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The Legislature of Newfoundland had originally voted £350 towards the geological survey of the island. In consequence, ever, of my report to the governor, they increased the grant this year to £600, in order that I might procure a coasting-vessel in which to survey the shore in detail from point to point. After some trouble I engaged a small ketch, called the Beaufort, about thirty-seven tons burthen, belonging to a man named Gaden, who was to go himself as master. He was besides to get a good four-oared punt, four men, and a boy, and to victual himself and crew. For this I engaged to pay £55 per month. I had then to furnish the cabin, which, for the size of the vessel, was large and convenient, (as I could stand upright under the skylight, and had room for a chair, a stove, and a small fixed table,) lay in stores for my own provision, as well as a stock of everything I could possibly stand in need of. I was victualled with a bag of flour, ditto biscuit, ditto potatoes, ditto pork, eggs, tea, coffee, &c., a case of hock at thirty shillings per dozen, and other wines, spirits, &c., for my own stock. All these preparations being completed, she was ready for sea on June 15th. At eleven o'clock at night; having got all my luggage, books, instruments, guns, &c. stowed away in the cabin of the Beaufort, two friends took a glass of grog and a cigar with me, and left me to my repose in my berth.
June 16th. At five in the morning I was awoke by a noise on deck, which I found to proceed from one of the sailors being brought on board drunk, having after some search been caught by Gaden in the streets. It was eight o'clock before we were fairly under weigh, and stood alongshore to the northward before a light air, so light indeed that it was evening before we floated round Cape St. Francis, and entered Conception Bay. At ten PM there was a red gleam of sunset fading in the west, with a fine arch of aurora and flickering streamers over it, while above was a young moon and all the host of stars. The shores of the bay were visible on either hand, the bold coast between Cape St. Francis and Portugal Cove standing in dark relief against the clear star studded sky.
June 17th. It was quite calm during the night, but at six AM a breeze sprung up from the southwest, against which we beat up for Portugal Cove. As we neared Bell Island we saw a fleet of fishing-vessels rounding it and anchoring under its lee, and presently a smart squall of wind and rain struck us, against which we made but little headway. After trying for some time in vain to get near enough to Bell Island to anchor, we bore up for Harbour Grace. The packet-boat put out of Harbour Grace as we went in, but after a little while she too ran back to the shelter of the harbour.
In the afternoon I visited a land-slip, in company with Mr. St. John. In June, 1838, near a place called the Grove, on the north side of the harbour, after a great flood of rain, a large piece of the cliff, consisting chiefly of rubbish and boulders, slid forward over the smooth slate rock, which in that place dips towards the water. The subsidence was about 100 yards long, 40 yards across, and the cliff about 140 feet high. It consisted now of three ridges or shelves of land on which the trees stood undisturbed, with broken ground between them. These shelf-strips rose one above another, the uppermost having subsided about fifteen feet, with a chasm thirty feet wide between it and the main land.
The next day I saw some pretty good slate rock, on the Bankss of the brook at the head of the harbour, but found the woods very difficult to penetrate. On returning by the shore of the Lady Pond, I saw something struggling in a shallow place, and fired at it. A large eel showed himself, and I gave him the other barrel and stunned him. One of the men went and got hold of him, but loosed him again for fear he should be bitten he then stooped down and seized him with his teeth and both hands, and threw him into the air, but instead of sending him landwards heaved him farther into the water, so we lost him. He was very large, and I was annoyed at the man's stupidity.
June 19th. Weighed anchor at seven AM, and, in going out, visited the small island (one of a cluster of rocks) at the mouth of the harbour, on which stands a lighthouse, perched on the brink of a precipice, consisting of a square wooden house with a square dovecote-looking top for a lantern. It is, however, an effective and useful light. The island is only accessible in tolerably smooth weather, by ladders up the face of its landward cliff. It consists of one large block of as fine roofing-slate as ever I saw in my life. Then went in the boat to Bryant's Cove, a picturesque little spot, being the mouth of a small valley that here comes out on the sea, and then proceeded to Spaniard's Bay, whence I sent the boat to tow the vessel in, it having fallen quite calm.
