain and storm upon us. We saw several fishing sloops 'lying to,' to wait for better weather. These little craft are often run over by larger vessels, as they swarm in what is the great east and west track for steamers and other large ships; and when the wind is south, or south west, there is always fog and mist in the Gulf, and on the banks of Newfoundland outside.
"I find it a great comfort having a cabin to myself. I am now writing in my 'drawing-room'--_i.e.,_ my upper berth, with my legs hanging down over my bed-room, or lower berth. All my property is stowed away and hung up, and the steward keeps all nice and clean--calls me in the morning, and at half-past seven brings me a foot-pan of fresh sea-water to bathe in. The _rum_ is not very much diminished, as I have been very self-denying, being desirous of coming home in full vigour and hard health, if possible. It is very good, however, and when I finish this letter I shall reward good resolution by taking a little drop to drink your health--and God bless you!
"Taylor was excessively sick and ill, but is now all alive, and says he 'feels so light' he could run a race.
"I am pretty well. I have not been sick at all: I wish I had--but I ought to be thankful for a great deal of comfort in this long journey.
"I shall open this if anything worth recording takes place before we reach New York. If not, the receipt of this will tell you that we are 'safely landed.' I shall, however, write again from New York before I leave it for Boston--but I shall only remain a portion of a day and a night at New York."
"ST. LAWRENCE HALL, MONTREAL. "_Sunday, August 18._
"From New York I went on, _via_ Long Island Sound, to Boston, where I arrived at 7 a.m. on Friday. I stayed there all day, in conference with Mr. Baring's agent, Mr. Ward, and went on to Montreal, in the evening, _via_ Lowel, Concord, and Rouse's Point. I engaged a double berth in a sleeping car, and slept pretty well and pretty comfortably from about 10 till 5--with sundry breaks, caused as hereafter stated. I got to Montreal at 10--washed, breakfasted, and then did a hard day's work, and dined at 7, with the internal satisfaction that I had done a good day's duty, and had a good appetite for both food and drink--the latter, however, moderate--only one pint and one cup of coffee and one cigar after--the first cigar which I have smoked since leaving England. The rum, thanks to similar moderation, holds out, and will last some time yet.
"New York is be-flagged and be-bannered to a wonderful extent. Every street is disfigured by huge streamers, some right across the street, others out of windows and from the tops of houses--while each occupant tries to vie with his neighbour in this sort of loyalty, till there seems almost to be hypocrisy in it. 'Stars and Stripes' everywhere, and on all occasions, opportune and inopportune. The main public place in New York is half filled by ugly wooden sheds, used as military store rooms and barracks, and, every now and then, with a frequency which is startling, are the head-quarters of all sorts of Volunteer regiments-- American, Irish, German, Dutch, French, and Scotch. These rooms are adorned with flags, and transparencies showing the costume of the corps, or the portrait of the colonel, or general, shown generally on a big prancing horse, and sporting a savage-looking beard. All along the roads and routes--everywhere almost--are tents and wooden sheds, the encampments of companies and regiments; and every now and then bands and recruiting parties parade the street, and draw crowds of people after them. The mothers of America have taken up the question, too, and there are societies to make lint and bandages for the wounded, and to stitch together clothing for the new companies. Little Zouaves are plentiful--red vest, blue sash, and red fez and breeches.
"The day we arrived, the New York Firemen Zouaves (7th New York) returned from the defeat at Bull's Run--380 out of 1,000, who left two months ago under a young fellow named Ellsworth, as colonel. Ellsworth was shot by a public-house keeper, whose secession flag he hauled down --and the regiment was much cut up at Bull's Run. It has been very uproarious, and some of its men 'retreated' on the way from Bull's Run to New York, on the principle that, once ordered to retreat, they had better 'retreat right away home.' There can be no doubt, however, that the bulk of these men fought well--but were, like most of the regiments, badly officered--zealous men, but lawyers, store-keepers, and political partisans, who could do nothing in handling _bodies_ of men.
"But to go back: about 60 miles from Boston, and just as I got into the bed-berth in the car, several companies of one of the Vermont regiments joined the train, having been discharged, on the expiration of their three months' term, the day before. These men had to be dropped in companies at various stations all along the road; and every hour or so I was wakened up by bell ringing, gun firing, and cheering, as each section got back home to their friends. In the morning I got amongst those who were left, and heard their adventures. They had been in nothing but skirmishing, however, and only had had three men wounded. They seemed a nice body of young fellows, many very young. All were voluble and in high spirits (_coming home_), and were very large about the hard biscuits they had eaten--some, as one 'boy' said--for they are all 'boys,' not 'men,' as with us--with the stamp of 1810 upon them,--of camping out--keeping sentry at night, &c., &c., &c. They had three young fellows, girlish-looking lads, with them, '_sick;_' two--one certainly--sick under death; just get home to die! I went into the baggage car and saw them lying on the floor, covered up in tarpaulins and blankets, poor fellows!
"I have been to the Catholic Cathedral at Montreal to-day, and heard high mass. I visited it in 1851. Fine church, fine music, and a good sermon, in French; but I thought I should have preferred Mr. Woolnough and the little church at home.
"The matter of business I have in hand is surrounded with difficulty, and there are here, I fear, two classes in connection with the concern. Mr. Baring and Mr. Glyn have been, I can see already, deceived by over sanguine estimates--and they do not know all yet, but they shall, if I can find it out.
"Letters leave here to-morrow, and I shall open this before I post it should there be any new feature. As at present advised, I shall go to Quebec on Wednesday night, and spend four or five days in that district. Then I shall come back here, and then go to Toronto and the western portion of the line. After that, all will depend upon whether the Government will call a special session, or not. We shall see. I shall know, perhaps, in time for the following post."
"HAMILTON, _ "Sunday, I Septr. 1861._
"I left Toronto on Tuesday and went to Samia, stayed till Wednesday morning, and then went on to Detroit. Spent the day in Detroit, and then went on to Chicago; stayed Thursday in Chicago, and went on Friday into Illinois, over the Prairies as far as Urbano. Came back to Calumet--near to Chicago. Near Chicago I visited poor dear Ingram's drowning place. Alas! More about it hereafter--and came on thence to Detroit and this place, which I reached yesterday at 2-tired and irritated with tooth-ache, which has never left me for some days and sticks by me yet. I have travelled 1,300 miles since last Tuesday, and 3,070 in all since I landed at New York. This has necessitated travelling during eight nights out of the eighteen I have spent in this country. However, I have thereby cleared off some subsidiary work and have seen the extremes of the territory over which I have to work and plan, and by to-morrow I shall have looked at, and taken account of, most of the people I shall have to deal with. This will enable me now to go to work, and will, I hope, so much shorten my stay on 'this Continent,' as they call it. I have a hard and difficult job before me, but hope to scrape through it with credit, if not with much success. It is a very different country: and they are not only very different, but very difficult, people to manage. Socially, every one has been very civil and kind, and I have had no lack of company or advisers--the latter sometimes giving rather odd suggestions. Everyone is expecting to hear daily of a great battle near Washington, and it may be that the fate of one or other of the contending parties will be decided, for the time, at least, before I leave. At present there is great hatred and animosity, and every possible evil passion abroad. If it were not for
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