Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush

Free Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush by Susanna Moodie

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Authors: Susanna Moodie
stamp, the daughter of a tavern-keeper, was indignant at being introduced to a gentleman, whose father had followed the same calling.
    Such persons seem to forget, that as long as people retain their natural manners, and remain true to the dignity of their humanity, they cannot with any justice be called vulgar; for vulgarity consists in presumptuously affecting to be what we are not, and in claiming distinctions which we do not deserve, and which no one else would admit.
    The farmer, in his homespun, may possess the real essentials which make the gentleman – good feeling, and respect for the feelings of others. The homely dress, weather-beaten face, and hard hands, could not deprive him of the honest independence and genial benevolence he derived from nature. No real gentleman would treat such a man, however humble his circumstances, with insolence or contempt. But place the same man out of his class, dress him in the height of fashion, and let him attempt to imitate the manners of the great, and the whole world would laugh at the counterfeit.
    Uneducated, ignorant people often rise by their industry to great wealth in the colony; to such the preference shown to the educated man always seems a puzzle. Their ideas of gentility consist in being the owners of fine clothes, fine houses, splendid furniture, expensive equipages, and plenty of money. They have all these, yet even the most ignorant feel that something else is required. They cannot comprehend the mysterious ascendancy of mind over mere animal enjoyments; yet they have sense enough, by bestowing a liberal education on their children, to endeavour, at least in their case, to remedy the evil.
    The affectation of wishing people to think that you had been better off in the mother country than in Canada, is not confined to the higher class of emigrants. The very poorest are the most remarked for this ridiculous boasting. A servant girl of mine told me, with a very grand toss of the head, “that she did not choose to
hersel’ by scrubbing a floor; that she belonged to the
ra’al gintry
in the ould counthry, and her papa and mamma niver brought her up to hard work.”
    This interesting scion of the aristocracy was one of the coarsest specimens of female humanity I ever beheld. If I called her to bring a piece of wood for the parlour fire, she would thrust her tangled, uncombed red head in at the door, and shout at the top of her voice, “Did yer holler?”
    One of our working men, wishing to impress me with the dignity of his wife’s connexions, said with all becoming solemnity of look and manner –
    “Doubtless, ma’am, you have heard in the ould counthry of Connor’s racers: Margaret’s father kept those racers.”
    When I recalled the person of the individual whose fame was so widely spread at home, and thought of the racers, I could hardly keep a “straight face,” as an American friend terms laughing, when you are bound to look grave.
    One want is greatly felt here; but it is to be hoped that a more liberal system of education and higher moral culture will remedy the evil. There is a great deficiency among our professional men and wealthy traders of that nice sense of honour that marks the conduct and dealings of the same class at home. Of course many bright exceptions are to be found in the colony, but too many of the Canadians think it no disgrace to take every advantage of the ignorance and inexperience of strangers.
    If you are not smart enough to drive a close bargain, they consider it only fair to take you in. A man loses very little in the public estimation by making over all his property to some convenient friend, in order to defraud his creditors, while he retains a competency for himself.
    Women, whose husbands have been detained on the limits for years for debt, will give large parties and dress in the most expensive style. This would be thought dishonourable at home, but is considered no disgrace here.
    “Honour is all very well in an

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