The Journal of Gerald Keegan: The Entries from Grosse Isle
Grosse Isle- May 31- Fourteen days since I penned a line in this sorrowful record, I wished I had not lived to pen another. God's will be done but oh, it is so hard to say it. Yet I ask myself, what right have I to repine? Grevious as has been my loss, what is it compared to many of those around me, whose quiet submission rebukes my selfish sorrow. Enough of this, let me resume my record. When the ship came abreast of the quarantine buildings, all fresh from a new coat of whitewash, the anchor was dropped. It was nearly an hour before the quarantine officer came on board, and I heard him stepping from his boat to apologize to our captain for the delay, owing to his waiting for breakfast. The captain took him down to the cabin and it was a long while before he re-appeared, when he stopped down to the main deck, where all the passengers, able to be out of bed, were waiting him. He walked round us, asked a few to hold out threir tongues and then went down into the hold, where he stayed only a minute or so. Passing a few word with the captain, he re-entered his boat and rowed back to the island. No sooner had he left, than the boatswain got orders to have all the boats made ready to take the sick ashore. First the dead were brought up. The sailors shrank back, there was a muttered consulation, and the boatswain, taking me saide, told me they would not touch them or even a boat that held them, and I had better drop them overboard. "Never", I cried, "shall it be said that the bodies faithful did not receive a Christian burial when it was possible to give it." Calling out from among my people four men whom I knew were fishermen, I asked them if they would row the dead ashore, and on saying they would, the boatswain let me have a boat. Decently, the bodies were passed over and we made our way to the landing. We had trouble in getting them out of the boat, for the steps of the quay were out of repair but we managed it and carried them to what, from the cross on the it, we saw was a Church. The priest came out and I told him our purpose. Leaving the dead in the Church, we went back to the ship for the others. By this time, the sick were being landed, and roughly handled they were. As it would be awhile before thw graves would be ready, I lent a hand - the most miserable, heartrending work I had ever engaged in. With indecent haste, they were hurried from the ship deck into the boats and tossed on to the steps of the quay, careless of what injury they might receive. Most were unable to help themselves in the least, a few were delirious. Men, women and children were all treated the same, as so much rubbish to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. It was no better on land. The quarantine had only two men to spare to help the few relatives who came ashore to carry them from the wharf to the buildings and many lay an hour in a cold peltinf rain. It signified little as to their getting wet, for they were all doused by the waves in landing them on the quay. Small wonder two died on the quay and were borne to the chapel to add to the number awaiting burial there. The priest was very considerate and although I did not ask it, said mass, which I knew would be a great consolation to the relatives. Leaving the cemetery with the priest, I thanked him ffrom my heart and ran to the quay. My heart was in my mouth when I saw on it Aileen, standing beside our bixes, and the ship, having tripped her anchor, bearing up the river. "What makes you look so at me Gerald? I have come as you asked."
"I never sent for you."
"The steward told me you sent word by the sailors for me to come ashore, that you wre going to stay here. They carried the luggage into a boat and I followed."
