The Fortress of New France
GILBERT PARKER and CLAUDE G. BRYAN
New York The Macmillan Company London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd. 1903
All rights reserved
Copyright, 1903, by The Macmillan Company.
Set up, electrotyped, and published September, 1903. Reprinted November, 1903.
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
EARLY VOYAGES 1
THE ERA OF CHAMPLAIN 19
THE HEROIC AGE OF NEW FRANCE 44
"AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM" 66
ROYAL GOVERNMENT 85
THE NOBLESSE AND THE PEOPLE 95
FRONTENAC AND LA SALLE 110
FIRE, MASSACRE, AND SIEGE 134
THE CLOSE OF THE CENTURY 159
BORDER WARFARE 175
THE BEGINNING OF THE END 187
LIFE UNDER THE ANCIEN REGIME 218
DURING THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR 246
"HERE DIED WOLFE VICTORIOUS" 268
MURRAY AND DE LEVIS 299
THE FIRST YEARS OF BRITISH RULE 325
THE FIFTH SIEGE 342
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PROGRESS 364
THE STORY OF THE GREAT TRADING COMPANIES 394
THE NEW CENTURY 422
THE MODERN PERIOD 443
LIST OF PLATES
Major-General James Wolfe Frontispiece
Francois-Xavier de Laval 16
Cardinal de Richelieu 48
The Earl of Chatham 187
General the Marquis Montcalm 271
General Sir Jeffrey Amherst 282
Admiral Earl St. Vincent 294
General Gage 301
The Hon. Robert Monckton 307
General Sir A. P. Irving 317
General Townshend 327
Sir James Henry Craig 342
Sir John Cope Sherbrooke 355
The Fourth Duke of Richmond 368
Admiral Viscount Nelson 374
Lord Dalhousie 376
General Lord Aylmer 395
The Earl of Durham 407
Sir John Colborne 417
Lord Sydenham 424
Sir Charles Bagot 434
General Earl Cathcart 443
The Earl of Elgin 452
Lord Lisgar 458
The Marquis of Dufferin and Ava 466
[Footnote 1: Inscription on plate for 2nd Governor of Canada 1766, read Lieutenant-Governor of Canada 1766.]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Jacques Cartier 7
Manoir de Jacques Cartier a Limoulon 11
Arrival of Jacques Cartier at Quebec, 1535 13
Cap Rouge 17
Montmorency Falls 25
Bonne Ste. Anne (Old Church) 31
Marie de l'Incarnation 51
Ursuline Nuns of Quebec (Salle d'Etude, noviciat) 55
Jesuits' College and Church 56
Chateau Saint Louis, 1694 57
The Ursulines' Convent 61
Monument to the First Canadian Missionary 71
Old Bishop's Palace 103
New Palace Gate 105
Intendant's Palace 107
Old St. Louis Gate 117
Robert Cavelier de la Salle 123
Sir William Phipps 147
Plan of Fort St. Louis, 1683 151
The Citadel To-day (from Dufferin Terrace) 153
Notre Dame de la Victoire 157
The Citadel in Winter 173
Lieut.-General Sir William Pepperell, Bart. 189
De Bougainville 197
Ruins of Chateau Bigot 201
Le Chien d'Or 202
Plan of the City of Quebec, 1759 207
Major-General Sir Isaac Barre 209
Sir Hugh Palliser, Bart. 213
The City of Quebec in 1759 219
Baron Grant 221
Baroness de Longueil 223
Upper Town Market To-day 225
New St. John's Gate 227
Petit Champlain Street To-day 229
Old Prescott Gate 231
A Carriole 234
Village of Beauport 235
The Basilica 239
Jesuits' Barracks 241
Quebec (from Levi) 245
De Levis 251
Sir George Bridges Rodney, Bart. (Governor of Newfoundland, 1759) 263
Entrance to the Citadel To-day 270
Hope Gate 272
Admiral Sir Charles Saunders 274
The Manor-House at Beauport, Montcalm's Headquarters 277
General Hospital 284
Captain James Cook 290
New Kent Gate 301
Church of the Recollets and La Grande Place 309
Old French House, St. John Street 315
Manor House, Sillery 319
Montreal in 1760 329
General Richard Montgomery 345
Cape Diamond 357
Benjamin Franklin 365
Charles Carroll of Carrollton 367
Samuel Chase 369
Breakneck Steps To-day 371
Old Parliament House, Quebec 377
H.R.H. the Duke of Kent, K.B 379
St. Lawrence River from the Citadel 381
Percee Rock 387
Hon. William Osgoode 389
New St. Louis Gate 390
Old Market Square, Upper Town 391
Frontenac Terrace To-day 392
Mr. Samuel Hearne 397
Prince of Wales's Fort, Hudson's Bay, 1777 401
Prince Rupert 403
Sir Alexander Mackenzie 415
Simon McTavish 419
Earl of Selkirk 420
Ferry-Boat on the St. Lawrence 423
Sir Gordon Drummond 427
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. 430
General de Salaberry 435
A Beggar of Cote Beaupre 437
St. Louis Street, Place d'Armes, and New Court House 440
City Hall, Quebec 444
Lieut.-Colonel John By, R.E. 445
Sir Peregrine Maitland 448
Trappists at Mistassini 449
The Hon. Louis Joseph Papineau 451
English Cathedral 455
The Marquis of Lorne (Duke of Argyll) 461
Sir George Cartier 465
Sir John A. Macdonald 467
Sir Wilfrid Laurier 469
1. Canada and the North American Colonies, 1680-1782 Face page 110
The Environs of Quebec, 1759. Louisbourg, to show the Sieges of 1744 and 1758.
2. Plan of Quebec, 1759. From a Map published in London in 1760 Page 207
3. Plan of the River St. Lawrence Face page 268
4. Map of Upper and Lower Canada, illustrating events until the Campaign of 1814 Face page 378
5. The Territory of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1670-1870 Face page 399
The student of the history of the ancient capital of Canada is embarrassed, not by the dearth but by the abundance of material at his disposal. The present volume, therefore, makes no claim to originality. It is but an assimilation of this generous data, and a simple comment upon the changing scenes which were recorded by such ancient authorities as the Jesuit priests and pioneers in their Relations, and by the monumental works of Francis Parkman, whose researches occupied more than forty years, and whose picturesque pen has done for Canada what Prescott's did for Mexico. Admiring tribute and gratitude must also be expressed for the years of careful study and the unfaltering energy by which the late Mr. Kingsford produced his valuable History of Canada. Nor can any one, writing of Quebec, proceed successfully without constant reference to the historical gleanings of Sir James Le Moine, who has spent a lifetime in the romantic atmosphere of old-time manuscripts, and who, with Monsieur l'Abbe Casgrain, represents, in its most attractive form, that composite citizenship which has the wit and grace of the old regime with the useful ardour of the new.
About the walled city of Quebec cling more vivid and enduring memories than belong to any other city of the modern world. Her foundation marked a renaissance of religious zeal in France, and to the people from whom came the pioneers who suffered or were slain for her, she had the glamour of new-born empire, of a conquest renewing the glories of the days of Charlemagne. Visions of a hemisphere controlled from Versailles haunted the days of Francis the First, of the Grand Monarch, of Colbert and of Richelieu, and in the sky of national hope and over all was the Cross whose passion led the Church into the wilderness. The first emblem of sovereignty in the vast domain which Jacques Cartier claimed for Francis his royal master, was a cross whereon was inscribed—
Franciscus Primus, Dei Gratia Francorum Rex, Regnat.
In spite of cruel neglect due to internal troubles and that European strife in which the motherland was engaged for so many generations, the eyes of Frenchmen turned to their over-sea dominions with imaginative hope, with conviction that the great continent of promise would renew in France the glories that were Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. How hard the patriotic colonists strove to retain those territories which Champlain, La Salle, Maisonneuve, Joliet, and so many others won through nameless toil and martyrdom, and how at last the broad lands passed to another race and another flag, not by fault or folly or lack of courage of the people, but by the criminal corruption of the ruling few, is the narrative which runs through these pages.
For at least the first hundred years of its existence, Quebec was New France; and the story of Quebec in that period is the story of all Canada. The fortress was the heart and soul of French enterprise in the New World. From the Castle of St. Louis, on the summit of Cape Diamond, went forth mandates, heard and obeyed in distant Louisiana. The monastic city on the St. Lawrence was the centre of the web of missions, which slowly spread from the dark Saguenay to Lake Superior. The fearful tragedies of Indian warfare had their birth in the early policy of Quebec. The fearless voyageurs, whose canoes glided into unknown waters, ever westward—towards Cathay, as they believed—made Quebec their base for exploration. And as time went on, the rock-built stronghold of the north became the nerve-centre of that half-century of conflict which left the flag of Britain waving in victory on the Plains of Abraham.
When Montcalm in his last hours consigned to the care of the British conquerors the colonists he had loved and for whom he had fought, he proclaimed a momentous epoch in the world's history—the loss of an Empire to a great nation of Europe and the gain of an Empire to another. Within a generation the Saxon Conquistador was to suffer the same humiliation, and to yield up that colonial territory from which Quebec had been assailed; but the fortress city was always to both nations the keystone of the arch of power on the American continent. When she was lost to France, Louisiana, that vast territory along the Mississippi—a kingdom in itself—still remained, but no high memory cherished it, no national hope hung over it, and a hundred years ago Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the new Western power—the United States. As a nation the labours of France were finished in America on the day that De Ramezay yielded up the keys of the city, and Wolfe's war-worn legions marched through St. Louis Gate from the Plains of Abraham.
