« PředchozíPokračovat »
I HAVE given to the following volumes the title of "NOTES," because I am conscious of the imperfect and hurried character of some of the observations they contain, and that mistakes, generally trivial I hope, and always unintentional, may be discovered in them by natives of North America.
In recording my remarks and impressions, while I am sensible that I have regarded objects with the eyes and feelings of a "Britisher," and have generally written as if I were addressing British readers only; yet I have endeavoured to speak fairly and with candour, both of the institutions and of the social condition of the States and Provinces through which it was my fortune to travel. While I have expressed my opinions freely, I have endeavoured to avoid either ridicule or causeless reproach. And although I cannot hope that my remarks will be always agreeable to my friends in the United States, yet I hope none will accuse me of a desire either to violate confidence, or to return bitterness of
speech for the respect and kindness which I everywhere experienced.
In addition to the matters usually commented upon by those who visit foreign countries, the reader will find in these volumes a kind and class of observations which he will not have met with in other books of travels. And though I may appear to incur the risk of injuring their popularity with the general public by introducing agricultural remarks, yet, in the present condition of our own agricultural interest, there are few persons to whom some information in regard to that of America will not be acceptable. These observations on rural matters are also so mixed up with remarks on other subjects as not, I hope, to fatigue even the ordinary readers of books of travels.
It has long struck me as a vital defect in the accomplishments of most of our travellers in foreign countries, that the want of an agricultural eye has prevented them from giving us any of that positive and matter-of-fact information upon which alone a correct estimate of the real character, capabilities, and future economical prospects of a country can be safely based.
I have been more detailed in my remarks upon the lower St Lawrence and the province of New Brunswick, because this is almost untrodden ground, and, so far as I am aware, we possess, in reality, no good account of this region by an eye-witness from
Great Britain. In the province of New Brunswick I spent four months, and travelled two thousand miles-penetrating to the confines of the settled land in nearly every direction. I owe it to the province, therefore, to make its own inhabitants, not less than those of Great Britain and of the United States, better acquainted with the real character and capabilities of its surface. In this respect, I believe the following pages will form a historical document to which future provincial antiquaries will turn back for a description of the state of their country in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Some persons in the United States, and perhaps not a few at home, may be inclined to controvert the opinions I have expressed in regard to the agriculture and to the productive capabilities of the wheat regions of North America. I will not maintain that more knowledge might not somewhat change my views on these subjects; but as these form in reality one of the points in my book upon which I have bestowed much deliberation, I have not put them upon paper without being fully satisfied that they are substantially correct. It will not alter these opinions, that some American writers may dissent from them. My own experience has shown me, that the areas in regard to which individuals in the United States possess really correct and precise agricultural information are very local and limited; while the majority are insensibly inclined to give faith to exaggerations
upon this as upon other topics, provided their tendency be the patriotic one of exalting the greatness of their country.
I trust, however, that even where my observations do not wholly coincide with those of my American readers, they will at least acquit me of picking out deficiencies even in their agriculture, for the mere sake of finding fault, or of exposing them in a censorious spirit. I have spoken of the soil, and its treatment, as I would if I were describing a district of Great Britain; and where I have pointed out defects in past or present practice, it has been for the purpose of mentioning along with them the remedies for past mismanagement, and the improvements of which existing methods are susceptible.
If I may rely upon the testimony of my numerous Transatlantic friends, my temporary residence in New Brunswick, New England, and the State of New York, has not been without beneficial results to the agriculture of those countries. I trust that, while these volumes make my own countrymen better acquainted with these interesting regions, they will be found to contain not a few hints which may still further benefit and encourage the rural industry, both of Great Britain and of North America. I hope, also, that the general spirit which pervades them will tend to draw still closer the numerous bonds by which our kindred nations are already so intimately allied.
DURHAM, February 1851.
A WEEK IN NOVA SCOTIA.