I groaned in spirit. I saw it all. By a villanious trick, the captain had got rid of me. Instead of being in Quebec that day, I was left at the quarantine station. "My poor Aileen, I know not what to do; my trouble is for you." I went to see the head of the establishment, Dr. Douglas. He proved to be a fussy gentleman, worried over a number of details. Professing to be ready to oblige, he said there was no help for me until the steamer came. "When will that be?" Next Saturday. A week on an island full of people sick with fever! Aileen, brave heart, made the best of it. She was soaking wet, yet the only shelter, apart from the fever sheds, which were not to be thought of, was an outhouse with a leaky roof, with no possibility of fire or change of clothing. How I cursed myself for my rashness in making captain and mate my enemies, for the penalty had fallen not on me but on my Aileen. There was not an armful of straw to be had; not even boards to lie on. I went to the cooking booth and found a Frenchman in charge. Bribing him with a shilling he gave me a loaf and a tin of hot tea. Aileen could not eat a bite though she tried to do so to please me but drank the tea. The rain continued and the east wind penetrated between the boards and the wrteched ceiling. What a night it was! I put my coat over Aileen, I pressed her to my bosum to impact some heat to her chilled frame, I endeaverd to cheer her with prospects of the morrow. Alas, when morning came she was unable to move and fever and chill alternated. I sought the doctor but he was not to be had. Other emigrant ships had arrived and he was viiting them. Beyong giving her water to assauge her thirst when in the fever it was not in my power to do anything. It was evening when the doctor, yelding to my importunities, came to see her. He did not stay a minute and after writing a few lines,told me to go to the hospital steward who would give me some medicine. Why recall the dreadful nights and days that followed? What profit to tell of the pain in my breast, the raging fever, the delerium, the agonizing grasping for breath- the end? The fourth day, with bursting heart and throbbing head, I knelt by the corpse of my Aileen. There was not a soul to help. Everybody was too full of their own troubles to able to heed me. The island was now filled with sick emigrants and death was on every side. I dug her grave, the priest came, I laid her there, I filled it in, I staggered to the shed that had sheltered us. I fell from sheer exhaustion and remember no more. When I woke, I heard the patter of rain and felt so inexpressibly weary I could think of nothing, much less exertion. My eye fell on Aileen's shawl and the past rushed me. Oh, the agony of that hour; my remorce, my sorrow, my beseechings of the Unseen. Such a paroxsym could not last long and when exhauted nature complelled me to lie down, I turned my face to the wall with the ernest prayer I might never awaken on this earth. How long I slept I know not. Some motion of one leaning over me brought back conciousness.
"Pax reum", said a voice I seemed to recall, "Et cum spitritu tuo", I mechanically responded.
I opened my eyes. Could I believe them? It was Father Moylan. I put my arms round his neck and kissed him a score of times.
"Father dear, sure it must be the Blessed Virgin herself sent you to console me for the loss of her daughter, my Aileen, my love."
My consolation wuold be of little aid but as an unworthy servant of the church I may be the channel of communicating the consolation that doth avail. May the Mother of Sorrows, whose heart was pierced by the sight of her son's death, heal thy wound. I know not Aileen was dead."
Did Father McGoran not tell you?"
"Like everybody else in this wretched place, his hands are too full to permit of speech that can be dispensed with. A lad calling me at Quebec to tell me of how you had been left behind and besought me to help you and your wife."
"His name, Father?"
"The grateful soul; the boy I stopped the mate from lashing."
"He it was, for he told me all and of what you had been to the sick on the voyage. I intended coming anyway to see what I could do for our poor country people but when I knew of my pupil being here in distress, I went to the Bishop to ask to be sent at once."
"And how did you find me?"
"By searching. The last hour I have gone through every building looking for you and came in course to this outhouse."
May the saints ease your dying hour for this kindness, Father. Oh that you had came while Aileen was alive."
Fret not over the past Gerald; there is work calling for you which you must rise and do."
"I have no heart to lift my head. I want to die and be with Aileen."
"A wish natural to the flesh, my son, but I taught you to little avail if I did not ground you in the belief that it is the duty of the Christian to so direct the blind sorrow of our daily duties. Aileen is dead; rfequiescat in pace. Is your sorrow for her to be a selfish sorrow that will add to your load of sin; or shall it become an incitement to you to do for those around you what she would wish you to do if she could speak?"
"Do not ask me; I cannot forget her."
"You are not asked to forget her. May you ever see her in your mind's eye, bekoning you on to works of faith and mercy; may her precious memory be your inspiration to do what duty calls from your hand."
"There is no need of my help now."
"No need! I tell you every hour there are Irish men and women dying within a furlong of you for lack of the commonest help. Before I came here, I found sick who had not had their fever assauged by a drop of water for 18 hours; children who had not tasted a bite since yesterday; the dead lying beside the living and all because there is no help."