Yet scores of thousands of the people of France remained in the city and the province to be ruled henceforth by the intrepid race, with which it had competed in a death-struggle for dominion through so many adventurous and uncertain years. Victory, like a wayward imp of Fate, had settled first upon one and then upon the other, and once before 1759 England had held the keys of the great fortress only to yield them up again in a weak bargain; but the die was thrown for the last time when Amherst securely quartered himself at Montreal, and Murray at the Chateau St. Louis, where Frontenac and Vaudreuil had had their day of virile governance. Never again was the banner of the golden lilies to wave in sovereignty over the St. Lawrence, though the people who had fought and toiled under its protection were to hold to their birthright and sustain their language through the passing generations, faithful to tradition and origin, but no less faithful to the Canadian soil which their fame, their labour, and their history had made sacred to them. Frenchmen of a vanished day they were to cherish their past with an apprehensive devotion, and yet to keep the pact they made with the conqueror in 1759, and later in 1774 when the Quebec Act secured to them their religious liberty, their civic code, and their political status. This pact, further developed in the first Union of the English and French provinces in 1840, and afterwards in the Confederation of 1867, has never suffered injury or real suspicion, but was first made certain by loyalty to the British flag, in the War of the American Revolution, and piously sealed by victorious duty and valour in the war of 1812. The record of fidelity has been enriched since that day in the north-west rebellion fomented by a French half-breed in 1885, and in the late war in South Africa, where French Canadians fought side by side with English comrades for the preservation of the Empire.
These later acts of imperial duty are not performed by Anglicised Frenchmen, for the pioneer race of Quebec are still a people apart in the great Dominion so far as their civic and social, their literary and domestic life are concerned. They share faithfully in the national development, and honourably serve the welfare of the whole Dominion—sometimes with a too careful and unsympathetic reserve—but within their own beloved province they retain as zealously and more jealously than the most devoted Highland men their language and their customs, and faithfully conserve the civil laws which mark them off as clearly from the English provinces as Jersey and Guernsey are distinguished from the United Kingdom. They have changed little with the passing years, and their city has changed less. In many respects the Quebec of to-day is the Quebec of yesterday. Time and science have altered its detail, but viewed from afar it seems to have altered as little as Heidelberg and Coblenz. Lower Town huddles in artistic chaos at the foot of the sheltering cliff, and, as aforetime, the overhanging fort protrudes its protecting muzzles. Spires and antique minarets which looked down upon a French settlement struggling with foes in feathers and war-paint, still gleam from the towering rock on which their stable foundations are laid; and after five sieges and the passing of two and a half centuries the mother city of the continent remains a faithful survivor of an heroic age, on historic ground sacred to the valour of two great races.
Living in the twentieth century, to which the uttermost parts of the earth are revealed, and with only the undiscovered poles left to lure us on, we cannot fully appreciate the geographical ignorance of the Middle Ages. The travels of Marco Polo had only lately revealed the wonders of the golden East, and in the West the Pillars of Hercules marked earth's furthest bound. Beyond lay the mare tenebrosum, the Mysterious Sea, girding the level world. England was not then one of the first nations of the earth. She was not yet a maritime power, she had not begun the work of colonisation and empire: the fulcrum of Europe lay further south. But as our Tudor sovereigns were making secure dominion in "these isles," the Byzantine Empire was moving slowly to its end, and favouring circumstances were already making Italy the centre of the world's commerce and culture. There the feudal system, never deeply rooted, was declining slowly, and Italian energy and enterprise now having larger opportunity, seized the commerce of the East as it received vast impulse from the Crusades, and this trade became the source of Empire.
Venice, Genoa, and Pisa were now great emporiums of Oriental wares, were waxing rich on a transport trade which had no option but to use their ports and their vessels. Inland Florence had no part in maritime enterprise, but was the manufacturing, literary, and art centre of mediaeval Europe. Her silk looms made her famous throughout the world, her banks were the purse of Europe, and among her famous sons were Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Macchiavelli, Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Amerigo Vespucci. For the development of their commerce, the cities of the North had grouped themselves into the great Hanseatic League, with branches in Bruges, London, Bergen, and Novgorod. Commercialism had everywhere become the keynote of the closing Middle Ages, inspiring that maritime enterprise which was soon to outline a new map of the world.
The main route between the West and East had hitherto been by way of the Red Sea and the Euphrates, and it was controlled by the Italian cities. Italy had, therefore, no interest in finding a water route to the East which would rob her of this profitable overland traffic. But the experience of her sailors made them the most skilful of the world's navigators and the readiest instruments of other nations in expeditions of discovery. Thus Columbus of Genoa, Cabot of Venice, and Verrazzano of Florence are found accepting commissions from foreign sovereigns.
"The discoveries of Copernicus and Columbus," says Froude, "created, not in any metaphor, but in plain language, a new heaven and a new earth." The new theory of Copernicus was, indeed, one of the choicest flowers of the Renaissance, and though timidly enunciated, it revolutionised the world's geography. Further, the discovery of the polarity of the magnet, and the invention of the astrolabe, gave to the mariners of the fifteenth century a sense of security lacking to their fathers, while the kindling flame of the New Learning led them upon the most daring quests. The Portuguese were the first to enter on the brilliant path of sea-going exploration which distinguishes this century above all others. By 1486 they had already found Table Mountain rising out of the Southern sea, and hoping always for a passage to the East, had named it the Cape of Good Hope. Spain soon followed her rival into these unknown regions, a policy due mainly to the enthusiasm of Isabella of Castile, who, in spite of the conservative apathy of the Council of Salamanca, was eager to become the patroness of Christopher Columbus.
Although the Northmen of the tenth century had been blown almost fortuitously upon the shores of Nova Scotia, by way of Iceland, Greenland, and Labrador, the discovery of North America must always be set to the credit of Christopher Columbus. From the age of fourteen he had been upon the sea, and his keen mind was stored with all the nautical science afforded by the awakened spirit of the time. To this practical equipment he added a romantic temperament and a habit of reflection which carried him to greater certainty in his convictions than even that attained by his correspondent, the learned Toscanelli. Assuming that the world was round—no commonplace of the time—he determined forthwith to reach India by sailing westward. His bones lie buried in the Western hemisphere, which his intrepidity revealed to an astonished world.
As soon as Columbus, in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella, had opened the gates of the New World, ships from England and France began to hasten westward across the Atlantic. The Cabots, holding to the North, discovered Newfoundland in 1497; Denis of Honfleur explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1506; and a few years later Verrazzano coasted along the North Atlantic seaboard in four ships fitted out for him by the youthful Francis of Angouleme. This voyage was practically the beginning of French enterprise in the New World.
On Verrazzano's return to Dieppe, he sent the King a written account of his travels, and France was presently burning with excitement over the abundant riches of the New World. Spain, meanwhile, had been reaping the wealth of the West Indies, and Hernando Cortes was laying a stern hand upon the treasures of Mexico. And now disasters at home were, for a time, to rob the fickle Francis of all ambition for transatlantic glory. In the contest for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire he had been worsted by Charles V., and shortly afterwards the strength of France was hopelessly shattered at Pavia, the King being carried back a prisoner to Madrid. But when, at last, the peace of Cambrai had somewhat restored tranquillity to France, Philippe de Brion-Chabot, a courtier at the Louvre, decided to follow up Verrazzano's almost forgotten exploit of ten years before, and Jacques Cartier became the instrument of this tardy resolution.
Jacques Cartier was born at St. Malo, the white buttress of Brittany. Daring Breton fishing-boats had often sailed as far as the cod-banks of Newfoundland, and it is not impossible that Cartier himself had already crossed the Atlantic before he was commissioned by Chabot. From a child he had lived upon the sea. He was forty years old when he received his commission, and on the 20th of April, 1634, he set sail from his native town. Holding a northern course he came at length to Newfoundland, and having passed through the Straits of Belle Isle and across the Gulf, he erected a white cross at Gaspe, and sailed on westward till Anticosti came in sight. It was then August, and as constant westerly winds delayed his further course, he decided to return to France. Unfortunately, however, he did not leave until he had lured on board his ships two young Indians, whom he carried back as trophies, sowing thereby the seed of future trouble.
His countrymen were deeply stirred by his report. Beyond a doubt the great Gulf up which he had sailed was the water route to Cathay, and France could hardly await the arrival of spring before sending another expedition. By the middle of May, 1635, Cartier was ready to embark on a second voyage, and on this occasion no less than three ships were equipped, numbering among their officers men of birth and quality—gentlemen in search of adventure, others eager to mend broken fortunes, and all bent on claiming new lands for France and for the faith. Assembling in the old cathedral they confessed their sins and heard the Mass; and on the 19th of May the dwellers of St. Malo saw the sails of the Hermine, La Petite Hermine, and Emerillon melt into the misty blue of the horizon. Almost immediately a fierce storm scattered the ships, and they only came together again six weeks later in the Straits of Belle Isle. This time Cartier coasted along the north shore of the Gulf; and to a bay opposite Anticosti he gave the name of St. Lawrence, upon whose festival day it was discovered. Then for the first time a white man entered "the great river of Canada."
With the kidnapped Indians for pilots, the three caravels passed by the canyon of the Saguenay, mysterious in its sombre silence. Presently the rocky cliff of Cap Tourmente towered above them, and at length they glided into safe anchorage off the Isle of Bacchus.
To the savage Indians the mighty vessels of France were marvels from another world, and the river was soon swarming with their birch-bark canoes. The story of the two braves who had been carried away to France filled them with grave wonder, and the glittering costumes of Cartier and his officers seemed like the garments of gods. The great chief, Donnacona, waiving regal conventions, clambered upon the deck of the Hermine, where Cartier regaled him with cakes and wine, and with a few beads purchased the amity of his naked followers. Then Cartier set out in a small boat to explore the river.
Above the Island of Bacchus he found himself in a beautiful harbour, on the farther side of which the great river of Canada boomed through a narrow gorge. On the left of the basin the broader channel of the river passed out between the Isle of Bacchus and a range of wooded heights; while on his right, a tower of rock rose majestically from the foam-flecked water. Among the oak and walnut trees that crowned the summit of this natural battlement clustered the bark cabins of Stadacone, whence, as wide as eye could range, the Lord of Canada held his savage sway.
[Footnote 2: Now the Island of Orleans.]
