[Illustration — Falls of Montmorenci]
Nothing can be more imposing than the situation of Quebec, built on the sides and summit of a magnificent rock, on the highest point of which (Cape Diamond) stands the fortress overlooking the river, and commanding a most superb view of the surrounding scenes. I did, indeed, regret the loss of this noble prospect, the equal of which I suppose I shall never see. It would have been something to have thought on and recalled in after years, when buried in the solitude of the Canadian woods.
The opposite heights, being the Point Levi side, are highly picturesque, though less imposing than the rock on which the town stands. The bank is rocky, precipitous, and clothed with trees that sweep down to the water’s edge, excepting where they are cleared away to give place to white cottages, gardens, and hanging orchards. But, in my opinion, much less is done with this romantic situation than might be effected if good taste were exercised in the buildings, and on the disposal of the ground. How lovely would such a spot be rendered in England or Scotland. Nature here has done all, and man but little, excepting sticking up some ugly wooden cottages, as mean as they are tasteless. It is, however, very possible there may be pretty villas and houses higher up, that are concealed from the eye by the intervening groves.
The river is considered to be just a mile across from Point Levi to the landing-stairs below the custom-house in Quebec; and it was a source of amusement to me to watch the horse ferry-boats that ply between the two shores. The captain told me there were not less than twelve of these comical-looking machines. They each have their regular hours, so that you see a constant succession going or returning. They carry a strange assortment of passengers; well and ill-dressed; old and young; rich and poor; cows, sheep, horses, pigs, dogs, fowls, market-baskets, vegetables, fruit, hay, corn, anything and everything you will see by turns.
The boat is flat, railed round, with a wicker at each end to admit the live and dead stock that go or are taken on board; the centre of the boat (if such it can be called) is occupied by four lean, ill-favoured hacks, who walk round and round, as if in a threshing machine, and work the paddles at each side. There is a sort of pen for the cattle.
I am told there is a monument erecting in honour of Wolfe, in the governor’s garden, looking towards the St. Laurence, and to be seen from Point Levi: the inscription has not yet been decided upon*. -------------------- [* Since the period in which the author visited Quebec, Wolfe’s monument has been completed. Lord Dalhousie, with equal good feeling and good taste, has united the names of the rival heroes Wolfe and Montcalm in the dedication of the pillar—a liberality of feeling that cannot but prove gratifying to the Canadian French, while it robs the British warrior of none of his glory.