June 20th. This day visited Bay Roberts and Port de Grave, finding nothing but slate rock, similar to that which I had seen before. Both these places are inhabited. Indeed the western (or as it is called in Newfoundland the northern) shore of Conception Bay is the most populous part of the island, having upwards of 20,000 people scattered along it, with ministers of the churches of England and Rome and of the Wesleyans, several medical men, and most of the comforts and conveniences of civilized life.
June 21st. As I wanted to get a little into the interior, to see if there were any boundary to this abominable slate rock in that direction, we took the boat this morning to what is called the northern gut of Port de Grave. Here a brook empties itself into the sea, having run for about three miles through a narrow pond, or "cosh," as my men called it. We hauled the boat up the shallow bed of the brook for a few yards into deeper water, and then rowed up the lake. I then struck off, with two men and the theodolite and barometer, to the top of a hill on the north side, called Sunday's Hill, whose height I found to be about 500 feet. From its top I could see nothing in the interior but woods and marshes, dotted with ponds, with several rugged eminences rising in different directions. I proceeded two or three miles farther, over some marshes, till I found the labour as useless as it was great, since no rock showed itself. We then had a hard tug through some thick woods down to the bed of the brook, where I found still the same slate rock, and after much toil and difficulty we got back to the head of the cosh. Here we met Gaden, who had caught three or four dozen of trout up the brook, but on coming to the boat found some urchins from the neighbouring houses had stolen all our bread and butter. So we sailed down the cosh to a house, where we procured some potatoes, and with these and the trout we had caught made a comfortable dinner. As the evening fell I took the rod and line, and just where the brook ran into the sea I caught several dozen very nice trout and salmon-peel. They seemed both to prefer the brackish water at the mouth of the brook, and the largest were caught farthest into the salt water. We then returned to our vessel, which was anchored about a mile down the bay, in a place called Cupid's Cove, but which, contrary to what might have been expected, was a wild desolate little spot with no attractions whatever. I was much struck with the beauty of the little valley we had visited, its sheltered situation between two bold rocky ridges, and the apparent superiority of the soil on the Bankss of the pond and brook, as evinced by the larger size of the trees, and the little patches of natural grass or turf which were to be seen. Of the latter the generality of the country is quite destitute. The seafaring propensities and employments of the people, however, had hindered all but just the seaward end of this pretty little place from being taken possession of.
June 22nd, 23rd, 24th. Proceeded to Brigus, and examined its neighbourhood. This is a rather considerable settlement, with a population of about 2000. It is a wild rocky little place; but about three miles inland from it is a fertile valley, through which runs a brook forming occasional ponds, and emptying itself into the sea on the southern side of Port de Grave. It is accordingly called the Southern Gut. In this valley lies a farm called "the Golds," (so called from a yellow flower which grows abundantly on the Bankss of some of the brooks) which was farmed by Mr. Cousins. The road to it lay through a pretty wood, in which the timber was greatly superior to that commonly to be found. There was some good grass-land in the flat, but much of it had been destroyed by spring floods, as the best portion of it was scarcely above the level of the brook. About two feet below the surface was a stratum, three or four inches thick, of concretionary bog-iron ore, that had as usual been mistaken for coal. The water, becoming impregnated with iron, probably from the decomposition of sulphuret of iron in the slate rocks, deposits it when it becomes stagnant in the flats, and it forms concretionary nodules in the clay or mud. Much of this flat land was covered with raspberry bushes; and Mr. Cousins informed me that, after a fire in the woods, the first thing that covers the ground is a luxuriant growth of raspberry bushes, which are gradually succeeded by a thick wood of birch, although previous to the fire nothing but fir and spruce may have been seen for miles. I believe that at the time of my visit this farm was not a profitable speculation, although the only one in the neighbourhood.