This Algonquin eyrie seemed only accessible by a long detour through the upland, in which the rocky heights gradually descended to the little river of St. Croix. Thither Cartier and his companions made their way, and then, for the first time, white men gazed upon the green landscape spread beneath that high promontory. On the north and east the blue rim of the world's oldest mountains, then as now, seemed to shut off a mysterious barren land; on the south and west the eye met a fairer prospect, for beyond a sea of verdure the sun's rays glistened upon the distant hills of unknown, unnamed Vermont. Between these half-points of the compass the broad St. Lawrence rolled outward to the sea, and the discovering eye followed its bending course beyond the Isle of Bacchus and past the beetling shoulder of Cap Tourmente. In the summer of 1535 Cartier stood entranced on this magnificent precipice; and to-day the visitor to Quebec gazes from the King's Bastion upon the same panorama, hardly altered by the flight of nearly four centuries.
But Quebec had yet for many years to await its founder. Cartier's mission was one of discovery, not colonisation; and he resolved to push further up the river to Hochelaga, an important village of which the Indians had told him. But Donnacona soon repented of the information he had given, and left nothing undone to turn Cartier from his purpose. As a last resource the magicians of Stadacone devised a plan to frighten the obstinate Frenchman, but the crude masquerade arranged for that purpose provoked nothing but amusement. A large canoe came floating slowly down the river, and when it drew near the ships the Frenchmen beheld three black devils, garbed in dogskins, and wearing monstrous horns upon their heads. Chanting the hideous monotones of the medicine men, they glided past the fleet, made for the shore, and disappeared in the thicket. Presently, Cartier's two interpreters issued from the wood and declared that the god Coudouagny had sent his three chief priests to warn the French against ascending the river, predicting dire calamities if they should persist. Cartier's reply to the Indian deity was brief and irreverent, and he forthwith made ready to depart.
The Hermine and Emerillon were towed to safer moorings in the quiet St. Croix, and with the pinnace and a small company of men Cartier set out for Hochelaga. The journey was long and toilsome, but by the beginning of October they came to a beautiful island, the site of Montreal. A thousand Indians thronged the shore to welcome the mysterious visitors, presenting gifts of fish and fruit and corn. Then, by a well-worn trail, the savages led the way through the forest to the foot of the mountain, and into the triple palisades of Hochelaga.
The early frosts of autumn had already touched the trees, and Cartier, having accomplished his exploration, hastened back to Stadacone, where he set about making preparations for spending the winter. A fort was hastily built at the mouth of the St. Croix. But the exiles were unready for the violent season that soon closed in upon them, almost burying their fort in drifting snow and casing the ships in an armour of glistening ice. Pent up by the biting frost, and eking out a wretched existence on salted food, their condition grew deplorable. A terrible scurvy assailed the camp, and out of a company of one hundred and ten, twenty-five died, while only three or four of the rest escaped its ravages. The flint-like ground defied their feeble spades, and the dead bodies were hidden away in banks of snow. To make matters still worse, the Indians grew first indifferent, and then openly hostile. Cartier was sorely beset to conceal from them the weakness of his garrison. At last, however, a friendly Indian told him of a decoction by which the scurvy might be cured. The leaves of a certain evergreen were put to brew, and this medicine proved the salvation of the decimated company.
By and by came the spring; and when at last sun and rain had loosed the fetters of ice, Cartier determined to return to France. Before the ships weighed anchor, however, Donnacona and four of his companions were enticed on board, and with these sorry trophies the French captain turned his prows homeward. At midsummer-time the storm-battered ships glided once more into the rock-bound harbour of St. Malo.
Five years elapsed before France sent another expedition into the New World. The perennial conflict with Charles V. kept the French king's mind fixed on his home dominions, and Chabot, Cartier's former patron, had fallen upon evil times. At last, however, a new adventurer appeared in the person of the Sieur de Roberval, a nobleman of Picardy. The elaborate but almost incomprehensible text of the royal patent described the new envoy as Lord of Norembega, Viceroy and Lieutenant-General in Canada, Hochelaga, Saguenay, Newfoundland, Belle Isle, Carpunt, Labrador, the Great Bay, and Baccalaos. Under him Cartier was persuaded to take the post of Captain-General. The objects of the enterprise were discovery, colonisation, and the conversion of the Indians; albeit the instruments for this pious purpose were more than doubtful, their five ships being freighted for the most part with thieves and malefactors recruited from the prisons of France.
An unexpected delay occurring at St. Malo, it was determined that Cartier should sail at once, and that Roberval should follow as soon as possible with additional ships and supplies. Accordingly, on the 23rd of May, 1541, Cartier again spread his sails for the West, and after a stormy passage arrived in the St. Lawrence. The uncertain attitude of the Indians, however, prompted him to establish his colony further westward than Stadacone, and he continued his course up the river and dropped anchor at Cap Rouge.
Summer and autumn passed away and brought no sign of Roberval. A gloomy winter further damped the spirits of the colonists at Charlesburg-Royal; and when the ice had gone out of the river, Cartier gathered his company back into the ships and set sail again for France. At Newfoundland he encountered the belated Roberval. High words were exchanged, and, as a result, the fiery Viceroy sailed alone to New France; and Cartier, bidding Canada a last farewell, held on his way to St. Malo.
Francis Parkman transcribes from the manuscript of Thevet the following incident which marked Roberval's voyage:—"The Viceroy's company was of a mixed complexion. There were nobles, officers, soldiers, sailors, adventurers, with women, too, and children. Of the women, some were of birth and station, and among them a damsel called Marguerite, a niece of Roberval himself. In the ship was a young gentleman who had embarked for love of her. His love was too well requited, and the stern Viceroy, scandalised and enraged at a passion which scorned concealment and set shame at defiance, cast anchor by the haunted island (the Isle of Demons), landed his indiscreet relative, gave her four arquebuses for defence, and with an old woman nurse who had pandered to the lovers, left her to her fate. Her gallant threw himself into the surf, and by desperate effort gained the shore, with two more guns and a supply of ammunition. The ship weighed anchor, receded, vanished; they were left alone. Yet not so, for the demon-lords of the island beset them day and night, raging round their hut with a confused and hungry clamouring, striving to force the frail barrier. The lovers had repented of their sin, though not abandoned it, and Heaven was on their side. The saints vouchsafed their aid, and the offended Virgin, relenting, held before them her protecting shield. In the form of beasts and other shapes abominably and unutterably hideous, the brood of hell, howling in baffled fury, tore at the branches of the sylvan dwelling; but a celestial hand was ever interposed, and there was a viewless barrier which they might not pass. Marguerite became pregnant. Here was a double prize—two souls in one, mother and child. The fiends grew frantic, but all in vain. She stood undaunted amid these horrors, but her lover, dismayed and heart-broken, sickened and died. Her child soon followed; then the old woman nurse found her unhallowed rest in that accursed soil, and Marguerite was left alone. Neither reason nor courage failed her; and when assailed by the demons, she shot at them with her gun. They answered with hellish merriment, and thenceforth she placed her trust in Heaven alone. There were foes around her of the upper, no less than of the nether, world. Of these the bears were the most redoubtable, yet as they were vulnerable to mortal weapons, she killed three of them—all, says the story, 'as white as an egg.'
"It was two years and five months from her landing on the island, when, far out at sea, the crew of a small fishing-craft saw a column of smoke curling upward from the haunted shore. Was it a device of the fiends to lure them to their ruin? They thought so, and kept aloof. But misgiving seized them. They warily drew near, and descried a female figure in wild attire waving signals from the strand. Thus, at length, was Marguerite rescued, and restored to her native France, where, a few years later, the cosmographer Thevet met her at Natron, in Perigord, and heard the tale of wonder from her own lips."
[Footnote 3: Parkman's Pioneers of France, p. 203.]
Meanwhile, Roberval sailed on up the St. Lawrence, and established himself at Cap Rouge, in the deserted forts of Charlesburg-Royal built by Cartier. But the inexperience and imprudence of the haughty Viceroy soon put his establishment in sore straits. Ignorance of physical conditions and disregard of natural laws of health had always been the chief cause of suffering among these transatlantic exiles, and Roberval now added a lamentable want of perception and solicitude. Unlike Cartier, the inexorable Viceroy did not recognise his colonists as companions in privation, but ruled them with a rod of iron. The pillory, the whipping-post, and the scaffold were distressing features in his system. Then came winter, famine, and the scurvy. Fifty of the settlers died, and by spring even the headstrong Roberval was ready to forsake his enterprise. His departure ends the earliest period of French adventure in America.
Thenceforth, for more than half a century, France writhed in civil war, and spared no vessel to explore the great river of Canada. For all these years New France was left to its aboriginal inhabitants and to fate.
THE ERA OF CHAMPLAIN
The name of Champlain must ever stand before all others in the history of Quebec. He was the founder of the city, and for more than a quarter of a century he was its very life. If repeated disappointment and misfortune could have brought this great empire-builder to despair; if obstacles apparently impossible to overcome could have turned the hero from his purpose, Quebec would not be to-day the oldest city in the western hemisphere. As it was, his character gave the keynote not only to the great fortress-capital, but to the whole history of New France. He was an embodiment at once of the religious zeal and of the mediaeval spirit of romance which carried the Bourbon lilies into the trackless wilderness of North America, at a time when English colonisation contented itself with a narrow strip on the Atlantic seaboard.
Samuel de Champlain was born in 1567 at the small seaport of Brouage, on the Bay of Biscay. His father was a captain in the French navy, in which profession the son also received early training. In the conflict between the King and the rebellious Duc de Mercoeur and the League, Champlain was found on the Royalist side; and Henry the Fourth rewarded his faithful subject with a pension and a place at court. But the war in Brittany was not long over before Champlain became restless. The spirit of adventure beat strong in his veins, and at length he determined upon a project which, while it should serve the purpose of the King, was also well spiced with peril. Proceeding to Cadiz, where his uncle was Pilot-General of the Spanish marine, Champlain obtained command of one of the ships in Don Francisco Colombo's fleet, bound for the West Indies. On this voyage he was absent from France more than two years, visiting not only the West Indies, but also Mexico and Central America.
On his return, these travels gave him an unusual importance at the French court; and when, in 1603, the aged De Chastes, Governor of Dieppe, decided to seal his pious life with an enterprise for the King and for the Church, the adventurous Champlain became the instrument of his purpose.
