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but Alexander, with that tincture of national pride for which the Scot has ever been famous, speaks contemptuously of these labours of the French, believing that the great work of establishing a new settlement was reserved for those who had more perseverance if not more skill:
"This is no wonder, that the French being so slightly planted, did take no deeper root in America, for they as only desirous to know the nature and quality of the soil, and of things that were likely to grow there, did never seek to have them in such quantity as was requisite for their maintenance, affecting more by making a needless ostentation, that the world should know they had been there, than that they did continue still to inhabit there; like them, that were more in love with glory than with virtue, but like hired servants labouring for their masters, and not like fathers providing for their family and posterity, which can never be avoided till the ground be inhabited by them, that being owners thereof, will trust it with their maintenance, and do content themselves with the delight of that which may give glory to them, and profit to their heirs."
In spite of his low opinion of the colonizing labours of the French, Sir William Alexander was ready, within a year or two of the publication of his book, to join his fortunes with those of a previous settler under the charter of Henry IV.
In the year 1627 there was a frequenter of the Court named David Kirtck, whose patronymic became Anglicised into Kirk. He was a French Calvinist who had fled from religious persecution in France, and had become acquainted with Sir William Alexander, and his plans of colonization. Sir David Kirk, as he was now called, proposed at Whitehall that an expedition should be fitted out to attack French settlements in Acadia. War at that time had been declared by England against France; the persecuted Huguenots having applied for aid to the English Government. The Duke of Buckingham, in the summer of that year, was ingloriously defeated in the Isle of Rhé, and had returned home in the autumn. The success of Sir David Kirk afforded some small compensation for the disasters of the ambitious duke. The enterprising Kirk, a native of Dieppe, captured eighteen French transports, with a hundred and thirty-five pieces of ordnance, destined for the fortifications of Port Royal and Quebec. Amongst the prisoners taken on board the transports was a French Protestant, who subsequently became associated with Sir William Alexander in his projects of colonization. Claude de la Tour had received from the French Crown extensive grants of territory on the River St. John,
and was also possessed of considerable private fortune. He soon ceased to be treated in England as a prisoner of war, and appears to have become a court favourite, for he married a maid of honour of the Queen. Whether this lady was one of those attendants of Henrietta Maria, of whom Charles I. ungallantly wrote to Buckingham in August, 1626, "I command you to send all the French to-morrow out of the town, and may the devil go with them ;" or whether, having escaped this persecution, she remained in privacy until La Tour came to England and compassionated her lot, history does not condescend to inform us. We only learn that Claude de la Tour, having been created a Baronet of Nova Scotia, two ships of war were placed under his command, and he returned with his wife to Nova Scotia, for the purpose of dislodging his countrymen from L'Acadie. He calculated too confidingly upon the obedience of his son Charles la Tour, who was then commanding a French fort at Cape Sable. France was then at war with England, and young La Tour refused to abandon his trust to his father, who threatened and promised in vain. The disappointed Claude sent his ships home, and finally formed a Scotch settlement near Port Royal.
BY W. W. FENN.
CURTAINS are undoubtedly going out of fashion; and if we consider how arras has ceased to decorate our chambers and banqueting-rooms, we may say that to a certain extent they are gone. From the earliest periods of civilization, after humanity had ceased to dwell in tents, draperies and curtains probably of some kind have formed the innermost and only lining to nearly every apartment. Before the advent of the paperhanger and painter, indeed, what other method could be devised to hide the "lime and rough-cast" that "doth present wall" "? Now-a-days, however, we should be much more likely to think of covering our rooms with postage-stamps than with the produce of the Venetian or Gobelin looms.
Tapestry, or hangings of any kind on the walls, are rare things to meet with, and without going back as far as the middle ages, we shall find many proofs that curtains are gone out of date. Let the mind revert to those times when four-horse coaches and long stage wagons were the chief means of transport. Let it dwell for a moment on the halting places, say between London and York. Think of those old port-winy, ramshackled, comfortable inns, with their courtyards and outside galleries, their stabling for a hundred post-horses, their fusty, stale, tobacco-smelling rooms, with their horse-hair and thin-legged mahogany furniture; think of the mirrors over the sideboard, reflecting the narrow, many-paned windows, with the multitudinous folds of their heavy curtains; but above all, picture to yoursel the four-post bedstead. What an awful machine it was! Think of the amount of superfluous drapery that clustered around this high altar of Morpheus, swaddling up its inmate, and excluding every breath of fresh air with its festoons, rosettes, fringes, cords, tassels, testers, and valances, and with its overwhelming mass of thick curtains, each large enough to wrap half across the other, and still leave ample folds to complete the magnificence of this gorgeous catafalque! Think of the effect produced on all this mass of damask and highly polished carved wood by the fitful rays of the rushlight, flickering through the many round holes of its shade! Remember also the aspect of the room, as you ensconced yourself in the depths of that abominable abomination, a feather-bed!