June 26th and 27th. Sailed along and examined all the inlets and holes and corners round the head of Conception Bay up to Holyrood, where we anchored in Chapel Cove. The bottom here being light-coloured, we could appreciate the extraordinary clearness and transparency of the water. Although we were close inshore, it was eight or ten fathoms deep; and yet we could see the anchor lying on the bottom, and the whole length of the chain up to the surface. On the rocks nearer shore myriads of green echini completely covered the bottom of the water, except in patches where a kind of coral forming crusts an inch thick, with small round knobs rising from it, was to be seen: this coral belongs to the genus myriapora, and is abundant on all the coasts of Newfoundland. This afternoon I ascended the Butterpots, a remarkable hill immediately on the east side of the inlet of Holyrood. We passed to the foot of the hill through a good deal of old burnt wood, now all white and brittle. The mosquitoes were troublesome, but we kept them off in some measure by smearing our faces with camphorated spirits of wine and sweet oil, a bottie of which I had provided for the purpose. We unfortunately attacked the face of the hill instead of working round it; accordingly we had a very hard climb, and in one place I slipped between two blocks of rock, and found on arriving at the summit that I had thus squeezed and broken the tube of the barometer. The summit is flat, with a precipitous face towards the west, and a more gradual but still rapid slope to the east: it probably attains the height of 1000 feet above the sea. The view from it was much the same as from the Cats Cove Hills.
I did not see much of the people in this part of Conception Bay, as I was too eagerly engaged in hunting rocks, but as far as I can recollect they seemed to be comfortable and contented, and their gardens and small fields to be superior in fertility to those in the neighbourhood of Harbour Grace or St. John's.
June 28th. From Holyrood to Portugal Cove, visiting Kelly's Island, Kelligrews, and Little Bell Island on the way. From Holyrood to Topsail there is a low tract of flat land, about a mile wide, full of ponds, and having a beach of large pebbles; and on the southeast side of each of the three islands opposite to it is a similar beach of a triangular shape, the apex running out to sea and pointing to the opposite shore. Tt looks as if a current swept past the islands from the northwest, deposited a heap of pebbles in the slack-water under the lee of each, and piled up the rest of the pebbles on the opposite shore. As a proof that there is such a current, several things (and I believe the body of a boy) which were lost from a vessel that was wrecked in 1840 near Pouch Cove were picked up in Holyrood, having doubled Cape St. Francis and travelled to the very head of Conception Bay. When I landed on Kelly's Island I found several workmen getting stone for the projected Catholic Cathedral in St. John's. The island is composed of shale, with bands of hard fine-grained gritstone: a thick bed of the latter comes out in the cliff on the southeast side of the island, and, as the shale beneath and above it decomposes, it falls down and forms a considerable talus of fragments at the cliff's foot. One or two schooners were carrying away these loose blocks for building stones. A few days before I visited them they had found at one place, beneath the roots of an old tree that grew over the rubbish, and old iron gun. It was a nine-pounder, very rusty, having no date or other mark than S.C. on each end of the trunnions, with a figure between the letters that might either have been a fleur-de-lys or an arrow-head. I was told afterwards that in some for-mer wars the island had been used as a place of refuge for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
June 29th.-Having sent across to St. John's for letters, &c., we sailed in the evening to Carbonear, with a strong breeze of wind and a storm of rain.
June 30th.-Today, being Sunday, the men, who were all Catholics, went to chapel, and I spent the day with some gentlemen who kindly invited me ashore. The land on which Carbonear stands is not so level as that of Harbour Grace, the town therefore is more irregular; and as several mercantile establishments which formerly existed there have been broken up, it has, in parts, a forlorn and deserted air. Nothing, indeed, looks so wretched as large unpainted and deserted wooden buildings.
I spent the evening at Mr. Pack's, who has a very pleasant place on the top of the ridge at the back of the town, where he has reduced several acres to a very good state of cultivation. I went over his farm, and saw oats just coming up, as well as a good crop of Timothy-grass, and some fine young cabbage plants springing. These were reckoned early, and it was said in about three weeks the grass and the cabbages would be ready for cutting. Mr. Pack told me, however, that his farm, with all the advantage of his having many men who could employ their spare time on it, instead of yielding a profit, cost him nearly £100 per annum to keep it in order. I was much charmed with the aspect of a wild little valley behind the house, partly filled with wood and a succession of small lakes or ponds, through which a brook ran off towards the sea, while the view from the front of the house commanded the mouth of Carbonear Harbour and its island, and a large part of Conception Bay, with Cape St. Francis and its lofty shores.