De Chastes' two small vessels set sail from Honfleur, one commanded by Pontgrave, the other by Champlain. The voyage was long but uneventful. Pontgrave's former trading-post at Tadousac had been abandoned, and they held their lonely way up the St. Lawrence, past the mantling rock of Stadacone, on to the wooded heights of Hochelaga. Cartier's Indian village of sixty-eight years before had disappeared—undoubtedly swept from existence by the relentless Iroquois. At this point, however, the foaming St. Louis rapids barred their way, and the caravels were turned homeward. With wind and current down the river, and out through the Gulf, in due season they came safely to Havre de Grace.
In their absence the Sieur de Chastes had died; but De Monts, another courtier at the Louvre, succeeded to the patent for colonising in the New World. Exploration was not to rest, and Champlain and the Baron de Poutrincourt accompanied the new Deputy in his Acadian expedition of 1604. Once more the Atlantic was crossed. Passing Cap la Heve the explorers sought a suitable site for their colony along this coast, and when they reached the beautiful basin of Annapolis, hemmed in by a circle of wooded hills, the artistic Poutrincourt was charmed, and forthwith obtained from De Monts a private grant of the surrounding country. He established his demesne here, naming the place Port Royal, while Champlain and De Monts, continuing their way around the Bay of Fundy, came at length to the bleak island of St. Croix, where they founded their colony.
There is no need to present fully the vicissitudes of the tiny settlement. Scurvy and the rigours of the first winter carried off thirty-five colonists out of a total of seventy-nine. The winter of 1606-1607 was happily much less severe; moreover, Champlain's "Ordre de Bon-Temps," and Lescarbot's wit and gaiety contributed to cheer the shivering exiles. In the spring, however, the first ship from St. Malo brought bad news from France. The enemies of De Monts at home had triumphed, and had persuaded the King to cancel the charter of the Deputy. In a way this contretemps led to the founding of Quebec.
Although De Monts was no longer Lieutenant-General of Acadia, he was yet unwilling to give up the scheme which appealed so strongly to his adventurous nature. On his return to Paris, his influence had been sufficient to secure for one year a monopoly of the new fur trade. Champlain, cherishing the memory of the voyage of the previous year, persuaded him that the valley of the St. Lawrence would serve his purpose better even than Acadia, and between them they planned an expedition in which profit and adventure were evenly mingled. Two ships were fitted out—the one commanded by Champlain, the other by the elder Pontgrave. The latter was to revive the old trading-station of Tadousac, while Champlain was to establish, further inland, a fortified post from which expeditions might set forth to find the hoped-for passage to Cathay.
Pontgrave sailed from Honfleur on the 5th of April, 1608, Champlain following on the 13th of the same month. His was the first ship to carry a permanent colony to New France. Crossing the wide gulf by Anticosti, the little vessel of Champlain stopped at Tadousac to do a timely service for his colleague who was now further up the river. The stately grandeur of the scene was not new to Champlain. Five years before he had glided past the yawning canyon through which the dark Saguenay rushed down from the north; he had gazed upon the blue sky-line of the Laurentian mountains; in the caravel of De Chastes the surging tide had carried him past the Isle of Bacchus and the milky cataract of Montmorency.
Anon the channel narrows; on the left are the Heights of Levi, and on the right a frowning cliff shoulders far into the stream. Here ancient Stadacone stood; but the Iroquois passed over it long since, and the village is gone. On this spot Champlain decided to establish his post, and what site could be more suitable than that found by the Breton mariners as they rounded the point of Orleans? They had entered a beautiful harbour where an armada might safely ride at anchor. On their left the Heights of Levi formed the southern boundary of the glistening basin; on their right, a tiny river murmured through the lowlands; and beyond it a rugged promontory thrust into the current a tower of rock, commanding the narrow channel into which the mighty St. Lawrence was here compressed. The solitude of a forest wilderness now hung over the site of Stadacone. On the narrow wooded strand at the base of this rocky eyrie, Champlain made a landing.
Trees were felled, and in the clearing the log foundations of "L'Habitation" were laid. Ere the summer ended it was completed; and a sketch from Champlain's own unskilled pencil has preserved its grotesque likeness. First of all there was a moat, then a staunch wall of logs, with loopholes for musketry, and, inside, three buildings and a courtyard. Over all rose a dove-cot, quaintly mediaeval, and prettily symbolical of Champlain's peaceful invasion. But Indians were Indians, and two or three small cannon were accordingly mounted on salient platforms on the riverside. A large storehouse was also built inside the palisade; and presently Champlain laid out a flower garden.
In preparing against foes without, however, Champlain had taken no thought for foes within. Not all of the little company had the same enthusiasm as their leader, and a plot was set on foot to destroy him, and sell Quebec to the Spaniards and the Basques. Fortunately the fidelity of his pilot saved Champlain from assassination. Warning reached him in time, and he dealt fearlessly and rigorously with the mutinous crew. The four ringleaders were decoyed on board a pinnace from Tadousac, and seized and put in irons. The body of the chief conspirator swung next morning from the cross-trees, and his three companions were sent back to the galleys of France. A free pardon for the minor malcontents secured their loyalty from that time forward.
In September, Pontgrave set sail for France, and Champlain and his twenty-eight companions made ready for the winter. Frost and snow came early that year, and a devastating scurvy invaded the Habitation. The improvident Montagnais huddled in their birch tepees about the fort, raving for food, and perishing with disease; while of the twenty-eight Frenchmen there were only eight despairing survivors to greet the returning spring. On the 5th of June, however, Pontgrave's ship again arrived at Quebec, to the joy of Champlain and his stricken companions.
Summer warmed their enthusiasm anew, and the dauntless explorer now thought only of pressing on westward to Cathay. To further this project, he consented to ally himself with the Hurons and Algonquins in an attack upon the Iroquois, and for several days their dusky allies swarmed in and around Quebec. At length, towards the end of June, the war-party set out. Champlain embarked in a shallop with eleven men, armed with arquebuse and match-lock, sword and breast-plate; and the painted, shrilling foresters swarmed up the river in their bark canoes. From the St. Lawrence they passed into the Iroquois River.
After destroying one of the Mohawk towns, the victorious raiders returned to Quebec. Champlain, "the man with the iron breast," had cemented his alliance with the northern tribes, and from this time forth Quebec became the great emporium for the fur trade of the continent.
[Footnote 4: Now the Richelieu.]
In 1613 Champlain's enthusiasm was kindled by the tale of one Nicolas de Vignau, who claimed to have traced the Ottawa to its source in a great lake, which also emptied itself through a northern river into an unknown sea. Champlain set off with Vignau and three others to establish this new route to Cathay. In two birch canoes they proceeded up the St. Lawrence and into the rushing Ottawa. Portaging around the seething Chaudiere, they came at length to Allumette Island. Here the old Algonquin chief, Tessouat, received them; but he presently convinced Champlain that there was no such northern route as he looked to find. Whereupon Vignau confessed his imposture, and Champlain generously let him go unpunished.
Meanwhile, De Monts had wearied of his New World enterprise, and to secure the interests of his colony Champlain was constrained to make annual voyages to France. In 1612 he found a protector in the Comte de Soissons, who appointed the discoverer his deputy in New France. Soissons, however, died in the same year; but fortunately the Prince of Conde, by whom he was succeeded, was also well-disposed, and retained Champlain as his lieutenant.
Up to this time Quebec had realised only an elementary form of colonisation. The entire population numbered less than fifty persons, and the city consisted of the fortified post at the foot of the cliff, with a few cabins clustering about the log palisades. But on his visit to France in 1615, Champlain took a step forward in his policy. Hitherto the dwellers at Quebec had been transients. They came not to take up residence, but to trade, intending to return again to France as soon as possible. The fear of a death unshriven likewise contributed to tentative settlement; and to meet the latter want, Champlain resolved to establish a church in his colony. Four Recollet friars—Franciscans of the Strict Observance—were easily persuaded to return with him to Quebec. Burning with holy zeal, they confessed their sins, received absolution, and embarked at Honfleur on the 24th of April, 1615. A month later they arrived at Tadousac, and sailed on to Quebec. Every new arrival increased the surprise of the bewildered Indians, who gazed with suspicion upon the four mendicant friars, in their coarse, gray soutanes girt at the waist with the knotted cord of St. Francis of Assisi, and wearing peaked capotes and thick wooden sandals.
The site of the first church in New France was selected without delay. It stood on the strand near the Cul-de-sac, a little distance from the Habitation. Its construction was simple and speedy, and before the end of June the half-hundred citizens of Quebec knelt upon the bare ground and reverently listened to the first Mass ever said in Canada. The guns of the ship in the harbour, and the cannon on the ramparts, boomed forth in honour of the event. That day the priesthood began its long regime. The colonial policy of New France had now been definitely shaped. Henceforth this new Power would stride into the wilderness with the crucifix in one hand and the sword in the other—for God and for the King; by baptism, binding the heathen to the faith, and by co-operation with the native tribes against the Iroquois, making Quebec the heart and soul of the vast Indian country, whose boundaries no one knew, and whose wealth none could divine.
In pursuance of this policy, Father Dolbeau, with much suffering, accompanied the roving Montagnais to their northern hunting-grounds. Their wanderings were so wide that, before he returned, the priest had encountered the Esquimaux of Labrador. Meanwhile, Pere Joseph made his way to the Sault St. Louis, where a mighty concourse of savages was assembled; and when the war-conference was ended he went back with the Hurons to their villages. Champlain and Etienne Brule, the most daring bushman in New France, followed him thither by way of the Ottawa, Lake Nipissing, French River, and the Georgian Bay. Thus Lake Huron was discovered. Then, from Cahiague, the Huron capital, set out the memorable war-party of 1615, which came near to altering the fate of the Colony. Up the Severn, across Lake Simcoe, thence by portage route to the valley of the Trent, they arrived at Lake Ontario. Crossing to the south shore, they hid their canoes in the forest and were soon in Iroquois territory; but when they came within sight of the Onondaga town, Champlain was no longer able to control his naked allies, and in spite of his precautions they rushed the palisade, only to be beaten back and scattered. The muskets of the twelve Frenchmen alone saved a rout, Champlain himself being wounded; and with much chagrin the dispersed Hurons made their way back to Lake Ontario. They refused even to escort their wounded leader to Quebec as they had promised, and he was obliged to spend the winter in the lodge of one of the chiefs. He hunted and fished with the Hurons, and in one of these expeditions he was lost in the forest for several days, being only saved by that wonderful resource which marked his character. When the spring came again Champlain set off for Quebec, guided by his kind host Durantal. He reached the fort in July, after an absence of a year, and the inhabitants, who had long since believed him dead, assembled in the Recollet church for a special thanksgiving service—nor without good reason, for upon the inveterate ruler and leader depended the destiny of France in America.
