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Baddeck, and That Sort of Thing   By: (1829-1900)

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By Charles Dudley Warner



It would be unfair to hold you responsible for these light sketches of a summer trip, which are now gathered into this little volume in response to the usual demand in such cases; yet you cannot escape altogether. For it was you who first taught me to say the name Baddeck; it was you who showed me its position on the map, and a seductive letter from a home missionary on Cape Breton Island, in relation to the abundance of trout and salmon in his field of labor. That missionary, you may remember, we never found, nor did we see his tackle; but I have no reason to believe that he does not enjoy good fishing in the right season. You understand the duties of a home missionary much better than I do, and you know whether he would be likely to let a couple of strangers into the best part of his preserve.

But I am free to admit that after our expedition was started you speedily relieved yourself of all responsibility for it, and turned it over to your comrade with a profound geographical indifference; you would as readily have gone to Baddeck by Nova Zembla as by Nova Scotia. The flight over the latter island was, you knew, however, no part of our original plan, and you were not obliged to take any interest in it. You know that our design was to slip rapidly down, by the back way of Northumberland Sound, to the Bras d'Or, and spend a week fishing there; and that the greater part of this journey here imperfectly described is not really ours, but was put upon us by fate and by the peculiar arrangement of provincial travel.

It would have been easy after our return to have made up from libraries a most engaging description of the Provinces, mixing it with historical, legendary, botanical, geographical, and ethnological information, and seasoning it with adventure from your glowing imagination. But it seemed to me that it would be a more honest contribution if our account contained only what we saw, in our rapid travel; for I have a theory that any addition to the great body of print, however insignificant it may be, has a value in proportion to its originality and individuality, however slight either is, and very little value if it is a compilation of the observations of others. In this case I know how slight the value is; and I can only hope that as the trip was very entertaining to us, the record of it may not be wholly unentertaining to those of like tastes.

Of one thing, my dear friend, I am certain: if the readers of this little journey could have during its persual the companionship that the writer had when it was made, they would think it altogether delightful. There is no pleasure comparable to that of going about the world, in pleasant weather, with a good comrade, if the mind is distracted neither by care, nor ambition, nor the greed of gain. The delight there is in seeing things, without any hope of pecuniary profit from them! We certainly enjoyed that inward peace which the philosopher associates with the absence of desire for money. For, as Plato says in the Phaedo, "whence come wars and fightings and factions? whence but from the body and the lusts of the body? For wars are occasioned by the love of money." So also are the majority of the anxieties of life. We left these behind when we went into the Provinces with no design of acquiring anything there. I hope it may be my fortune to travel further with you in this fair world, under similar circumstances.

NOOK FARM, HARTFORD, April 10, 1874.

C. D. W.



"Ay, now I am in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home, I was in a better place; but travellers must be content." TOUCHSTONE.

Two comrades and travelers, who sought a better country than the United States in the month of August, found themselves one evening in apparent possession of the ancient town of Boston... Continue reading book >>

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