July 1st.-Sailed with alight air along shore to the northward, landing at several points as I went along. About Western and Northern Bays were several spots where the slate rocks were covered with red ochre. There appeared to be an oxide of iron dispersed through the rock, which, when it was exposed on the surface, formed a peroxide. It was traditionally reported that the Red Indians used these places formerly, to collect the red ochre which they smeared over their persons, clothes and instruments.
In the evening it came on to blow fresh from the southwest, and we anchored in Northern Bay. Went ashore, and caught some trout near a pretty waterfall at the head of the bay. A considerable number of houses were scattered round the little bay, as about all the small coves along this shore. The people were busied about their gardens, as also in spreading the codfish to dry on the flakes. In both places they seemed to be greatly annoyed and troubled by the mosquitoes. The women, although the weather was very hot, kept large shawls spread over their head and shoulders, and pinned tight round their faces, to protect them from the attacks of the flies while engaged in their work. They were very civil and hospitable, inviting me into their houses, and offering spruce beer or tea. It was here I first noticed the swarms of small fish called capelin. These fish are rather longer than the hand, with slight elegantly-shaped bodies, greenish backs, and silver bellies, some of their scales being tinged with red. They are very beautiful little things, and in June and the early part of July crowd into the shores in countless myriads to deposit their spawn. The head of this little bay had a small strip of sand beach, on which was a slight rolling surf, and every heave of the wave, as it broke on the sand, strewed its margin with hundreds of capelin, leaping and glancing in the sun till the next wave swept them off and deposited a fresh multitude. The clear green of the water, margined with a belt of white foam full of these elegant creatures, glittering in the sun-shine, formed altogether a most beautiful and interesting sight. We picked up a bucketful of them as we were going off, for supper and breakfast, as, when fresh, they are most delicate eating.
July 2nd. Continued our voyage along shore into Bay de Verde, or as the people call it, Bay of Herbs. This latter name is singularly inappropriate, as it is a wild desert place, composed entirely of bare red gritstone, like that on the coast near St. John's. Baccalieu Island, which is close by, being almost inaccessible, is the favourite resort of thousands of seabirds, which kept flying about us as we lay becalmed for some time in the bay. At noon a fresh breeze from the southwest sprang up, and we sailed through the passage between the island and the main, and shaped our course for Trinity Harbour, on the northwest side of Trinity Bay. As we neared Trinity it got very cold, the thermometer sinking to 48°, and we found three small islands of ice a mile or two to the northward of us.
July 3rd and 4th. Trinity Harbour is one of the finest in the world, having three spacious basins entirely landlocked. A lofty rocky promontory rises in the centre of the harbour, on the lower parts of which stand the houses composing the town, scattered about with the usual irregularity. There is a good church and churchyard, and several large and excellent houses with pleasant gardens. The storehouses and yards of several mercantile establishments are also on a very extensive scale, though the trade of the place is, I believe, declining, and is greatly fallen off from its former state. The harbour is surrounded by rocky hills forming precipitous cliffs toward the sea, and no road has as yet been formed from it, though one to Catalina has been surveyed. The rocks about it are slate, with beds of greywacke conglomerate. The population of Trinity and the neighbourhood is abut 3000.
July 5th.-Sailed in the afternoon. The three islands of ice off the mouth of the harbour were covered by gulls and other seabirds, that were continually wheeling round them. Several whales were spouting round us in the coves, close alongshore, apparently pursuing the capelin. Many of these whales were of large size, as was apparent from the huge tails they heaved into the air. Put into a little harbour on the south side of Bonaven-ture Head.