The condition of the little colony had not improved during the absence of the governing and inspiring spirit. From the force of circumstances, it did not at once improve upon Champlain's return. These first settlers of Quebec, whose food and living were easily got, and with no ambition to work or trade, idled their time away. Gambling and drinking were their common diversions, the more reckless spirits taking to the woods and adopting the savage life of the hunting tribes. These became the famous coureurs de bois, the picturesque vagrants who were destined in the succeeding years to constitute so serious a "problem" in the administration of New France. At first Champlain could do little more than hold his colony together. Intelligent as his purposes were, he received no help from the Court of France or from the Viceroy De Monts, though the importance of the enterprise of colonisation was set before Europe with every circumstance of national pride and no detail of responsibility.
A painful evidence of the slight importance which the Louvre attached to New France is furnished by the frequent and easy changes in its patronage to which reference has already been made. On the imprisonment of Conde, the young Duc de Montmorency purchased for a song the Lieutenancy of New France, and he in turn sold it to his nephew, Henri Levis, the Duc de Ventadour. All except De Ventadour had been moved by the lust of gain; in his case, however, the motive was religious—to win the infidels of the New World to the faith of the Old. The Jesuits were his chosen instruments; and accordingly, in the summer of 1625, Charles Lalement, Enemond Masse, and Jean de Brebeuf, landed at Quebec. No guns boomed a welcome to the disciples of Loyola. No salvos of artillery hailed their arrival. Their reception was even distressing. In the temporary absence of Champlain, the Calvinist Emery de Caen was in charge of the fort, and in the violence of his heresy refused them shelter. The inhabitants, likewise, declined to admit the newcomers to their homes. In despair at such treatment the three Jesuits were on the point of returning to France, when the hospitable Recollets invited them to the convent at Notre Dame des Anges. In September the Jesuits made a clearing on the opposite side of the St. Charles, and here they began to build a convent of their own. Thus had the forty-three French exiles, who now made the permanent population of Quebec, a sufficiency of both Recollets and Jesuits for their spiritual guidance. Lalement soon became the keeper of Champlain's conscience, and from this time forward the Jesuits were to have their way in New France.
In 1627 Richelieu's policy of absolutism was extended also to the New World. Revoking the charter of De Caen the Huguenot merchant, he organised the Company of One Hundred Associates, of which he was himself the head. In return for sovereign powers and a perpetual monopoly of the fur trade, this society was to people New France with artisans and colonists, whom they were pledged to provide with cleared lands for agriculture and to maintain. Huguenots, moreover, were to be for ever excluded from the colony.
For a time the new company took an honest view of its obligations—but only for a time. Within a year or so, Quebec was again on the verge of starvation; and in the spring of 1629 the famished inhabitants were eagerly awaiting the Company's ships from France. By July their patience was almost worn out, when at last the watchers at Cap Tourmente brought the news that a fleet of six vessels had reached Tadousac. Quebec could scarcely await their arrival, and the more eager inhabitants prepared to meet the ships down the river. But suddenly two Indian canoes swung round the point of Orleans. These made hot haste for the rock, and breathlessly announced that the fleet in the river was a hostile English squadron, and that a fishing village had already been pillaged and destroyed. Joy now became consternation. Unknown to the distant colony, war between France and England had been declared.
Quebec was not left long in suspense, for next day the messengers of the English admiral, Sir David Kirke, himself a Huguenot refugee, arrived with a demand for surrender. The heart of the valiant Champlain was wrung. He had inspected his empty magazine and the rickety fort which the improvidence of the Company had allowed to fall into ruin. But even the weakness of his starved and paltry garrison did not affect his fortitude. Kirke's envoy was courteously dismissed, with the bold assurance that Quebec would defend itself to the last man. Champlain still clung to the hope that supplies would arrive from France; and even as he uttered his bold defiance, De Roquemont's convoy and fleet of transports had entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Quebec strained eager eyes for the succouring sail. Night and day the tiny garrison stood to the guns, resolving to spend their remaining fifty pounds of gunpowder with equal fervour in welcome of friend or foe.
But weeks wore into months, and misery and despair proportionately increased. Here were nearly a hundred persons huddled in a decayed fortress in the wilderness, with seven ounces of pounded pease for a daily ration. By and by this supply also failed, and the starving inhabitants were driven into the wood in search of acorns and roots. Then came the news, which Champlain had long been dreading, that De Roquemont's fleet had fallen into the hands of Sir David Kirke. The last hope of saving Quebec was now brushed away. But the English fleet did not yet summon the garrison to surrender, and instead of making immediate assault, Kirke continued to blockade the River and the Gulf.
Another winter dragged by, and spring came again. The people continued to starve, ever hoping that the enemy would raise the siege. This hope was not to be fulfilled. On the 19th of July three English ships sailed up the river, and with the apathy of despair the gallant Champlain and his sixteen famished soldiers watched them anchor in the basin. The bitter end was come.
Next day, the 20th of July, 1629, the English flag floated, for the first time, over the fortress of Quebec. "There was not in the sayde forte at the tyme of the rendition of the same, to this examinate's knowledge, any victuals, save only one tubb of bitter roots"—such is the evidence of one of Kirke's captains. This, in brief, is the story of the first of the five sieges of Quebec.
When Lewis Kirke, the Admiral's brother, took possession of the city in the name of King Charles, he treated his captives with high courtesy. The French inhabitants were given the option of remaining in peaceful possession of their homes, or being transported back to France. Louis Hebert, the chemist, and his relatives the Couillards, the only two families of colonists in the strict sense of the word, elected to remain on their small holdings. Champlain and the Jesuits, choosing to return to France, embarked in the ship of Thomas Kirke, who was sailing down the river to join his brother's fleet at Tadousac. When they were opposite Mal Baie, about twenty-five leagues below Quebec, a strange sail bore in sight. She proved to be a French ship which had stolen past Tadousac with succours for Quebec. The George immediately gave chase, a sharp fight ensued, but in the end the Frenchman struck his flag, and the new prize was borne down the river.
Sir David Kirke now continued homeward with his prisoners. They reached Plymouth in October, and from here the devoted and patriotic Champlain went to London to urge the French ambassador to seek the restitution of Quebec. Its capture had actually occurred after the declaration of peace, and on that ground was held invalid. Champlain pleaded well and in the end prevailed. It was not, however, until 1632 that the fortress was restored to France by the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye; and it is probable that the mercenary Charles held such a concession cheap when weighed in the scale with four hundred thousand golden crowns, the promised dowry of Henrietta Maria.
During the three years of English occupation Quebec had made no progress. The Indians had found in the newcomers a spirit in rough contrast with the forbearance and good-fellowship of the French. Disliking the brusqueness of the new rulers, the Algonquins now shunned the city. Even the fort had been burned to the ground, and the Hebert homestead alone made a sweet oasis in a desert of neglect and dilapidation.
Such was the condition of the settlement in the summer of 1632, when Emery de Caen again sailed into the harbour. He had come to take over possession from the English. Despite his old antipathy, his fierce Calvinism, he now brought with him—in some sense the price of his commission—the Jesuits Pere de Noue and Pere le Jeune; and joyfully the exiled French gathered at the house of honest Hebert to hear Mass after the lapse of three years.
It is not clear why the Huguenot De Caen was chosen to retake possession of Quebec. The expedition was fitted out at his own expense; and for recompense, a monopoly of the fur trade was granted him for one year. At the end of that time the Company of One Hundred Associates was to resume the privileges of its charter. Thus it happened that, in 1633, Champlain was reappointed Governor of New France by the astute Richelieu.
With three vessels Champlain set sail on the 23rd of March, and two months later he look over the command of Quebec from De Caen. The next two years passed placidly for the city. The Indians rejoiced to have "the man with the iron breast" back in their lodges, and the harbour swarmed once more with friendly canoes. Meanwhile, trade increased with the Indians, and the settlement became a genuine commercial colony. On one occasion as many as seven hundred Hurons flocked to Quebec with their hunting trophies, and at length every midsummer came to be marked by an Indian Fair. Pere le Jeune's Relation gives a quaint description of one of the annual visits of the tribes. On the 24th of July, 1633, the harbour was dotted with fur-laden canoes from the Ottawa and from Lake Huron. Landing at the Cul-de-sac, the dusky braves took possession of the strand below the rock, where they hastily set up their portable huts of birch-bark. "Some," says the Jesuit chronicler, "had come only to gamble or to steal; others out of mere curiosity; while the wiser and more businesslike among them had come to barter their furs and sacks of tobacco leaves." The second day of the visitation was marked by a solemn conclave of the chiefs and the officers of Fort St. Louis—a smoking pow-wow for the exchange of compliments and wampum.
The courtyard of the fort witnessed this garish function. The chiefs and principal men of each village grouped themselves together. Some were garbed in beaver skins, others in the shaggy hide of the bear. Still others were guiltless of apparel, and all bore themselves with an excessive dignity bordering on burlesque. Brebeuf, Daniel, and Davost stood by in their sable vestments; and in the midst of all was Champlain surrounded by the soldiers of his garrison. The next two days were given up to trade—a beaver-skin exchanging for a tin kettle, a bright cloth, or a string of beads. On the fifth day a huge feast was given, by means of which savage appetites forced the French to disgorge a moiety of their profit. But before another dawn the Indians had vanished, and Quebec smiled to see its storehouses full of furs.
