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The Englishman in Canada, a satire online

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was very little indeed. Finally, " those who go down to the sea in
ships," were invited to solve the difficulty, which they speedily did,
under the leadership of the Hon. Joseph Betterterms, of Nova
Scotia, a crafty old statesman, well known in all the adjacent colo-
nies, and who had been for a long time previously looking about
for sufficient fresh water to enable him to discover the visages of
his friends and constituents. The arrangement agreed upon was
that the most needy of the colonies should form a ring and draw from
Upper Canada a quantity of water in proportion to their respec-
tive populations, and in return send their representatives with
clean hands and faces to a Parliament to be held at an out of
the way place called " Ottawa.'* I should have said before that
all the trouble and agitation that disturbed the peace and har-
mony between the two Canadas for many years, was kept alive,
if not altogether caused, by Hon. Mr. Repbypop,* a politician
who wielded great influence over a large portion of the peo-
ple of Upper Canada by means of magic balls which he circulated
amongst them. These balls were of such a peculiar composi-
tion that they possessed the power of making everybody who
looked at them with an eye of faith, see reflected on them the
exact image of every grievance that Mr. Repbypop had breathed
on them before they left his laboratory. Those images were
indellibly impressed upon the retina of each disciple's eye, and
they not only gave himself pain, but they were so offensive to
his neighbour who worship])ed at another shrine that a constant
fire of arguments and dissensions was kept up, till at length the
feeling ran so high that it was found necessary to call in the wily
Mr. Betterterms to make peace and restore order. But after a
while the harmony became too monotonous, and it was discovered
that on account of the length of time that had elapsed since the
Nova Scotians had used a liberal supply ot water, (hence known as
the Blue Noses j) the quantity furnished by U])])er Canada was not
sufficient to clear away the debris of geological deposits that had
accumulated to an uncommon dept'n, and an increased supply was
demanded by Mr. Betterterms, not only for his own colony but for
the others as well, which was readily granted. Since those people
have learnt the value of the refreshing waters of Lake Ontario they
will insist on getting more copious supplies from year to year, till
the source is completely drained, a contingency not at all improb-
able, as there are acqueducts conveying the inestimable treasure to
nearly a dozen places.

* I. e. Representation by Population.



.l8 THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.

The colonists are very excitable, and on the slightest pretext
will work themselves up into a state of incandescence without
having the remotest idea of the relationship connecting the cause
and the effect of their phrensy. Party feeling (they call it poli-
tics,) is carried to the utmost limit of absurdity : persons who in
other respects get credit for possessing the ordinary common
sense, such as colonists usually have, •will indulge in the most
extravagant and silly conduct towards each other, and one would
sometimes be tempted to suppose that even the domestic animals
are imbued with the same spirit of political contempt for one
another that • their owners exhibit. As it takes two to make a
quarrel, the colonists have divided themselves into two parties :
the Manapures and the Spherocrats, whose sole aim in life seems
to be to hold up to public execration, ridicule and distrust, those
rascals whom tlie op]>osite party brings forward to represent it in
Parliament. It is a singular t^ing that for many years past the
very worst types of humanity have been elected as members of
Parliament ; they appeal to be the most consummate rascals, the
most expert thieves, the most accomplished black-legs, and the
most impudent trami)S, that anywhere encumber the earth. Some
are "steeped to the lips in corruption," others' "sins are rank and
smell to Heaven ;'' they seem to be the embodiment of all that is
villainous ; the concentrated essence of all that is criminal ; the
acme of abomination, and tlie Uitiina Thule of immorality. Such
is the substance of the character given oi the public men of Canada
by their biographers, as chronicled in the opposite organs of public
opinion, and if all that has been recorded be true, we cannot but
wonder at the patience of a lor. g-suffe ring Providence that does
not cause the earth to open and swallovv' them up. To foster and
keep up this internecine warfare, eacii j)arty supports a powerful
Press, which is kept employed day and night in defending its own
side, and ferreting out all that is vile, stale and unsavoury about
their opponents. The Spherocrats accuse the Manapures of con-
duct that has a tendency to drive the colony to destruction, by
prohibiting hunters and trappers from other countries from coming
in to kill off the wild bea.sts that overrun the country, except on
the condition that a coloni.st must accompany each hunter to load
and point the rifle at the game, and all that the sportsman will be
permitted to do will be to pull the trigger and see the victim fall.
By this slow and unheard of mode of hunting, they argue, the
number of animals destroyed will be so small in proportion to the
ratio of increase, that in a few years the wild beast's will have become
so numerous that the colony will have to be abandoned, and the
people have to "go west."