How weird, dingy, and depressing the whole business was. Dwell well upon the memory of all this, and then think of the bed you slept in last night. Yes, under the despotism of curtains, it seemed to be a rule, that the darker the room, the darker still was it to be made by the addition, in every conceivable and inconceivable way, of hangings! And of what horrible stuff some of them were made! One especially detestable web comes to my recollection, giving me a cold shudder, as I touch in imagination that coarse, rough, dustcollecting fabric called watered moreen. A ridgy, crinkly, harsh sort of texture it had, that curdled your blood, and electrified your whole frame! Ugh. Let us talk of something else!
Yes, let us peep at the other side of the curtains, to restore our sensations to a healthy equilibrium.
Let us think of them when they are drawn close, about four o'clock on a winter's afternoon, when the snow lies thick on the pavement or lawn; when a murky, copper-coloured light in the west, faintly tinges the otherwise leaden sky, portending continuous bad weather; when the eager wind rattles the casement, and creeps through every chink and cranny; when curtains really become essential, and no mean attribute to the snug comfort alike of the humble parlour, or stately drawing-room. The mere words "Draw the curtains," have a pleasant sound, a sound that tells of home, and fireside, and cannot fail to bring back many a vivid picture of long evening cheeriness, of "dinner served" to hearty appetites, of—
"Old friends to laugh,
Old wine to quaff,
Old wood to burn;"
or, of tea and muffins, of hunt the slipper and forfeits, of blind man's buff, or the friendly rubber. Music rings pleasantly in the ears of memory, as the most fitting accompaniment to such happy scenes. It matters little of what material, so it be thick, the curtains then are made; let them keep out the cold, and help by their colour the general tone of warmth that pervades; and, fashionable or not, curtains under these conditions will never fade.
Still, they are "going out." Where, forsooth, is the curtain of the lady's bonnet? Where is the fair creature that, in this year of grace, would think of ordering her milliner to construct such a Gothic appendage to her out-door head-gear ?-covering it cannot be called.
Yet, but a little while ago, and such expressions as, "The curtain of my bonnet is trimmed with lace," "I must have my curtain altered,” or, "My curtain is too long," etc., were continually poured forth by rosy lips, when that all-engrossing topic, feminine costume, was brought upon the carpet.
Where are all these curtains gone? Echo, without replying to the question, brings forth for our inspection (perhaps microscopic) the "chignon "!
Another species of curtain seems fast disappearing into the limbo of the past, fading, as may be truly said, before the glare of the colours now supplanting it. This is the green baize curtain of our theatres.
There was a time, and it does not seem so very long ago, when our greatest ambition and hopes were attained, by being taken to see a pantomime, and when the first thing which met our expectant gaze was this verdant frontispiece of the proscenium; this significantly coloured title-page to the enchanted book, which we would then pore over, and strain our eyes to gaze upon with such wrapt attention. What hosts of happy memories cling round us, as we picture to ourselves the look of that flat, smooth, seam-stained piece of drapery! With what interest did we eye it, longing for the moment when the tinkle of the prompter's bell should send it, rushing with a sound "like a summer sea upon the sand," high out of sight, ever thickening in folds at its base, the further up it went.
Alas! it is seldom to be seen now! Here and there, where efforts are made to restore the legitimate drama, of which it is considered a component part, you may occasionally catch a glimpse of it, if you arrive at the commencement and stay till the conclusion of a five-act tragedy. But for all general purposes, the scene-painter's art has superseded it, and we have now in its place the act-drop, or, may be, some admirably-painted representation of a curtain of white satin, velvet, or lace; but, in the main, the act-drop with its classical picture, in its mimic gilt frame, does duty for our old friend and favouritethe green baize curtain.
Some regret must always be felt for the disappearance of time-honoured customs and habits; yet, on the whole, this departure from the profuse use of drapery may perhaps be lamented less than many of the fashions so dearly reverenced by our ancestors. Health is the great thing to be considered, and that most estimable lady, Miss Florence Nightingale, can never be too much praised for the no mean share she has had in divesting our beds and bed-rooms at