By this time the little settlement had more than ever taken on the appearance of a mission. The Recollets had virtually been excluded from New France, the influence of the Jesuits having permeated even the official atmosphere of Fort St. Louis. It has been claimed that, in his younger years, Champlain was a Huguenot. It is more likely he was a Catholic of a liberal type; and certainly in his last years a Jesuit became his spiritual adviser. Both the soldier and the merchant gave way to the priestly influence in the purposes of Government. The cross was to precede the sword of empire on the march into the wilderness.
In the midst of peace and progress a heavy loss was now to befall Quebec. Champlain, beyond sixty-eight years of age, lay prostrate in the fort. His last illness had come upon him, and on Christmas Day, 1635, the father of New France passed away. Soldiers, priests, and settlers sorrowfully followed his remains to the little church on the cliff, Notre Dame de la Recouvrance, which Champlain himself had founded in honour of the restitution of the city, and where he had renewed so often his faith and hope and courage.
A great spirit had crossed the bourne. The whole history of Canada has no fairer pages than those which deal with the deeds of the founder of Quebec. His was a character great and unselfish, often mistaken, but always high-minded and just; not free from the credulity that characterised his generation, but with a spirit of romantic endurance which leaves the New World still his debtor; with a love of high emprise unsullied by lust of gain or by cruelty or vain-glory. Like Moses, he went forth into a land of promise; and, like Moses, the place of his sepulchre is not known. It is, however, recorded that his remains were placed "dans un sepulcre particulier." During the administration of Montmagny a small chapel adjoining Notre Dame de la Recouvrance came to be known as "Champlain's Chapel," and for a long time this was believed to mark the founder's tomb. But in 1856 an excavation at the foot of Breakneck Stairs revealed a curious vault containing human bones; and later investigation has led to the belief that the last resting-place of Champlain was a rocky niche part way down Mountain Hill, in full view of the strand upon which his early Habitation was built.
THE HEROIC AGE OF NEW FRANCE
The Indians with whom the French explorers first came in contact were of the Algonquin family. Under different tribal names this race spread itself over the Atlantic seaboard from Carolina to Hudson's Bay, and farther west than the Great Lakes. In the comparatively small area now forming northern New York lived the Iroquois, or Five Nation Indians, who, like the Helvetii of old, out-stripped all the other tribes in valour, and at the time of the arrival of the Europeans were engaged in reducing their Algonquin foes to subjection. The Hurons, who figure so prominently in early Canadian annals, were of Iroquois stock; but owing to their situation in the Georgian Bay peninsula, and their alliance with the neighbouring Algonquins, they became the especial object of Iroquois enmity, and the feud went on till they were exterminated.
The story of this conflict so closely concerns the history of Quebec, that the period intervening between the death of Champlain and the establishment of Royal Government has been described as the Heroic Age of New France. Indeed, on looking back over the trials of that period, it seems incredible that the colony was able to weather the storms of Iroquois savagery by which it was swept. But this dark misery was so clearly the outcome of French colonial policy, that a reference to the underlying principles of that system is necessary.
The French idea of colonisation was propagandism. True, it was not actually born of that deep principle, but rather of high adventure and of the alluring mystery of discovery. Religion, however, very soon became its prevailing impulse. The expedition of Verrazzano had its raison d'etre in nothing higher than the cupidity of Francis I., who was dazzled by legends of Mexican gold and Peruvian silver; but religion inspired Cartier to his great adventure ten years later.
The Old World was in the throes of the Reformation. With shafts of heresy, Luther in Germany and Calvin in France were assailing the Catholic Church, and devout Catholics like Cabot had conceived the idea of requiting the Church for her losses in the Old World by religious conquests in the New. Roberval's voyage had been likewise undertaken for discovery, settlement, and the conversion of the Indians. The aged De Chastes, the patron of Champlain, had been animated almost entirely by a religious motive, and the explorer's own frequent declaration was that "the salvation of a single soul is worth more than an empire."
Such sentiments alone were enough to explain the friendship of Champlain with the Hurons and Algonquins, on whose lands he had settled his colony, and to whom the French owed something at least in the way of assistance or protection. But apart from sense of a religious obligation, he was forced to depend on the Indians to guide him through the country he wished to explore, and their goodwill was also necessary to develop the fur trade for the great companies. It was natural, therefore, that Champlain should enter into alliance with the neighbouring tribes, whose amity meant so much to the struggling settlement. But New France was destined to reap bitter fruits from this seeding.
The offensive and defensive bond against the Iroquois almost cost the colony its existence. It was, in fact, another Hundred Years' War with a foe as implacable as death itself. The constant aim of the French was to organise and harmonise the tribes against their common enemy, and to establish a league of which Quebec would be the heart and head. All this was in direct contrast with the English system, which took no account whatever of the Indian tribes. The English colonists in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Virginia displaced the Indian; the French made him part of their system. New France was a trading colony, New England an agricultural colony. The French, with few exceptions, did not go to the New World to make a home, but to secure fortunes; the English colonists went to the New World to settle; they bore with them their household gods.
For a hundred years or more, New France was dependent on Old France for provisions; and even up to the death of Champlain, there were, in fact, only two plots of ground under cultivation by French settlers—that of Louis Hebert in Upper Town, and the small farm of the Recollects on the St. Charles. In New England, the settlers first of all cleared the land, laid out their farms, and stored their provisions against the winter season. They traded with the Indians and acquired wealth, and for their greater convenience they made purchases in the Old World. Thus, from the first days almost, the New England Colonies were self-contained, while New France depended on Europe to a degree amazing and pathetic. This fact strikes the keynote of the French regime, explaining, as it does, most of the trials and tribulations of New France in its perennial warfare with the Iroquois, and in the later friction with New England.
Nor is it astonishing that New France never became self-reliant. From first to last her natural growth was throttled, either by the greed of the fur companies or by the mistaken paternalism of the Bourbons. The Company of One Hundred Associates, which Richelieu founded in 1624, was no improvement on the previous administrations of New France, in spite of its elaborate charter and the fact that Richelieu himself was at the head of it. The fur companies were doubly politic in discouraging agriculture, for the purchase of peltries thus became practically the sole industry of the colony, while at the same time the people were left dependent upon the stores of the company for food. The colonisation of New England was intensive, the colonisation of New France extensive; New England cleared and built as occasion demanded; New France merely established bases from which to penetrate the wilderness. Before the death of Champlain, the white crosses which her pioneers were wont to set up were to be found as far west as Lake Huron, and before the close of the seventeenth century they dotted the trackless forests from Michillimackinac to New Orleans. It is not surprising, then, that the Indians became an important factor in the history of Canada.
M. de Montmagny, Champlain's successor, arrived in the spring of 1636. He was a Knight of Malta, a brave soldier, and a religious fanatic. During the twelve years of his administration, Quebec was almost constantly defending itself against the Iroquois. Redoubled efforts to convert the Indians also mark this period. The first of these efforts was the pious project of M. de Sillery, a Knight of Malta. De Sillery had wearied of the gay court of Fontainebleau, and in 1637 he supplied the means whereby the Jesuit Le Jeune established a hostel for converted Algonquins. The site chosen was a few miles up the river from Quebec; and although Iroquois hostility soon made havoc of the mission, the spot is known to this day as Sillery Cove.
In the same year, 1637, the Jesuits began a wooden structure in the rear of the fort, resolving to devote the six thousand crowns donated by the Marquis de Gamache, to the founding of a school for Indian children, and a college for French boys. Father Daniel brought down the first pupil from the Huron country, when he returned to Quebec, and the interpreter Nicollet skilfully induced several other Indian families to send hostages to the Jesuit seminary. But the untamed savage drank shyly at the fountain of learning, and Father Le Jeune relates of the dusky scholars that one ran away, two ate themselves to death, a fourth was kidnapped by his affectionate parent, and three others stole a canoe, loaded it to the gunwale with such commodities and food as they could lay hands upon, and escaped up the river. The indefatigable Jesuits, however, were not to be discouraged, and they still wrote with delight of their savage province. Their ardent Relations were sent regularly to France, and the hearts of princesses in the Faubourg St. Germain, and of nuns in the convents of Montmartre were alike fired with zeal for the Canadian mission.
"Is there no charitable and virtuous lady," pleaded Le Jeune, "who will come to this country to gather up the blood of Christ by teaching His word to the little Indian girls?" Thirteen nuns in a single convent straightway vowed their lives to the far-off mission; but the touching appeal of the Jesuit father sank deepest of all in the heart of the fever-stricken Madame de la Peltrie.
A review of the early life of Madame de la Peltrie makes it easy to understand how her mind was readily inflamed by the tearful Relations des Jesuits. As a child religious ecstasy had possessed her ardent mind; and her father, a gentleman of Normandy, was continually striving against her inclinations for the cloister. Twice he carried her back from a convent whither she had fled, and by a series of devices at length contrived a happy marriage for her. At twenty-two she was left a widow and childless, and once more the fervour of her early years consumed her. She resolved afresh to be a nun. Her father entreated and, under threat of disinheritance, commanded her to marry again. Meanwhile, what was being done in Canada came to her knowledge, and increased her ardour tenfold. A Jesuit, of whom she sought counsel in her dilemma, suggested a casuistical compromise. Through him a formal marriage was arranged, and the death of her father soon afterwards left herself and her revenues free for pious enterprise in New France.