On the other hand, the Manapures charge that the Spherocrats
want to level all the fences and barriers that surround the colony,
and allow, not only the foreip:n huntsmen, but the foreign wild



THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.



19



beasts as well, to invade the Canadian hunting grounds, which, it
is held, are quite limited enough for the exclusive use of the
colonists themselves, and that the foreign hunters would pick out
the valuable animals only, such as the deer and kangaroo for their
flesh, the elephant and walrus for their ivory, and the squirrel and
the mole for their furs, while the destructive animals would be left
unmolested, such as lions, tigers, prairie dogs, and that sanguinary
and gluttonous bird the woodchat, whose number would be aug-
mented by accessions from ov.tside, as the wild beasts from foreign
places would certainly flock in on account of some irresistable
attraction said to exist in Canada. Under a state of things as thus
pictured the country would soon become a veritable jungle of ter-
rors, and the people would have to "go west" for safety to the
place the ferocious beasts came from. But in order to prevent
such depiorable results, the Manapures advocate the planting of a
hedge round about the colony, and placing sentinels at proper
distances to guard against intrusion from abroad, except on the
conditions named, but whether such a scheme will have the desired
effect remains to be proved by the test of experience.

I have read somewhere of a genius who invented a form of
religion for his followers, and amongst other things enjoined strict
cleanliness as the most important part of it. The Manapures pro-
fess to practice that Islamitic right with unwavering austerity, and
proclaim with a thousand tongues how faithfully and rigorously
they perform their ablutions from the rising of the sun even to the
going down thereof — and sometimes rise in the night to bathe —
particularly their hands, which they hold out to, and ask a skeptical
world to admire, as emblems of purity, cleanliness and impecca-
bility. But, notwithstanding those protestations of manifest piety,
the Spherocrats scoff at them, and maintain that it is physically
impossible for those who are incessantly catapulting so much foul
matter at their opponents as they allege the Manapures are doing,
to have clean hands and an unsullied epidermis, and that if their
hands appear to be without stains, it is not because they are really
so, but because they have undergone a process of kalsomining with
ladies' toilet powder, by which the defilement is covered up, but
not removed.

For themselves, the Spherocrats claim to be inspired by a micro-
cosm who has the largest conceivable footing for his ideas to rest
upon, and that upon such an expansive basis it is impossible to
make a false s ep, as the area of the foundation is sufficient to
cover up any chasms or fissures that might be produced at any
time by gaseus convulsions in their political economy. This certi-
ficate of character is disputed by the Manapures. They contend
that the broad basis for their movements is the most pernicious
feature in that economy, as it is a law of large bodies to move
slowly, except when actuated by some unerring principle to move



20 THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.

faster, theirs cannot be an exception to the rule, as the unerring
principle, (which they claim to be exclusively their own,) is wanting,
and that before the necessary momentum can be applied to their
microcosm the world will have shot so far in advance of their
position that they will never be able to overtake it, no matter how
long or rapid their strides may be. So that from that stand-point
it will be seen that their great footing is their great hindrance to
keeping pace with the times.

For several months before the elections come off a series of
fetes-champetre are organized, (called " Pic-nics " here, because the
speakers pick each other's characters to pieces and do the work of
Old Nick generally,) the people assemble in some grove, like the
Druids of old, where refreshments are provided, consisting of
whiskey, pemmican, and such other delicacies as the tastes of the
caterers may suggest, but the principal dish is pemmican. It may
not be generally known what pemmican is, and to enlighten the
minds of those who are ignorant of that important fact^ I will
describe it. A deer is killed and afterwards beaten with clubs till
all the bones are mashed to the consistency of jelly, and the skin
loosened from the flesh, so that it slips off easily at the proper time,
but before removing the skin the whole mass, beaten into a pulp,
is roasted or barbacued before an open fire, and when cooked it is
served up to the free and independent electors and their families^
who enjoy the feast so well that they make it the topic of conver-
sation in the family circle for several months afterwards.