July 6th.-After towing the vessel out of the harbour, went away in the boat to examine several islands. Saw a thrasher at a distance. This is a large cetaceous animal, that lies on the surface of the water, which he continually lashes with what shows at a distance like a great tail, but is, I believe, a large pectoral fin or paddle. He makes the sea foam around him, and is said to be then attacking the whale. My men told me that, while the thrasher thus persecuted the whale from above, the swordfish was thrusting him with his jagged weapon from below, and one of them assured me he had seen the whale rise to the surface and heard him roar with pain at a distance of three miles. As this was Kelly's story, however, I consider the authority very doubtful, to say the least of it. After rowing all day in a burning sun among the islands, we saw the vessel still becalmed under the land in the evening, and were obliged to pull back to her, when a light breeze sprang up, and we made for Smith's Sound.
July 7th.-Thick fog early in the morning, at the mouth of the sound, but as we proceeded we found it not to extend far inland, and we drew gradually out of it into a blazing sunshine. The sail up the sound was very beautiful. It is a fine river-like arm of the sea, from one to two miles wide, with lofty, and in places precipitous, rocky Bankss, covered with wood. We occupied the whole day in examining both sides of the sound, and anchored in the evening at the head of it in a still lake-like bay, at the northwest corner of Random Island. There is here a shallow bar connecting Random Island with the main land, which is only passable at high water. This we carefully examined to find the deepest channel, in order to pass it in the morning. The shore here, both on the island and tile main, is low and well wooded. It is composed of the same shale as Bell Island in Conception Bay, and its soil is of a superior fertility to that of the rest of the country, and timber is consequently better. We saw several seals here, one of which we shot, but it sank before we could get it. Although the nearest shore was full half a mile from our anchorage, we were immediately on our arrival invaded by such hosts of mosquitoes, that, after vainly trying to sleep for some time, we were obliged to fasten down the hatches and skylights, and then make fires of old rags, oakum, and other things, till the vessel was saturated with smoke.
July 8th. Soon after daylight we tried to tow the vessel over the bar, but found the tide did not rise high enough to admit of it. It is only at spring tides, or possibly during strong easterly winds, that there is more than six feet of water, while our vessel, the Beaufort, drew six feet and a half. I accordingly put three days' provisions into the boat, and, taking two men with me, set off, appointing to meet the Beaufort in Hickman's Harbour, on the south side of Random Island. A fine mass of peaked hilIs some miles to the west sent down some spurs to the coast opposite Random Island, which I found to consist of sienite. The character of the scenery of Random Sound, on the south side of the island is much the same as that of Smith's Sound on the north, wild and beautiful, and conveying, from its stillness and silence, the feeling of utter solitude and seclusion. As we rowed alongshore we came to a small rocky point of red sienite, on which stood two large masses of rock in a singular position, the one resting on the other, on the smallest possible base, apparently, on which such a block could be balanced. On this point was a she-otter with her young ones fishing, one of the latter of which I shot, as they were of good size. Here we dined, and presently after came to a large bay or recess to our right, from the head of which a well-marked valley ran away to the south. Here we got a breeze, and putting up our lug-sail we rattled away down to Hickman's Harbour. Landing at one place opposite this to make some observations on some rocks that caught my eye, as soon as we got under the lull of the woods we were assailed by mosquitoes. I endeavoured for-some time to disregard them, but was at last fairly maddened and driven off. They came in such clouds before my face that I could not see to write in my notebook, while the eager voracity with which they fastened on every inch of skin exposed was absolutely terrifying, so that at last we made a simultaneous bolt into the boat and shoved off into the breeze, which soon swept them away. We then sailed to the mouth of the sound, but, seeing nothing of the Beaufort, returned and put into a little cove on the south side just as it was growing dark. We were guided by the sound of falling water to a little brook that leaped over the rocks into the sea. Here we hauled our boat ashore, and established ourselves on a little margin of shingle and broken rocks between the woods and the water. We gathered some old trunks of trees, and cut down some fresh ones; fired some loose brown paper out of the gun to light a match, and made a fire, piled on some logs, and as soon as they were fairly alight covered them with wet moss to make a smoke to drive away the mosquitoes, in which we succeeded pretty well. The next thing was to boil the kettle, into which we put a handful of tea and about two tablespoonfuls of molasses, to make the usual beverage of the country. In the mean while a lot of green boughs had been cut to interpose between the rocks and our persons as a bed, and wood and moss piled for the night to keep up the fire and the smoke. The men had brought a spare stay-sail as a covering, and I had a cloak. We were obliged to tie our heads up in handkerchiefs, and put on gloves, to keep our hands and faces from being bitten; and, thus defended, hushed by the falling water of the brook and the splash of the sea three yards from our feet, we went to sleep. Although awoke once or twice by heavy rain hissing on the fire, I passed this my first night in the open air in tolerable comfort, but found in the morning a few sore places in my ribs from some sharp corners of rock coming against them.
