Baddeck and That Sort of Thing


One town,one country, is very like another ; . . there are indeed minute discriminations both of places and manners, which, perhaps, are not wanting of curiosity, but which a traveler seldom stays long enough to investigate and compare. — DR. JOHNSON.

THERE was no prospect of any excitement or of any adventure on the steamboat from Baddeck to West Bay, the southern point of the Bras d’Or. Judging from the appearance of the boat the dinner might have been an experiment, but we ran no risks. It was enough to sit on deck forward of the wheel-house, and absorb, by all the senses, the delicious day. With such weather perpetual and such scenery always present, sin in this world would soon become an impossibility. Even towards the passengers from Sidney, with their imitation English ways and little insular gossip, one could have only charity and the most kindly feeling.

The most electric American, heir of all the nervous diseases of all the ages, could not but find peace in this scene of tranquil beauty, and sail on into a great and deepening contentment. Would the voyage could last for an age, with the same sparkling but tranquil sea, and the same environment of hills, near and remote! The hills approached and fell away in lines of undulating grace, draped with a tender color which helped to carry the imagination beyond the earth. At this point the narrative needs to flow into verse, but my comrade did not feel like another attempt in poetry so soon after that on the Gut of Canso. A man cannot always be keyed up to the pitch of production, though his emotions may he highly creditable to him. But poetry-making in these days is a good deal like the use of profane language—often without the least provocation.

Twelve miles from Baddeck we passed through the Barra Strait, or the Grand Narrows, a picturesque feature in the Bras d’Or, and came into its widest expanse. At the Narrows is a small settlement with a flag-staff and a hotel, and roads leading to farm-houses on the hills. Here is a Catholic chapel; and on shore a fat padre was waiting in his wagon for the inevitable priest we always set ashore at such a place. The missionary we landed was the young father from Arichat, and in appearance the pleasing historical Jesuit. Slender is too corpulent a word to describe his thinness, and his stature was primeval. Enveloped in a black coat, the skirts of which reached his heels, and surmounted by a black hat with an enormous brim, he had the form of an elegant toadstool. The traveler is always grateful for such figures, and is not disposed to quarrel with the faith which preserves so much of the ugly picturesque. A peaceful farming country this, but an unremunerative field, one would say, for the colporteur and the book-agent; and winter must inclose it in a lonesome seclusion.

The only other thing of note the Bras d’Or offered us before we reached West Bay was the finest show of medusæ or jelly-fish that could be produced. At first there were dozens of these diskshaped, transparent creatures, and then hundreds, starring the water like marguerites sprinkled on a meadow, and of all sizes from that of a tea-cup to a dinner-plate. We soon ran into a school of them, a convention, a herd as extensive as the vast buffalo droves on the plains, a collection as thick as clover blossoms in a field in June, miles of them apparently; and at length the boat had to push its way through a mass of them which covered the water like the leaves of the pond-lily, and filled the deeps far down with their beautiful contracting and expanding forms. I did not suppose there were so many jellyfishes in all the world. What a repast they would have made for the Atlantic whale we did not see, and what inward comfort it would have given him to have swum through them once or twice with open mouth! Our delight in this wondrous spectacle did not prevent this generous wish for the gratification of the whale. It is probably a natural human desire to see big corporations swallow up little ones.

At the West Bay landing, where there is nothing whatever attractive, we found a great concourse of country wagons and clamorous drivers, to transport the passengers over the rough and uninteresting nine miles to Port Hawksbury. Competition makes the fare low, but nothing makes the ride entertaining. The only settlement passed through has the promising name of River Inhabitants, but we could see little river and less inhabitants; country and people seem to belong to that commonplace order out of which the traveler can extract nothing amusing, instructive, or disagreeable; and it was a great relief when we came over the last hill and looked down upon the straggling village of Port Hawksbury and the winding Gut of Canso.

One cannot but feel a respect for this historical strait, on account of the protection it once gave our British ancestors. Smollett makes a certain Captain C— tell this anecdote of George II. and his enlightened minister, the Duke of Newcastle: “In the beginning of the war this poor, half-witted creature told me, in a great fright, that thirty thousand French had marched from Acadie to Cape Breton. ‘ Where did they find transports? ’ said I. ‘ Transports! ’ cried he; ‘I tell you, they marched by land.’ ‘ By land to the island of Cape Breton?’ ‘What! is Cape Breton an island? ’ ' Certainly.’ ‘Ha! are you sure of that?’ When I pointed it out on the map, he examined it earnestly with his spectacles; then taking me in his arms, ‘ My dear C—! ’ cried he, ‘ you always bring us good news. I ’ll go directly and tell the king that Cape Breton is an island.’ ’’

Port Hawksbury is not a modern settlement, and its public-house is one of the irregular, old-fashioned, snuffy taverns, with low rooms, chintz-covered lounges, and fat-cushioned rockingchairs, the decay and untidiness of which is not offensive to the traveler. It has a low back porch looking towards the water and over a moldy garden, damp and unseemly. Time was, no doubt, before the rush of travel rubbed off the bloom of its ancient hospitality and set a vigilant man at the door of the dining-room to collect pay for meals, that this was an abode of comfort and the resort of merry-making and frolicsome provincials. On this now decaying porch no doubt lovers sat in the moonlight, and vowed by the Gut of Canso to be fond of each other forever. The traveler cannot help it if he comes upon the traces of such sentiment. There lingered yet in the house an air of the hospitable old time; the swift willingness of the waiting-maids at table, who were eager that we should miss none of the home-made dishes, spoke of it; and as we were not obliged to stay in the hotel and lodge in its six-by-four bedrooms, we could afford to make a little romance about its history.

While we were at supper the steamboat arrived from Pictou. We hastened on board, impatient for progress on our homeward journey. But haste was not called for. The steamboat would not sail on her return till morning. No one could tell why. It was not on account of freight to take in or discharge; it was not in hope of more passengers, for they were all on board. But if the boat had returned that night to Pictou, some of the passengers might have left her and gone west by rail, instead of wasting two or three days lounging through Northumberland Sound and idling in the harbors of Prince Edward Island. If the steamboat would leave at midnight we could catch the railway train at Pictou. Probably the officials were aware of this, and they preferred to have our company to Shediac. We mention this so that the tourist who comes this way may learn to possess his soul in patience, and know that steamboats are not run for his accommodation, but to give him repose and to familiarize him with the country. It is almost impossible to give the unscientific reader an idea of the slowness of travel by steamboat in these regions. Let him first fix his mind on the fact that the earth moves through space at a speed of more than sixty-six thousand miles an hour. This is a speed eleven hundred times greater than that of the most rapid express trains. If the distance traversed by a locomotive in an hour is represented by one tenth of an inch, it would need a line nine feet long to indicate the corresponding advance of the earth in the same time. But a tortoise, pursuing his ordinary gait without a wager, moves eleven hundred times slower than an express train. We have here a basis of comparison with the provincial steamboats. If we had seen a tortoise start that night from Port Hawksbury for the west, we should have desired to send letters by him.

In the early morning we stole out of the romantic strait, and by breakfast time we were over St. George’s Bay and round his cape, and making for the harbor of Pictou. During the forenoon something in the nature of an excursion developed itself on the steamboat, but it had so few of the bustling features of an American excursion that I thought it might be a pilgrimage. Yet it doubtless was a highly developed provincial lark. For a certain portion of the passengers had the unmistakable excursion air: the half-jocular manner towards each other, the local facetiousness which is so offensive to uninterested fellowtravelers, that male obsequiousness about ladies’ shawls and reticules, the clumsy pretense of gallantry with each other’s wives, the anxiety about the company luggage and the company health. It became painfully evident presently that it was an excursion, for we heard singing of that concerted and determined kind that depresses the spirits of all except those who join in it. The excursion had assembled on the lee guards out of the wind, and was enjoying itself in an abandon of serious musical enthusiasm. We feared at first that there

might be some levity in this performance, and that the unrestrained spirit of the excursion was working itself off in social and convivial songs. But it was not so. The singers were provided with hymn-and-tune books, and what they sang they rendered in long metre and with a most doleful earnestness. It is agreeable to the traveler to see that the provincials disport themselves within bounds, and that a hilarious spree here does not differ much in its exercises from a prayer-meeting elsewhere. But the excursion enjoyed its staid dissipation amazingly.

It is pleasant to sail into the long and broad harbor of Pictou on a sunny day. On the left is the Halifax railway terminus, and three rivers flow into the harbor from the south. On the right the town of Pictou, with its four thousand inhabitants, lies upon the side of the ridge that runs out towards the Sound. The most conspicuous building in it as we approach is the Roman Catholic church; advanced to the edge of the town and occupying the highest ground, it appears large, and its gilt cross is a beacon miles away. Its builders understood the value of a striking situation, a dominant position; it is a part of the universal policy of this church to secure the commanding places for its houses of worship. We may have had no prejudices in favor of the Papal temporality when wo landed at Pictou, but this church was the only one which impressed us, and the only one we took the trouble to visit. We had ample time, for the steamboat after its arduous trip needed rest, and remained some hours in the harbor. Pictou is said to be a thriving place, and its streets have a cindery appearance, betokening the nearness of coal mines and the presence of furnaces. But the town has rather a cheap and rusty look. Its streets rise one above another on the hill-side, and, except a few comfortable cottages, we saw no evidences of wealth in the dwellings. The church, when we reached it, was a commonplace brick structure, with a raw, unfinished interior, and weedy and untidy surroundings, so that our expectation of sitting on the inviting hill and enjoying the view was not realized; and we were obliged to descend to the hot wharf and wait for the ferry-boat to take us to the steamboat which lay at the railway terminus opposite. It is the most unfair thing in the world for the traveler, without an object or any interest in the development of the country, on a sleepy day in August, to express any opinion whatever about such a town as Pictou. But we may say of it, without offense, that it occupies a charming situation, and may have an interesting future; and that a person on a short acquaintance can leave it without regret.

By stopping here we had the misfortune to lose our “ excursion,” a loss that was soothed by no knowledge of its destination or hope of seeing it again, and a loss without a hope is nearly always painful. Going out of the harbor we encounter Pictou Island and Light, and presently see the low coast of Prince Edward Island, a coast indented and agreeable to those idly sailing along it, in weather that seemed let down out of heaven, and over a sea that sparkled but still slept in a summer quiet. When fate puts a man in such a position and relieves him of all responsibility, with a book and a good comrade, and liberty to make sarcastic remarks upon his fellowtravelers, or to doze, or to look over the tranquil sea, he may be pronounced happy. And I believe that my companion, except in the matter of the comrade, was happy. But I could not resist a worrying anxiety about the future of the British Provinces, which not even the remembrance of their hostility to us during our mortal strife with the rebellion could render agreeable. For I could not but feel that the ostentatious and unconcealable prosperity of “ the States” overshadows this part of the continent. And it was for once in vain that I said, “Have we not a common language and a common literature, and no copyright, and a common pride in Shakespeare and Hannah More and Colonel Newcome and Pepys' Diary? ” I never knew this sort of consolation to fail before; it does not seem to answer in the Provinces as well as it does in England.

New passengers had come on board at Pictou, new and hungry, and not all could get seats for dinner at the first table. Notwithstanding the supposed traditionary advantage of our birthplace, we were unable to dispatch this meal with the celerity of our fellow-voyagers, and consequently, while we lingered over our tea, we found ourselves at the second table. And we were rewarded by one of those pleasing sights that go to make up the entertainment of travel. There sat down opposite to us a fat man whose noble proportions occupied at the board the space of three ordinary men. His great face beamed delight the moment he came near the table. He had a low forehead and a wide mouth and small eyes, and an internal capacity that was a prophecy of famine to his fellow-men. But a more good-natured, pleased animal you may never see. Seating himself with unrepressed joy, he looked at us, and a great smile of satisfaction came over his face, that plainly said, “Now my time has come.” Every part of his vast bulk said this. Most generously, by his friendly glances, he made us partners in his pleasure. With a Napoleonic grasp of his situation, he reached far and near, hauling this and that dish of fragments towards his plate, giving orders at the same time, and throwing into his cheerful mouth odd pieces of bread and pickles in an unstudied and preliminary manner. When he had secured everything within his reach, he heaped his plate and began an attack upon the contents, using both knife and fork with wonderful proficiency. The man’s goodhumor was contagious, and he did not regard our amusement as different in kind from his enjoyment. The spectacle was worth a journey to see. Indeed, its aspect of comicality almost overcame its grossness, and even when the hero loaded in faster than he could swallow, and was obliged to drop his knife for an instant to arrange matters in his mouth with his finger, it was done with, such a beaming smile that a pig would not take offense at it. The performance was not the merely vulgar thing it seems on paper, but an achievement unique and perfect, which one is not likely to see more than once in a life-time. It was only when the man left the table that his face became serious. We had seen him at his best.

Prince Edward Island, as we approached it, had a pleasing aspect, and nothing of that remote friendlessness which its appearance on the map conveys to one; a warm and sandy land, in a genial climate, without fogs, we are informed. In the winter it has ice communication with Nova Scotia, from Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentine — the route of the submarine cable. The island is as flat from end to end as a floor. When it surrendered its independent government and joined the Dominion, one of the conditions of the union was that the government should build a railway the whole length of it. This is in process of construction, and the portion that is built affords great satisfaction to the islanders, a railway being one of the necessary adjuncts of civilization; but that there was great need of it, or that it would pay, we were unable to learn.

We sailed through Hillsborough Bay and a narrow strait to Charlottetown, the capital, which lies on a sandy spit of land between two rivers. Our leisurely steamboat tied up here in the afternoon and spent the night, giving the passengers an opportunity to make thorough acquaintance with the town. It has the appearance of a place from which something has departed; a wooden town, with wide and vacant streets, and the air of waiting for something. Almost melancholy is the aspect of its freestone colonial building, where once the colonial legislature held its momentous sessions, and the colonial governor shed the delightful aroma of royalty. The mansion of the governor — now vacant of pomp, because that official does not exist — is a little withdrawn from the town, secluded among trees by the water-side. It is dignified with a winding approach, but is itself only a cheap and decaying house. On our way to it we passed the drill-shed of the local cavalry, which we mistook for a skatingrink, and thereby excited the contempt of an old lady of whom we inquired. Tasteful residences we did not find, nor that attention to flowers and gardens which the mild climate would suggest. Indeed, we should describe Charlottetown as a place where the hollyhock in the door yard is considered an ornament. A conspicuous building is a large market-house shingled all over (as many of the public buildings are), and this and other cheap public edifices stand in the midst of a large square, which is surrounded by shabby shops for the most part. The town is laid out on a generous scale, and it is to he regretted that we could not have seen it when it enjoyed the glory of a governor and court and ministers of state, and all the paraphernalia of a royal parliament. That the productive island, with its system of free schools, is about to enter upon a prosperous career, and that Charlottetown is soon to become a place of great activity, no one who converses with the natives can doubt; and I think that even now no traveler will regret spending an hour or two there; but it is necessary to say that the rosy inducements to tourists to spend the summer there exist only in the guide-books.

We congratulated ourselves that we should at least have a night of delightful sleep on the steamboat in the quiet of this secluded harbor. But it was wisely ordered otherwise, to the end that we should improve our time by an interesting study of human nature. Towards midnight, when the occupants of all the state-rooms were supposed to be in profound slumber, there was an invasion of the small cabin by a large and loquacious family, who had been making an excursion on the island railway. This family might remind an antiquated novel-reader of the delightful Brangtons in Evelina; they had all the vivacity of the pleasant cousins of the heroine of that story, and the same generosity towards the public in regard to their family affairs. Before tliey had been in the cabin an hour, we felt as if we knew every one of them. There was a great squabble as to where and how they should sleep, and when this was over, the revelations of the nature of their beds and their peculiar habits of sleep continued to pierce the tldn deal partitions of the adjoining state-rooms. When all the possible trivialities of vacant minds seemed to have been exhausted, there followed a half-hour of “ Good night, pa; good night, ma;” “Good night, pet;” and “Are you asleep, ma?” “No.” “Are you asleep, pa? ” “ No; go to sleep, pet.” “ I’m

going. Good night, pa; good night, ma.” “ Good night, pet.” “ This bed is too short.” “ Why don’t you take the other?” “ I’m all fixed now.” “Well, go to sleep; good night.” “Good night, ma; good night, pa,” — no answer, “Good night, pa.” “Good night, pet.” “ Ma, are you asleep?” “Most.” “This bed is all lumps; I wish I’d gone down-stairs.” “Well, pa will get up.” “ Pa, are you asleep? ” “Yes.” “ It’s better now; good night, pa.” “ Good night, pet.” “ Good night, ma.” “ Good night, pet.” And so on in an exasperating repetition until every passenger on the boat must have been thoroughly informed of the manner in which this interesting family habitually settled itself to repose.

Half an hour passes with only a languid exchange of family feeling, and then: “Pa?” “ Well, pet.” “Don’t call us in the morning, we don’t want any breakfast; we want to sleep.” “ I won't.” “Good night, pa; good night, ma. Ma?” “What is it, dear?” “ Good night, ma.” “ Good night, pet.” Alas for youthful expectations! Pet shared her state-room with a young companion, and the two were carrying on a private dialogue during this public performance. Did these young ladies, after keeping all the passengers of the boat awake till near the summer dawn, imagine that it was in the power of pa and ma to insure them the coveted forenoon slumber or even the morning snooze? The travelers, tossing in their state-room under this domestic infliction, anticipated the morning with grim satisfaction. For they had a presentiment that it would be impossible for them to arise and make their toilet without waking up every one in their part of the boat, and aggravating them to such an extent that they would stay awake. And so it turned out. The family grumbling at the unexpected disturbance was sweeter to the travelers than all the exchange of family affection during the night.

No one, indeed, ought to sleep beyond breakfast time while sailing along the southern coast of Prince Edward Island. It was a sparkling morning. When we went on deck we were abreast Cape Traverse; the faint outline of Nova Scotia was marked on the horizon, and New Brunswick thrust out Cape Tormentine to greet us. On the still, sunny coasts and the placid sea, and in the serene, smiling sky, there was no sign of the coming tempest which was then raging from Hatteras to Cape Cod; nor could one imagine that this peaceful scene would, a few days later, be swept by a fearful tornado, which should raze to the ground trees and dwelling-houses, and strew all these now inviting shores with wrecked ships and drowning sailors— a storm which has passed into literature in The Lord’s-Day Gale of Mr. Stedman.

Through this delicious weather why should the steamboat hasten, in order to discharge its passengers into the sweeping unrest of continental travel? Our eagerness to get on, indeed, almost melted away, and we were scarcely impatient at all when the boat lounged into Halifax Bay, past Salutation Point, and stopped at Summerside. This little sea-port is intended to be attractive, and it would give these travelers great pleasure to describe it if they could at all remember how it looks. But it is a place that, like some faces, makes no sort of impression on the memory. We went ashore there, and tried to take an interest in the ship-building, and in the little oysters which the harbor yields, but whether we did take an interest or not has passed out of memory. A small, unpicturesque, wooden town, in the languor of a provincial summer; why should we pretend an interest in it which we did not feel? It did not disturb our reposeful frame of mind, nor much interfere with our enjoyment of the day.

On the forward deck, when we were under way again, amid a group reading and nodding in the sunshine, we found a pretty girl with a companion and a gentleman, whom we knew by intuition as the “ pa ” of the pretty girl and of our night of anguish. The pa might have been a clergyman in a small way, or the proprietor of a female boarding-school; at any rate, an excellent and improving person to travel with, whose willingness to impart information made even the travelers long for a pa. It was no part of his plan of this family summer excursion, upon which he had come against his wish, to have any hour of it wasted in idleness. He held an open volume in his hand, and was questioning his daughter on its contents. He spoke in a loud voice, and without heeding the timidity of the young lady, who shrank from this public examination and begged her father not to continue it. The parent was, however, either proud of his daughter’s acquirements, or he thought it a good opportunity to shame her out of her ignorance. Doubtless, we said, he is instructing her upon the geography of the region we are passing through, its early settlement, the romantic incidents of its history, when French and English fought over it, and so is making this a tour of profit as well as pleasure. But the excellent and pottering father proved to be no disciple of the new education. Greece was his theme, and he got his questions, and his answers too, from the ancient school history in his hand. The lesson went on: —

“ Who was Alcibiades? ”

“ A Greek.”

“ Yes. When did he flourish? ”

I can’t think.”

Can’t think? What was he noted for? ”

“ I don’t remember.”

“Don’t remember? I don’t believe you studied this.”

“ Yes, I did.”

“ Well, take it now, and study it hard, and then I ’ll hear you again.”

The young girl, who is put to shame by this open persecution, begins to study, while the peevish and small tyrant, her pa, is nagging her with such soothing remarks as, “ I thought you ’d have more respect for your pride;” “ Why don’t you try to come up to the expectations of your teacher?” By and by the student thinks she has “ got it,” and the public exposition begins again. The date at which Alcibiades “ flourished ” was ascertained, but what he was “noted for” got hopelessly mixed with what Themistocles was “noted for.” The momentary impression that the battle of Marathon was fought by Salamis was soon dissipated, and the questions continued.

“ What did Pericles do to the Greeks?”

“ I don’t know.”

“ Elevated ’em, did n’t he? Did n’t he elevate ’em? ”

“ Yes, sir.”

“ Always remember that; you want to fix your mind on leading things. Remember that Pericles elevated the Greeks. Who was Pericles? ”

“ He was a ” —

“ Was he a philosopher? ”

“ Yes, sir. ”

“ No, he was n’t. Socrates was a philosopher. When did he flourish?” And so on, and so on.

Oh, my charming young countrywomen, let us never forget that Pericles elevated the Greeks; and that he did it by cultivating the national genius, the national spirit, by stimulating art and oratory and the pursuit of learning, and infusing into all society a higher intellectual and social life. Pa was this day sailing through seas and by shores that had witnessed some of the most stirring and romantic events in the early history of our continent. He might have had the eager attention of his bright daughter if he had unfolded these things to her in the midst of this most living landscape, and given her an “object lesson” that she would not have forgotten all her days. Instead of this he was pottering over names and dates that were as dry and meaningless to him as they were uninteresting to his daughter. At least, O Pa, Educator of Youth, if you are insensible to the beauty of these summer isles and indifferent to their history, and your soul is wedded to ancient learning, why do you not teach your family to go to sleep when they go to bed, as the classic Greeks used to?

Before the travelers reached Shediac, they had leisure to ruminate upon the education of American girls in the schools set apart for them, and to conjecture how much they are taught of the geography and history of America, or of its social and literary growth; and whether, when they travel on a summer tour like this, these coasts have any historical light upon them, or gain any interest from the daring and chivalric adventurers who played their parts here so long ago. We did not hear pa ask when Madame de la Tour “ flourished,” though “ flourish ” that determined woman did, in Boston as well as in the French provinces. In the present woman revival may we not hope that the heroic women of our colonial history will have the prominence that is their right, and that woman’s achievements will assume their proper place in affairs? When women write history, some of our popular men heroes will, we trust, be made to acknowledge the female sources of their wisdom and their courage. But at present women do not much affect history, and they are more indifferent to the careers of the noted of their own sex than men are.

We expected to approach Shediac with a great deal of interest. It had been, when we started, one of the most prominent points in our projected tour. It was the pivot upon which, so to speak, we expected to swing around the Provinces. Upon the map it was so attractive, that we once resolved to go no farther than there. It once seemed to us that if we ever reached it, we should be contented to abide there, in a place so remote, in a port so picturesque and foreign. But returning from the real east, our late interest in Shediac seemed unaccountable to us. Firmly resolved as I was to note our entrance into the harbor, I could not keep the place in mind, and while we were in our state-room and before we knew it, the steamboat lay at the wharf. Shediac appeared to be nothing but a wharf with a railway train on it, and a few shanty buildings, a part of them devoted to the sale of whisky and to cheap lodgings. This landing, however, is called Point du Chêne, and the village of Shediac is two or three miles distant from it; we had a pleasant glimpse of it from the car windows, and saw nothing in its situation to hinder its growth. The country about it is perfectly level, and stripped of its forests. At Painsec Junction we waited for the train from Halifax, and immediately found ourselves in the whirl of intercolonial travel. Why people should travel here or why they should be excited about it, we could not see; we could not overcome a feeling of the unreality of the whole tiling; but yet we humbly knew that we had no right to be otherwise than awed by the extraordinary intercolonial railway enterprise and by the new life which it is infusing into the Provinces. We are free to say, however, that nothing can be less interesting than the line of this road until it strikes the Kennebeckasis River, when the traveler will be called upon to admire the Sussex Valley and a very fair farming region, which he would like to praise if it were not for exciting the jealousy of the “ Garden of Nova Scotia.” The whole land is in fact a garden, but differing somewhat from the Isle of Wight.

In all travel, however, people are more interesting than land, and so it was at this time. As twilight shut down upon the valley of the Kennebeckasis, we heard the strident voice of pa going on with the Grecian catechism. Pa was unmoved by the beauties of Sussex or by the colors of the sunset, which for the moment made picturesque the scraggy evergreens on the horizon. His eyes were with his heart, and that was in Sparta. Above the roar of the carwheels we heard his nagging inquiries.

“ What did Lycurgus do then ?

Answer not audible.

“ No. He made laws. Who did he make laws for? ”

“For the Greeks.”

“ He made laws for the Lacedæmonians. Who was another great lawgiver? ”

“ It was — it was — Pericles. ”

“ No, it was n’t. It was Solon. Who was Solon? ”

“ Solon was one of the wise men of Greece.”

“That’s right. When did he flourish ? ’ ’

When the train stops at a station the classics continue, and the studious group attracts the attention of the passengers. Pa is well pleased, but not so the young lady, who beseechingly says,

“ Pa, everybody can hear us.”

“ You would n’t care how much they heard if you knew it,” replies this accomplished devotee of learning.

In another lull of the car-wheels we find that pa has skipped over to Marathon; and this time it is the daughter who is asking a question.

“ Pa, what is a phalanx? ”

“Well, a phalanx — it’s a — it’s difficult to define a phalanx. It’s a stretch of men in one line — a stretch of anything in a line. When did Alexander flourish ? ”

This domestic tyrant had this in common with the rest of us, that he was much better at asking questions than at answering them. It certainly was not our fault that we were listeners to his instructive struggles with ancient history, nor that we heard his petulant complaining to his cowed family, whom he accused of dragging him away on this summer trip. We are only grateful to him, for a more entertaining person the traveler does not often see. It was with regret that we lost sight of him at St. John.

Night has settled upon New Brunswick and upon ancient Greece before we reach the Kennebeckasis Bay, and we only see from the car windows dimly a pleasant and fertile country, and the peaceful homes of thrifty people. While we are running along the valley and coming under the shadow of the hill whereon St. John sits, with a regal outlook upon a most variegated coast and upon the rising and falling of the great tides of Fundy, we feel a twinge of conscience at the injustice the passing traveler must perforce do any land he hurries over and does not study. Here is picturesque St. John, with its couple of centuries of history and tradition, its commerce, its enterprise felt all along the coast and through the settlements of the territory to the northeast, with its no doubt charming society and solid English culture; and the summer tourist, in an idle mood regarding it for a day, says it is nought! Behold what “travels” amount to! Are they not for the most part the records of the misapprehensions of the misinformed? Let us congratulate ourselves that in this flight through the Provinces we have not attempted to do any justice to them, geologically, economically, or historically, only trying to catch some of the salient points of the panorama as it unrolled itself. Will Halifax rise up in judgment against us? We look back upon it with softened memory, and already see it again in the light of history. It stands, indeed, overlooking a gate of the ocean, in a beautiful morning light; and we can hear now the repetition of that profane phrase, used for the misdirection of wayward mortals — “ Go to Halifax! ” — without a shudder.

We confess to some regret that our journey is so near its end. Perhaps it is the sentimental regret with which one always leaves the east, for we have been a thousand miles nearer Ireland than Boston is. Collecting in the mind the detached pictures given to our eyes in all these brilliant and inspiring days, we realize afresh the variety, the extent, the riches of these northeastern lands which the Gulf Stream pets and tempers. If it were not for attracting speculators, we should delight to speak of the beds of coal, the quarries of marble, the mines of gold. Look on the map and follow the shores of these peninsulas and islands, the bays, the penetrating arms of the sea, the harbors filled with islands, the protected straits and sounds. All this is favorable to the highest commercial activity and enterprise. Greece itself and its islands are not more indented and inviting. Fish swarm about the shores and in all the streams. There are, I have no doubt, great forests which we did not see from the car windows, the inhabitants of which do not show themselves to the travelers at the railway stations. In the dining-room of a friend, who goes away every autumn into the wilds of Nova Scotia at the season when the snow falls, hang trophies — enormous branching antlers of the caribou and heads of the mighty moose — which I am assured came from there; and I have no reason to doubt that the noble creatures who once carried these superb horns were murdered by my friend at long range. Many people have an insatiate longing to kill, once in their life, a moose, — and would travel far and endure great hardships to gratify this ambition. In the present state of the world it is more difficult to do it than it is to be written down as one who loves his fellow-men.

We received everywhere in the Provinces courtesy and kindness, which were not based upon any expectation that we would invest in mines or railways, for the people are honest, kindly, and hearty by nature. What they will become when the railways are completed that are to bind St. John to Quebec, and make Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Newfoundland only stepping-stones to Europe, we cannot say. Probably they will become like the rest of the world, and furnish no material for the kindly persiflage of the traveler.

Regretting that we could see no more of St. John, that we could scarcely see our way through its dimly lighted streets, we found the ferry to Carleton, and a sleeping-car for Bangor. It was in the heart of the negro porter to cause us alarm by the intelligence that the customs officer would search our baggage during the night. A search is a blow to one’s self-respect, especially if one has anything dutiable. But as the porter might be an agent of our government in disguise, we preserved an appearance of philosophical indifference in his presence. It takes a sharp observer to tell innocence from assurance. During the night, awaking, I saw a great light. A man, crawling along the aisle of the car, and poking under the seats, had found my traveling-bag and was “ going through ’ ’ it.

I felt a thrill of pride as I recognized in this crouching figure an officer of our government, and knew that I was in my native land.

Charles Dudley Warner.