"I do not understand why that should be on land. There is plenty of food and help in Quebec".
"Yes and so there was on your ship but a heartless captain and a greedy mate stood between the food and water and the passengers. There is an abundance of everything within sight of here, yet our countymen are perishing by the score, because the government of Canada is deaf to their ears."
"What interest can the Candian government have in acting so?"
"No interest. It is more heedlessness than intent. The politicians are too absorbed in their paltry strifes to give heed to a few thousand Irish emigrants dying at their door."
"It sounds incredible."
"That is because you do not know politics and politicians here. I tell you, Gerald, I have been in Canada now three years, and (always barring the tools of the Irish Landlords) if there had been a more dispicable creature than the office hunting canadian politician, I have yet to see him."
"If I must act, I should go first to Quebec to see after my people. They were promised ten shillings a head, to be paid by Lord Palmerston's agent at Quebec, and a deed from the Canadian government for a hundred acres a family."
"Faugh! Not a shilling nor an acre did they get. I saw them.. Lord Palmerston had no agent in Quebec, the government will give no free grant of land. Mere lies told the poor crathers to get tjem to leave Ireland."
"Well then, I could at least make an example of the captain of the ship."
"Not a bit of it; you are deceiving yourself. The prosecution would have to be taken by an emigration agent and he would not, if he could help it. Then, where are your witnesses? You would be bled of your last dollar by the lawyers and do nothing. No Gerald, there is no use of thinking of leaving here. Providence has guided you to Grosse Isle and here is your work. Come,man and do it."
I sank back with a groan. I did not want to move, the father insisted however and after many remonstrances, grasped my hand and raised me to my feet. He took me to where the resident priest lived, insisted on my washing myself and gave me, out of his bag, one of the clean shirts. Then we sat down to dinner, Fathers McGoran and Taschereau joining us. The conversation was of the deluge of emigrants, every day bringing new arrivals and every ship with its quota of sick and dying. Every available place having become crowded, the ships had to remain and become floating hospitals. The calamity with which they were face to face was so unexpected and appalling that how to devise means to grapple with it staggered them. They spoke of the need of urging the government to erect sheds and send plenty of nurses and doctors. I listened in silence until Father Teschereau asked me for my opinion, as one who was an emigrant. I said many had died on the voyage and many more had landed who would certainly die, but of this I was confident. There would not have been a death from fever or dysentery on the voyage or one sick of these diseases landed at Grosse Isle, had there been enough to eat. The solution of the difficulty therefore seemed to me simple. Give all who arrive plenty of wholesome food. Starvation is the cause of dysentery and fever. Remove the cause and those disesaes will disappear. It is not medicine and nursing that are wanted but food. The people fled from starvation in Ireland to be worse starved on board ship where their lot was made worse by the lack of pure air and water, of which they had no lack in Ireland. They asked me many questions about the treatment of the emigrants on shipboard. Father McGoran said he was inclined to believe I was right, that Dr. Douglas was making the mistake of fighting the fever instead of removing what caused the fever. The fever was not to be looked upon as was the cholera visitation of 12 years before. I left the table with Father Moylan and as we went out the door, he stood for a minute to look at the sight on the river. The clouds had cleared and the sun had come out strong, with a marvelously soft and clear atmosphere. So far as we could see from where we stood, the blue waters of the river bore a column of vessels of which neither head nor end was visible. "Let's take a step over and see them", said Father Moylan. When we reached the bank, the sight was striking and would have been more inspiring had we not known that each of these noble ships was a floating pest-house. There was a shout from the vessel opposite us. A man stood on the gunwale, and steadying himself with one hand grasping the rigging, gesticulated with the other. His agitation was so great that neither of us could make out what he was saying. "Speak slowly", cried Father Moylan, when clear the response came across the water. "For the love of God, father, come aboard;ye're needed". There was only one rowboat in sight and it belonged to Dr. Douglas. The oars were out of her and the chain locked. "You'll have to send a boat", cried the father. There was a long delay, ending in a boat putting off from the ship. He wanted me to go with him but I said I wished to find my uncle.