Pemmican is much like Scotch haggis, with the difference that
instead of a deer a sheep is used for the haggis, and instead of the
carcass of the sheep being cooked in its skin, like that of the deer,
the stomach is removed, and the whole body, skin and all, is sewed
up in it, being first well seasoned with whiskey, and in that condi-
tion cooked and served up as the " king of the puddin' race," the
wool attached to the skin giving it that peculiar flavour which is
confined to the haggis alone, and so much prized by the Scotch.
Pemmican is an Indian corruption of " American." When the
savages first began to eat roast Americans they could not articulate
that name distinctly, but came as near it as they could by saying,
memican, and after a while the name of their peculiar feast
became established as pemmican — which is also applied to the
deer preparation.

The free and independent electors having partaken of the good
cheer, an instrument popularly called " The Stump," is brought
forth with much ceremony, from a van in which it is carried from
place to place, and set up in the midst of the throng, when the
speakers mount it one by one, and during several hours declaim
about the wickedness of their opponents' vices, and the saintliness
of their own virtues. The stump is a Yankee invention — a kind
of psychological battery, so constructed that when a person stands



THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA. 2i

upon it a species of galvanism is evolved, and an electro-magnetic
current presses into his system by which every motive, action,
word, feeling and inmost thought of his political enemies, are
laid before his mind's eye in luminous pages, as in a mirror, and
gives him a fluency and command of speech which enable him to
depict the hideous monstrousness of their political turpitude in a
way that stump orators alone can do justice to. His listeners stand
appalled at such fearful revelations about men whom they had
hitherto looked upon as harmless and law-abiding citizens, but
whom they now perceive to have been nothing but loathsom/^
lepers and whitened sepulchres.



1



22 THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA,



CHAPTER IV.



I may also remark before going further, that although I have
not yet seen any savages or wild beasts, which is due to the com-
plete seclusion from dangerous encounters that I have maintained
since my arrival in this primitive colony, still every place is literally
overrun with them. After night-fall the wolves swarm in countless
numbers through the streets, and lions, kangaroos, and hippo-
potami, skulk from their hidmg-places, and prowl about the lanes
and back-yards, perching on fences and roofs of houses, and making
night hideous with their blood-curdling screams. I have often
heard them directly under my windows, screaming and howling,
thirsting for my blood no doubt, till I fancied the end of the world
had come, and the inmates of Pandemonium had been let loose,
but as all the windows and doors were securely locked and barred,
I felt comparatively safe. 1 feel quite convinced that if I had
ventured outside the house in the dark my life would not be worth
a moment's purchase, that is, until I had acquired the instincts of
the savage and the beast, the same as the colonists have done, and
then I could adopt the same cunning means that they do for self-
preservation. The best proof of the uncivilized state of this colony,
and of the existence of an array of wild animals — unheard of in
Europe — is in the display made in all conspicuous places like
Paris, Vienna, London, &c., of the skins of those animals, Indian
handiwork, and photographs of winter scenes, thus unwittingly lead-
ing the outside world into a knowledge of what the colon^ is noted
for, viz., savages, wild beasts and icebergs : and it also demon-
strates the fact that it is still a hfe struggle between the white man
and the savage, with the odds in favour of the savage, and that no
man of ordinary intelligence would for a moment think of making
such a country his home.

Besides the wild cnimals, the very air we breathe in this color y
is fraught with instruments of destruction. There are queer, tinv
birds, flying about on dark summer nights, that have fiery, or lumi-
nous eyes which scintillate like twinkling stars, every time they
wink their eyeUds. The effect is very pretty when viewed from a
safe distance, and some fool-hardy people venture out in their
midst sometimes, but I never would allow myself to be inveigled
into doing anything so rash while engaged in the cause of science
and philanthropy. Those minute creatures are a source of great



THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.