July l0th. It having been quite calm all night, the vessel did not come to an anchor in Fox Harbour before six in the morning, and about eight I set off in the boat with four hands to examine the inlet called Southwest Arm. We pulled along under the northern shore, visiting a fine-looking harbour called by the people Jones's Harbour. At the mouth of this a breeze sprang up and we hoisted sail and ran alongshore. The men having been up all night fell asleep on the thwarts; and I lay back between the yoke-ropes of the rudder, I could see no other moving thing on the broad sound, and the hills and woods around us, but our little boat dancing from wave to wave. Just before we arrived at the head of the arm dark clouds rose in the west, and a heavy thunderstorm came on. We caught sight, however, of a heap of chips of wood in a cove on the right hand, which the men said was probably near a winter-house or tilt. We made for it accordingly, and found a path leading in about fifty yards to a very good "tilt."
July 1lth. Breakfast at daylight, and pulled back again along the opposite shore. A flat valley ran from our resting-place northwards into Random Sound, and had apparently formed at one time a water connection between the two inlets, and thus rendered the land between the sound and Southwest Arm an island. I had not time, however, to examine it more in detail, as my business was to hunt rocks, and if possible find coal, which I had been told had been seen about Random Island. From the middle of Southwest Arm I saw the same picturesque group of hills in the country to the west which I had previously observed from the sound. The head of the arm was also composed of sienite, as was the case with the sound, from which, to the sea, the rocks were all clay slate, quartzose grits, and dark slate rock. On going alongshore we came to a small sand beach, on which were the fresh tracks of a bear and a fox. They both led into the wood, where it was hopeless to attempt to find them. A little below, a very large bird, a kind of brown eagle, with whitish head and yellow claws, flew out of a cliff, and flapped lazily along from cliff to cliff before us. I sent a ball after him out of my double barrel, but without success. At one spot where we landed was a small brook with some meadowland covered with grass, and spotted with blue iris and other flowers. Contrasted with the general covering of dank moss, it looked quite delightful. It did not, however, run far, as 200 or 300 yards from the shore the usual close wood and moss covered the ground. Reached Fox Harbour at three PM, took in some water, got up the anchor, and stood into the bay, bound farther up for the Bay of Bull's Arm.
July 12th.-We beat up all day against a south wind, and in the evening anchored in Mosquito Cove, Bay of Bull's Arm. The aspect of the coast and country was still the same,-namely, wild and rugged, with scattered and stunted wood. Beyond Fox Harbour and Heart's Ease there were no inhabitants.
July 13th.-Not very well this morning, but about 11 o'clock set off with all hands in the boat for the head of the arm. Here we landed near a little brook, where I left the skipper Gaden and one man fishing, while I with the rest started across for the head of Placentia Bay, determined among other things to procure some fresh meat of some sort if possible. The neck of land here which connects the province of Avalon with the main part of the island is not more than three miles wide, and, where we crossed, not above 150 or 200 feet above the level of the sea. There had been some talk of cutting a canal through it to connect Trinity and Placentia Bays, and were those places the seat of a large mercantile population it would no doubt be effected. At present, however, the only purpose it could serve would be the occasional passage of a fishing-boat from one bay to the other, according to the season and the relative abundance of fish. There are still the marks of a path, along which, according to the tradition of the country, the French, when they were in possession of Placentia, used to haul their boats from one bay to the other on the dry land. The slope towards Trinity Bay is gradual, and over marshy ground, on which we found a great many tracks of deer apparently freshly made. On the Placentia side the descent is more abrupt and rocky, and through a thick wood. On the barren, at the top of the ridge, I shot a brace of ptarmigan without respect to the season of the year, a consideration but little attended to by a hungry man in a wild country. At the foot of the woody descent we came to a pretty brook with a depth of water of two or three feet and a rapid current. Its bed was, however, rocky, and it shortly spread out among the pebbles and sands at the head of the bay we had come out upon, and which went by the name of "Come-by-Chance."