With heavy heart and unsteady step I turned to the buildings where the sick were. The nighest was the best. She started in and to my jpy espied my cousin Bridget sitting alongside a bunk. She started and gave a cry of fright when she saw me, for, she explained, she thought I was in Quebec and I looked like a ghost. It was her father and her sister Ellen who were in the bed. The latter had been landed sick of the fever; uncle had been striken by it the day after arrival. He did not know me, and I feared the worst from the sound of his moaning. The girl seems to be doing well. "Comfortable they be", said Bridget, "this is the best place; the sheds are as bad as the ship." I told her to go and take the air for awhile, and sat down to watch in her place. I was hardly seated when I distinguished a murmur of plantive cries from every part of the room, mostly- "Wther, if ye plaze". I bestirred myself, and when the poor souls found there was somebody to help, the requests increased and I was kept going from bed to bed. When Bridget returned I remarked that I had saw none of our ship's people in the place. She said there was only room for her father and Ellen and the others were in the sheds. It was growing dark when Father Moylan came to the door and beckoned me out. He had subc a distressed and wearied look that i went with him without asking any questions. When we came near the outhouse I had lodged in, I turned towards it. He gripped my arm. "No, Gerald, not there; you'd lapse into your old mood." He took me to the Priest's house and a shakedown was made for me in the kitchen. I had a wakeful night and went out of doors before sunrise. To my surprise, I saw Father walking up and down in front of the house, prayer book in hand. When done he joined me. "Now Gerald we have work to do; we must make an examination of the everything,for no plan can be made until we know the actual state of affairs." Re-entering the house with him, he got a loaf and a jug of milk. "I am going to tell you something you should never forget; when you have to go where there are sick, do not go with an empty stomach. Fasting an infection go together." Having broken our fast, we started, the first thing to be done, the father said, being to see what the island was like. The morning was delightfully fresh and we walked briskly. We found the island to be bigger than we supposed, and having a good deal of land fit for cultivation. Pausing at a field where a man was harrowing, the father had a conversation with him in French. He told him the island was about three miles long by one in width and that Dr. Douglas farmed a considerable part of it, keeping a number of cows. Standing on its north bank a wide expanse of the St. Lawrence lay at our feet, the blue waters ruffled by a western breeze. Beyond rose a chain of wooded hills, which swelled into a lofty peak, overhanging the river. This is called Cape Tourmente", said Father Moylan. "It is not a glorious scene! Who, looking upon it would dream there is concentrated within ten minutes' walk the misery of a nation. Gerald, we must give Ireland's woe on this island a voice that will bring the help of Christian people."
"I am afraid it will be hard to interest them. Everything is against the poor emigrant,father. He is not looked upon as a human being. The very sailors treat him as they would a steer given to carry from one port to another."
"True my boy and you don't know it all, for you have not lived in this country yet. I've seen in New York men and women shrink from the newly landed emigrants as an unclean thing and at Quebec over there at the very bar room loafers sniff their noses in disgust at him. Unless they have money no-body makes them welcome; and if they have money everybody tries to get it from them. I buried a woman who had been left to die on the wharf at Quebec. The captain bundled her out, no-body would touch her, let alone give her shelter and the poor sick crather afore sundown found rest and is now where those who despised her will have little chance of going."
I asked Father Moylan about his visit to the ship the day before. He told me the man who shouted for him had a brother dying, who wanted the Church's last rites. "It was my first visit to a fever striken ship", he went on to say, "and it was a revelation. I could not stand upright in her hold, for it was not much over 5 feet high and there was little more elbow than head room. Every side was lined with berths and I saw dead lying in them with the living. The stench made one gasp, and the sight of the vermin crawling over dead and living made my flesh creep. An Irish priest is used to the sights of disease and want, but the emigrant-ship, fever stricken, embodies every form of wretchedness and multiplies them tenfold."
