« VorigeDoorgaan »
hastily taken for granted, that they had no place in the vocabulary which the first settlers brought hither with them, but are arbitrary and uncalled for innovations of a later period.
But to our story. On the 4th of April, 1825, Duke Bernard of Saxe Weimar set out from Ghent to Antwerp, on his way to Hellevoetsluis, where he was to embark in the corvette Pallas, for the United States. Our readers will be happy to learn that this vessel was furnished him by his government, and provided with every thing necessary to the comfort of his Highness, who was established in the captain's cabin, and had a cot suspended at night for his sleeping place." After a short "sojourn" at Hellevoetsluis, this distinguished traveller crossed the channel, and having visited in England, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Falmouth, &c. was again at sea on the 18th of June, on his way to Boston, where he arrived on the 26th of July. Nothing, it seems, of any great importance occurred during this voyage, except it were the loss of a midshipman overboard, and the administering of relief to the American ship Schuylkill, in distress for water and provisions. But its consummation was hailed with all the rapture befitting so memorable an event, and perhaps since the first arrival of Columbus, the shores of the western world have never been approached with equal joy. The following very circumstantial and glowing description can scarcely fail to be interesting to the sentimental reader.
"It was ten o'clock on the morning of the 26th July, when I first placed my foot in America-upon a broad piece of granite! It is impossible to describe what I felt at that instant. Heretofore, but two moments of my life had left a delightful remembrance-the first was, when at seventeen years of age, I received the cross of the Legion of Honour after the battle of Wagram-the second, when my son William was born. My landing in America, that country, which, from my earliest youth, had been the object of my warmest wishes, will, throughout life, remain a subject of pleasing recollection!"
The thrilling effects of the broad piece of granite were not yet over, before his Highness established himself at the Exchange Coffee-house, kept, we are informed, by a man who had been
a volunteer colonel in the last war, and who, according to the custom of the country, still retained his old title, without feeling himself above his present business. Here he found himself in excellent quarters, and soon began to experience those polite and hospitable attentions for which our good friends in Boston are so justly renowned. "He had imagined that no one could take the least notice of him in America." We are not informed how he came to conceive this extravagant notion, but it gives
us great pleasure to state in his own error, that "he soon found himself agreeably disappointed." In the truly refined, because enlightened and literary society of Boston, he could not fail to pass his time very pleasantly, and we are favored with a sufficiently minute account of the principal objects of curiosity in and about that capital. We must not omit some things that seem to have made a particular impression upon the mind of the Duke. Thus, he gave the attendant, who conducted him, two dollars, and he was so much gratified by this surpassing generosity, that when they were in the chapel, the cunnning fellow "whispered to the organist, who immediately played God save the King"-at the which, his Highness "was much surprised". though we own we are not. With Mr. Quincy, the Mayor, he visited the public schools, and thus expressed his approbation of them; it is a fair specimen of that philanthropic spirit which breathes through the whole work, and imparts to it a secret charm in the midst of many blemishes and defects.
"I was pleased both with the kind manners of the teachers and the modest, correct and easy deportment of the scholars. The boys generally had handsome faces, and were all of an animated physiognomy. With this they combine, as I was frequently convinced, the greatest respect for their parents and teachers. It appears to me impossible that young people who receive so liberal an education, can grow up to be bad or malicious men. I was indeed affected when I left the schools, and could not but congratulate Mr. Quincy from the bottom of my heart, on such a rising generation. Captain Ryk, who accompanied us, participated in my views and feelings."
