The Settlers in Canada
Chapter III Alfred's Advice
It may appear strange that, after having been in
possession of the estate for ten years, and considering that he had
younger children to provide for, Mr Campbell had not laid up a larger
sum; but this can be fully explained.
I before said, the estate was in very bad order when Mr Campbell came
into possession, and he devoted a large portion of the income to
improving it; and, secondly, he had expended a considerable sum in
building almshouses and schools, works which he would not delay, as he
considered them as religious obligations. The consequence was, that it
was not until a year before the claim was made to the estate that he had
commenced laying by for his younger children; and as the estate was then
worth 2,000 pounds per annum more than it was at the time that he came
into possession of it, he had resolved to put by 5,000 pounds per annum,
and had done so for twelve months. The enormous legal expenses had,
however, swallowed up this sum, and more, as we have already stated; and
thus he was left a poorer man by some hundreds than he was when the
property fell to him. The day after the valuation the eldest son, Henry,
made his appearance; he seemed much dejected, more so than his parents,
and those who knew him, would have supposed. It was, however, ascribed
to his feeling for his father and mother, rather than for himself.
Many were the consultations held by Mr and Mrs Campbell as to their
future plans; but nothing at all feasible, or likely to prove
advantageous, suggested itself to them. With only sixteen or seventeen
hundred pounds, they scarcely knew where to go or how to act. Return to
his profession Mr Campbell knew that he could not, with any chance of
supporting his family. His eldest son, Henry, might obtain a situation,
but he was really fit for nothing but the bar or holy orders; and how
were they to support him till he could support himself? Alfred, who was
now a masters mate, could, it is true, support himself, but it would be
with difficulty, and there was little chance of his promotion. Then
there were the two other boys, and the two girls growing up fast; in
short, a family of eight people. To put so small a sum in the funds
would be useless, as they could not live upon the interest which it
would give, and how to employ it they knew not. They canvassed the
matter over and over, but without success, and each night they laid
their heads upon the pillow more and more disheartened. They were all
ready to leave the Hall, but knew not where to direct their steps when
they left it; and thus they continued wavering for a week, until they
were embraced by their son Alfred, who had made all speed to join them
as soon as the ship had been paid off. After the first joy of meeting
between those who had been separated so long was over, Mr Campbell said,
Im sorry, Alfred, that I could not give your messmates any fishing.
And so am I, and so were they, for your sakes, my dear father and
mother; but what is, isand what cant be helped, cantso we must make
the best of it; but wheres Henry and my cousins?
They are walking in the park, Alfred: you had better join them; they
are most anxious to see you.
will, mother; let us get over these huggings and kissings, and then we
shall be more rational: so good-bye for half an hour, said Alfred,
kissing his mother again, and then hastening out of the room.
His spirits are not subdued, at all events, observed Mrs Campbell. I
thank God for it.
Alfred soon fell in with his brother and his cousins, Mary and Emma, and
after the huggings and kissings, as he termed them, were over, he made
inquiries into the real state of his fathers affairs. After a short
conversation, Henry, who was very much depressed in his spirits, said,
Mary and Emma, perhaps you will now go in; I wish to have some
conversation with Alfred.
You are terribly out of heart, Harry, observed Alfred, after his
cousins had left them. Are things so very bad?
They are bad enough, Alfred; but what makes me so low-spirited is, that
I fear my folly has made them worse.
How so? replied Alfred.
The fact is, that my father has but 1,700 pounds left in the world, a
sum small enough; but what annoys me is this. When I was at college,
little imagining such a reverse of fortune, I anticipated my allowance,
because I knew I could pay at Christmas, and I ran in debt about 200
pounds. My father always cautioned me not to exceed my allowance, and
thinks that I have not done so. Now, I cannot bear the idea of leaving
college in debt, and, at the same time, it will be a heavy blow to my
poor father, if he has to part with 200 pounds, out of his trifling
remainder, to pay my debt. This is what has made me so unhappy. I cannot
bear to tell him, because I feel convinced that he is so honourable, he
will pay it immediately. I am mad with myself, and really do not know
what to do. I do nothing but reproach myself all day, and I cannot sleep
at night. I have been very foolish, but I am sure you will kindly enter
into my present feelings. I waited till you came home, because I thought
you had better tell my father the fact, for I feel as if I should die
with shame and vexation.