23



danger, and may, for aught that can be said to the contrary, be the
agents employed to destroy the world when the end comes, and I
have not the slightest doubt that that agency will be found in this
country, for to my mind it could not be produced in a more fitting
place. The luminosity in those birds is produced by a vitreo-
electric battery, situated where the crystalline humour is in other
birds, and this battery, when the bird is excited, emits sparks that
set buildings and trees on fire, and cause innumerable incendiarisms
that are attributed to spontaneous combustion. For some reason,
not explained by naturalists, a deadly feud sometimes breaks out
amongst them, when they divide into two parties, like politicians
before an election, and fight desperately for several hours, and during
the engagement the woods are set on fire and great damage is done
by the conflagrations thus produced. In many parts of the colony
the forest is charred and blackened for hundreds of miles in every
direction by the fires set by those creatures. I have not witnessed
any of those contests myself, but the modus operandi was described
to me by my noble friend, Baron Von Nebelicht,* who had found
himself in the midst of such a scene the night after he arrived in
Canada. He had been spending the evening at the saloon of his
friend Count Zweilager, where they had a social chat about the
Vaterland together, and some Limburger cheese and beer, and
on his way back to his lodgings, he saw the fiery conflict going
on around and about him, and was so overcome by the phenome-
non that he fell in a swoon, from which he did not recover till the
sun was high in the heavens on the following day. They present
the appearance of fire flying in the air, and hence are locally called
"fire-flies."

Not only are there elements of danger to the unwary traveller
on the solid earth and in the circumambient air of this obnoxious
colony, but the waters everywhere teem with hideous amphibious
monsters, whose voices are like distant thunder, and so terrible is
their roar that it makes the stoutest heart quail, as it has often
made mine. Many have grown to an immense size, and some
fossil remains have been found and exhibited under the name of
the great " mastodon," but their average size is that of an ox, and
hence called " bull-frogs," and in Spring when they emerge from
their winter haunts, they are extremely blood-thirsty, and devour
almost any living thing that comes within their reach — cattle as
well as men falling victims to their rapacity. Many of the pecu-
liarities of this wonderful quadruped are treated of at length
by Mr. ^sop and Mr. Mark Twain, in their celebrated works
upon the " Influence of Batrachian Development upon Emulative
Forces."

The winters are very severe in Canada, and the fall of snow is
unequalled in any part of the world known to our learned Society.

* Nebelicht — hazy, foggy.



24 THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.

The inhabitants have their roads usually on the top of the snow,
until it accumulates to a depth of about twenty feet, but after that
they have to excavate passages sub-nives^ and establish travelling
facilities by means of electricity generated by a Yankee process,
which is very simple. A battery is placed at a given point where
two roads cross each other, and an electric bolt is shot from it to
the next crossing on each of these roads, and in its transit the
heat radiating from it melts the snow, and a tunnel is formed fifteen
feet in diameter — large enough for horses and carriages to pass
through. The light coming through the arched snow roof is a little
dim, but it is equal to that which we have in the British Isles in
fine weather. This state of things seemed to me at first incredible
till assured of the fact by my illustrious friend, the Marquis de Bag-
uenaudier, who had spent the past winter in Canada, hunting and
fishing — and returned home to Paris early in the summer, being
too much disgusted with the wretched colony to prolong his stay.