Walking about a mile down the brook we came to a lone house at its mouth, with six or eight cows feeding on the meadows, formed by the washings of the brook and the sea. It is only in such situations, where the alluvium of a brook has had room to spread itself out, that natural grass is to be seen in the country. We found only the woman and children at home, the man having gone down to fish about Placentia. They managed the cows and the salmon nets. One of the latter was placed at the mouth of the brook, and one a mile or two up; and they told me that last year they had caught six tierce of salmon. These varied in value from £3 to £6 currency, so that the wife was enabled to get £20 or £30 every summer by her own exertions, independent of the results of her husband's cod-fishing, which would probably be as much more. As they, of course, paid no rent for either house or land, and had wood for firing and boat-building at command, they were well off. To counterbalance these advantages, however, they had no fresh meat unless when the man shot a deer, and had to fetch their bread, salt pork, tea, sugar, and every article both of clothing and food, from Placentia, or some other distant merchant's store, where they necessarily paid high prices from the want of competition and the nature of the trade. We got here some fresh milk and butter, and four salmon' and feasted accordingly, and while we were strolling about, the husband's boat came "goosewinged" up the bay before a fresh breeze, and my men got what they enjoyed more than even salmon and milk, namely, some news from Placentia and St. John's. I also heard of two gentlemen of St. John's who lost their way in the country a few days before, in attempting to walk across this neck of land a few miles farther down, where it is about nine miles wide. They were out in the woods two days and a night in dreadful weather, with no shelter and but little food, and with difficulty got back to the place they had started from. They were accustomed to traverse the country, and not easily disheartened, so some notion of the difficulty of penetrating it may be gained from this fact. We walked back to our boat in the evening, and found Gaden and the other man had caught no fish, but had been nearly eaten alive by the mosquitoes.
July 14th.-A dense fog this morning, which about ten cleared off, and I took the men and the boat, intending to visit a lofty hill called in Bullock's chart "Centre Hill," between Bay of Bull's Arm and Deer Harbour. In climbing up the first Banks I found myself very weak and unwell, with sickness and frequent giddiness, and it was with much difficulty I toiled over the marshes and through the tangled woods to some craggy and broken rocks with dark pools of water at the foot of the hill, which looked very steep and inaccessible. After taking a little biscuit soaked in whisky and water, however, and a strong pull at the "creature itself," I managed to reach the top.
The view was very extensive, commanding the greater part of Trinity and Placentia Bays, the high lands about the Bays of Bonavista and Fortune, and a wide tract of the interior. The interior consisted almost entirely of marshes, dotted with ponds and patches and strips of wood; a few ridges showed either bare rock or white lichens to contrast with the velvety green and yellow of the marshes, which are altogether deep wet moss. Although the sea was within five miles of us on one side, and the woods and hollows obscured them at a greater distance than eight or ten miles on the other, I counted no fewer than 152 ponds from the summit of this hill, none less than twenty or thirty yards across, and some of them half a mile or a mile wide. The height of the hill was probably 1000 or 1200 feet. We could trace several well beaten deer-paths traversing the marshes, but saw no deer. I found, however, a bag of buckshot on the top of the hill, which is used as a lookout by persons who come to shoot deer in the fall of the year. In descending we found a kind of track that led us out by a shorter way than the one we came, and close by the shore we found a kind of rude sledge that had apparently been hastily constructed to haul out the body of some deer over the snow. On returning to the vessel found myself very unwell, but was cured by a boiled ptarmigan and a basin of the broth. An English stomach accustomed to fresh meat is really very inconvenient to traveller. In this hot weather I had loathed the salt pork and beef, and lived principally on tea and biscuit. Our water, too, lately had been got principally from brooks that flowed from the marshes, and was full of vegetable matter (we could generally study botany and entomology in our glasses); so that, from bad living and the incessant attacks of the mosquitoes, I was nearly driven into a fever, and could neither eat, sleep, nor think.
