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- Canada for Gentlemen - 1/11 -






The difficulty of sending my son's letters to the numerous friends who are interested in seeing them, without wearing out the Manuscript, has induced me to have them printed. It is hoped, also, that they may be useful in giving information regarding some of the difficulties of young emigrants, of which so little is said by the Agencies, though the experience they teach is often more valuable than that of uniform success. The only alterations made in these letters (intended only for the home circle) has been in substituting fictitious names for those of friends. It may seem a paradox that a price should be attached to letters intended only for private circulation, but I am not without hope of being able to provide the writer with his winter furs (greatly to his own surprise), in return for the pleasure and information which his letters have undoubtedly given.

S. Cockburn.


North Western Hotel, Liverpool.

_August 20th_, '84.

Dear Mother,

I write this before turning in, and, as you will observe, with a beast of a pen. We arrived here all safe, and with all our traps. Though I lost the run of my bag at Bristol in the scurry, it turned up here all right.

There were a lot of people waiting on the Warren to wave to us. I recognised Miss Linton, and I think some of the Seymours. Miss Harley met us at Star Cross to say another good-bye, with a button-hole for me and a note, and a flint-and-steel for Henry.

We were collared when we got here by an agent of some sort, who was going to free us from all trouble by seeing our luggage safely on board, but as he kept a low kind of Temperance Hotel, and smelt very strongly of whisky, I declined his services, chiefly I should say, on the instigation of a good-natured cabby. Of course, for aught I know, it may be the proper thing to go in for these sort of chaps, but it's bent to be on the safe side.

Must shut up now, and go to sleep.

Best love to everybody,

Your loving Son, J. SETON COCKBURN.

S.S. "Montreal," En Route For Canada.

_August 21st_, '84.

My Dearest Mother,

We are not going to touch at any Irish port, so I am hurrying to write a few lines to send off by the Pilot.

The weather is beautiful, and we have got the cabin to ourselves.

I have already made some very nice acquaintances; altogether it bids fair to be very jolly.

We got down to the dock in very good time, though of course with a good deal of bother, but we've not got _rooked_ anywhere.

I am afraid you will not hear from us again till the letters bear a foreign post mark.

With best love and wishes to everybody,

Your loving Son, J. SETON COCKBURN.

My Dearest Mother,

I suppose we are both addressing our letters to you, which might at first appear an unequal distribution of our favours, but as I know they will be read aloud to the assembled breakfast table, it is a small matter who opens the envelope. To begin with, I should explain that I am writing in the saloon of the S.S. "Montreal," Sunday evening, August 30th (I believe), and it is due to the constructural defects thereof that my writing is of a somewhat shaky character, the above saloon being placed almost immediately over the propeller, whose various eccentricities in the way of jumping and shaking are more than distinctly felt. However, I do not want to begin by telling you about the end of our voyage, so I will make a commencement at the time we lost sight of the heads and hats of those who saw us off at Dawlish Station. I feel rather ashamed to say I felt at that time very little depression of spirits, perhaps the pipe to which I immediately had recourse had a comforting influence; perhaps my familiarity with all objects on the road, at least as far as Star Cross, made me feel as though I had not yet left home; or perhaps, it was the secret consciousness that all the Seymours, Lintons, and Harleys had promised to be on the Warren to see us wave our heads out of the window. Whatever the course might have been during the whole of our railway journey, our stay at the hotel, and even _some_ hours subsequently, I felt almost jolly, but what a world of misery lies implied in that underlined "some." However, I won't anticipate, but relate from the beginning the history of my ideas and experiences up to the present time. There is little that you do not already know connected with our departure from the docks and our journey as far as the last light ship, that is concerning incidents which would appear to be worth mentioning. We were rather fortunate in seeing nearly all the most celebrated of the Atlantic steamers. The "City of Rome" was lying alongside a wharf within a stone's throw of us, the "Alaska," "Arizona," "America," and "Oregon," were all passing in or out, or lying at the wharves, these being I believe the four fastest ocean steamers afloat. The Allan boat "Peruvian" left the dock just astern of us, and as we afterwards discovered, arrived twelve hours before us. We very soon found, when dinner time came round that we were going to live like fighting cocks; there was a tremendous spread, soup, fish, entrées, joints, entrees, sweets, cheese, dessert and bills of fare. We looked forward to ten days of systematic fattening, an excellent preparation as we thought for our troubles to come in the way of struggles for bread, in the country to which we were journeying. What a mistake! That meal we fattened, also at the ensuing meal, a kind of high tea at six o'clock we continued the process. At breakfast next morning all operations were suspended, and by the time the sun shone in the zenith for the second time, the _modus operandi_ was completely inverted, and we thinned many inches in as many minutes. All the preparations for carrying out our original intentions stared us in the face, but we turned anything but a hungry eye upon them; to tell the prosaic truth we were both sea-sick. Not a fair knock down exactly, for while on deck I was all right. What started the malady was the sleeping cabin--such an abomination of closeness, stuffiness, and all the odours under the sun I never smelt--it was literally enough to knock one down. Not that the cabins themselves are badly ventilated, but they vent into the gangways outside, which in bad weather are themselves very short of fresh air. Only on two days were we able to have our port-hole open, and then not for the whole day. The first day on board was very pleasant, nice weather, and lots of excitement in watching the different coasts we passed, and studying our fellow passengers. We were never out of sight of land until it got too dark to see it. Before England was hull down, the Isle of Man was hull up, and then before that faded, the coast of Ireland would have been in sight had it not been invisible. When daylight went down a breeze sprang up, blowing steadily from the westward, still it was all very jolly, and we went to bed very comfortably and slept very soundly till we woke up. The day had just broken, and it was a fine breezy morning. At first I was delighted to feel myself dancing about. I sat up and looked out of my port-hole and watched the sea for a bit; suddenly she rose to an extra big one; I could feel her "tilting up," and I had to lean forward a bit to maintain my balance, then the stern tilted up and I leant back a good long way, then the "other end of her" rose again, higher still, but I only leant further back, and by the time it was all over I had resumed an horizontal position, and resolved, like the man in "Happy Thoughts," not to move again whatever happened. I soon felt all right again, and was able to reply in a very swagger voice to Henry's rather meek enquiry concerning the state of the weather. By-and-bye a short interchange of experiences occurred between Henry and a boy who had been put into our third berth at the last moment, the latter in the innocence of his youth frankly avowed himself "awful squashy inside," and soon proceeded practically to demonstrate the truth of his assertion. Henry embraced the opportunity of confession, and soon became equally demonstrative. I still felt happy, and gave them some excellent advice, so much in fact, that I began to feel I had been too liberal, and that I wanted some myself; however I dressed quickly, and went on deck, and once there I soon began to feel

Canada for Gentlemen - 1/11

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