There is one passenger on board that seems perfectly happy, if one may judge from the liveliness of the songs with which he greets us whenever we approach his cage. It is “Harry,” the captain’s goldfinch—“the captain’s mate,” as the sailors term him. This pretty creature has made no fewer than twelve voyages in the Laurel. “It is all one to him whether his cage is at sea or on land, he is still at home,” said the captain, regarding his little favourite with an air of great affection, and evidently gratified by the attention I bestowed on his bird.
I have already formed a friendship with the little captive. He never fails to greet my approach with one of his sweetest songs, and will take from my fingers a bit of biscuit, which he holds in his claws till he has thanked me with a few of his clearest notes. This mark of acknowledgment is termed by the steward, “saying-grace.”
If the wind still continues to favour us, the captain tells us we shall be on the banks of Newfoundland in another week. Farewell for the present.
Arrival off Newfoundland.—Singing of the Captain’s Goldfinch previous to the discovery of Land.—Gulf of St. Laurence.—Scenery of the River St. Laurence.—Difficult navigation of the River.—French Fisherman engaged as a Pilot.—Isle of Bic.—Green Island.—Gros Isle.—Quarantine Regulations.—Emigrants on Gros Isle.—Arrival off Quebec.—Prospect of the City and Environs.
Brig Laurel, River St. Laurence.
August 6, 1832.
I LEFT off writing, my dear mother, from this simple cause;—I had nothing to say. One day was but the echo, as it were, of the one that preceded it; so that a page copied from the mate’s log would have proved as amusing, and to the full as instructive, as my journal provided I had kept one during the last fortnight.
So barren of events has that time been that the sight of a party of bottle-nosed whales, two or three seals, and a porpoise, possibly on their way to a dinner or tea party at the North Pole, was considered an occurrence of great importance. Every glass was in requisition as soon as they made their appearance, and the marine monsters were well nigh stared out of countenance.
We came within sight of the shores of Newfoundland on the 5th of August, just one month from the day we took our last look of the British isles. Yet though the coast was brown, and rugged, and desolate, I hailed its appearance with rapture. Never did any thing seem so refreshing and delicious to me as the land breeze that came to us, as I thought, bearing health and gladness on its wings.
I had noticed with some curiosity the restless activity of the captain’s bird some hours previous to “land” being proclaimed from the look-out station. He sang continually, and his note was longer, clearer, and more thrilling than heretofore; the little creature, the captain assured me, was conscious of the difference in the air as we approached the land. “I trust almost as much to my bird as to my glass,” he said, “and have never yet been deceived.”