The quarantine buildings are huddled together at the upper end of the island and each was examined during the day. Except the one in which uncle lay, they are flimsy affairs, a shelter from the heat of the sun and no more, for the boards are shrunken and the roofs leaky. In one the berths are double tier, like those of a ship, the result being the patient in the lower berth is made uncomfortable by the one above, and he in turn from weakness, can neither get out nor into it without help, which he seldom gets. Every place is crowded with sick, even the two churches being occupied. The government had prepared for 200 sick;already there are nigh a thousand and many more on the ships who cannot be landed for want of room. Without regard to age or sex they are huddled together in the sheds, and left to die or recover. The attendance was hardly worth speaking of. At long intervals a man or woman would come round with drink and food but there was no pretense at coming for their comfort. We were told by many nobody had been near them for hours. We saw the dead lying next to the living, for the bodies are removed only night and morning and in many cases there were two and three to in a berth. Over all this sad scene, from which all hope had fled, shone the virtues of patience and submission to the divine will. No querilous word was heard, no grumbling; the striken flock bowed beneath the rod of affliction with pious resignation. Workmen were busy building a new shed and there were tents lying round but all the preparations were woefully insufficient. Father Moylan agreed with me that the lack of nurses was even worse than the lack of shelter and though a supply might be had from the healthy emigrants, I thought not; emigrants in health were too eager to escape after being bound to scenes of horror on shipboard for a month or more. We labored to do our best and many a pail of water did the father carry from the river to serve in cupfuls on the sheds.
The weather has been sorely against the sick, rain with high east winds, adding to their discomfort. Nearly every day there is a fresh arrival of a ship, and not one without sick on board. The wind had been there from the east the day before and on the morning of the 25th a whole fleet was seen bearing up the river, of which a dozen had emigrants. At Father Moylan's request, I spent a day with him going from ship to ship, a boat having been lent him by a friendly captain. The passengers cried with joy when they saw him and clustered round the holy man, whose services in administering the last consolations of the church were needed at every step. I spoke with the passengers while he was below and it was an unvarying tale of starvation on the voyage and creul usage. I found the pasengers on ships that had been lying at anchor over a week to be still starving, for the captains had not increased the rations and Dr. Douglas said he could not supply provisions from the shore unless authorized by the Canadian government. One of the new arrivals has 13 dead on board. The 40 ships now at anchor, high nigh 15,000 emigrants: of those I am sure one third would not be passed as healthy. Sailors are at work on shore enacting a sort of shelter with sprits and sails, where the ships will leave their healthy to perform quarantine, while they go on to Quebec.
June 3 - Father Moylan has left with the design of making representations to the government about the condition of of things here. He intended, if his Bishop consented, to go direct to Montreal and speak to the ministers themselves. The forwarding of emigrants passed as healthy has begun. They are crowded on to the steamers until there is barely room to move. The reason for this is the passage money is a dollar a head and the more packed on boae, the more profit. Truth to tell, this class of emigrants are eager enough to leave and get away from this place. The meaness of the Canadian government in dealing with them is shameful. Instead of allowing healthy passengers to go on with the ship as at first, they are now landed. Being compelled to land and stay here by the government's orders, it would be reasonable enough to expect the government to provide for them. It does not; all it has done is to send an agent who offers to sell them provisions at cost. Uncle's recovery is hopeless, his strength is gone.