Look you, Harry, replied Alfred, as for outrunning the constable, as
we term it at sea, its a very common thing, and, all things considered,
no great harm done, when you suppose that you have the means, and intend
to pay; so dont lay that to heart. That you would give your right hand
not to have done so, as things have turned out, I really believe; but,
however, there is no occasion to fret any more about it, I have received
three years pay, and the prize-money for the last eighteen months, and
there is still some more due, for a French privateer. Altogether it
amounts to 250 pounds, which I had intended to have made over to my
father, now that he is on a lee-shore; but it will come to the same
thing, whether I give it to you to pay your debts, or give it to him, as
he will pay them, if you do not; so here it is, take what you want, and
hand me over whats left. My father dont know that I have any money,
and now he wont know it; at the same time he wont know that you owe
any; so that squares the account, and he will be as well off as ever.
Thank you, my dear Alfred; you dont know what a relief this will be to
my mind. Now I can look my father in his face.
hope you will; we are not troubled with such delicate feelings on board
ship, Harry. I should have told him the truth long before this. I
couldnt bear to keep anything on my conscience. If this misfortune had
happened last cruise, I should have been just in your position; for I
had a tailors bill to pay as long as a frigates pennant, and not
enough in my pocket to buy a mouses breakfast. Now, let us go in again
and be as merry as possible, and cheer them up a little.
Alfreds high spirits did certainly do much to cheer them all up; and
after tea, Mr Campbell, who had previously consulted his wife, as soon
as the servant had quitted the room, entered on a full explanation of
the means which were left to them; and stated that he wished in his
difficulty to put the question before the whole family, and ascertain
whether any project might come into their heads upon which they might
decide and act. Henry, who had recovered his spirits since the
assistance he had received from Alfred, was desired to speak first. He
My dear father and mother, if you cannot between you hit upon any plan,
I am afraid it is not likely that I can assist you. All I have to say
is, that whatever may be decided upon, I shall most cheerfully do my
duty towards you and my brothers and sisters. My education has not been
one likely to be very useful to a poor man, but I am ready to work with
my hands as well as with my head to the best of my abilities.
That I am sure of, my dear boy, replied his father.
Now, Alfred, we must look to you as our last hope, for your two cousins
are not likely to give us much advice.
Well, father, I have been thinking a good deal about it, and I have a
proposal to make which may at first startle you, but it appears to me
that it is our only, and our best resource. The few hundred pounds which
you have left are of no use in this country, except to keep you from
starving for a year or two; but in another country they may be made to
be worth as many thousands. In this country, a large family becomes a
heavy charge and expense; in another country, the more children you
have, the richer man you are. If, therefore, you would consent to
transport your family and your present means into another country,
instead of being a poor, you might be a rich man.
What country is that, Alfred?
Why, father, the purser of our ship had a brother, who, soon after the
French were beaten out of the Canadas, went out there to try his
fortune. He had only three hundred pounds in the world; he has been
there now about four years, and I read a letter from him which the
purser received when the frigate arrived at Portsmouth, in which he
states that he is doing well, and getting rich fast; that he has a farm
of five hundred acres, of which two hundred are cleared; and that if he
only had some children large enough to help him, he would soon be worth
ten times the money, as he would purchase more land immediately. Land is
to be bought there at a dollar an acre, and you may pick and choose.
With your money, you might buy a large property; with your children, you
might improve it fast; and in a few years, you would, at all events, be
comfortable, if not flourishing, in your circumstances. Your children
would work for you, and you would have the satisfaction of knowing that
you left them independent and happy.
acknowledge, my dear boy, that you have struck upon a plan which has
much to recommend it. Still there are drawbacks.
