Page images

be neglected when a jaunt into the country is proposed. A cockney steps into a postchaise when he makes an excursion from London,-drives twenty miles into the country to some favourite spot-orders dinner at the inn,-takes his amusement, and returns when he feels an inclination. In all this business, he is a very passive kind of animal. Now, here, if you wish to go into the country, you must literally be active ;-you must study the tides, procure boats and men to manage them, carry your dinner and drink with you, act the part of cook yourself frequently ;-all this, however, serves, I think, to make these little excursions the more amusing.

We went up the St. Lawrence with the tide and a strong breeze, and landed in the mouth of the Chaudiere. It is so full of rocks and rapids that you cannot sail up it; and the banks are so steep and full of wood that they admit of no path to the fall. It is situated about three miles from where the Chaudiere joins the St. Lawrence; and it is necessary to make a circuit of a few miles in order to get to it. Part of our way was easy enough, as there

is a road cut through the wood; but the greater part is very difficult, as you are obliged to find your way through a Avood where there is no road, nor any visible path to direct you,—at least that I could discern. However, some of the party had been there before; and were, besides,somewhat acquainted with the art of travelling in a wood.

It is surprising what new light experience throws on this way of travelling. An Indian or a Canadian voyageur, will discern a path or tract where others have passed, and follow it for many days, where you and I never would have imagined a human being had passed before. Those accustomed to travelling in the woods acquire a dexterity m discovering footsteps, truly surprising. The fallen leaves, where I could discover no vestige, shew, to an experienced traveller, infallible marks of it. They are frequently aided by the underwood 'in finding the route already taken;— a branch broken in a certain manner, or, the branches twisted, or put into' unnatural situations, indicate that some one had passed that way. By their acuteness in

these matters, the Indians follow either foes or friends through extensive forests with as much certainty as the fox-hound follows the fox. If they expect to be followed by their friends, they leave certain unequivocal marks behind them. They break the underwood at every step in a particular manner, and notch the trees as they pass along. :

If an Indian or Canadian voyageur wishes to make a journey to any particular place, to which there is no known tract; he goes into the woods without the smallest dread; he makes a straight course, and will, after many days journey, reach his destination, without a compass, through woods that perhaps never before had been trodden by the foot of man. They tell you, that by narrowly observing the trees, they discover certain marks which indicate to them the points of the compass, even though the sun should be obscured by thick weather. They never lose their presence of mind, as those do who are not accustomed to travelling in the woods. For my part, had I been left alone, after penetrating into the Chaudiere wood a few miles, I doubt

much whether I ever could have found my way out again.

There was an instance, not long ago, of a person belonging to Quebec having lost his party who were going to see the Falls. He was never more heard of. It was supposed that he had wandered in the wood till his strength failed him, and that he had fallen a sacrifice to famine. This idea is confirmed from the circumstance of a human skeleton having since been found in the wood. He was a strong, healthy, young man.

It is very well known in this country (from a number of people having from time to time lost their way in the woods, but who accidentally found it again), that the mind- undergoes a wonderful change when you find you have lost all traces of your way. A kind of delirium comes on-perhaps the effect of fear. The person is no longer capable of using his accustomed sagacity, and profiting from his own experience. Objects which might have pointed out to him his way, are passed by unnoticed; he often wanders in a circle while he supposes himself pursuing a straight line. Sometimes, after wandering a whole day, he finds himself within a short distance from his own house, when he thought himself many miles from it; and vice versa.

A gentleman lately told me, that he went into the woods in Upper Canada with his gun, in the near neighbourhood of his own house. In pursuing his game he penetrated deeper into the wood than he had been accustomed to do, and finally lost himself. He did not know which way to go; he persevered however, in hopes of getting to some part of the country which he knew; he travelled the whole day without knowing where he was, and without the least appearance of an inhabited country. Overcome with fatigue of body and distraction of mind (for he had left a wife , and family at home), he sat down in de

spair. After sitting some time, he thought he discerned a house through the trees at some distance ;-he started up,—and made towards it. Conceive his astonishment, his joy-it was his own house: he thought himself at least forty miles from it. In fact, he had been travelling all day in a circle, and often in places which he might have known, had his mind been tranquil, and possessing

« PreviousContinue »