5 - Poor uncle is dead. He was buried yesterday. Ellen keeps hovering between life and death; she has youth on her side. Poor Bridget is worn to a shadow, wiaitng on the sick. Being told a ship that came this forenoon was from Sligo, I watched a chance to get on board, expecting to find some I knew among her passengers. I found her deck crowded with emigrants, watching the sailors fish up from the hold with baithooks the bodies of those who had died since entering the river. I soon learned there was bad blood between the crew and passengers, all of whom who could do so had left the steerage two days before and lived on deck. The hold had gorwn so loathsome with the warm weather that it became unbearable. The crew resented their living on deck. The captain stood at the poop rail and proved to be a civil man. He told me he had done his best for the passengers on the voyage, but the charterers had poorly provisioned the vessel and he could not therefore give them the rations he wished. For the bad feeling between the passengers and the sailors he could not blame either. Staying on deck the emigrants were in the sailors' way, yet he could not order them back to the hold. Three sailors had caught fever during the week, which incensed their comrades against the emigrants. He was to pay the sailors a sovereign for each body brought up. I told him of Captain Christian of the ship Sisters, who, the week before, when emigrants and sailors refused for any money to go into the hold to bring up the dead, went down himself and carried them on deck on his shoulders. I hope he may live to know that Irishmen are grateful, for he is now down with the fever. I recognized none of the passengers for they were from the northwest end of Lord Palmerston's estates. Their poverty was extreme. They had no luggage and many had not rags enough to cover their nakedness. So haggard and white were they, so vacant their expression, that theylooked more like an array of spectres, than of human beings. Coming back, I had painful evidence of the brutal indifference of the authorities in dealing with the sick. They continue to be brought from the ships to the quay in rowboats and the line of ships being now two miles long, the jouney is a long one, and often fatal in bad weather. A small steamboat for transferring them would be a godsend but the government does not send one, does not even spend ten shillings to replace the broken planks of the steps on the quay, although the want of them causes many a feeble one to slip into the river.
6 - Dr. Douglas exemplifies how a man may be estimable as an individual yet unequal for his duties as an official. He is so obliging and gracious personally that it is unpleasant to find fault with him, yet it is apparent he does not grasp the magnitude of the affliction he has to deal with and is unable to devise means to meet it. All the steps taken are ridiculous in their petty nature. I have been told that it is not him but the Canadian government that is to blame, that it will not allow him a free hand in meeting the emergency, does not respond to his calls and warns him to be careful in incurring expenditure. Probably that is true but the government is at least accountable for the foolish rules by which the island is governed. There is now a large colony of supposed healthy emigrants confined to the northwest corner of the island. When one falls sick, instead of being taken to the fever sheds, he is conveyed to the ship in which he was a passenger and from her is taken to the sheds. The delay and fatigue of the journey by land and water, if it does not kill the patient makes his recovery more doubtful. Although the population of the island has doubled in a few weeks, the boat with supplies from Quebec continues to come once a week only. We may be starving, many are starving this day yet until the steamer comes, there is no help. The dead are being buried in trenches, three tier deep. Men and women whose strong arms would add to Canada's wealth are being told by its authorities to die of want when within sight of plenty. I look at the row of farm houses on the opposite bank of the river, on the little town whose roofs I see, and knowing there is comfort and plenty over there marvel at the stupidity. and the criminal disregard, that leaves us without bread to eat or even sraw to die upon. Steamers pass daily but they are now allowed to stop at the island; my poor people are kept prisoners to perish amid the rocks of this island. The Almightly will surely have a day of reckoning with the rulers of Canada, for it is Canada's territory we are on and it is Canada's quarantine in which we are bound. The sick are everywhere and are neglected. I found the body of a man in a thicket where he had crawled like a scared beast to die in peace. Bodies are taken from the tents daily where the healthy are supposed to lodge. The sheds have become repugnant to every sense and the sick are worse without being helped even to a drink of water. The inmates of a tent told me nobody had been near them for two days and not one among them able to stand for a minute. Everything is against us for the weather is windy and wet. I go to spend the night in the old shed. My brain is overburdened with the sorrows of my people and I would I were at reast with Aileen.
10 - A steamer came in this morning to take away emigrants and am sure over a thousand were on board. Her purser brought a package of letters; one of them was for myself.