Drawbacks! replied Alfred; yes, to be sure there are. If estates were
to be picked up for merely going out for them, there would not be many
left for you to choose; but, my dear father, I know no drawbacks which
cannot be surmounted. Let us see what these drawbacks are. First, hard
labour; occasional privation; a log-hut, till we can get a better;
severe winter; isolation from the world; occasional danger, even from
wild beasts and savages. I grant these are but sorry exchanges for such
a splendid mansion as thisfine furniture, excellent cooking, polished
society, and the interest one feels for what is going on in our own
country, which is daily communicated to us. Now, as to hard labour, I
and Henry will take as much of that off your hands as we can; if the
winter is severe, there is no want of firewood; if the cabin is rude, at
least we will make it comfortable; if we are shut out from the world, we
shall have society enough among ourselves; if we are in danger, we will
have firearms and stout hearts to defend ourselves; and, really, I do
not see but we may be very happy, very comfortable, and, at all events,
Alfred, you talk as if you were going with us, said Mrs Campbell.
And do you think that I am not, my dear mother? Do you imagine that I
would remain here when you were there, and my presence would be useful?
No, no! I love the service, it is true, but I know my duty, which is, to
assist my father and mother: in fact, I prefer it; a midshipmans ideas
of independence are very greatand I had rather range the wilds of
America free and independent than remain in the service and have to
touch my hat to every junior lieutenant, perhaps for twenty years to
come. If you go, I go, that is certain. Why, I should be miserable if
you went without me; I should dream every night that an Indian had run
away with Mary, or that a bear had eaten up my little Emma.
Well, Ill take my chance of the Indian, replied Mary Percival.
And I of the bear, said Emma. Perhaps hell only hug me as tight as
Alfred did when he came home.
Thank you, Miss, for the comparison, replied Alfred, laughing.
certainly consider that your proposal, Alfred, merits due reflection,
observed Mrs Campbell. Your father and I will consult, and perhaps by
to-morrow morning we may have come to a decision. Now we had better all
go to bed.
shall dream of the Indian, I am sure, said Mary.
And I shall dream of the bear, added Emma, looking archly at Alfred.
And I shall dream of a very pretty girl that I saw at Portsmouth, said
dont believe you, replied Emma.
Shortly afterwards Mr Campbell rang the bell for the servants; family
prayers were read, and all retired in good spirits.
The next morning they all met at an early hour; and after Mr Campbell
had, as was his invariable rule, read a portion of the Bible, and a
prayer of thankfulness, they sat down to breakfast. After breakfast was
over, Mr Campbell said
My dear children, last night, after you had left us, your mother and I
had a long consultation, and we have decided that we have no alternative
left us but to follow the advice which Alfred has given; if, then, you
are all of the same opinion as we are, we have resolved that we will try
our fortunes in the Canadas.
am certainly of that opinion, replied Henry.
And you, my girls? said Mr Campbell.
We will follow you to the end of the world, uncle, replied Mary, and
try if we can by any means in our power repay your kindness to two poor
and Mrs Campbell embraced their nieces, for they were much affected by
After a pause, Mrs Campbell said
Now that we have come to a decision, we must commence our arrangements
immediately. How shall we dispose of ourselves? Come, Alfred and Henry,
what do you propose doing?
must return immediately to Oxford, to settle my affairs, and dispose of
my books and other property.
Shall you have sufficient money, my dear boy, to pay everything? said
Yes, my dear father, replied Henry, colouring up a little.
And I, said Alfred, presume that I can be of no use hers; therefore I
propose that I should start for Liverpool this afternoon by the coach,
for it is from Liverpool that we had better embark. I shall first write
to our purser for what information he can procure, and obtain all I can
at Liverpool from other people. As soon as I have anything to
communicate, I will write.
