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> Issue 53 > Page 36 - Gobineau's Portrait of Sydney, 1859

Page 36 - Gobineau's Portrait of Sydney, 1859

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1 (265 reads)

wards, are only boarded-up spaces awaiting buyers and everything that follows. I am told that the population, far from increasing, is de? creasing and that young people of both sexes migrate willingly to the United States as soon as they reach their majority and are free. Until the Crimean War, a British infantry company was garrisoned in Sydney. It was a golden age remembered by the young ladies and some wish they were back. The officers were pleasant and easily married those young ladies who were relatively well-off. Sergeants and soldiers behaved very much in the same way with ladies of their rank. There isn't a race in the world more disposed towards matrimo? ny than the British. If polygamy, thank heavens, was not forbidden, they would marry the universe. Nowadays these happy times are no longer. The garrison did not return to Sydney and the horrors of celi? bacy are now threatening to make many victims since marriageable civilians are few. As a result there is an air of melancholy. Fortunate? ly, a thousand reasons can still dispel, momentarily at least, this sad impression, and there are several lovely faces who are only awaiting a pretext to brighten up gaily.... Nothing is more characteristic than this still half-free natural state (of the place) animated by a population that is neither rustic nor rural. Roads laid out according to the latest methods pass through dense forests. In this environment circulate women adorned with hats who look more like big-town working girls than peasants. In short, there is absolutely no rural population, only speculators. I agree that the naive innocence associated with rural country life is, throughout the world, and especially in Europe, a romantic conceit. However, it would seem that at home, the rural inhabitants blend well with their environment while here, on the contrary, there is a perpetual state of dissonance between inhabitants and environment. One would be tempted to take these would-be farmers for masqueraders and send them back to the factories, their natural environment. One eventually understands that these people live in the couritry but do not inhabit it. It isn't a home for them. They till the soil but do not love it. They exploit it as much as they can but if, a hundred leagues from there, a better opportunity beckons, they run towards it and leave behind them neither memories nor regrets. They may be hon? est, of course, here as everywhere else, but their work ethic, coupled to a democratic way of exploiting the forces of nature, lacks nobility and, above all, it lacks moral values. The One Name You Need to Know: RAHEY'S 'for Comfortable Home Furnishings • for Reliable Appliances • 82, for the Latest in Electronic Technology J. R. Rahey*s Furniture Stores 1095 King's Road Sydney River 562-2500 Main Street Sydney Mines 736-9442 We've Built the Name People Trust! There are to all of this highly dignified and remarkable exceptions that confirm the rule. I will note them later because I did not notice them during this first venture. Because nightfall was coming quickly, blotting on the horizon the last rays of sunset, we took a last look at the multicoloured mantle of the forests where the red tints of the maple blended in spots with the dark green of the fir trees and the pines, together with the silver leaves of the birch. We saw the last rays from the sky reflected in the calm waters of the gulf and went back aboard the Tenare where the chef had latx)ured mightily to uphold a well-deserved reputation. A good naval chef has much merit. He has far more difficulties to overcome than his land-locked confreres.... Much has been made in the heroic history of French cuisine of the imaginative way with which a chef in the service of Marshal de Riche? lieu, during the Hanoverian campaign, who managed to draw from the flar''s of a bull a full four-course meal followed by dessert. This allowed tne Commander-in-chief to successfully conclude delicate negotiations. However, there are thousands of similar incidents in the annals of naval cuisine history. The spirit of invention is pen/asive to a high degree and produces the most unexpected results. On this day the chef of the Tenare gave us an additional proof of this in preparing for us a Sole a la normande which was a huge success, even more so because this fish is unknown in these waters. Asked how he had obtained a sole, he explained with the modesty of a real craftsman, that he had transformed a few miserable plaices into soles through his artistry. From that day on, the soles of the Tenare acquired a fame which, I hope, will spread and grow (Sole a la Nor? mande consists of poached fillets, drained, with a sauce made from the fish stock, mushroom cooking liquid, cream and eaa yolks.). The following day the Gassendi was more or less clean. Its supply of coal was made. It had reached Sydney Town and was moored next to the Tenare opposite the house of the vice-consul. Pots of paints were everywhere. A few sailors, brush in hand and with an air of great preoccupation as befitted such a serious occupation, applied, here a touch of white, there a touch of black. Others were rubbing the cannons in order to give them a suitable lustre. The ship's boys did the same to cannonballs or else they enthusiastically polished every? thing aboard that was in copper so that soon it shone like gold. We were moored and a general feeling that more elegance was needed brought about much activity by everyone. For the time being we had broken with the inevitable carelessness brought about by navigation on these disagreeable seas. On this day, and the following days, the bugle announced the hoisting of the national colours at the rear of both ships and, every evening, when they were brought down. On these two occasions, everybody on the bridge removed his hat and saluted with respect the brilliant symbol of the faraway country. Mili? tary life also became more active in emulation of naval life. Gun and cannon training occupied a part of the day for both crews. A peaceful but busy existence was established for everybody. Nothing equals the great calm which reigns in such circumstances aboard a warship. There is not a girls' convent that is more peacea- EXPLORE SYDNEY'S PAST.. at the CAPE BRETON CENTRE FOR HERITAGE & SCIENCE 'Operated by the ' 225 George Street vpid Sydney Societ''y ' Qp'' YEAR ROUND ~ For information call (902) 539-1572
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