One or two instances of his experience in Canada, which he
related to me, were very remarkable. On one occasion he was
hunting in the woods at a place called Gaspe' Bay, somewhere in
Lower Canada, and having run short of ammunition he started for
Montreal, some miles distant, for supplies, drawn by a little French
pony in a cariole, a vehicle peculiar to that part of the country,
but before he had proceeded far a violent snow storm set in, which
made the road almost impassable, and towards noon he drew up
near an auberge, which he saw at a little distance from the highway
on the side of a ravine, at a place called Bay Chaleur, (but origi-
ginally called " Bashaw leurre" because one of the Bashaws of
Turkey had been lured to go there to form a colony, and perished
in the snow.) The Marquis tied his horse to a stake alongside the
road, and went into the inn to warm and refresh himself, and get
a feed for his horse too. But while taking a glass of absinthe and
bitters, the storm suddenly changed to a warm rain that came
down in torrents for an hour, and after the clouds had cleared
away and the weather got fine, he went out to his horse, but the
animal was no where to be seen, neither was the stake to which
he had tied it^ but instead thereof stood a massive church, which
he had not previously noticed. He wondered very much at the
transformation that had taken place in so short a time, and on
looking up to the top of the church there he saw his horse and
carriage dangling alongside the steeple, the horse being fastened
by the halter to the top of it, where he had tied him, supposing it
to be a stake of the fence, the snow having melted away in the
interval. As there was no other way of getting the horse down
from the dizzy height, the Marquis drew his revolver, fired, and
cut the halter with the bullet, and the horse and vehicle glided
down gracefully and unharmed into a deep snow bank.

DeBaguenaudier jumped into his cariole and the horse started



THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.



25



off at a brisk pace, which it kept up till a dense wood was reached,
out of which an enormous wolf sprang upon the poor horse and
began to devour it. The driver searched for his revolver, but to
his horror discovered that he did not put it into his pocket when
he was at the church, so he sat quietly and watched the wolf eating
the animal, and making its way, step by step, into the harness, till
the whole of the pony had disappeared, and just at the moment
the wolf was in the act of taking the last morsel, the Marquis sud-
denly pulled the bit into its mouth, gave it a sharp cut of the whip
and off it went with great swiftness, guided by the reins, along the
road for several miles, till it came to an abrupt turn in the road,
where the carriage came in contact with a tree, the harness broke,
and the wolf escaped into the woods.

At a little distance he saw a cordonniet's boutique^ into which he
entered and sat on the shoemaker's bench while relating his adven-
tures. Having rested sufficiently he resumed his journey on foot,
but before going far he saw a huge rabbit, the size of a St. Bernard's
dog, rushing towards him. with malice aforethought. He had no
weapon, and in his efforts to find something wherewith to defend
himself he found a large ball of wax adhering to his clothes, that
had been lying on the shoemaker's bench when he sat on it ; this
he snatched up anr' threw at the furious rabbit, striking it in the
forehead betweer the eyes, and jumped to one side, just in time
to escape a fatai blow. After the enemy had passed him, he saw
another one coming in the opposite direction on the same errand
as the first ; the momentum of the two brutes»was so great that they
could not arrest their speed before they came into collision and
struck their foreheads with powerful force. The wax that had
stuck to the first one now cemented the two together so adhesively
that the Marquis was able to despatch them both before they could
extricate themselves, and he was thus preserved from a violent
death, both in front and rear. One of the skins he forwarded to
her Majesty, Queen Victoria, and the other to the President of
the French, as trophies of his hunting tour through Canada.

As there was nothing at Halifax to engage or merit the attention
of a man of my position, engaged in the cause of science and phi-
lanthopy, I took my place on a Pullman car, (called " Pullman "
because there is an officer of distinction on board to pull off the
passengers' boots before they turn into their berths for the night,)
and took no further notice of the wilderness through which we
passed till we arrived at a place called Levis, opposite an old for-
tress standing on a pile of rocks on the north side of a river.
There are several places along the line of the Intercolonial Rail-
way where the colonists go in the summer season, to undergo a
mild process of pickling in the salt water — such as Cacouna, noted
for the great number of "coons" that congregate there ; opposite
to which is the country seat of that Galway gentleman who spent



26 THE ENGLISHMAN IN CANADA.

a season there, Mr. Thaddeus Sack — whom those boors of colo-
nists called Tadousac — a name still applied to the mansion, and,
as usual, spoiling a good name : and in their detestable patois they
call a river that empties into the St. Lawrence there, " Sack-un-ne',"
or rather Saguenay, to make it appear that the esteemed Mr. Sack
had been born on the banks of their insignificant stream instead of


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Online Librarypseud MACThe Englishman in Canada, a satire → online text (page 3 of 7)