Write as soon as you arrive, Alfred, whether you have anything to
communicate or not; at all events, we shall know of your safe arrival.
will, my dear mother.
Have you money, Alfred?
Yes, quite sufficient, father. I dont travel with four horses.
Well, then, we will remain here to pack up, Alfred; and you must look
out for some moderate lodgings for us to go into as soon as we arrive at
Liverpool. At what time do the ships sail for Quebec?
Just about this time, father. This is March, and they will now sail
every week almost. The sooner we are off the better, that we may be
comfortably housed in before the winter.
few hours after this conversation, Henry and Alfred left the Hall upon
their several destinations. Mr and Mrs Campbell and the two girls had
plenty of employment for three or four days in packing up. It was soon
spread through the neighbourhood that they were going to emigrate to
Canada; and the tenants who had held their farms under Mr Campbell, all
came forward and proffered their waggons and horses to transport his
effects to Liverpool, without his being put to any expense.
the meantime a letter had been received from Alfred, who had not been
idle. He had made acquaintance with some merchants who traded to Canada,
and by them had been introduced to two or three persons who had settled
there a few years before, and who were able to give him every
information. They informed him what was most advisable to take out; how
they were to proceed upon their landing; and what was of more
importance, the merchants gave him letters of introduction to English
merchants at Quebec, who would afford them every assistance in the
selecting and purchasing of land, and in their transport up the country.
Alfred had also examined a fine timber-ship, which was to sail in three
weeks; and had bargained for the price of their passage, in case they
could get ready in time to go by her. He wrote all these particulars to
his father, waiting for his reply to act upon his wishes.
Henry returned from Oxford, having settled his accounts, and with the
produce of the sale of his classics and the other books in his pocket.
He was full of spirits, and of the greatest assistance to his father and
Alfred had shown so much judgment in all he had undertaken, that his
father wrote to him stating that they would be ready for the ship which
he named, and that he might engage the cabins, and also at once procure
the various articles which they were advised to take out with them, and
draw upon him for the amount, if the people would not wait for the
money. In a fortnight they were all ready; the waggons had left with
their effects some days before. Mr Campbell wrote a letter to Mr Douglas
Campbell, thanking him for his kindness and consideration to them, and
informing him that they should leave Wexton Hall on the following day.
He only begged, as a favour, that the schoolmaster and schoolmistress of
the village school should be continued on, as it was of great importance
that the instruction of the poor should not be neglected; and added,
that perceiving by the newspapers that Mr Douglas Campbell had lately
married, Mrs Campbell and he wished him and his wife every happiness,
Having despatched this letter, there was nothing more to be done,
previous to their departure from the Hall, except to pay and dismiss the
few servants who were with themfor Mrs Campbell had resolved upon
taking none, out with her.
That afternoon they walked round the plantation and park for the last
time. Mrs Campbell and the girls went round the rooms of the Hall to
ascertain that everything was left tidy, neat, and clean. The poor girls
sighed as they passed by the harp and piano in the drawing-room, for
they were old friends.
Never mind, Mary, said Emma; we have our guitars, and may have music
in the woods of Canada without harp or piano.
The following morning, the coach, of which they had secured the whole of
the inside, drove up to the Hall door, and they all got in, the tenants
and poor people standing round them, all with their hats in their hands
out of respect, and wishing them every success as they drove away
through the avenue to the park gates. The Hall and the park itself had
been long out of sight before a word was exchanged.
They checked their tears, but their hearts were too full for them to
venture to speak.
The day afterwards they arrived at Liverpool, where Alfred had provided
lodgings. Everything had been sent on board, and the ship had hauled out
in the stream. As they had nothing to detain them on shore, and the
captain wished to take advantage of the first fair wind, they all
embarked, four days after their arrival at Liverpool; and I shall now
leave them on board of theLondon
Merchant, which was the name of the vessel, making all their little
arrangements previous to their sailing, under the superintendence of
Alfred, while I give some little more insight into the characters, ages,
and dispositions of the family.
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