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At Sea, May, 1806.
I PROMISED to write you, my worthy friend, on my arrival in Canada; I will do more; I will write you before I get there. You may perhaps say, What can be found worthy of notice on the face of the trackless ocean? Not so much, I grant you, as in the cultivated vale, or crowded city. But on the ocean even, we meet with occurrences which highly excite our curiosity, and merit our attention. Our approach to the American shore; our crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence; our progress up that noble river;
cannot fail to furnish objects well deserving remark.
The promise I have made you, to communicate whatever is new and interesting, will act as a stimulus to observation, and keep my attention on the alert. Canada is a most important country to Great Britain. It claims our attention from its geographical position relative to the United States; from its extent of territory; from its numerous productions; and from its rising value as a British colony. Few subjects are likely to be more interesting than the topographi-. cal description of a country so little known to us, presenting every where features peculiar and striking, and phenomena well deserving the attention of any one the least acquainted with natural history. It is very interesting also to trace the character of a people up to its origin, in the nature of the government and laws; the state of the administration of justice; and the peculiarities of their local situation, and of their climate; from all which, nations receive a bias in their manners, customs, and pursuits. It shall be my endeavour, during residence in Canada, to elucidate these
points, and make myself acquainted with its trade and political economy.
I am well aware, that to perform this task with propriety requires talents very superior to any thing of which I can boast: but men who are every way qualified will' not be found ready to undertake it. The field is not sufficiently productive of either fame or fortune; I look for neither in addressing you, and if I encroach upon the province of an abler pen, I trust I shall be forgiven. Information, in a rude dress, is better than none at all; and here, on the great Atlantic Ocean, I shall attempt to embody in phrase the fleeting thought. A smooth sea and fine weather enable me to commence our correspondence.
The weather hitherto has been pretty favourable, not however without some variety. Indeed, the wind has been sometimes extremely violent, at least what a landsman would call so: on these occasions, the proper place for us landlubbers is our cabin; we should turn in, as the sailors call it. You may, no doubt, go to bed, but you cannot say you go to rest, for you are incessantly rocked about in the most
unpleasant manner, from the rolling and pitching of the vessel. Besides, the abominably jarring discordant sounds with which one is constantly annoyed on board ship, are intolerable, particularly in the middle of the night, when all is dark around you, and sleep is wished for in vain. A heavy swell heaves and strains the ship; the waves dashing and roaring under the cabin-windows; the ropes and sails flapping and rattling overhead; the timbers and bulkheads creaking, cracking, and growling; form altogether such а pretty kind of concert, as one might expect to find in the palace of Pandemonium.
A gale came on a few days ago: I could neither sit nor stand without great exertion; but curiosity kept me on deck. The waves ran tremendously high, and the ship seemed ready to be swallowed up. One moment you are elevated, and mount the briny swell; you are then sunk down, immersed in the deep, shut up, as it were, by the foaming surge, which seems to present on all sides an insuperable barrier.
A sudden squall laid the ship almost on her beam-ends; a head sea struck her while