Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

“ With all these advantages," said Lady Hester, smiling, “ I positively intend—not to shut myself up in a convent, and therefore do not look so very much alarmed, any dear sir—but to travel in America privately, and to seek for enjoyment only in the study of her sublimities, in meditation with my own heart, and in tranquil intercourse with my two or three travelling companions, one of whom I am sure will be—the Earl of Wilton, my accommodating papa. “ No such thing, Hester !” cried the Earl.

66 What enjoyment should I have, do you think, going about a great wilderness ? and America after all is little better; I see nothing to admire in American scenery more than in English scenery, not I-one place is as good as another for me; besides, there have been some important changes lately in the English cabinet, and I wish very much to go to London ; Lord R—– writes to say that he desires to consult with me on certain diplomatic movements in which I am particularly interested; and there is my steward in Huntingdonshire, too, wishes to see me, and—”

“ Oh, you will easily get over all these obstacles," said Lady Hester ; “ you positively must stay with me at least six months longer, papa, and by the end of that period—”

“ You will be ready to accompany me back to Eng. land,” said the Earl.

Lady Hester smiled, and neither assented to or denied this conclusion of her sentence.

“ Well, the next six months will include the winter season," said the Earl, taking that into consideration. “ How do yo:i propose to plan your tour, and what places

will you first visit? If I remain it will solely be to pleasure you, and therefore I shall consider myself entitled to a leading voice on the question. I propose that you spend a month at Kingston, a month at Montreal, a month at Quebec; and then suppose you give a month to Niagara, and pass the other two months on the great lakes."

This arrangement, with some minor alterations, was immediately adopted by Lady Hester. It was about the middle of November when she took leave of Mrs. Markham and the Governor, and, with her young sister, the governess, and the Earl, left the infant capital of Upper Canada in a small vessel that had been commodiously and elegantly fitted up for their use. Lady Hester never remembered to have seen more delightful weather, and she could not avoid comparing the month of November here with the foggy November of England. The beauties of the summer season, which had declined in October under heavy rains, were now all revived; the shores were lively and luxuriant, the sky cloudless, the sun peculiarly bright, but mild in point of heat, and the air of a delicious temperature. So charming always is the revival of nature here in this month, and so remarkable, that it has obtained the name of the Indian Summer.

The voyagers were passing out of the entrance channel of the harbour, which had two and a half fathoms of smooth water, when they fixed their parting looks on Toronto. The Earl pointed out to Letitia the parliament-house and offices, a fine pile of buildings which fronted the lake, and amused himself with asking and answering her questions concerning the history and prospects of the town, expressing himself pleased with the

[ocr errors]

observations she had made there, and charging her to be equally attentive in the places to which they were going. He then sat down under the awning spread on deck, and engaged himself with the politics of a high tory newspaper of London, an occasional glance at the scenery around quite satisfying him, until he forgot it altogether, completely absorbed in a speech of his friend Lord Ron the Irish Church question.

Lady Hester could not take a final look of the receding town without dwelling upon the thought that she had left the lifeless body of her husband there. She conti asted her arrival with her departure, and scarcely could her mind realise the change that had occurred. When she looked toward her father she almost expected to see the Colonel in health and spirits by his side. Many, and self-accusing, were the reflections which crowded on her, and she drew her black crape veil over her face to conceal her emotions from notice.

The harbour was now far behind, and the vast surface of the lake, plated in different parts as with gold, spread itself out around the neat pleasure-vessel, without a barrier to the view. No waters in the world can excel, or hardly equal, those of the Canadian lakes for transparency and beauty of colour; and when seen as now, studded over with steam-vessels, timber-rafts, and canoes, beneath a pure blue sky, they form a lovely and animated spectacle on which the eye of taste might long gaze with unwearied delight. The travellers proceeding, the lake deepened to within fifty and a hundred fathoms, and the refractions on the surface appeared uncommonly fine. Letitia cried out in an ecstasy of admiration, per.. ceiving small verdant islands and trees inverted over the

green mirror, and the snowy surf of the distant beach on either hand elevated in the air, driving along like the white smoke of artillery, while fountains and walls of water were rising to a considerable height in the horizon, pouring down glittering streams. The shores were in some parts low, formed into meadows of rich verdure, or covered with woods of pine, fir, and cedar trees, having a chain of hills behind; in others precipitous and bold, but always rich to a wonder in vegetation of that large growth peculiar to transatlantic scenery. As evening advanced, the fishing-boats in the numerous creeks and bays, with their lights, were a picturesque sight. The Niagara shore now came in view, and villages, surrounded with gardens, and divided by meadows, streams, and woods, appeared under a soft dry haze.

The travellers entered the Niagara river, and landed at the town of the same name, which is seated within a short distance of the point of the angle made by the lake and river. They had a letter for the brother of the American representative of the town, from the Governor of Toronto, and having sent it to his house by a servant while they engaged apartments at an inn, he came immediately to them, and invited them to make their home beneath his roof as long as they chose to stay in the district. They accepted his offer, and after resting a night at the inn, were welcomed with courtesy and hospitality at his large and rich farm, which stood on the borders of the river, just outside the town, Mr. Charleston, as their host was named, was an intelligent man, possessing an abundant knowledge of facts on all subjects, especially political. The Earl was at no loss for interest, therefore, while Mr. Charleston was in the way to converse with

him. The latter, too, frequentiy walked out with him to view the news-rooms and institutions, the buildings in progress, the chief depots of trade (which flourishes here), the grist and saw-mills on the heights, and especially Fort George, in which there was a strong detachment of British troops, to whom the Earl had letters and papers from Toronto-papers that the deceased Colonel was to have delivered.

Lady Hester and the Earl, with Letitia and her governess, accompanied by Mr. Charleston and his two laughters, went to see the far celebrated Falls, on the third day after the arrival of the former in Niagara. The country through which the river flows is more populous, and in a higher state of cultivation, than any other part of North America. Its wild fruits are abundant, and of the rarest and finest sorts, and the salubrious nature of the climate is seen in the healthy countenances of the inhabitants. To prepare Letitia to understand the spectacle which they were about to view, the Earl informed her that this river was a channel by which the vast lakes of Huron, Michigan, Superior, and Erie, with their countless rivers, rush from the interior of North America to pour themselves into the ocean. The travellers left the farm by daylight in the morning, but early as it was, they found the road to the Falls crowded with eager visitors in vehicles of all descriptions. The enjoyment of the day was greatly lessened to Lady Hester by the sight of the thousands who were gathered about the place of attraction, for her weeds of widowhood, and the grave and painful feelings of her heart, were little suited to such hilarity and bustle as here presented itself. Still, the awful magnificence of the cataracts impressed

« PreviousContinue »