Before night, between the showers, I took a walk in the woods, and on returning found Kelly had turned one sail into a hammock for me, under which Joe had spread boughs for himself, while Kelly and Dick lay on boughs and the other sail. We then had supper, grog, and pipes, and spun yarns; among which Kelly's were conspicuous, partly for the humour with which they were told, and partly for the astounding lies they contained, himself the witness and voucher for every one of them.
July 15th.-Felt much better. Weighed anchor and sailed along the shore towards Tickle Harbour. In the middle of the day we got becalmed, and a thick fog came on, and presently after a deluge of rain, that soon poured through the skylight and ceiling into my cabin, wetting everything except my bed. In the evening it began to blow, and we met some fishing-boats that told us Tickle Harbour was a bad place to lie in, and one boat piloted us into a small cove called Chance Cove a mile or two astern, where we arrived just as it got dark, through a narrow and rocky entrance. The man directed us, if it came on to blow from the northeast, to get a line ashore and haul behind a small rocky headland. After a glass of grog he sailed away into the mist to go home, there being some houses in a small cove a mile or two off towards Tickle Harbour.
July 16th.-Fine morning and pleasant breeze, and we sailed alongshore round Tickle Harbour Point into Collier's Bay, landing occasionally of course to examine the rocks. In the evening one of the men, in getting water from a brook, had his eyes nearly closed up from the swelling caused by the bites of a very minute insect called a sand fly, one of the three kinds of biting flies which go under the general denomination of mosquitoes.
July 17th.-Saw some large flocks of ducks, which were, I believe, the eider duck, but could not get a shot at them. We then visited Chapel Arm, round which are some very picturesque peaked hills, clothed with dense wood. Here, at a place called Norman's Cove, we saw a small schooner on the stocks, and found several houses. Sailing by a fishing-boat we asked them for some fish, when they threw half a dozen fine cod aboard, without thinking of asking a recompense, or staying to receive our thanks. Coasted along and anchored in the evening in New Harbour, a shoal place and difficult of entrance. We here found several merchants' stores, and a considerable population, the beginning of a road, and a bridge over the brook. I also got some provincial newspapers, and found a paragraph in one in which I was said to have discovered copper, gypsum, coal, limestone, and, if I recollect rightly, silver, the account, I suppose, of some imaginative fisherman.
July 18th. -Mr. Newhook of New Harbour treated us very kindly, and piloted us out in the morning, and we sailed with a light breeze down to Heart's Content, along a low shore of bright red and grey slate. The wood along this was finer than ordinary, and the land apparently more fertile, grass growing occasionally, and in one place, called Green Bay, I observed some white clover in flower. Heart's Content is a fine spacious harbour, nearly circular, and excellently sheltered from all winds. The land about is high, and from this place the coast is lofty and bold for some miles towards the north.
The Reverend Mr. Hamilton came on board and invited me ashore. He has charge of all the eastern shore of Trinity Bay, as Mr. Bullock had of Trinity Harbour and the western shore, Heart's Content and Trinity being the respective head-quarters. Almost all the eastern shore of Trinity Bay is inhabited, and Heart's Content contains two or three mercantile establishments or agencies, and a considerable number of houses. The different places alongshore are only connected by miserable winding wood paths or narrow boggy tracks over the roots of trees, but Heart's Content has a road, surveyed to Carbonear, which is completed except three or four miles of "barren" in the middle, and all the brooks are bridged over. There is also a road marked out from New Harbour to Spaniard's Bay, and wooden bridges constructed over the brooks.
We were detained a day at Heart's Content by bad weather and a gale from the northeast, and on July 20th sailed again alongshore, calling at New and Old Perlican, Hants Harbour, &c., down to Baccalieu Island. Here the wind fell to a calm, and it was morning of July 21st before I landed at Quidi Vidi, and walked up to St. John's, after a trip of five weeks.
Page contributed by: Bill Crant, February 22nd, 2000
Page revised: Sept 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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