The Duke and his companion, Mr. Tromp, left the "hospitable city of Boston with grateful hearts" on the ninth of August in the mail-coach (of which he does not fail to give an accurate description) for Albany by way of Worcester and Northampton. This journey was not without its perils. They "crossed several small rivers and rivulets, on wooden bridges, which are very slight, though they are built with a great waste of timber. The planks [horresco referens] are not even nailed upon the beams, so that his Highness began to be somewhat fearful, especially
"The society, especially when ladies are not [?] present, is uncommonly fine and lively; both sexes are very well educated and accomplished. So much care is bestowed upon the education of the female sex, that it would perhaps be considered in other countries as superfluous. Young ladies even learn Latin and Greek, but then they can also speak of other things besides fashions and tea table subjects: thus, for instance, I was at a party of Mrs. General Humphreys, which was entirely in the European style, without cards, dancing, or music, and yet it was lively and agreeable. Many of those gentlemen who are met with in such society, have travelled in Europe, sometimes accompanied by their ladies; Europeans are frequently present, and thus there is no want of materials for conversation. The generality of the houses, moreover, offer something attractive in the fine arts," &c. p. 50.
as the carriage drove rapidly over." This was not all; for they were overtaken by a "considerable thunder storm"-and about a mile from Northampton they had to pass the Connecticut river, five hundred yards wide, in a small ferry boat, "which as the night had already set in, was not very agreeable." And what was, if possible, worse than all this, they left Northampton to visit the government armory at Springfield, "under the most oppressive heat, with five ladies and two gentlemen in the stagecoach, into which they were crouded somewhat like those that were shut up in the Trojan horse." He would fain have deviated from his route fourteen miles for the purpose of visiting New Lebanon, but a person from whom he wished to hire a carriage being "so extortionate as to ask ten dollars," he determined, as he expresses it, "in order to avoid a new Yankee trick, to prosecute his journey in the stage-coach directly for Albany," where, in due season, he arrived and took lodgings at Cruttenden's.
From Albany the Duke went to the Falls of Niagara, and down the St. Lawrence as far as Quebec. A part of the journey to the Falls was performed in a canal packet-boat. The following description shows that his Highness was not perfectly at his ease in that new situation."
"The day was intolerably warm, and our company was very numeI confined myself to writing the whole day as much as possible, but in consequence of the heat, I could not avoid sleeping. In the evening, we fortunately had a thunder storm, which cooled the air. During the night, as there was a want of births, the beds were placed upon benches, and as I was the tallest person, mine was put in the centre upon the longest bench, with a chair as a supplement. It had the appearance of a hereditary sepulchre, in the centre of which I lay as father of the family. I spent an uncomfortable night on account of my constrained posture, the insects which annoyed me, and the steersman, who always played an agreeable tune upon his bugle, whenever he approached a lock."
We are next favoured with an account of their manner of living on board these boats, the behaviour of the guests at table, the furniture, &c. "Every one must help himself as he canthere are no napkins-and except the spoons, no silver on the table. The forks, it seems, have two prongs, and their handles, like those of the knives, are of buck's horn. His Highness thinks it, as it no doubt is, an excellent rule that no one on departing, is bound to give money to the servants." p. 66.
In the further prosecution of this journey, we need scarcely say that many very remarkable things, besides the most stu
pendous of cataracts presented themselves to our curious traveller. At a village called Manlius, for instance, he met with a farmer, the descendant of a German emigrant, who spoke the language used in Germany about a hundred years ago, and who thought the Duke's German too high. (p. 68.) At Waterloo, he saw at the tavern "a large, beautiful young eagle which had been caught in his nest and tamed." (p. 69.) He also witnessed an amusing, military spectacle. "It consisted of a militia parade consisting of thirty men, including seven officers and two cornets. They were formed like a battalion, into six divisions, and performed a number of manœuvres. The members were not all provided with muskets, but had ramrods instead. Only the officers and the rifle company, four men strong, were in uniform. The band consisted of sixteen men, and was commanded by an officer with a colonel's epaulettes and a drawn sword!" Nor must we forget to mention a circumstance of so rare a character that we doubt very much whether it be possible to find a parallel to it, except in the well-known adventure of the fullingmill in Don Quixotte. The Tonnawanta creek runs through a dense and beautiful forest, which had never been violated by the axe, until a few trees were cut down on its borders to make place for a tow-path. The Duke sat in the bow of the boat during the whole of the passage. Every thing inclines the traveller to pensiveness and meditation. "Nothing interrupted the solemn silence except-the chattering of the boatmen's teeth, who are often severely affected in this unhealthy part of the country, with intermittent fevers."
