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UNRESTRAINED AND EQUAL INTERCOURSE.
scene of festivity. We crossed the bay in a steamboat crowded almost to suffocation; and it was here, and among the thousands whom I saw on the island, that I was enabled to judge of the adaptation of the northern climate to the complexions of our island population.
In Europe, it is in countries which, like Great Britain, Ireland, and Holland, are surrounded by an atmosphere rarely arid or dry, either from excessive cold or from excessive heat, but which, more or less loaded with moisture, always softens and expands the minute vessels of the skin, that health and freshness of complexion in both sexes is most conspicuously perceived and most permanent. To the fogs and rains, therefore, which so frequently visit this and other parts of the North American coast, lying within the influence of the Gulf Stream, the healthy looks of the people are probably in some measure to be ascribed.
I was early struck, on this my first day's residence in North America, with the less constrained and more equal intercourse which appeared to prevail between what we should call the different classes of society. The servant and the mistress, the mechanic and the barrister, with little distinction of dress or behaviour, discoursed on a perfect equality, and persons filling the highest political offices were jostled about as unceremoniously, and were as familiarly hailed, as the humblest of the crowd. The secret is, that every one feels what I understood when my friend said to me, “ That girl may marry, and be better off than her mistress to-morrow; and the lowest of these men may rise to the highest civil office in the province." As the ermine of the bench, and the mitre of the archiepiscopal seat, secure to the humblest member of two of our learned professions in England a portion of that respect with which we look upon a future Lord Chancellor or a possible Archbishop, so
the sense of equal opportunities being open to all entitles each man in these provinces to a more equal consideration.
ROMAN CATHOLIC BODY,
The Roman Catholic body in Halifax is strong and growing, chiefly through the yearly accessions of emigrant Irish and their descendants, who here appear to thrive, and are said to be well-behaved. The Presbyterians used to be, and probably still are, the most numerous of the religious sects in Halifax, and next to them the Episcopalians of the Church of England. The Roman Catholics have of late years increased, and they have obtained an advantage over the non-Episcopal sects in the title of “ My Lord,” lately conceded to their bishop by order of the Home Government, and in virtue of which he takes rank with the Church of England bishop, and precedence of all the dissenting clergy. That this is a great grievance in the eyes of the Presa
. byterians and others, in the two colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, I was scarcely a day in Halifax till I had learned. Until recently, the bishop of the “ Church of England in the colonies "
was the only person addressed as “ My Lord,”—a solitary and invidious title among a people composed, for the most part, of what we call dissenters in England, and in a country where so little distinction of ranks prevails. It became less singular when the same title was conceded to the Roman Catholic bishops, and, of course, a greater number of persons became interested in keeping up this distinction. But the hostile feeling was in consequence only made stronger in the breasts of the majority of the people.
Such distinctions in a colony, it appears to me, ought to be conceded, not for an imperial, but for a provincial reason—not because a certain religious body is powerful in Europe, but in consideration of the feelings and wishes of a large body of the colonists themselves. Now, if this latter reason had been influential, there are other sects to whom some equal distinction ought to have been conceded. The Presbyterians and Baptists are both stronger bodies than either the English Episcopal or the Roman
POLICY OF CONCEDING CLERICAL RANK.
Catholic in the colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and therefore more entitled to consideration at the fountain of honour. If there be any way in which it could be done, therefore, the head of these several bodies —their moderator or president for the time beingshould be equally honoured with the more permanent heads of the Episcopalian sects ;-that is, if the distinctive title is to be retained at all, and the precedence of high clerical office retained.
It may be said that the Presbyterian, Baptist, and other bodies, are opposed upon principle to the connection of honorary precedence with clerical office, and have therefore never asked such distinctions for the head of their several denominations. This is probably true; but
. my intercourse with the inhabitants of these colonies has satisfied me that much lurking ill-will against the mother country has arisen from the kind of half-establishment originally granted to the English Church ; and that this ill-will, instead of being lessened, has been deepened in intensity by the selection of the Roman Catholic body for a similar distinction. Why should the mother country procure ill-will-manufacture it, I may say, for herself— by intermeddling in the religious disputes of the different denominations in the colonies ? Either we ought to leave these entirely to the control of the local legislature, as all other internal political and social matters now are left, or the offer, at least, of similar honours should be made to the head of each religious body possessing a certain numerical force, and consequent political weight, in the province. This offer, whether accepted or not, would at least remove the complaint of invidious distinctions from the shoulders of the Home Government, and would confine the discussion in future to the general question of precedence or no precedence to the holders of high clerical office. Should any unfortunate circumstances bring about a separation from the mother country,
COLOURED PEOPLE IN HALIFAX.
such distinctions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would certainly not be permitted to exist for another hour.
On the field upon M‘Nab's Island, where the people were assembled, were music and dancing parties in different places; swings and refreshment stalls, whites of all grades, and darkies of different shades; but I saw neither intoxication nor disorder, nor rudeness, nor incivility anywhere. A little of the liveliness of the early French settlers probably clings to the modern Nova Scotian; but though there were many both Irish-born and of Irish descent among the crowd, there was no shade of a disposition to an Irish row.
Many coloured people, some apparently full-blood negroes, were to be seen in the streets of Halifax acting as porters, and in other humble employments. A few of these looked miserable enough.
As far back as the close of the American war, numbers of coloured people came here, either with their loyalist masters, or alone, and at the expense of Government. These early settlers have multiplied and become to a certain extent acclimatised, and many of them are industrious owners of small farms. Generally, however, the negroes are spoken of as indolent, as hanging about the towns, and as suffering much from the severity of the winter.
People of colour enjoy, I believe, in all the British colonies of North America, the same political privileges as are possessed by other classes of her Majesty's subjects. I went into the jury court, where the author of Sam Slick was the presiding judge, and I was both surprised and pleased to see a perfectly black man sitting there in the box as a juror.
Among the other novelties to a stranger in Halifax is an encampment of the Micmac Indians, whose wigwams I found pitched upon some high ground above the town of Dartmouth, on the opposite side of the bay. These Indians have a broad Asiatic face; and are more intelli
gent, but less patient of restraint than the negroes. Little real success has attended the many attempts which have been made to educate and localise them. They have become faithful Roman Catholics, are obedient to their priests, regular at confession, and very honest; but they do not settle steadily to the monotonous labours of agriculture, or to the confinement either of domestic service, or of regular handicraft or mechanical trades.
In the first wigwam I entered, I found half-a-dozen men playing at cards; and, in the next, as many women and children making baskets. Their English is broken, and to each other they converse in their native tongue. They are diminishing in numbers, many having been carried off some time ago by a fever, which raged specially among themselves; but there are said still to remain five thousand of them in Nova Scotia.
In the harbour of Halifax, I saw few large ships ; there were, however, many small vessels employed either in the fisheries or in the coasting trade to the States and the Canadas. There are four circumstances which seem to concur in promising a great future extension to this maritime portion of Nova Scotian industry. In the first place, the sea and bays, and inlets along the whole Atlantic border, swarm with fish of many kinds, which are the natural inheritance of the Nova Scotian fisher
Second, this coast is everywhere indented with creeks and harbours, from which the native boats can at all times issue, and to which they can flee for shelter. Thirdly, there exists in the native forests—and over three millions of acres in this province probably always will exist an inexhaustible supply of excellent timber for the shipbuilder. And, lastly, from the influence of the Gulf stream most probably, the harbours of Nova Scotia are, in ordinary seasons, open and unfrozen during the entire winter; while, north of Cape Canseau, the harbours and rivers of Prince Edward's Island and of the Canadas are