Align=right>Montreal, June 8, 1847
My Dear Gerald
I had in mind to have written to you several days ago but postponed taking oen in hand day after day in anticipation of being able to convey to you the intelligence that would cheer your heart - that the government had decided on adopting a policy of adequate relief. That, it grieves me to say, they have not done, although I have exerted myself to arouse them to a sense of their duty but there is little a poor Priest can do with our public men. When I reached here I went first to see the Premier. After waiting my turn for an hour with a crowd of visitors, I was admitted. He was civil but is a dull man and did not seem to ealize what I was telling him. He told me to go to the provincial secretary, to whose department emigration belongs and see him. I left him in no good humor, to do as Mr. Sherwood bade me. Mr. Daly was at his lodgings; he had gone to the back of the mountain to dine. I have learned since he is better at dining and whining than attending to his duties. I had an interview with him the next day. You may not know that Mr. Daly is of ourselves. He is a Galway man himself and his lady is from Kilkenny. Appealing to an Irishman and a Catholic, I expected him to fall in with me- that all I had to do was to seize him of the actual facts of the situation at Grosse Isle and he would act with energy. All I got from him, Gerald, was soft words and promises and neither the one or the other will feed the starving or cure the sick. He told me to call next day as he wanted time to go over the reports. When I went, his servant man said he was out and I never found him in again for me. When the house opened, I managed to get in, to hear what the Governor would say about the emigrants. The words put in his mouth about them made me angry. The government pretended they had made ample preparation for the expected influx and that everything was going on well. Beside him stoof two men smiling among a bevy of ladies who knew better, for I had known them all. In the debate since then, when a member of the oppostion side referred to the rumours of the state of affairs in quarantine, Mr. Daly begged the house not to give heed to alarmist reports and to rest assured the government was doing everything that was required, had appointed a commission of three doctors to visit Grosse Isle and would act on the report. I had little respect there for Canadian politicians. I have less now. I was advised to wait on the new Minister, John A. MacDonald, the youngest member of the government. I told my friend that if Mr. Daly would not do the decent thing by his countrymen, I was not going to ask the member for the Orange ciy of Kingston, who, like all of the others of him, is engrossed in intrigues to keep his party in office. The talk of the city is whether the Ministry will stand, for its majority is only one or two and there is a good deal of excitement about it. More attention is being paid to the ribalbry of The Pilot than anything else. The evil has come to the door of this city. The forwarding by wholesale of all emigrants able to move has brought the fever. The emigration sheds are at Windmill Point, an inconvneient place, for thiere is not water enough to permit the steamers to come up to the wharf and the emigrants have to be landed by scows, which is sore on the sick. I am not going to say the journey from Grosse Isle to here has been as bad as the voyage across the Atlantic but it has a few features worse than it. The steamers come with emigrants packed on their lower deck like herrings in a fish-box. The steamers are chartered by the government from their supporters and a few of them are old, worn out tubs that take two days to a trip that ought to be made inside 20 hours. Without food or cover, blistered by the sun in the day and chilled by the river breezes at night, the poor creatures are landed here more dead than alive. Many who went aboard feeling well, are carried off in a dying state. My curse and the curse of every Irishmen be on the government that allows the helplessness of our countrymen to be traded upon to make moeny for their followers. If their transporation was left open to all ship owners, the emigrants would be brought here in large and speedy steamers, and a limit could be put to the member they carry. Once landed, the emigrants are decently treated. I am thankful to be able to say that. It is the city and not the government that manages. For sick and well, there is plenty of wholesome food and no lack of doctors or nurses. What I have seen here has shown me the necessity of moving the quarantine from Grosse Isle to near the city where they could all get the supplies and service needed. I expect to return to Quebec in a day or so and before leaving here hope to get the Bishop to wait on the Premier, to ask that the new fever sheds be placed on the outskits of Quebec. I hope to see you soon.