Repairing to the Ursuline Convent at Tours, Madame de la Peltrie made choice of three nuns to share with her the bliss of founding a convent at Quebec. The most remarkable of these was the devout Marie de l'Incarnation. At this time the latter was forty years of age, tall, stately, and forceful in appearance, and with a history as romantic as that of Madame de la Peltrie herself. At seventeen she had made an unhappy marriage. Two years later her husband died, and left her with an infant son. She gave the child into the charge of her sister, and devoted herself to solitude and religious meditation. Visions, ecstasies, rapture, and dejection took alternate possession of her mind. Fastings and the severest forms of discipline henceforward made up the melancholy routine of the life of the "holy widow." Love for her child for a long time kept her from taking the veil, but at length, by prayer and fasting, she emancipated herself from this maternal weakness of the flesh, and was rapturously received by the Ursulines of Tours. Yet in spite of the vagaries of her devout mind, Madame de l'Incarnation possessed a singular aptness for practical affairs. Several of her early years had been spent in the house of her brother-in-law, where she had displayed an amazing talent for the ordinary business of life. A knowledge of this trait had doubtless led the Jesuits to press her appointment as Superior of the new Ursuline Convent which Madame de la Peltrie proposed establishing at Quebec. Meanwhile, the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, Richelieu's niece, had also been moved by the pleadings from Quebec, and she determined to found a Hotel-Dieu. Three nuns of the Hospital were entrusted with this project.
The ship bearing Madame de la Peltrie, the three Ursulines, and the three Hospitalieres set sail from Dieppe early in May, 1639. The excitement and activity of the outer world must have contrasted strangely with the peacefulness of their quiet cloisters; yet the frail nuns were buoyed up by a marvellous enthusiasm and a noble faith. This faith, however, was destined to be sorely tried. Winds and waves beset them on the way, icebergs struck terror into their spirits, and it was not till the middle of July that the leaking ship came to anchor in the harbour of Tadousac. Thence they proceeded in small boats up the river; and on the 1st of August the welcoming cannon of Fort St. Louis boomed forth, and Quebec was en fete in honour of so notable an arrival.
Pending the erection of a suitable building at Quebec, the nuns of the Hospital established themselves at the mission palisade of Sillery, and the Ursulines began their work in the small wooden structure on the river's brink below the rock. An outbreak of smallpox among the Indians soon over-crowded their wretched tenement, and infected savages came thither only to die. Worn out with labour, the indefatigable nuns continued bravely to contend with the disease and suffering around them, and the monuments of their high endurance and beautiful devotion are to be found to-day in the ivy-clad cloisters in Garden Street, where the gentle Ursulines still minister to the maidens of French Canada; and in the pretentious hospital on Palace Hill where nuns still care tenderly for the sick and dying, and read the inspiring history of their order back to 1639.
About the middle of the seventeenth century a stranger in Quebec would have been surprised to find that the city lacked nothing so much as people. Reversing the natural law of supply and demand, it built churches before it had worshippers, schools before it had scholars, and hospitals before it had patients. The purpose was to attract settlement by preparing beforehand for the wants of colonists. These early establishments have, however, justified themselves by a continuous and permanent history, and Quebec is now, as it was nearly three centuries ago, a city of churches and convents. The bells rang then, as now, from morning till night, Gregorian chants streamed out through convent windows, and the black-robed priest was the soul of all.
Montmagny rebuilt in stone the fort on the precipice, and spared nothing to give the place a formidable appearance. For safety the church and presbytery of the Jesuits stood close to the parapet. The Ursulines, with less caution, began to build their tiny convent in the neighbouring woods. The first Hotel-Dieu was rising on the cliff overlooking the valley of the St. Charles, and not far away was the new farm of Louis Hebert, the chemist—all together making a picture of progress. Champlain's first Habitation had fallen to ruin, but a few wooden tenements still remained to mark the earliest settlement in Lower Town, and the Church of the Recollets told the tale of past perils and an unfailing faith. A league or so up the river was the Algonquin mission of Sillery, with its clustered cabins and rude oratory, surrounded by a palisade.
Montmagny was a devote surrounded by a suite as pious as himself. Through these amenable spirits the Jesuits were supreme not only in matters of religion, but in matters of state. Indeed, in this ecclesiastically governed community there was little distinction between sacred and secular matters. The church was the centre of affairs. A stake was planted before the sacred edifice bearing a placard of warning against blasphemy, drunkenness, and neglect of the Mass. A pillory, with chain and iron collar, and a wooden horse, stood close by—suggestive means of religious correction.
Even the recreations of the people partook of a religious character. The feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of New France, was celebrated with pious display. On May-Day the young people of Quebec tripped about a maypole surmounted by a triple crown in honour of Jesus, Maria, and Joseph. The annual visits of the Company's ships from France, however, temporarily disturbed the calm of the monastic city. The genuflexions of drunken sailors were seldom in honour of St. Joseph; and the ribald humours of visiting mariners profaned for a season the quiet rock of Quebec.
But throughout this missionary period the hatchet of the Iroquois was suspended over the city. Their dreaded war-cry rang all too often through the adjacent forests, and their stealthy tomahawks found victims even under the guns of Fort St. Louis. So daring became the incursions of the implacable savages that the settlers did not dare to till their lands. To pass from one post to another without a strong escort meant risk of death or capture; and capture was more dreaded than death itself. Every year had its tale of surprises and massacres. The sleepless sentries on the ramparts, and the staunch palisades of the fort seemed insufficient protection against a foe as silent as an arrow and as swift in speeding upon its victim. At this time also the Jesuit missions among the distant Hurons were suffering unknown horrors; but the tale of their disasters is for another chapter.
Successive governors of Quebec—Montmagny, D'Ailleboust, and D'Argenson—pleaded with the home authorities to send reinforcements for their feeble garrison, by whom alone Quebec hoped to escape the ever-dreaded catastrophe. Through press of home affairs, and official neglect and indifference, these requests continued to be disregarded. Reprisals were taken against the Iroquois whenever opportunities occurred; but even these were all too rare.
In May, 1660, an Iroquois captive was brought to Quebec. A stake was erected in the Place d'Armes, and in the sight of the populace the Indian was burned to death. A deed of this nature, occurring with the apparent sanction of the religious governor of a civilised community, must be taken to reflect the terrible pressure of suffering which made such inhuman reprisals possible. The savage nature of this vengeance was softened to the eyes of many by the poor casuistry of the Jesuits, who gave out, and believed, that the soul of the Mohawk would go straight to Paradise on the wings of his unwelcome baptism.
This particular Indian met his fate with the wonderful fortitude of his race, but not with their stoic silence. Instead, he breathed out threatenings, and promised the fell destruction of the pale-faced interlopers. Even now, he told them, hundreds of his kinsmen were gathering upon the Ottawa and St. Lawrence for the final effacement of Quebec, and with hideous fury the baptized savage called down upon them the wrath of his gods.
Forthwith Quebec became deeply alarmed. The desultory attacks of the Iroquois were now to be exchanged for a deliberate assault in which the whole strength of the Five Nations should be thrown into the struggle. The Ursulines and nuns of the Hotel-Dieu forsook their convents to take refuge in the fortified college of the Jesuits, whither the fugitives from the surrounding settlements also fled. A company of soldiers took up their quarters in the Ursuline Convent, the redoubts of the fort were strengthened, and barricades were erected in the streets of Lower Town. All night long sentries paced the parapets, peering anxiously into the surrounding darkness, and straining their ears for the creeping tread in the thicket.
After several days of watching, however, no Iroquois appeared, and the inhabitants began to breathe freely again. The more courageous returned to their deserted homes and farms, but the timid still clung to the blockhouse. The panic had also spread to Ville Marie, and the imminence of this danger produced one of the most brilliant exploits which Canadian history records—a feat of daring closely resembling, and not surpassed by, the achievement of Leonidas in the Pass of Thermopylae.
The story is one of the finest in the picturesque pages of Parkman, part of whose narrative is here transcribed.
[Footnote 5: Now Montreal.]
* * * * *
Adam Daulac, or Dollard, Sieur des Ormeaux, was a young man of good family, who had come to the colony three years before, at the age of twenty-two. He had held some military rank in France, and it was not long before he set on foot a remarkable Indian enterprise. Sixteen young men caught his spirit, struck hands with him, and pledged their word. They bound themselves by oath to accept no quarter, made their wills, confessed, and received the sacrament. After a solemn farewell, they embarked in several canoes, well supplied with arms and ammunition. Descending the St. Lawrence, they entered the mouth of the Ottawa, crossed the Lake of Two Mountains, and slowly advanced against the current of the river. A few days later they reached the foot of the formidable rapid called the "Long Sault," where a tumult of waters foaming among ledges and boulders barred their onward way. Besides, it was needless to go farther. The Iroquois were sure to pass the Sault, and could be fought here as well as elsewhere.
Just below the rapid stood a palisade fort, the work of an Algonquin war-party of the preceding autumn. It was a mere enclosure of trunks of small trees planted in a circle, and was already ruinous. Such as it was, the Frenchmen took possession. They made their fires and slung their kettles on the neighbouring shore. Here they were soon afterwards joined by a small party of friendly Indians, consisting of about forty Hurons from Quebec, under their brave and wily chief Etienne Annahotaha, and five Algonquins led by Mituvemeg. Daulac made no objection to their company, so they all bivouacked together.
In a day or two their scouts came in with tidings that two Iroquois canoes were coming down the Sault. Daulac had only time to set his men in ambush before the advance canoes of the enemy swept down the river. A few of the Iroquois escaped the Frenchmen's volley, and fleeing into the forest, they reported their mischance to their main body, 200 in number, on the river above. Thereupon a fleet of canoes suddenly appeared, bounding down the rapids, filled with warriors eager for revenge. The allies had barely time to escape to their fort, leaving their kettles still slung over the fires. The Iroquois made a hasty attack, but being repulsed, they withdrew and fell to building a rude fort of their own in the neighbouring forest. This gave the French breathing-time, and they used it for strengthening their defences. They planted a row of stakes within their palisade, to form a double fence, and filled the intervening space with earth and stones to the height of a man, leaving twenty loopholes or more, at each of which three marksmen were stationed.
Their work was still unfinished when the Iroquois were upon them again. They had broken to pieces the birch canoes of the French and their allies, and kindling the bark, rushed up to pile it blazing against the palisade; but so brisk and steady a fire met them that they recoiled, and at last gave way. Again and again, however, they came on, each time leaving many of their bravest fighters dead upon the ground. At length, their spirits dashed, the warriors drew back. A canoe was hastily sent down the river to call to their aid five hundred Iroquois who were mustered near the mouth of the Richelieu.