The passage down the St. Lawrence appears to have been one of the most interesting parts of this tour. The Rapids are descended in batteaux or Durham-boats, which are small, flat vessels of about forty tons, have but a half deck, and draw eighteen inches of water. The Duke embarked in one of these, which, by a very singular coincidence, happened to be called, "the Flying Dutchman." His fellow passengers are worthy of notice. 66 They were, principally, of the lower class of comedians, who spoke bad French, somewhat like the Walloon.". There was also a personage of a more remarkable description; to-wit.-"a lively, young, black bear, three months old, on board." p. 85.
The following description of a scene on the St. Lawrence, is executed in a more ambitious style than is usual with the Duke.
"Our captain had business at the custom-house: he stopped, therefore, for an hour, during which I had time to look at the fort; after which, we continued our course in a strong wind, which was brought en by a thunder storm. The shores and islands of the river are gene
rally covered with cedar trees, and amongst them we discovered some neat houses and churches, with bright tin roofs. At the village of Coteau des Cedres, we were obliged to encounter the last and most dangerous rapid, called the Cascades. The waves were uncommonly high, and our vessel passed over the dangerous parts with incredible velocity. Along these rapids, there is also a canal, provided with locks, and intended to facilitate the ascent of vessels. If these rapids are viewed from the shore, it appears incredible that a canoe should venture in without being swallowed up. Such a misfortune, however, does not happen, as we had just proved. Below this rapid, the river, where it receives the Ottawa, again spreads out so as to form another lake called Lac St. Louis. North of this lake, and at the place where the Ottawa unites with the St. Lawrence, it forms another lake, Lac des deux Montagnes, which is separated from Lac St. Louis by three islands, called Jesus, Perrot and Montreal. The thunder storm passed close by us; the wind blew heavy, but favourably. We met a steam-boat, having a corpse on board, and her flag at half-mast! this was a bad omen!!Another steam-boat got ahead of us as we were passing towards La Chine, and excited our desire to sail faster; but suddenly we saw a terrible storm approaching. In an instant, every hand was endeavouring to take down the sails, and the small one was fortunately drawn in before the arrival of the squall, but the large one, in consequence of its bad cordage, was only half way down when it struck us. Near us we observed a sound, with a dangerous cliff, which it was necessary to avoid by steering to the left; but we were driven directly towards it. Six men could scarcely manage the helm. Half of the sail floated in the water, and our destruction appeared inevitable. No one knew who commanded; the sailors thought themselves better qualified than the captain, and every thing was hurry and confusion. I deemed it best to remain silent, and commit myself to Providence, who guides the destinies of man. At length, a sailor climbed the mast and cut the cord, so that the sail could be taken down, by which time we had fortunately passed the sound. The storm also, which altogether did not last more than five minutes, began to abate, &c. Immediately after the storm, during which it had rained, we observed a remarkable phenomenon, viz. a fall of white-winged insects, of which a great quantity fell upon our boat. It continued during five minutes. These insects had, in all probability, been driven from the neighbouring forests," &c. p. 87.
Notwithstanding the dreadful omen of the corpse, and the dangers which followed it so speedily, our traveller arrived safe and sound, and was rewarded for his courage and perseverance, by the many curious things he saw at Montreal and in its vicinity. Among others, as a military man, he was particularly struck at the parade, with a new mode of making ready. “At the command 'ready,' the soldiers levelled their muskets, cocked them in this position; at the command 'fire,' they brought them slowly to their cheeks." p. 89. The following remark is quite just, and cannot but be acceptable to Americans: