James Bell Forsyth.

A few months in the East : or, A glimpse of the Red, the Dead, and the Black seas online

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Marmion. Introduction to Canto v.

But how different were the riflemen of to-day from
soldiers in the time of Marmion, in point of dress and
discipline ! Mountaineers and Borderers were now
present at the Eoyal Review, equipped as gaily and
as expert in practice as any of the fine bodies of
brave men who, on this occasion, gathered round their
beloved sovereign ; whereas, in former days, accord-
ing to the stanzas immediately following those just
quoted :

" On foot the yeoman too, but dressed
In his steel jack, a swarthy vest,

With iron quilted well ;
Each at his back (a slender store),
His forty-days' provision bore,

As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halbard, axe, or spear,
A cross-bow there, a hagbut here,

A dagger-knife, and brand."


At the review I could not help admiring the excel-
lent training of the men, and how well under command
they were. Although there was some little difference
in the uniform of the various regiments, they were all
armed with the same deadly weapon. I will never
forget the excitement of the moment, when upwards
of twenty thousand Volunteers welcomed their Queen
as she came on the ground, "in all the pride and
pomp and circumstance of war," accompanied by the
Prince Consort and surrounded by a brilliant staff.
Her Majesty was most enthusiastically greeted, at the
same moment, by the countless multitudes that lined
the sides of the hills and the rising grounds in the
neighborhood of Holyrood Palace. A few passing
showers created fears that the weather might mar
the pageant ; but, fortunately, these apprehensions
were not realized, fhe day proved fine, and all passed
off exceedingly well. The arrangements altogether
were admirable, and my old friend, Sir George
Wetherall, who had been so long in Canada, was in
command, and next day told me he was most forcibly
struck with the discipline of such large masses, the
more especially as most of them had only that morn-
ing arrived, and had no opportunity of going, as it
were, through a preliminary parade.

Next day, we proceeded to the Lakes of West-
moreland and Cumberland ; and if I pause a moment


to say a word about them, it is for the sole purpose
of inducing my friends in Canada to visit those
delightful scenes, and pass a few days in this most
interesting vicinity. Tourists from these Provinces
may not all find time to proceed as far as Palestine ;
but surely mostly every one would be able to spend
a short time at Windermere, which is not many
hours' distant by rail from Liverpool. During our
brief sojourn in the vicinity of the Lakes we made
Bowness our head-quarters ; and the day after we
arrived, we had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Rose
and part of her family. She had just arrived from
Quebec, and had much to tell us of the great pre-
parations making to welcome the Prince of Wales.

We saw every part of Windermere from the deck
of a small steamer, which sails up and down the lake
three or four times a-day. On the morning following
our excursion on this beautiful sheet of water, we
started in a carriage, which we left at a small inn,
and proceeded on foot to a very pretty waterfall,
deservedly much admired, although it appeared rather
tiny in our eyes, which had been accustomed to gaze
on the magnificent Falls of Montmorency and the
Chaudiere, in the immediate vicinity of Quebec.

We afterwards went to Grassmere and Rydal-
water : the latter is about a mile long, has two little



islands in it, and communicates with Grassmere by a
narrow channel and with Windermere by the river
Eothay. It is an enchanting spectacle, to look down
from the summit of an adjacent mountain on these
small lakes, with villas and villages scattered every-
where around. The surrounding country appears so
richly cultivated, and the background of the moun-
tains so near, that the whole picture is embraced at
once in all its splendor and loveliness. As we con-
template the glorious prospect, we can no longer feel
surprise that Wordsworth admired these scenes so
highly, and wrote so much about them. As in duty
bound, we visited the churchyard at the head of
Grassmere lake, and inspected the modest tomb of
the Poet, whose name and memory will ever be
associated with this beautiful region.

On the 16th day of August we embarked at
Liverpool on board of the " Nova-Scotian," captain
McMaster, with upwards of a hundred passengers*
The steamer remained a day at Moville, and we
were thereby enabled to pay a visit to Londonderry.
Though the rain poured down in torrents, we managed
to visit the Cathedral, the monument to Walker, and
to walk round part of the walls ; and we were thu3
enabled to say we had been in Ireland.


Our voyage across the Atlantic was pleasant
enough, and we landed in Quebec on the 26th of
August. We were all anxiety to learn how the Pro-
vince had received the Prince of Wales, and we were
highly delighted to hear, that all had been excellently
arranged, and so far well-managed. It is not my
intention to follow His Royal Highness in his course
to the Upper Province ; but, being anxious to see
him on Canadian ground, we pushed on to Montreal
We there had the pleasure of witnessing the Volunteer
Forces in that city reviewed by the Heir Apparent,
towards the latter part of the same month in which
we had seen Her Majesty inspect those of Scotland
in the Northern Metropolis ; and the same loyalty
and enthusiasm were exhibited on both occasions.

Before the end of the year, I had occasion again
to visit England ; and, arriving there in December,
I found a Canadian winter prevailing. I have thus^
within twelve months, by steamboat and railway,
travelled over about four-and-twenty thousand miles
a distance nearly equal to the circumference of our
globe. Indeed, the facilities of travelling now-a-days,
enable one to accomplish in a year what was once
considered the occupation of a life-time.

, During this latter visit, I had the gratification of
hearing the improved and flattering tone in which



men, high in power, now speak of Canada. I enjoyed
the good fortune of being present, on two occasions,
at dinners given in London to the Governor General,
Sir Edmund Head one by the Canada Club,
and one by the Lord Mayor of London. It must
have been particularly gratifying to His Excellency
to listen to the expressions uttered on the one occa-
sion, by gentlemen so intimately connected with the
interests of the Province, and, on the other, at the
Mansion House, by the Lord Mayor and several of
his numerous guests, among whom were some sixty
members of Parliament. I may not be strictly correct
in the observation, but I am pretty certain, that His
Excellency is the first Governor General of Canada
thus publicly entertained at the Mansion House,
during his tenure of office. Dinners, we well know,
are usually given, by the Lord Mayor, to Governors
General of India proceeding to the scene of their
labours ; hence, from the occurrence which I have
just recorded, we may be allowed to draw an inference
with regard to the increasing importance of these
colonies in the eyes of public men in England.

My task is now accomplished ; and, in drawing
my remarks to a close, I would strongly recommend
those who may be induced to visit Palestine to take
the same route I have done. More especially do I


recommend the voyage from England by the Bay of
Biscay ; the opportunity of visiting Gibraltar, thereby
afforded, will be fully appreciated ; and a week, spent
in this fortress, will pass quickly and pleasantly away,
serving as an excellent introduction to future scenes,
through which the traveller must pass. Again, when
Jerusalem has been attained, I would advise the
tourist, instead of returning to Jaffa as I did, to
proceed by land to Damascus ; and, if time should
permit, to visit the remarkable remains of Baalbec,
and even Palmyra, subsequently proceeding to Bey-
rout by the Lebanon.

It is scarcely possible to conclude without some
allusion to the present unsettled state of public affairs
all over the world, not merely in Europe and Asia,
but even in America. All seems perplexity and
doubt ; and what the next great change may be, or
where it is likely to happen, it would be impossible
to tell with any degree of certainty. Such a position
of affairs may appear likely to interfere with the
movements of tourists ; though the zealous traveller
is not easily daunted, and would undoubtedly meet
with due consideration and protection, except in very
wild districts or disorganized communities. To the
East, Christians, Jews and Mohammedans now look
with increasing anxiety, and many eminent men pre-


diet that great trouble and tribulation are at hand.
It is well, however, to remember that, with regard
to nations as well as individuals, all things are under
the control of a superintending Providence, without
whose permission not a sparrow falleth to the ground ;
and that, in the words of our great dramatist, which
can never be too often repeated :

u Heaven hath a hand in these events,
To whose high will we hound our calm contents



At a public dinner given at Russell's Hotel, on the
28th of December, 1858, to Yiscount Bury, His
Worship H. Langevin, Mayor of Quebec, in the
chair, His Lordship's health was proposed and most
enthusiastically received, when Mr. Forsyth, the
Vice-President, gave the next toast, and in doing so
spoke as follows :

Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, The toast I am
about to propose is so comprehensive, that I would
have been better pleased, had it fallen into more able
hands ; but before entering into any general remarks,
I may say that large and enthusiastic as this meeting
is, there would have been a perfect ovation of the
whole city, had Lord Bury arrived here in summer,
when a dinner might have been given on Durham


Terrace. But in the month of December, with the
thermometer at 20* below zero, an out-of-doors'
gathering is not exactly the thing ; and to give a
cool reception on this occasion, his Lordship has seen,
by the enthusiasm shewn in drinking his health, is
very far from our wish or desire. Long speeches
after dinner are, I know, too often irksome, but I will
be as brief as possible, although going over the ground
from Halifax to the Pacific is not to be achieved in a
paragraph. The toast I have the honor of proposing
is "Our Railways and Ocean Steamers." In my
remarks, however, I will so far review the subjects by
speaking first of our Steam Communication with
England and then on the Iron Road. No one, who
has warmly watched the effect of the large subsidy to
the Cunard line, can remain unconvinced, that Boston
and New York have wonderfully benefitted by these
Steamers ; and although receipts from the postage of
letters may pay the subsidy of the Imperial Govern-
ment, there is no good reason why the Canadian line
should not also receive Imperial assistance, seeing
they would thereby be enabled to build a fleet of
equal speed with the "Persia," and deliver their
letters at New York by the St. Lawrence route a
day sooner than by sailing for that port. As it is,
the average passage of the Canadian boats is equal to
that of the Cunard line. The St. Lawrence, with


Bayfield's Maps and with the lead going, is by no
means the dangerous river it is represented to be :
and though one Steamer has been lost by the, I may
say, infatuation of the Pilot, when the Lighthouse
was in full brilliancy before him, such a catastrophe
ought not to be used as an argument of the danger of
our navigation. Placed, as we are, so much nearer to
Galway than New York, we do hope that, with the
great advantage of our railways to the far West, the
Galway line, in which your Lordship takes such
interest, will not only be subsidised by the Imperial
but by the Canadian Government, making Quebec or
Montreal in summer, and St. Johns in winter, your
ports of destination. I by no means look to the
Galway line as ruinous to the Canadian Ocean Com-
pany ; for I feel satisfied that, ere long, the whole
emigrant traffic will be by the St. Lawrence, if the
Grand Trunk give those facilities they propose doing ;
and, instead of forwarding the emigrants like so
many sheep or oxen, will study their comfort, and
give them breathing time in their long journey from
this to the Upper Province and the far West. On
the inter -Colonial Railroad I will only say that
the importance of St. Johns in New Brunswick has
never, in my opinion, been sufficiently estimated ;
with one of the finest harbors in the world always
accessible and, by Woodstock, not much more dis-


tant from Quebec than Portland, with only 1 80 miles
from Woodstock to Trois Pistoles or Riviere du Loup;
and with the road all completed to the Bay of Fundy
from Woodstock, I do confess that it appears passing
strange that the New Brunswick and Canada Rail-
way which, through good report and bad report, has
steadily held on its course, and every year, and during
times of great difficulty, built from 10 to 20 miles of
road should never have had that measure of assist-
ance from the Legislature of that Province, which
would hasten its completion to Trois Pistoles or
Riviere du Loup. I will not take up the time
of the company by going into any detail of the
Northern route ; but the saving of some 300 or 400
miles in connecting the Grand Trunk with an ocean
terminus, is greatly in favor of the line by Woodstock;
and the bug-bear of running so close to the American
boundary has no force when it is considered that
Riviere du Loup, where the Grand Trunk now termi-
nates, is within half a day's journey of the frontier ;
and when it is farther borne in mind that from Cornwall
to Kingston the river is the boundary. In case of
war with the States, we could not place too great
reliance on the railway, although, as a military high-
way, it would always be more or less favorable to
the movement of troops. Looking, therefore, to
the Grand Trunk being extended to St. Johns as

. 173

the common-sense and most practical route, I will
now call your attention to what is going to be the
great fact of the present age : I mean of course, the
Pacific Railway. The Isthmus of Darien has always
been of great political and commercial importance.
So long ago as the time of Sir Walter Raleigh, he
looked to its possession as the greatest blow to Spain ;
and it is at this moment as much coveted by the
States, as it was in those early days by England ; and
no one who watches the course matters are taking at
this moment but sees that, sooner or later, it will be
under the protectorate of the States, which consider,
even now, that, though they may with impunity land
troops for the protection of travellers, such a pro-
ceeding, on the part of England, France, or Spain,
would be a good "casus belli." Of equal importance
is the Isthmus of Suez ; and it has always been so
considered in both ancient and modern days. Napo-
leon, during his stay in Egypt, was exceedingly
anxious to construct a canal to connect the Red Sea
with the Mediterranean. His successor, the present
Emperor, is equally solicitous ; and by what we read
in the newspapers, we may soon expect to see such a
work commenced. Both Emperors looked at Egypt
as the high road to India and China, and in the many
complications of European politics, we know that
England ^is obliged to watch them with feverish


anxiety : but let this magnificent project be fairly
undertaken by the Imperial Government, and what
is it to England, who owns those hitherto important
strips of land, in what state of health the sick man
may be, or who may be ascendant in Turkey ? What
will it be to her who commands the overland route in
Europe, when on this continent she has a railroad
wholly on her own territory? A way to the East
through America is no new idea, for in the early
settlement of this Province by the French, a Jesuit,
when proceeding upwards from Montreal, and seeing
the debouche of the Ottawa River, exclaimed,
"That is the route to China;" and hence the
name of the spot where he was standing, is called
Lachine, to this day. The Quebec Board of Trade
last winter, sent a petition to the Legislature begging
them to call on the Imperial Government to com-
mence this great work shewing that in the possession
of the Island of Vancouver alone, and in lands on the
Pacific, the means might be obtained of covering the
expense, large as it may be ; and showing how, by
the sale of lands, the State of Illinois has built
a large line of railway ; but no action was taken on
this petition, and although I wrote to many intimate
friends, I could not get one to bring it forward. But
what, seven or eight months ago, was thought a delu-
sion and a dream, is, thanks to the timely discovery


of the gold fields on Frazer's River, now the leading-
topic of every paper one takes up, English, American
or Canadian. What better use could be made of
this great discovery, than to make it subserve to
the construction of this Railway? and the Imperial
Government has in its hands this new Colony, which
under proper management would defray the whole
cost. Taking Pembroke on the Ottawa, or Peterboro'
on the Trent, as the starting point, we will have
2500 to 3000 miles to the Pacific, and allowing
8000 stg. ^ mile, the whole cost would be twenty-
four millions sterling, a large sum indeed; but when
one remembers that by the overland route to India
every soldier costs 100, and that this is becoming
the favourite way of sending troops : and when one
thinks of the great saving that would have been made
by the Imperial and Indian Governments during the
last twelve months, had Calcutta been within 30 to
35 days' journey from London, by a road over which
troops and munitions of war could have been sent to
any extent, one is at once convinced that the saving
alone would have gone far in making the whole road.
Montalembert's eloquent appeal has made him a name
in every quarter of the globe ; and so far, I am sure,
his appeal will find favor in the eyes of both Houses
of Parliament ; but there is one part I want to men-
tion, which is full of significance, and bears strongly on


the subject I allude to that pertaining to the future
of England, and pointing out the danger she is
exposed to from the despotic powers of Europe ; if
that day should come, which God forbid, that this
bulwark of liberty should be invaded

" If the blast of war be blown in her ears,"

of what mighty import would this road be when a
quarter of a million of troops from India could stand
shoulder to shoulder on English ground with her
defenders ! Would not such a road, built altogether
on British territory, be of more importance to England
than the overland route by India, with hostile fleets
at every point, and perhaps Egypt in hostile hands,
while here, we could concentrate the whole navy at
the Home, the Halifax, and the Pacific stations?
The times are singularly propitious, for we have Earl
Derby, and his gifted son, Lord Stanley, who have
been in Canada, and know and appreciate it well ;
we have Sir John Packington, who also was over the
whole Province; and though it has been the wish of
some to represent him as hostile to our roads, from
some unfortunate misunderstanding with Mr. Hincks,
he, I know, is personally most anxious to forward
every Canadian enterprise. When I last saw him in
London, he declared to me his anxiety to do all in his
power to aid our railways. In the Colonial Secretary
we have one who will glory in associating his name


with this magnificent project, which will virtually
make these Provinces no longer outsiders, but incor-
porate them with the nation ; and we look to you,
'my Lord, as the pioneer in the Lower House, while
in Lord Elgin we have a kind friend in the Upper.
Brilliant as has been his embassy to China and Japan,
his mission is not yet finished ; and he, who had much
to do in co-operation with Mr. Hincks in giving us a
line of railway from one end of the province to the
other, must give a helping hand to continue it to the
Pacific ; and I know nothing that will make the
inhabitants of China and Japan entertain respect for
us more than seeing steamers daily plying between
Victoria and their respective countries. Canada has
not only most powerful advocates in both Houses of
Parliament, but she is singularly represented at the
Horse Guards, Sir C. Yorke, Sir R. Airey, and Sir
Gr. Wetherall being all Canadians in feeling, and we
know that military authorities have a great deal to
say on all points connected with such national under-
takings. We have also powerful advocates in the
fourth estate, as the editor of the Times was here a
couple of years ago; and this very summer Charles
Mackay, of the Illustrated News, in this room
pledged himself, when opportunity offered, to give a
helping hand to this great work. Chinese labour
could at once be made available, and when one con-



siders the difficulty that must force itself on the rulers
of India in the sullen and disarmed Sepoy, requiring
to be watched equally with him who has arms in his
hands, what a solution of the difficulty arises from the
ease with which they may be employed as railway
laborers ! It is only politically I have been speaking
of this great road, which if undertaken by England
without any reference to the States, will become their
line as well as ours ; for no one in England would
give a sixpence to form an American line to compete
with the road made by the English nation. By all
means let us give free use to the Americans for their
traffic to California and the East, but let it be solely,
entirely, and absolutely a British road, under British
control ; and such will be its importance that it will
be the best guarantee for lasting peace, when the
States know it will be protected by the whole force
of the Empire, and by troops simultaneously from the
west and from the east. When one reflects that every
port on both sides of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
would become an emporium of trade for the Atlantic
board, and be forwarded to and from these ports to
California and India by railway ; and when one thinks
of the importance that would attach to Quebec, Mon-
treal, Halifax and St. Johns, we cannot over-estimate
the benefits to this part of the Continent. But, large
as they are, they pale before the fact that London,


Liverpool and Manchester would be within a few
weeks of the whole Pacific; and the advantages to
England surpass, in the language of the author of
Vivian Grey, u the crude conceptions of a dream."
Canada without Imperial aid has done much in begin-
ning this great chain of communication. Let us hope
England will decide at once that the road shall be
built ; give it out for immediate contract to the great
capitalists of Great Britain, pledging the gold fields
on'Frazer's River as the consideration : but let it be
done while New Caledonia belongs to the empire,
and before she has a busy population to thwart this
magnificent enterprise. Let the rulers in England
recollect that the surveying of the line to Halifax, ex-
cellent though it may be, required as long a period as
was actually consumed in making the road from Lake
Huron to Quebec, taking the distance into account.
Let this road therefore be offered at once to public
tender, at so much a mile, and with the gold fields
and Vancouver's Island as the lever, the men and
means can soon be found in London to undertake the
whole, giving the government the right of passage for
mails, troops and munitions of war, without any direct
charge for the same. Some short time ago we
entertained the "Hero of Kars," and all honor to him
and others, who like him and the gallant soldier * on

* Col. Monroe, C.B., of the 39th Kegiment.



your left, and others who have " proudly dared" in
fighting the battles of our country ; but laurels are to
be won by you and by others in the British parlia-
ment, no less than by you, Mr. Mayor, and those
around me, in our own Legislature, who will be the
pioneers of this great conquest of the desert, making
it smile as the rose. I was called sanguine when I
had the honor, at a large meeting, to move the first
resolution of the Quebec and Richmond railway. I
was called sanguine when, at a most stormy meeting
in the City Hall, I also moved the first resolution of
the road to Trois Pistoles, and prognosticated its
speedy fulfilment ; and I have no doubt I will be
now called sanguine when I state my deliberate con-

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Online LibraryJames Bell ForsythA few months in the East : or, A glimpse of the Red, the Dead, and the Black seas → online text (page 9 of 10)