Meanwhile, the defenders of the fort were harassed night and day with a spattering fire and a constant menace of attack. Thus five days passed. Hunger, thirst, and want of sleep wrought fatally on the strength of the French and their allies, who, pent up together in a narrow prison, fought and prayed by turns. Deprived as they were of water, they could not swallow the crushed Indian corn which was their only food. Some of them, under cover of a brisk fire, ran down to the river and filled such small vessels as they had. But this meagre supply only tantalised their thirst, and they now dug a hole in the fort, to be rewarded at last by a little muddy water oozing through the clay.
On the fifth day an uproar of unearthly yells from seven hundred savage throats, mingled with a clattering salute of musketry, told the Frenchmen that the expected reinforcement had come. Soon a crowd of warriors mustered for the attack. Cautiously they advanced, screeching, leaping, and firing as they came on; but the French were at their posts, and every loophole darted its tongue of fire. Besides muskets, they had heavy musketoons of large calibre, which, scattering scraps of lead and iron among the throng of savages, often maimed several of them at one discharge. The Iroquois, astonished at the persistent vigour of the defence, fell back discomfited. The fire of the French had told upon them with deadly effect. Three days more wore away in a series of futile attacks; and during all this time Daulac and his men, reeling with exhaustion, fought and prayed, sure of a martyr's reward.
At length the Iroquois determined upon a grand final assault. Large and heavy shields, four or five feet high, were made by lashing together three split logs with the aid of cross-bars, and covered with these mantelets a chosen band advanced, followed by the motley throng of warriors. In spite of a brisk fire they reached the palisade, and crouching below the range of shot, hewed furiously with their hatchets to cut their way through. Daulac had crammed a large musketoon with powder, and lighting a fuse, he tried to throw it over the barrier, to burst like a grenade among the savages without; but it struck the ragged top of one of the palisades, fell back among the Frenchmen and exploded, killing and wounding several of them. In the confusion which followed, the Iroquois got possession of the loopholes, and thrusting in their guns, fired on those within. In a moment they had torn a breach in the palisade, then another and another. The brave Daulac was struck dead, but the survivors kept up the now hopeless fight. With sword, hatchet, or knife, they threw themselves against the throng of enemies, striking and stabbing with the fury of madmen, till the Iroquois, despairing of taking them alive, fired volley after volley and shot them down. All was over, and a burst of triumphant yells proclaimed the dear-bought victory.
To the colony it proved salvation. The Iroquois had had fighting enough. If seventeen Frenchmen and a handful of Indian allies, behind a picket fence, could hold seven hundred warriors at bay so long, what might they expect from many such fighting behind walls of stone? For that year they thought no more of capturing Quebec and Ville Marie, but returned to their villages dejected and amazed, to howl over their losses, and nurse their dashed courage for a day of vengeance.
"AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM"
If on its material side French colonial policy took account of the Indian, it did so much more on its religious side. Quebec was the farthest outpost of Catholicism. New France was for ever to be free from the taint of heresy, allowing none but Catholic settlers within her gates; and Huguenots, as we have seen, were specifically excluded. The Indians were to be rescued from heathen darkness and led into the sacred light of the Church. Jesuit missions thus became a salient feature in the early history of Quebec, the nerve centre of the movement being the palisaded convent on the little St. Charles.
To go back in review. On the retrocession of Quebec by the English, under the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, in the time of Champlain, the influence of the Jesuits was sufficient to secure for themselves the undivided control of the Canadian mission. Returning to Quebec in 1632, Father Le Jeune and his two companions had established themselves in the half-ruined convent of Notre Dame des Anges, built by the Recollets sixteen years before. The log stockade enclosed two buildings, the smaller of which served as storehouse, stable, and workshop, and the larger as chapel and refectory. Four tiny cells opened off the latter, and in these the fathers lodged, while the lay brothers and the workmen found apartments in the garret and the cellar. The regimen of this crude establishment was severely ascetic. The day began with early Mass and closed with evening prayers. The intervening time was spent by the laymen in cultivating the little clearing, and by the fathers in hearing confessions at the fort a mile away, or in struggling with the Algonquin idiom, by the vague assistance of one Pierre, an Indian proselyte, who, in weakness of flesh, ran away when the season of Lent drew near.
The strength of the Jesuits was increased in the spring of 1633 by the arrival of four new priests. Of these the most remarkable was Jean de Brebeuf, the descendant of a noble family in Normandy, and destined to prove his own nobility by an intrepid zeal and an almost incredible courage.
Le Jeune's distressful experiment with a band of wandering Algonquins had convinced the Jesuits that their schemes of mission-conquest could not bear much fruit if they were confined to the vagrant tribes of the north. Farther west in the peninsula of the great lakes lived Indians of fixed habits and domicile, and otherwise further advanced towards civilisation than the improvident hunting tribes round about Quebec. Of these the most notable were the Hurons. As long before as 1615 the Recollet Le Caron had gone among them, and several years later Brebeuf had made the perilous lodges of Ihonatiria his habitation, but had at length returned to France. On his coming to Quebec again in the spring of 1633, Brebeuf anxiously turned his thoughts towards his former mission, awaiting only a favourable opportunity to forsake the comparative safety of the city of Quebec for the gloomy shores of Lake Huron and "the greater glory of God."
Midsummer brought the annual swarm of Hurons to the trading fair at Quebec. For a week the all but naked savages overran the little settlement, their animal curiosity almost driving the French to distraction, and their casual peculations causing much annoyance. But their presence was a necessary evil, if the Fur Company was to declare its dividends. Hence long-suffering courtesy became essential both to the peace of the city and to future interests so much at stake.
A powerful consideration with the community was the anxiety of the Jesuits to go back with the Indians to their villages on Lake Huron. Champlain, when governor, had espoused this project in the most seductive of his speeches. "These are our fathers," he had announced to the sixty chiefs gathered for the nonce in the quadrangle of the Fort. "We love them more than we love ourselves. The whole French nation honours them. They do not go among you for your furs. They have left their friends and their country to show you the way to the happy hunting-grounds. If you love the French, as you say you do, then love and honour these our fathers, and care for them in your distant villages."
But the wind bloweth where it listeth, and the Indian mind was no more sure. Above all else it lacked definiteness; it was touched by rhetoric. Champlain's auditors had been thrilled with deep emotion. They were for embarking at once with the Jesuits. Then they had faltered, and by the next day they had decided to depart without them. For another year, therefore, the fathers had remained at Notre Dame des Anges, studying the Huron language for future use, and caring meantime for the spiritual welfare of the half-hundred French residents of Quebec.
The summer of 1634 once more saw the city given over to the visiting Hurons. The old persuasive palaver was repeated, and this time with more success. When the trading fair was over, Brebeuf, Daniel, and Davost set off with the savage fleet, each in a different canoe, facing a journey of nine hundred miles fraught with many perils, but with none so ominous as the sullen and menacing mood of their heathen conductors.
Week after week they pressed toilfully up the St. Lawrence and Ottawa; barefooted they struggled over the rocky portages, with a pittance of pounded maize for their daily ration, and mother-earth for their nightly couch. Davost's guide robbed and abandoned him at an island in the Upper Ottawa. Daniel was likewise deserted; but the giant Brebeuf yielded to no hardships, and surpassed even the seasoned savages in strength and endurance. On the shore of the Georgian Bay, however, his guide at length abandoned him. But Brebeuf had been here in a former year, and his instinctive woodcraft guided him twenty miles through the forest to the palisaded village of Ihonatiria.
"Echom has come again," cried the inhabitants, as they recognised the towering figure of the Jesuit who had departed from them five years before; and they opened again their lodges to the missionary.
After days of anxious waiting, Brebeuf had the joy of seeing Daniel and Davost arrive at Ihonatiria. The hardships and dangers they had endured, and the indignities they had suffered from their brutal guides, were only outweighed by their zealous delight in reaching at length the scene of their devoted labours. The Hurons aided them in the construction of a log mission-house; and when the fathers had decorated the interior with highly-coloured pictures of the saints and the glittering regalia of the Church, the red men filled it to overflowing. A striking clock and a magnifying glass, however, were the chief objects of wonderment, and the credulous Indians regarded the priests as the workers of miracles. This awe and respect the fathers turned to good account, gathering the children into the mission-house for daily instruction. With a mind also to the physical welfare of their flock, they succeeded in reconstructing the palisades and fort of the Huron village.
Yet with all the outward respect in which the Jesuits were held, their doctrines made little or no impression upon the Indian mind. The adult Hurons had a superstitious fear of baptism, and shunned the sign of the cross as a spell. Under these difficulties the Jesuits laboured, saving stricken children from a dark hereafter by the furtive administration of the dreaded sacrament.
With what boldness they dared to assume, Brebeuf and his companions condemned the infernal practices of the so-called medicine-men, whose accomplishments ranged from the curing of snake-bites to the casting out of devils. To them all diseases of the body called for much the same treatment, varied only in the proportion of vehemence allowed in their incantations and at medicine-feasts. The disgraceful orgies attending these "cures" led the priests to interfere: a policy which enraged the sorcerers of the tribe, and presently put the lives of the missionaries in jeopardy.
The summer of 1635 was marked by a great drought. The maize and beans withered in the sun; and in spite of the hoarse invocations of the medicine-men and the fierce efforts of the tribal rain-maker the sky stayed cloudless. Thereupon the Jesuits were accused. The cross upon the mission-house had frightened the bird of thunder away from Ihonatiria. Such were the charges which the sorcerers brought against the Jesuits; and the superstitious Hurons believed that they were true. However, a timely vow was made to St. Joseph, the chosen protector of the Hurons, and in answer to their ardent prayers the rain fell in welcome torrents—so Brebeuf writes—and calamity was averted for a time.
Meanwhile the work of the Jesuits extended. With headquarters still at Ihonatiria, they made visits to the neighbouring villages; and for the greater success of the mission, new priests were drawn from Quebec. By 1640 those labouring among the Hurons and the neutral nation further south numbered thirteen.