Your Old Preceptor
12- A ship that came in from Sligo has many of my old neighbours. They say after we left, the agents gave out that all who refused to emigrate would have the relief taken from them, which was all they had to keep life in them until the next crop. The more they went, the more eager were those left behind to go. At the rate they are coming, Lord Palmerston will have his land clear of people by Michaelmas and be able to lease it to Scotch cow-feeders. Most of the emigrants come expecting free land from the Canadian government and a pound a head from the agents of the landlords at Quebec. Oh the deceivers, to cheat those poor people with lies!
16- Bridget is down with the fever, just when Ellen was recovering and likely soon to be able to leave with her sister for uncle's farm in Huntingdon. It seems as if exposure, if long enough continued, is sure to induce the diease. Doctor Douglas says few can withstand breathing the air of the sheds for a fortnight without being laid down. I expect my turn will come. A company of soldiers has arrived to act as guard over the camp of what is called the Healthy emigrants to keep them from going near the fever sheds. The fever is in the camp as well as the sheds. Had they sent out a few hundred boards from Quebec to floor the tents, it would have been more sensible than to supply a guard. The weather is still wet and the ground under the tents is soaking yet the people have nowhere else to lie. I was telling the Head of the Church of England clergyman, Doctor Mountain, of what my friend had said about the quarantine being moved near the city. He agreed it ought to be done although the people of Quebec would resist. The cellar of the marine hospital having become full to overflowing with emigrants, workmen came three days ago to erect sheds on the hospital grounds. The people of St. Rochs assembles, scattered the lumber and drove away the workman. Lamenting the lack of nurses, he told me it was partly due to the government's not offering sufficient wages. PLacards on the Quebec streets asking for nurses at 60 cents a day met with no response. A dollar a day dor nurses and $5 for doctors get a supply but the authorities would not consent. I can believe anything of them. They will not send a supply of straw even and many of the sick are lying without anything beneath them.
18- I was witness today of an incident I want to preserve some note of. I was attenting to an old neighbour, Mr. Monaghan, who came on the ship from Sligo. He is mending though still poorly. While bending over him, he gave a start and turning I saw they were carrying in a new patient. They placed him in an ajoining bed. Wasted and sallow as he was, I recognized in him a man I had seen from boyhood but had never spoken to. He had a farm in our townland and was a bitter Orangeman. With Monagahn he had a feud, which they tried to fight out on many a market day. Stanhope had led a party that beat his oldest son and four other boys one St. John's eve and had heaped insult on him and his times without count. I will not say Monagahn did not pay him back. If he did not, someone else did, for he had his stackyard twice burned and one fine morning found four of his cows houghed. How would these mortal enemies meet, far from their native land and laid side by side in deatly sickness. Stanhope was overcome with the fatigue of bringing him from the ship and lay exhausted with his eyes shut. I held up his head to give him some cordial and then he sank back and fell asleep. I kept my eye on him as I went about the shed, watching his waking. On Dr. Mountain's coming in, I told him of the new Protestant patient and of the circumstances I have set down. We went to where the couple lay and were looking at them when Stanhope awoke. He gazed helplessly around until his eyes met those of Monaghan, which had been fixed on him from the time he came in. The glitter of the old fire spring up in Stanhope's eyes and a flash passed over his white face. Neither said a word for quite awhile. During the pause the defiant look faded from Stanhope's face, and I could see recollection of old neighbourhood and a sense of community of suffering filled his bosum. The stern, hard features relaxes and a bony hand was thrust across the room.
"Is that yerself Monagahn, will ye shak hands wid me?"
"Glad and proud to do the same and let bygones be bygones, Mr. Stanhope."
There was a moistness in Dr. Mountain's eyes as he said, "Love is in the fulfilling of the law. May the Good Shephard, who has sheep in every flock, bless you both, and in His own time gather you into his Heavenly fold."
"Amen", I said with all my heart.
He clasped my hand. "My dear Mr. Keegan, say not another word; when a man comes to die in the most painful reflection he can have is, that he did not embrace every opportunity he had during his lifetime for doing good. You and I have simply done our duty and after all, have to confess we are unprofitable servants of the one God whom we worship at different alters."